2009 WTA Tour - LA WOMEN'S TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS Held at the Home Depot Center, Carson, Ca. - 5
Sam Stosur (AUS)
Photos By Adam Davis
STOSUR, SHARAPOVA SURGING INTO SEMI-FINALS
By Kelly Richards
CARSON, CA – Pumped after her huge win over tennis’s top player Dinara Safina, China’s petite powerhouse Jie Zheng came out swinging in the quarterfinals at the Los Angeles Women’s Tennis Championships Friday.
The tennis titan who stands at just 5’4” and ranked 23rd in the world quickly took the lead in the first set before her opponent Australia’s Samantha Stosur could say 4-1. Stosur was able to regroup, but not enough to save the set. Zheng won 6-4.
Stosur said she had problems taking out the Chinese serve, which for a pro is relatively slow clocking around 70 mph. “Her serve is the slowest part of her game. But her ground strokes are as hard as anyone’s.” Most of the other women players on the tour are hitting serves between 95 and 105 mph.
The dynamo from down under wasn’t about to stay down. After a frustrating start in the second set, which looked as if it was going to be a repeat of the first, Stosur decided to fight fire with fire and take some of the pace off the ball. She knew what she had to do after losing to Zheng the last and only time they’ve played earlier this year in Dubai.
“She loves pace and the harder you hit it at her the harder she hits it back,” said Stosur. “I tried to calm down and stop missing the easy balls and the slow second serves.”
By the 6th game of the second set, Stosur said she gained confidence. She had three break points at love but only needed one to tie the set 3-3.
Zheng said, “After (I was up) 3-1, she played unbelievable. She serves like a man very high (kicker.) (It was) hard return.”
Ranked 19, Stosur took control with a quick hold and break to lead 5-3. Serving for the set, she sent two screamers down the line to win 6-3.
Zheng said she was prepared for Stosur’s strong serves and forehands but not for her backhands which were “unbelievable.”
The beginning of the third set was a different story. Zheng could not keep pace with the energized Aussie. Serving up 5-4 and 40-Love, Stosur quickly ended the match with a huge overhead smash.
Last week, Stosur had one of the biggest wins of her career beating Serena Williams at Stanford. “Anytime you can beat anyone in the top ten, it’s a good winner.”
She has always been a stellar doubles player with two Grand Slam and 22 tour titles under her belt. Now, Stosur says she wants to add a singles title to her resume as well.
Shaky Serves For Sharapova
How many times can you double fault in a match and still win?
If you’re Maria Sharapova, the answer is 13.
She double faulted away three games in the second set handing Poland’s Urszula Radwanska the lead on a silver platter . But the 18-year-old couldn’t hold on to it. Sharapova won the match 6-4, 7-5.
“I made a lot more errors than I wanted to,” said Sharapova. “In the second set, it just kind of went off.
Maria gave her #71 ranked opponent a lesson in grace under pressure. Even when she was down, she never acted down. There was no racket dropping. No hitting the ball in anger. No temper tantrums.
At 22, Sharapova had to totally change her serve. But apparently it’s still a work in progress. ESPN commentator and former tennis great Pam Shriver said the problem is the toss. It’s too high. She said Maria is hitting the ball as it’s dropping, not at the apex.
USTA National Coach Tom Gullikson said Sharapova has an abbreviated serve because of her shoulder problems and as a result can’t get enough racket speed and rhythm.
Sharapova’s coach Michael Joyce advised her courtside to extend and swing. He suggested substituting second serves for the first.
“I created so many bad habits,” she said. “Eventually it’s going to work itself out.”
But, whatever the issues with her serve, the rest of her game is still there.
And Maria’s fans are there. The crowd at the Los Angeles Women’s Tennis Championship was firmly behind Maria, rooting for the former number one to make it back to the top.
Sharapova advances to the semi finals Saturday at the Home Depot Center.
Maria Sharapova (RUS)
Sorana Cristea (ROU)
Cirstea Advances to Semi-Final with Victory Over Radwanska
It’s hard enough to play a long match in the hot Southern California sun. It’s even harder when you’re in pain. But for Romania’s Sorana Cirstea it was worth the agony.
The 19-year-old relied on her serve to beat Agnieszka Radwanska, the 8th seed at the Los Angeles Women’s Tennis Tournament in Carson, California. 7-6, 1-6, 7-5. Yet every step she took was excruciating.
In the neck to neck battle for the first set, Cirstea says she landed wrong on her right heel and aggravated her plantar fasciitus, an inflammation along the bottom of the foot. She said she developed it last week changing from the more forgiving grass and clay surfaces to the hard court.
Ranked 28th in the world, Cirstea won the first set in a tiebreaker, but she couldn’t keep pace in the second. She lost badly 1-6. Three times she called for the trainer to work on her foot, the limit allowed in tour competition.
“I had to fight the pain,” Cirstea said. “To stay in the game I tried to finish the points earlier.” She said she was able to continue because the trainer assured her she wouldn’t injure her foot further.
By the third set, Cirstea regrouped. She held serve to win the first game. Tied 4-4 in the 9th game, Radwanska had two break opportunities and took the lead 5-4. But as they say, it ain’t over till it’s over.
Serving for the match, the Pole double faulted giving Cirstea a golden opportunity to tie the set. At break point, Radwanska slipped in the middle of the court and the game winning ball sailed over her head. It’s 5-5.
In the next game, Radwanska’s knee appeared to be hurting after her fall when she takes yet another tumble, this time tweaking her ankle. Cirstea holds, taking the lead 6-5.
Fatigue from the two and a half hour match and heat set in. The 12th game is full of errors. Balls hit long, balls hit wide, balls hit into the net. The game goes to several deuces. Finally, Cirstea is sure a ball called out by the linesman is actually in and challenges the call. She wins both the challenge and the match.
RESULTS – FRIDAY, AUGUST 7, 2009
Sorana Cirstea, Romania, def. Agnieszka Radwanska (8), Poland, 7-6 (7-4), 1-6, 7-5
Samantha Stosur (13), Australia def. Jie Zheng (14), China, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4
Maria Sharapova, Russia def Urszula Radwanska, Poland 6-4, 7-5
Flavia Pennetta (10), Italy def Vera Zvonareva (2), Russia 6-4, 6-2
About the Tournament
The LA Women’s Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife, in its 39th year, is one of the most historic events in women’s tennis and is being held for the sixth consecutive year at The Home Depot Center. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour Premier event offers prize money of $700,000 to the 56-player singles and 16-team doubles draws. The distinguished tournament champions list includes Dinara Safina, Kim Clijsters, Serena Williams, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, Steffi Graf, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova and Billie Jean King, all of whom have also been ranked No. 1 on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour during their careers.
The LA Women’s Tennis Championships presented by Herbalife is part of the prestigious Olympus US Open Series, which links nine summer hard-court tournaments to the famed U.S. Open. This year’s tournament marks the sixth year players competing in the U.S. Open Series tournaments will be vying for bonus prize money at the U.S. Open. Players competing in the “summer season” of tennis at the participating Sony Ericsson WTA Tour tournaments will receive Olympus U.S. Open Series points, which will ultimately earn the series winner the opportunity to double her U.S. Open prize purse.