January 9th, 2015

Friday Tennis Blog: Serena, Venus Soar; Djokovic, Nadal Crash Week One

Friday Blog
Venus and one of the "Ball Dogs" in Auckland

Venus and one of the “Ball Dogs” in Auckland

SLUMPING SERENA PERSEVERES — It has been a weird week for Serena Williams. Playing a day after getting off the plane in Australia, the world No. 1 was blanked 6-0 by Italy’s Flavia Pennetta (rectified by a cup of coffee), then won only three games against Canadian Genie Bouchard, then on Thursday survived 6-3, 6-7(1), 7-6(6) against Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic to, with partner John Isner, put the U.S. into the final of the Hopman Cup team competition. “It feels so much better than I did a couple of days ago,” said Serena, who attributed her sluggishness to jet lag. “I feel really good now.” Embroiled in a three-way tie in their round robin group, Williams and Isner both needed to win their singles, then the mixed doubles to move into the final. Williams can now become the first person to win three Hopman Cup titles if the U.S. can best Poland in the final.

The University of Florida's Peggy Porter

The University of Florida’s Peggy Porter

CAMP USTA IS CAMP UF — Next week the USTA will hold a women’s collegiate training camp in Boca Raton, with half the campers comprised of University of Florida freshmen. Josie Kuhlman (Ponte Vedra Beach), Brooke Austin (Indianapolis) and Peggy Porter (Dallas) of UF will be joined by UCLA’s Chanelle Van Nguyen of Miami and Robin Anderson, and North Carolina’s Jamie Loeb. The collegians will be receive training and coaching from USTA national coaching staff and private coaches, with the goal to inspire, motivate and assist players in reaching their highest level. The women are also expected to compete at the USTA Pro Circuit event in Plantation, Fla., beginning Jan. 12.

broken racquetSHAKING OFF THE RUST — It has been a tough Week One on the ATP circuit for men currently or formerly with a No. 1 next to their name in the rankings. Rafael Nadal, perhaps returning too soon from an appendectomy, lost in the first round in Doha to unheralded German Michael Berrer, who is scheduled to retire at the end of the season. Fellow former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt lost in the opening round at Brisbane to fellow Aussie Sam Groth. Current world No. 1 Novak Djokovic lost in his second match at Doha to giant Croat Ivo Karlovic, who unloaded 21 aces on the Serb. “I also want to play in the Australian Open which is a tournament I like a lot,” said Nadal, who won the first set 6-1 before falling in three to Berrer. “I don’t know if that will be the case either, but I am going to work for it. If not I will be playing at Rio and Buenos Aires.”

Venus Reaches Auckland Final, Serena and Isner in Hopman Cup Title Match

Two former No. 1s moved into the ASB Classic final in Auckland on Friday when No. 3 seed Venus Williams defeated fellow American Lauren Davis 6-0, 6-3, and top-seeded Caroline Wozniacki topped Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Venus has beaten Wozniacki in all five of their career meetings without dropping a set, the last coming in February of last year in Dubai.

“She’s obviously a tough competitor,” Wozniacki said of the elder Williams sister. “She’s played really well this week — very aggressive, serving well, taking the ball early — it won’t be easy, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m happy to be in my first final of the year, and hopefully there will be many more to come this year.”

Unseeded American Varvara Lepchenko reached the semifinal round at the Brisbane International in Australia before her defeat Friday at the hands of No. 2 seed Ana Ivanovic 7-6(2), 6-4.

Ivanovic in the final will meet top-seeded Maria Sharapova, who advanced after a 6-1, 6-3 win over unseeded Elina Svitlina of the Ukraine. The former U.S. Fed Cup team member Lepchenko last year reached her first career final at Seoul.

No men remain at any of the three ATP events entering the weekend, but John Isner is into the Hopman Cup final with U.S. teammate Serena Williams.

To reach the final, Isner and Williams both needed to win their singles matches and the mixed doubles in their final match against the Czech Republic.

“That was one of the best singles games I’ve ever seen,” Isner said of Williams’ three-set win over Lucie Safarova. “She did her job. I was sweating bullets in the locker room watching. But then I was able to win my match and then win the mixed doubles.”

They Said It

Eugenie Bouchard shared her look via Instagram from the Hopman Cup player party

Eugenie Bouchard shared her look via Instagram from the Hopman Cup player party

“I was just feeling [jetlagged], so I just had to get some coffee into me. I just asked them to get me a shot of espresso — I asked them if it was legal, because I’ve never done it before. I needed to wake up.”
Serena Williams this week at the Hopman Cup after losing the first set 6-0 to Flavia Pennetta, then going on to win the match

“Maybe she needed another coffee.”
Eugenie Bouchard after beating Serena Williams at the Hopman Cup

“We are fooling ourselves if we don’t think sports are entertainment. The first goal is winning and that’s where you have a job. I am not saying we parade around and go all Hulk Hogan and enter the court in feather bows or anything, but if we play tennis with regular umpires forever and a day and it worked — it wasn’t like it was broken at all.”
Andy Roddick speaking to CNN on the Hawkeye system taking human interaction out of tennis


Tennis on TV This Weekend

TV multi colorFriday
5:30-7:30am — WTA Brisbane (live), Tennis Channel
2-4pm — WTA Auckland (delay), Tennis Channel
4-8pm — ATP/WTA Brisbane (delay), Tennis Channel

2-4am — WTA Auckland (live), Tennis Channel
4-6am — WTA Brisbane (live), Tennis Channel
2-6pm — ATP Chennai (delay), Tennis Channel
6-8pm — WTA Shenzhen (delay), Tennis Channel

4-6am — ATP Brisbane (live), Tennis Channel
6-8am — WTA Auckland (live), Tennis Channel
8-10am — WTA Shenzhen (delay), Tennis Channel
10am-3:30pm — Hopman Cup (delay), Tennis Channel
4-6pm — ATP Chennai (delay), Tennis Channel
6-8pm — WTA Brisbane (delay), Tennis Channel