Thursday, July 31, 2014

Venus tops Azarenka in Bank of the West

Venus Williams, shown on Tuesday in the first round of
the Bank of the West Classic, has never lost a set in four
matches against Victoria Azarenka. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Venus Williams extended her mastery over Victoria Azarenka tonight in the Bank of the West Classic.
   Williams beat Azarenka, seeded fourth, 6-4, 7-6 (1) at Stanford to reach the quarterfinals.    Williams, 34, has never lost a set in four matches against Azarenka, all on hardcourts.
    Williams and Azarenka are both former top-ranked players, multiple Grand Slam singles champions (seven titles for Williams; two for Azarenka) and past Bank of the West titlists (Williams in 2000 and 2010; Azarenka in 2010).
   Both also have battled health issues.
   Williams, 34, was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, an energy-sapping autoimmune disease, in 2011.
   Azarenka, who turned 25 today, has missed most of this year with a left foot injury. The Belarusian has won one match in four tournaments since advancing to the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, which she won in 2012 and 2013, in January.
   Azarenka has fallen to 10th in the world and Williams to 25th.
   Williams will take on eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic, a free-spirited German playing in the Bank of the West Classic for the first time this year, on Friday not before 4 p.m.
   In the featured night match, top-ranked Serena Williams will meet fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic at 8 p.m. Ivanovic, currently ranked 11th, will return to the top 10 for the first time since May 2009 on Monday.
   The day session will start at noon with third-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany facing Garbine Muguruza of Spain, followed by unseeded Varvara Lepchenko against 19-year-old qualifier Sachia Vickery in an all-American matchup. 
   Kerber outlasted American CoCo Vandeweghe, the 2012 runner-up to Serena Williams at Stanford as a lucky loser, 7-6 (4), 0-6, 6-2.
   Ivanovic, another former world No. 1 and Grand Slam singles champion, dispatched qualifier Carol Zhao, a Stanford sophomore from Canada, 6-1, 6-1.
   Muguruza, 20, eliminated 31-year-old Daniela Hantuchova of Slovakia 6-4, 6-4. Muguruza reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal in this year's French Open, routing Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 in the second round.
     BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC
At Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center
Second-round singles
   Garbine Muguruza, Spain, def. Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, 6-4, 6-4.
   Angelique Kerber (3), Germany, def. CoCo Vandeweghe, United States, 7-6 (4), 0-6, 6-2.
   Ana Ivanovic (5), Serbia, def. Carol Zhao, Canada, 6-1, 6-1.
   Venus Williams, United States, def. Victoria Azarenka (4), Belarus, 6-4, 7-6 (1).
Doubles quarterfinals
   Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears, United States, vs. Varvara Lepchenko, United States, and Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia, late.
Friday schedule
Stadium
(Starting at noon)
   Angelique Kerber (3), Germany, vs. Garbine Muguruza, Spain.
   Varvara Lepchenko, United States, vs. Sachia Vickery, United States.
(Not before 4 p.m.)
   Venus Williams, United States, vs. Andrea Petkovic (8), Germany.
(Not before 8 p.m.)
   Serena Williams (1), United States, vs. Ana Ivanovic (5), Serbia.
   Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, and Arantxa Parra Santonja, Spain, vs. Paula Kania, Poland, and Katerina Siniakova, Czech Republic. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Serena advances, No. 2 seed falls at Stanford

   STANFORD -- Incident? What incident?
   Playing for the first time since her bizarre exit from Wimbledon, Serena Williams was back to her normal self in a 7-5, 6-2 victory over Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic tonight in the second round of the Bank of the West Classic.
Serena Williams looked sharp in a victory over Karo-
lina Pliskova. Photo by Paul Bauman
   "I think I played really well," the top-ranked Williams, who received a first-round bye, said after the 64-minute match. "I think I'm going in the right direction."  
   During the day session, Varvara Lepchenko of the United States outslugged No. 2 seed and 2013 runner-up Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
   Both of last year's finalists already have been eliminated. Defending champion Dominika Cibulkova fell to 20-year-old Garbine Muguruza of Spain on Tuesday in the first round.
   Williams, 32, has won 17 Grand Slam singles titles but has failed to reach the quarterfinals in any of the year's first three majors.
   Three days after Williams shockingly lost to Alize Cornet of France in the third round at Wimbledon, the American star stumbled around the court and retired from her second-round doubles match with older sister Venus at 0-3 in the first set.
   Serena had trouble bouncing and catching the ball before serving, double-faulted feebly all four times at 0-2 and quit in tears. Officially, Williams was suffering from a "viral illness." 
Varvara Lepchenko ousted No. 2 seed and 2013 runner-up
Agnieszka Radwanska. Photo by Paul Bauman
   Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, later told France's Tennis Magazine that the world No. 1 is going through a "difficult period."
   "I have never discussed private matters, and I am not going to talk about them now," said Mouratoglou, who has been romantically linked to Williams, although neither has confirmed it. "There have been difficult things. For sure, Serena is in a difficult phase, but I will leave it there."        
   Williams said Monday that she would undergo a series of physical tests after the season. When asked tonight why she wouldn't have them sooner, she said, "I'm sure it's nothing serious. The hypochondriac that I am ... that's it."
   Williams added that she feels fine and has "moved on" from the Wimbledon incident.
   "I'm just doing the things I think I do best," she said. "If anyone has any questions, they're more than welcome to ask."
   Then, however, Williams abruptly cut off the interview after six minutes.
   Like Williams, Pliskova has a sister on the pro tour. But the 22-year-old Pliskova's is a twin. Karolina and Kristyna, in fact, became the first twins to win a WTA doubles title when they triumphed last year in Linz, Austria.
   Both Williams and Karolina Pliskova, 6-foot-1 (1.86 meters), have punishing serves. Williams was mentally tougher, though, breaking Pliskova three times and never losing her own serve.
   Williams recorded the only break of the first set in the last game, at love. After double-faulting for 0-30, Pliskova sent a forehand long and netted a backhand to drop the set.
   Williams bolted to a 3-0 lead (one break) in the second set and broke again in the final game for the match when Pliskova sailed another forehand long.
   Overall, Williams won 82 percent of her first-serve points and had nine aces against three double faults.
   "I was playing a player that I knew was going to be very difficult to break, so mentally you have to really, really try to hold onto your serve," Williams said. "It was really important to make sure I was super-focused on my serve."
   Radwanska, at No. 5 in the world, is the highest-ranked player Lepchenko has beaten. Lepchenko's previous best wins came against No. 6 Jelena Jankovic and No. 7 Sara Errani.
   Lepchenko, a 28-year-old left-hander from Uzbekistan, became a U.S. citizen in 2011. She had been 0-5 against Radwanska, including a three-setter in last year's Bank of the West quarterfinals.
   Lepchenko will meet 19-year-old qualifier Sachia Vickery in Friday's quarterfinals, guaranteeing that an American will play in the semifinals. 
   Vickery, a quarterfinalist in the recent Sacramento Challenger, beat Monica Puig of Puerto Rico 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1 to reach her the last eight in a WTA tournament for the first time.  
   Eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic dismissed Naomi Osaka, a 16-year-old qualifier from Japan, 6-2, 6-2, in a matchup of free spirits. Petkovic, a 26-year-old German, reached the French Open semifinals last month for her best Grand Slam result.
   Osaka, 5-foot-11 (1.80 meters) with a massive forehand, stunned 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur in the first round. Osaka has a Haitian father and Japanese mother. Sister Mari, 18, lost in the first round of qualifying in the Bank of the West Classic.
BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC
At Stanford's Taube Tennis Center
Second-round singles
   Sachia Vickery, United States, def. Monica Puig, Puerto Rico, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-1.
   Varvara Lepchenko, United States, def. Agnieszka Radwanska (2), Poland, 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
   Andrea Petkovic (8), Germany, def. Naomi Osaka, Japan, 6-2, 6-2.
   Serena Williams (1), United States, def. Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic, 7-5, 6-2.
First-round doubles
   Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, and Arantxa Parra Santonja, Spain, def. Daria Gavrilova, Russia, and Yi-Fan Xu, China, 3-6, 7-6 (2) [10-8].
   Paula Kania, Poland, and Katerina Siniakova, Czech Republic, def. Hao-Ching Chan, China, and Andrea Petkovic (8), Germany, 6-2, 3-6 [10-8].
Doubles quarterfinals
   Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro (3), Spain, def. Caroline Garcia, France, and Shuai Zhang, China, 6-0, 7-5.
Thursday's schedule
Stadium
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Garbine Muguruza, Spain, vs. Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia.
(Not before 1 p.m.)
   CoCo Vandeweghe, United States, vs. Angelique Kerber (3), Germany.
   Ana Ivanovic (5), Serbia, vs. Carol Zhao, Canada.
(Not before 7 p.m.)
   Victoria Azarenka (4), Belarus, vs. Venus Williams, United States.
   Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears (1), United States, vs. Varvara Lepchenko, United States, and Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Lisicki breaks Venus' record for fastest serve

Sabine Lisicki unloads a record 131-mph (210.8-kph) serve in her
loss to fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic today in the Bank of the West
Classic at Stanford. Photo courtesy of Bank of the West Classic.
   STANFORD -- Venus Williams lost her record for the world's fastest serve by a woman but won her match.
   Sabine Lisicki unleashed a 131-mph (210.8-kph) rocket in a 7-6 (2), 6-1 loss to fifth-seeded Ana Ivanovic today in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
   Lisicki was aided by hot (84 degrees/28.9 Celsius), dry weather but not elevation (Stanford is 30 feet/9.1 meters above sea level). 
   "Well ... at least I broke the world record for fastest serve," tweeted Lisicki, the runner-up to Marion Bartoli at Wimbledon last year.
   Williams, who held the previous mark of 129 mph (207.6 kph), overpowered qualifier Paula Kania of Poland 6-3, 6-2 in the featured night match.
   Meanwhile, rising star Garbine Muguruza ousted defending champion Dominika Cibulkova, seeded sixth, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2. It was the Bank of the West debut for the 6-foot (1.82-meter) Muguruza, who's ranked 28th in the world at 20 years old.
   Muguruza plays for Spain, where she lives, but might switch to Venezuela, her native country. Her father is Spanish and her mother Venezuelan.
   Muguruza reached her first Grand Slam quarterfinal last month in the French Open, routing top-ranked Serena Williams 6-2, 6-2 in the second round. Cibulkova, 25, of Slovakia advanced to her first Grand Slam final in January in the Australian Open, falling to Li Na.
   Also losing was seventh-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro. The 5-foot-4 (1.62-meter) Spaniard, ranked 16th, fell 6-3, 7-5 to Monica Puig of Puerto Rico despite holding three set points at 5-4 in the second set.
   Qualifier Carol Zhao, a Stanford sophomore, won her first WTA main-draw match when Yanina Wickmayer, a U.S. Open semifinalist in 2009, retired because of a viral illness with Zhao leading 6-2, 1-0. A disoriented Serena Williams recently retired from her second-round doubles match at Wimbledon with older sister Venus for the same reason.
   Lisicki, a 5-foot-10 (1.78-meter) German, crushed her record-breaking serve down in the middle in the ad court at 5-5, 40-30 in the first set. Ivanovic returned the ball solidly but sprayed it wide cross-court.  
   Williams set her serving mark in the 2007 U.S. Open.
Williams said she was glad Lisicki broke her record.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   "I think it's time it's broken," Williams, 34, said with her characteristic graciousness after her serve topped out at a mere 120 mph (193.1 kph) against Kania. "That's a good thing, I think. I guess I have to start trying to serve harder. Clearly, she serves really hard. That's good encouragement.
   "I'm not really trying to serve hard, though. I used to. When I really want the point, that's when I start to serve a little bit harder, but I (usually) hit a medium serve that goes somewhere above 110 (177.0 kph).
   "I'm trying more for placement these days. It takes a lot of energy to serve, so if you can take off 10 miles an hour (16.1 kph) and place it, this is smarter. I need to serve harder now, I guess."
   Samuel Groth of Australia holds the men's record for the world's fastest serve, 163.7 mph (263.4 kph) in the 2012 Busan (South Korea) Challenger. Ivo Karlovic, a 6-foot-11 (2.11-meter) Croat, owns the mark at the top level of men's tennis with a 156-mph (251.1-kph) blast in the first round of the 2011 Davis Cup against Germany.
   Williams, playing in the Bank of the West Classic for the first time since losing to Bartoli in the 2009 final, will meet fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka on Thursday in the second round. Azarenka, who will turn 25 on Thursday, received a first-round bye.
   Williams and Azarenka are both former top-ranked players, multiple Grand Slam singles champions (seven titles for Williams; two for Azarenka) and past Bank of the West titlists (Williams in 2000 and 2010; Azarenka in 2010).
   Both also have battled health issues. Williams was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, an energy-sapping autoimmune disease, in 2011. Azarenka has missed most of this year with a left foot injury.
   Williams, a lean 6-foot-1 (1.85 meters), has fallen to 25th and hasn't won a major singles title in six years, but she remains a threat. Last month, the five-time Wimbledon singles champion came within two points of beating eventual winner Petra Kvitova in the third round at the All England Club.
   Williams said she'll continue playing "as long as I'm good. I'm running pretty fast. If I get slow and terrible, then I'll stop.
  "I'm not having kids right now, it seems, and I don't have a husband telling me what to do and we don't have to argue every day," Williams continued with a laugh, "so for me it's easy to keep playing tennis."
   Williams made her pro debut 20 years ago at 14 in the Bank of the West Classic, beating American veteran Shaun Stafford in the first round before losing to top-seeded and second-ranked Arantxa Sanchez-Vicario of Spain. At the time, the tournament was held across San Francisco Bay in the Oakland Coliseum Arena in the fall.
   "It's great to still be feeling well enough to play on this tour," Williams said. "It's much more competitive than 20 years ago, and it's great to be looking pretty solid, too.
   "It's been a long journey. I don't know at that age if I would have envisioned that I'd still be playing, but I'm glad I am because you get one shot at it, and then you fade to gray somewhere and someone else is better. So while I'm here, I'm going to go for it."
BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC
At Stanford
First-round singles
   Carol Zhao, Canada, def. Yanina Wickmayer, Belgium, 6-2, 1-0, retired.
   Monica Puig, Puerto Rico, def. Carlo Suarez Navarro (7), Spain, 6-3, 7-5.
   Garbine Muguruza, Spain, def. Dominika Cibulkova (6), Slovakia, 6-2, 4-6, 6-2.
   Ana Ivanovic (5), Serbia, def. Sabine Lisicki, Germany, 7-6 (2), 6-1.
   Venus Williams, United States, def. Paula Kania, Poland, 6-3, 6-2.
   Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, def. Paula Ormaechea, Argentina, 6-3, 6-4.
First-round doubles
   Varvara Lepchenko, United States, and Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia, def. Mari Osaka, Japan, and Marina Shamayko, Russia, 6-1, 6-0.
   Carolina Garcia, France, and Shuai Zhang, China, def. Kristie Ahn, United States, and Carol Zhao, Canada, 3-6, 6-1 [12-10].
Doubles quarterfinals
   Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, and Anastasia Rodionova (2), Australia, def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia, and Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic, 6-1, 6-0.
Wednesday's schedule
Stadium
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Monica Puig, Puerto Rico, vs. Sachia Vickery, United States.
(Not before 1:30 p.m.)
   Agnieszka Radwanska (2), Poland, vs. Varvara Lepchenko, United States.
   Andrea Petkovic (8), Germany, vs. Naomi Osaka, Japan.
(Not before 7 p.m.)
   Serena Williams (1), United States, vs. Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic.
   Hao-Ching Chan, Taiwan, and Andrea Petkovic (4), Germany, vs. Paula Kania, Poland, and Katerina Siniakova, Czech Republic.
Court 6
(Starting at 1:30 p.m.)
   Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, and Arantxa Parra Santonja, Spain, vs. Daria Gavrilova, Russia, and Yi-Fan Xu, China.
   Caroline Garcia, France, and Shuai Zhang, China, vs. Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro (3), Spain.

Japanese teen stuns Stosur in Bank of the West

Samantha Stosur lost to Naomi Osaka, a 16-year-old
qualifier from Japan, in the first round of the Bank
of the West Classic at Stanford. 2013 photo
by Paul Bauman
   Samantha Stosur's tailspin in the Bank of the West Classic continued Monday.
   The 2011 U.S. Open champion lost to Naomi Osaka, a 16-year-old qualifier from Japan playing in her first main-draw match on the WTA tour, 4-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5 in the first round at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
   Stosur, ranked one spot out of the seedings at No. 19 in the world, held a match point at 7-6 in the tiebreaker and led 5-3 in the third set.
   The 30-year-old Australian has not won a match in the Bank of the West Classic since reaching the semifinals for the second straight year in 2010. She lost in the second round to Sabine Lisicki in 2011 and to Olga Govortsova last year after drawing first-round byes and did not play in 2012.
   Meanwhile, Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic dispatched 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan 6-1, 6-3 to set up a meeting with top-ranked Serena Williams on Wednesday at 7 p.m. Williams had a bye in the first round.
   CoCo Vandeweghe, the runner-up in the Bank of the West to Williams as a lucky loser two years ago, topped wild card Kristie Ahn 6-2, 7-5. Ahn graduated from Stanford last month.
   Osaka and Vandeweghe will play seeded Germans in the second round. Osaka will face No. 8 Andrea Petkovic, and Vandeweghe will meet No. 3 Angelique Kerber.
   Sixth-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia will open the defense of her Bank of the West title against rising star Garbine Muguruza, 20, today not before 1 p.m.  
   Muguruza, a 6-foot (1.82-meter) Venezuela native who plays for Spain, upset Williams in the second round of the French Open this year en route to the quarterfinals.
   Following the Cibulkova-Muguruza match, No. 5 seed and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia will take on 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki of Germany.    
   In tonight's featured match at 7, seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams will play qualifier Paula Kania of Poland.
   Williams won the Bank of the West title in 2000 and 2002. Now 34, she will appear in the tournament for the first time since losing to Marion Bartoli in the 2009 final.
BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC
At Stanford
First-round singles
   Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic, def. Kimiko Date-Krumm, Japan, 6-1, 6-3.
   Naomi Osaka, Japan, def. Samantha Stosur, Australia, 4-6, 7-6 (7), 7-5.
   Varvara Lepchenko, United States, def. Caroline Garcia, France, 6-4, 6-3.
   Sachia Vickery, United States, vs. Shuai Zhang, China, 6-1, 6-2.
   Andrea Petkovic (8), Germany, def. Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia, 6-1, 6-4.
   CoCo Vandeweghe, United States, def. Kristie Ahn, United States, 6-2, 7-5.
First-round doubles
   Garbine Muguruza, Spain and Carla Suarez Navarro (3), Spain, def. Eva Hrdinova, Czech Republic, and Andreja Klepac, Slovenia, 6-4, 6-2.
   Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia, and Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic, def. Darija Jurak, Croatia, and Megan Moulton-Levy, United States, 4-6, 6-4 [10-7].
   Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, and Anastasia Rodionova (2), Australia, def. Paula Ormaechea, Argentina, and Aleksandra Wozniak, Canada, walkover.
Today's schedule
Stadium
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Yanina Wickmayer, Belgium, vs. Carol Zhao, Canada.
(Not before 1 p.m.)
   Dominika Cibulkova (6), Slovakia, vs. Garbine Muguruza, Spain.
   Ana Ivanovic (5), Serbia, vs. Sabine Lisicki, Germany.
(Not before 7 p.m.)
   Venus Williams, United States, vs. Paula Kania, Poland.
   Daniela Hantuchova, Slovakia, vs. Paula Ormaechea, Argentina.

Court 6
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Carla Suarez Navarro (7), Spain, vs. Monica Puig, Puerto Rico.
(Not before 12:30 p.m.)
   Varvara Lepchenko, United States,and Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia, vs. Mari Osaka, Japan, and Marina Shamayko, Russia.
(Not before 2 p.m.) 
   Caroline Garcia, France, and Shuai Zhang, China, vs. Kristie Ahn, United States, and Carol Zhao, Canada.
   Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, and Anastasia Rodionova (2), Australia, vs. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia, and Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Venus to play qualifier on Tuesday at Stanford

   Seven-time Grand Slam singles champion Venus Williams will face qualifier Paula Kania of Poland on Tuesday at 7 p.m. in the first round of the Bank of the West Classic at Stanford, tournament organizers announced Sunday.
   Williams is scheduled to appear in the tournament for the first time since losing to Marion Bartoli in the 2009 final. If Williams wins, she will meet fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka, who received a first-round bye, on Thursday in a matchup of former world No. 1s and ex-Bank of the West champions. Williams triumphed at Stanford in 2000 and 2002, and Azarenka in 2010.
   Williams, 34, and Azarenka, who will turn 25 on Thursday, also have battled health issues.
   Williams was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, an energy-sapping disease, in 2011. The last of her seven Grand Slam singles titles came at Wimbledon in 2008. Azarenka has missed most of the year with a left foot injury.
   Dominika Cibulkova, a 5-foot-3 (1.61-meter) veteran from Slovakia, will open the defense of her Bank of the West Classic title against rising star Garbine Muguruza, 20, on Tuesday not before 1 p.m. Muguruza, a 6-foot (1.82-meter) Venezuela native who plays for Spain, upset Serena Williams in the second round of the French Open this year en route to the quarterfinals.
   Following the Cibulkova-Muguruza match, No. 5 seed and 2008 French Open champion Ana Ivanovic of Serbia will take on 2013 Wimbledon runner-up Sabine Lisicki of Germany. 
   Serena Williams, like her older sister, has won the Bank of the West twice (2011 and 2012). She will return Wednesday night, against either 43-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm of Japan and Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic, after drawing a first-round bye and skipping last year's tournament.
   Samantha Stosur, the 2011 U.S. Open champion, will headline today's session when she takes on qualifier Naomi Osaka of Japan not before 1 p.m. Eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany will kick off the night session at 7 p.m. against Ajla Tomljanovic of Croatia, followed by 2012 runner-up CoCo Vandeweghe against recent Stanford graduate Kristie Ahn in an All-American encounter.
   See below for today's full schedule.
   In the final round of qualifying on Sunday, sixth-seeded Sachia Vickery of Hollywood, Fla., ousted No. 1 seed Aleksandra Wozniak, the 2008 Bank of the West champion from Canada, 6-4, 6-1.
   Carol Zhao, a Stanford sophomore from Canada, advanced to the main draw with a 6-1, 1-6, 6-4 victory over ninth-seeded Marina Shamayko of Russia.
   To purchase tickets to the Bank of the West Classic, visit www.bankofthewestclassic.com or call 866-WTA-TIXS (866-982-8497).
BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC
At Stanford
Final-round qualifying
   Sachia Vickery (6), United States, def. Aleksandra Wozniak (1), Canada, 6-4, 6-1.
   Carol Zhao, Canada, def. Marina Shamayko (9), Russia, 6-1, 1-6, 6-4.
   Paula Kania (5), Poland, def. Raquel Kops-Jones, United States, 6-4, 6-1.
   Naomi Osaka, Japan, def. Petra Martic (7), Croatia, 6-7 (4), 6-4, 6-1.
Today's schedule
Stadium
(Starting at 11 a.m.)
   Kimiko Date-Krumm, Japan, vs. Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic.
   Samantha Stosur, Australia, vs. Naomi Osaka, Japan.
   Caroline Garcia, France, vs. Varvara Lepchenko, United States.
(Not before 7 p.m.)
   Ajla Tomljanovic, Croatia, vs. Andrea Petkovic (8), Germany.
   CoCo Vandeweghe, United States, vs. Kristie Ahn, United States.
Court 6
(Starting at noon)
   Eva Hrdinova, Czech Republic, and Andreja Klepac, Slovenia, vs. Garbine Muguruza, Spain and Carla Suarez Navarro (3), Spain.
(Not before 2 p.m.)
   Sachia Vickery, United States, vs. Shuai Zhang, China.
(Not before 3:30 p.m.)
   Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia, and Karolina Pliskova, Czech Republic, vs. Darija Jurak, Croatia, and Megan Moulton-Levy, United States.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Lucic-Baroni, with troubled past, upset at Stanford

   The sad story of Mirjana Lucic-Baroni continued to play out on Saturday at Stanford.
   The former prodigy, now 32, lost to doubles specialist Raquel Kops-Jones of San Jose 6-2, 7-6 (8) in the first round of qualifying for the Bank of the West Classic.
   Lucic-Baroni, from Croatia, was seeded third at No. 127 in the world. Kops-Jones, 31, is ranked No. 1,038 in singles but No. 13 in doubles.
   Lucic-Baroni became the youngest player to win an Australian Open title when she took the 1998 women's doubles crown at 15 years, 10 months with Martina Hingis.
   At 17, Lucic reached the 1999 Wimbledon singles semifinals. She was the lowest-ranked player (No. 134) at the time to reach a Grand Slam semifinal but has been surpassed.
   Lucic-Baroni's career was derailed by problems with her father, who she has said physically abused her and tampered with her prize money.
   "There have been more beatings than anyone can imagine," Lucic-Baroni once said.
   Marinko Lucic countered: “I never used excessive force, and if I did give her the occasional slap, it was because of her behavior. I did what I believed what was best for the child.”
   Kops-Jones, who won last year's doubles title in the Bank of the West Classic with Abigail Spears of San Diego, will play fifth-seeded Paula Kania of Poland today for a berth in the singles main draw.
   Also advancing was Stanford sophomore Carol Zhao. The 19-year-old Canadian edged second-seeded Katerina Siniakova, an 18-year-old Czech ranked No. 123 in the world, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (3).
   Siniakova captured the girls doubles title at the French Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open last year with countrywoman Barbora Krejcikova.
   Top-seeded Alexsandra Wozniak, a Canadian who won the 2008 Bank of the West, defeated another Stanford sophomore, Caroline Doyle of San Francisco, 7-5, 6-3.
   Sixth-seeded Sachia Vickery of Hollywood, Fla., outplayed 15-year-old Michaela Gordon of nearby Los Altos Hills 6-4, 6-1.
BANK OF THE WEST CLASSIC
At Stanford
First-round qualifying
   Raquel Kops-Jones, United States, def. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni (3), Croatia, 6-2, 7-6 (8).
   Petra Martic (7), Croatia, def. Arantxa Parra Santonja, Spain, 6-4, 6-2.
   Aleksandra Wozniak (1), Canada, def. Caroline Doyle, United States, 7-5, 6-3.
   Carol Zhao, United States, def. Katerina Siniakova (2), Czech Republic, 5-7, 6-4, 7-6 (3).
   Paula Kania (5), Poland, def. Daria Gavrilova, Russia, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.
   Naomi Osaka, Japan, def. Alla Kudryavtseva (4), Russia, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1.
   Sachia Vickery (6), United States, def. Michaela Gordon, United States, 6-4, 6-1. 
   Marina Shamayko, Russia, def. Mari Osaka, Japan, 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.
Today's schedule
Stadium
(Starting at 10 a.m.)
   Petra Martic (7), Croatia, vs. Naomi Osaka, Japan.
   Paula Kania (5), Poland, vs. Raquel Kops-Jones, United States.
   Aleksandra Wozniak (1), Canada, vs. Sachia Vickery (6), United States.
Court 6 
(Starting at noon)
   Marina Shamayko, Russia, vs. Carol Zhao, Canada.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Serena to play at Stanford after weird Wimbledon exit

Serena Williams is scheduled to return to the Bank
of the West Classic for the first time since beating
lucky loser CoCo Vandeweghe for the 2012 title.
Vandeweghe also is entered in next week's tourna-
ment at Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Stadium.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   On Wednesday night at Stanford, Serena Williams is scheduled to return to the court for the first time since her bizarre exit from Wimbledon.
   Seeded first in the Bank of the West Classic, Williams received a first-round bye. She will meet the winner of the match between 22-year-old Karolina Pliskova, a Czech ranked 45th in the world, and 43-year-old Japanese veteran Kimiko Date-Krumm, ranked 87th.
   The draw for the tournament at the Taube Family Tennis Stadium was held Friday. Qualifying begins today (see schedule below), and the main draw is set for Monday through Aug. 3.
   Three days after a shocking loss to Alize Cornet of France in the third round at Wimbledon, a disoriented Williams retired from her second-round doubles match with sister Venus at 0-3 in the first set on July 1.
   Serena had trouble bouncing and catching the ball before serving, double-faulted feebly all four times at 0-2 and quit in tears. The official explanation was that Williams was suffering from a "viral illness."
   Later in July, Williams' coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, told France's Tennis Magazine that the world No. 1 is going through a "difficult period."
   "I have never discussed private matters, and I am not going to talk about them now," said Mouratoglou, who has been romantically linked to Williams, although neither has confirmed it. "There have been difficult things. For sure, Serena is in a difficult phase, but I will leave it there."
   This will be the second time in three years that Williams, 32, has come to Stanford under strange circumstances. Shortly after winning Wimbledon in 2010, she received 12 stitches in one foot and six in another when she was cut by glass at a restaurant in Munich.
   One week later, Williams had surgery for a lacerated tendon on the top of her right foot. In February 2011, she was treated for life-threatening blood clots in her lungs.
   In all, Williams sat out for 11 months. In the third tournament of her comeback, she won the Bank of the West Classic for the first time in 2011. Williams repeated in 2012 but did not play last year.
   With one more Grand Slam singles title, Williams can tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth on the all-time list at 18. However, Williams has lost in the fourth round or earlier in all three majors this year.
   Venus Williams, who won the Bank of the West Classic in 2000 and 2002, is scheduled to return for the first time since losing to Marion Bartoli in the 2009 final.
   Venus, 34, will face a qualifier to be determined in the first round and could meet fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka, the 2010 champion, in the second round. Both former world No. 1s have had their own health issues.
   Venus was diagnosed with Sjogren's Syndrome, an energy-sapping disease, in 2011. The last of her seven Grand Slam singles titles came at Wimbledon in 2008.
   Azarenka, a two-time Australian Open champion, has missed most of this year with a left foot injury.
   The Bank of the West Classic features six of the world's top 12: Serena Williams; No. 5 Agnieszka Radwanska, last year's runner-up; No. 8 Angelique Kerber; No. 10 Azarenka; No. 11 Ana Ivanovic, formerly No. 1; and No. 12 Dominika Cibulkova, the defending champion.
   To purchase tickets for the Bank of the West Classic, visit www.bankofthewestclassic.com or call 866-WTA-TIXS (866-982-8497).
TODAY'S SCHEDULE
First-round qualifying
(Starting at 10 a.m.)
Stadium
   Mirjana Lucic-Baroni, Croatia, vs. Raquel Kops-Jones, United States.
   Arantxa Parra Santonja, Spain, vs. Petra Martic, Croatia.
   Aleksandra Wozniak, Canada, vs. Caroline Doyle, United States.
   Katerina Siniakova, Czech Republic, vs. Carol Zhao, United States.
Court 6
   Daria Gavrilova, Russia, vs. Paula Kania, Poland.
   Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, vs. Naomi Osaka, Japan.
   Michaela Gordon, United States, vs. Sachia Vickery, United States.
   Marina Shamayko, Russia, vs. Yi-Fan Xu, China.