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2012 US OPEN: Sloane Stephens Out Plays The Very Crafty Francesca Schiavone, Advances To Round 2

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

American Sloane Stephens after defeating Italy's Francesca Schiavone on day 2 of the 2012 US Open.

Judging by Sloane Stephens' performance on Louis Armstrong Stadium Tuesday evening, women's tennis is out with the old, in with the new. The 19-year-old American sensation stunned veteran Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 6-4 in an intense first-round matchup that saw her upset yet another seed in Flushing Meadows, in the same fashion as she did in her debut here last year.

Stephens has had a stellar year since making her presence known at this event last year, when she reached the third round as a wild card and upset two seeds (No. 23 Shahar Peer and No. 16 Ana Ivanovic) en route. In her 2012 season, Stephens has tallied career-firsts, reaching the semifinals of two events, at Washington and Strasbourg, as well as a fourth round appearance at Roland Garros, all of which have played a part in her catapult up the ranks to No. 44. As for former French Open champ Schiavone, who played in her 13th Open this year, the last time she made a first-round exit in New York was in 2001.

The matchup between the rising, fresh-faced American and the fiery, theatrical Italian had high expectations, and the two players didn't disappoint in rally exchanges. Schiavone, the No. 22 seed, began the match with a severe case of service woes, double-faulting five times in her opening service game to hand the early break to Stephens on a silver platter. But her level of play picked up after that, and both players showed off their amazing court speed throughout the match, trading angled drop shots and tracking them down in winning efforts, much to the disbelief of the animated crowd.

Schiavone used high-looping topspin shots to keep Stephens behind the baseline, but the teenager countered her opponent's heavy spin by flattening it out with down-the-line winners, drawing a roar from the crowd with every winner she struck. Faced with battling not only Stephens' power and speed, but also the pro-American crowd and the chair umpire (the two exchanged a few words after Schiavone was warned for losing her temper), the 32-year-old Italian began to commit a slew of unforced errors (36 in the match) that eventually cost her the match.

Source:  usopen.org
Photo by: Getty Images

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2011 U.S. OPEN DAY 4: That Sensational Sloane...Work It Out!

Friday, September 2, 2011

 Sloane Stephens, USA

Sloane Stephens, an 18-year-old wildcard, was the first of the American rising stars to shine, showing calmness and calculated aggression beyond her years as she upset Shahar Peer, 61 76(4). After losing the first set, the No.23-seeded Peer tightened the screws on her unforced errors and built a 5-3 lead in the second set; but Stephens calmly tucked the win away in straight sets.

"I told myself when I woke up this morning, I have to focus, be aggressive and play my game. I stuck to that pretty well today," Stephens said. "When she broke me for 5-3 I thought, 'Oh man, this is going to be a long night.' I hung in there. I got my momentum back at 4-5. That helped me in the next few games."

A day after one of America's top players - Venus Williams - had to withdraw from the tournament, Stephens was asked her opinion. "I actually went back home to my hotel to watch her play, and when I got back, the caption said, 'Venus Withdraws.' I said, 'Oh my God, what the heck happened?' I was distraught because I really wanted to watch her play. She was playing great the first day. But I love her. I was sad. I hope she gets better soon.

"Venus is beautiful. I like how she's willing to take risks with her outfits. That's definitely something most players won't do, so that's a step up. She's just an awesome person. Everything she's done for the sport of tennis, she's just an amazing person. She's so classy and elegant. That says a lot.

"They changed tennis. They changed women's sports in general. An inspiration to all women and all girls that play sports."

Stephens was asked about the recent pessimism in the media about the future of American tennis. "I don't even think about it. Fun fact: Christina, Irina and myself are all in the third round of the US Open and playing the PanAm Games together. It's awesome."

Not to be outdone, the far more experienced but still very young Vania King made the third round as well, upsetting No.29 seed Jarmila Gajdosova shortly afterwards, 62 60. King, 22, has been to the third round of Grand Slams three times now, also doing it here in 2009 and at the French Open earlier this year.

Stephens, King, Christina McHale, Irina Falconi and last but not least Serena Williams make it five American women in the third round of the US Open, the most at this event since 2004 (there were eight that year - Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, Lisa Raymond, Amy Frazier, Chanda Rubin, Angela Haynes and, of course, the Williams sisters.

source: wtatennis.com

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2011 U.S.OPEN DAY 2: 18-Year Old Sloane Stephens Debuts With A Win!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Sloane Stephens, USA
Reka-Luka Jani, Hungary
American Sloane Stephens, three-time junior Grand Slam doubles champion will now break into the WTA top 100 for the first time due to her win over Hungarian Reka-Luca Jani.

It took some doing, and three sets to accomplish the 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3) victory over Jani, but Sloane hung in there and tactics outlasted errors.

Israli Shahar Peer awaits Sloane in round 2 - she won't be nearly as generous with errors.

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Woman On The Move! Venus Into Madrid Final

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams Madrid Open SemifinalAmerican Venus Williams
(Photos by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

MADRID (AFP) — Venus Williams will bid for a 44th career title on Sunday when she tackles unseeded Frenchwoman Aravane Rezai in the Madrid Masters final, the day before her elevation to the world number two spot is confirmed.

Williams swept the last nine games in a dominant semi-final display on Saturday as she crushed Israeli Shahar Peer 6-3, 6-0 and earn her fourth final from six events in 2010.

Rezai won an unseeded match-up when Czech Lucie Safarova quit after one set trailing 6-1.

Their 24-minute affair came to a quick conclusion a day after Rezai had earned her third career win over a Top-10 opponent when she beat seventh seed Jelena Jankovic in the quarter-finals.

The ailing Safarova won just six points out of 16.

American fourth seed Williams, who will move to second in the world behind her sister Serena on Monday, overcame a minor niggle through an opening break of serve by the 22nd-ranked Peer, who upset fifth seed Svetlana Kuznetsova in the opening round.

Williams improved to 12-1 this season on clay, requiring just 66 minutes to complete her rout.

"We exchanged a couple of breaks, she's (Peer) a really tenacious player," said Williams. "She's very talented, with a never-say-die spirit.

"I was ready for that, and after those (early) games I just seemed to be able to find the corners. I can't complain about being able to play that well against a player like her.

"To have come out on top so far feels good. I've been happy with my form and I'm going to try to keep it going tomorrow (Sunday)."

Williams, who turns 30 in June, now stands 5-0 against Peer, having never lost a set in their series.

The victory, marked by 17 winners and six breaks of serve, was also her third of the year over Peer after Dubai and Rome.

Williams got her powerful game together from the fourth game of the contest to ease to victory, winning three love games in the first set and another in the second.

On Sunday, she will be bidding for her tenth career claycourt title, but has claimed only two at the top WTA tournaments, in Rome 11 years ago and Charleston in 2004.

"I feel like I've had a good career on clay courts," said the American.

"The ultimate is to win the French Open, and I've come close (she reached the 2002 final).

"I think I've won every other tournament except the French on clay, so I'd like to take it one more step."

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Venus Defends Dubai And Earns 42nd Title

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka Dubai FinalVenus Williams, USA (Photos by Marwan Naamani/AFP/Getty Images)

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka Dubai FinalDUBAI (AFP) — Venus Williams became the most successful active woman player on the WTA Tour when she secured her 42nd title by successfully defending the Dubai Open here on Saturday.

Williams, who beat Victoria Azarenka 6-3, 7-5 in an absorbing final, thus overtook Justine Henin's record of 41 titles, only two months after achieving another notable statistic -- a career total of 25 million dollars in prize money.

She and her sister Serena are the only two women to have achieved this feat, but both Venus's resilient performance and her optimistic words suggested that further remarkable statistics are in the pipeline.

Asked if she now hoped to add to her tally of Grand Slam titles, the five-time Wimbledon champion replied: "Absolutely. I am so happy to have added to my collection here. And I am keen to keep adding every time."

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka Dubai FinalVenus also made reference to the diplomatic success of a tournament which accommodated the first Israeli woman, Shahar Peer, ever to compete in the United Arab Emirates.

"It was a great tournament to have everyone included," she said.

Later she added: "Obviously we had issues with everyone getting included," referring to the refusal of Peer's UAE visa in 2009. "But this year it was great to show a spirit of inclusion and equality."

Venus went on: "I definitely think her playing has an influence on things outside the tennis. We need government to do the right thing like they did here and people of courage to come here and play, to play so well with focus."

Venus felt her good form was in significant measure due to having found a way of managing her long-lasting fitness problems, especially with a knee, and she delighted, she said, in being able to throw away the bandages she had to wear for much of last year.

The match was full of noisily powerful rallies -- Azarenka usually trying to work an initiative, Venus more likely to win the rally with one blow, Azarenka accompanying everything with a loud coo, Venus with an ominous roar.

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka Dubai FinalThe first set hinged on the pressure Venus placed on her opponent's second serves, which brought an Azarenka double fault on game point at 2-3 -- though it required Venus to make a successful appeal to Hawkeye to prove that the second serve was too long.

Having closed out the first set, Venus's momentum accelerated. She struck the ball with even more confidence, broke again immediately, and the feeling of the contest changed dramatically as she hurtled to 3-1.

However, as against Anastasia Pavluchenkova and Shahar Peer, Venus's serve wobbled a little with the end in sight. A creaky double fault at 3-2 gave Azarenka a break back point, and a moderate second serve allowed the fourth seed to make a return which converted that chance immediately.

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams vs. Victoria Azarenka Dubai FinalBut Venus broke again for 6-5, courtesy of an ill-timed foray to the net by the 20-year-old Azarenka, and closed out the match in the next game at the third attempt.

"I'm definitely starting to feel better," Venus concluded.

"It's been a learning curve in managing the playing and keep the swelling (of the knee) down. I don't usually talk about my injuries this much, but I am excited about what is happening."

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Got A Semifinal Ticket For Center Court In Dubai? Well, Venus Won't Be On It

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Black Tennis Pro's Venus Williams Barclays Dubai Tennis ChampionshipsVenus Williams, USA
(Photos by Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images)

DUBAI (AFP) - Venus Williams will have to play her semi-final in the two-million-dollar WTA Dubai Open on a distant outside court on Friday after beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 6-4 in the last eight here.

That is because the defense of her title has carried her to a meeting with Shahar Peer, the first Israeli ever to compete in the United Arab Emirates, who has been playing her matches on a low-profile court where security is more manageable.

It means that many of the 5,000 fans who have pre-booked centre court tickets in the hope of seeing one or more of the the world's best known players will be unable to do so, because the five-time former Wimbledon champion will be on a faraway court out by the trees and the shops.

"I guess I just want what is best for everyone," said Williams, after admitting that it was a long time since she had been scheduled to play on such a minor court. "And if this is the best decision then I support it."

Williams looked as though she might have a spot of bother when she went 1-3 down in the first set to an 18-year-old former world junior champion, who hit the ball like an express train and had the titleholder scrambling to contain her early on.

But the match changed mood after Pavlyuchenkova served a double fault in the sixth game and then played an indifferent point at 30-40 to allow a Williams break back.

It led to the champion taking six matches in a row and gaining such a hold on the match that she accelerated to 4-2 in the second set, with the teenager's error ratio rising to self-destructive levels.

However the potential danger of the fierce-hitting young Russian's game showed itself again near the end, when she began to put Williams under more consistent pressure again with raking drives.

Pavlyuchenkova even looked capable of breaking back in the final game, and Williams needed fully seven match points before she closed it out with a heavy service winner.

Earlier Peer scored her third victory over a seeded player, reaching the semis when Li Na retired after "suddenly feeling a click" in her back early in the second set.

Peer's 7-5, 3-0 success over the Australian Open semi-finalist nevertheless looked like a genuine victory, based again on tremendous consistency, rhythmic and varied driving, tenacious mobility and intense focus.

Needless to say, she wouldn't be phased by where she plays.

"I'm the only player that hasn't played on centre court," she said. "But whatever will be, will be. I'm not controlling it. I'm doing what I've been told, and wherever I need to play, I'll play on."

Asked if it would be a disadvantage if she reaches a final on centre court not once having played there, Peer answered: "I guess not, because I am winning. But you know I'm doing what I've been told. I'm not involved in the schedule.

"I just get it when my coach tells me where I'm playing, and I'm getting ready for the match."

Similarly Williams wouldn't admit to any disadvantage for her match on Friday, which will be the first time she has played away from the centre court this week.

"I am just focused on the semi-final and executing my game," she said.

"I have practiced out there before, but I have not played a match out there before. I will obviously try to make the experience I have gained from all these years count for me."

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The Sisters Williams Roll Into Round 3 In Miami

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Black Tennis Pro's Venus and Serena  Williams Sony Ericsson OpenVenus and Serena Williams

American sisters Venus and Serena Williams opened their bid for the Sony Ericsson Open title with victories over Israeli Shahar Peer and American Alexa Glatch.

Serena is currently tied with German Steffi Graff as a five-time title holder of the Sony Ericsson Open tournament. Should she defend her title, she would set a record at six.

As expected, Serena's match with Glatch posed little difficulty. In just over an hour she took the match 6-2, 6-3.

“I think Alexa played well today. I thought she had a really good game to watch, a really different game. You don't see that type of tennis being played too much, since a few years, or several years. I think she has a really good game. She's really young, so she has a bright future.

“I think I played okay. I definitely think I could have played better. But just a little jitters going out there, the first round no one wants to go out.”

Later on big sister Venus hit the courts and had to work a bit before she got into her stride, Peer initially went up 3-0.

Post match Venus said, "At that point I'm thinking I've got to get started. It was only one break, and I haven't played in almost four weeks, so just a little bit of a slow start. But I always felt confident."

Venus and Serena are on opposite sides of the draw, but in the same half, which sets up the possibility of them meeting in the semifinals.

Of that potential meeting Venus said, "she's obviously a great player and if I can beat her, then that means I'm on top of the game, so I hope we can meet in the semifinals."

Photos by Getty Images

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