Serena reigns at Brisbane; Murray, Dimitrov in final
Serena reigns at Brisbane; Murray, Dimitrov in final
Williams has won 35 of her past 36 matches, including titles at Wimbledon, the Olympics, the US Open, the season-ending championship and now the first event of 2013.
She already has won the Australian Open five times, and with the season’s first major a little more than a week away, she’s in good shape to add another one.
The Brisbane final was all over in 50 minutes on Saturday night, with Williams dictating terms from the first break of serve in the sixth game.
“I always feel like I don’t know how to play tennis when I play against you,” Pavlyuchenkova told Williams at the trophy presentation. The pair had traveled together on a training trip to Mauritius in the off season but didn’t really hit against each other at the time.
“But this was true what I said,” the No. 36-ranked Pavlyuchenkova, who has won 3 WTA Tour titles and more than $2.8 million in prize money, later said of her post-match assessment.
“When she’s on fire, well I feel like there is not much I can do. I mean, she’s a great player and she deserves to win.” Williams said she’s been concentrating on being calm and composed, and has started to feel “serene” when she’s in her zone on court. She’s been feeling that way a lot in the amazing comeback since her first-round exit at the French Open, her earliest ever loss at a Grand Slam event.
“I was looking at a lot of old matches on YouTube, and I feel like right now I’m playing some of my best tennis,” the 15-time major winner said. “I feel like I want to do better and play better still.”
Pavlyuchenkova’s post-match comment, she said, was “a great compliment and a great honor for someone of her caliber to feel that way.” In a tournament featuring eight of the top 10 female players, not one women’s match in Brisbane featured seeded players against each other due to a series of injuries and upset losses. No. 2 Maria Sharapova withdrew due to an injured collarbone, and Pavlyuchenkova took out two top-10 players — beating 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova in the second round and fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber in the quarterfinals.
Williams missed a chance to extend her 11-1 winning record against top-ranked Victoria Azarenka when the 23-year-old Belarussian withdrew a half hour before their scheduled semifinal on Friday night due to an infected toe on her right foot. Azarenka was more concerned about being ready for the Australian Open.
The night off obviously didn’t bother Williams, went on a roll during a seven-game run from the middle of the first set until Pavlyuchenkova finally held serve in the fourth game of the second.
Accustomed to victory as she is, Williams started as usual by thanking the sponsors, her God, organizers, the fans and started to thank her dad, Richard.
“This is getting so routine, I’m saying ‘my dad’ and he’s not even here!” Williams told the crowd, slapping her forehead as she laughed, before finishing off her list of people to thank.
The 31-year-old Williams can regain the No. 1 ranking if she wins the Australian Open later this month. And if she does, she’ll be the oldest woman to hold the top spot on the women’s tour. Chris Evert set the mark in November 1985, aged 30 years, 11 months and three days.
Williams’ surge up the rankings started after the French Open, and also coincided with her starting to work with Patrick Mauratoglou’s academy in Paris.
She attributes the career comeback to “spending a lot more time on the tennis court, I think, and doing a lot of things I love.”
In the men’s draw, defending champion Andy Murray advanced to the final when fifth-seeded Kei Nishikori retired with an injured left knee while trailing 6-4, 2-0 in their semifinal earlier Saturday.
The Olympic and US Open champion will next meet 21-year-old Grigor Dimitrov, who is starting to live up to his billing as a star-in-the-making by reaching his first ATP Tour final with a 6-3, 5-7, 7-6 (5) victory over Marcos Baghdatis.
Ramadel Falcao, Juan Cuadrado and Yerry Mina star as stylish Colombia break Polish hearts
- The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament
- The South Americans’ bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by the results from their final game with Senegal
KAZAN: Radamel Falcao, Yerry Mina and Juan Cuadrado scored as stylish Colombia boosted their World Cup last 16 hopes with a comprehensive 3-0 win over Poland on Sunday.
In a match destined to see the loser sent home after the group stages, Colombia overcame a nervous start against Adam Nawalka’s men to move up to third place in Group H, one point behind Japan and Senegal.
The disappointing Poland became the first European side eliminated from the tournament.
“I’m very sorry and very sad about the result, but tomorrow’s another day and we have to come to terms with things,” said Poland coach Adam Nawalka.
“Our players did their best until the end of the game. We lost to a very strong team and this is something we have to accept.
“I extend my congratulations to Colombia.”
The South Americans’ bid for a place in the last 16 will be determined by the results from their final game with Senegal, who drew 2-2 with Japan earlier in the day.
Colombia’s march to the quarter-finals in Brazil four years ago came thanks to James Rodriguez’s six-goal tally for Los Cafeteros.
And days after a troublesome calf injury restricted him to a half-hour cameo role as 10-man Colombia stumbled to a 2-1 defeat against Japan, the Bayern Munich midfielder was back to his best.
Starting alongside Juan Quintero and Cuadrado on the right, Colombia’s ultra-offensive starting line-up was a forewarning.
After riding a tense start that forced Mina and then Wilmar Barrios to react quickly to thwart early threats from Robert Lewandowski, Colombia eventually got into their stride.
Cuadrado was wasteful on several occasions when finding space deep on the right flank.
The Juventus winger’s trickery would eventually pay dividends, but it was Falcao — who has dreamed all his life of scoring a World Cup goal — who turned on the style, dancing through the Polish defense to win the corner that led to Colombia’s opener.
Rodriguez’s short corner eventually found Quintero, whose smart through ball back to Rodriguez gave him time and space to curl a perfect left-footed cross that Mina rose to header powerfully past Szczesny on 40 minutes.
Colombia resumed in positive fashion, Cuadrado holding up well to set up Falcao for a first-time drive that sailed over Szczesny’s crossbar.
A Colombia counter saw Falcao’s drive from the edge of the area deflected out for a corner.
Nawalka replaced Dawid Kownacki with the more experienced Kamil Grosicki and the switch almost paid dividends.
Only the bravery of goalkeeper David Ospina saved Colombia from conceding what looked like the equalizer when he rushed out to block from Lewandowski after the Bayern Munich striker did well to get a shot away from a long ball from midfield.
Poland threatened again, but when Lewandowski got his head to a cross into the area he was marked by both Mina and Davinson Sanchez.
Colombia, however, were not to be denied.
When right-back Sanitago Arias found Quintero, the midfielder sliced Poland’s defense apart with a low pass that found Falcao on the run before he beat Szczesny down low with the outside of his right boot.
Five minutes later, Rodriguez produced arguably the assist of the night, drawing several Polish players on the left flank before somehow finding Cuadrado on the run with a superb cross-field pass that the pacey winger tucked away.