Sony Ericsson WTA Tour – Beijing (Sun): Defending Champ Kuznetsova Shocked in Opener

CHINA OPEN
Beijing-CHN
October 2-10, 2010
$4,500,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Sunday, October 3, 2010
Singles – First Round
(Q) Anastasija Sevastova (LAT) d. (4) Samantha Stosur (AUS) 26 76(5) 75
(9) Li Na (CHN) d. (Q) Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS) 62 60
(Q) Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. (10) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 63 26 63
(12) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) 64 76(5)
(13) Nadia Petrova (RUS) d. (WC) Han Xinyun (CHN) 62 62
Gisela Dulko (ARG) d. (14) Aravane Rezai (FRA) 64 26 64
Kaia Kanepi (EST) d. (16) Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 75 61
Maria Kirilenko (RUS) d. (WC) Zhang Shuai (CHN) 61 60
Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) d. (Q) Lu Jing-Jing (CHN) 61 60
Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) d. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 60 76(6)
Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Flavia Pennetta (ITA) 76(4) 61
Polona Hercog (SLO) d. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 63 06 63
(Q) Bojana Jovanovski (SRB) d. (Q) Kateryna Bondarenko (UKR) 57 64 63

Doubles – First Round

(5) Llagostera Vives/Martínez Sánchez (ESP/ESP) d. Scheepers/Schnyder (RSA/SUI) 63 64
Chuang/Govortsova (TPE/BLR) d. Bondarenko/Bondarenko (UKR/UKR) 60 61
Grandin/Hsieh (RSA/TPE) d. Lefèvre/Zakopalova (FRA/CZE) 61 61
(WC) Azarenka/Safina (BLR/RUS) d. (WC) Sun/Zhang (CHN/CHN) 62 75

Order of Play – Monday, October 4, 2010
Lotus Court (from 12.30hrs)
1. ATP: Isner vs. Yang
2. Dinara Safina vs. Vera Zvonareva (NB 15.00hrs)
3. Marion Bartoli vs. Ana Ivanovic
4. ATP: Kohlschreiber vs. Verdasco (NB 19.30hrs)
5. Gisela Dulko vs. Maria Kirilenko

Moon Court (from 12.00hrs)
1. Sara Errani vs. Peng Shuai
2. ATP: Fish vs. Tipsarevic (NB 14.30hrs)
3. ATP: Berrer vs. Berdych (NB 16.00hrs)
4. Jelena Jankovic vs. Bojana Jovanovski (NB 19.30hrs)
5. Jans/Rosolska vs. Llagostera Vives/Martínez Sánchez

Court 1 (from 12.00hrs)
1. Agnieszka Radwanska vs. Angelique Kerber
2. Sun Shengnan vs. Shahar Peer (NB 13.30hrs)
3. ATP: Ljubicic/Robredo vs. Lu/Mayer (NB 15.00hrs)
4. ATP: Simon vs. Querrey

Court 3 (from 12.00hrs)
1. Alexandra Dulgheru vs. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova
2. Nadia Petrova vs. Alona Bondarenko (NB 13.30hrs)
3. Date Krumm/Peng vs. Amanmuradova/Kudryavtseva (after suitable rest)
4. Niculescu/Peer vs. Kleybanova/Makarova (after suitable rest)

Court 4 (from 12.00hrs)
1. Vera Dushevina vs. Ekaterina Makarova
2. Medina Garrigues/Yan vs. Bacsinszky/Garbin
3. Dushevina/Parra Santonja vs. Raymond/Stubbs (after suitable rest)
4. Han/Liu vs. Errani/Vinci (after suitable rest)

Tokyo (Mon): Date Krumm Downs Sharapova

TORAY PAN PACIFIC OPEN
Tokyo-JPN
September 26-October 2, 2010
$2,000,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Monday, September 27, 2010
Singles – Second Round
(3) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Alona Bondarenko (UKR) 64 61
(6) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Olga Govortsova (BLR) 62 63

Singles – First Round
(10) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) d. Agnes Szavay (HUN) 34 ret. (left thigh strain)
(11) Marion Bartoli (FRA) d. Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) 64 64
(WC) Kimiko Date Krumm (JPN) d. (12) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 75 36 63
(13) Shahar Peer (ISR) d. Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) 57 75 64
(14) Aravane Rezai (FRA) d. Polona Hercog (SLO) 62 75
(Q) Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. (15) Nadia Petrova (RUS) 75 64
Alexandra Dulgheru (ROU) d. (Q) Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 63 60
Ana Ivanovic (SRB) d. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) 63 62
Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ) d. (WC) Kurumi Nara (JPN) 46 62 61
Sara Errani (ITA) d. Barbora Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) 63 62
Julia Goerges (GER) d. Dinara Safina (RUS) 61 57 62
(Q) Coco Vandeweghe (USA) d. Klara Zakopalova (CZE) 64 76(6)

Order of Play – Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Centre Court (from 11.00hrs)
1. Lucie Safarova vs. Victoria Azarenka
2. Sara Errani vs. Vera Zvonareva
3. Elena Dementieva vs. Yaroslava Shvedova
4. Daniela Hantuchova vs. Kimiko Date Krumm (NB 17.00hrs)
5. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Greta Arn

Court 1 (from 10.30hrs)
1. Kateryna Bondarenko vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2. Flavia Pennetta vs. Maria Kirilenko
3. Francesca Schiavone vs. Alexandra Dulgheru
4. Samantha Stosur vs. Julia Goerges
5. Kirilenko/Petrova vs. Peschke/Srebotnik (after suitable rest)

Court 2 (from 12.00hrs)
1. Svetlana Kuznetsova vs. Andrea Petkovic
2. Marion Bartoli vs. Ana Ivanovic
3. Coco Vandeweghe vs. Aravane Rezai
4. Chan/Huber vs. Goerges/Rodionova (after suitable rest)

Court 3 (from 12.00hrs)
1. Roberta Vinci vs. Tsvetana Pironkova
2. Shahar Peer vs. Kaia Kanepi
3. Errani/Medina Garrigues vs. Peer/Peng (after suitable rest)
4. Garbin/Schiavone vs. King/Shvedova (after suitable rest)

Court 4 (from 12.00hrs)
1. Llagostera Vives/Martínez Sánchez vs. Raymond/Stubbs
2. Benesova/Zahlavova Strycova vs. Hsieh/Kleybanova (NB 13.00hrs)

The Winds of Change for Jankovic

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – The ball fluttered in the gusty bluster as predictably as a piece of popcorn tossed from the promenade deck and the sweet spot looked as large as a lifesaver when Jelena Jankovic shanked a serve so badly it sailed several rows back into the stands prompting one fan to duck the felt foul ball.

That frame shot symbolized the type of day it was for the 2008 US Open finalist: a frustrated Jankovic fretted, framed balls and even yelled at the elements at one point while Kaia Kanepi continued to swing away through the drafty day.

In the end, the 31st-seeded Estonian managed both her emotions and shots better than Jankovic in bouncing the fourth-seeded Serbian out of the US Open third round, 6-2, 7-6(1) on a day in which wind gusts reached more than 25 mph on Arthur Ashe Stadium Court.

“Oh, the wind was really tough. The conditions were really, really tough to play,” said Jankovic, who got to the post-match press conference so quickly you wondered if she sprinted down the hall way. “I had a really hard time hitting the balls. obviously, they were going all over the place. The wind was really strong and she handled those kind of conditions a lot better than I did…You hit the ball in one direction, it goes another. You’re just getting ready to hit the ball and it just moves away from you. She was the better player today. Congrats to her.”

Reaching the Flushing Meadows fourth round for the first time in five appearances, Kanepi is one win away from her second consecutive Grand Slam quarterfinal. The Wimbledon quarterfinalist will play either 15th-seeded Yanina Wickmayer or Swiss southpaw Patty Schnyder for a place in the last eight in what has become a wide-open second quarter of the draw.

“My coach told me we have a chance everywhere we go, so we have a chance here,” Kanepi said.

Player and coach have cause for such optimism.

In the span of four months, the 25-year-old Kanepi has completely revived her career in raising her ranking 108 spots from No. 140 to No. 32 after embarking on a 31-4 tear from the start of May through mid July. She played through qualifying at Wimbledon and strung together seven straight wins, beating French Open finalist Samantha Stosur at the grass-court Grand Slam along the way, before suffering a heart-breaking loss to Petra Kvitova, 8-6 in the third set, in the quarterfinals.

Following her Wimbledon run she swept World No. 12 Flavia Pennetta in the Palermo final to become the first Estonian woman to win a WTA Tour title in July.

The 5-foot-11 Kanepi has always been a big hitter, but has worked to temper her power with patience after bottoming out with a Flushing Meadows first-round loss last year that was one of 11 consecutive opening-round exits. During those dark days she bounced racquets off the court as frequently as fans through coins into the fountains outside Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Now she’s collecting wins even in unforgiving winds and reaping the rewards of a more self-controlled approach.

“I changed my game and tried to play more patient,” Kanepi said. “Then I started winning and my confidence started getting higher. Last year, I started losing and I had to change. I’m still quite aggressive, but I try to play more patient.”

Patience and precision are the the cornerstones of Jankovic’s game, but that foundation cracked and crumbled as Jankovic, who is usually so adept at taking those short preparation steps before striking her shots, sometimes flailed off balance like a woman trying to hit the ball while embroiled in a game of twister.

On a day in which merely making clean contact looked as easy as threading a needle on a stuck on a spinning pin wheel, the Wimbledon quarterfinalist summed up her
tactical approach simply.

“I tried to hit as much balls inside the court as possible,” Kanepi said. “She was frustrated, but sometimes I also got upset.”

Jankovic is one of the fastest players in women’s tennis and plays concise combinations when she’s on her game, but could not use her speed to salvage a match of shoddy shotmaking in which she clanked 41 unforced errors against just 13 winners.

The former World No. 1 does not hit the ball as hard as Kanepi and struggled to hit through the wind when playing against it on the north side of the court.

“Why is it so windy?” Jankovic pleaded at the sky at one point as if seeking some celestial answer that never came.

“You get frustrated with the wind because you want to hit the ball in a certain direction and they want to go everywhere except where you want them to go,” Jankovic said in explaining her frustration. “And then, it’s physical because you have to move your feet a lot more. You have to be alert.”

The swirl sent a Jankovic backhand beyond the baseline as Kanepi broke for 5-3 in the second set. Serving for the match, Kanepi got tight and dropped serve for the first time when Jankovic stepped forward and smacked a backhand return winner down the line.

“That wasn’t because of the wind,” Kanepi confided afterward. “It was because of the head. Most of us start to think too much when we serve for it.”

The breeze blew the bottom of Jankovic’s purple dress up to her waist revealing her red
sports shorts. She held for 5-all then broke for 6-5, but Kanepi broke right back and hammered her way through the wind and Jankovic in the breaker.

Kanepi took the court with a 1-8 career record against top five players. She sealed her fourth career win over a top 10 player with two of those coming against Jankovic on hard court and received a congratulatory text from her father moments after stepping off court.

“He said ‘Well done. It was amazing,’ ” Kanepi said in summing up the sentiments of surviving her first appearance on the largest  — and windiest  — Grand Slam stage in the game.

Rich Pagliaro is the editor of TennisNow.com.

A Tougher Wickmayer In Melbourne

If Yanina Wickmayer was a feel good story at the US Open, then in Melbourne, she should be a sentimental favorite.

After serving about a little over two months of a year-long suspension for failing to fill out her whereabouts to the Flemish anti-doping tribunal, the 20 year-old was able to get back on the court when her appeal was upheld.

Yet, it meant she had to qualify for the Australian Open, something the “tougher” Wickmayer did with ease.

“Well, I’m 16 in the world, so I think I should be main draw,” said Wickmayer after she won her first round match against Alexandra Dulgheru, 1-6 7-5, 10-8. “I mean, I’ve asked myself that question a lot of times. I knew I was going to have to play quallies. I knew it a couple of weeks before, so I could prepare myself for the qualifying matches, which was, in a way, positive. I knew I was going to play them and I could prepare myself mentally.

“Had a great preparation in Auckland and was playing well. I had a good few matches here. I rather had them in Sydney, but I had them here. When I played them, I really enjoyed being on court, and I just played my matches the way I wanted to play them. It all came out good. “

Things were going so well for Wickmayer in Flushing, losing in the Semifinals to Caroline Wozniacki and she was only going to get better.

Then October happened and she was given a one-year suspension because the Belgium native failed to fill out the whereabouts forms online, which she said was because the anti-doping tribunal failed to provide her with the password.

Yet, she appealed her suspension – along with Xavier Malisse, who also got a year for the same reason – and it was overturned in December.

Every positive, Wickmayer sees this as a growing experience.

“You know, it was a tough time,” she said. “I’ve been through a tough time. It was tough for me not knowing when I was going to play again, not knowing what the future will bring.

“But I kept on practicing, working hard, and trying to put a goal for myself. I was really happy to be back on court. I had a great week last week, won my first title of the year, and played some great matches in the qualifying, which I really enjoyed playing.

“It was tough, but I think it made me strong. Yeah, it made me a little tougher maybe. Today was a tough fight again. It’s only good mentally to get stronger and get tougher also as a person and an athlete. It just makes you stronger.”

She will need her new found strength to get through this Open. Even though a top 16 player, as a Wild Card, she will get some tough draws early on, with No. 12 seed Flavia Pennetta up next in the second round.

Yet, Wickmayer is just happy to be on the court, especially as a Non-Australian qualifier.

“I didn’t know what was going to happen when I got suspended,” she said. “I didn’t know if I was going to be here. But then when I hear I could play again, I got a wild card in Auckland, which was great. Those people gave me the chance to compete again. That was great.

“And I understand in a Grand Slam it’s really hard to get a wild card. I asked for it, but I understand that that’s really hard for a tournament director to give a wild card to a non‑Australian player. So I accepted I had to play quallies.

“I think for me mentally, yeah, it was good playing them. I got a little stronger, a little tougher mentally. I think it’s going to serve me well in the future.”

The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly of the Open

That was some Open.

Not only did we have some great matches, upsets, and surprises, we also saw the downside with Serena’s meltdown and that darn, pesky rain.

And that may be the story of this Open. We had the good and the bad as well. For all the good Kim Clijsters, Melanie Oudin, and Caroline Wozniacki brought the sport, everyone was still talking about Serena Williams threatening the lineswoman in the Semifinals.

Yet, all of that is needed. The only way tennis can grow is to go through the bad and learn from its mistakes. Do they put on a roof? Do they make the rules harsher for outburst at on court officials? These are questions the governing agencies will have to answer.

At the same time, we have met Oudin, Wozniacki, Juan Martin Del Potro, and Yanina Wickmayer, all of whom look like future stars on tour and could move up to elite status. Tennis rich countries like Belgium and the United States have their newest torchbearers, while Argentina and Denmark can begin their histories.

All in all, this was a great Open. Anytime you have a 5-set final – and the first one in 10 years – you have a memorable tournament.

But let’s take a closer look at the good, bad, and ugly from Flushing Meadows.

The Good

The New Stars – New York was introduced to Melanie Oudin and fell in love. The normal kid attitude and fighting spirit gave the American tennis its newest hope. She’s only 17 and seems to have a very bright future ahead.

Then we had Wozniacki and Wickmayer, 19 year-olds who played each other in the semis. Wozniacki looks to be a star with an aggressive, but defensive game, while possessing a very pleasant demeanor and stunning good looks. Wickmayer lost her mother when she was 9 years old, and convinced her father to move to the US to learn tennis. Ten years later, it’s paying off.

Finally, 20 year-old Del Potro stunned the tennis world by beating Rafael Nadal in the Semifinals and Roger Federer in the finals. His on the mark serve and laser like forehand will make him an elite for a long time.

Welcome Back Kimmy – Kim Clijsters fully came back, winning the woman’s title in her only third tournament, proving there’s life after motherhood.

The Unlikely Pair – The team of Travis Parrott and Carly Gullickson won mixed doubles after getting together two days before the tournament. The unseeded team made themselves known in the tennis world.

That First Saturday – Let’s see, Oudin beat Maria Sharapova, Andy Roddick went out in a five set classic to John Isner, and No. 1 seed Dinara Safina goes out. There may not have been a more exciting day at the Open in years.

The First Week Weather – Sure the rain marred the last weekend, but that first week was beautiful, and the weather made Flushing Meadows a very pleasant experience.

The Bad

The Lack of a Villain – Too bad Federer is a nice guy. If he was a jerk, his loss to Del Potro would have been just so much sweeter to watch. Imagine the ‘Roog—Ahh” chants coming down from the rafters, which are usually reserved for Roger Clemens on the baseball diamond. But Federer is a classy individual and a great champion. Tennis needs some sort of villain for everyone to hate.

Or maybe it needs a people’s champ like Phil Mickelson is in golf of Andre Agassi was in Flushing just a few years ago. Unfortunately there’s just no one out there to fill the role.

Bad Andys – Both Roddick and Andy Murray went out before the playoff rounds, which is disappointing. Both were somewhat favorites (Federer is the only true favorite), but neither could get through. Roddick lost a five set third round match to John Isner, while Marin Cilic took out Murray in straight sets, and the Scotsman didn’t really show up.

The Rain – The last Friday was a washout and the next day had an eight hour delay. The press screamed for a roof on Arthur Ashe, which is more of a pipe dream, since the place may not physically be able to hold a roof. Yet something has to be done.

The Ugly

Serena’s Meltdown – Serena losing her Semifinal match with Clijsters made for a very ugly story which showed the dark side of tennis. Something may have to be done, even though Serena did apologize and was fined. Yet new rules may go into place to protect the officials.

Oudin’s Family Affair – Just hours after losing to Wozniacki, Si reported that Oudin’s parents are getting a divorce because her mother was sleeping with coach Brian de Villiers. This only proves that no matter how normal the kid, the family can still be dysfunctional.

A Ray of Sunshine Through the Rain

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – If the Serena Williams/Kim Clijsters Semifinal was strange, then the other match going on last night was just surreal.

Because of the long rain delay, the Semifinal match between Yanina Wickmayer and Caroline Wozniacki was moved to Armstrong Stadium and with what was left of the crowd mainly stayed in Ashe to watch the other match, so there were about 300-400 people watching the contest.

Throughout the match, not a peep could be heard, except Wickmayer’s Flemish grunts as she whacked the ball.

This intimate setting didn’t faze the ninth seeded Wozniacki, who said she actually liked the quiet atmosphere.

“Maybe actually it was easier, because, you know, you didn’t really feel the thing that you’re in the semifinals,” she said. “You didn’t feel the pressure too much that actually you’re so close to being in a finals. Only two matches away.

“So I mean, I understand the people. We were waiting all day to get to play, and the weather really didn’t want everything like we wanted it today. But we got to play, and I’m very happy.”

Seats that would have gone for $10,000 dollars on Ashe were just general admission and many who would never be able to sit in the front row for a Semifinal, could do so with ease.

None of this mattered to 19 year-old Wozniacki, who beat fellow teen Wickmayer, 6-3, 6-3, to earn a date tonight with Clijsters in the finals.

“I’m in a Grand Slam final,” she exclaimed. “I mean, I’m in the US Open final. I cannot describe it with words. I’m so excited. I’m so happy I pulled it through today. I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a dream come true to play the finals of a Grand Slam, and now I’m here. So I mean, I have absolutely nothing to lose.”

Right now, she’s playing with house money. Even though Clijsters is unseeded, she is a former champion. Actually the two know each other and played doubles together when Wozniacki was just 16 back in 2006.

Clijsters knew she was going to be a star.

“Just by the way she was hitting the ball, by the way that she was doing everything, you could just tell that she was going to be, you know, a rising star,” Clijsters said. “You know, she’s shown that in her results. She’s very consistent. You know, she’s a super nice girl, as well. I’ve been able to get to know her a little bit better. I knew her a little bit from the past, but then got to know her a little bit better over these past couple of weeks. She’s a very sweet girl.”

Wozniacki beat Wickmayer using the same strategy that she used against Melanie Oudin. She played a defensive game and let her less experienced opponent make mistakes. Although Wickmayer had a stronger serve, the Danish princess was able to play to her Belgian opponent mistakes.

“I think two night matches has really helped me,” Wozniacki said.”I mean, it’s the world’s biggest stadium we’re going into, and it’s different. But now I’ve tried it twice this year and I won two times. I won it one time against Melanie where the whole crowd was behind her. So I think I got some experience there, and hopefully that can help me tomorrow.”

The match started a little after 9 p.m. but was delayed because the court was still wet. Afterwards, Wozniacki was able to get the first break with the score 2-2 and then rolled to the first set.

Then in the second, Wickmayer was able to get up a break 3-2, but Wozniacki bowled over her opponent from there.

“She made not any mistakes,” said Wickmayer, who committed 40 unforced errors to 14 for Wozniacki. “She just kept bringing the ball back and back. … She was really fast.”

As was the completion of the match. With the crowd waiting to get in after Williams imploded over at Ashe, Wozniacki was able to serve for the win and then broke into tears, as her dream was finally realized.

Wickmayer Enters The Radar

FLUSHING MEADOWS, NY – With all the press Melanie Oudin received at this Open, Yanina Wickmayer has flown under the radar.

Yet, like her American counterpart, this Belgian has surprised everyone at Flushing Meadows and now is on the verge of the Finals.

“It has surprised me in one way,” she said. I have been feeling really well the last few weeks. I’ve been playing a couple of great matches, and I’m really playing under a lot of confidence.

“So coming here I was feeling pretty good, and physically and mentally I was feeling really strong. So the first couple of matches, yeah, of course you’re always a little bit surprised of winning great matches in a Grand Slam.

“For sure if it’s the first great Grand Slam you’ve played, because before this my best result was second round. So of course when you get to the third, fourth round, you start surprising yourself. But actually, I’ve been staying pretty calm. I’ve worked really hard for this.”

She defeated Kateryna Bondarenko today, 7-5, 6-2, to earn a date with Caroline Wozniacki. The 19 year-old is very confident, mainly because the bad bounces are now going her way.

“The last couple of weeks I lost some tight matches to the top players,” she said. I lost 6-4 in the third, 7-6 in the third. So it was always like those few key points that I lost.

“I guess now those key points I just feel more concentrated physically and mentally. I feel stronger on the court. I’m sure that those two points has helped me a lot this few weeks.”

It’s been a long road for Wickmayer, who moved to the United States to learn at the Saddlebrook Academy back in 1999. Her mother Daniella passed away from cancer and she convinced her grieving father Marc to move away from Belgium and her family.

“I lost her in ’99, and I just started playing tennis a few weeks or a few months before that just to get my mind off things,” she said. “I guess I just decided as a little girl to get away from home and put my memories and thoughts to something else, so we moved to Florida just to, yeah, my dad and me, just to get things off, just to, yeah, focus ourself on other things in life and try to move on.”

And move on she has. Although she will never forget her mother, the bond she developed with her father is unbreakable. Wickmayer now is realizing her dream. Never past the second round before – she made it past the first at Roland Garros this year – the young rising star is now on the verge of the spotlight.

How she will shine is anyone’s guess, but Wickmayer is ready for Wozniacki, a person she played back in juniors.

“I’ve not really watched her play a lot, so I’m going to watch a little bit on TV today,” she said. “But like I said before, every match I play, I just go on the court and play my own game.

“Sometimes I’ll adjust a little bit during my match, but not really a lot. I just go out there, have fun, and do everything I can.”