Former No. 1s Venus, Henin Exit; Woz Interviews Herself at Australian Open
by Staff | January 21st, 2011, 7:32 am

Admittedly nursing a bad elbow since her comeback from injury, and the subsequent confidence challenges that go with, former No. 1 Justine Henin was ushered out of the Australian Open on Friday by No. 23 seed and former US Open champ Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-4, 7-6(8).
Kuznetsova had lost 12 of her last 13 meetings against Henin entering the Friday contest.

“I think I was aggressive, and I served better,” Kuznetsova said. “Then I think I dictated most of the time. I have not been scared at all when I went to the match, so I just wanted to play my game and try to play with my best against her worst. She doesn’t have worse, but I mean something where she doesn’t like.”

Henin made 41 unforced errors in a painful display, and wasted set points in both sets. She ended the contest with a double fault and forehand error, one of nine doubles for the Belgian.

“I know I’m not 100 percent,” Henin said. “I knew it before walking on the court. That’s why I say there are no excuses. I decided to play not being 100 percent. It’s been difficult in the last three days on my elbow and I just did everything that I could that it will be okay, but it wasn’t enough. I think Svetlana played a good match. She has all the credit today.”

Kuznetsova will next play French Open champion Francesca Schiavone, who on Friday defeated Romanian Monica Niculescu 6-0, 7-6(2).

World No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki advanced in a revenge match, defeating No. 29 seed Dominika Cibulkova, who had beaten her weeks ago at the WTA event in Sydney, 6-4, 6-3.

“I think I played a pretty good match,” said Wozniacki, who hit only 11 winners to Cibulkova’s 31, but made up the difference in unforced errors, 11 to her opponent’s 41. “I am happy I got the revenge since I lost to her in Sydney last week…I actually feel like I had to [play defensively]. I had to run a lot of balls down today because she was playing really aggressively, trying to hit from the first point.”

Wozniacki, to the bemusement of the media, entered her post-match conference and immediately began interviewing herself, rattling off answers to questions she hears over and over again after hearing that members of the media found her press conferences “boring.”

“Well, yesterday I got the question by the media, they said that my press conferences were kind of boring. Yeah, that I always gave the same answers,” Wozniacki began. “I find it quite funny because I always get the same questions. So I’m just going to start. I know what you’re going to ask me already. So I’m just going to start with the answer. I felt great out there today on the court. You know, I think I played a pretty good match…You know, I’m happy to be through to the next round. I don’t know who I’m playing, so maybe you can ask me that afterwards. But I’m really looking forward to playing my fourth round. It’s the second time in a row that that’s happened…I mean, what I do need to do to win this tournament…Uhm, if I deserve to be No. 1. If this was maybe another proof that I belong there. Again, I don’t feel any pressure to be No. 1. I really enjoy myself…My racquet feels really good (laughter). I feel like the racquet is really helping me out. I feel like there is no problems.”

No. 4 seed Venus Williams gave No. 30-seeded German Andrea Petkovic a free pass into the next round, retiring after one game due to a pelvic muscle injury in a previous match. It was the first time in 251 career matches that the elder Williams sister retired from a Grand Slam match. Petkovic advances to meet Maria Sharapova in the fourth round.

The No. 14-seeded Sharapova came from a set down Friday to defeat unseeded German Julia “Gorgeous” Goerges 4-6, 6-4, 6-4, a match that had TV commentators and fans alike transfixed as the two leggy beauties battled it out, both wearing Sharapova’s signature Nike clothing line.

“Most important thing is I fought for my chances,” said Sharapova on recovering from a shaky start. “I stepped it up and started hitting a little bit deeper. Some of my balls were going short in the first set and kind of went down on my tension a little bit…She’s the type of opponent that can go out and swing pretty freely. She has pretty big strokes and a good first serve. When things are going smooth, I mean it seemed like she can hit a winner from every part of the court.”

Other winners were No. 8 Victoria Azarenka beating South Africa’s Chanelle Scheepers, and No. 9 Li Na topping Czech Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, both in straight sets. Latvian Anastasija Sevastova was the only winner in all-unseeded play on the day, cruising past Russian qualifier Vesna Manasieva.

Saturday highlights in Melbourne in women’s third-round play are (2) Vera Zvonareva vs. (31) Lucie Safarova, French upset specialist Alize Cornet vs. (3) Kim Clijsters, (5) Samantha Stosur vs. (25) Petra Kvitova, (22) Flavia Pennetta vs. (10) Shahar Peer, an all-Russian in (13) Nadia Petrova vs. Ekaterina Makarova, and an all-Asian in China’s Shuai Peng vs. Japan’s Ayumi Morita.

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16 Comments for Former No. 1s Venus, Henin Exit; Woz Interviews Herself at Australian Open

scineram Says:

Wasted set points in a 6-4. When?

jane Says:

I wonder why Venus didn’t just give her a W/O. Why bother with 1 game? Does she get paid for “playing” as opposed to giving a W/O? Just wondering.

Gregoire Gentil Says:

A super cool day at the Australian open:

– A superb (in all senses of the term) match between the two “leggy beauties” with very high quality tennis.

– Amazing Caroline! She was sooo right. Frankly, it’s not her press conferences which were boring, it’s the journalists who are boring in all press conferences without any imagination. Send the Tennis-X team to the conference room!

And don’t tell me again that women tennis is in dire straits compared to men. Why did we have on the men side in the mean time? Nadal losing 4 games since Monday, Djokovic passing through with retirement, Federer smashing Malisse. Pretty boring stuff.

Go women tennis! Go Caro!

grendel Says:

There are some strange comments. Henin for example, who says:”That’s why I say there are no excuses,” having just given one and about to give another. Her very peculiar up and down play suggests that she was, in fact, bothered by something, probably her elbow, but still, pity to squirm. And then, dear old Kutzy:“I think I was aggressive, and I served better…then I think I dictated most of the time. I have not been scared at all when I went to the match”. All true and even understated – until she served for the match. As she leant into her opening serve, you could see the fear and tension gripping her. She pulled right back, rolling serves in, taking no risk whatever on her shots and plainly hoping Justine would do the job for her. Well, in a sense she did, since Henin inexplicably gave Kutzy the break right back. So here we go again, heave -ho, gravity seems to have about trippled and Kuznetsova, looking as if horror doesn’t get much worse, has another bash. Exactly the same result. And then, Henin immediately donates a couple of mini-breaks in the tiebreak. Not to be outdone, Kutzy returns the favour. The pattern seems to be, when Henin is down, she plays a blistering shot. Otherwise, she lets the Russian back in. Impasse. Somehow, someone wins – in truth, it might have been either, it was roulette, Russian style.

And then there is Wozniacki:”I think I played a pretty good match …..I actually feel like I had to [play defensively].” There are many ways of playing a good match – this was not one of them. Almost everything turned on what Cibilkova did. When she was hot, she was unplayable, her shotmaking out of this world. Unfortunately, she was also cold, very cold, and this rarely had much to do with Woz. The only person who could stop Cibulkova was Cibulkova, acting as unwilling proxy for the Dane. There seemed to be no inbetween game. If Cibulkova can ever get her act together, she could be formidable, but I seem to remember thinking this last year. She is probably destined to go down as one of tennis’ oddities. She hit the ball so hard that when the action turned to a men’s game, it seemed slow.

As for Wozniacki, she is fortunate in her draw. Once she comes up against a controlled hitter, on the evidence of this match, you can’t see her surviving.

jane Says:

Gregoire, totally agree with you about the Sharapova vs. Goerges match: it was more entertaining to me than a number of the men’s matches I have watch thus far. Both hitting a lot (!) of winners, both playing with variety and power, defending well. And both of them just would NOT give up. The competition level was fantastic. I felt very happy after that match – in part because I was pleased to see Sharapova playing to form again, and in part because of how good her (unseeded) competitor was. She hit winners “from all over the court” as Maria says.

dAri Says:

HUGE yay! for that sharapova goerges match. It was the highlight of the day for me for sure.
I had not seen Maria defend/move so well for a while.
I saw a lot of similarity between the two MENTALLY, which is just what the WTA needs at this point! Goerges till the very end, even down a break look like she felt she could still win the match and she nearly did.
The quality of those ground strokes was so high, a pleasure to watch! Wish the best for goerges in the future and certainly to Maria in this tournament!

Gregoire Gentil Says:

At last, we have some positive comments on women tennis. I feel less lonely!

contador Says:

go nastjia sevastova!!

Peter Trump Says:

Miss Williams knew, or should have known, that her groin injury sustained during her 6-7(6) 6-0 6-4 victory Wednesday over Miss Zahlavova logically would result in a walkover. Miss Williams did not practice Thursday, as she was in “rehab.” Friday practice was brief and limited. Scheduled to face Miss Petkovic following the Monfils-Wawrinka match, Miss Williams had been allowed maximum time for “rehab.” Calling for the trainer during the second game of the first set did not sit well with the audience, who, justifiably enraged at her theatricality, booed her from the court after her retirement. Perhaps retirement in a more permanent sense is on her mind and in her psoas.

grendel Says:

Contador, just who is Sevastova? Any chance of her giving Woz a decent battle?
I only saw Sharapova/Georges from middle of final set. It looked real good. Georges is one of those players I’ve seen over the years for about 5 seconds – at handshake time, catching a glimpse of her as she prepares to leave the scene after losing..that sort of thing. Since she seemed rather attractive, I always wondered what she was like. Very good, it turns out. Hopefully, she’ll climb in the rankings and we’ll see a lot more of her.

Sharapova’s serve looked good, and Frew Macmillan confirmed this. One day, you feel Sharapova’s serve will never come back, another it seems in perfectly good shape. Strange. When Sharapova’s in full flight, I think there is no better sight in womens’ tennis. She’s a bit like del Potro in this respect. There are players who have far more skills than either of these two. But none who look more exciting when their games are on. Forces of nature.

I hope Sharapova makes it to the final. A battle between her and Clijsters would be tasty indeed.

contador Says:

sevastova a young latvian player. good note on her on the AO website.

i have seen her play…she looks a bit short….have not looked up her bio. but yeah, i think she’s not fragile mentally like so many on wta and won’t be at all intimidated by woz and she strikes groundies well enough to make a match of it i think.

i like sharapova too. but, from what i’ve seen…wow she looks amazing; very elegant and classy. can’t say i enjoy the screeching. i pick woz to win. but i’m rather new at paying attention to the wta. i don’t have the biases with wta players that i do with atp. would love stosur to win AO.

Colin Says:

Woz is refreshingly intelligent. Boring as the usual questions are, they are alas about all many players can deal with – by being equally boring. Anyone know the correct pronunciation of Caroline’s surname, by the way?
To more pressing matters, I hope Murray can post a good win tonight. The amount of negative stuff about him on British forums is a constant irritation. Here’s what some bright spark posted today:
“Against minimal opposition he’s playing good tennis, asserting his superiority.
All the usual suspect British Tennis fans are applauding Andy.
Well, just to warn & remind of something else that is typically Andy Murray at every major tournament: At some stage he’ll come up against another top seed and it’ll be a 4 or 5 setter and Murray will ‘bottle’ the crucial points play. He simply doesn’t have the guts to tough out the absolutely on-the-line, in-your-face break points – – he’ll fold – – he always has and he always will.
The bloke has a soft centre & no chance of ever winning 1 of the 4 top titles.”
This guy has a soft centre – in his head!

jane Says:

Grendel, i am with you- a Sharapova/Clijsters final would be fab.

Kimmi Says:

colin – its tough for murray fans to see all this bashing going around. but you cant blame them…all successfull players are subjected to lots and lots of it.

Ofcourse until he wins his first slam, the bashing will continue..even after that they will always look for something else.

i wouldnt worry too much about it. Go muzza

Kimmi Says:

woz will be very tough to beat. I cant see sharapova beat her…if they both go further, they should meet in the semi i think.

grendel Says:

Kimmi, Sharapova and Woz had a very competitive battle last year. This time round, Sharapova looks sharper and more confident – and I didn’t think Woz looked too good against Cibulkova. So although hard to call, I think I’d go with Sharpie.

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