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.

Venus vs. Muguruza: Who will raise the Wimbledon trophy?

WIMBLEDON WOMEN’S FINAL – Venus Williams has won Wimbledon five times. When she was young, it looked like she could win every year. She was so fast, so determined, so into it. Her first serve was hard and dominating, her backhand could produce winners crosscourt and down the line. She was quick, she was aggressive, she could be steady.

But things changed over the years. The last time that she won a major was 10 years ago, right here at Wimbledon. She beat her younger sister, Serena, who cried. Venus hugged her and, at that point, it was hard to say which one of those two would have more titles,and more Slams. 
But almost immediately, Serena rose up. Venus looked pretty good, but she couldn’t approach her best friend.

Now, Serena has 23 Grand Slams while Venus has eight majors. Cleary, Serena is better than she is, but not much. In fact, if Serena wasn’t playing tennis at all, Venus could have 15 majors. In reality, though, Serena has a much better second serve, forehand and concentration.

Venus is 36 years old and, at least during the past 12 days at 2017 Wimbledon, she actually looked fantastic. She is a little slower than she used to be, but her forehand is deeper and she is very adept at the net. She can return, too.

Is she the favorite against Garbine Muguruza in the final on Saturday? That is a very tough one, because over the past six weeks, the Spaniard finally calmed down, became consistent and very smart. Yes, she is fast and she can smoke her first serve, her forehand and backhand. She likes to go for it.

Muguruza won Roland Garros last year. She is not too young, she is not too old, she is right in the middle. She will not get nervous. 
As she says, now, she can play smarter and be more mature than her younger version. Perhaps, because when they walk on the Centre Court, Muguruza will look around and think, “I am more powerful and directed.” 

It will go to three sets and, on match point, Venus will sprint to the left, take her two-handed backhand, swing it as hard as she can and kiss it on the line. 

Number nine for Ms. Williams.

Ana Ivanovic: ‘Young girls, they’re fearless.’ To face Madison Keys

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AUSTRALIAN OPEN, DAY 4, JAN. 21, 2016 – Ana Ivanovic has been around a long time now, so long that the 28-year-old is now one of the respected statements.

Since she won her first Grand Slam – her only major title – she has been very good at times, and at other times, very bad. Now, she has reached the third round, which is pretty good, but at this point, the Serbian has to go super deep in order to satisfy herself. Once you win a major, like she did when she won the 2008 Roland Garros title and became No. 1, she wante to stay there. She wanted to win more Grand Slams at the other three. In 2007 and the first half of 2008, she was on fire, reaching the final of the Australian Open, but lost to Maria Sharapova in a hard-fought match.

But she hasn’t been able to find her way to the finals again, largely because she will panic when she is so close to the finish line.

However, Ivanovic continues to battle and changing up her tactics, and the always-happy person hasn’t given up yet.

“I think throughout your whole life, there is areas you always want to learn and improve,” she said. “In tennis, in my game, I still feel there is room for improvement. That’s my challenge every day. I really try to push myself and to try to get better. There was tough moments. I tried to improve, tried to push myself. It is also fun, you know, that’s why we are here.”

Every 10 years, the players change. Even though Serena Williams is dominating now, many of the very good veterans realize that the youngsters aren’t afraid and many of them are more effective. And they can attack early, too. On Thursday, Ivanovic beat the Latvian Anastasija Sevastova 6-3 6-3. It was competitive. Zhang Shuai of China beat Alize Cornet 6-3 6-3; Denisa Allertova of the Czech Republic bested Sabine Lisicki 6-3 2-6 6-4; and Naomi Osaka of Japan beat another youngster Elina Svitolina 6-4 6-4. Who did that and how did they get so good?

“You see it through the years now, so many new players coming up,” Ivanovic said. “Their feel is they have powerful game and they are just dangerous. It’s completely different to when I started. I remember even myself would get to third, fourth round without dropping too many games. So if you had 6-4, 7-5, they were like, ‘What’s going on?’ And now every match it’s a battle, you just have to try and push yourself, because it’s all challenge. They are young girls and they’re fearless.”

Talk about very good young players, Ivanovic will face Madison Keys in the third round. The American reached the semifinals at the Aussie Open last year, and right after that, it looked like Keys would jump into the top 10. But she was spotty for the rest of the year. She played excellent ball to reach the final at Charleston, and reach the quarters at Wimbledon, but after that, she was very inconsistent. She is a huge hitter, but she can become frustrated. Perhaps this season, she will be calmer. Ivanovic will find out on Saturday.

“She’s very dangerous; big game. We played once on clay when she was just coming up and we had tough second-set tiebreak,” Ivanovic said. “She played well last year here; a big serve; a big, powerful forehand actually on both wings. It’s going to be the first shot, and I’m going to have to be composed also in my service games if I do face her. It’s not going to be easy matchup, I think, but it’s all about, trying to find your way.”


Victoria Azarenka is playing fantastic, winning Brisbane and then crushing two players at the AO. On Thursday she blew apart Danka Kovinic 6-1 6-2.

The No. 3 Garbine Muguruza played so-so but beat Kirsten Flipkens 6-4 6-2. The pressure is on for the young Spaniard and could struggle against Barbora Strycova. The American Varvara Lepchenko beat Lara Arruabarrena 7-6(7) 6-4 and she does have a real chance to reach the fourth round when she faces Zhang Shuai, even though the Chinese did play very well to upset Simona Halep and Cornet.


Andy Murray hit six beautiful lob winners in the first set over Sam Groth 6-0 6-4 6-1. Groth is tall and he constantly comes into the net, but even though he would try to climb way up in the sky he couldn’t touch him.  The American John Isner was pretty consistent and smart to beat Marcel Granollers 6-3 7-6(6) 7-6(2). His backhand really has improved over the past year, but now he will have to face Feliciano Lopez, who overcame Guido Pella 7-6(2) 6-7(4) 7-6(3) 6-7(8) 6-4 in a marathon.

Back in 2012 at the Aussie Open, Lopez beat Isner 6-3 6-7(3) 6-4 6-7(0) 6-1 in the third round. At the 2014 Wimbledon, the Spaniard beat Isner 6-7(8) 7-6(6) 7-6(3) 7-5. The lefty bothers him. But fortunately, Isner defeated Lopez 7-6(5) 6-7(9) 7-6(4) in Queens last year. Maybe he can turn the tables.

Here is another big contest on Saturday, when the Brisbane winner Milos Raonic will go up against the Sydney winner Viktor Troicki. On Thursday, Raonic beat Tommy Robredo 7-6(6) 7-6(5) 7-5, while Troicki beat Tim Smyczek 6-4 7-6(5) 7-6(4). Both are confident, but the Serbian must be a little tired.

Another American, Steve Johnson beat Thomaz Bellucci 6-3 6-2 6-2 and will play David Ferrer. Johnson knows they could be on court for hours and hours.

Top 32: Serena triumphs again; is Sharapova really improving?

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Top 32, Nos. 4-1

No. 4

Maria Sharapova

Did Maria have a great year in 2015? No, admittedly, she did not, but it wasn’t a bad year for the former No. 1 and given that she was hurt most of the summer and part if the fall, it was a very decent season. She won Brisbane over Ana Ivanovic; she reached the Australian Open final and lost a tight contest against Serena Williams; she won Rome by beating Victoria Azarenka and Carla Suarez Navarro; she reached the semis of Wimbledon, but Serena was nearly perfect and took her down; she won three matches in the WTA Finals and beat Simona Halep, Aga Radwanska and Flavia Pennetta before she lost against Petra Kvitova. However, in the Fed Cup Final, the Russian turned the tables and overcame Kvitova (which the Czechs won anyway).

Without a doubt, the 28-year-old Sharapova wants to win more majors and big tournaments. Of course the five-time Grand Slam champion has struggled against Serena for the past 11 years — not winning a thing – but she has been able to take down everyone else, and that is pretty darn good. Even though Sharapova was unable to win a Grand Slam this year, she has improved somewhat significantly now. She is no longer afraid to come to the net — which has taken her a solid 12 years while working on it – she is now more comfortable throwing out a drop shot, and she can even slice here and there with her ferocious backhand. She has always had one of the powerful forehands and backhands, she will crush her returns when her foes are popping it up, and physically, her body is substantially stronger and she can play for hours without becoming exhausted.

Can Sharapova win another major in 2016? Of course she can, but she has to continue to improve, like she must change-up her serve and not be so predictable, and she needs to discover which way her foes are trying to fool her when they are serving, especially against Serena, who tricks her all the time. Other than that, if she is healthy, she will go super deep every time out.

No. 3

Garbine Muguruza

Finally, one of the young players had risen and the Spaniard cracked the top 5, and then she ended the season at No. 3. She had a fine fall after she was nervous for a couple of months when she had reached the Wimbledon final and for the first time, the whole world had finally noticed her. After she woke up and realized that she could lock in when she was on the court, she wasn’t hearing the fans chanting at her name. Muguruza concentrated well and she attacked all the time.

This year, she overcame a number of the fine veterans: Radwanska, Caro Wozniacki, Angie Kerber, Pennetta and Kvitova. She managed to hang in when she lost against the mighty Serena in the Wimbledon final.

In the fall, the 22-year-old reached the final of Wuhan, she won Beijing and then she won three matches in the WTA Finals before she finally fell, going down against Radwanska 7-5 in the third. Really, she can legitimately beat anyone when she is on fire and she isn’t missing the ball. She can smoke her forehand and backhand crosscourt and down the line; her first serve is powerful and, unlike many of the young players, she can come into the net and handily put it away. She is always smiling and laughing which is terrific.

Muguruza still has to continue to improve over all, and if she isn’t getting too frustrated when it isn’t her day, she certainly will go super deep and win a couple more huge titles – the Premier 5 once again and possibly winning her first Slam in 2016.

No. 2

Simona Halep

It is so hard to figure out where Halep is going: will she win a major for the first time in 2016 and reach No. 1, or will she fall back?  Over the past two-and-a-half years the Romanian has been a darn good player. She is super competitive, she is incredibly fast and she is very steady. When she is feeling right, she will go for everything, especially her down the line. She can mix up her attack, she can spin it around and she has a tremendous drop shot.

The good news is that when she wasn’t deep into her head and becoming way too emotional, then she can drop off her game, just like at the majors in 2015. She did very little at the Aussie Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon, but at the US Open, she was so close to winning it all. She out-lasted Azarenka in a classic quarterfinal, and then in the semis against Pennetta, the Italian was much more confident while Halep quickly folded her tent.

Outside of the majors, she put together a number of tournaments: winning Dubai, Indian Wells, the semis of Miami when she nearly upset Serena, and she reached the final at Toronto (she fell versus Belinda Bencic in the final) and another final in Cincy (she lost again versus Serena and it was fairy close). In the fall, she was so-so at best.

Now it’s all up to her. There are times when Halep pushes the ball and there is no way that she can win a major if she does that. She has all the keys, it is whether she can relax and simply go for it. Will Halep win a Grand Slam in 2016? We will find out quickly because Halep loved the hard courts and the Australian Open is wide open.

No. 1

Serena Williams

No one is perfect, not Serena or anyone else, ever. But Ms. Williams played about as well as she ever has, winning three Grand Slams at 2015, beating just about everyone, taking down Sharapova in the Aussie Open final, running past Lucie Safarova at Roland Garros final, and out-hitting Muguruza at the Wimbledon final. She also won Miami by crushing Suarez Navarro, and she won Cincy by overcoming Halep.

When Serena was healthy, she was completely locked in and lethal. She knew what to do all the time. She knew when she wasn’t playing all that well  and then she would decide to change it up. Intellectually, the now 34-year-old would think deep into her brain and she understood how she would disturb her foes.

Look at Paris, which was one of the most difficult tournaments of all time: She was up and down, she was spraying the ball and she was frustrated, but she wasn’t going to go away, and she managed to win five three-setters. Many other player can fold, but she refused to go away and Serena out-thought them once again.

Look at Wimbledon because that wasn’t easy either. In the third round, she was up against Britain’s Heather Watson. Serena was down in the third set, and Watson was playing better than she ever had, but Serena was calm, she took a deep breath and edged her 7-5 in the third. She had to beat her older sister, the five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams, and she took her in straight sets, serving and returning absolutely huge. She yanked the aggressive Azarenka in three tight sets. She wanted to make sure that when she faced off against Sharapova in the semis that if she would attack her immediately and that’s what she did. In the final against Muguruza, she knew that the ‘kid’ is dangerous, but that didn’t really matter, all she had to do was to be more solid when the big points came and she won it once again.

However, at the US Open, she had finally began to feel tremendous pressure because the whole world were thinking that she was going to win all four majors in one year. She was no longer calm, and while she was composed enough to beat Bethanie Mattek-Sands, Venus and Madison Keys, once she came out on court for the semifinal against Roberta Vinci, her eyes were glassy and she was all over the place. She was not being patient, she was erratic and Vinci played wonderfully, beating Serena 6-4 in the third. The extremely upset Serena was gone, deciding not to play for the rest of the year.

Serena owns 21 Grand Slams now. If she doesn’t win at least another major title in 2016, that would be stunning, because since 2012, she has been dominating, grabbing almost every significant tournament and beating every top-10 competitors time and time again.

Was 2015 Serena’s best season ever? No, not for me. She ‘only’ won five tournaments and withdrew from three events. In 2002, she won three Grand Slams and eight titles: Scottsdale, Miami, Rome, RG, Wimby, the US Open, Tokyo and Leipzig. Back then, she was faster and healthier.

When Serena arrives at the Australian Open, she won’t have played in four months (she will play at an exo at Hopman Cup). Clearly, she wanted to rest her body and her mind. She is the favorite every where she goes, but in 2016, if she is going to tie the greatest player ever Steffi Graf at 22 Grand Slams (she won 109 career titles while Serena currently has 69 titles), she must be happy on court once again. If she does, when she eventually retires, she will be called the greatest player ever.

Shocker? Radwanska d. Murguruza, Kvitova d. Sharapova to reach final in WTA Finals



SINGAPORE – For the first time at the WTA Finals, two players who went 1-2 in the groups have now reached the finals: Aga Radwanska surprised the up-and-coming Garbine Muguruza 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5, while Petra Kvitova out-hit Maria Sharapova 6-3 7-6(3).


The 22-year-old Muguruza, who is ranked No. 3, was worn down in the season’s final tournament. Even

though she was tired after a tough week as she was competing in singles and doubles, she nearly came though.

“I just wanted to give everything I had, and doesn’t matter how long I was going to be able to keep it. I just went out there, and if I die on the court, I die, but at least I go out from there happy,” the Spaniard said.

Like Muguruza, Sharapova was 3-0 entering the semifinal. She had beaten Kvitova five of the last six times, but the Czech couldn’t let her breath. She came right at her and didn’t stop. Sharapova knows that when Kvitova is on fire, it’s hard to handle her.

“She’s a very aggressive player. She has a lot of depth and power. She goes for her shots. I think when she commits to her game and she executes, it’s a very powerful game,” Sharapova said.

Somewhat amazingly, Kvitova and Radwanska have played eight times, with the Czech owning with a 6-2 edge. However, the 25 year olds have played four WTA Finals, in 2011, when Kvitova won the title, beating the Pole in straights in the Round Robin in Istanbul; in 2012, when Radwanska won in straight sets in a Round Robin; in 2013, with the Czech winning in straight sets and in 2014, when ‘Aga’ won easily last year in the Round Robin at Singapore.

They are tied up in the WTA Finals. While Kvitova has been a better player overall, Radwanska is on a roll. The contest should be very close.

“It’s difficult opponent, for sure,” Kvitova said. “She’s very smart. I think she has a lot the variety on the court. She getting so many balls, so sometimes it feels that she’s never‑ending story on the court.

So it’s really about the patient and still be kind of sharp, but playing a lot of shots and rallies. It’s difficult. So both of us will leave everything.”


Little sad: Kvitova d Safarova; Muguruza clips Kerber at WTA Final


Kvitova reacts during WTA Finals match. Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

SINGAPORE – Petra Kvitova has had a difficult season. At the beginning of the year, it looked like she has a serious shot to become No. 1 for the first time. But once again, she dealt with injuries and she has been up and down ever since.

But on Wednesday at the WTA Finals, she took down her very good friend, Lucie Safarova, 7-5 7-5.   She was not perfect by any means, but she was forceful and she never became angry when she missed a few shots. The stronger lefty out-hit Safarova at the end, going hard at the white lines.

Kvitova will have to watch some tape in the next two days, as she will have to face Garbine Muguruza on Friday, who out-muscled Angie Kerber 6-4 6-4. The two have never met before, and Kvitova doesn’t want the 22-year-old to push her out of the event. The vets can cheer for them, but they don’t want them to beat them anytime soon.

When Kvitova was asked how difficult it was on court against Safarova, her eyes began to grow dark. Those two have known each other since 2007, when Kvitova was only 17 years old and Safarova was 20. Both had a tremendous amount of talent, but both had a long way to go. Now, they are much mature, which helps them on court, but it’s not easy to see her friend go down. On Wednesday, Kvitova and Safarova hugged each other, but it was hard to smile.

“Before the match we have the same locker room and we were just chatting normally, not like we go to play each other soon,” Kvitova said. “She’s good person and it’s just kind of sad that we have to play each other in the group already. We actually are good friend from the Fed Cup, so I’m really glad the Fed Cup is coming soon and we going to be colleagues and not opponents. It’s tough to play her for sure, not because she’s only like very good player right now, she’s in good form, but also playing friend it’s a little bit tougher with emotional and everything. So it’s not easy to handle all these kind of stuff.”

Kvitova is now 1-1 at the WTA Finals, falling against Kerber on Monday and beating Safarova. She has won the title before and although she is unsure if her body will feel A-Okay the rest of the fortnight, if she gets on the run, she has a legitimate chance.

“I feel tired right now. I think in the first match I was kind of probably nervous from the beginning of the match and I couldn’t really play what I wanted,” she said. “Today from the beginning I really was trying to be there and be focused on each point. Lucie know me well, so that’s why probably it was in my mind somewhere to be ready from the beginning. I know it’s like the final, this match. If I lost I’m probably going home soon. So I was really trying to, what I can.”

Muguruza is on a roll now. As the story goes, after she reached the final at Wimbledon, she began confused, as the fans were swarming at her for the first time as they had finally knew whom she was. She let go her coach and for about two months, she fell apart.

But in Asia, she had brought in a new coach, Sam Sumyk, was calm and composed and ready to rip it. A couple of weeks ago, she won Beijing, her first Premier 5. Any time she has a decent shot, she leaps. The 6-foot Muguruza is a very big hitter and given that she also plays doubles, she is pretty efficient at the net.

Kvitova is already impressed. If the Spaniard plays extremely well, she has a decent shot of taking down the two-time champion Kvitova.

“I think that she’s going to play very aggressively; going for the shots; have a good serve,” Kvitova said.“So I think I am going to play the same what I should play. It’s going to be about the returns and the serves. I know how she’s playing well right now. She had a great success in Asia as well. It’s going to be difficult match for sure. I’m looking forward. I never played her, so we see.”

Muguruza smashes Safarova; Kerber canes Kvitova


Super-aggressive Muguruza bashes Safarova. Jimmie48 Tennis Photography

SINGAPORE – Before the tournament began at the WTA Finals, it looked like every player amongst the top 8 had a real shot to win the title. But reality set in quickly when the more confident competitors won on Sunday – Simona Halep and Maria Sharapova – and on Monday, two players who have been looked intense in Asia, Garbine Muguruza and Angie Kerber, who won their contests.

Muguruza out-muscled Lucie Safarova 6-3, 7-6. The 22-year-old Spaniard has been on fire, winning Beijing, walking without fear and playing very smartly. Safarova has just come back due to a bacteria infection and, while at times she was striking the ball fairly deeply, she wasn’t as powerful as she did during the summer. Anytime she wanted to, Muguruza would attack. She was wasn’t playing perfect, but she was forceful. Both of them are in the doubles at the tournament, too, so they both are very confident at the net, and they can jump all over soft serves.

Muguruza was gutsy, and she was consistently better. She didn’t shake. Right now, she looks like she is super confident, just like in early July, when she was grinning all day, every day, when she reached the final at Wimbledon.

“I love the way she plays and her mentality,” said the former No. 1 Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario. “She’s a great player and person. It’s excellent.”

Safarova thinks that Muguruza is a “young very, very great player.” But for herself, the Czech isn’t quite there yet. She said that she was a little sad, because in the second set, she was very close, but physically, she wasn’t able to disturb her.

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Angie Kerber won the all-lefty battle.

“I’m slowly back in my game, but of course you need the wins,” Safarova said. Yes she does, when she will have to go up against Petra Kvitova on Wednesday.

The other lefty Czech Kvitova also went down, losing against Angie Kerber 6-2, 7-6. Kvitova had beaten Kerber the last three times they played, all long three-setters, including at the 2013 WTA Finals, and last November, in the Fed Cup final when Kvitova came through 7-6 (5) 4-6 6-4. In Prague, the fans were delirious.

This time on Monday, Kerber was slightly better. The German was more composed, she wanted to engage as many rallies as she could and if Kvitova happened to hit short, Kerber jumped on them. Over the past four years ago, when they both became very good, Kvitova was more courageous, which is why she has won two majors and Kerber has yet to do so. The Czech has a substantially bigger serve and her forehand is more powerful. However, Kerber can be more patient, is faster, can go side-to-side and whack her sharp backhands. When Kvitova gets into a zone, she can out hit anyone, because she absolutely crushes the ball. But, once again, she isn’t feeling right physically and she went down.

“It’s really tough to describe,” Kvitova said about her health. “I was just talking with my fitness coach and I was trying to describe it and it’s very difficult. I mean, it’s just something what I really can’t do anything against. My blood test was not the best one. So I couldn’t really do the one I wanted to be prepared for everything. I felt I wasn’t able to stay in the kind of good rally what she played. I miss so early. From that time I started to hit a little bit harder and I made some mistakes, so it was a little difficult to find a balance like between rallies and winners and some kind of volleys and anything. She still played very good shots out there today, and I am going to try to do my best the next match.”

Kerber has been very effected during the Asian swing, so this time around, she didn’t decide that she could engage a marathon – which she loves to do – but she would be aggressive whenever she could. She also wanted to make sure that she could get the balls back anyway she could. Next up is Muguruza and Kerber will have to change it up, because the Spaniard has her number.

I lost to her in two Grand Slams and also in the Asia swing,” Kerber said. “I’m looking forward to play against her. I will try to take my revenge now and try to go out there to beat her. She had an amazing year. She played unbelievable this year, so it will be for sure a tough match. But at the end I know a little bit how she’s playing. I will try to go for it. That’s for sure.”

Wimbledon: Serena clocks Sharapova, young Muguruza stops Radwanska

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It was inevitable. Maria Sharapova was going to hit the corner as hard as she could, but before she started, she had to return Serena’s massive serves and when she was serving, she had to be very unpredictable. She did not on both accounts.

Once again, Serena Williams thumped past Sharapova 6-2 6-4 to reach the Wimbledon final for the eight time. The 33-year-old Serena was cool, collected and lethal. She did not face a break points, she nailed 13 aces, and she won 86 percent of her first serves (25 of 29, thank you). She broke Sharapova three times. That was enough.

Yes, Sharapova had a few fine moments, but she was not close to being playing perfect, while Serena almost did. Essentially, it is all about why Serena has beaten Sharapova 17 matches in a row: Serena has a much better first and second serves, and Serena reads Sharapova’s serves substantially better. It is simple, but every effective. When Sharapova manages to get into the points it is 50-50, but that isn’t often enough, as she is frequently skidding around and she cannot dictate. Look at her percentage when Sharapova was hitting her second serve on Thursday: try 29 percent (6/21). Ouch and goodbye.

Perhaps someday, she will finally upset Serena, but she has to figure out where exactly Williams tends to go. She has to dash over quickly and get the ball into play and deep. Serena has a very good idea which way Sharapova is serving (such as down the T all the time), but maybe the Russian/American will finally find it. You know, all the so-called Big-4 (Djokovic, Federer, Murray and Nadal) can return the big guys who serve 140-plus and winning those matches. Is it possible for the five-time champion Sharapova be able to return the 120 mph too? Not yet, but she will keep pushing on.

Eventually, a 21 year old was ready to jump up, and that is exactly what Garbine Muguruza did, when he took down Aga Radwanska 6-2 3-6 6-3. Yes, Radwanska could have played better in the third set, but the Spaniard out hit her and she was very intelligent. She knew that the Pole would try to be trick her, but Muguruza kept looking where the opponent was going. She was patient and when she had a legitimate chance, she went for it. She has a big first serve, she can crack her forehand and backhand and she isn’t shy at the net.

Yes, Williams is the favorite for sure, but Muguruza shocked her at the 2014 Roland Garros and Serena bested her in the Aussie Open, but it was three sets. If Muguruza isn’t very nervous, she can push her.



Wimbledon: Serena knocks down Vika again, Maria stops CoCo

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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.