2009 WTA Tour - LA WOMEN'S TENNIS
CHAMPIONSHIPS Held at the Home Depot Center, Carson, Ca.
Coverage - Day 1 | 2 | 3
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WORLD NO. 1 DINARA DEFENDS HER
TITLE, SHARAPOVA ADVANCES
By Kelly Richards
CARSON, CA - In a surprise
announcement, Dinara Safina said she has been playing with an
injury during the time she’s been ranked #1.
Wednesday at the Los Angeles Women’s Tennis Championships, she
revealed she’s been playing with a bad left knee throughout the
clay court season, the French Open and Wimbledon. Dinara said
she was in so much agony from a loose muscle on top of her
patella; she had to take large doses of anti-inflammatory
medication. The cause? She said, her height.
Pain free, the only thing that caused Safina to sweat today was
the Southern California sun.
The #1 ranked player on the tour matched up against Daniella
Hantuchova, a Slovakian who is a former #5 and now slipped to
The six-foot Russian with 145 pounds of honed muscle easily took
the first set 6-2 but had a bit more trouble in the second 6-4.
Each time she made a good shot or missed one, Safina turned to
her coach sitting on the sidelines, either to celebrate or
question. “I didn’t do anything spectacular. It was a solid
With a wrapped thigh, Hantuchova might have been battling injury
as well and maybe a bit of fatigue. Yesterday she played and won
two matches at the Home Depot Center. The good news for
Hantuchova is that she’s still in the running to win the doubles
title with partner Ai Sugiyama of Japan. Sugiyama also lost her
second round singles match today to 8th seed Agniezka Radwanska
This is the 8th time, Safina and Hantuchova have gone head to
head, and the fifth win for the Russian power hitter. “In the
crucial moments I was more aggressive today.”
Safina is going for her second win in Los Angeles. Last year she
beat Jelena Jankovic to take the title and put her on the road
to the number 1 spot, a place she’s held for 12 weeks yet has
never won a major tournament.
She took the top from Serena Williams who has 9 singles Grand
Slam Titles, 7 doubles and two mixed. But neither Serena nor her
sister opted to come to Carson this week, which is just a stones
throw from their old neighborhood in Compton. She leads Serena
6881 points to 6077. With her win in LA today, Safina became the
first player to qualify for the prestigious Sony Ericcson
Championships in Qatar later this year.
Next on Safina’s hit list is 14th seed Jie Zheng of China.
“She’s a dangerous player. I know what I have to do. I need to
play my game and be aggressive.”
Sharapova Survives Third Seed Azarenka
Everything about this match was
close. Close points. Close games. Close sets. Close tiebreaker.
And very similar high-pitched squealing grunts.
Maria Sharapova faced her first big challenge since returning to
the tour after taking a year off for shoulder surgery. Her name:
Victoria Azarenka of Belarus, the 9th ranked woman in the world.
The crowd at the Los Angeles Women’s Tennis Championship in
Carson on Wednesday night was thrilled to see the former number
one, currently #61, back on the court in competitive condition.
The first indication Sharapova may be in trouble during the
first set came in the third game. The Russian slugger was up
40-love only to lose the next five points and the game. The rest
of the set was all about who could hold serve. Azarenko made a
critical challenge on game point. Hawkeye showed her “out” serve
was indeed “in”, tying the set 6-6.
Another nail biter in the first set tiebreaker. Azarenko was up
a break 5-3 but it looked as if Sharapova might get it back
after she came to the net to hit one of her signature swinging
volleys. However, Azarenko anticipated the move and got the ball
back for a winner and the set 7-6.
“I had so many chances to win the first set,” said Sharapova. “I
needed extra focus to attack.
And attack she did. The second and third sets were altogether
different stories. Both times, Sharapova came out swinging,
quickly establishing a three game lead in each, frustrating
“My execution wasn’t there tonight,” she explained. “I just let
go in the beginning of both sets and it was hard to comeback.”
Azarenko wasn’t the only one upset. Several crying babies in the
crowd loudly voiced their displeasure.
“Everyone in Manhattan Beach is either pregnant or has a
stroller,” Sharapova commented on the apparent “baby boom” in
her nearby adopted hometown. “Even my grandmother in Russia
could hear the baby.”
The babies were removed from the competition and so was Azarenko.
Sharapova won the last two sets 6-4, 6-2.
And it looks as if she might have an easy road to the semi
finals, except for one thing. Sharapova has a quick turnaround,
scheduled to play tomorrow (Thursday) afternoon against 33rd
ranked Alona Bondarenko of the Ukraine.
“This will be a good test, playing a night match and then coming
back the next day during the day in the sun.”
RESULTS - WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 5,
Singles - Second Round
(1) Dinara Safina (RUS) d. Daniela Hantuchova (SVK) 62 64
(5) Nadia Petrova (RUS) d. Shahar Peer (ISR) 64 26 63
Urszula Radwanska (POL) d. (7) Dominika Cibulkova (SVK) 64 67(6)
(8) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Ai Sugiyama (JPN) 62 61
(10) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. (WC) Coco Vandeweghe (USA) 62 64
(12) Li Na (CHN) d. Aleksandra Wozniak (CAN) 46 64 62
(13) Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 62 64
(14) Zheng Jie (CHN) d. Elena Vesnina (RUS) 64 46 60
(17) Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 61 64
Alona Bondarenko (UKR) d. Lucie Safarova (CZE) 57 64 75
Anna Chakvetadze (RUS) d. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) 63 36 61
Yanina Wickmayer (BEL) d. (Q) Jill Craybas (USA) 76(2) 61
Maria Sharapova, Russia, def. Victoria Azarenka, Belarus, 6-7
(4), 6-4, 6-2
Sorana Cirstea, Romania, def. Caroline Wozniacki (4), Denmark,
1-6, 6-4, 7-6 (5)
Doubles - First Round
(1) Stosur/Stubbs (AUS/AUS) d. Ruano Pascual/Zheng (ESP/CHN) 64
King/Niculescu (USA/ROU) d. (3) Pennetta/Raymond (ITA/USA) 75 63
(4) Hsieh/Peng (TPE/CHN) d. Poutchek/Savchuk (BLR/UKR) 62 63
Kirilenko/A.Radwanska (RUS/POL) d. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova (RUS/RUS)
62 46 104
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
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.