by Kevin Craig
Serena Williams captured her 22nd major championship on Saturday as she was able to defend her Wimbledon title, beating Angelique Kerber in straight sets, 7-5, 6-3.
Williams, who has been the No. 1 player in the world for well over the past three years, had been attempting to tie Steffi Graf’s mark of 22 major titles since she won the Wimbledon title in 2015, but a semifinal appearance at the US Open followed by two runner-up performances delayed her efforts. Now that the American has grabbed No. 22, though, she currently sits just two major titles behind the record holder Margaret Court, who won 24 in her career.
“It’s been incredibly difficult not to think about it. I had a couple of tries this year…but it makes the victory even sweeter to know how hard I worked for it,” said Williams of her 22nd major title.
In a rematch of the 2016 Australian Open final in which Kerber won in three sets, the 34-year old Williams looked to be the one to get off to a fast start as she had three break chances in the second game of the match. The German, though, was able to fight each of those off, and actually looked like the more comfortable player on serve from that point on.
That quickly changed in the 12th game, though, as Kerber, the 28-year old who was playing in just her second major final, served to take the set into a tiebreak. Williams was able to crush a few returns when it mattered most, opening up a 15-40 lead which gave her a look at two set points. After missing out on the first, Williams, who hit 39 winners compared to Kerber’s 12, capitalized on the second with an un-returnable backhand to take the set.
The second set was completely dominated by the servers as there was only one break point in the first seven games. Williams, though, has always been able to turn her level of play up a notch or two when she needs to the most, and, just like in the first set, that is what she did in the second.
With Kerber serving at 3-4, Williams fought back from a 40-15 deficit and won four points in a row to break and set up an opportunity to serve for the title. Three unreturned serves later, Williams, who hit 13 aces, found herself at championship point.
A brief rally ensued before Williams was able to come to the net and put away an easy forehand volley for the win. Falling to the court in joy, the American had just placed herself in the record books again as she earned her seventh Wimbledon title.
“It’s an honor to play on Centre Court and a great feeling,” said Williams, who faced just one break point in the match. “This court definitely feels like home.”
by Kevin Craig
Angelique Kerber of Germany was able to prevent an all-Williams sister final from happening at Wimbledon as she defeated Venus Williams on Thursday, 6-4, 6-4, to reach the final.
“It’s just amazing…to beat Venus in the semis. It’s always tough. I’m so excited to be in the final here,” said Kerber. “I’m just happy to be playing my best and to be in my second grand slam final.”
The match got off to a very unexpected and topsy-turvy start as each of the first five games were breaks, as well as seven of the first eight. It was Kerber, though, who was able to get that crucial extra break and first hold of the match for 4-2, before eventually snatching the first set.
“I don’t know what was the problem. I think we both were returning very well at the beginning of the first set. I mean I was a little bit nervous when I go out there because I was trying to play my best tennis,” said Kerber.
The second set looked like it could be similar to the first as the German was able to break in the opening game, but that was that. The No. 4 seed felt little pressure from that point as she lost just five points in her five service games of the set, setting up a rematch of the 2016 Australian Open final in which she was able to defeat the 21-time major champion Serena Williams, who needed just 48 minutes to win her semifinal against Elena Vesnina, 6-2, 6-0.
“I know that she played long matches, in the first week especially. I was trying to move her. That was the plan,” said Kerber of her strategy against the 36-year old Venus, who made 10 more unforced errors than her opponent.
“I played against a lot of great opponents. I had a lot of tough matches. It’s not easy out there,” said Venus. “There is no such thing as impossible. It’s always possible. That’s what you feel as an athlete.”
Venus did manage to show signs of life halfway through the second set as she was able to fend off three break points while down 1-3 to hold before earning a 0-30 lead on Kerber’s serve in the next game. The German was too good though and managed to hold on, making her eager for another shot at arguably the greatest female tennis player of all time.
“I know she will go out and try everything to beat me right now,” said Kerber of her matchup with Serena which will take place on Saturday at Wimbledon.
by Kevin Craig
Sisters Serena and Venus Williams both won quarterfinal matches Tuesday at Wimbledon, meaning they are both just one win away from setting up an all-Williams Wimbledon final, the first since 2009.
“I’m so happy we’re both in the semifinals…Obviously, she’s such a tough opponent. I want her to win. But not the final, if I’m there,” said Serena.
Serena, who has won six Wimbledon titles, defeated Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-4, 6-4, while Venus, who has won five Wimbledon titles, defeated Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan, 7-6(5), 6-4.
Serena, who is defending the Wimbledon title she won in 2015, got off to a slower start than she would’ve liked on Tuesday as she was unable to work her way into any of Pavlyuchenkova’s service games. The 21-time major champion persisted, though, and stood strong on her serve, allowing her to capitalize on the one weak service game of the set from the Russian. It came at a costly time too, as Serena, who won 90 percent of her first serve points in the match, earned a 0-40 lead at 4-4, converting on the first break chance before holding at love to close out the first set.
The second set was not any easier for the American, though, as Pavlyuchenkova refused to go away. After fighting through a long game on serve to open up the second set, the Russian appeared to have the momentum on her side. Pavlyuchenkova became the aggressor, forcing Serena to work for her service games.
That time of the match was short lived, though, as once again at 4-4, the Russian played a poor service game and Serena capitalized on her first break chance. The break earned the No. 1 player in the world a 5-4 lead, a carbon copy of the first set, before holding comfortably to close out the match and reach her 10th semifinal at Wimbledon.
“I am excited to be able to win and get through, it felt really good,” said Serena. “I am just trying to win my match…one thing I have learned this year is just to focus on the match.”
Venus, who is the oldest player in the Top 200, looked like she would have a tough day at the office from the get go. The American found herself down break point four times total in her first two service games of the match before being broken in her third game, giving Shvedova a 3-2 lead. The seven-time major champion was able to break right back, though, settling things down in the set.
Venus earned a set point on Shvedova’s serve at 5-4, but the Kazakh was able to fight it off and eventually force a tiebreak. Shvedova, the No. 96 player in the world who was playing in her third major quarterfinal, raced out to a 5-2 lead and looked to be in charge. No pressure was felt by Venus, though, as she was able rattle off five points in a row to steal the set.
“She was on fire…somehow I walked out with the set,” said Venus.
Shvedova wasn’t able to bounce back from the disappointment of dropping the first set in a tiebreak, as Venus broke in each of her first three service games, grabbing a 4-1 lead. It was straightforward from there for the American as she closed out the match to reach the semifinals at Wimbledon for the first time since 2009.
“What a tough day on court…I love playing the game, I always have. The wins and losses all lead to this big moment,” said Venus. “This is an awesome day. I would love to be walking towards the final.”
Serena will take on Elena Vesnina in the semifinals, while Venus have the more difficult task of battling the 2016 Australian Open champ Angelique Kerber on Thursday.
Not only is a potential matchup in the final on their minds. The sisters are playing doubles together at Wimbledon for the first time since 2014 and have reached the quarterfinals as they look to snag their sixth Wimbledon doubles title and 14th major title overall.
Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber was upset on Tuesday at the French Open by Kiki Bertens of the Netherlands, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, highlighting the biggest upset so far this year in Paris.
Kerber, the No. 3 seed in the event, had the unfortunate luck of drawing Bertens who was on a seven match win streak and had won 18 of her last 21 matches, dating back to March.
The Dutchwoman was able to continue her good run of form into Paris, as she got off to a hot start, breaking Kerber in just her second service game of the match. From there, Bertens, the No. 58 player in the world, only lost four points on her serve to close out the set, and broke the German again for a comfortable first set win.
Kerber looked to bounce back in the second set, as she fought through getting taken to deuce in her first two service games while Bertens cruised through hers. In the sixth game of the set, though, the tides appeared to turn as Bertens played one poor service game and Kerber jumped all over it, breaking at love for her first lead of the match. Bertens was able to break back in the next game, but Kerber kept her composure and broke once more before closing out the set comfortably, taking the match to a decider.
Bertens didn’t let the disappointment of dropping the second set get to her and, unlike most upset bids, was able to stave off the late fight of the more experienced player. Bertens broke in Kerber’s first service game of the third set, but Kerber certainly did not allow her to cruise to the win. While serving at 3-1, Bertens fought off two break points to hold before saving one more at 5-3, as she was able to close out the match and book her spot in the second round.
Berten’s opponent in the next round will be Camila Giorgi of Italy, who defeated Frenchwoman Alize Lim, 6-3, 6-2.
Another notable player to exit the French Open was No. 5 seed Victoria Azarenka, as she was forced to retire while losing in the third set against Karin Knapp with a knee injury.
On the men’s side, Andy Murray was able to fight back from two sets to love down in his match that was suspended from Monday against Radek Stepanek, 3-6, 3-6, 6-0, 6-3, 7-5. After dropping the first two sets to the experienced Czech, Murray fought back to win the third set and was up 4-2 when play had to be stopped for the night.
When play resumed on Tuesday, Murray was able to close out the fourth set, saving two break points along the way, and force a deciding fifth set that was much tougher than he would have hoped.
Murray had very few problems on his serve throughout the set, but Stepanek fought hard on his service games and gave the Brit very little to work with. That was the case until he served at 5-5 and Murray was finally able to break through, breaking at 30-40 for the chance to close out the match.
Murray, the No. 2 seed, was taken to deuce by Stepanek, but was able to close out the win in the end and force a matchup with French wild card Mathias Bourgue in the second round.
Novak Djokovic Holds Huge ATP Ranking Points Lead Over No. 2 Andy Murray – Passing Shots with Kevin Craig
by Kevin Craig
- Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open title is his 11th major title overall and puts him on even terms with Rod Laver’s and Bjorn Borg’s 11 major titles. Djokovic now also has six Australian Open titles, matching Roy Emerson’s record.
- The current points gap in the ATP rankings between No. 1 Djokovic and No. 2 Andy Murray is equal to the points gap between No. 2 Murray and No. 36 Pablo Cuevas. With his win at the Australian Open, Djokovic is now guaranteed to hold the No. 1 ranking for at least 100 consecutive weeks.
- After hitting 100 unforced errors in his fourth round win over Gilles Simon, Djokovic hit only 88 unforced errors combined in his last three matches.
- Angelique Kerber was a combined 1-11 against Victoria Azarenka and Serena Williams heading into the 2016 Australian Open before beating Azarenka in the semifinals and Williams in the final.
- The loss in the 2016 Australian Open final was just the fifth loss in a major final for Williams, and her first in three sets.
- For the first time in Australian Open history, eight different countries were represented in both the men’s and women’s singles draws. Serbia, Japan, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, France, Canada, Spain, and Great Britain were represented on the men’s side while the United States, Russia, Poland, Spain, Germany, Belarus, Great Britain, and China were represented on the women’s side.
- Jamie Murray became the first person not named Bob or Mike Bryan to make three straight major doubles finals since Mark Knowles and Daniel Nestor did it in 2002. Jamie and his brother Andy Murray will now both be ranked No. 2 in the doubles and singles rankings, respectively, the first time two brothers have done so.
- Bruno Soares became the first player to win two titles at the Australian Open by virtue of winning the men’s and mixed doubles since Rennae Stubbs won the women’s and mixed doubles titles in 2000.
- Di Wu became the first player from China to win a challenger title as he took home the title in Maui. Wu beat the No. 1 seed Kyle Edmund in the final, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.
by Kevin Craig
Angelique Kerber stunned the tennis world on Saturday in Melbourne as she defeated Serena Williams to win the Australian Open title, 6-4 3-6 6-4. The win gives Kerber her first major title in her first attempt as she became the first German woman to win a major title since Steffi Graf won the French Open in 1999.
The match started off as many would have expected, Williams held at love in the first game and got up 15-30 in Kerber’s first service game. The German quickly calmed down, though, as she won three points in a row to get the hold and then applied her own pressure on return, getting two break chances at 1-1. Kerber only needed the first chance as she broke to go up 2-1, then held for a 3-1 lead. Williams, who is used to being forced to fight from behind, had no issue getting the break back and levelling things at 3-3. Kerber, though, was up to the task again and broke right back to regain her lead, and would hold on to it this time as she closed out the set only losing one point in her last two service games.
The second set was much more straightforward as only one of the nine games played saw the returner get past 30. That one game was the difference though, as Williams had two break chances at 2-1 and took advantage of the second one to go up 3-1. That was all she wrote in the set as Williams would go on to force a decider. Williams’ ability to calm her nerves and focus better after going down a set saw her unforced errors tally drop from 23 in the first to just five in the second, allowing her to get back into the match.
Kerber and Williams exchanged breaks early in the third as both attempted to get out to a lead in the deciding set. Kerber was the one who was able to break and then consolidate later in the set, as she broke to go up 4-2 and held at love for a 5-2 lead, looking as if she was well on her way to the title. The game in which she broke was a 16-point game that lasted more than 11 minutes, and was further proof that Kerber belonged on this stage. It was not to be for Kerber on the first attempt though, as Williams broke the German as she served for the match. With the 21-time grand slam champion getting back on serve in the final set, all the momentum felt as if it was on her side of the net. Despite the momentum shift, Kerber was able to relax on the changeover and regroup, as she would go on to have a championship point as Williams served at 4-5. At advantage-Kerber, Williams sent a volley long, crowing Kerber the 2016 Australian Open champion.
The German was just too good for Williams as she hit only 13 unforced errors in the match, seven of which came in the second set, which she lost. Kerber winning the title in Melbourne this year looked unlikely in the first round as she was down a match point to Misaki Doi in her opening match. If she had lost in the first round, it would have matched her 2015 result at the Australian Open in which she lost her opening round match to Irina-Camelia Begu. That was not the case though, as Kerber fought back from the edge in the first round and would go on to only lose one more set en route to her maiden grand slam title. The win will see her move up to No. 2 in the world rankings, behind only the woman she beat in the final on Saturday.
by Kevin Craig
Angelique Kerber fought her way into the semifinals of the Australian Open on Wednesday when she beat Victoria Azarenka, 6-3, 7-5. Despite being the higher seed, Kerber was the underdog in the eyes of many tennis fans. Azarenka had been in great form to start off 2016 after winning the title in Brisbane and not losing a set in her first four matches at the Australian Open, along with the fact that she held a 6-0 record against Kerber, but the German proved why she is the higher ranked player and now has the opportunity to make her first grand slam final.
Kerber got off to a hot start in the quarterfinal as she broke Azarenka at love in the opening game of the match before grabbing another break and running out to a 4-0 lead. Azarenka, though, had been making Kerber’s service games tough as well, as she had a break point in Kerber’s first service game and then was able to get one of the two breaks back and brought the score to 4-3. When Kerber served at 4-3, Azarenka had two more break chances in a game that lasted 16 points, but could not capitalize and ended up losing the game, before being broken in the next game to drop the set.
The tides appeared to turn in the favor of Azarenka in the second set as she broke in the opening game and got out to a quick 2-0 lead. Neither player had much trouble on their serves until Azarenka saw a break point on Kerber’s serve at 4-2 and took advantage of it to take a double break lead at 5-2. While trying to serve out the set and take the match to a third set, Azarenka got up 40-0 before losing five points in a row to get broken. She had another opportunity to close out the set at 5-4 and was up 40-15, but again ended up being broken thanks to the resilience from Kerber, combined with a hesitant style of play from Azarenka. With the German back on serve at 5-5, she held comfortably before applying pressure on the Azarenka serve again and breaking to close out the match for the straight sets win.
A major problem for Azarenka, clearly, was her inability to defend her serve. Kerber won more than half of the points in Azarenka’s service games, including 62 percent of her second serve points. Kerber’s steady play was also a huge factor, as she limited her unforced errors to 16 while she hit 31 winners.
Kerber became the first German to reach the Australian Open semifinals since 1998 and will go on to face Johanna Konta for a spot in the Australian Open final after Konta beat Zhang Shuai in straight sets in their quarterfinal match.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Friday at the Citi Open brought plenty of good tennis action to the District of Columbia. Players in the gallery below include Angelique Kerber, Dmitry Tursunov, Marinko Matosevic, Alize Cornet, Andrea Petkovic, Magdalena Rybarikova and more!
Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Christopher Levy.
WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 30, 2013) Tuesday at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C. included players Jack Sock, Angelique Kerber, Ryan Harrison, Caroline Garcia, Heather Watson, Eugenie Bouchard, Alize Cornet, and Sorana Cirstea.
Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Christopher Levy.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Monday action at the Citi Open took place over five courts, with the last ball being played just before midnight, earning American Melanie Oudin a spot in the second round.
Players roamed, stretched, practice and played all over the grounds, including Angelique Kerber, David Goffin, Steve Johnson, Alexandr Dolgopolov, Dmitry Tursunov, Radek Stepanek, Juan Martin del Potro, Sloane Stephens, Magdalena Rybarikova, Alize Cornet, Bernard Tomic, Tim Smyczek, Eugenie Bouchard, and Taylor Townsend.
Gallery by Tennis Grandstand photographer Christopher Levy.