domingo, 31 de enero de 2016
First-time partners Bruno Soares and Elena Vesnina have captured the mixed doubles crown at Melbourne Park after defeating the unseeded duo of Romanian Horia Tecau and American Coco Vandeweghe 6-4 4-6 [10-5] in Sunday’s final at Rod Laver Arena.
It was the second Grand Slam title in a 24-hour period for Brazilian Soares, who had already picked up the men’s doubles title with Brit Jamie Murray in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The “doubles double” not been achieved at the Australian Open since Mark Woodforde managed it back in 1992.
“It feels amazing,” Soares said. “Last night I finished really late. A lot of adrenaline going on. But you don't get the chance to play many Grand Slam finals.
“To get the chance to play one and win one, it's already extremely special. But I got two in the same day.”
“It’s amazing to win a Grand Slam title in Australia,” Vesnina added. “It’s my favourite Grand Slam. I’m just really happy and humble to win.”
sábado, 30 de enero de 2016
Then there was the last box that needed ticking – without doubt the toughest one of all.
It’s one thing to get ahead in a match like this.
How do you finally get over the finish line, when thinking about the finish line is without doubt the worst thing you can possibly do?
At the start of the third set, the finish line appeared in sight for Kerber, and she knew she had to cross it all by herself.
The crowd was trying their best to hold her hand, guide her in the right direction, but ultimately it’s a bridge that you must cross all on your own.
It needed to be over, and she needed to make it over.
In the third set, Kerber broke first for a 2-0 lead with a forehand winner down the line to break Williams to love. Dagger.
Of course you get broken straight back – that’s just the way it works.
Things ultimately got sideways for Williams serving at 2-3 in the third. It was a game that had five deuces. Williams hit two aces in the game, but two double faults stopped her in her tracks.
Kerber raced to an unthinkable 5-2 lead, and Williams broke Kerber when she served for it at 5-3. Nothing is ever as straight-forward as you want it to be.
On championship point, with Williams serving at 4-5, ad out, Kerber put a backhand return in play, but it was way too short. Too short was actually the best thing that could have happened.
Williams had no option but to approach, taking her out of her comfort zone of the baseline, and into the tightness of the net.
Kerber made Williams hit a forehand volley standing right in the middle of the court.
Williams pushed it long, and Kerber laid down on the baseline and immediately burst into tears.
Angelique Kerber walked onto Rod Laver Arena on Saturday night as a first-time Grand Slam finalist. She walked off as the Australian Open 2016 champion, cradling the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Cup after producing the performance of her life to beat defending champion Serena Williams 6-4 3-6 6-4.
Last year, Kerber lost in the first round at Melbourne Park. This year, she came back from match point down at the same stage, stunned two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals, then avoided a comedown against surprise semifinalist Johanna Konta. But the German saved her best for last, handing 21-time Grand Slam champion Williams just her fifth final defeat, and first in three sets.
The leftie left nothing out there – angles, passes, scrambles to all corners of the court and two nerveless drop shot winners propelled Kerber to her first Grand Slam title against the six-time and defending champion. Williams was not at her best – she hit six double faults, struggled with her forehand and gave up 17 of 32 points at the net – but the world No.1 has so often found a way in spite of herself when it matters.
Kerber simply wouldn’t allow Williams a way back into the match. The German hit just 13 unforced errors in the match – three in the both the first and third sets – while playing some of the best tennis of her career to seal victory in two hours and eight minutes.
“I was one leg on the plane to Germany,” said an emotional Kerber, referring to her first-round comeback against Japan’s Misaki Doi. “I take my chance to play against Serena. To win is my dream come true tonight.
“My whole life I was working really hard and now I’m here and can say I’m a Grand Slam champion – it’s crazy,” Kerber added. “I was enjoying this two weeks so, so much, the best two weeks of my career. I had goosebumps when I was playing.”
viernes, 29 de enero de 2016
Serena Williams competed in her first Australian Open, also her first Grand Slam event, 18 years ago in 1998, losing 7-6(4) 6-1 in the second round to sister Venus.
Since that time, along with unparalleled excellence as an athlete, she has had many incarnations – Serena (and Venus) with beaded hair, Serena in the black ‘cat-suit,’ in a leopard-pattern dress, in her current yellow bare midriff outfit and, most recently, on the cover of Sports Illustratedin an imperious, leggy, high-heeled pose as the magazine’s 2015 Sportsperson of the Year.
She has twice achieved the so-called ‘Serena Slam’ – four in a row from 2002 Roland Garros to the 2003 Australian Open, and from the 2014 US Open to 2015 Wimbledon – a noteworthy 12 years apart.
On Saturday night, as she attempts to tie Steffi Graf with an Open Era 22 Grand Slam singles titles – which would be two behind Aussie great Margaret Court’s 24 – her late career surge can be traced to a humbling 2012 first-round loss to Frenchwoman Virginie Razzano at Roland Garros. Immediately after that she trained at Patrick Mouratoglou’s tennis academy in Paris, and the eponymous coach soon took over responsibility for guiding her tennis.
Williams has since won eight of the last 14 Grand Slam events.
There was, of course, that earth-shattering stumble in the US Open semifinals last September when the unheralded Roberta Vinci ruined her much-hyped bid for a calendar-year Grand Slam.
Before Flushing Meadows last year, Williams, feeling the weight of expectation, said she was just anxious for the event to be over.
Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza have claimed a third consecutive Grand Slam doubles title to extend their unbeaten run to 36 matches at the expense of Czech duo Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, 7-6(1) 6-3.
The Hingis-Mirza partnership was a revelation in 2015, scooping the Wimbledon and US Open titles. Having claimed the WTA Tour finals title, the pairing’s success has continued into 2016 with the Brisbane and Sydney titles.
“Yeah, it's amazing. Our fairytale continues,” said a delighted Hingis who hailed the duo’s trust in each other. “It's amazing since winning Wimbledon. After that we only lost two more matches. It keeps going.”
“When I saw that ball like floating, going out, I was like very relieved. We kind of feel like we can dig it out. Even we don't always play the best tennis, we find a way, like especially in the tiebreaker. That's when it really counted.
jueves, 28 de enero de 2016
Seven career titles, more than $9 million prize money and a stint in the world’s top five are records that most players would covet but even with all those milestones, there has long been a sense that Angelique Kerber was still capable of achieving more.
The only member of the current top 10 not to reach a Grand Slam final until now, Kerber had come tantalising close with semifinal runs at the US Open in 2011 and Wimbledon in 2012 but never quite seized her breakthrough moment.
Now, after 33 Grand Slam attempts, Kerber has at last earned a major opportunity after a 7-5 6-2 win over Johanna Konta. It followed a first-round win over Misaki Doi, where she saved match point in the second set tiebreak, and a first-ever win over Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals.
“(It’s) a special moment, a special feeling to get there right now, to being in the final. I mean, I'm four years in the top 10. I was not playing so good last year in the big tournaments,” she said.
“That was my focus, to play better in the bigger one. Now I'm in the finals here. So that means, of course, a lot.”
Winless in her six previous matches against Azarenka, Kerber needed aggression against the two-time Australian Open champion in their hard-fought quarterfinal. But with Konta hitting the errors in their semifinal – there were 36 by the end of the one-hour, 22-minute contest – the consistent German could rely on her more efficient tennis.
Thursday, 28 January, 2016
“When I’m playing at my best, it’s difficult to beat me.”
It’s hard to argue against Serena Williams’ post-match assertion after she clubbed 42 winners to dispatch No.4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska 6-0 6-4 in their semifinal at Rod Laver Arena.
Williams has returned to the Tour refocused and re-energised, having taken a couple of months off from competitive action to recharge the batteries after a 2015 season in which she claimed three major titles and fell just two wins short of a calendar Grand Slam.
“For me it's just a great thing to be in the final after taking such a long time off,” said the world No.1, who has reached Saturday’s showpiece without dropping a set.
“I definitely think I needed the time off. I've been going and going and going for a long time. Been really going hard since probably before the Olympics in 2012. That's a long time.
“Whatever happens, I’m just kind of proud of myself for re-evaluating my game and trying to get better.”