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2012 US OPEN: 16-Year-Old Duval Loses To Clijsters And Says, "...I felt like the luckiest 16-year-old ever..."

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Victoria Duval of Miami, Florida during 2012 US Open first round.

It is always gratifying to witness the inception of a career when a player experiences that first tour level match, especially when that match occurs at one of the four majors that comprise the Grand Slam. In this case the 2012 US Open.

Sixteen-year-old Haitian-American Victoria Duval was afforded just such an opportunity on Monday night when she played her first WTA Tour match against veteran and second-time-retiring Kim Clijsters of Belgium.

Duval recently won the singles title at the USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships, giving her a wild-card entry to the US Open. Though born in Miami, Florida, Duval spent most of her first eight years in Haiti with her parents, including time training at the JOTAC Tennis Academy in Port-au-Prince. Her father, Jean-Maurice Duval, a doctor in Port-au-Prince, was injured in Haiti's 2010 devestating earthquake.

The 16-year-old began the first round match against Clijsters fearlessly. She seemed so delighted whenever she won a point and the crowd applauded her effort. She would look up into the stands and smile at what seemed to be incredible moments.

Though Duval lost the match 6-3, 6-1, the talent that brought her to this moment was obvious.

After the match Duval continued to delight during her interview.

"She asked me for a photograph for her memories, but I'm the one who should have been asking for a photo for my memories," Duval said.

"She's been my idol. I felt like the luckiest 16-year-old ever. I was really nervous, I was freaking out. I was so excited I can't even explain."

Clijsters said the tender years of her opponent reminded her of playing Steffi Graf at Wimbledon as a 16-year-old.

"It's been a very long time," Clijsters said. "I obviously wasn't in that position where I played my first-ever match on tour in such a big stadium.

"I played Steffi at Wimbledon and she was my big idol so it kind of takes you back through a lot of emotions and memories.

"We spoke a bit after the match. She was really sweet. She's a very nice girl."

Photos by: Getty Images

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FRENCH OPEN DAY 6: Monfils In... Tsonga Out

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Frenchman Gael Monfils celebrating after defeating Belgian Steve Darcis on day 6.

An nearly perfect day for French players turned a little cloudy when Stanislas Wawrinka came back from two sets down to stun Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 4-6, 6-7)(3), 7-6(5), 6-2, 6-3.

Before that, Gael Monfils had crushed Steve Darcis 6-3, 6-4, 7-5 and Richard Gasquet dispatched Thomaz Bellucci 6-2, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3. Those two wins bookmarked a fantastic effort by their WTA counterpart Marion Bartoli, who edged Julia Goerges in three sets.

Unfortunately for the partisan home crowd, it was not to be for Tsonga, who played so well in the first two sets against the flying Swiss, controlling the match with a booming serve down the tee, a big forehand and effective net approaches. Wawrinka began to play more inside the court from the third set onwards however, cutting off hard balls to his one-handed backhand, serving big himself and staying strong in forehand rallies.

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga grimaces as he loses to Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka

He broke Tsonga to 5-3 in the final set when the Frenchman erred on a forehand, and then he won the contest on his third match point with a screaming inside-out forehand winner. Tsonga said that Wawrinka simply zoned on him in the last three sets. "I felt that he was making no mistakes at all. If I wasn't hitting the ball very strong and putting it in the corner, I would not win a single point," the no.17 seed said. "And then the ball didn't bounce anymore, so I hit the ball as hard as I could. I couldn't make any winning points. The one who loses the third set is in a much more difficult situation. I put everything in the battle in the third set to try and close the match. That's what tennis is about. It's a mental thing, and today he clearly was stronger than I was throughout the match… He simply played a superb match."

2008 semi-finalist Monfils played a near-faultless match against Darcis, despite the fact that, as is often the case at his home tournament, he is coming in lacking in match practice due to illness and injury.

"It was not easy in terms of my game," said the no.9 seed. "And now this is a new week, a new tournament. Of course I'll play against stronger players. Otherwise, I'll perhaps change the way I play a little. I'll have to be much more aggressive, but apart from this, I'm happy."Monfils knows that against David Ferrer in the Round of 16, he faces a tussle against an accomplished clay courter. "I'll turn the page immediately, because as I told my coaches, I think I have survived. I've lived on what I know - how to defend myself on the court. But next week I'll have to go up a level and enhance my performance. Even today I was not totally relaxed when I was hitting the balls - I was not fluid enough in my forearms. The winning shots were not good enough. Too many of these little things that I don't have at present (if I want) to go further."

Photos ©FFT

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Serena Williams And Kim Clijsters Headline U.S. Open Semifinal Friday

Friday, September 11, 2009

Serena Williams brings her trademark intensity to the women’s semifinals, and opponent Kim Clijsters needs no reminding.

“I’ve seen her play here, and she has that face where she’s like, ‘Okay, I’m here to do business,’’’ Clijsters said.

Williams knows exactly what the Belgian is talking about. “I see it after in photos,” Williams said. “I’m pretty horrified sometimes. I think, ‘Oh, my God, who is that?’

’Despite Clijsters’ stellar play since coming out retirement, Williams goes in as the favorite. She’s also expected to clinch a third Grand Slam title this season and 12th overall.

The Williams-Clijsters showdown highlights Friday’s action, weather permitting, with teens Caroline Wozniacki and Yanina Wickmayer facing off in the other semifinal. Wozniacki, Denmark’s darling, and Wickmayer, Clijsters’ fellow Belgian, had never before appeared in a Grand Slam quarterfinal, much less a semifinal.

Williams leads Clijsters 7-1 in their head-to-heads and hasn’t dropped a set through five matches, avoiding the blips that sometimes accompany her early round Grand Slam encounters.

Williams heads the tournament in aces and points won behind her first serve. Ominously for Clijsters, Williams has only been broken in two matches, in the first and third rounds. She stepped up her game as the competition got better, overpowering Slovak Daniela Hantuchova and cruising past surging Italian Flavia Pennetta.

And here’s a stat – Williams’ last defeat in a Grand Slam semifinal came six years ago on the clay at the French Open, her least productive surface.

“It doesn’t mean that you don’t get a chance when you get to play her,” Clijsters, officially a wild card because she has no ranking yet, said. “That’s something I’ve always felt in the past, too. Every player always has a moment in a match where, whether it’s one or two games, they just kind of lose that aggressiveness a little bit or lose focus. It’s up to the other player to kind of feel that and step it up at that time.”

Clijsters, who captured her lone major at the US Open four years ago, has had a few bumps on her road to the semis, beginning in the first round against unpredictable Frenchwoman Marion Bartoli. Then in the fourth round, Clijsters fell 6-0 to Serena’s older sister, Venus, in the second set, recovering in the third.

Clijsters, like Williams, enters the clash with a 12-match winning streak in New York. A feel good story thanks to being one of the few moms on tour – and one of the most popular players around – Clijsters had the crowd on her side against Williams.

Her forehand is still big, and the movement still impressive. Williams, too, is coming off a marathon 2 ½ hour doubles semifinal Thursday.

“Seems like she’s even faster than what she was before,” Williams said after eliminating Pennetta. “I was thinking that maybe I should have a baby, and then I’ll come back faster. That was my observation, so I’m thinking about it.”

Source: usopen.org

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