Serena Overwhelms Azarenka At Us Open

Sunday, September 4, 2011 | 0 comments

New York: If anyone still harbored any doubts about whether Serena Williams is back at her best, she put on a pretty persuasive performance during the first 17 minutes of her third-round match on Saturday at the U.S. Open.
That's how long Williams needed to build a 5-0 lead en route to a 6-1, 7-6 (5) victory at Flushing Meadows over one of the best players the women's field had to offer: fourth-seeded Victoria Azarenka, a Wimbledon semifinalist two months ago.
Listen to Azarenka describe how it felt to stand across the net from Williams during her superb start:

"What's it like? It's painful," said Azarenka, who won eight points in those opening five games. "To have somebody just going at you like that, it's a little bit painful."
Eventually, though, Azarenka straightened her own play out enough to make things interesting in the second set. She erased four match points, broke when Williams served for the match at 5-3, and left Williams saying she wasn't pleased.
"She won the first set very easily, and it was a little bit too easy, so then she got tested — and she needed to be tested," said Williams' mother, Oracene Price.
Williams passed the test, and showed off her fitness, which is much improved from when she lost in the fourth round at Wimbledon. At the end of one point, she did the splits. On another, she raced all the way over to the blue sign near the stands to smack a forehand winner.

She and Azarenka described the level of play as being worthy of a Grand Slam semifinal, rather than the Week 1 matchup that it was. But they wound up being drawn to meet this early because Williams is seeded only 28th, a reflection of her lower-than-usual ranking as a result of nearly a year's absence from the tour because of a series of health scares.
The 29-year-old American already owns 13 major championships, including three at the U.S. Open, which is why, when she was asked how she can play so well now, Williams replied: "I mean, I was a pretty good player before. So just trying to get back into that rhythm and feel it again."
In the fourth round, Williams will face former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, the 2008 French Open champion, who is seeded 16th.
"It's exciting, at least for me. I think she's the hottest player out there at the moment. She's been playing so well lately. It is going to be a good challenge," Ivanovic said after ending Sloane Stephens' surprising run by beating the 18-year-old American 6-3, 6-4 in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday night.
Ivanovic acknowledged that Williams will be the "favorite, that's for sure" but also said: "I know I can give her a tough match. She beat me in the past, but maybe I can go for revenge on Monday."
The woman who's seeded No. 1, Caroline Wozniacki, eliminated Vania King of the United States 6-2, 6-4, and will continue her bid for a first Grand Slam title against 15th-seeded Svetlana Kuznetsova, owner of two major trophies.
Also into the fourth round with victories on Saturday were 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy, who got past Chanelle Scheepers of South Africa 5-7, 7-6 (5), 6-3; No. 17 Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, who beat 2008 U.S. Open runner-up Jelena Jankovic of Serbia 6-4, 6-4; and No. 10 Andrea Petkovic of Germany, who defeated No. 18 Roberta Vinci of Italy 6-4, 6-0 to reach the fourth round at Flushing Meadows for the second year in a row.
"Grand Slams are very stressful," Petkovic observed. "I think any player that you ask — and if he answers honestly — it's a lot of stress."
That, as much as anything, could explain why so many players have been quitting during matches because of injury or illness: No. 9 Tomas Berdych (shoulder) and No. 31 Marcel Granollers (abdominal muscle) did so Saturday, raising the total retirements in men's and women's singles to a record 14 by the third round.
Also advancing Saturday were No. 8 Mardy Fish, the top-seeded American, who has yet to drop a set after beating Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-4, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (3); No. 20 Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia; No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov of Ukraine; and 2003 French Open champion and U.S. Open runner-up Juan Carlos Ferrero of Spain. Tipsarevic (Berdych's opponent) and Ferrero (Granollers') play each other next.
On Monday, Fish faces a potentially difficult match against No. 11 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga — the 2008 Australian Open runner-up who beat No. 19 Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 — and so was pleased to finish off Anderson in three sets.
"I'll be physically fine in two days," Fish said. "But, you know, I'm 29. I don't wake up in the morning feeling like I'm 20."

Rohit Sharma Ruled Out Of Odi Series

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Chester-le-Street: India's injury woes refused to end as young batsman Rohit Sharma was on Saturday ruled out of the remainder of the five-match ODI series against England after suffering a fracture in the index finger of his right hand here.
Sharma was hit by a Stuart Broad delivery in the 38th over of the Indian innings during the first ODI here.

He has been advised rest for three weeks to recover from his injury and it automatically puts him out of the remaining four ODIs.
Sharma retired hurt after facing that ball. He went for a check up and a fracture was confirmed though no official word has come from the BCCI yet on his availability for the series.
It has been a disastrous tour for India as many leading players, including Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Virender Sehwag, Zaheer Khan, Ishant Sharma and Yuvraj Singh suffered injuries at various stages of the tour.
Tendulkar had to miss Saturday's opening match due a toe injury.

Dhoni Questions Dravid's Dismissal

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Chester-Le-Street: Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni on Saturday questioned the third umpire's controversial decision to rule Rahul Dravid out even though television replays did not show any edge off the bat during his side's first ODI against England here.
"There are quite a few things (about that dismissal). There was no mark on the Hot Spot, no visual deflection and the umpire had given not out. The benefit of doubt in such cases go to the batsman," Dhoni said at the post-match press conference after the match was abandoned due to heavy rain.

"I still don't know how exactly he was given out. Whether it was off snickometer; whether snicko is allowed to be used; whether it was an audio technician or a third umpire who gave him out. There are any number of fair questions to be asked; why should not the benefit of doubt go to a batsman?" Dhoni asked.
Dhoni was worried at the ever-growing list of injured players in the Indian camp after Sachin Tendulkar and Rohit Sharma joined the casualty list list on Saturday.
"We could do with 15 more players, initially I said what could have gone wrong did go wrong. But it has only increased since then," stated Dhoni
While Tendulkar has an inflamed right toe, Rohit got his right index finger fractured during the Indian innings.
"Coming from India and performing here straightaway can be difficult. We are fighting with whatever resources we've got. May be increasing the strength of the team can be the key. We could look at travelling with 18 players if needed," he said.
Dhoni confirmed that the team would be asking for Rohit's replacement straightaway as the right-handed batsman is definitely out for the rest of the series.
"Rohit would be visiting a specialist and it's almost certain he would not play any further in this series.
"Tendulkar will also see a specialist. It's an old injury which has flared up. He had practice with us last evening but this morning it flared up," Dhoni informed.
He said India would have won the match had England got only to 20 overs to play and with 164 to win. England were 27 for two in 7.2 overs when rain interrupted and match abandoned later.
"A lot has happened in this series. This alone (abandonment) was left. It could have been difficult for them to get close to 130 runs in 12 overs. It was a difficult target to achieve as we had bowled well in the first seven overs," he said.
The Indian captain was all praise for his top order batsmen for posting 274 for seven in their allotted 50 overs.
"They (the openers) batted well. What was important was to see off new ball. It initially swings at this time of the year. What we wanted was stable partnership. They were careful initial but then nicely built up their innings. After Rahane was out, Parthiv made sure he had some partnership so that lower order batsmen could come and score runs.
"It was important knock for them. If you think, these players will be playing in next 3-4 years time. They did it against a good bowling attack and when the most experienced players in your side were missing. It's a big learning experience for them and it would help them in future."
Dhoni, however, said that his side did not quite capitalize on the fine start of the top order.
"We were a few runs short because we lost Rohit. We wanted to cash in on the slog overs, get as many runs as possible without taking too many risks."

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