Federer lost, but you cannot win every time

Over the years, there are lost moments when the players go down hard. On Saturday in Miami, the great Roger Federer lost against Thanasi Kokkinakis 3-6 6-3 7-6(4) in a dramatic three-setter.

The Swiss has won so many times against everyone, but this time, he was out of bounds. On the past 14 months, Federer has been spectacular, but you cannot win every week. That is impossible. So now, he has decided that he will not play on clay once again, meaning that Federer won’t return on court on the grass in mid June. That is almost 3 months when he won’t be there, when the fans will be a little upset —or really upset — but perhaps they can watch some other people play. Yes, everyone knows that Federer has so much variety, and intelligence, but that doesn’t mean he is the only talent on tour with some great players. So, if you have an opportunity, watch pro tennis on TV, on the internet, or at the tournament. That would be nice.

You have to like Kokkinakis, the Aussie, who stunned Federer. Yes, Federer did not play great, but so what? The very young Kokkinakis nearly retired, but he did not, he recovered. He practices all the time. So, when he went on court, he was ready for battle. He served huge, returned pretty welland smoked his forehand. If he stays healthy, he will be a force the rest of this year.

No. 1 Simons Halep went down to Aga Radwanska. Stunned? I am not. The Pole is a very, very fine player when she is healthy and motivated. She has been on tour for more than a decade. She has come close to winning a major, but she hesitated too often. Her forehand is pretty mediocre. Still, maybe she can change it in the next couple of years, because if she cannot, then the former No. 2 Aga will not grab a Grand Slam. 

But, in Florida, she can make some noise, if she manages to knock out Vika Azarenka on Monday, who is rising fast. Radwanska has to push her back and run down shots because when Azarenka is on top of the ball, she can totally rip it, down the line and cross court. Another note: If Azarenka can play every month this season, she will go right back into the top 5. 

So what about Halep? She is a true grinder, and never gives up, which is good. But mentally, she gets upset and confused. Being No. 1 is terrific, but at this point, she has to find a way to win a Grand Slam. Somehow. However, she does love clay, so maybe she can take a deep breath and get on the Roland Garros winner’s stand. 

Here’s a fantastic match on Monday: Sloane Stephens against Garbine Muguruza. Both of them has won Slams, both of them love rallies. Ashleigh Barty is rising all the time. I bet she will crack the top 10 soon. … Finally, the frequency injured Nick Kyrgios came back. He will face Fabio Fognini and the Italian wants to yank him around. … So you like long matches? If you do, Jack Sock will face Borna Coric. Sock now comes into the net quite a bit, which can be good, but he has to put it away because Coric is getting better all the time.

Karolina Pliskova: ‘Maybe the pressure is a little bit bigger’

FROM TORONTO, THE ROGERS CUP, WEDNEDAY, AUGUST 9: Karolina Pliskova is now No. 1. But she hasn’t won a Grand Slam yet, the monkey also on the back Caroline Wozniacki who went years with that notorious distinction.

Obviously, this situation can be awkward, because she has come close to winning the major, like last year at the US Open, when she lost against Angie Kerber, 6-4 in the third. She didn’t choke, but she hesitated, and she got a little bit nervous, and she backed off.

Pliskova is so much more consistent now. Three years ago, when she wasn’t playing well, she would check in and out. Now, she is composed and can keep her flat shots in the court. Her consistency has increased and she can mix it up, deep and very short, and on the lines.

“I feel more experienced now,” she said.

This season, she has been pretty good, but not great. She won Brisbane, but then she lost in the quarters against Mirjana Lucic-Baroni in the Aussie Open. She won Doha, beating Wozniacki. At Roland Garros, she reached the semis, but then she went down to Simona Halep in three sets. On grass, she won Eastbourne, taking down Wozniacki. At Wimbledon, in the second round, she lost to Magdalena Rybarikova. Bye-bye.

“Everything still the same,” Pliskova asked about being No. 1. “Still going out for practices and still want to win every match. So, maybe the pressure is a little bit bigger, but that’s normal, you know. So, just counting with that and nothing has changed.”

She will play against Naomi Osaka on Thursday.


Wozniacki and her close friend Aga Radwanska will face off on Thursday. They have played each other 16 times, with the Danish being a little bit better, up 10-6. In 2016, Wozniacki beat her in Tokyo, 6-4 in the third. In Wuhan and Beijing, Radwanska was the victor. In 2017 in February, Caro beat Aga in Doha. Last year, they were both pretty hurt but are in much better shape now. We say it’s 50-50 between there fantastic friends on Thursday.

Venus Williams will go up against Elina Svitolina tomorrow night. Venus came pretty close to winning Wimbledon again, but she is getting slower. While her first serve and backhand are phenomenal, her problematic forehand is still up and down. She is better than Svitolina. Maybe Venus is looking to grab the No. 5 spot from Svitolina. … Garbiñe Muguruza was so-so last week, but she is incredibly confident. She can still get too frustrated. Can she win Toronto and the US Open? Maybe, but first off, she has to face Australian Ashleigh Barty who is getting better and better. … Sloane Stephens is back, upsetting Kvitova 76 36 62. She was out for nine months but returned at Wimby and now showing constituency and strength again.

Aga Radwanska: ‘I’m fresh, so I’m also happy’

FROM TORONTO, THE ROGERS CUP, TUESDAY, AUGUST 8 – Aga Radwanska has been a WTA mainstay for many, many years. In 2007, 10 years ago,  she shocked Maria Sharapova in the US Open, which was stunning because the American/Russian was winning all the time. But Radwanska was very young, super thin and she wasn’t powerful enough to dominate a Top 10 player.

Radwanska strengthens are in her legs; she is very fast and bends down so low. Also she can deposit her backhand deep in the court and can mix it up all day.

But she has yet to win at a Grand Slam. She did reach to No. 2 in 2012. At Wimbledon, she reached the final, knocking off Maria Kirilenko and then Angelique Kerber in the semis, finally losing against to the great Serena Williams in three fun sets.

At the Aussie Open in 2014, Radwanska was very consistent, her forehand was stronger and she was confident at the net. She reached the semis, and she was ready to grab the trophy. But she backed off her shots and lost to Dominika Cibulkova. In the ’06 Australian Open, Serena crushed her in the semis. The only way to upset S. Williams would be to jump on the ball immediately, rather than waiting, which she did not do, and the American blew her out.

These are also great times personally for the Pole as she just wed her longtime boyfirend and hitting partner Dawid Celt.

When Radwanska is very happy, and she was feeling very good, she can push herself. Or she can get better, especially with her weak second serve, and to continue improve her forehand, which is decent, but she has to smash the ball crosscourt.

On Tuesday in Toronto, Radwanska  beat CoCo Vandweghe is straight sets.  She is health again, and she moved inside the courts all the time. But over the last year, she was injured, all the time, but she won’t stop, at least for a couple weeks. This season, she should have pulled out for a long time, but she couldn’t.

“Playing all the time with no breaks — you want to keep going, it’s hard to make the decision that you want to stop and have a break. I didn’t, I just keep going, I didn’t want to not play anything just pushing yourself, and you’re doing injections, you can’t play, you’re skipping those weeks that you’re at home so you’re not practicing at all. Especially the Grand Slams, I didn’t want to not play Paris, Wimbledon. I had a really bad virus, before grass — I was even thinking not play Wimbledon, but I was like, there’s no chance I’m not going to play [a] Grand Slam. You’re pushing yourself, but every day you’re feeling better and better, and I was able to play great matches. And then, there was the foot again, and more injections, and I didn’t play for two weeks. … But I’m fresh, so I’m also happy that I’m playing good tennis with little preparation.”

If she wants to win a major, she will have to change the tactics, like going more to the net often, and immediately go for her shots against the excellent competitors, or she will loses in the final rounds of the majors.

She won her round of 16 match by crushing Timea Babos 6-0, 6-1. However, this week, she has to be patient and not be maudlin. 

Wawrinka: ‘I know exactly what I have to do to win a Grand Slam’

At ROLAND GARROS, DAY 5 – In 2015, Stan Wawrinka won Roland Garros, stunning the world. He knocked out Roger Federer, Jo Tsonga and Novak Djokovic to snare the title.

This year, he has been A-OK. Not great, but so-so. However, last week, he finally felt much better, winning Geneva in his home country.

Now the three-time Grand Slam champion is ready to rock ’n’ roll. Today, he beat Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4 7-6 7-5. On Saturday, he will have to go up against Fabio Fognini, who has played fantastic ball recently.

But it doesn’t really matter because once Wawrinka gets hot, he locks in and he will go for it right on the lines. His deep forehand, heavy one-handed backhand, his tricky first serve is way up there.

Can he win Roland Garros one more time? He has a chance this week, but now, he will face some very difficult opponents: Fognini in the third round, maybe Gael Monfils in the fourth round, maybe Marin Cilic in the quarters, maybe Andy Murray in the semis, and then in the final, perhaps Rafa Nadal or Djokovic.

That is very rough, but doable.

“I don’t want people to talk about me. What matters to
me is to make a deep run in this tournament,” Wawrinka said. “If I can reach the final, people will talk about me. So, I just
want to move forward to notch up victories. Whether I’m part of the favorites it doesn’t matter at all.

“I know exactly what I have to do in order to win a Grand Slam. I have already won three Grand Slam titles, so I just want to remain focused on what I do.”

Good wins (sort-of)
Kevin Anderson took down Nick Kyrgios 5-7 6-4 6-1 6-2. That’s fine stuff by the veteran Anderson, but how in creation is Kyrgios’ so flat?

Guess who Anderson will play on Saturday? The Brit Kyle Edmund, who out-hit Renzo Olivo 7-5 6-3 6-1. Who expected that in the third round? Their first serves are gigantic, both of them.

Feliciano Lopez out-lasted David Ferrer 7-5 3-6 7-5 4-6 6-4. The tall Spaniard is getting older, but wiser. Now he has to play against Cilic. It’s all about rushing to the the net. That’s what Lopez does, he comes at the net all the time.

Juan Martin del Potro beat Nicolas Almagro, who retired after reinjuring his knee. He was seriously hurt, he laid on the ground and wept. Too bad. A sad day.
Delpo will have to go up against Andy Murray. The Scot is favored, but the Argentine has won a major before so it should be very close.

The American John Isner beat Paolo Lorenzi and he seems to be enthusiastic, playing mmuch better recently as compared to a disappointing first four months.

The Women: more good wins (sort of)
Aga Radwanska took a long time to beat Alison Van Uytvanck 6-7(3) 6-2 6-3. The Pole has never won a major, but she came close at Wimbledon, and she went deep at the Aussie Open and the US Open. But at Roland Garros, she has given up, because she cannot seem to overpower the other good players. Her backhand is wonderful, and she has so much variety, but she can get down on herself. Radwanska has been ranked in the top 5 forever, but she has yet to climb up the mountain and raise the trophy.

It’s hard to see Radwanska winning RG, but if she manages to reach the second week, then maybe. Here’s what Aga says:

“To be honest, if you’re talking about the Grand Slam, if I make thatkind of decision, it would have to be so bad and Iwouldn’t even walk normally. Of course clay, it’s never been my favorite surface. I’m not expecting, miracles here, but I will try my best. I’m playing really what I can do this yearon the clay, this is also Grand Slam. So it’s asimportant as Wimbledon or Australian Open. That’swhy I really want to play here, and do my best.”

Radwanska has to play against the Frenchwomen Alize Cornet, who beat Barbora Strycova. I expect the match will be on the main court on Saturday. Once again, it should be super close.

A fine win by Elena Vesnina, who beat Varvara Lepchenko in three sets. She will play against Carla Suarez Navarro, another close match.

We haven’t seen the No.17 Anastasija Sevastova much, but apparently she is rising. She crushed Genie Bouchard 6-3 6-0.

Two top competitors won, Karolina Pliskova and Simona Halep. If they stay healthy in the next week, they could face each other in the semis. Or they can lose on Saturday. Unpredictable.

The women grades, A-F from Aussie Open: Kerber A-plus, but Caro way down



Angie Kerber

For the first time ever, the German finally played as well as she could at a major, crushing her forehand and backhand and she didn’t back off all. The lefty is so fast, strong and just so lethal. She beat both the former No. 1 Vika Azarenka and the current No. 1 Serena Williams to win the Australian Open. Who else has managed to do that? No one, that’s who.


Johanna Konta

The Britain has improved a tremendous amount over the past six months, coming from nowhere to somewhere. Her depth is now incredible and she also appears very patient, which is why she reached the major semi for the first time.


Serena Williams

The famous Serena played excellent ball all the way until the final, when she was a bit erratic against Kerber and her volleys were out of control. But still, you can’t win every time and, at the Australian Open, she was pretty darn good, just not perfect.

Shuai Zhang

The Chinese has almost retired for good because she couldn’t win a match for months and, at the Australian Open, she qualified and reached the quarters. A true stunner.


Aga Radwanska

The Pole looked like she had a real shot to win a Grand Slam for the first time and she reached the semis again, but Serena played fantastic. Once again, Aga didn’t serve or return well enough. Some day …

Belinda Bencic

The 18-year-old was very close to upsetting Maria Sharapova, losing 7-5 7-5, which was very good considering that the Russian served as well acheter cialis forum as she has in years. The Swiss is so close

Daria Gavrilova

Some players can’t stand the pressure at the Slams, others thrive. The Aussie had a terrific week until the fourth round, when she was ousted by Carla Suarez Navarro.

Anna-Lena Friedsam

The young German shocked Roberta Vinci and had it against Radwanska, up 5-2 in the third before she cramped and lost. Still, at least she rose up for the first time.


Maria Sharapova

The five-time Grand Slam champion looked better and better until she faced Serena in the quarters, when once again, she wasn’t patient enough. Plus, she has to improve her returns against Williams.

Carla Suarez Navarro

At least the nervous foe reached the quarters, which is very good because she is working on her mental game, but she still has a long way to go at the majors.

Margarita Gasparyan

The young Russian reached the fourth round, upsetting Sara Errani. It looks like the powerful Gasparyan is becoming more thoughtful.

Vika Azarenka

The former No. 1 looked so good and she was ready to reach the final, but then Kerber stunned her as she just beaten the German two weeks prior. She is not quite ready to regain the top spot.

Barbora Strycova

You never know how good the veteran Czech will be, playing outstanding ball against Garbine Muguruza and then she was a little flat against Azarenka.

B minus

Annika Beck

So many of the young Germans had a good tournament, including Beck who reached the fourth round-up out-stroking Timea Bacsinszky.


Madison Keys

The good news is that Keys fought incredibly hard to overcome Ana Ivanovic in the third round, the bad news is that Keys got hurt once again, losing against Zhang.

Ekaterina Makarova

It was good to see the veteran Russian, who had been injured since the 2015 US Open, getting back on court. She did lose to Konta in the fourth round, 8-6 in the third, but at least she showed that she finally looks like she is healthy again.


Svetlana Kuznetsova

The Russian should have gone deep at the Aussie Open considering that she had just won Sydney, but as she says, some days you don’t know whether you will hit the ball correctly. Her age is affecting her consistency.

Ana Ivanovic

Given that the former No. 1 hasn’t gone deep in months, at least she reached the third round and almost knocked off Keys. But she has to be better than that.


Garbine Muguruza

There is no doubt that the Spaniard had a chance to reach the final and then, against Strycova in the third round, she looked very shaky. She needs to take a deep breath.

Timea Bacsinszky

The Swiss looked so good at the 2015 Roland Garros and now she is slumping, losing in the second round.

Karolina Pliskova

The Czech had a fine 2015, but in the Slams, she flailed, just like when she lost in straight sets in the third round versus Makarova.


Simona Halen

The Romanian is impossible to understand what she is doing right now. She looked fairly good in Sydney, and then she was totally stunned against Zhang, not even going for her shots.

Venus Williams

The seven-time Grand Slam champion looked totally out of it against Konda in the first round. Maybe she should have charged the net more, because she volleys as good as anyone. But not that day.

Sam Stosur

The reality is that she doesn’t play well at all in Australia. If she did, she could actually go deep at the AO, because outside of her country, she has been outstanding (winning the 2011 US Open and reach the 2010 Roland Garros final), and here she hasn’t even come close.

Sloane Stephens

How can she win Auckland and then, in the first round, she falls against an unknown? She is a fine player, but mentally she can disappear.


Caroline Wozniacki

At this point, it is impossible to know where the former No. 1 is going. She lost in the first round and she hasn’t competed well at all since last April. Time to add a new coach.

Serena favored vs Aga, but close? Kerber raises up, to play Konta





Is there anyway that Aga Radwanska can trick Serena Williams, given that she lost to her eight times in a row? Not really, but at least she has reached the semifinals and, if she can get her teeth in, maybe she can bother her and begin to believe that she can actually win the match.

Back in 2012 in the Wimbledon final against Williams, Radwanska was spinning around, mixing it up, coming forward, back and forth and painting the line. They were locked up. They had split their two sets and it was 2-2 in the third. But then Serena calmed down, she took her time, she blasted some huge serves, she returned aggressively and she decided that she wasn’t going to scramble around. Radwanska fought, but she was merely hoping that Serena would happen to fail and she would win her first major. The only way that Radwanska was going to win was to risk it. She didn’t and she was gone 6-1 5-7 6-2.

Since then, Aga wasn’t really closed. In 2013 in Toronto, she looked pretty spry, her backhand was lethal and she really hustled, but the incredibly creative Radwanska fell 7-6(3) 6-4. She couldn’t break Serena down.

The 34-year-old Serena has said that she and Radwanska are now getting along off the court. That is very good, but that does not mean that the American will let her guard down. Serena also gets along well with Caro Wozniacki and Vika Azarenka, but she has still managed to beat them soundly, so that is not going to give her some slack. No, Radwanska is going to have to play as well as she can – even better. She is going to have to add a lot of speed on her first and second serve. She is going to yank Serena side-to-side with her backhand and forehand and come into the net whenever she can attack a short ball. Somehow, when Serena is blasting gigantic serves, she has to discover where she is going and pop it back very deep.

If Radwanska manages to do that, she will have an opportunity, but Serena is playing fantastic ball once again. In the quarters against Maria Sharapova, she knew that she had to be incredibly explosive and that is exactly what she did. We all know that Serena hiccupped in the semis against Roberta Vinci when she fell. This time, she won’t be as anxious. Before the tournament I thought Aga would win the trophy. Then, I though Serena was hurt. But now she is not. Serena will win in three, tough, fun sets.


Clearly, Kerber woke up and smelled the roses to upset Azarenka, the favorite. Instead of pushing back, the German moved forward and cracked her much improved forehand. The lefty can sprint for hours, she can bend very low and bomb her backhand, and she can be pretty comfortable at the net.

Last year, the soon-to-be top 5 player won four titles, but she wasn’t able to reach the second week at any of the majors. This week, she decided she could really go for it and she did.

Now the 28-year-old Kerber is the favorite against the British Konta, who has reached the final four since the now-broadcaster Sue Barker did it 40 years ago. The 25-year-old Konta has really come out of nowhere. At the beginning of last year, she was ranked No. 147. She played a ton of US and Canadian challengers, rose up at the US Open and played tremendous ball at Wuhan and generic levitra faq uk Linz.

In 2016, she was already to go and during the past 10 days, she has been consistently striking the ball. She is more powerful and directed and she rarely grows tired.

However, she is not quiet there yet. Yes, she can bang it from the backcourt, but Kerber has more savvy. The German will win in straight sets to reach the final for the first time.

Another classic? Serena Williams vs Maria Sharapova: who will win?

Maria and Caro did not have the seasons they wished for.

Australian Open, Jan 25, 2016 –


1-Serena Williams beat Margarita Gasparyan 6-2 6-1

The fabulous Serena is now rolling again, hitting huge serve, cracking her returns and pounding her strokes. The American is directive and showed the young Russian that she has a very long way to go. She is the favorite, but against Maria Sharapova she will have to play consistent and calm.

5-Maria Sharapova beat 12-Belinda Bencic 7-5 7-5

The Russian-American says that the young Swiss is already very good and she wouldn’t back off. In a fine match, Sharapova served gigantic, and managed to go for it consistently when she wanted to go down the line and fool her opponent. Sharapova said that clearly, Bencic is already one of the best players in the game. But she isn’t beating her yet.


In 2004, Sharapova was only 17-year-old, and she had no fear at all, out hitting Serena at the Wimbledon final and the WTA Finals. She was able to hit the lines off both wings.

After Serena upended Sharapova in the 2005 Australian Open in the semis when Maria had a match point but was unable to nail it, it totally changed. Since then, Serena has won 17 matches in a row and Maria has only been able to win three sets. Serena has beaten her everywhere, by returning substantially better, and smoking her serves that Sharapova cannot handle. Once they get into rallies, it is pretty darn close, but Maria cannot seem to read her, while Serena usually knows which way she is going.

Yes, Sharapova has improved with her drop shots, and yes, on occasion now, she will come into the net, but if Serena is crushing her serves and she is leaping on her returns, then how exactly is Maria going to win lengthy points? That would be extraordinary.

Without a doubt, Sharapova really does want to find away to upset Serena and she will try super hard. But in the end, Williams will find the lines once again. Serena will win in three terrific sets.

4- Aga Radwanska beat Anna-Lena Friedsam’s

The German was right there, up 5-2 in the third set, but then her left leg started to cramp and she was crying, not able to run very fast anymore. Radwanska escaped and she continued to fight. However, she is going to have to play much better if she wants to win the title for the first time.

10-Carla Suarez Navarro beat Daria Gavrilova 0-6 6-3 6-2

The Spaniard was way off in the first set and looked like she was flat once again, but she levitradosageus24.com started to swing away. Suarez Navarro out-stroked the Australian Gavrilova, who said she went crazy in the last two sets. She said that she was “emotionally fried.”


Good for Suarez Navarro for waking up, seized the moment and has reached the quarters. She may not be tall, but she is very muscular and strong. However, even though Radwanska was spotty on Sunday, at least she knows how to play her. Without a doubt, they will contest long rallies, and given that Suarez Navarro edged her 6-4 in the third in Miami last year, there is no doubt that the Spaniard will trouble her by exposing her forehand. However, the Pole can mix it up more often and she will seize the moment. Radwanska will win in three sets.

1-Novak Djokovic beat 14-Gilles Simon 6-3 6-7(1) 6-4 4-6 6-3

Clearly, the Serbian didn’t play very well, but in the fifth set, he moved forward, he took some risks and believed that when he had to push and shove, he did it, out-hitting the steady Simon. Now, Djokovic can breathe, but will he back off and try to be a little bit more consistent? Perhaps he will, but he’s so good that he can frequently change his direction and when he is feeling right, he can crack it anywhere he wants to.

7-Kei Nishikori beats 9-Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-2 6-4

The Japanese is very pleased that he trounced the Frenchman who took him down in five sets in the quarters of the Roland Garros. He jumped in the returns and yanked him from side to side. The 25-year-old thinks he has a real shot to win the tournament. He still has to prove it.


The Japanese says that he is ready to beat the Serbian again, having stunned him at the 2014 US Open semifinal. But after that, Djokovic has ripped him four times in a row. He is taller, stronger and smarter. Yes, Nishikori is a little faster, but he cannot out-hit him from the backcourts. Without a doubt, Nishikori can be super aggressive, but Djokovic has to still be a little angry from playing down to Simon’s level. This time, he won’t and dictate his own turns. Djokovic will win in four sets.

3-Roger Federer beat 15-David Goffin 6-2 6-2 6-4

The Swiss was delightful, out-stroking with his forehand, backhand and volleys. He was moving forward all the time, knowing that wherever he was, he believed that his shot was substantially stronger and smarter. That’s why the 17-time Grand Slam champion crushed the Belgian.

6-Tomas Berdych beat 24-Roberto Bautista 4-6 6-4 6-3 1-6 6-3

It was very surprising that the 27-year-old Spaniard was very close against the Czech given that he has never gone deep at the Slams, but Bautista was right there and had he not hiccupped, he might have stunned Berdych. However, Berdych has been around for a long time and rarely falls against the top 30 boys.


Berdych wants another shot against Federer and if he plays spectacularly well, he can chop him out. The Czech had stunned Federer at the 2010 Wimbledon semis and at the 2012 US Open quarterfinal, but Federer has beaten him 15 other times, including twice at the Australian Open. Moreover, ‘Rog’ beat him three times last year, including the ATP Finals. Federer says that the court is quick, and big Berdych likes to keep the points short. However, even if that’s true, Berdych hasn’t looked fantastic. Federer has been dancing on the streets. He will win in straight sets.

Sharapova confounds Halep; Playing hard, Pennetta overcomes Aga

Flavia Pennetta wants to stick around a little bit longer. Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

Flavia Pennetta wants to stick around a little bit longer. Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

SINGAPORE – For reality checks, Flavia Pennetta isn’t ready to go home, and Maria Sharapova wants to beat her before she waves bye-bye.

Pennetta out-stroke Aga Radwanska 7-6 6-4, while Sharapova out-bashed Simona Halep 6-4 6-4. Pennetta is 1-1 in the Red Group Singapore, having lost to Halep on Sunday. Sharapova out-lasted Radwanska in three sets.

If Sharapova wins a set against Pennetta, then she will qualify for the semifinals. If she loses in straight sets, then who knows? In fact, no one really knows as Pennetta and Halep (who blitzed the Italian on Sunday) can have legitimate chances, and Radwanska also does, too. Ping-Pong.

The soon-to-be-retired Pennetta isn’t just happy to be here. Before she came out, many of the people in the stands were unsure. She has finally won a Slam andis going home in Italy very soon. So, all she had to do is play hard and don’t worry about the score. Uh-uh.

Against Radwanska, Pennetta pushed herself extremely hard. She served big, attacked the net when she could and went toe-to-toe from inside the baseline. When Pennetta missed a few bad shots, she grew angry. Guess what? When she went on court, she forgot this is her last tournament.

“I’m not thinking like this,” she said. “I don’t have this way to think. I don’t go in the court and think, ‘Oh, it’s going to be maybe my last one or I have tomorrow,’ I have three more. I just go to the court and say, ‘Okay, I have to play.’ That’s it. I don’t know how it’s happen, but it’s like this.”

Everyone talks about how smart Radwanska is, and that is very true, but Pennetta knows where she is going and that she can go for her shots when the lines are barking at her. Her forehand and first serve give the Pole a lot of trouble, and when they were contesting long rallies, Pennetta would hit behind her, or nail huge shots right down the middle. She has matured a great deal.

The same goes with Sharapova, who faced No. 2 Halep. She cannot allow Halep to go inside the court. Whether she was serving or returning with authority, Sharapova was the dictator. Halep is faster and would prefer to run around side-to-side, but there is no way that she can yank her around all night long when the Russian/American wouldn’t be able to hammer the corners.

That is why Sharapova is now 6-0 head-to-head against Halep: she consistently bothers her because she doesn’t allow her to grind every point. Halep can certainly grind on occasion, but she can’t handle her forehand side and she doesn’t push Sharapova back enough. Maybe the Romanian will do so again if they happen to a face off on Sunday, but right now, she is confounded by her.

Sharapova and Pennetta have played each other five times before, all three-set matches. Pennetta bested her at 2015 Indian Wells. She loves at the tournament, especially when she won her first big title there in 2014. Pennetta was a 31-year-old then, and while she has been very good at times over the past decade or so, few sensed that she was getting better and better.

At the 2015 US Open, she finally put it all together and won the crown. As Sharapova said, she was a little surprised that she won, but she truly deserved it. They will clash again on Thursday. Without a doubt, they respect each other, but both of them want to win badly.

“It is [a little surprising], but I feel like there is always a moment for people to shine,” Sharapova said. “I know there are players that are extremely consistent that are at the top of the game, and I’ve been playing for many years and been fortunate to win Grand Slams. But I work hard and I don’t just sit there and say I’m only player that does it. There are hundreds of players that probably work harder than I do and commit more time than I do and sometimes don’t get the results. I realize how fortunate I am.

“I know that Flavia has been through a lot in her career with surgeries, injuries, work and effort coming back, stopping. A lot people don’t talk about that, but I think you should. That matters. I think that when you go through those moments, eventually it pays off. That was her time to shine, and I was really, really happy.”

Winners & Losers, Toronto: Bencic beat 6 fine players to grab title


Belinda Bencic

The 18-year-old Swiss was lethal. She was not perfect, but she seemed to read the lines at every turn. She can crack her forehands and backhands, she can sit back and wait until there is an opportunity, or she attacks ferociously. To win the Toronto title, she bested six fine players, outlasting Genie Bouchard, Caro Wozniacki, Sabine Lisicki, Ana Ivanovic, Serena Williams and Simona Halep. She rarely became nervous and now the teenager is truly believing in herself and she will have a legitimate chance to win the US Open.

Simona Halep

The Romanian had to retire in the final against Bencic, losing the first set 6-7 and winning the second set 7-6, but she was sick and couldn’t continue. However, she fought hard during the week, outlasting Angie Kerber and Aga Radwanska in three sets, and then she had to work hard against the fast Sara Errani in the semis. Yes, she has to swing away at times, but after she had a difficult clay and grass season, she is pleased to be back at the hard courts.

Serena Williams

In the past year, Serena has lost against Venus Williams, Petra Kvitova and now Bencic. Clearly, Serena was upset (she called it ‘crappy’) as her fabulous serve was way off and she had hurt her left hand, but really, it’s better for her to have lost. Now there will be a little pressure – at least until the US Open, when she tries to win all four Grand Slams at the same year.

Sara Errani

The veteran Italian hasn’t played spectacularly well this season, but she “upset” Victoria Azarenka, which was a fine win.

Lesia Tsurenko

The Ukrainian reached the quarterfinals on Toronto and she has been playing outstanding ball, winning Istanbul


Caro Wozniacki

Yes, she was hurt, but she didn’t say anything until after she lost against Bencic. She also lost in the opening round against Varvara Lepchenko in Stanford, when she said she 100 percent – until later. If she doesn’t want to play because her leg hurt, then don’t play, but don’t pretend that you are fine, and then later, she switched her commentary. She is a very nice person, but she needs to be honest all the time

Aga Radwanska

The Polish Radwanska has been close, but oh so far, falling against Kerber and Halep 6-4 in the third in Stanford and Toronto. She has every game in the book, but she cannot panic late or she is not going to reach the top 5 again.

Carla Suarez Navarro

The No. 10 Spaniard had rested well after a poor Wimbledon and she was excited on the hard courts, but she was flat in Stanford and Toronto. The 26-year-old isn’t a baby anymore. It’s time for her to step it up immediately.

Wimbledon: Serena knocks down Vika again, Maria stops CoCo

sharapova wta champ 12 3


1-Serena Williams d 23-Victoria Azarenka 3-6 6-2 6-3

Azarenka came out firing, blasting her returns, nailing close to the lines and running like a wind. However, Williams knew that she wasn’t quite ready yet, especially with her serves and once she started clubbing, she began to wore her down. Yes, Azarenka kept trying, she kept deep, but she could not break Serena down, as Williams nailed 17 aces and won 80 percent of her first serve, 39 for 49. According to the stats, Williams had 46 winner and only 12 unforced errors, which might be a bit off, but still, she was darn good. When the 20 Grand Slam is on, she is impossible to beat her.

4-Maria Sharapova beat CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3 6-7(3) 6-2

I am not sure why Vandeweghe was upset that Sharapova had a ‘unsporting behavior,’ because regardless, the Russian/US out hit her in the third set. Yes, Vandeweghe has grown up a lot during the past nine day, upsetting four fine players such as Lucie Safarova, but on Centre Court, she was extremely powerful, but she was up and down and needed to be more calm in the big moments. The five-time champion was sloppy in the second set, but in the third set, Sharapova moved forward and was lethal. Sharapova will face Serena; the only time she has ever beaten her at a major, at 2004 Wimbledon. That was a long, long time ago.

13-Aga Radwanska beat 21-Madison Keys 7-6(3) 3-6 6-3

About three weeks ago, Radwanska was finally feeling good again after four months when she was in a panic. But now she knows exactly which way she is going and when she is prepared to go for it. For the smallish Radwanska, her first serve was excellent and she did a terrific job down the middle and extremely very deep. The 20-year-old Keys is getting better and better and she will be heard at the rest of the US Open summer series.

20-Garbine Muguruza beat 15-Timea Bacsinszky 7-5 6-3

In 1997, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario reached the semis (and final) and that was the only other Spaniard to go deep on grass. But the super-aggressive and fast learner Muguruza overcame the talented Bacsinszky in straight sets. Muguruza hiccupped at the French Open, but this time, she has been touching the line. Radwanska is favored, but the Spaniard moves extremely well and if she isn’t nervous, she can upend the Pole.