AO2015: Azarenka wins the 2nd round clash with Wozniacki - UBITENNIS
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AO2015: Azarenka wins the 2nd round clash with Wozniacki

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TENNIS AO2015 – Viktoria Azarenka, twice Australian Open champion in 2012 and 2013, beat last year’s US Open finalist Caroline Wozniacki in straight sets with 6-4 6-2 in over an hour and a half in a blockbuster second round match between two former Number 1 players. It has been the first time that two former Number 1 players met in a second round at the Australian Open since 2008 when Maria Sharapova beat Lindsey Davenport. Diego Sampaolo

AO2015: Interviews, Results, Order of Play, Draws

Azarenka is coming back after a rough 2014 season plagued by a foot injury which forced her to miss five months, including the French Open where she reached the semifinals in 2013. She failed to get through the quarter finals in two other Grand Slams losing to Agnieszka Radwanska at the Australian Open and to Ekaterina Makarova in the US Open. At Wimbledon she lost to Bojana Jovanovski in three sets in the second round.

Vika started the 2015 season with a defeat in the opening match in Brisbane against Czech rising star Karolina Pliskova in three sets after a 3-hour and 13-minute match in which Vika earned a match point at 6-4 5-4. As a result Azarenka did not defend her finalist point of last year and dropped in 44th place and entered the Australian Open unseeded after falling to Number 44 in the WTA Ranking.

However, the atmosphere of the Australian Open once again inspired Vika who won two titles in 2012 and 2013 and won 19 of her last 20 matches at Melbourne Park. Azarenka scored her first win against a top-ten player since Brisbane 2014 when she defeated Jelena Jankovic.

Azarenka, who beat 2013 Australian Open semifinalist Sloane Stephens in the first round, showed her superb form breaking Wozniacki in the first eight-minute game of the match and raced to a 3-0 lead with a double break but she hit five unforced errors from 4-3 40-0 allowing the Danish player to break back to draw level to 4-4. From that point Vika reeled off eight of her next ten points. She converted on her fourth break point in the ninth game to take the 5-4 lead before serving out for the set in the second set Vika fought back from 0-3 to win the second game before breaking serve twice in the third game for 2-1 and then in the seventh game for 5-2 when she converted on the first of her three break point chances. Vika earned her match point with an ace and converted it with a backhand volley to close out the match after one hour and 38 minutes. Caroline failed to earn a single break point in the second set. The Dane was broken five times and won just six of her 19 second-serve points. On the contrary Azarenka hit 31 winners and won 81 percent of her net points.

Azarenka celebrated the win with a dance after the match.

Azarenka, who will take on Barbora Zahlavova Strycova in the third round round, is favorite to reach the quarter finals where she could face 18-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams who beat Vera Zvonareva 7-5 6-0 in a re-match of the 2010 Wimbledon final. Williams, who has not got through the quarter final stage in Melbourne since 2010, went down 3-5 15-40 on her serve but she saved three set points before reeling off nine consecutive games. Williams hit a 204 km/h ace. Williams will face Elena Svitolina in the third round.

I think it was a very good match, very high quality. I am happy with the way I stayed consistent throughout the whole match. I think there are always things you can improve but it’s a great progress from one match to another. I just want to keep trying to stay in that path and continue to grow. My net game was pretty well today. I think I took those chances and really went for it. I am mostly pleased about that today. I don’t know what is going to happen in the future. I just want to be able to control what I can. It’s my preparation towards the next match. That’s really what I am going to do and not think about what’s going to happen. Just be really well prepared”, said Azarenka.

I wish I would have won. You can always look back and say: I wish I had done this. At the end of the day she played better than me today and hats off to that.. I just need to go back and work hard. It’s early, still beginning of the year. I have still 10 months to make up for this. Hopefully it’s still going to be a good year”, said Wozniacki.

Vika feels great here. I think it’s a curse I have gotten here. I have made semis, then quarters, then fourth round, then third round, this year second round. It’s kind of gone that way the last few years. Hopefully I am going to break that next year and start going the other way. I love this tournament and I am so sad to be out already. Obviously it was a tough draw for both of us. But you know, she came on top and played better. There is always a little bit of luck in the draw. Sometimes it looks tougher, but it’s opponents you like to play. Sometimes it looks easy, but it’s some maybe you don’t feel comfortable playing. At the end of the day you can see there have been so many upsets. There is nothing that comes easy. I am sure I could have had it a little bit easier”

When you play against a top player like Caroline, she is capable of doing pretty much anything on the court. She is not going to give anything away. She is really going to try to make you miss and go for bigger shots. I think the level of play is required to step up your game to play against a player like her. We had a lot of long rallies, high quality of tennis. When you face somebody who is that good, you have to raise your level.”

Azarenka has always played well in Melbourne. During the post-match press conference she explained the reason of her success Down Under.

Love the energy of people here. The whole country is like sport nation. They really love sport. I am really excited. It’s the first Grand Slam of the year. What the tournament has been doing to improve is very impressive. I think you feel very excited every time you come here to play. I guess like I am going to adopt an Aussie kid or something like that”

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Jasmine Paolini Looks Great, But Krejcikova Is Next At Wimbledon

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Jasmine Paolini’s path to a Grand Slam title might have fallen apart in Wimbledon’s semifinals.

Barbara Krejcikova is just the kind of player Paolini might not want to face.

Otherwise, grass is good for Paolini. She just eats up all of those low ball-sliding grass shots that her opponents have been providing. Those shots are perfect for the 5-3 Italian. She doesn’t have to get down very low since she is naturally there already, and she has great quickness. So,  Wimbledon’s grass was made for someone like Paolini.

CAN PAOLINI HANDLE KREJCIKOVA’S BAG OF TRICKS

Krejcikova has a bag full of tricks to throw at Paolini. Balls come off her racket twisting and turning just enough to throw Paolini’s reach-back cocked forehands off their mark. And Krejcikova has the experience needed to bring home an overall 12th Grand Slam title.

But you have to admit that the stubby Paolini is quite a player. She’s like a bouncing ball running loose on the court.

Paolini definitely was a superb player against new star Emma Navarro, who could do little right against the little Italian. Paolini just did everything to Navarro’s game that Navarro had been using to dominate the Italian.

THE SLY GAME OF KREJCIKOVA

Navarro couldn’t take charge of the points against Paolini in the quarterfinals, just the opposite of Navarro’s play against powerful Coco Gauff in the round of 16.

But Krejcikova is so sly with her game that she can take the rhythm right out of Paolini’s game.

After all, Krejcikova won the 2021 French Open singles title. She also has been a part of doubles champions at all four Grand Slams, and has won a total of seven Grand Slam doubles titles and three Grand Slam mixed doubles titles.

That’s 11 Grand Slam titles. What’s another title to the 28-year-old Czech?

VEKIC HAD HER CHANCES

Donna Vekic had her chances to end Paolini’s march to Saturday’s final, but the 28-year-old Croatian seemed to go for broke every time down the stretch when she had an add or deuce point. That’s probably why the 28-year-old Vekic has never been ranked higher than 19th in the world.

Time after time Vekic went for the jugular with sizzling  cross-court shots that narrowly missed the lines late in the third set before losing, 2-6, 6-4, 7-6.

Of course, Paolini’s amazing quickness may have had something to do with those misses.

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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Inspiration Key To Italy’s Tennis Success, Says Jasmine Paolini

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Jasmine Paolini - Wimbledon 2024 (X @wimbledon)

Unlike Italy’s disappointing exit from the Euros last month, their tennis stars continue to make waves at Wimbledon.  

Thursday at The All England Club saw Jasmine Paolini become the first woman from the country to reach a singles final in its history. The French Open finalist ousted Donna Vekic in a three-set epic, which was the longest semi-final match to take place in the women’s tournament. She is the first payer to reach the final of both Roland Garros and Wimbledon in the same year since Serena Williams in 2016. 

Paolini, who had never won a match at the grasscourt major until this year, isn’t the only Italian success. In the men’s draw, Lorenzo Musetti is enjoying his best-ever run at a major event after beating Taylor Fritz in a five-set battle on Wednesday. There is also Jannik Sinner who holds the ATP No.1 ranking, as well as many other strong players.

So how has Italy become such a force in tennis?

“I think we are inspiring each other,” Paolini commented on Thursday.
“I have to say in Italy there are many, many tournaments, like challengers, ITF, juniors.
“I think every player shows that something can be possible. Jannik is showing that. In Italy now it’s normal to have Jannik as No. 1. Normal, no, but he’s doing unbelievable things. I think he lost three matches this year, so it’s unbelievable to have him in that position. I think it helps all the movement behind it.
“Now we have many, many players that are doing really, really well, apart from Sinner.”

As it currently stands, Italy has nine men in the ATP top 100 and another five in the women’s top 100. The country also has a series of promising youngsters rising up the ranks. 

As for Musetti’s chances of matching Paolini’s run by reaching the final, he faces a tough task. He will next take on Novak Djokovic who is bidding to win a record-equalling eighth title at SW19. It will be the seventh meeting between the two with Musetti only winning one of their previous encounters on the clay. 

“Lorenzo is a really nice guy,” said Paolini. 
“I’m so happy for him. He has a huge talent. I think really good person. Hopefully, he can play a good match.”

This year’s Wimbledon featured three Italians in the singles quarter-finals (including Sinner who lost to Daniil Medvedev) for the first time in history. 

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‘It’s Tough To Be Positive’ – Tearful Donna Vekic On Wimbledon Exit

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Donna Vekic - Wimbledon 2024 (foto X @WTA)

Donna Vekic felt like she was ‘going to die’ during the third set of her record-breaking match against Jasmine Paolini at Wimbledon on Thursday. 

The Croat narrowly missed out on a place in her first Grand Slam final after losing 10-8 to Paolini in the decisive tiebreaker. Vekic battled on the court for two hours and 51 minutes in what was the longest women’s semi-final match to ever take place at SW19. After taking the first set, she got broken when down 4-5 in the second and then failed to maintain a 3-1 advantage in the decider. 

Thursday’s defeat is a bitter pill for Vekic to swallow who was visibly emotional during her press conference.

“I believed that I could win until the end. She played some amazing tennis. All congrats to her. She definitely deserved it.” She said. 
“She doesn’t have the best serve, but she’s serving well enough. I felt like also in the third set she was returning well.”

During stages of the match, Vekic looked weary on the court and was shaking her right arm at one stage, which was presumably due to cramping. Five out of her six matches played at the tournament had gone the full distance. The only exception was her second round clash against Erika Andreeva. 

“I thought I was going to die in the third set. I had so much pain in my arm, in my leg. It was not easy out there, but I will recover.” She said. 
“I was more crying because I had so much pain, I didn’t know how I could keep playing.”

Still, there are plenty of positives to draw from the grass swing for Vekic during what has been a roller-coaster season. At one stage of this year she failed to win back-to-back matches at five consecutive tournaments. But on the grass, she has faired better with a run to the final in Bad Homburg before Wimbledon.

However, with the defeat still fresh in her mind, it is tough for the world No.37 to look on the bright side at the moment.

“My team tells me that I can be proud of myself. It’s tough right now. It’s tough. I will need to take a couple of days to see everything.” She explains.
“It’s tough to be positive right now. It was so close. I had a lot of chances.”

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