Angelique Kerber

Getty Images

Serena Williams escapes; defending Wimbledon champion upset

Leave a comment

WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Eight-time men’s champion Roger Federer and seven-time women’s champion Serena Williams moved into the third round at Wimbledon.

Defending women’s champion Angelique Kerber went out in the second.

Federer advanced as expected on Thursday, beating wild-card entry Jay Clarke 6-1, 7-6 (3), 6-2 on No. 1 Court. Williams had a bit of a tougher time at the same stadium, needing to come back to beat Slovenian qualifier Kaja Juvan 2-6, 6-2, 6-4.

No. 3 Rafael Nadal emerged from the tumult to beat mercurial Australian Nick Kyrgios 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (3) in a match boasting all manner of dramatics, doses of animosity and delightful play.

But unseeded American Lauren Davis pulled off the unexpected, defeating Kerber 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 on No. 2 Court.

“I told myself you’re strong, you can do it, you belong here,” said Davis, who only entered the tournament as a lucky loser.

Kerber beat Williams in last year’s final. Federer won his eighth title at the All England Club in 2017 and was eliminated in the quarterfinals last year.

Despite his pedigree at Wimbledon, Federer played his British opponent on the second biggest court on the grounds instead of his usual spot on Centre Court.

“I really enjoyed myself on Court 1 today with the roof,” Federer said. “I couldn’t really tell if it was Centre Court or Court 1, actually.”

Williams played her match with good friend Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, watching from the stands. She had a chance to serve out the match at 5-2 in the third but was broken. She made no mistakes on her second attempt, however, converting her first match point with an ace.

“I play best when I’m down sometimes,” Williams said. “I’m just a fighter and never give up.”

If the pressure is getting to Ash Barty at Wimbledon, she’s doing a great job of hiding it.

The top-ranked Australian came into the grass-court Grand Slam tournament after winning the French Open and a Wimbledon warm-up event in Birmingham. And she’s now won two in a row at the All England Club to reach the third round and stretch her winning streak to 14 straight.

Barty beat Alison Van Uytvanck 6-1, 6-3, needing only 55 minutes on No. 2 Court to advance. And it could have been even quicker but she failed to serve out the match at 5-2 in the second set — the only time she was broken.

“Pretty sharp right from the start,” the top-seeded Barty said. “I was able to implement what I wanted to right away and put the pressure straight back on her.”

Barty is playing her first tournament as No. 1 but has never been past the third round at Wimbledon. She will next face Harriet Dart, a British wild-card entry making her second appearance at Wimbledon.

Two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, No. 9 Sloane Stephens and No. 15 Wang Qiang also advanced to third round. Kvitova beat Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 6-2, Stephens defeated Wang Yafan 6-0, 6-2, and Wang ousted Tamara Zidansek 6-1, 6-2.

Sam Querrey, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2017, reached the third round in the men’s draw. The unseeded American defeated Andrey Rublev 6-3, 6-2, 6-3.

WIMBLEDON: Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Venus Williams exits on French Open opening day

Venus Williams
Getty Images
Leave a comment

PARIS (AP) — Venus Williams’ 22nd appearance at the French Open did not last long.

The 2002 runner-up lost her opening match at Roland Garros for the second year in a row, beaten 6-3, 6-3 by ninth-seeded Elina Svitolina in 1 hour, 13 minutes.

The 38-year-old Williams lost in the first round for the fourth time in the last seven years at the clay-court Grand Slam tournament.

Wiliams was broken in seven of her nine service games.

She wasn’t the only major winner to make an early exit. Angelique Kerber won’t complete a career Grand Slam this year.

Still hampered by a right ankle injury, the three-time major winner lost 6-4, 6-2 to an 18-year-old Roland Garros beginner, Russian Anastasia Potapova, on Court Philippe Chatrier.

No. 5 seed Kerber’s preparations for Roland Garros, where she never advanced past the quarterfinals, were hampered by the injury she suffered at the Madrid Open last month.

“Of course this is not my excuse and everything,” Kerber said. “I tried my best. I know that there is still a little bit of work to do to be really playing matches 100 percent.”

The 81st-ranked Potapova sealed the opening set with a cross-court backhand winner and broke twice at the start of the second. Kerber saved two match points before shanking a forehand wide sealing her fate.

“The clay season is over now for me. Yeah, I’m happy about that, that I can now look forward to playing on grass,” added Kerber, who won the Australian Open and US Open in 2016 and Wimbledon in 2018.

Playing his first match at Roland Garros since 2015, Roger Federer had no problem reaching the second round.

Back on the refurbished Chatrier, the 20-time Grand Slam champion defeated French Open debutant Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-4, 6-4.

Federer missed the French Open in 2016 because of a back injury and then skipped the event to focus on Wimbledon. He won the title in Paris 10 years ago to complete a career Grand Slam.

“I missed you, thanks very much for the welcome,” Federer said to the crowd after concluding his match. “I was quite tense at the start.”

Among other seeded players in action, 2016 champion and 19th-seeded Garbine Muguruza advanced to the second round with a 5-7, 6-2, 6-2 win over American Taylor Townsend at the tournament’s newest stadium, Court Simonne Mathieu. No. 11-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia defeated Thomas Fabbiano of Italy 6-3, 7-5, 6-1.

FRENCH OPEN: TV Schedule | Scores | Men’s Draw | Women’s Draw

OlympicTalk is on Apple News. Favorite us!

Serena Williams beaten by Angelique Kerber for Wimbledon title

AP
7 Comments

LONDON (AP) — Angelique Kerber was not about to be overwhelmed by the setting or the stakes in this Wimbledon final. She knew exactly what to expect — and what to do — against Serena Williams.

Two years after losing to Williams with a title on the line at Centre Court, Kerber came through. So steady, so patient, so accurate throughout, she never really gave Williams much of a chance this time, putting together a 6-3, 6-3 victory Saturday for her first championship at the All England Club and third major overall.

“I think it’s the experience. You have to go through all the things — the good things, the bad things — and then you need to learn,” said Kerber, the first German to win Wimbledon since Steffi Graf in 1996.

“I know that against Serena, I have to play my best tennis, especially in the important moments,” said Kerber, who won the Australian Open and U.S. Open in 2016, but was the runner-up to Williams at Wimbledon that season, “especially in the important moments.”

That’s just what she did.

“Angelique played really well,” Williams said. “She played out of her mind.”

Kerber made only five unforced errors the entire match, 19 fewer than Williams. Perhaps more impressive was this: She broke Williams in 4 of 9 service games.

In doing so, Kerber prevented Williams from claiming an eighth title at Wimbledon and 24th from all Grand Slam tournaments, which would have equaled Margaret Court’s record. As things stand, Williams holds the mark for the half-century of professional tennis, one ahead of Kerber’s idol, Graf.

Williams gave birth only 10½ months ago, then was treated for blood clots. She wore special compression leggings as a precaution during Wimbledon, just the fourth tournament of her comeback.

After all the time away, Williams spoke about being impressed with herself for just reaching the final. She also wanted to win, of course.

“To all the moms out there, I was playing for you today — and I tried,” said the 36-year-old American, her voice shaking during the trophy ceremony.

Kerber addressed Williams during the on-court interviews, saying: “You’re such an inspiration for everybody, for all of us. I’m sure you will have your next Grand Slam title soon. I’m really, really sure.”

The final started more than two hours late, because they had to wait for the end of Novak Djokovic’s five-set victory over Rafael Nadal in a men’s semifinal that was suspended the night before. On Sunday, Djokovic will play Kevin Anderson, who won his semifinal against John Isner 26-24 in the fifth set Friday night.

Despite so much Grand Slam success, despite holding a 6-2 career edge against Kerber entering the day, Williams played tightly right from the outset.

After taking the opening two points, she made four miscues in a row to get broken. That was part of a run in which she dropped 8 of 9 points. Williams was mostly her own undoing, too: She was responsible for the final’s initial six unforced errors. By the time the first set was over, the disparity was 14-3.

That’s not going to work against an opponent of Kerber’s quality.

Trying to sneak a ball by Kerber is something akin to trying to put one past a brick wall. There are no holes.

The left-hander scurried along the baseline, this way and that, using a combination of quickness and anticipation to track down what often appeared to be winners for Williams but were not enough to end a point. Kerber would bend real low, even putting a knee right on the grass to get a ball back.

And when she swung her racket, the measure was almost always true.

Kerber is much more than a defender. She has added a more aggressive element to her game in recent years and worked to improve her serve.

“I’m still sure that we haven’t seen the best Angie,” said her coach, Wim Fissette. “The defense is one of her qualities, but she also knows now that she’s not going to win a Grand Slam with just defense, and that’s, for me, very important.”

Kerber was broken only once. And she delivered a pair of down-the-line forehand passing winners to grab the last break of Williams she’d need, for a 4-2 edge in the second set.

Kerber celebrated match point by covering her face and collapsing flat on her back, getting grass stains on her white outfit. She relished the moment she had dreamt about as a little kid, watching Graf on TV.

Williams, meanwhile, sure sounded like a tennis player who is just starting her career.

“I think these two weeks have really showed me that, OK, I can compete. Obviously I can compete for the long run in a Grand Slam,” she said. “I can, you know, come out and be a contender to win Grand Slams.”

Williams was supported by several celebrity friends at Centre Court.

That group included Tiger Woods, Vogue editor Anna Wintour, Formula One driver Lewis Hamilton and — in the front row of the Royal Box — the Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle.

Williams was asked what she’ll tell her daughter, Olympia, about this tournament and this day.

“Well, I think it was a happy story,” Williams said with a smile. “I’ll probably change the ending.”

MORE: Serena says it’s unfair she’s drug tested more