It was a busy day all-around for two-time champion Venus Williams but a routine one at the office as she powered past Greek Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-4 to reach the US Open third round in New York City.
Amidst the chaos and attention of younger sister and 22-time Grand Slam winner Serena Williams giving birth, it was a mostly clean and quick day at the office for older sister and US Open ninth seed Venus Williams. Venus, a seven-time major champion herself, made comfortable work of unseeded Greek Maria Sakkari 6-3, 6-4 in front of a packed Arthur Ashe Stadium Labor Day weekend crowd.
With sister Serena giving birth to her first child, a healthy baby girl only a few hours before her third round match, Venus came out focused and looking for an easy straight sets win, something that has alluded her thus far at this year’s tournament as she tried to move into her third straight second week in Flushing Meadows.
Despite the birth of Serena’s first child only a couple hours earlier, Venus was able to stay pretty focused throughout. “You know, I’m a real professional, because I have been doing this for a long time, so when the first ball starts, it’s a ton of excitement out there. So, you know, this is the US Open.”
In the opening set, it was an evenly-matched affair early on as Sakkari successfully fended off powerful shot after shot from Williams to draw to 3-2 on serve. Looking to level the set at three games apiece, it was a nightmare service game for the 22-year-old, as two double faults and two poor forehand errors cost her mightily, gifting the break to love to Williams. From there on the 37-year-old and two-time US Open champion refused to look back, riding that break of serve to take a fairly routine first set 6-3.
The second set was almost a carbon copy of the first as some good fight and defense from the Athens native and world number 95 kept her on even terms with Williams through the first six games of the set. After back to back breaks of serve the previous two games, the American ninth seed began to punish Sakkari’s lack of depth on her shots, forcing multiple errors off the ground to snag the break back for 4-3.
Just like in the opener, seven-time major champion Williams would not relinquish that lead, going on to lose only one more point on serve the entire match, serving it out to close out a fairly straightforward 6-3, 6-4 win for Williams to book her spot in the second week in the Big Apple.
Venus has now made at least the second week at all four Grand Slams this year and six majors in a row. When asked about her incredible year and results at the slams, Williams said, “Yeah. I mean, my best tennis this year has come at the majors. I don’t play nearly as much as some of my contemporaries, but this year when I have played, it’s definitely been quality tennis. That’s exactly what I want, and obviously to play my best tennis at the Big 4.”
Despite probably not playing her best tennis so far this tournament, the ninth seed and home favorite was optimistc about her chances going into week two. Asked about how she’s improved so far through each match at this year’s tournament, the two-time former champion said, “I mean, obviously the last two rounds, straight sets, that’s awesome. And a win is a win. Whatever happens in the win gives you the opportunity to play the next day. Or, you know, God willing, you’re in the last round, you get to win. You win tournament. That’s the main focus is to cross the finish line.”
Williams will next play unseeded Spaniard Carla Suarez Navarro on Sunday for a spot in the quarterfinals. When asked about her upcoming fourth round match, the American said, “Yeah, honestly I don’t remember the last time we played. Maybe not so recently. Yeah, we have played. I’ve seen her play. She’s seen me play.”
“It’s not going to be, Oh, my gosh, I need to figure this person’s game out. So I know that I have to obviously play a little better than her and see what’s working and go for that,” said the seven-time major winner.
Svetlana Kuznetsova Wins First Title Since Return From Surgery In Washington
The two-time grand slam champion has returned back to the winners circle following her six-month absence due to injury.
Former world No.2 Svetlana Kuznetsova saved four match points to defeat Donna Vekic 4-6, 7-6(7), 6-2, in the final of the Citi Open in Washington.
Kuznetsova, 33, fought back against the aggressive play of her opponent. Saving seven out of the 10 break points she faced in the match. Eventually, it was the experience of the Russian that guided her to the finish line as she hit 34 winners to 36 unforced errors to win her first title on the tour since the 2016 Moscow Open.
“It was a difficult week,” Kuznetsova reflected afterwards. “Tennis is always mental, if you lose or if you win, you always gotta stay focused.”
With both players contesting their first final of the season, it was Vekic who battled through what was a roller-coaster and tense opening set. At first, the seventh seed appeared on course to clinch the opener with ease after breaking Kuznetsova in the fourth game as she raced out to a 4-1 lead. Only to be pegged by the 2014 champion. Serving for the set at 5-3, a forehand error rewarded Kuznetsova the chance to break back. Prior to the following point, the Russian complained about the movement of the crowd just as Vekic was about to serve. Then the Croat hit a double fault with the two players exchanging words at the changeover.
Despite feeling hard done by, Vekic soon restored order in the match. As Kuznetsova served for a chance to level 5-5, she pounced one again as the former world No.2 faltered. Recovering from a 15-40 deficit to seal the opening set with the help of a Kuznetsova double fault on set point.
Vekic continued to fight with the help of her of some rapid shock-making. Fending off a break point to nudge ahead 4-3 in the second set. Although Kuznetsova refused to go away. Saving two match points, it was in the tiebreaker where the Russian managed to turn her fortunes around. Vekic missed out on another two chances to win the match, allowing Kuznetsova to nudge ahead 8-7. She was then able to force proceedings into a decider after a Vekic forehand slammed into the net.
Kuznetsova’s resilience eventually wore her opponent down, who was close to tears after the match. Vekic admitted afterwards that she was dealing with leg pain and took a medical time out just before the start of the final set.
A double break in Kuznetsova’s favor in the decider guided her to a 5-0 lead. Enough of a cushion to enable her to close out the match after two-and-a-half hours of play to win her second Washington title.
“I know I’ve been a little bit lucky today,” she said.
“There’s something going on with Washington. I never lose here. I played two times and I won both.”
The victory comes after what has been a testing first half of the year for Kuznetsova. Left wrist surgery forced her to miss six months of the tour. Meaning that she didn’t start the 2018 season until March. Prior to the Citi Open, she had only won four matches in 10 tournaments played. Making her latest triumph even more special.
“Those times I had after the surgery, I had difficulties everywhere — personal, working different things. I switched coaches. I had lots of issues,” Kuznetsova explained. “But still, I rise again, and it’s really good for me.”
As a result of her latest win, Kuznetsova has risen 41 places in 87th in the world. Meanwhile, Vekic has jumped seven places to 37th.
Davis Cup Reforms Face Late Opposition As Vote Looms
The proposed Davis Cup reforms have received strong criticism from Tennis Australia and Tennis Europe ahead of this month’s vote.
The upcoming Davis Cup reform vote has received some strong opposition and criticism from Tennis Australia and Tennis Europe.
The vote is set to take place on the 16th of August, where federations will vote to change the 118 year old format to a one week season finale at the end of the year. The proposed move by Kosmos, has received fierce criticism and will need a two-thirds majority in order for it to be approved.
However with the vote just two weeks away Tennis Australia has been among the federations to oppose these reforms and have pushed this even further as they have wrote a letter expressing their discontent at the idea. The letter has been signed by the likes of John Newcombe, current Davis Cup captain Lleyton Hewitt and Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
The letter raises the following concerns, “We have written and spoken to the ITF President for several months now requesting clarity on the proposal from Kosmos, but this has not been forthcoming,” explained the letter, which is even signed by former ITF president Brian Tobin.
“Very large numbers are being referenced, but there is not enough detail to give us confidence this proposal will genuinely deliver enough additional value to players and the nations to offset the loss of home and away camaraderie and all the local marketing, facility investment and player development benefit that comes with those ties. In the absence of such important information, we have no choice other than to vote against the proposed amendments.”
However Tennis Australia isn’t the only federation to be against this move as Tennis Europe, who represent more than 50 member nations have also expressed their concern at the idea, “I am particularly concerned that there is hardly any information received from the ITF regarding bank guarantees for the proposed US$120 million per year which would be the $3 billion deal over 25 years, according to the original proposal,” President Vladimir Dimitriev explained in a separate letter.
“I have not yet seen a final and feasible explanation on how the business model or the governance structure will be either.”
The ITF do have the backing of Germany and France ahead of the move though with the AGM meeting set to take place in Orlando, Florida between the 13th and 16th of August.
Serena Williams Withdraws From Montreal Due To Personal Reasons
Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Coupe Rogers in Montreal next week due to personal reasons.
Former world number one Serena Williams has withdrawn from the Coupe Rogers in Montreal next week as she deals with some personal issues.
The American suffered the worst defeat of her career last week when she lost 6-1 6-0 to Johanna Konta in San Jose. The 23 grand slam champion clearly wasn’t at her best and it now turns out that she had personal problems to deal with as this is the reason for her withdrawal in Montreal next week.
The recent Wimbledon finalist also felt that she could not play Montreal and Cincinnati in back to back weeks as she continues her comeback from pregnancy. The tournament director, Eugene Lapierre, admits that he is disappointed but still recognises the high quality field that is left, “Of course, we are disappointed that Serena will not be joining us, Fans were very much looking forward to seeing her in action,” explained Eugene.
“But beyond the disappointment, the tournament, as a whole, remains a high-level competition. The entire Top 10 is here, along with 22 of the Top 25. There are exciting matches in store from the outset.”
The American was set to play in Canada for the first time since 2015 before withdrawing today. The 23 time grand slam champion has played five events since returning from pregnancy and the results have been mixed as you can see below:
Indian Wells – Third Round
Miami – First Round
Roland Garros – Fourth Round
Wimbledon – Final
San Jose – First Round
Tatjana Maria will now replace Serena Williams in the main draw and the German faces Alize Cornet in the first round.
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