Citi Open Finalist Yanina Wickmayer Looks For Title Number Five Steve Fogleman, Tennis Atlantic
WASHINGTON (July 23)—Yanina Wickmayer broke early in the first and second set before a small crowd in brutal heat at Citi Open in Washington today to advance to tomorrow’s WTA final, 6-4, 6-2 over Yulia Putintseva.
Putintseva had three double faults and no aces and found herself down 5-1 to Wickmayer in the first before breaking back and hitting 4 aces in the final four games. Wickmayer held on to hold serve when it mattered most, at 5-4.
Though clearly in an early match haze, Putintseva seemed composed by the end of the first, and there were expectations that the match would tighten up. After a long first service game by Putintseva to begin the second set, Wickmayer came up with the break and was not letting Putintseva back in this one. Putintseva only managed to win about 20% of her return points. That’s not good enough to advance to a final.
Wickmayer will face either American Jesse Pegula or American Lauren Davis in tomorrow’s final, so she won’t be a crowd favorite. Her title match experience and four titles will make her a prohibitive favorite to become the 2016 Citi Open Women’s Champion.
MADRID, May 6, 2015– Yesterday, I caught up with Yaroslava Shvedova, and talked about 2015, her partnership with Casey Dellacqua, and her career highlights so far.
Q: First of all, congratulations of yet another victory in the doubles. How do you feel it went out there today? Slava: It was good. It’s our first tournament together (with Casey Dellacqua), and we hope to play a few more together on the clay and see how it goes. Maybe we can continue to play together, but it’s nice to win some good matches for the first time we play together. It’s going really well on court, it feels like we have played together for a long time, and have good chemistry. We are feeling each other on court really well and overall it’s been good.
Q: You had a great partnership with Vania King, and you won two Grand Slams together. Do you feel that is something you can replicate with Casey? Slava: It’s hard to say, because we have only played two matches together. I think it’s possible, but it’s always different, because of age and the way each player plays. So it’s difficult to find the perfect combination, but hopefully we can do well together.
Q: I watched your first round doubles match, and you didn’t stop smiling! Is that positive vibe something you like to bring on to court? Slava: Well it’s just natural (Laughs). I was feeling good and happy to play because I had some issues with my wrist this year. I was happy to play because they were telling me I needed surgery, so I am glad to be back on tour so I can play and win some matches. Casey is also a very positive and energetic person, so it was all natural.
Q: Speaking of the wrist, how is it feeling now? Slava: I had some treatment, and for now it is good. I missed Indian Wells and Miami, because I was only half ready, but now I am ready to play.
Q: You have a good record on clay, including two quarter finals at the French Open. Do you feel you can use the clay court season to build your confidence after the injury? Slava: Yeah, I like to play on clay and have done very well on it. I just played in Bogota and made in the final, and played some very good matches there. Here I was struggling, because of the changes in altitude and timing, but I will try stay on clay for as long as possible. Even after Wimbledon I will try to play a few more clay tournaments in Europe, because I feel I am a good player on clay and I enjoy playing on it. Hopefully I can win some matches and get my ranking back.
Q: I and many others believe you are a very talented player. Do you feel that you have underachieved in your career? Slava: Well I still feel like I have just started. It’s nice to hear my parents say that I have already proven to everyone I am a great player with good results. I have been winning grand slams in doubles and other tournaments, so now I feel I have to enjoy myself. I share the thoughts of my parents, so I just need to keep trying and enjoy it because I still got many years left to go.
Q: What is your main goal for this year? Slava: Just to keep myself together, and stay fit. I started well this year, but I had some mental problems last year. I felt I overplayed and was tired of tennis, but I had a very good break and practice. I had some good results in Australia before my injury, so I hope I can reach the top again and improve my best ranking.
Q: Your career high ranking is 24, which is very close to the top 20. You have stated in the past that the top 20 is a big aim of yours, so do you still feel like you can achieve that? Slava: Yes, I think it’s possible. I have one more coach helping me, so I am building up my team and finding better team members so I can improve my game and body. I know what I need to do, so now I just need to make it.
Q: You have probably talked about this a million times already, but your golden set is probably your biggest achievement to date. So how did you feel when you heard you had accomplished this? Slava: Yeah, I think I am the only woman in the open era to do it for now, so I hold the record. We will see if someone can beat it in the future which would be nice to see. But I still enjoy it because people keep asking me, and reminding me about it. Even today it’s twice that someone remembered it, which is a good feeling. I can’t say I am proud of it, because I didn’t feel it at the time and it wasn’t intentional (laughs), but I enjoyed the fact that I did it. It brings positive thoughts when I think of it, and it’s nice they took my racket to the museum at Wimbledon to commemorate it. I went to check if it’s still there, and it still is. It’s good that my name is now remembered in tennis history.
Q: Speaking of Wimbledon, what tournaments and preparation do you have in the build up to the event? Slava: This year we have an extra week to play on grass, so I will try to play all of it. After the French Open I will play s-Hertogenbosch, and then Birmingham, and then we’ll see if I can qualify for Eastbourne. But for now I plan to play everything. I will be bring in my fitness coach to get me ready with some grass exercises, so hopefully I can have some good results there, because with my powerful shots and serve I can also play good on grass.
World Group DC Semifinals Set: Italy/Switzerland, Czech Republic/France Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
It was a wild weekend of Davis Cup action, and upsets seemed possible, but in the end, all the favored teams advanced to the world group semifinals. Here is a review.
Czech Republic d. Japan 5-0
Radek Stepanek led the way as the Czechs whitewashed Japan, winning both singles rubbers on Friday in 4 and 5 sets respectively (Stepanek d. Tatsuma Ito, Lukas Rosol d. Taro Daniel) and then clinching the doubles with Rosol/Stepanek defeating Ito/Yasutaka Uchiyama for a 3-0 victory.
Rosol beat Uchiyama and Jiri Vesely beat Daniel in the dead rubbers to complete the sweet, as the defending DC champions earned a big road win and are into the semis again.
France d. Germany 3-2
France was nearly upset at home by an underdog German team that put up a good fight, but they managed to pull themselves together after an atrocious Friday singles to win a deciding fifth rubber.
Tobias Kamke upset Julien Benneteau, and Peter Gojowczyk played well above his normal level to defeat a struggling Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in 5 sets, 6-8 in the fifth. Germany had 3 chances from there to clinch the tie, but never came close to doing so, as Benneteau/Michael Llodra beat Andre Begemann/Kamke in Saturday doubles, in 4 sets, and then Tsonga and Gael Monfils beat Kamke and Gojowczyk in the Sunday live singles rubbers to clinch the tie. Both Sunday singles matches were straight sets, and not particularly close, as Monfils was a big injection of energy for the French team, and Kamke and Gojowczyk returned to their normal level, along with being fatigued.
A French team strong on paper, they will face the Czechs in the semis at home.
Italy d. Great Britain 3-2
In another near upset, Italy was put on the ropes by team GB but clawed back on Sunday for a big victory at home. Fabio Fognini was again the hero, as he won twice in singles, on Friday with a 4 set victory over James Ward, and on Sunday to keep the tie alive with a straight set drubbing of Andy Murray.
Andreas Seppi went 1-1 in singles, as he lost on Friday to Murray in straights, but clinched the tie with a straight set victory over Ward in the fifth rubber on Sunday. Colin Fleming and Murray won the doubles over Simone Bolelli and Fognini in 4 sets on Saturday to put team GB up 2-1 and a win away from clinching, but team GB was hapless from there on out.
Switzerland d. Kazahkstan 3-2
The Swiss very nearly choked in what would have been one of the biggest Davis Cup upsets in modern history, but they survived just like their French and Italian counterparts to prevail at home in Geneva.
Stan Wawrinka continued his string of poor play post Australian Open, as he lost in 4 sets to Andrey Golubev on Friday, and then lost the doubles with partner Roger Federer to Golubev/Aleksandr Nedovyesov on Saturday in 4 sets as well.
Federer was really the hero this time for Switzerland, as his two straight sets singles victories over Mikhail Kukushkin and Golubev on Friday and Sunday clinched the tie. Wawrinka kept it alive on Sunday with a 4 set victory over Kukushkin, credit to the Kazahks for battling hard in this one.
Switzerland hosts Italy at home in the semis.
Action Outside World Group:
Brazil and Colombia made their way to the World Group playoffs out of Americas Group 1, as Rogerio Dutra and Brazil beat Emilio Gomez and Colombia 3-1, and Santiago Giraldo and Alejandro Falla teamed up for Colombia yet again to defeat Victor Estrella and the Dominican Republic 4-1.
Asia/Oceania Group 1 World Group Playoff representatives will be India and Uzbekistan, as Somdev Devvarman led India to a 3-1 victory over South Korea, and Denis Istomin led Uzbekistan to a 3-2 victory over China, as Di Wu won twice for them but Ze Zhang couldn’t do the same in a super close, competitive tie that came down to a live fifth rubber won by Farrukh Dustov over Zhang in 5 sets.
In Europe/Africa Group 1 finals Marin Cilic and Croatia beat Jerzy Janowicz and Poland 3-1, as Janowicz was upset by the young and rising Borna Coric, Dudi Sela and Israel upset Blaz Rola and Slovenia 3-1, Sergiy Stakhovsky and his teammates gave Ukraine something to cheer for, as they beat Sweden 4-1, including a 13-11 final set victory by Stakhovsky over Johan Brunstrom in the first rubber and Lukas Lacko and Slovakia beat Dominic Thiem and Austria 4-1 to complete the world group playoffs participants.
In a couple of notable Europe/Africa Group 2 ties, Damir Dzhumhur and Bosnia beat Jarkko Nieminen and Finland 3-2 with a live fifth rubber, and Ricardas Berankis and Lithuania beat Rik De Voest and South Africa in the same fashion 3-2 with a live fifth rubber.
2014 Davis Cup World Group Quarterfinals Preview
Steen Kirby, Tennis East Coast
The 2014 DC semifinals will be set this weekend with the four DC quarterfinals across two continents.
Here’s a preview of all the action.
Japan vs. Czech Republic
With both Kei Nishikori and Go Soeda out of this tie for Japan, their chances of advancing, even at home in Tokyo on indoor hard are severely stunted. The Czechs are missing Tomas Berdych, but they have Radek Stepanek and Lukas Rosol, plus the young Jiri Vesely, all of whom are in decent form and competitive on indoor hard courts. Japan has Tatsuma Ito leading the way, and two rising young players, Taro Daniel and Yasutaka Uchiyama, but 3 top 70 players and a great doubles player In Stepanek gives the Czechs a clear edge over a Japanese team without a top 130 player. It could be 4-1 or 5-0 to finish, depending if Ito or the young Daniel, who has been given his first call up with Japan, can grab some sort of an upset.
The Pick: Czech Republic
France vs. Germany
On paper, this would be a competitive tie, but Germany is missing all of their top players (Tommy Haas, Philipp Kohlschreiber, Florian Mayer), while France is again stacked with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Julien Benneteau and Gael Monfils, along with Michael Llodra to play doubles. Germany’s C team of Tobias Kamke, Peter Gojowczyk and Andre Begemann for doubles is their counterweight. Even with the French team out of form, with Tsonga struggling and Monfils nagged by “personal problems”, it would take an heroic performance from the veteran Kamke and the challenger level player Gojowcyk to make this competitive. On indoor hard, at home in France, it’s hard to see a different result than France 3-0 with the tie over by Saturday doubles.
The Pick: France
Italy vs. Great Britain
Team GB has Andy Murray again, but they will be underdogs against Italy on clay in Naples. A slightly injured Fabio Fognini leads the way for Italy, backed up by the struggling but steady Andreas Seppi, and then Paolo Lorenzi and Simone Bolelli probably to play the doubles tie. Team GB has Colin Fleming/Ross Hutchins as the doubles specialist team and then James Ward as second singles backing up Murray.
On a faster surface, team GB might even be favorites, and this will be the closest tie of the weekend I’m almost certain, but on clay, if Ward loses twice to Fognini and Seppi (or even Lorenzi), team GB will only need to lose once between 2 Murray singles rubbers and the doubles rubber to lose the tie. Those odds make me go with Italy, perhaps 3-2.
The Pick: Italy
Switzerland vs. Kazakhstan
Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka lead the Swiss Express against Kazakhstan, backed up with Henri Laaksonen and Michael Lammer in reserve. Even with Stan out of form, Fed is playing well, and at home on indoor hard in Geneva they are expected to steamroll a Kazahk team made of up of Andrey Golubev, Mikhail Kukushkin, Aleksandr Nedovyesov and Evgeny Korolev. All three singles players for the Kazahks are ranked in the top 80, but Wawrinka and Federer are top ten, so assuming no injuries or funny business, I expect a 3-0/5-0 rout in this one.