Dominant Serena Williams Silences Skeptics in 2014 US Open Semifinal Rout - UBITENNIS
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Dominant Serena Williams Silences Skeptics in 2014 US Open Semifinal Rout

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TENNIS US OPEN – She’s rolling now, crushing opponents and symbolically all those who doubted her. A season that seemed destined to go nowhere for Serena Williams, a season that made some of us suggest that at almost 33 years old her best days were over, is now headed to the stars. Art Spander for bleacherreport.com

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She’s rolling now, crushing opponents and symbolically all those who doubted her. (Blush!). A season that seemed destined to go nowhere for Serena Williams, a season that made some of us suggest that at almost 33 years old her best days were over, is now headed to the stars—and the record books.

Was she ever any better than she was Friday afternoon in a semifinal of the U.S. Open? Was she any more dominant, more overwhelming more—yes—awesome? Maybe, but probably not.

Serena destroyed bewildered Ekaterina Makarova, 6-1, 6-3. She needed only one hour. That’s 60 minutes. That’s ridiculous.

It was a terrible, swift sword of a victory, a win that told us whatever happened at the Australian Open, at the French Open and at Wimbledon, she remains a major force. In women’s tennis, she’s the major force.

“Well, Serena, she’s a great, unbelievable player,” said Makarova.

The Russian hadn’t lost a set in five previous matches this Open. This day, as the sun shone, the thermometer climbed into the 80s and—as so often happens at Arthur Ashe Stadium—the wind swirled; Makarova was fortunate to win four games.

“It’s always tough to play against her,” said Makarova, who had been 1-3 against Williams in their careers. “Today, she was so aggressive. I didn’t think she will be that aggressive. She was coming (for the ball) so early, so sometimes I was too late because she was too fast.

“I lost against No. 1.”

As Williams stands currently in the rankings and, now, after her 18th win in the last 19 matches since going out in the third round at Wimbledon, she certainly will remain in that position. Her only loss during the stretch was to older sister Venus a month ago at Montreal.

And for those of us who gave up on Williams, who believed that not even reaching the second week at the other three Grand Slams this year, much less the quarterfinals, she had meaningful advice:

“Well, there’s always…what is the word, skeptics?” Williams reminded. “I don’t know. I’m losing my mind. Anyways, that people might write or people might not believe.

“I worked really hard for Wimbledon. I worked really, really hard, and I was really disappointed and sad and shocked that I wasn’t able to win. I worked hours, more than I worked before. Maybe it’s just paying off now.”

The old order, relatively speaking, refuses to give up or give in. Thursday night, Roger Federer, who having turned 33 in August is about six weeks older than Williams, showed he still has a serve, a forehand and method.

Federer overcame a two-set deficit to beat Gael Monfils and reach the semis against Marin Cilic.

“It’s amazing to see,” Williams observed. “We’re both making it so far. It would be cool if we did it together. It would really be just an amazing, amazing feat for the both of us.”

Especially since they both have 17 Grand Slam titles, for Williams five of those at the Open, including the last two years.

Still, from a distance, nothing Williams does is amazing. And everything she does is amazing.

The lady is unpredictable. She can blow her stack, as she did five years ago in the Open, cursing out a meek lineswoman who had the temerity to call a foot fault on Williams. She can be absolutely charming and humble, praising opponents—including Makarova.

Williams is a close friend of Caroline Wozniacki, who she’ll meet in the Sunday final after Wozniacki’s opposition in the other semi, Shuai Peng, was forced to withdraw because of cramping.

“She really knows my game well and knows how to play,” said Williams, talking about Wozniacki much like a football coach talks about the team he’s playing next. All positive. Nothing negative.

Still, Williams is the favorite, having won seven of the eight matches they have played starting in 2009. The most recent were close, however, Serena needing three sets to win at Cincinnati and Montreal, both within the last month.

If Williams serves with the ferocity and accuracy she did against Makarova, she’ll be the champion.

“When she’s on fire, she’s hard to beat,” said Wozniacki. “But I have had two tough matches against her the last few weeks. I was really close. Hopefully for me that would be the third time’s the charm.”

Serena had some good things to say about the Woz.

“She’s so consistent,” said Williams. “I think that’s one of the things that makes her really tough. So I just have to be ready for that and, again, just stay calm and just be able to relax and be happy. You know, the beginning…the past six months I would never thought I’d be here.”

Neither did a great many of us, the ones Serena labels as skeptics. Perhaps we should have been careful. Perhaps Williams should have been successful. She won three Slams in 2013, needing only one more to tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova. Then she bumbles through the first three Slams of 2014.

“In the beginning of the week,” she said about her play at the Open, “I definitely wasn’t sure I would make it this long.”

Does she mean it? Or is she teasing us? What goes through her mind? How does she stomp Alize Cornet, 6-1, in the first set of their Wimbledon match and then lose the next two sets? How does she batter Makarova and then tell us, “I didn’t see myself being that aggressive?”

Makarova did. Everyone in the arena did.

“You don’t know what it means to me,” she said to the crowd over the public address system about the win. Now Caroline wants to go for her first Grand Slam. “I want to make some history.”

She’s made plenty of history. She’s also made her critics as baffled as poor Ekaterina Makarova was on court. What a lady.

Article from bleacherreport.com

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Rising Star Mirra Andreeva Teams Up With Wimbledon Champion Martinez

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Mirra Andreeva – Australian Open 2024 (foto: X @WTA)

Teenage sensation Mirra Andreeva has begun working with a former Grand Slam champion on a trial basis ahead of the French Open.

The 16-year-old has linked up with Conchita Martinez, who is overseeing her run at this week’s Rouen Open in France. Martinez peaked at a ranking high of No.2 during her career and won 33 WTA titles. After retiring from the sport, she has coached Garbine Muguruza and Karolina Pliskova. 

Andreeva’s latest partnership was formed with the help of her agent ‘two or three weeks ago.’ According to the WTA website, their practice week went well and now they are testing working together during a tournament. 

“So far, so good,” said Andreeva“I like it, I hope she likes it too. We will see how it will go and then we will decide about our next tournaments. I cannot say there are special aspects we are working on. But the first thing we worked on was my slice, because she was a good slicer. So she told me some tricks, and I’m trying to use it when I have time and a good possibility on court.”

Andreeva is currently ranked 43rd in the world and is the youngest player in the top 100. She has already reached the fourth round of both Wimbledon and the Australian Open but is yet to win a WTA title. So far this year the Russian’s best result was a quarter-final appearance at the Brisbane International. 

Martinez, who also reached the last 16 of a major at the age of 16, spoke about the teenager with Ubitennis during last year’s Wimbledon Championships. At the time she pointed out that consistency is key for the youngster.

“The most important thing is that she keeps practising and focusing on what she has to do to get better. It’s great what she is doing now but she has to maintain it,” she commented.

Andreeva kicked off her campaign in Rouen with a 6-1, 6-3, win over Nadia Podoroska. 

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Red-Hot Danielle Collins Ready To Take On Red Clay After Charleston Triumph

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Image via https://twitter.com/CharlestonOpen/

Just how good is Danielle Collins?

Right now, she may be as good as anyone on the WTA Tour.

Just think about it. Who’s better?

Winning a seven-round near-major one week on hard courts, then putting together six straight victories the next week on green clay is fairly significant.

Collins didn’t go against a lame duck field in either tournament, especially at the Credit One Charleston Open where she defeated three of the best clay-courters on the tour in Ons Jabeur, Maria Sakkari and Daria Kasatkina, as well as the likes of Sloane Stephens and Paula Badosa. She defeated a Wimbledon champion, Elena Rybakina, on hard courts in the Miami final.

ONLY TWO LOSING SETS IN 28

Collins lost only two of the 28 sets she played in Miami and Charleston.

Of course, second-ranked Aryna Sabalenka and third-ranked Coco Gauff are power players on any surface. But after those two, Collins looks capable of winning anything in sight. It would be interesting to see Collins take on either of those two on Europe’s red clay.

Collins now has played about as brilliantly in these two tournaments as Sabalenka, Gauff or top-ranked Iga Swiatek have played within the last year.

Collins has the type game no one wants to play against right now. She has jumped all the way to 15th in the world after her success at Miami and Charleston.

COLLINS DOMINANT IN FINAL

Against 2017 Charleston winner Kasatkina in Sunday’s final, Collins was dominant in a 6-2, 6-1 victory. The Russian didn’t have the game to match up with Collins’ power. Collins played to win, and wasted few opportunities.

No one on the WTA Tour attacks more aggressively than the 30-year-old Collins. Short balls end up being a “done deal” when Collins moves in on them and smashes forehands, backhands and lobs away. She nails high back-handed returns of lobs to the corners with the same type of precision she connects with high forehand put-aways inside the court. Few players can hit that type of backhand high volley with such power and precision.

 She also plays the baseline as aggressively as anywhere else, and her serve is solid enough to keep her out of early trouble. Few double-faults find her racket.

LOCKED INTO PROCESS

“I think one of my biggest areas of improvement over the course of the last few weeks has been my concentration and focus and really being locked into my process,” Collins said after winning Charleston.

“These women that I’m playing against, they’re the best in the world, and it’s — sometimes things go your way and then sometimes things don’t go your way, and you have to be open to that when those times do happen.

“I’m really looking forward to getting home (Bradenton, Fla.) and getting some time to spend where I don’t think about tennis, and then hopefully when Madrid comes around I am back in ‘Danimal’ mode. Then it’s back to reality. So it’s like spring break for me. I feel like a kid at spring break.”

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Danielle Collins Extends Winning Streak To 12 Matches

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image via https://twitter.com/CharlestonOpen/

Danielle Collins just goes out and wins.

She wastes few shots and is a master of shot placements.

The court surface doesn’t seem to matter. She did it a week ago on hard courts to win the Miami Open. And she is doing it again at the Credit One Charleston Open on clay courts.

Collins has won 12 straight matches and is one win away from a coveted second straight title on the WTA Tour.

She’s unseeded, but keeps winning. She is the last American standing.

In Saturday’s Charleston semifinals, Collins scored a relatively easy 6-3, 6-3 win over third-seeded Maria Sakkari of Greece.

KASATKINA STANDS IN COLLINS’ WAY

Just 2017 Charleston champion Daria Kasatkina is standing in the 30-year-old Collins’ way of a second straight tour title.

Oh, yes, Collins is playing her final year on the WTA Tour. She wants to go out a winner badly.

Kasatkina is the fourth seed, and she may already have played a key role in Collins’ drive to another title. Top seed Jessica Pegula appeared to be unbeatable in this Charleston Open until running  into Kasatkina in Saturday’s first semifinal and simply couldn’t close out the Russian when their  match was on the line.

PEGULA’S LOSS BIG SURPRISE

Pegula’s 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (5) loss to Kasatkina was the biggest surprise of this tournament. Pegula had won the last 12 games of a 6-1, 6-0 win over Kasatkina in 2023 in Tokyo’s Pan Pacific Open.

Very tough match,” the ultra-conservative playing Kasatkina said about Saturday’s long match that ended in a third-set tiebreaker.
“Really happy with my win, with the way how I did it. And, yeah, really happy to be in the finals here again.”

Kasatkina has been impressed by Collins’ outstanding recent play.

“Danielle is, I think, playing the best tennis of her career right now. She’s fearless. When she feels her game, she’s one of the most dangerous players on tour, and she definitely feels it right now,” Kasatkina said.
“So, yeah, it’s going to be very tough battle. And it’s finals. I mean, it’s so nice. I’m so happy to be in the finals, and I think it’s going to be a good one. I think the atmosphere is going to be great because playing an American in the United States, it always brings some extra electricity on court. So, I’m really looking forward to it.”

COLLINS IMPRESSED BY KASATKINA’S PLAY

Collins also has respect for Kasatkina’s style of play.

“We’ve played so many matches against each other over the years and battles. She’s one of my favorite players to watch because she makes these matches so interesting,” Collins said about Kasatkina.

“The way that she plays and her tennis IQ, how creative she is on court is phenomenal. I think against Daria I have to be very flexible. She has just about every tool in her toolbox. She can hit big. She can hit with shape. She can hit slices. She can come into the net. She does everything very, very well. She serves and returns well. She mixes up her pace. She’s just solid all over. And so, it’s going to be a battle, and I have to be ready to play a long, tough match, if that’s what’s needed.

“I’ll have to kind of take a little bit more of a look statistically at some things and some different patterns, but I think the biggest thing is just fighting until the end and being adaptable out there.”

About her win over the usually solid Sakkari, Collins said, “I think my aggressive game style helped me. I had to stick with it. And she was throwing a lot at me and doing a lot of different things.
“So, I had to try to counter that and use my aggressive game style as much as I could.”

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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