May 31, 2008

Serena enters Bank of the West @ Stanford

Eight-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams has entered the 2008 Bank of the West Classic, giving the longest-running women-only professional tennis tournament in the world commitments from four of the top 10 players in the world.

The Bank of the West Classic, which will be held July 14-20 at the Taube Tennis Stadium on the campus of Stanford University, now has commitments from Williams (No. 5), defending Bank of the West Classic champion Anna Chakvetadze (No. 6), Marion Bartoli (No. 9) and Daniela Hantuchova (No. 10).

Williams, the former World No. 1, already has won three Sony Ericsson WTA Tour titles this year including Tier 1 Sony Ericsson Open in Miami and Tier 1 Family Circle Cup in Charleston, bringing her total career singles titles to 31. She posted an impressive 23-2 singles record heading into this year's French Open.

The Bank of the West Classic's impressive field also features former World No. 1 and three-time Grand Slam champion Lindsay Davenport, 2007 Bank of the West Classic finalist Sania Mirza, and former World No. 3 and seven-time tour winner Nadia Petrova. The Bank of the West Classic, a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour event, features a 28-player singles draw as well as a 16-team doubles draw. The event is owned and operated by IMG and serves as the opening women's event of the Olympus U.S. Open Series. Single-session tickets are on sale now and can be purchased by calling the box office at 866-WTA-TIXS (866-982-8497) or by logging on to http://www.bankofthewestclassic.com/.

Before I let go.....she did beat herself

Wow! Friday's pill was a tough one to swallow. With Serena's exit from Roland Garros, there will be a 1st time French Open Champion. The match began at 5:00am (EST) and I got up at 3:45am to shower and watch the match before arriving to work at 7:30am. As I watched the match and saw Serena's forehand go awry, volleys smacked wide and overhead smashes (and casual strokes) land in the net, I knew the result was not going to be a favorable one. Granted, Serena did beat Srebotnik in Charleston (to go on and win her 1st Family Circle Cup title), but I knew (when I posted the "match-up" info on my blog) that this was going to be a tough one. When Serena lost her serve I was thinking, "this is not the match to start off slow" (which she has a habit of doing). Srebotnik got so many balls back that all she had to do was wait on Serena to make the error, which she did. Serena went only 1-for-7 on break points, including 0-for-5 in the second set. She also lost 14 of the 21 points when she went to the net, thanks to some poor approach shots, crazy volleying and four passing winners off Srebotnik's racket. Srebotnik took Serena out of her game by repeatedly changing angles and speeds and showing some awesome retrieving skills.

Gosh, I did not have the energy or desire to talk about any of this yesterday. I was seriously in a state of shock and was praying that no one asked me about this match (ESPECIALLY AT WORK)! I'm over it, Serena will learn from it (it must truly sting) but she will go on. Besides, green grass beckons and the opportunity for a 3rd Wimbledon title. Being 25-3 thus far this season with 3 titles is not bad, not bad at all. Keep moving forward Serena. Call me crazy but if she gets FOCUSED (she's already fit), I can see her winning Wimbledon, a few summer hard court tournaments, Olympic Gold, the U.S. Open and regain the #1 ranking. That being said, my pick for the French Open..... Ana Ivanovic.

May 30, 2008

Serena falters at French Open....

Lack of confidence confounding in Serena's loss
by: Greg Garber (Espn.com)

PARIS -- The Williams sisters have always been shrouded by the air of enigma.

Serena and Venus learned the game of tennis on the public courts in Compton, Calif., a hard, hard place more infamous for gang violence. They bypassed the traditional junior tennis system and became Grand Slam champions, fixtures in the top 10 for a decade now, on their own terms. Just when you think you've got them figured out, they have the capacity for great surprise. Just when it seemed injuries and outside interests had reduced their careers to playing character roles, Serena won the Australian Open last year and Venus took the title at Wimbledon. On Friday, it happened again -- but not in a good way.

Serena, who before the French Open said she had experienced her best preparation since winning the event in 2002, is, shockingly, out of the tournament. With the sudden retirement of Justine Henin, Serena was among the favorites. And yet, she lost her third-round match 6-4, 6-4 to Katarina Srebotnik, a Slovenian who has never reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal. On the Richter scale of surprise, this one was about a 7.8.

Oracene Price, who is listed as Serena's coach and advisor in the WTA media guide, is also her mother. Standing in the press center outside the interview room where her daughter had just shed little light in her postmatch autopsy, Price seemed baffled. Serena, she said, had not been herself since the tournament began."She doesn't have the mind-set right now," Price said, shaking her head. "Her confidence isn't there. I'm really trying to figure this out."

A few minutes earlier, Serena had been asked if "puzzled" accurately described her state of mind. "No," she said, "I'm not puzzled at all. I just don't want to be here." It was probably the most honest, sincere thing she said. "I felt like I was able to get into it," Serena said, "but I felt like I missed a lot of easy shots and a lot of key points that I felt like could have turned the match around. I wasn't able to capitalize on a lot of that." True enough. Serena, playing on the sticky, shifting surface that diminishes her powerful game, seemed more awkward than usual. Her game was disjointed; everything she did seemed a tad late -- like a bad lip-synching effort.

Srebotnik, a steady player with a good forehand, is a solid clay-court player. She stayed on the baseline mostly, and kept the ball in play and moved forward when the opening presented itself. Serena tried to force the issue too often at net and wound up losing 14 of 21 points going forward, the difference in the match.
Mary Joe Fernandez, who reached the 1993 final here at Roland Garros, broadcast the match for ESPN. "It looked like she had no faith in her groundstrokes, especially her forehand," Fernandez said. "I think she came in so often because she didn't want to hit from the baseline."

Explained Srebotnik, "Serena is a big hitter, and she likes to have the perfect hitting zone. So I tried to mix it up with slice on my backhand side and tried to move her there. And then on the forehand side, I tried to play aggressive and go to the net as soon as I could. "That was the rhythm that I was trying to break her, get her on the wrong foot and stuff like that."

The critical point in the ninth game of the second set came from an ill-advised drop shot, which found the net, and Williams lost her serve. She survived two match points, but she missed wide with a running cross-court forehand and lost to Srebotnik for the first time in four matches.

Williams came to Roland Garros with a sterling record of 23-2 and a 9-2 on clay, but she withdrew from her quarterfinal match in Rome two weeks ago with a back injury. On Friday, she said it wasn't a factor. "I don't think that had any effect at all," Serena said. "It's almost perfect.

After a year in the wilderness outside the top 40, the Williams sisters both returned the WTA's top 10 last year and remain there today. They have won a total of 14 Grand Slam singles titles, and it would be foolish to believe that a 15th -- when health, motivation and the local atmospheric conditions allow -- is out of the question. As soon, for instance, as next month's Wimbledon.

"She's really hurting about this one," Price said. "I really think she'll come out swinging. "Maybe that's a good thing." Serena and Venus were taught by their parents to be inquisitive, independent and well-rounded. While they catch a lot of flak for not always being focused on the ball in play, they do, as Price said, "have a lot going on in their lives." Certainly, outside events have conspired to reduce the force of their careers, but isn't it possible that the broad palette of interests has extended those careers? Serena is 26 and Venus turns 28 next month. Henin and Kim Clijsters, who both won Grand Slams and reached the No. 1 ranking, left the game at the ages of 23 and 25, respectively. The Williams sisters, Price said, won't be retiring any time soon.

May 29, 2008

French Open: 3rd Round (Friday)


3rd Round
Serena (USA)[5] vs. Katarina Srebotnik (SLO)[27]
Serena leads Head-To-Head 3-0
1st match of the day on (Court) Suzanne Lenglen @ 11am (5am EST)

May 28, 2008

Serena advances to 3rd Rnd at Roland Garros

Serena has defeated Mathilde Johansson 6-2, 7-5. Johansson served for the second set at 5-3 but Serena steam-rolled the next 4 games to claim the straight sets victory. Bud Collins asked Serena to give her opinion on her game/play and Serena stated "D(-), I feel like I need to go and practice." Serena was not happy with her play today. She did lose her way just a little in the second set but being the champion that she is, she fought until she got the win.

May 27, 2008

French Open: 2nd Round (Wednesday)


2nd Round
Serena (USA)[5] vs. Mathilde Johansson (FRA)
Head-To-Head (0-0)
4th match of the day on Court Chatrier
1st match begins at 11:00am (5:00am EST)

May 25, 2008

Serena defeats Ashley Harkleroad at Roland Garros

Serena's campaign for a 2nd French Open crown began with a convincing 1st Round win over fellow countrywoman, Ashley Harkleroad, 6-2, 6-1. Harkleroad made Serena hit MANY balls but in the end Serena was just too strong. Serena hit 31 winners, 20 unforced errors, saved 6 of 7 break points faced and fired down 10 aces. Williams, the 2002 champion, was broken in her opening service game but reeled off 12 games out of 13 to win 6-2 6-1 in 76 minutes. Serena is now 34-0 in 1st round matches in Majors. Serena's 2nd Round opponent will be the french wildcard, Mathilde Johansson.

May 24, 2008

Serena is the pick to rule Roland Garros

by: Richard Pagliaro (http://www.tennisweek.com/)

Serena Williams isn't into exclusive labels — at various times in her career the former World No. 1 has defined herself as entertainer, actress, designer and diva while refusing to be boxed in as solely a tennis player — but she starts this French fortnight with one tag tougher to shed than a tattoo on the tip of her tongue: the favorite to raise the French Open title trophy on the tournament's final Saturday.

"I think every player benefits from Justine's absence because Henin has been the Nadal of the women's game at the French Open," ESPN analyst and 1993 French Open finalist Mary Joe Fernandez said. "I think Serena is the one to beat now. We covered her in Charleston and she seemed to get better and better with every match she played on clay. Now, it seems like she enjoys the challenge of playing on clay, of sliding and she's starting to use more angles. I think she's got all the weapons I think it's just a matter of the belief that she can come back and win against a lot of other players who can give her a struggle. In my mind if Serena plays well, I think she can win again."

Take a moment to review her Roland Garros history. On the salmon-colored stage of Roland Garros, Williams has endured emotional extremes as disparate as the images of the Mona Lisa and mug shot.

She defeated sister Venus, 7-5, 6-3, in the 2002 French Open final to claim her second career major championship. The next year, the defending champion felt the wrath of French Open fans during the infamous 2003 semifinal against Justine Henin. Six points separated Williams from her fifth consecutive Grand Slam final. As she stepped up to serve holding a 4-2 lead in the third set of that compelling clash a singles semifinal showdown suddenly got very crowded as Henin held up her hand to call for time-out during Williams' serve. Williams asked chair umpire Jorge Dias for a first serve, but did not get it and didn't win a point the rest of the game as many members of the crowd at Phillipe Chatrier Court jeered her. Henin fought back with a ferocity and Williams wilted amid the hostile howls in losing five of the final six games to fall from the tournament. Since that match, Williams has only played Paris twice in the past four years, losing in the quarterfinals to Jennifer Capriati in 2004 and to Henin last June.

So why is Williams the prime pick to rule Roland Garros?

The Henin Factor — 5-foot-5 3/4 Henin loomed as large of an obstacle red clay as the Eiffel Tower placed in the path of a high hurdler. With Henin's retirement, the 26-year-old American is well aware this is her best chance to reign in Paris again.

Clay Court Success — Williams captured the Charleston title on Har-Tru last month, beating current No. 1 Maria Sharapova in the quarterfinals, in winning her first clay-court title since the 2002 French Open. It took a tenacious effort from Safina to edge Williams, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(5) and snap her 17-match winning streak in Berlin. Williams followed that effort by reaching the Rome quarterfinals.

Getting Dirty — Williams' willingness to play more on clay this season is a clear indication she's physically and mentally prepared for an assault on Paris. She has played three Tier I clay-court tune-up tournaments this spring, which are the most Tier I clay events she's played since 2002 when she won Roland Garros. She arrived in Paris early and is acclimated to the surface.

The Draw — Williams resides it the same quarter of the draw as 2007 French Open finalist Ana Ivanovic and though they've only met once with Williams scoring a straight-sets win in the 2006 U.S. Open, the second-seeded Serb does not match up well with Williams. The eight-time Grand Slam champion's superior serve gives her an edge in starting rallies and her quicker court coverage and explosiveness hitting on the run gives her a decided advantage against the slower Serbian in running rallies. The biggest threat to Williams in the bottom half of the draw is Jankovic, who knocked Williams out of the Australian Open quarterfinals in January. The pair have split their six career meetings and Jankovic enters Paris fresh of capturing her second consecutive Italian Open title. However, Jankovic has yet to reach a Grand Slam final and her soft second serve is attackable and puts her on the defensive on any surface. Anastasia Myskina, whose second serve could be a bluff at times, is the last woman to win the French Open with a serve as pedestrian as Jankovic's serve.

The Arsenal — Conventional wisdom among some top players in recent years is Williams is most vulnerable on the slow surface that nullifies some of her prodigious power, blunts a bit of the edge she earns on her first serve and exposes her occasional inconsistency by forcing her to hit more balls in a rally than she's accustomed to hitting. Don't buy into that hype. In the early stages of her career, Williams was primarily a hitter, but she's grown into a more complete player with a wider shot spectrum in her arsenal and an understanding of how to use it. If you watched her win Charleston you saw a player much more willing to work the width of the court with shorter, sharper angles — particularly off the backhand side — then she typically plays on hard court. The fact remains Williams' serve remains the most potent weapon in women's tennis and if she can use her kick serve...


Her strength of spirit has sometimes served as a parachute Williams has relied on to bail herself out of tight spots in past majors when she lacked the necessary match play as preparation, but this time she appears to have cut that cord and committed herself to doing the on-court work necessary to fuel her full flight to the French Open final. Conditions could be a factor: if rain slows transforms the terre battue into a soggy track it can diminish Williams' power, but if the weather remains dry Williams should get through to the final four.
"I feel like my scale is going up right now. I feel like so far I've probably gotten to a 5 or a 6 but I'm still able to climb up," Williams said of her current level of play. "It's probably the best preparation I've had since 2002. I'm really comfortable out there on the clay, so it's great. I'm definitely 100 percent fit. I'm feeling a lot better than last week."

When she's fit and fully focused, Williams brings more than championship credentials to the game, she brings one of the most explosive and entertaining styles to the sport, she brings athleticism and she brings an abundance of attitude. At her best, Serena competes with the ruthlessness of a hard-core competitor shooting for a shutout. If she can endure the inevitable ebbs and flows that come on clay and play with the patience she's displayed throughout the spring season look for Williams to win her ninth career major in Paris.

French Open: 1st Round (Sunday)


1st Round
Serena (USA)[5] vs. Ashley Harkleroad (USA)
Serena leads Head-T0-Head (1-0)
4th match of the day on Court Suzanne Lenglen
1st match begins at 11:00am (5:00am EST)

Serena and Martina: TENNIS MAGAZINE feature

In the June 2008 TENNIS MAGAZINE (page 58 and 59) you will find the COMPLETE PLAYER feature titled "The Serves of Serena Williams and Martina Navratilova - These two all-time greats came up in different eras but their deliveries have a lot in common." The article is written by Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and she breaks down eight important aspects of the serve: extension, toss, grip, head, torso, off hand, legs and feet.

May 23, 2008

Roland Garros Main Draw is available....

To view the Women's Singles Draw click on this link: http://www.rolandgarros.com/en_FR/scores/draws/ws/index.html

I must say that the new #1 Maria Sharapova has a relatively nice/easy draw. To put it another way, Maria will only meet ONE of the following (and that will not be UNTIL the FINAL) because each of these players is on the OPPOSITE side of the draw: VENUS WILLIAMS, SERENA WILLIAMS, JELENA JANKOVIC, ANA IVANOVIC, AMELIE MAURESMO, PATTY SCHNYDER, and NICOLE VAIDISOVA (just to name a few). Be that as it may, I still see Serena winning her 2nd French Open title. Gosh, these draws are simply questionable to say the least. Serena will take on Ashley Harkleroad (USA) in her 1st Round match. More details to come. Care to share your view on the draw or the tournament in general? Then click on the comment link (below this post) and let me know what you're thinking.

May 22, 2008

Serena and Maria: Who's #1? On Grand Slam collision course for Tennis Supremacy

by Steve Murray/TennisWeek.com, Special to FOXSports.com

It's not the Rumble in the Jungle or the Thrilla in Manilla but it is shaping up to be the Duel of the Divas with Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams. The first round will be held in Paris, the second in London and the third in New York. And anyone who thinks Maria vs. Serena is just another tennis match really hasn't been paying attention.

For Sharapova, Serena is what clearly stands between her and what she seems to think is her rightful spot as the Queen of Women's Tennis. For Williams, Maria is the one other player who clearly sees herself with one sneaker on the court and the other on the celebrity red carpet. Serena considers herself, on her day, unbeatable. And doesn't mind saying so. She might even be right about that, though she is not "on her day" every day. Unfortunately for Maria, the sight of the grunting blonde on the other side of the net seems to inspire Serena to her athletic best. For four years now she has dismissed the Russian like an irritation at all their meetings, twice destroying her in straight sets at the Australian Open and beating her on clay in Charleston earlier this year. In all, Serena has won five of their seven matches, with the last Sharapova conquest coming in the 2004 WTA Championships.

Now, with Justine Henin out of the picture, the two seem to be sizing each other up for a battle royal that could border on a classic smack down. For Maria the only Slam missing from her collection is the French Open. Serena, of course, is the only active player with all major titles. Henin's retirement also handed the world's top ranking over to Sharapova just in time for Roland Garros, a status Serena would love to blemish. So it probably wasn't such a big surprise after Serena retired from Rome last week that Maria said one day later that she had injured her calf and had to pull out too. It was, after all, not a Grand Slam — as she pointed out to reporters — and if it had been she would have carried on playing.

"Last year (at the French Open), I basically played without a shoulder, and I got to the semifinals," Sharapova said after withdrawing from the Italian Open. "In a Grand Slam, you do whatever it takes, whether that's taking a few extra painkillers or whatever. But a week before a Slam to take your body to that phase, it's difficult." Serena, too, was willing to save her body for the Slam. "It just happened all of a sudden in practice," Williams said about the injury. "I just went for a shot and then my back got a little stuck." Williams did not appear in much pain at the time, carrying a large pocketbook over her left shoulder as she entered a news conference immediately after her withdrawal.

"I didn't feel anything the last match, and I don't expect this to cause any problems with my preparation for the French," she said. "It just happened all of a sudden. I feel like I'm going to be good going into Roland Garros." The two are circling each other like prize fighters and clearly are determined that neither gets the edge. Perhaps the best indication these two are set for an epic series of showdowns: They're the hottest two players on the tour. Sharapova started 2008 at breakneck pace, winning her first 18 matches, a stretch that brought her titles at the Australian Open and Doha. She also won Amelia Island and has lost only two matches all year — a three-setter to Svetlana Kuznetsova in the Indian Wells semis and the Charleston three-setter to Serena.

Williams had a 17-match win streak of her own — snapped by Dinara Safina in Berlin less than two weeks ago — that brought her consecutive titles at Bangalore, Miami and Charleston. Like Maria, she has lost only two times in 2008. Serena has been in Paris practicing all week and has impressed scouts with the fact that she is not carrying extra weight and looks in good shape. In the betting she is attracting the smart money and she has been installed now as the clear favorite. But there may be something both of them are forgetting and it could upset their plans completely: The draw will be revealed Friday and TennisWeek.com will list five players who could pull off a major upset at Roland Garros.

May 20, 2008

Serena's in Paris....

......getting ready for the French Open

May 19, 2008

NOTEWORTHY: French Open Statistic

Of the current (active) WTA players, Serena Williams is the ONLY one who has won the French Open / Roland Garros. IMPRESSIVE! Anastasia Myskina won the 2004 French Open but has not played tennis since 6/2007 (due to a left foot injury) and is currently unranked. Anastasia gave birth to a baby boy on 4/28/08.

Serena rises in rankings!

Justine Henin's recent retirement has caused an "up shift" in the WTA rankings for many of the players. Serena is now #5 in the world and Maria Sharapova is the new world #1. Serena also rises to #3 in the Race to the Sony Ericsson Year End Championships. Serena has shown great form this year and has already won 3 titles in a row (Bangalore, Miami and Charleston). It has been a while since Serena won 3 titles in the same year. The best is yet to come!

May 16, 2008

Serena withdraws (from Rome) w/ back injury!

Serena Williams withdrew before the start of her quarterfinal match at the Italian Open on Friday due to a back problem. Serena's back froze suddenly while she was warming up on a practice court for her match with French qualifier Alize Cornet. "It just happened all of a sudden in practice," Williams said before heading to a hospital for tests. "I just went for a shot and then my back got a little stuck."

Williams did not appear in much pain, carrying a large pocketbook over her left shoulder as she entered a news conference immediately after her withdrawal. "I didn't feel anything the last match, and I don't expect this to cause any problems with my preparation for the French," she said. "It just happened all of a sudden. I feel like I'm going to be good going into Roland Garros."

Serena Williams has had a splendid start to the year, compiling a 23-2 record and winning three titles. Her withdrawal deprived the tournament of a chance at the first all-Williams final since Serena beat Venus for the 2003 Wimbledon title.

Serena nominated for BET Award

BET Networks, a unit of Viacom NYSE: VIA NYSE: VIA.B, has announced the nominees, performers and recipients of the Lifetime Achievement and Humanitarian honors for the BET AWARDS '08. The BET AWARDS '08 is raising the stakes and promises to be the "hottest ticket on television" for the eighth year running, as the biggest stars in music, sports and entertainment unite in Los Angeles' historic Shrine Auditorium for a night of explosive LIVE performances on Tuesday, June 24 at 8:00 PM ET/PT.
Serena has been nominated for the Female Athlete of the Year Award, a category for which she has already won four times. Other nominees in this category include: Venus Williams, Tamika Catchings, Cheryl Ford, and Candace Parker.

May 15, 2008

(Rome) - Internazionali BNL D'Italia - Quarter-Final


Quarter-Final (Friday)
Serena (USA)[5] vs. Alize Cornet (FRA)[Q]
Serena leads Head-To-Head (1-0)
2nd match of the day on Stadio Pietrangeli (not before 3:3opm)

Serena advances to Rome Quarter-Final

Serena Williams upset Italian hearts as she moved into the WTA Rome International quarter-finals at the expense of home favorite Sara Errani. Serena won 6-4, 6-3 in a typically dominant performance. Serena is looking to earn her second title here having lifted the trophy in 2002, beating the now retired Justine Henin in the final. Serena had this to say about Sara. “She was an unbelievable fighter and she never gave up. She has great spirit.”

Williams Sisters enter East West Bank Classic

Venus and Serena Williams to play in Carson
by Lisa Dillman, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Making a rare combined appearance in Southern California, tennis stars Venus and Serena Williams have entered the East West Bank Classic tournament, July 21-27 at the Home Depot Center.It is the first time since 2004 that both of the sisters, who grew up in nearby Compton, have played the event. Neither played in Carson last year, and in fact, Venus, whose best result came with a semifinal appearance in 2004, has not played here since. The sisters will be treating the hard-court event as a tuneup for the U.S. Open in New York, as it is part of the U.S. Open Series. It may also serve as a tuneup for the Summer Olympics in Beijing.
Traditionally, the Carson event is held even closer to the U.S. Open, but most of the summer circuit has been tweaked because of Olympic scheduling issues. Serena last appeared in Carson in 2006, when she lost in the semifinals to Jelena Jankovic. She won the event twice, in 1999 and 2000, back when it was held in Manhattan Beach. The Williams sisters historically have opted not to play the same tournaments, other than the Grand Slams and the Miami event, which is close to their home. Other entrants are Svetlana Kuznetsova, Jankovic, Daniela Hantuchova and Nicole Vaidisova. Jankovic lost in the semifinals last year to eventual champion Ana Ivanovic.

May 14, 2008

(Rome) - Internazionali BNL D'Italia - 3rd Rnd


3rd Round - (Thursday)
Serena (USA) [5] vs. Sara Errani (ITA)[WC]
Head-To-Head (0-0)
2nd match of the day on Stadio Pietrangeli

Serena on Justine's retirement......

One of her greatest rivals over the last few years, Serena Williams described the little Belgian as a champion. "She's a great champion who gave me a world of trouble so I hope the best for her. She had a great year last year," she said. "What can you say about such a champion? I don't think we have enough time." Serena edged their head-to-head-record 7-6 courtesy of a 6-2, 6-0 thrashing of Henin in Miami earlier this year and she said the match between the pair that most stood out for her was at that same venue. "Miami last year was such a hard-fought match, and I was so glad to win," added Serena. She had dropped the first set 6-0 but came back to win the next two 7-5, 6-3 before going on to lift the title.

Serena wins; Advances to 3rd Round

Serena Williams delivered a near picture perfect performance on center court Wednesday. Serena defeated Alonda Bondarenko 6-2, 6-0 in an hour and 3 minutes. Serena faced 9 break points but saved all of them. Serena is in great fighting shape and is a serious contender for the French Open crown (to add to the one she currently owns).

Serena the "Superhero"

Serena is shown during the shooting of a Sony Ericsson WTA Tour global TV advertising campaign (titled "Superhero") on May 12, 2008 in Rome, Italy. Serena said: “This has been a fun experience and I love anything in front of the camera! Matthieu is a great director and I could really follow his vision.” She added, “This is a great campaign for the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour and it’s another sign that women’s tennis is the leading sport for all female athletes worldwide.” The marketing campaign is designed to promote the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour's current and next generation stars and the race to the season-ending Championships to be held this year in Doha, Qatar. The film will debut at the Tour's Wimbledon Player Party at Kensington Roof Gardens in London on June 19.

May 13, 2008

Rain in Rome...

Due to rain, Serena was not able to take to the court for her 2nd Round match against Alonda Bondarenko. This match is now scheduled to be played tomorrow (Wednesday) as the 3rd match of the day on center court (Stadio Pietrangeli). Only four matches were completed before a torrential downpour suspended play at around 5pm local time and just after 9pm tournament organizers decided to call off the day's play and resume at 11am on Wednesday.

May 12, 2008

(Rome) - Internazionali BNL D'Italia - 2nd Rnd


2nd Round - (Tuesday)
Serena (USA) [5] vs. Alonda Bondarenko (UKR)
Head-To-Head (0-0)
Featured night match on Stadio Pietrangeli at 8:30pm

May 9, 2008

Serena loses 3-Set THRILLER: 7-6(5) in the 3rd!

Serena lost her quarterfinal match against Dinara Safina 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(5). Wow! I did not see this match (yet) but I take it that Safina played an AWESOME match, backing up her victory over Justine Henin (yesterday). Congratulations Safina! I am proud of the progress that Serena has made this year and during this tournament. She should be proud also. Next up, Rome and then the French Open. Get a little rest because you have two more clay titles to win! Go Serena!

May 8, 2008

(Berlin) - Qatar Telecom German Open: Qtr-Final


Quarter-Final - (Friday)
Serena (USA) [5] vs. Dinara Safina (RUS) [13]
Serena leads Head-To-Head (3-0)
2nd match of the day on Steffi Graf Stadium
1st match begins at 12:00pm

Serena defeats Radwanska! Advances to Qtr-Final

Serena racked up her 17th consecutive victory powering past Agnieszka Radwanska, 6-3, 6-1, to storm into the Qatar Telecom German Open on the red clay of Berlin today. With today's win, Williams raised her record on clay to 7-0 this season, which is one more win than she produced in the last two years combined on clay.

Williams is chasing her fourth straight title. "I tell myself if I play well, I make it easier on myself,'' Williams said. "I'm not tired, I've had a lot of time off and I am in top shape.'' Williams thought she would face Henin in the quarterfinals Friday. "Obviously, yes, I was ready to play her,'' Williams said. "But a lot of seeded players went out today. I'm just happy I wasn't one.'' The sixth-ranked Williams is 3-0 lifetime vs. the 17th-ranked Safina, including a 6-2, 6-3 decision in the Roland Garros round of 16 last year.

To view highlights of the match, click the "play" button on the video below:
video

May 7, 2008

(Berlin) - Qatar Telecom German Open: 3rd Rnd


3rd Round - (Thursday)
Serena (USA) [5] vs. Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) [11]
Head-To-Head (0-0)
2nd match of the day on Steffi Graf Stadium
1st match begins at 12:00pm

May 6, 2008

Serena defeats Schiavone; Advances to 3rd Rnd

Serena has defeated Francesca Schiavone 6-2, 6-3 in the 2nd round of the German Open. Seeking her first title at this Tier I tournament, Williams has won 16 straight matches, including consecutive crowns in Bangalore, Miami and Charleston. (In 2002, Williams produced her best showing at the German Open, losing a 3-set Final to Justine Henin).

Schiavone fought off repeated break chances throughout the second set before her forehand sailed long and allowed Williams to take a 4-2 lead. "I'm healthy. I'm focused. Tennis is my priority," said Williams, ranked No. 6. "Everything is just coming together. Obviously, I would like to keep up the streak. I really want to keep it up on clay. I can slide on clay and be a little bit more lazy -- I like that."

The 20th-ranked Schiavone appeared to be a tough first match for Williams. Schiavone has 12 wins this year against Top 10 players, including No. 1 Justine Henin. She defeated Williams in their only clay match two years ago in Rome. But Williams never had trouble with Schiavone, leading 10-3 in winners during the opening games despite trouble keeping the ball in the court. After settling down, Williams kept the pressure on Schiavone's serve. "This was a good first match, she's a great player to play against," Williams said. "I served well and that keeps me happy."

To view "highlights" of this match click on the video below:

video

May 5, 2008

(Berlin) - Qatar Telecom German Open: 2nd Rnd


2nd Round - (Tuesday)
Serena (USA) [5] vs. Francesca Schiavone (ITA)
Serena leads Head-To-Head (3-1)
3rd match of the day on Steffi Graf Stadium
1st match begins at 12:00pm

May 4, 2008

SERENA predicted to take title in Berlin!

As Serena prepares for her second clay event of the season, Ravi Ubha (Espn.com), selects Serena as the last woman standing.

"Justine Henin is a three-time winner in Germany and one of the great performers of all time at this event. But as has been the case so often in the past year, Serena Williams is sitting in her quarter of the draw. Just a few weeks ago, Williams demolished the world No. 1 in Miami, 6-2, 6-0. Additionally, Henin is playing in her first clay tournament of the year, having pulled out of Charleston with a right knee injury. Can Henin circumvent a wealth of talent and win this Tier I event for the fourth time? Here's how we predict the German Open will play itself out.

First Quarter: Henin-Serena Williams, part 14

Henin bailed from the Tier 1 tourney in Charleston, S.C., last month, not wanting to risk injury to her right knee, so Berlin marks her first tournament since a crushing 6-2, 6-0 defeat to Williams in the quarterfinals of the hard-court Sony Ericsson Open more than a month ago. A friendly draw early means she can ease into the last eight.

Williams claimed the Miami title and did the same in Charleston, improving to 19-1 this season. Though potentially tricky foes await in the second and third rounds in resilient teens Alize Cornet and Agnieszka Radwanska, it's hard to pick against Williams.

Serena Williams has encountered Justine Henin in the quarterfinals of the draw the last four times they have met. Williams then would battle Henin for the 14th time. She's 1-4 against the three-time defending French Open champion on dirt, where Henin is most comfortable. Then again, Henin's campaign has been less than impressive. Prediction: Williams

SEMIFINALS: The Hard Hitters Williams and Kuznetsova are armed with two of the hardest-hitting games in women's tennis. Williams has a 4-1 edge in their head-to-head matches, and the superiority is probably greater when it comes to performing under pressure, as witnessed in Miami. Williams took the third set of their semi 6-3. Similarly Ivanovic has the mental edge over compatriot Jankovic, leading the series 5-1. Prediction: Williams, Ivanovic to advance

FINAL: To be blunt, it's hard to stop Williams when she's on a roll, so if the younger of the tennis-playing sisters is anywhere near her best, a straight-set job is on the cards. A closer look at Ivanovic's path when she reached the Australian Open and French Open final reveals a cushy draw. Confronted by the likes of Henin, Sharapova (not on a clay court) and Williams, the 20-year-old fizzles. Prediction: Serena Williams"

May 3, 2008

Serena's path to German Open Title / TV Coverage

1st Rnd: Bye
2nd Rnd: Cornet (or) Schiavone
3rd Rnd: Radwanska
QF: Henin
SF: Kuznetsova
F: Jankovic (or) Ivanovic (or) Dementiava

Serena's section of the draw is rock solid and possibly the toughest in the entire tournament but she is more than capable of getting the job done. Go Serena! Grab your fourth consecutive title (and 2nd clay court title) of the year!

U.S. fans can watch the Berlin-Qatar German Open on The Tennis Channel:

Friday, May 9th: Quarter-Finals @ 5:00pm EST
Saturday, May 10th: Semi-Finals @ 2:00pm EST
Sunday, May 11th: Semi-Final #2 (REPEAT) @ 12:ooam
Sunday, May 11th: Semi-Final #1 and #2 (REPEAT) @ 1:00pm
Sunday, May 11th: FINAL @ 5:00pm EST
Monday, May 12th: FINAL (REPEAT) @ 12:00am