AO 2015: Serena with Kvitova, Sharapova with Halep - UBITENNIS
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AO 2015: Serena with Kvitova, Sharapova with Halep

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TENNIS AO 2015 – The draw ceremony to the 2015 Australian Open women’s tournament took place on Friday. The first round features some top matches like the re-match of the 2013 Australian Open semifinal between Vika Azarenka and Sloane Stephens, Caroline Wozniacki against US rising star Taylor Townsend, Simona Halep against Karin Knapp and the Italian derby between Flavia Pennetta and Camila Giorgi. We preview the women’s draw, the possible match-ups leading to the final scheduled on 31st January, the top names in each quarter and the possible surprises. Diego Sampaolo

 

AO 2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

First quarter:

Top seed Serena Williams won the last Grand Slam in 2014 at the US Open and the WTA World Tour Finals in Singapore and starts as the favourite to win her 19th Grand Slam title of her legendary career but last year’s edition when she was knocked out in the fourth round for the third consecutive year proved that she is not unbeatable. She has not reached the final at Melbourne Park since 2010.

Serena was drawn with 20-year-old Elina Svitolina (World Number 26) in the third round, a potential dangerous rival before possible threats represented by either Garbine Muguruza or Jelena Jankovic in the fourth round and Caroline Wozniacki in the quarter final. Muguruza upset Serena last year in Grand Slam Tournaments: Muguruza beat the US legend with 6-2 6-2 in the second round of the French Open. The match between close friends Serena and Caroline could be a re-match of last year’s US Open final and the epic WTA Championships semifinal.

Wozniacki lost the final in Auckland at the start of the year but was forced to withdraw in Sydney due to a wrist injury last week. The Danish player, who will play against US revelation Taylor Townsend in the opening round, could face the winner of the match between Vika Azarenka and Sloane Stephens in the second round. Azarenka and Stephens who played the semifinal at Melbourne Park in 2013, will renew their rivalry in the first round. Wozniacki will have to overcome Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the third round, last year’s finalist Dominika Cibulkova in the fourth round.

The first quarter of the draw also features some other interesting players like Heather Watson, who won Hobart this week, Kirsten Flipkens who meets Dominika Cibulkova in the first round and Vera Zvonareva

The possible quarter final in this section of the draw could be between Serena Williams and Caroline Wozniacki

Second round:

Last year’s Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova is the best ranked player in the second section of the draw, Kvitova started 2015 with a semifinal in Shenzhen and the title in Sydney where she beat her compatriot Katerina Pliskova.

The Czech star will debut against a qualifier before meeting either Barthel or Vekic in the second round and Australian player Casey Dellacqua, who plays well in the home tournament and could represent a tough rival. Kvitova could face another local star Samantha Stosur in the fourth round. The Aussie player could play against 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in the second round and German Andrea Petkovic, semifinalist at the 2014 Roland Garros.

The possible quarter final could be between Kvitova and Agnieszka Radwanska The Polish player, who is now coached by Martina Navratilova and started 2015 with the win at the Hopman Cup in Perth, will make her debut against Japan’s Kurumi Nara before meeting Varvara Lepchenko in the third round and Venus Williams in the fourth round. Venus won the Auckland title in early January and could represent a threat. The US star could face the winner of the Italian derby between Flavia Pennetta and Camila Giorgi. Pennetta will have to defend a lot of points as she reached the quarter finals in Melbourne last year.

The most interesting matches in the second section of the draw will be Vekic vs Barthel, Stosur vs Nicolescu, Pennetta vs Giorgi and Rogers vs Tomljanovic.

Tomljanovic is a name to watch as she upset Radwanska in their only head-to-head match in Paris in 2014 and could represent a threat to the Polish star in the second round.

Third quarter:

Last year’s Roland Garros finalist Simona Halep is the top seed in the third section of the draw and could meet Ana Ivanovic in an intriguing quarter final match.

Halep will make her debut against Italian Karin Knapp, who posed a threat to Maria Sharapova last year in Melbourne, 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki in the third round and Italian Sara Errani or Anastasya Pavlyuchenkova in the fourth round.

Ivanovic, who lost the Brisbane final against Ana Ivanovic last week, will face a tougher task as she will have to play against last year’s US Open quarter finalist Belinda Bencic from Switzerland, the great revelation of the 2014 season and the winner of the very interesting match between Karolina Pliskova and Ekaterina Makarova. Pliskova, winner of the Australian Open Junior Tournament in 2010 lost the Sydney final against her compatriot Kvitova on Friday. The young Czech player had a breakthrough season in 2014 in which she won two titles in Seoul and Linz and finished runner-up in Pattaya (where she lost to Makarova), in Nuremberg (losing to Bouchard) and in Honk Kong (losing to Sabine Lisicki). Makarova reached the fourth round in the Australian Open and the semifinal at the US Open In 2014. The Russian player is also a strong doubles player with two titles at the 2013 French Open and the 2014 US Open with Elena Vesnina.

The most interesting first round matches are Bencic vs Georges, Lisicki vs Mladenovic and Knapp vs Halep.

Fourth round:

The possible quarter final in the fourth quarter could be between Maria Sharapova and Eugenie Bouchard, two of the most glamorous players on the circuit.

Sharapova, winner at Melbourne Park in 2008, started her 2015 season in impressive style with the win in the Brisbane final against Ana Ivanovic in three sets with 6-7 6-3 6-3 in another tight match between the two stars. The Siberian star, French Open champion in 2014, will make her debut against qualifier Petra Martic before a possible match against Sorana Cirstea in the second round and Zarina Diyas in the third round before meeting either Shuai Peng or Lucie Safarova in the fourth round. These two players reached their first semifinals last year. Peng played the US Open semifinal, while Safarova reached the top-four at Wimbledon.

Bouchard, semifinalist in Melbourne and Paris and finalist at Wimbledon in 2014, will have to overcome a tougher challenge after her first round match against Anna Lena Friedman as she will play against Angelique Kerber in the second round, Carla Suarez Navarro in the third round and Svetlana Kuznetsova in the fourth round. Kuznetsova will play against Frenchwoman Caroline Garcia in the most interesting match in the fourth quarter.

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Seven Top 10 Seeds Fail To Reach Third Round Of Women’s Draw In French Open First

The series of high-profile exits has set a new milestone but for the wrong reasons.

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Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

The first five days of this year’s French Open have been tough going for some of the world’s best players on the women’s Tour.

 

A series of shock early losses has opened up parts of the women’s draw with 14 out of the last 32 players remaining in the tournament being unseeded. Former champions Garbine Muguruza and Barbora Krejcikova fell in the first round, as well as fellow top 10 seeds Ons Jabeur and Anett Kontaveit. Then in the second round Maria Sakkari (No.4), Karolina Pliskova (No.8) and Danielle Collins (No.9) all crashed out.

Heading into the third round seven top 10 seeds have already been knocked out of the French Open which is a new record for Roland Garros. The tournament has featured draws including 10 or more seeds since 1978.

“I knew that I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets over all these years,” Sakkari said following her exit.
“At this level you always have to accept that you cannot go deep in every single tournament or every single big tournament.”

Jabeur was tipped by some as a serious contender for the title this year before losing her opening match to an inspired Magda Linette. Prior to the tournament, she boasted a 17-3 record on the clay this year, winning the Madrid Open title and reaching the final of two other events (Charleston and Rome).

“I wanted to go as far as I could in the tournament because I played well on clay in Madrid and in Rome, and it’s difficult to take that one in,” she said. ”But that’s what sport is like and you need to be smart enough to move forward and get back on court.’
“Maybe it was a good thing to lose. I would rather say this and be really tough with myself than waste all the good energy that I got from Madrid and Rome.”

In recent years the French Open women’s tournament has been full of unpredictability. The past three editions being won by players who didn’t hold a major title of any sort (in singles) coming into the draw.

One player who has managed to buckle the trend of inconsistency is world No.1 Iga Swiatek who has won 30 matches in a row. The fourth longest streak on the WTA Tour since 2000 after both of the Williams sisters and Justine Henin. Swiatek is also the first player to win 13 or more matches in a row whilst at the top of the rankings since Serena Williams back in 2015.

“I was saying from the beginning that for sure I’m going to reach a point where I’m going to lose a match, and it’s pretty normal,” Swiatek said following her 6-0, 6-2, triumph over Alison Riske.
“I have been losing matches in tennis for a long time. For sure the things we (my team) are doing right now are pretty extraordinary but I know in tennis that only one person wins in the end.’
“I will be okay with that. For sure it’s not fun to lose, but I think it wouldn’t be different than any other loss that I had, you know, in my career.”

Other top 10 seeds remaining in this year’s draw are Paula Badosa and Aryna Sabalenka.

Meanwhile, in the men’s draw all top 12 seeds have reached the third round for the first time since 2009.

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Simona Halep Suffers Rare Panic Attack During French Open Loss

The ex-world No.1 has vowed to ‘learn from this episode’ after crashing out of the tournament.

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PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO - SIMONA HALEP OF ROMANIA

Former champion Simona Halep says she ‘lost it’ during her shock second round exit from the French Open on Wednesday.

 

The 19th seed was a set and a break up against Chinese world No.74 Qinwen Zheng before losing 2-6, 6-2, 6-1. In total Halep hit a costly 29 unforced errors against only nine winners and was broken five times overall.

“It was a difficult one. I was playing well at the start. I had a break in the second set, but then something happened. I just lost it.” Halep said during her press conference.
“But she’s (Zheng) playing well and she played a good match in the end.”

During the match Halep sought medical attention and appeared to be far from her best form. In the decider her blood pressure and pulse was checked by a doctor. She later revealed that the source of her issue was a rare panic attack which she says hadn’t really happened to her during any Tour match until now. The Romanian has been playing in the main draw of major events for 12 years.

“I didn’t expect it because it was just a panic attack,” she said.
I didn’t know how to handle it because I don’t have it often. I don’t really know why it happened because I was leading the match. I was playing well.’
“I couldn’t focus. After the match it was pretty tough. But now I’m good. I’ve recovered and I will learn from this episode.”

The 30-year-old concedes her panic attack might have been triggered by her desire to do well at the French Open where she won the title in 2018 and reached the final on two other occasions. Heading into this year’s draw she only played two clay events, reaching the quarter-finals in Madrid and then the second round in Rome.

“I didn’t feel better during the match. If I would have felt better, I would have started to play a little bit better,” she states.
“I couldn’t manage it and I don’t have many words about it. I just have to accept it and take it.’
“It’s part of the process, and I’m already looking forward to being better in that case if it’s going to happen, but I hope not.”

This year is Halep’s earliest exit from the French Open since 2013 when she lost in the first round.

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‘Great Things Are Going To Happen’ – Maria Sakkari Finds Silver Lining In Shock French Open Loss

The world No.3 insists that she is ‘feeling good’ after being knocked out of the Grand Slam.

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Maria Sakkari - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Maria Sakkari says she is confident she is heading in the right direction despite suffering her earliest loss at the French Open since 2019.

 

The fourth seed, who reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros 12 months ago, was ousted 7-6(5), 7-6(4), by Czech Republic’s Karolina Muchova. A former top 20 player who reached the last four of the Australian Open in 2021 before suffering from injury issues. Sakkari produced a costly 37 unforced errors which cancelled out the 31 winners she produced during the second round encounter.

She played an amazing match. She always plays extremely well in Grand Slams and today she was the better player, so I have to give it to her,” Sakkari of Muchova said during her press conference.
It’s disappointing for sure because it (the French Open) is still my favourite tournament and I’m sad.” She added.

Sakkari’s defeat concludes what has been a roller-coaster clay court swing for the Greek. In Stuttgart she was forced to retire during her opening match due to a gastroenteral illness. At the Madrid Open she crashed out in the second round to Daria Kasatkina before losing in the quarter-finals of the Italian Open to Ons Jabeur.

However, the 26-year-old believes there are positives which can be drawn from her latest match in the French capital.

“I found myself again in the court. I’m feeling good. I’m fighting. I’m enjoying my time on the court so I think that great things are going to happen soon,” she states.

Historically Sakkari has enjoyed mixed fortunes when it comes to playing in major tournaments. Last year at the Grand Slams she made two semi-final appearances, as well as losing in the second round at Wimbledon and the first round of the Australian Open.

“I wanted to do well, but things are different every year and we have seen so many upsets, and so many upsets all these years. At this level you always have to accept that you cannot go deep in every single tournament or every single big tournament,” she reflected.
“It’s very disappointing because I really wanted to do well again but I’m sure that I have a few more years left in my career.”

As for Muchova she is through to the last 32 in Paris for the second year in a row. Awaiting her next will be 27th seed Amanda Anisimova who defeated Donna Vekic 6-4, 6-1, in her second round match.

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