Ana Ivanovic
Ana Ivanovic topples Johanna Larsson to reach the third round – BNP Paribas Open 2012

Former world number one, Ana Ivanovic, stomped over the Swedish tennis ace, Johanna Larsson, with a breadstick at the BNP Paribas Open 2012 on Saturday. She winded up a 6-1, 6-2 success over the world number 67 to advance into the round of 32 at this hard court tournament which is part of the 2012 WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) Tour.

The Swiss resident, Ivanovic flashed her old self at this WTA Premier Mandatory event and crippled Larsson in straight sets in their third encounter. She not only avenged her loss at the French Open last year but also took lead in the head-to-head series by 2-1 against the Swede.

Ivanovic stormed into the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and after breaking the Swede’s entire serve, she pocketed the opener with an assuring 6-1 victory. She lost her serve once but converted three out of eight break opportunities to her advantage.

Currently ranked 16th in the WTA Premier Rankings, Ivanovic kept her rhythm in the following set and slid entire serves after blocking the only breakpoint she faced. On the other hand, the Serb sought 10 break chances and availed two of them to pull out the set by winning six games to two.

Next in line for Ivanovic is the unseeded Kazakh, Ksenia Pervak, who stunned the 17th seed, Shuai Peng, with a bagel to set-up this meeting.

Another former world number one, Maria Sharapova, also earned the glory in a night match. The Russian slaughtered Gisela Dulko of Argentina with a bagel to secure this spot.

"Gisela is always tricky - we've played a few times before, and she's beaten me at a major before," the blooming Russian commented in a courtside interview. "She's someone who, when you give her a lot of time, she creates good angles, has really good hands, and can become quite dangerous. As a first round opponent, I had to be ready from the start. I haven't played a tournament in a few weeks. I was eager to get out there."

The world number two lost her serve once but cashed in six out of 11 break chances to formulate a 6-2, 6-0 score line in 66 minutes. As a result, she improved to a 4-1 head-to-head record against the Argentinean veteran.

Sharapova will square off against the Romanian number one, Simona Halep, who upset the 28th seeded Czech, Petra Cetkovska, in straight sets. The 20-year-old broke Cetkovska’s serve six times to seal the deal with a 6-2, 6-4 victory.

Sania Mirza
Sania Mirza continued to slide down the ranking ladder as she is now placed 130th, loss of one place in the latest WTA list issued on Monday.

After losing at the WTA Dubai Open qualifiers, Sania had also lost in the first round of the Malaysian Open singles event.

She, however, managed to maintain her seventh place in the doubles ranking.

Meanwhile, the out-of-action Somdev Devvarman has lost 15 places to be down at 135 in the ATP singles rankings list.

In the doubles rankings, Leander Paes continued to be the highest ranked Indian at number seven.

New Indian men's doubles pair of Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, who won their first ATP World Tour title together at the Dubai Open, gained three places each.

While Bopanna is now placed at number eight, Bhupathi has climbed to No. 12 spot in the doubles ranking.

Caroline Wozniacki beats Ana Ivanovic to reach Dubai Open semifinals.


Caroline Wozniacki beats Ana Ivanovic
Jelena Jankovic of Serbia defeated US Open champion Sam Stosur 6-4, 6-2 Thursday to reach the semifinals of the Dubai Tennis Championships. Defending champion Caroline Wozniacki also reached the semifinals by defeating the other Serbian quarterfinalist, Ana Ivanovic, 6-3, 7-5. Wozniacki is the highest-seeded player left in Dubai at No. 3 after top-ranked Victoria Azarenka pulled out of the tournament Wednesday because of an ankle injury.

The eighth-seeded Jankovic was in control throughout the match as the fourth-seeded Stosur struggled with her game. The Australian seemed to rush her shots for much of the first set, hitting the ball early and returning it long and wide. Stosur broke Jankovic early in the second, but the Serb broke right back and then pulled ahead 5-2 before wrapping up the match in 1 hour, 30 minutes.

"I'm happy with the win," Jankovic said. "It's never easy. Against her, we always have tough matches." The 26-year-old Serbian player also defeated Stosur in last year's quarterfinals in Dubai. "I think the key was my return," Jankovic said. "You know, she (Stosur) has one of the best, if not the best, serves in the women's game. It's never easy to return her serve.

"But usually she likes to serve and then start dictating the point with her forehand. I didn't really allow her to do that ... I was pretty much in control the whole time," Jankovic said.
Stosur was disappointed she missed a chance to bounce back from last year's loss to Jankovic, "I definitely didn't play as well today," Stosur said. "I mean, she played all right. She served quite well. I felt like I was getting pushed back. "I think today she stayed up on the baseline quite well and I didn't," Stosur said.

"But I think it was more that I don't think my forehand was as good as what it needed to be."
Jankovic will meet fifth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the semifinals on Friday. The Polish player advanced after defeating ninth-seeded Sabine Lisicki of Germany, 6-2, 6-1. Wozniacki will play the winner of Thursday's last third-round match between two unseeded players, Germany's Julia Goerges and Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/sports/tennis/top-stories/Caroline-Wozniacki-beats-Ana-Ivanovic-to-reach-Dubai-Open-semifinals/articleshow/12009722.cms
Sania Mirza of India combined well with her Australian partner Anastasia Rodionova to get the better of H.

Chan and Yung-ja Chan of Taipei 3-6, 6-1, 10-8 to win the women's doubles final of the Pattaya Open tennis championship in Thailand on Sunday evening, according to information received here.

The top-seeded duo of Sania and Anastasia rallied well from a first-set deficit to down a fighting fourth-seeded combine of H. Chan and Y. Chan, who despite losing the second set easily, looked very good in the decider in a final which lasted 65 minutes.

This happens to be the 13th WTA title for the Hyderabadi Sania and also the first in the year 2012.

It may be recalled here that the 25-year-old Sania Mirza has entered the semi-finals of two events - mixed doubles and women's doubles - in the last month's Australian Open championship.

This victory comes as a huge morale-booster for the Indian tennis star, who is keen to stay in the world top 10 rankings in women's doubles (she is currently ranked World No 7) to be in with a chance to compete in the 2012 London Olympics, ahead of a very demanding circuit wherein she has to defend lot of points as part of this objective.
Canada’s unheralded men’s tennis team is refusing to be intimidated by a powerhouse French squad that is the clear favourite heading into this weekend’s Davis Cup clash.

"We’re the underdog on paper," said Canadian captain Martin Laurendeau. "But deep down, we all believe that playing at home, playing with the momentum that we’ve carried from last year and drawing on the confidence and good feelings we’ve had from winning Davis Cup last year, we can all bring it together and raise everybody’s game."

The French team boasts No. 6 Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, No. 13 Gael Monfils — who expects to play despite a knee injury — and No. 35 Julien Benneteau as well as fifth-ranked doubles specialist Michael Llodra.

Canada’s top hopes are 29th-ranked Milos Raonic of Thornill, Ont., the country’s highest-ever ranked singles player, and third-ranked doubles specialist Daniel Nestor of Toronto.

Rising star Vasek Pospisil of Vernon, B.C., (115th), who stood out while playing in all three victories on the road against Mexico, Ecuador and Israel last year to get Canada to the World Group stage against France, and 178th-ranked veteran Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., round out the Canadian foursome.

Canada is playing at the World Group level for the first time in eight years. But Raonic, who has risen dramatically in the rankings in the past year, has no plans to adjust his game against the French.

"My focus is always on myself," said Raonic, who advanced to the third round at the Australian Open last month. "I try to make my opponents adjust to me, moreso than me adjust to them."

A victory will place Canada in the quarter-final stage and ensure a return to World Group play in 2013. If Canada loses, it will be forced to compete in a playoff round to avoid relegation to Americas Zone play and a longer road back to the top level.

When Canada is not relying on its youthful talent or homecourt advantage, it will depend on the wily Nestor. Now 39, he was just a 19-year-old rookie when Canada last hosted a Davis Cup competition in Vancouver in 1992.

But he upset Swedish star Stefan Edberg in singles play, providing a highlight to Canada’s 3-2 loss. Although Nestor is not slated to play singles this time, he believes Canada’s challenge is the same as it was in 1992.

"You’ve got two top-10 guys we’re up against, but I think we’ve got a better singles lineup than we had then," said Nestor.
Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova dumps Silvia Soler-Espinosa in round one - Fed Cup WG II 2012

World number three, Maria Sharapova, bamboozled the Spanish contestant, Silvia Soler-Espinosa, in straight sets 6-2, 6-1 to help Russia build up a 2-0 lead in the Fed Cup World Group II tie against Team Spain.

Both contestants locked horns for the first time in their professional careers on 4th February. Sharapova was nervous at the start as she stated in the post-match interview, “I was a bit nervous before the beginning of the match as I failed to show my best tennis in my previous Fed Cup appearance in Moscow.”

Earlier Svetlana Kuznetsova had dumped her opponent, Carlo Suarez Navarro, in straight sets 6-3, 6-1. It was a good start from the strong Russian squad, as they looked to white-wash the Spanish rivals. Kuznetsova stated in a post-match interview, “From the score line, the match looked easy but in fact it was a bit difficult.” So, there is a chance of clean sweep but it might not be as easy as it looks like.

Sharapova started off the set with a successful serve break but unfortunately for her, the lead was cut short in the next game with a successful serve break from Espinosa. Sharapova broke serve once again in the third game to take the lead and this time she imposed greater pressure with a successful serve hold in the following game.

Another breakthrough in the fifth game eased Sharapova to a majestic lead, which was practically impossible to cut down, especially with the Russian on top of her game in the recent past. No more breakpoints in the following games were seen and the opening set ended in quick succession with a comprehensive performance from the Russian.

Different racquet in the second set didn’t alter luck for the Spaniard as her serve was broken in the first game. Sharapova cruised past her opponent sparing just a single game and securing three breakthroughs to round off the match proceedings in her favour. She was delighted to perform well in the Fed Cup after such a long time and stated, “It was very important to stay concentrated, to believe and prove that my tennis is better and to win the match. Luckily, I managed to do all that and now I’m really satisfied with my performance.”

Spain needs to comeback from behind in order to secure some respect. Such results were obvious for the bleak Team Spain but there might be a chance that a new day brings new luck for them and they are able to turn the tables on their opponents.

news from: http://blogs.bettor.com/Maria-Sharapova-dumps-Silvia-Soler-Espinosa-in-round-one-Fed-Cup-WG-II-2012-a127630
Serena Williams
UNICEF launched a program known as "Schools for Asia" this month. The program is a world-wide fundraising program aimed to improve the quality and accessibility of education to children living in Asia and the Pacific. The program aims to educate children who would likely be excluded from educational opportunities.

Serena Williams' introduction to UNICEF

In 2006, Williams traveled to Ghana during the African country's biggest health campaign ever. Volunteers helped provide immunizations to children and provided families with nets to be hung over beds to protect from mosquitoes that could transmit malaria. The trip was eye opening for Williams, and she continued to work with UNICEF.

Williams supports Schools for Asia

In 2008, tennis star Serena Williams traveled to Africa to help launch "The Serena Williams Secondary School". The tennis champion saw a need and took action to help provide youth in Asia with educational opportunities. Williams has been named as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador.

When asked about her hopes for the program, Williams explained, "Schools for Asia [will] provide quality education to millions of children. Millions of children around the world don't have [access to education]. They're too poor or live too far away. Maybe they need to work to help support their family. Or it's because of conflict or discrimination."

Will Williams continue charity work?

Williams recently lost her match against Ekaterina Makarova at the Australian Open. Just a couple weeks prior, Williams suffered a fall during a match at the Brisbane International.

I can't help but wonder if perhaps Serena Williams' reign on the world of tennis may be coming to an end. Should she retire, Williams is an amazing and giving woman and her charity work should be continued. The school she helped launch is already making an immeasurable difference in the lives of children in Asia. It would be a shame if she were to stop that work.
Sania mirza
Sania Mirza staged yet another magnificent comeback from near-wilderness in the international circuit. This 25-year-old Hyderabadi by entering the semi-finals in both the mixed doubles and women’s doubles of the Australian Open has now achieved what no other Indian women's tennis player has ever done before – break into the world top 10 in women’s doubles. To be precise, Sania is now ranked World No. 7.

“I used to be excited when I figured in the top students of my class. To be ranked at No. 7 in the world is an unbelievable feeling,” Sania Mirza informed 'The Hindu' on Monday even as she joined the Indian Fed Cup squad in China.

Clearly enjoying life after marriage with former Pakistan cricket captain Shoaib Malik, Sania’s message is loud and clear – ‘Watch out! I am still going strong and chasing the dream of an Olympic medal’.

“Yes, we are thrilled at her achievement given the fact that she was out of action for four months after the US Open when she needed another surgery (her third in four years). It is no joke to break into the top 10 rankings in the world in any category,” says Imran Mirza, Sania’s mentor and father.

For the record, Sania has won so far 12 WTA titles besides four ITF titles and in 2011 entered the French Open doubles final, besides being semi-finalist in women’s doubles in Wimbledon and making it to the semi-finals in two events in 2012 Australian Open.

What has clearly delighted the Mirza family is the fact that by her magnificent performance in the Australian Open, Sania has ensured that she stayed in the race for an entry into the 2012 London Olympics.

“Well, if Sania stays in the top 10 by June 2012, she will have the privilege to choose a partner from India to compete in the women’s doubles in London Games. And she can play in Olympics mixed doubles if she qualifies for singles or doubles,” explains Imran.

Apparently, Sania is in the mood to sustain her excellent Australian Open form by taking part in the Pattaya, Doha, Dubai, Kuala Lumpur Open tournaments where she is also hoping to pick some valuable points and to stay in the top 10 rankings. “Her schedule includes the US circuit too,” Imran pointed out.

“Definitely, Sania’s confidence is on a new high and the focus of attention in our preparation should be to ensure peak fitness level before the Olympics,” Imran said.

For her part, Sania, who is the only Indian woman tennis player to win a Grand Slam (the 2009 Australia Open mixed doubles title with Mahesh Bhupathi), is pleased that she once again proved why she is still the best women’s tennis player from India and with also the fact that she has silenced quite a few critics who had again written her off.

Source: http://www.thehindu.com/sport/tennis/article2845225.ece
Ana Ivanovic
Boasting Adam Scott in her corner and a less complicated game plan, Serbian starlet Ana Ivanovic believes she's on her way "back to the top".

The former world No.1 is into the third round of the Australian Open for the loss of just eight games after powering past Michaella Krajicek 6-2 6-3 today.

"I feel like I'm getting into the tournament. It's nice to get some wins and be in contention to play against top players," Ivanovic said after burying Krajicek in barely an hour at Hisense Arena.

"I enjoy playing here. The last couple matches have been really lots of fun. It's been good to also apply things I worked on in off-season.

"I really tried to pick the right ball to come in and be aggressive. That's something I worked a lot on.

"Also on my spin on my forehand, so I don't play as flat as I used to.

"It's working really well. I can sort of push opponents around the court."

The 24-year-old said new coach Nigel Sears, who linked with the 2008 runner-up and ex-French Open champion after Wimbledon last July, had given her newfound clarity and calmness on court.

Source: http://tvnz.co.nz/tennis-news/ana-ivanovic-eyes-return-top-4693687
Caroline Wozniacki
Top seed Caroline Wozniacki escaped a major scare to scrape into the quarter-finals of the Sydney International after a 7-5 2-6 6-4 win over Dominika Cibulkova.

The world number one was 4-0 down in the deciding set but fought back to win six games in a row and complete a battling victory in a match that lasted almost two-and-a-half hours.

Wozniacki had earlier edged a first set that contained several breaks of serve, but her game started to fall apart in the second and early stages of the third.

The unseeded Slovakian evened things up and seemed set for a shock win when she secured two early breaks of serve in the decider.

It was then Cibulkova's turn to run in to trouble, however, as a resurgent Wozniacki managed to eke out a victory and set-up a last eight clash with Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Andrea Petkovic 7-5 6-4.

"I thought I had lost the match. I decided to play free, not care about the score anymore, and it worked out," Wozniacki said.

Second seed Petra Kvitova also dropped a set but eventually progressed to the quarter-finals with a 7-5 3-6 6-4 win over Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania.

Source: http://www1.skysports.com/tennis/news/12110/7421037/Sydney-wobble-for-Wozniacki
Zheng Jie
Unseeded Zheng Jie claimed her fourth career singles title and her first since 2006 when Flavia Pennetta was forced to retire injured in the third set of Sunday's ASB Classic final.

The 28-year-old Zheng was leading 2-6, 6-3, 2-0 when fourth-seeded Pennetta, who required courtside treatment to a back injury, indicated she was unable to continue.

It was Zheng's first title since 2006 at Estoril and the Chinese now has four titles from six final appearances.

Italy's Pennetta, who was bidding for a 10th career singles title, finished runner-up in Auckland for the second time, having also reached the final in 2010.

Pennetta had not dropped a set in reaching the final and looked in similarly commanding form Sunday when she took the first frame in 46 minutes.

Both players saved breakpoints in their opening service games but Pennetta took charge when she broke Zheng to love in the third game, then rallied from 0-40 on her own serve to lead 3-1. She broke again for 5-2 and served out the set at her first opportunity.

Pennetta broke Zheng in the opening game of the second set and seemed on course for a convincing win. But she began to look uncomfortable, particularly when serving, and was forced three times to call for medical treatment.

Zheng recognized her opportunity and began to play more aggressively, stepping into the court to take the serve earlier and making use of her strong, whippy forehand.

She broke back in the fourth game of the second set and gained a decisive break in the sixth game, and took the set in 42 minutes.

Pennetta dropped serve in the opening game of the third set and, after battling through the second game, elected to retire. The world No. 20 now heads to Melbourne for the Australian Open which starts Jan. 16.

"I'm still quite happy. It's been a good week for me and a good way to start the year," Pennetta said.

The singles final, scheduled for Saturday, was postponed until Sunday then moved indoors because of rain.
Li Na
Li Na beats Bartoli in opening match at Hopman Cup

French Open champion Li Na recovered from a service break down in the final set to beat Marion Bartoli 2-6, 6-2, 6-4 and give China a 1-0 lead over France after Saturday’s opening match of the Hopman Cup mixed teams tournament.

Bartoli broke Li’s serve in the fifth game of the final set to take a 3-2 lead, but Li broke back in the eighth game to even the set at 4-4 and took the match by breaking Bartoli in the final game.

Wu Di will play Richard Gasquet in the men’s singles ahead of a mixed doubles match.

It was the only match Saturday. Australia plays Spain on Sunday, while Czech Republic plays Bulgaria and the United States takes on Denmark on Monday.
Ana Ivanovic
Serbian female tennis player Ana Ivanovic said earlier today she would love to have at least three children, but expand her family only after her tennis career had ended.

As she states at her official web page (anaivanovic.com), she said earlier for Russian sports page Sport.ru that she would one day love to have a large family, but not anytime soon.

- It will be after I’ve finished my tennis career, said Ivanovic.

Being asked if she already felt like a veteran player and who she got on with on the WTA tour, the 24-year-old Serb responded:

- I don’t feel like a veteran at all. It’s true I am somewhere between those young upcoming players and the older generation. My best friends on tour are of my age and those a little younger than me.

Ivanovic then explained she hung out most while on tour with Sorana Cirstea of Romania and Sweden’s Sofia Arvidsson.

- I wouldn’t say there is a huge generation gap and division between generations. For example, Caroline Wozniacki and Serena Williams are good friends. Although there are typically no great friendships, we communicate and chat no matter the age, said Ana.
Former world number one Ana Ivanovic of Serbia will return to Bali in November to defend her Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions title after receiving the first wild card for the event on Thursday.

Last year Ivanovic emerged victorious in the eight-player field, which brings together the best performers of the season from the International series of WTA tournaments.

"It almost goes without saying Bali is one of the most beautiful places on the tennis circuit - probably the best, in fact," said Ivanovic, who is currently playing the China Open in Beijing.

"I had a wonderful time there last year. Off the court I was able to relax on the beach, but on the court I played some of my best tennis and was so happy to win the title.

"It's a great thrill for me to come back and try and win the tournament again," the 24-year-old Serb added. "I remember last year we had an exciting atmosphere at each match and I'm sure it's going to be another great event."

She is in the quarterfinals at the China Open and will take the court again on Friday.

The third annual Commonwealth Bank Tournament of Champions is scheduled for November 3 to 6 at the Bali International Convention Centre.

Featuring top WTA players and next generation champions competing in an eight woman, single elimination singles format, it offers prize money of 600,000 U.S. dollars.
Serena Williams
World No. 2 Maria Sharapova of Russia and American Serena Williams pulled out of the China Open Friday, a day before the beginning of the WTA premier event.

Sharapova twisted her ankle while serving Thursday and quit her Pan Pacific Open quarterfinals in Tokyo against Petra Kvitova.

The 24-year-old Russian said on her website: "Good news is that the MRI showed no big damage in the ankle. Will do my best to recover in time for Istanbul (the season-ending championships)."

"It is to better recover soon because I can become quite the annoying patient! I will keep everyone posted with my progress."

Williams also missed the tournament due to injury. The American was out of tennis for almost a year with a series of injuries, but hit her form quickly after coming back, reaching her fifth US Open final earlier this month.

According to the official website of the China Open, Serena should have arrived in Beijing Friday. However, she didn't appear in the women's singles draw, meaning she would be absent for the second consecutive year.

With the season nearing its end, a bunch of players have deleted the China trip from their schedule.

World No. 1 men's player Novak Djokovic quit the event due to a negative report from his latest physical check. Others absentees include Richard Gasquet, Robin Soderling and Venus Williams.
Sania Mirza on a holiday in Pakistan
With a knee injury keeping her off court, tennis star Sania Mirza is on holiday in Pakistan with cricketer husband Shoaib Malik, who will be competing in the upcoming National Twenty20 Championships.

Mirza got a warm welcome when she reached Karachi two days ago with Malik, but refrained from speaking to the media. Sania has been diagnosed with a ruptured left knee miniscus and was advised six weeks rest by a specialist.

Dressed in a red salwar kameez, Sania was cheered by people at Karachi airport when she arrived with Malik in the evening.

This is the first time Sania is visiting Pakistan's biggest city since she went there to play in an international junior tennis tournament in the 90s. Malik said he hoped bilateral cricket relations with India would resume soon.

"I don't think the media should create so much hype around us and our marriage, but yes, I do hope our marriage helps people in both countries to realise we can co-exist peacefully. I hope our marriage helps in improving relations between the two countries," the former Pakistan captain told us.

Sania, who married Malik in April 2010, is in Pakistan visiting her in-laws in Malik's hometown of Sialkot, besides travelling to Lahore on a private visit.

Sources said Malik arranged for special permission for his wife to be in Karachi for the duration of the tournament, in which he is captaining the Sialkot Stallions.

"I am here to play cricket and my wife is with me on holiday, but obviously her presence is good for me and I hope to do well in the national tournament," he told us.

Source:


New Zealand tennis No 1 Marina Erakovic has risen 22 spots to 63 in the world rankings after a runner-up finish at the US$220,000 (NZ$266,000) WTA event in Quebec City, Canada, yesterday.


Marina Erakovic
The 23-year-old, who was beaten 4-6 6-1 6-0 by Czech sixth seed Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova in the final, started the year ranked 324 in singles after struggling with serious hip and wrist injuries in 2009 and 2010.

But a consistent run of good form has her approaching her career-high ranking of 49, achieved in 2008 on the back of two WTA semifinal appearances, an ITF title, and good performances at the grand slam events including a third round appearance at Wimbledon.

''I'm feeling more comfortable with my game with every match, I'm learning more about my strengths and areas I need to work on in certain match situations,'' she said yesterday from Quebec.

''I'm feeling much more comfortable at this level with these players, and I think I have a game which can win me a lot of matches. So I feel like I'm going in the right direction.''

Erakovic has bolted to the brink of the top 50 after three ITF titles and several top performances in WTA tournaments, including a career-best win over world No 4 Victoria Azarenka in reaching the quarterfinals at Stanford.

Her run in Quebec saw her reach a WTA final for the first time, and boosted her season earnings to more than $US200,000.

The Aucklander will play three tournaments in Europe before returning home in November for a break.

Source:
SAMANTHA Stosur neither expects nor wants an apology from Serena Williams after the former world No 1's outburst during the second set of their US Open final.

Stosur arrived home on Saturday smiling broadly as she relived the greatest moment of her career followed by the busiest week of her life.

The 27-year-old has hardly stopped smiling or posing for photographs, signing autographs or being asked questions about her sterling 6-3 6-2 win. It was the Australian's first grand slam singles title. Williams has 13.

Williams, however, was fined $US2000 ($1900) after delivering a broadside at umpire Eva Asderaki, loudly accusing her of being a "hater" and "unattractive inside".

Williams became incensed after being docked a point by Asderaki for yelling out during a rally before Stosur had the chance to play at the ball. It was two years ago that Williams launched another outburst at a lineswoman during a US Open semi-final defeat to Kim Clijsters.

But Stosur told The Australian at Brisbane airport on Saturday, that she harboured no ill feeling towards Williams.

"It happened. It was the heat of the moment and she didn't verbally say anything at me or towards me," Stosur said. "It was all at the umpire.

"So I'm not expecting one (an apology) and don't want one. She was pretty gracious to me to come over and sit beside me and chat before the trophy presentation.

"That doesn't happen often. I don't think I've ever seen that happen. There's no hard feelings. It was just part of the match. I know I've moved on and I'm sure she will too."

Williams missed last January's Australian Open through injury, but is likely to arrive in Melbourne in the new year.

Williams defeated Stosur in the fourth round of the Australian Open last year, before going on to defeat Justine Henin in the final.

The Australian Open is the next grand slam on the calendar (January 16-29) and Stosur knows the pressure will be more on her than Williams.

"Winning a grand slam is wonderful, but if that was ever to be the Australian Open then that'd be something else," Stosur said.

"It's the most special grand slam I could ever possibly win. If that does happen then that would absolutely be the top of my career for me."
Ana Ivanovic
With all of the drama surrounding the Williams sisters, from the resurgence of Serena to the strange, debilitating illness that forced Venus to withdraw here, it's easy for the rest of the women's tennis field to feel overshadowed at the U.S. Open.

But the Williamses are not the only ones who have been through turmoil lately. Ana Ivanovic, the No. 16 seed who will face Serena Williams in the fourth round Monday, has had her own share of misfortune, as well as triumph.

There was the loss of her grandfather, Milovan Ivanovic, who died the weekend before the Open began. And the apparent reconciliation with Australian golfer Adam Scott, who was seen in the player's box for Ivanovic's opening-round match last Tuesday. "We're just happy," she told The Associated Press last week.

Through it all, there has been the seeming return of Ivanovic's stellar tennis game. She has reached the fourth round here after beating top American prospect Sloane Stephens on Saturday night, marking the Serbian's best performance in a Grand Slam in 2011 after first-round exits at the Australian and French Opens and a third-round departure at Wimbledon.

The player who was ranked No. 1 in the world after winning the French Open as a 20-year-old in 2008 may not have vaulted back to the top just yet. But at least Ivanovic, ranked 19th, appears on her way again.

"Well, I think with all the work I've done, you do gain confidence," Ivanovic, 23, said after beating Stephens 6-3, 6-4 in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday. "Obviously when you win, you have more confidence, you enjoy competing much more. That's something that I gain back. … It makes a big difference because you don't doubt so much when you step on the court and you can play a lot freer."

In her rise to No. 1 in 2008, Ivanovic captivated as much with her appearances as her on-court performances. What followed was a mystifying rapid plummet; at her lowest, Ivanovic's ranking dropped below 60 in the summer of 2010.

"For me, it was one of the strangest things because she won the French Open playing so well, became No. 1 in the world, and I don't know if it was the weight of the pressure, the expectations of now being at that level," said 15-year pro and two-time doubles Grand Slam champion Mary Joe Fernandez, now a tennis commentator. "Majors have been tough for her. So for her already to come through this far, I think that's already going to give her a big boost and belief.

"There's no reason why she shouldn't be in the top 10. She's got the ingredients.''

Part of the credit for bringing those pieces back together goes to new coach Nigel Sears, the former head of women's coaching for the British Lawn Tennis Association who became Ivanovic's coach in July. Sears has worked on Ivanovic's powerful forehand and serve.

"He has helped me a lot," Ivanovic said. "I think our relationship, it's really good. I can pick up things fast from his coaching. We have the same views, and that's very important as well, because then you can absorb things better.

"We have big goals and we look at the big picture. But the results are already there, which is very encouraging."

Ivanovic also has not been severely tested at the Open thus far. She beat Ksenia Pervak of Russia 6-4, 6-2 in the first round and had a second-round walkover against Petra Cetkovska of the Czech Republic, who beat her in the third round at Wimbledon. Ivanovic then took advantage of a young Stephens, 18, who was so overwhelmed to play in Ashe Stadium for the first time that she battled nerves as much as her opponent.

But the path ahead can't be any more difficult for Ivanovic now. She faces Williams in Ashe Stadium on Monday. Williams has not surrendered a set through the first three rounds. She has lost just 10 games overall.

"When you play Serena, Serena controls the match," Fernandez said. "It's up to Serena. If she continues to play the way she's playing, I don't think anybody can beat her. But for Ana, it's going to be key to serve well. She's going to have to serve well to be in it."

For her part, Williams knows Ivanovic is improved from earlier in the season.

"Well, she's playing well," Williams said. "She's incredibly fit right now. She was No. 1, right, at one point, so …"

So Ivanovic is not a player to be taken lightly at this moment.

Still, Ivanovic knows what's coming. But if she is intimidated, it doesn't show.

"It's exciting, at least for me," Ivanovic said. "I think she [Serena Williams] is the hottest player out there at the moment. She's been playing so well lately. It is going to be a good challenge.

"I know I can give her a tough match. She beat me in the past, but maybe I can go for revenge on Monday."

Ivanovic has nothing to lose. Even if she doesn't beat Williams, she already knows she's on her way back to the upper echelon of women's tennis.
Maria Sharapova has climbed back up to No. 2 in the world rankings.

Sharapova’s results this season have sent her flying up the world rankings, and she currently sits behind just one player, Caroline Wozniacki.

After falling to No. 126 in May 2009, Sharapova has steadily made up ground on the rest of the World’s best after an excellent 2011.

An appearance in the final of Wimbledon aided her cause earlier this season, as did her run to the semi-finals of the French Open. On top of this, she won titles in Rome and Cincinnati as well as reaching the final in Miami and Indian Wells.

It may be a little too early to talk about her taking the top spot off of Wozniacki at this moment in time, however, as the Dane leads the field by over 3000 rankings points, despite the fact that she’s still yet to win a Grand Slam title.

That said, Sharapova has been less active on the WTA Tour than almost everybody in the top twenty this season, and she could be a rankings topper if she manages to play in more tournaments next year, which is a real possibility if her shoulder injury doesn’t come back to haunt her.
Sania Mirza may not be able to play in the rest of the season in the WTA circuit as the Indian tennis star has been advised rest for six weeks after suffering a knee injury during the women's doubles third round defeat at the US Open.

Sania has been diagnosed with a ruptured left knee miniscus and has been initially advised a minimum six weeks rest by a specialist, who examined her in New York, according to information received here.

The Hyderabadi has been struggling with injuries in the last few seasons. She made a good comeback last year after a career-threatening wrist injury.

She zoomed up to 64 in the singles ranking after starting the 2011 season at 166. In the doubles list, she is at her career-best 11.

The latest injury means that Sania's place in the prestigious year-end Championships is also doubtful. Sania and her Russian partner Elena Vesnina are front runners in the race for the top-four doubles teams.

They are placed third in the race so far with 4508 points, followed by Argentine Gisela Dulko and Italian Flavia Pennetta, who have 4106.

There are still eight different WTA events, yet to be played in the 2011 season after the US Open, the last Grand Slam of the year.

Sania's campaign ended at the US Open when she and Vesnina lost 6-7 (4) 6-7 (5) to the Czech pair of Iveta Benesova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

She had also lost in the first round of the singles and mixed doubles event with compatriot Mahesh Bhupathi.

Sania is expected in Hyderabad shortly to consult with Orthropaedic specialists, who will consider a surgical intervention after further intensive tests.

The Indian tennis player had undergone an arthroscopy to repair the ACL on her right knee a few years back.

India's Sania Mirza was outplayed by Germany's Sabine Lisicki 3-6, 0-6 to crash out of women's singles first round of the Texas Tennis Open here on Monday.

Sania Mirza
Playing in hot conditions, the 23rd-ranked German needed only an hour and five minutes go past Sania.

Lisicki, with her big serve and powerful groundstrokes, opened a 3-0 lead in the first set before 63rd-ranked Sania broke back to bridge the gap, 3-2. The German, however, came back and did not let up.

Before this match, the two were 1-1 head-to-head with Lisicki beating Sania in Auckland in March and the Indian returning the favour with a win at Charleston in April.

"It was definitely hot. But it is the same for both players. You just have to battle on," said fifth-seeded Lisicki, who reached the Wimbledon semifinal this year.

"You have to play from start to finish and you can never letdown her," Lisicki said. "I've played her twice and the last two times were a little bit of a roller coaster. I knew that as soon as I would take anything off, she'd be right back in there. I just wanted to end it as soon as possible."
Serena Williams was seemingly back on top of her game, having won seven matches in eight days and consecutive WTA tournaments.

But a troublesome right big toe forced Williams out of the Western & Southern draw Wednesday in Cincinnati and cast some doubts about whether she'll be fit enough to celebrate a significant anniversary at the U.S. Open.

"I don't think this is a good time for me to take a chance," Williams said after pulling out of a second-round match against Samantha Stosur to begin resting up for the Open, which starts the week after next. She cut the toe when she stepped on a piece of glass after winning Wimbledon last year and has had two operations to repair the damage.

Williams claimed the first of her 13 Grand Slam titles at Flushing Meadow in 1999, a couple weeks shy of her 18th birthday. Only two players in the Open Era have won the same major championship a dozen years apart. Pete Sampras collected the first of his then-record 14 Slams at the Open in 1990 and took his last one there in 2002. Martina Navratilova's run of 18 majors began at Wimbledon in 1978 and ended on Centre Court in 1990.

Also, it was a decade ago when Williams and big sister Venus squared off in the 2001 Open final, the first ever played in prime time and the first to pit two African-Americans - never mind siblings - against each other with one of tennis' four biggest titles on the line. Adding to the magic, of course, was the venue - Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"People of color weren't allowed to play in a sanctioned tournament until the '50s," WTA founder Billie Jean King reminds us.

Previously, the women's final had been sandwiched between the two men's semis and, as a result, often got lost in the "Super Saturday" shuffle. But the women stole the show that weekend in 2001.

Despite hitting just seven winners, Venus won 6-2, 6-4 in 69 minutes to defend her championship and give the Williams family three titles in a row. (Serena extended the streak to four in 2002.) The next afternoon, Lleyton Hewitt stunned the heavily favored Sampras in straight sets to take the men's title.

Then, two days later ...

Somber anniversary

The U.S. Open men's final falls on the 10th anniversary of 9/11, and the USTA intends to mark the occasion "in a dignified and respectful manner," chairman of the board and president Jon Vegosen said. "We are one of this nation's global stages, and we have a special responsibility to honor those fallen and those who responded heroically on that fateful day."

For both the women's final the previous evening and the men's match, the court will be inscribed with "9-11-01." The usopen.org logo ringing the stadium will be replaced with the 9/11 memorial logo.

Cyndi Lauper will perform on Saturday night and Queen Latifah on Sunday. Both ceremonies, to be televised live by CBS, will include a moment of silence and the unfurling of a giant American flag over the court by a Marine Corps color guard.

The men's finalists will enter the stadium through an honor guard including members of New York's police and fire departments and the Port Authority police. A military flyover will follow.
Sania Mirza won her third WTA doubles title of the season and 12th overall as she and Yaroslava Shvedova pipped Olga Govortsova of Belarus and Alla Kudryavtseva of Russia in the final of the Citi Open here.

Defending their top billing, the Indo-Kazakh pair overcame their second seed opponents 6-3 6-3 after one hour and five minutes struggle.

Sania paired up with Yaroslava for this tournament since her regular Tour partner Elena Vesnina decided to skip the event.

She had triumphed at Indian Wells and Charleston with Vesnina and fell in the final of the French Open.

Sania and Yaroslova provided umpteen opportunities to their rivals but prevented damage by saving eight break chances in the second set. The winners shared $11,000 and earned 280 ranking points each.

Meanwhile, Somdev Devvarman will have to wait for his first career ATP title as he and Treat Conrad Huey lost the fiercely fought summit clash of the Farmer's Classic to Mark Knowles of Bahamas and Xavier Malisse of Belgium in Los Angeles.

The unseeded Indo-Philippine pair fought their hearts out but eventually lost the final 6-7 (3) 6-7 (10) to the third seed Bahams-Belgium pair in the $ 619,50 tournament.

It was for the first time that Somdev had reached the final of an ATP doubles event. He has made two singles final so far.

He reached final of Chennai Open, his home event, in 2009 and in Johannesburg early this year.

Somdev and Huey pushed their experienced opponents to limit but could not get past them in the tie-breakers. Things could have been different had not squandered two break chances in the second set.

They split $18,000 (Rs 7. 92 lakh) in prize money and earned 150 ranking points for their efforts in this tourney. Somdev had earlier lost in the men's singles first round.

Gulbis stuns Fish to win LA International
Los Angeles: Latvia's Ernests Gulbis survived a few anxious moments in the final set but held his nerve to upset top-seed Mardy Fish 5-7 6-4 6-4 and win the Los Angeles International on Sunday.

Serving for the match at 5-2, Gulbis was broken by American Fish and then trailed 30-40 on serve at 5-4 before sealing victory. The Latvian set up match point with a delicate forehand drop shot before clinching his second ATP title with a rasping forehand winner down the line.

"It means a lot to me. It's my second title," Gulbis told reporters. "It gives me a huge boost in confidence."

Serena overpowers Bartoli in Stanford
Stanford: Comeback queen Serena Williams won her first tournament in more than a year when she overpowered third seed Marion Bartoli of France 7-5 6-1 in the Stanford Classic final.

American Williams came from 2-4 down in the opening set and then dominated the rest of the match with booming serves and hard groundstrokes to claim her first title since Wimbledon last year.

The 13-time Grand Slam champion, who returned to the tour in June after taking almost a year off due to injury and illness, triumphed for the first time on home soil since her victory at the 2008 US Open.

"I haven't won a tournament in forever that wasn't a Grand Slam so it's cool,'' said Williams, whose last non-major title was the 2009 WTA Championships in Doha.

"I put a lot of work into this week. I want to take this whole (hardcourt) swing serious. It's a good time for me."
Sharapova
Maria Sharapova will not be returning to New Zealand next year, after opting to warm-up for the 2012 Australian Open in Brisbane.

The Russian star was pivotal in pulling big crowds to this year's ASB Classic in Auckland, before crashing out in the quarterfinals to Greta Arn.

She was the best-paid player of Auckland's annual tennis event, reportedly pocketing an appearance fee of just over US$100,000 ($130,000) and US$5340 in prizemoney.

The recent Wimbledon runner-up today confirmed that she will play at the Brisbane International tournament.

"I have never been to Brisbane before and coming into the Australian Open I felt like Brisbane would be a good place for me to start the year," the world No 5 said.

"It is the first tournament of the year and it's kind of where you see where your game is and how good your off-season has been and so you try and get in as many matches as you can before the Australian Open."

The Brisbane International has been running since 2009, with superstars including Novak Djokovic, Andy Roddick, Robin Soderling, Kim Clijsters, Ana Ivanovic and Justine Henin attending over the past three years.

Next year's event has been upgraded by the WTA to premier status, meaning there are now no restrictions on how many top-10 players can feature.

Organisers hope Sharapova will be one of many of the world's top female players contesting the event.

"It is a great first signing for Brisbane International 2012," tournament director Cameron Pearson said.

Prizemoney for the combined ATP/WTA tour event will rise by 63 per cent to $US1.1 million ($NZ1.42 million) in 2012.

This year, prizemoney for Auckland's ASB Classic was $US220,000.
Ana Ivanovic
Ana Ivanovic to clash with Melanie Oudin in Wimbledon 2011.

The Serbian, former world No.1, Ana Ivanovic will be facing the American Player, Melanie Oudin in the first round of the 2011 Wimbledon tournament.

Ana Ivanovic will be clashing with the American world No.87, Melanie Oudin in the first round of the 2011 Wimbledon tournament on Tuesday, June 21, 2011 at 21:00 GMT, the match between both the players will be played at the All England Club in London, England.

The head to head against each other have played one match against each other, as the Serbian former world No.1 has thrashed out the American in a three set thriller with a score line of 2-6 6-1 and 6-1. Both the players will be clashing in their on Tuesday for the second time in their career to enter into the second round of the third grand slam tournament, Wimbledon 2011.

The Serbian last week has played the warm-up tournament of Wimbledon, AEGON international, where, she has defeated the in-form player, Julia Georges in the second round. However, in the thirds round, Ivanovic has been thrashed out against the come back, Venus Williams in the third round of the 2011 AEGON International.

The American world No.87, Melanie Oudin best performance came in the US open, entering into the quarter finals of the tournament. However, she is still waiting for her first WTA title in her career. Oudin’s best so far has come in the Fed Cup circuit where she helped USA reach the finals of the prestigious team event two times.

As per the stats, it would be the Serbian straight sets victory against the American.

Weston sophomore Kimmy Guerin made it look easy. Again. Guerin won her second straight Connecticut State Interscholastic Athletic Association girls tennis crown Wednesday with a 6-0, 6-1 win over seventh-seeded Hannah Dahlem. Guerin, the top seed, breezed through the tournament without dropping a set.

In her first three matches, Guerin advanced without dropping a game. She rolled past Lauren Schmidt of South Windsor, Joan Li of East Lyme and Bianka Horvath of Newington. She took out Danbury's Lindsey Post, 6-1, 6-2, in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Guerin swept New Canaan's Courtney Gallagher, 6-0, 6-1.

Guerin also led Weston to the Class S team championship. Westhill's Vanessa Petrini (2008-2009) won back-to-back Open titles, as did Trinity Catholic's Chaz Saricas (2001-2002). Guerin could match former Immaculate of Danbury star Patti Murren, who won four straight Open titles from 1989-92.

According to the website tennisrecruiting.net, Guerin is ranked second in New England and 41st in the nation. She trains out of the Intensity Club in Norwalk.

What do you think about Kimmy Guerin's run to a second straight tennis title? Start the discussion below!
After nearly a year away from competitive tennis, Serena Williams has confirmed that she plans to return to the circuit next week at the Aegon International Tournament in Eastbourne and then compete at Wimbledon, where she is the defending champion.

Williams, 29, was the sport’s dominant player a year ago when she won her 13th Grand Slam singles title at Wimbledon. Four days later, according to Williams, she severed a tendon in her right foot after stepping on broken glass when leaving a restaurant in Munich, Germany.

She has since had two operations and in February was hospitalized in Los Angeles because of a pulmonary embolism, a blood clot in her lungs.

“I am so excited to be healthy enough to compete again,” she said in a statement released by her agent, Jill Smoller. “These past 12 months have been extremely tough and character building.

“I have so much to be grateful for. I’m thankful to my family, friends, and fans for all of their support. Serena’s back!”

Williams resumed practicing in April but later withdrew from the French Open. Williams has won Wimbledon four times, and her older sister Venus Williams, a five-time Wimbledon champion who has not competed since January because of a hip-flexor problem, is also expected to return for the grass-court season and attempt to play at Wimbledon.

Serena Williams, who could not be immediately reached for comment, remains the highest-ranked American woman at No. 25 in the world.
The Bank of the West Classic player field got even more impressive on Tuesday when former World No. 1 Ana Ivanovic and 2011 French Open semifinalist Marion Bartoli entered the 2011 event that will be held this summer at Stanford University.

At just 23 years of age, Ivanovic already has put together an impressive resume recording a 279-117 career singles record, winning 10 career WTA singles titles, capturing her first Grand Slam singles title at the 2008 French Open, and ascending to the world No. 1 ranking in June 2008.

Off the court, Ivanovic's striking good looks and warm personality have made her one of the world's most glamorous and marketable athletes. She has been featured in numerous fashion and lifestyle publications including Vogue, Vanity Fair, ELLE, Cosmopolitan and Time Magazine. In addition she was featured in last year's Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue and in 2009 was ranked 11th on FHM's Sexiest Women in the World list.

Bartoli, the 2009 Bank of the West Classic champion, advanced to her first French Open semifinal on Tuesday with a 7-6 (7-4), 6-4 win over Svetlana Kuznetsova. She becomes only the fourth French woman in the Open Era to reach the semifinals at Roland Garros joining Francoise Durr, Brigitte Simon and Mary Pierce. The French No. 1 will face defending French Open champion Francesca Schiavone in the semifinals.

Bartoli already has put together a solid 2011 season reaching two Tour finals at Indian Wells and Strasbourg, as well as semifinal berths at Brisbane and Doha. She is currently ranked No. 11 in the world but ascended to a career-high No. 9 world ranking in 2007 following her final's appearance that year at Wimbledon.

The addition of Ivanovic and Bartoli adds to what is already a strong player field. The event already has commitments from three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova, 13-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams and current World No. 6 Samantha Stosur.

Tickets for the event, which will be held July 25-31 at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium on the campus of Stanford University, can be purchased by calling the box office at 866-WTA-TIXS (866-982-8497) or by logging on to www.BankoftheWestClassic.com.

Single-session tickets for the tournament's opening round start at just $26. Fans also may pre-purchase parking passes for the event for just $10.
Maria Sharapova
Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova is through to the French Open semi-finals after a straight-sets defeat of 15th seed Andrea Petkovic 6-0, 6-3 on Wednesday.

The seventh seed, who has not played in a grand slam final since winning the 2008 Australian Open, broke in the opening game and never looked back. A toilet break failed to change momentum, though Petkovic held to love to put herself on the board in the ninth game of the match.

The German, who showed a lot of heart, broke to level the set twice at 2-2 and 3-3 before the in-form Russian raced away to claim the match as a Petkovic forehand sailed into the net.

Sharapova will next meet sixth seed Li Na after the Chinese woman beat the highest-ranked remaining player, Victoria Azarenka, 7-5, 6-2.

Li, who defeated Azarenka in straight sets in the round of 16 at the Australian Open this year en route to the final, exchanged breaks with the fourth seed before breaking Azarenka to love at 6-5, claiming set point with a backhand winner.

On her third match point, Li broke to claim victory as the Belarusian hit an unforced error off her backhand.

Sharapova has a 5-2 head-to-head record against Li, which includes a three-set victory in the fourth round of the 2009 French Open. Li has won the pair’s two most recent meetings – in 2009 and 2010 on grass in Birmingham.

Meanwhile, the first Italian woman to win a grand slam is two wins away from doubling her collection of silverware. Francesca Schiavone – the reigning Roland Garros champion – credits her age and subsequent experience for getting her to the final four.

The fifth seed, who faces 11th seeded Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli in a semi-final on Thursday, says clay is the most forgiving surface and allows opponents back into a duel. The 30-year-old acknowledged her on-court emotions, saying it is a part of who she is.

"I live and I love tennis when I can express myself. I am transparent so you can understand how I play and how I feel."

Juricova breaks through to capture NCAA Singles crown

Jana Juricova
Two-set sweep in title match clinches the program's second ever NCAA singles title

For all its championship banners and record win streaks, Stanford’s Taube Tennis Center may have a soft spot for Cal women’s tennis.

On Monday, Jana Juricova hoisted the NCAA Singles Championships trophy — on the very same courts where the Bears’ Susie Babos lifted hers in 2006.

The top-seeded Juricova defeated Cardinal sophomore Stacey Tan, 6-0, 7-6 (2), at a match that looked more like the Big Slam between Cal and Stanford than an NCAA title game. When Juricova won the match, a roar of Bears fans in the stands nearly drowned her victorious yell.

“It was so great that we had the tournament at Stanford because we had so many fans that could just drive over and support the team,” Cal coach Amanda Augustus said.

Playing in her second NCAA singles final, Juricova came out firing against the slow-starting Tan and took command of the entire first set. In the second set, Tan’s aggressive approach worked well as the two traded points until the set went to a tie-break.

Within sight of the title, Juricova shifted to another gear, blazing past Tan to a 5-0 lead and eventually the winning the tie-break, 8-2.

“Through my experiences, I can pick up the style and tempo of the match, and in the first set, I saw that Tan was starting a bit slow,” Juricova said. “But in the second set, she had nothing to lose, so she came out swinging, but I expected she will do that and I was ready.”

Coming into both the singles and doubles tournament as the top player in the nation, Juricova faced high expectations. She certainly lived up to them in singles play, cruising to two-set wins in each of the first
three rounds.

In Saturday’s quarterfinals, Juricova blew away Georgia’s Chelsey Gullickson — who won last year’s NCAA singles final against Juricova — with a convincing 6-3, 6-0 victory.

The next day, Juricova faced her first real test of the tournament against the Cardinal’s 18th-ranked Nicole Gibbs. In a dogfight of a match, Juricova was able to control late in the third set — an appropriate timing to win her the tie-break and the match, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (2).

“Beating Chelsey Gullickson stood out as memorable because I have never beaten her before. I just had to trust my game and believe I can beat anyone,” Juricova said. “The semi-final match was just crazy because it was so close that it really could have gone either way.”

Juricova, alongside senior Mari Andersson, also came into the doubles tournament as the No. 1 seed, but fell short in the semi-finals on Sunday against the Cardinal’s Hilary Barte and Mallory Burdette.

After losing the first set, 6-1, Juricova and Andersson had no solutions against Barte and Burdette — falling into a 5-0 hole in the second set. Despite showing life to rally back to 5-4, it was too little, too late.

As the lone senior for the Bears in the tournament, Andersson also made a huge push in singles play, pulling a major upset against the No. 2-seeded Maria Sanchez and reaching the quarterfinals before succumbing to Florida’s Lauren Embree.

“Throughout my college career, I was always noticed as a doubles player. In this last tournament at Stanford, I proved to myself that I am also a good singles player, too,” Andersson said. “It was a very satisfying experience for me to realize that in my college career.”
Florida's Lauren EmbreeFlorida's Lauren Embree knew better than to try and hit with Stanford's Mallory Burdette so she just kept playing a steady volley game.

Embree survived a grueling third set tiebreaker to beat Burdette 5-7, 6-3, 7-6 (6) and clinch the NCAA title for Florida.

"Mallory hits the ball so hard I knew I couldn't hit with her," Embree said. "I had to grind it out. I just wanted to fight as long as I could."

Hilary Barte gave Stanford (28-1) its first point at No. 1 singles, beating Allie Will 6-2, 6-4. Nicole Gibbs gave the Cardinal the lead 2-1 with a 6-4, 7-5 win over Sofie Oyen at No. 3 singles.

"I had my game plan and I executed it pretty well for the most part," Burdette said. "I'm proud of the way I played. It just came down to two points and I came up short."

Stacey Tan recovered from a first set loss to beat Joanna Mather 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 at No. 4 singles and give Stanford a 3-1 edge, but Alex Cercone returned the favor at No. 5 singles, beating Veronica Li 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 as Florida (31-1) closed to 3-2.

Olivi Janowicz's 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-1 win over Carolyn McVeigh at No. 6 singles tied it.

Florida took the doubles point in convincing fashion.

"That was the most electric atmosphere I have ever experienced in my college career," Stanford coach Lele Forood said. "It was a great day. We just came up a little short."

Embree improved to 6-0 in tournament championship matches through her first two years, and finished the year on a 24-match winning streak.

"Lauren is one of those players you can depend on," Cercone said. "You don't want to put any pressure on anybody but when it came down to that match, I knew Lauren could pull it out. I know the heart she has and I'm just glad to be on the same team."

The Gators ended Stanford's 184-match home winning streak, which spanned 12 years and included two victories over Florida in the NCAA tournament.

"We knew it's not going to keep going into infinity," Forood said. "We'll just start over again. The streak doesn't mean a whole lot to us. It's interesting but it's trivia."

The Gators also learned why winning at Stanford proved so hard.

"We played at phenomenal levels to set the tone, but this match only proves how difficult it is to win here," Florida coach Roland Thornqvist said. "I don't know what it looked like on TV, but I can tell it felt like it took about 10 years off my life."

Embree, who went through two wrist surgeries since last year, played No. 1 singles last year for Florida while Will was at No. 2.

"When it came down to Lauren I knew we got the one we wanted at the end," Thornqvist said.
Tsvetana PironkovaBulgaria's top-ranked tennis player Tsvetana Pironkova has been defeated in the first round of the Masters tournament in Rome, losing to former world number five Daniela Hantuchova from Slovakia in two sets (4-6, 2-6).

Pironkova, a semifinalist at Wimbledon last year, has extended her losing streak to five consecutive matches, notching her 15 defeat at of the season so far.

With a very subdued and passive performance, Pironkova was trailing 1-5 in the first set, but her attempt at a comeback was shortlived and Hantuchova closed out the first set without too much difficulty.

The first set appeared to have sapped Pironkova's strength completely and she put up only a modest fight in the second set, committing too many unforced errors and showing little ability to find an answer to Hantuchova's aggressive play.
Sania Mirza, the world No.74, suffered a first-round defeat at the Strasbourg International on Tuesday, falling 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 to Aliza Cornet, ranked No.80.

After dropping the first set, Sania roared back to win the second.

However, she lost steam in the third set, in which she dropped her serve thrice.

The results:

At Nice (Nice Open): First round: Ernests Gulbis bt Fabio Fognini 3-6, 6-3, 6-3.

Sergiy Stakhovsky bt Teimuraz Gabashvili 7-6(5), 6-3; Robin Haase bt Yen-hsun Lu 6-3, 6-4; Carlos Berlocq bt Andreas Haider Maurer 5-7, 6-3, 6-0.

At Strasbourg (Strasbourg International): First round: Marion Bartoli bt Kimiko Date-Krumm 6-2, 6-1.

Elena Baltacha bt Magdalena Rybarikova 6-3, 0-0 retired; Andrea Petkovic bt Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-3, 6-1; Stephanie Foretz-Gacon bt Alonya Bondarenko 6-4, 6-1; Lucie Hradecka bt Ahsa Rolle 6-3, 6-4; Mirjana Lucic bt Christina McHale 7-5, 7-6(7); Alize Cornet bt Sania Mirza 6-4, 4-6, 6-1; Shuai Zhang bt Pauline Parmentier 6-2, 6-4.

At Dusseldorf (World Team cup): Round robin: Red group: USA tied with Kazakhstan (Mardy Fish bt Andrey Golubev 6-4, 6-2; Sam Querrey lost to Mikhail Kukushkin 6-3, 5-7, 5-7).

Argentina leads Sweden 1-0 (Juan-Ignacio Chela bt Christian Lindell 6-1, 6-1).

Blue Group: Serbia bt Russia 2-0 (Viktor Troicki bt Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 6-1).

[Dusan Lajovic bt Igor Andreev 1-6, 7-6(8), 6-4].

Germany leads Spain 1-0 (Florian Mayer bt Marcel Granollers 4-6, 6-4, 6-2).
Ana Ivanovic
Former French Open winner Ana Ivanovic withdrew Tuesday from the WTA Strasbourg event with inflammation in her left wrist, her website said.

The Serb said that as the injury is not on her racquet hand, she expect to be fit for the start of the French Open on Sunday. The 2008 Roland Garros winner and former number one last played in a second-round loss a week ago in Rome.

“It’s always extra disappointing to have to withdraw while on-site at a tournament, because you’ve felt the excitement, and you’re looking forward to being part of it all,” she told her website.

“I’ve had this pain for a while now, despite physical therapy. My doctor has told me to rest it completely for a few days, and I’m having treatment twice a day.

“Considering that it is not my racquet hand, I can still practise, but backhands are out of the question for the next few days. I expect to be fit for Roland Garros.”
Maria Sharapova
The French Open may be shorn of some of the big names in the women's game, and Caroline Wozniacki hardly inspires awe as top seed, but this year's tournament does have some intriguing sub-plots. First of all can Maria Sharapova prove everyone wrong by winning the French Open to complete her career G
rand Slam set?

The 24-year-old Russian last won a Grand Slam title at the 2008 Australian Open after which she was wracked by a succession of injuries that left her wondering if her career would come to an abrupt end.

But she has stuck with it and has been gradually climbing back up the rankings with her first claycourt title win in Rome last week lifting her up to seventh, her best placing since she stood at sixth in November 2008.

The French Open has always been the hardest one to play for the gangly Sharapova who once described her movement on the slow, sliding surface as being like a cow on ice.

But with this year's tournament looking wide open, she is starting to fancy her chances of actually pulling off an upset win.

"Although I might not be the best mover on clay or the best slider or strongest player with the strongest legs, there is a lot more than these things in tennis and that is the reason why I won," she said after Rome.

"I'm moving better and I feel better and better with every year. I am stronger and this is one of the most important things that has helped me in that I recover a lot better. I feel stronger."

Clay has never been a problem for Belgium's Kim Clijsters who was brought up playing on the surface and who has twice reached the final in Paris.

But whether she will be fit enough to mount a serious challenge remains in doubt having been sidelined for six weeks after twisting ankle ligaments while at a cousin's wedding.

She has also been having wrist and shoulder pain and freely admits that she will not be 100 percent fit going into Paris where she hopes to make it three Grand Slam wins in a row after last year's US Open and the Australian Open in January.

"The past two weeks of playing tennis have made it clear," she said on her website. "Playing tennis is going wonderfully, I hit the ball very well.

"I dare and take more risks now. I am not totally without pain, but the strong tape around the ankle gives me sufficient security."

With Belgium compatriot and four-times former winner Justine Henin now definitively retired, there is also room for such accomplished claycourt performers as last year's surprise winner Francesca Schiavone of Italy and the woman she beat in the final, Samantha Stosur of Australia

Also worth a look will be powerful Belarusian Victoria Azarenka who is up to a career-best fourth in the world after tournament wins at Miami and Marbella.

Wozniacki meanwhile will once again be assailed with questions over how she can accept being the number one ranked player in the world despite having never won a Grand Slam title.

The 20-year-old Dane has consolidated her top ranking this year with tournament wins at Dubai, Indian Wells and Charleston but she has still to prove she has the big game to win a Grand Slam title.

Latest indications are that Wozniacki might be considering taking on as coach the legendary Martina Navratilova in a bid to harness her mastery of attacking skills to go with her own defensive prowess.

That partnership could work well according to tennis analyst Mary Carillo, a former US Tour player and a mixed doubles champion in Paris in 1977 with John McEnroe.

"Caroline's a lover of the long point, and she doesn't have to be," she said.

"There are many times when you're thinking, 'Just pull the trigger, already.'

"She's heard from any number of people that she needs to add aggression to her game - maybe it would take somebody like Martina to have it kick in."

It will be an emotional tournament for French fans with Virginie Razzano opting to play on despite the death on Monday of her fiance and former coach Stephane Vidal after a long battle with a brain tumour.
Venus Williams
The tennis stars are helping Washington, D.C.'s Southeast Tennis and Learning Center mark its 10th anniversary this week. The center helps motivate kids in Washington through its academic and athletic programs.

"Lots of these kids, people have written off in the past," said Cora Masters Barry, CEO of the Recreation Wish List Committee, which along with the city's Department of Parks and Recreation, created the tennis center in 2001.

The Williams sisters will offer a tennis clinic at the center on Thursday and be the guests of honor at a dinner celebration Thursday night.

Since its founding, about 4,000 kids have participated in the center's programs, Barry said, and 30 have received tennis scholarships from schools including Penn State, Howard and Morgan State.

"Education goes hand in hand" with athletics, Venus Williams said. She added that her family has known Barry for about 10 years.

"They wanted to be a part of it," Barry said of the Williams sisters. The program's mission mirrored their youth in Compton, Calif. "They've been totally committed."

"It's been a great 10 years for the young people," Williams said.

The center offers programs for students age 7-17 during the week and a weekend program for children age 3-6, Barry said.

Children attending the center must have a 2.0 grade-point average in school to participate in the tennis program.

"Tennis is the hook, education is the key," Barry said.

"We encourage people to come out to the learning center to see what it's all about," Williams said.

Ana Ivanovic enjoys sightseeing in Madrid


Ana Ivanovic
So after an early exit from the Mutua Open in Madrid, Ana Ivanovic stayed a little while longer in town. Just like she says on her official Facebook page:

Losing early at the Mutua MadrileƱa Madrid Open hurts. But there is one small consolation: the opportunity to see more of the city. This week I visited the botanical gardens at Park Retiro – so beautiful!

Ofcourse it’s a small consolation because a lot of us would have loved to see Ana Ivanovic reach far into the tournament. And perhaps even, dare I say, win it? Or would that be too far off? Well if it wasn’t for that then at least have her match up versus Dominika Cibulkova. Y’know, just to show Cibulkova who is boss and take her revenge for the Fed Cup misery.

At least my photographer, Ralf Reinecke, feels my pain of the early loss of Ana and did me a HUGE favor by shooting a stunning photo of Ana Ivanovic.


Sania MirzaJet-setting across the globe in pursuit of Grand Slams is a dream unique in itself. But trying to balance a marriage and excel on the WTA tour is a really tough challenge.

In India, very few women have attempted breaking traditions by pursuing their sporting careers even after marriage, but their careers have never taken off. Sania Mirza might once again prove to be the path breaker.

On the WTA tour, many women have dared to scale new heights after marriage. Kim Clijsters has obviously taken it to the next level by winning Grand Slam titles even after having a baby. As a married woman, Liezel Huber rose to world No 1 in doubles and still continues to be a force on the tour. But it will be more challenging for Sania because she has cultural and traditional issues to deal with in pursuing her dream. Having said that, I know Sania handles pressure much better than anyone I have seen.

Sania’s marriage to Shoaib Malik can be the best thing for her tennis, in my opinion. Being a top cricketer himself, Shoaib is in sync with the level of focus and hard work that any game demands. During the Commonwealth Games and the Asian Games, I saw that Sania was more at peace and on solid ground, with the support she receives from everyone around her.

Her primary goal, back in November, was to get into the main draw of Grand Slams in singles. She has achieved her target by rising to 73 in the singles rankings, which will ensure her spot in French Open and Wimbledon. After watching her tame Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand, I hinted to her that her form reminded me of 2007 when she slammed her way into the final of the Stanford WTA event, beating top 20 players en route. Sania agreed and said that her confidence was also back on track.

In recent years, Indians have fared way better in doubles than in singles. Leander Paes’s best singles ranking was 73, but it’s his doubles game that propelled his ranking to No 1 in the world and gave him myriad Grand Slam titles. Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, too have been successful in doubles. This could be attributed to the fact that Indians are more adept at volleys and the angles that doubles demands. Also one cannot overlook the fitness level that’s required for singles. I can assure you that the singles court dimensions suddenly seem wider and bigger when you are a doubles specialist!

Sania has won 14 doubles tour titles but her priority has always been singles. Her best doubles ranking was 18 back in 2007 when she won back to back titles before the US Open. She has two Grand Slam doubles titles to her credit, one in juniors and the other in 2009, when she won the Aus Open mixed doubles with Mahesh.

In the beginning of this year, Sania had limited success with
Czech partner Voracova at the Australian Open, but after Doha, Elena Vesnina and Sania seem to have found that niche. Indian Wells was a break-through event for them, where they claimed the title without dropping a set.

Sania has the capability to play on the deuce court or the ad court. That kind of adaptability is rare. Her colossal forehand is one of the best in the game and it’s her racquet-head speed that helps her pound the ball. I can vouch that it’s a tad scary to be staring down the barrel of her forehand when your partner serves a loopy second serve. The reason why this pair is so deadly is because Elena packs a serious punch off her backhand shot. Thus, this combination of high-powered forehand by Sania and Elena’s backhand make them a force to reckon with.

Sania’s volleys have never been a major strength, but that is mainly due lack of opportunities. While her technique is sound, her comfort zone has always been on the baseline. But with so many top level doubles wins under her belt, her confidence in coming to the net is bound to increase.

The other factor that sticks out in the statistics of her recent matches are the tie-breaks, where Sania and Elena have succeeded each time. In general, tie breaks involve some amount of luck too. But the consistency with which the tie breaks have gone Sania’s way are surely disproving that theory. I have seen Sania during these crunch moments in CWG and during the Asian games. Her ability to raise the level of her game a few notches at crucial times is what separates her from others. It’s the choices you make — to go for broke or play safe or play with controlled aggression. Sania chooses the last of the three options predominantly and comes out in flying colours.

While she might have expected more of herself in singles in the US hard court season, her doubles ventures have not been in vain. She has climbed to a commendable ranking of 29 within a three-month period. If Sania will choose to focus on both singles and doubles this year, she will need to select tournaments wisely in order to have enough recovery time between events. Looking at her current form, I won’t put a women’s doubles Grand Slam title past her in the next year.