TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – World’s number 2, Na Li has made another early round exit from a major for the second time in a row. She loses third round to Czech Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova 7-65 7-65. Cordell Hackshaw
Na Li (2) went out early again in her second major in a row. Several weeks ago, she went out in the first round of the French Open and now, she was dismissed in the 3rd round of Wimbledon. Since winning the Australian Open, she has struggled to find similar form and show herself to be a consistent contender for major titles. Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova who has been showing superb form on grass this year, making it to the finals of Birmingham couple of weeks ago, remained focus and determined as she knocked out Li 7-65 7-65 in the near 2 hours and 20 minutes battle. “Well, the key was just the belief, the belief in myself, to not give her any easy points. I think I did that right. I was serving very well. I was following the tactic what my coach said. I think that was the key,” Zahlavova-Strycova said after the match.
Li came out in fine form as she broke Zahlavova-Strycova in the opening game. She looked to be very aggressive in her return game but all this momentum soon dissipated as Li was immediately broken when she double faulted on break point in her opening service game. Li continued in this passive mood as she was broken yet again in the 4th game to see Zahlavova-Strycova go up 3-1. Li was making some rather strange and amateurish errors. One such error from Li came in the that 4th game when on game point Li allowed her opponent to get away with a poor lob which Li inexplicably misjudged to go out since the ball landed right near her feet well inside the baseline. Li would make 21 unforced errors altogether in the 1st set compared to 14 from Zahlavova-Strycova. Zahlavova-Strycova remained positive on court despite being broken in the 5th game as she went after her shots particularly on the Li serve. Li saved a break point in the 8th game which would have given Zahlavova a chance to serve for the set at 5-3. The set went to a tiebreaker as they remained on serve.
In the breaker, again Li started off aggressively by taking the first two points but then became lackadaisical as she allowed Zahlavova-Strycova to be the one dictating play in the breaker particularly on Li’s service game. Up 6-5, the Czech was able to take the set 7-65 after Li mishit the ball and could not keep it in play. In the 2nd set, they would remain on serve for its entirety with no break point opportunities for either player. Li had chances to force issue up 5-4 and again at 6-5 on Zahlavova-Strycova’s serve but she missed two easy overhead shots which would have given her break points had she made them. Instead Zahlavova-Strycova held serve to extend her life in the set and be that closer to the upset victory.
Another tiebreaker would decide the set and as in the first one, Li took the early lead 2-0. However, she was unable to maintain this lead as she could not put the returns on Zahlavova-Strycova’s serves in play. Zahlavova-Strycova kept things even throughout until she edged head ahead ever so slightly at 6-5. On match point, Li serving, it appeared as though another of her forehand went long. Zahlavova-Strycova, ecstatic, came up to net to shake hands but Li had challenged the call. The celebration was cut short as Li was right; her ball was in and she had another shot at saving match point as they re-played the point. However, with this second chance at life, Li double faulted and handed the match to Zahlavova-Stryvoca 7-65 7-65.
Zahlavova-Strycova summed up her feelings on this big win, “I feel great here and I felt great on Birmingham. I believed in myself coming into this match. I thought I can do it. That what happened. I’m really glad I could pull this through.” This is indeed an impressive win. The Czech was able to stay so mentally sharp throughout the match not only by holding serve but more importantly playing the big points very well. She was clearly the one dictating play on court, finding her way up at net and winning 21/29 points there, compared to Li was 16/34. This was the major difference in the match as they had similar stats everywhere else. Zahlavova-Strycova will next face Caroline Wozniacki for a place in the quarterfinals; “[S]he’s a great player … This will be a challenge for me. This is my first time in the second week of a Grand Slam so I will enjoy. I will do the same like I did the previous matches: I will focus on myself, on my game … I like to play volleys, I like to serve good. So we see how it goes.”
Madison Keys Collects Cincinnati Trophy With Battling Win Over Kuznetsova
Madison Keys capped an outstanding week by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova in straight sets to take home the Cincinnati title.
Madison Keys claimed the biggest title of her career by beating Svetlana Kuznetsova 7-5 7-6(5) in the Western and Southern Open final in Cincinnati.
It was an amazing week for the American, particularly as she had only won one match in the last two months leading up the event.
The World No.18 referenced this lack of form when she thanked her team for their help and said to them, “If you told me a week ago this was where I would be, I would have laughed in your face.”
Conditions were slower for the final than they had been in previous rounds due to the high levels of humidity in the air, and Keys struggled to adjust initially. She dropped her serve in the opening game and fell 3-1 behind.
However, the American gradually began to adapt. She almost broke in game six, held off three break points in game seven and then eventually got the break she needed in game ten thanks to intelligent point construction and typically ferocious hitting.
With her confidence restored, Keys held easily to move 6-5 ahead. She then capitalised on some weak serving from Kuznetsova to break again and clinch the opening set.
Keys fights back again in the second set
To the Russian’s credit, she responded well to her disappointment. She manoeuvred the American around the court and drew several errors from her racket to open up a 3-1 lead once again.
Keys did not panic. She hit a series of trademark winners during three excellent service games that enabled her to stay in touch with Kuznetsova at 5-4.
Unfortunately for the Russian, she seemed just as nervous when she served for the second set as she had been in the first. She did not make many first serves or put the American under much pressure with her groundstrokes. This produced a predictable result: another break of serve for the World No.18.
Keys survived a break point on her serve to make it 6-5. Then Kuznetsova steadied herself to hold comfortably and avoid losing four games in a row as she did in the opener.
After five routine points in the tie-break, the American earned a mini-break to go 4-2 up. She hit a deep backhand and the Russian could do nothing more than hit it into the net.
Keys maintained her two-point advantage to set up two championship points at 6-4. On the second, she sealed glory with a powerful serve that Kuznetsova found too hot to handle.
Carlos Ramos Won’t Umpire Serena Williams’ US Open Matches Following Infamous Clash
They two will be kept apart, but will it be enough to stop people talking about their previous confrontation?
23-time grand slam champion Serena Williams and umpire Carlos Ramos will be kept apart during the US Open following their high-profile spat at the tournament 12 months ago.
During the final of the US Open last year, controversy erupted when Ramos issued Williams with a violation for receiving coaching from the stands. Something which is prohibited in grand slam tennis. A livid Williams denied any wrongdoing immediately after. Suggesting the decision was sexist before calling the official a ‘liar’ and a ‘thief.’ In total, Williams was hit with three violations that resulted in a game penalty.
Stacy Allaster, who is the president of the USTA, has confirmed that Ramos will not be allowed to officiate Williams or her sister’s Venus’ matches during the grand slam. Saying that she didn’t want to cause a ‘distraction.’ This decision is said to be applied only to the 2019 tournament.
“We don’t need to go there,” Allaster told The New York Times in a telephone interview. “There are more than 900 matches here over the three weeks, and there are lots of matches for Carlos to do.”
“We want to be focused on the competition and want to go forward,” she added.
Ramos, who is from Portugal, was never found guilty of doing anything wrong during the match. The International Tennis Federation issued a statement shortly after the incident. In it, they said that Ramos ‘undertook his duties as an official, according to the relevant rule book and acted at all times with professionalism and integrity.’
Regardless of the move by the USTA to try and stay clear of the Williams-Ramos incident, it is set to be thrown back into the media spotlight in the coming days. Sports network ESPN will air a documentary called “Serena vs. The Umpire” on Sunday for the first time. It will be narrated by Pulitzer Prize winner Don Van Natta, Jr.
“We’re exploring stories that are unresolved and have layers to them, and that’s certainly the case with what happened at last year’s US Open women’s final,” said John Dahl, Vice President and Executive Producer, ESPN Special Projects and Original Content. “With this and subsequent stories, viewers will follow along with Don on his deep dive for truth.”
The TV program is set to include Patrick Mouratoglou, who is the coach of Williams. Pam Shriver and Chris Evert are also set to feature.
The US Open will get underway on August 26th.
Madison Keys Marches Into Cincinnati Final With Win Over Kenin
Madison Keys set up a intriguing final against Svetlana Kuznetsova with an excellent straight-sets win over Sofia Kenin in the semi-finals.
Madison Keys advanced to her ninth career final with an impressive 7-5 6-4 win over Sofia Kenin at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.
The American, 24, has endured a patchy year on the WTA tour. But she found a rich vein of form in the early rounds to defeat Garbine Muguruza, Daria Kasatkina and Wimbledon champion Simona Halep.
And by the time Keys set about dispatching Venus Williams in straight sets in the quarter-final, she looked full of confidence.
The World No.18 started in similar fashion against Kenin. She dominated her first two service games and broke the younger American in the fourth game to establish a 3-1 lead. She then held off a couple of break points in game five to increase her advantage to 4-1.
But Kenin is a fighter and she had no intention of giving up on the set. She broke Keys in game nine to make it 5-4 and then saved two break points to level the score.
The older American did not panic. She held serve comfortably and then hit a couple of excellent winners to break the 20-year-old for the second time in the set and take it 7-5.
Keys triumphs in close second set
There were a few momentum swings in the second set. Keys held to love in the first game but dropped her serve during a sloppy third game. Kenin then consolidated the break with a comfortable hold.
In response, the World No.18 fired down three aces as she held serve to love in just 42 seconds. She then unleashed a stream of winners to break the younger American and level the score at 3-3.
Both women played superb return games as they traded breaks to move the score along to 4-4. Then Keys unleashed a series of ferocious groundstrokes to repel a break point and hold for 5-4.
After an intense conversation with her father at the changeover, Kenin looked a bit subdued in game ten. She sent down a weak second serve on the second point which was punished by a backhand winner from the World No.18.
The 20-year-old made a double-fault to slip 15-30 behind. Then she came into the net and could only watch and admire as Keys guided a sublime backhand pass into the opposite service box for a winner that set up two match points.
The World No.18 did not have to wait long to celebrate victory, as an unforced error from Kenin on the next point sealed her win.
Keys will play Svetlana Kuznetsova in the final. The Russian continued her impressive week with an eye-catching 6-2 6-4 win over World No.2 Ashleigh Barty.
“I’m very happy to be in the final,” the American said. “Sveta has been playing incredibly well. She is a craftier player with a little bit of everything. It will be a pretty difficult match but I’m looking forward to it.”
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