Italian Open 2003 - TennisForum.com
Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools
post #1 of 27 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2003, 12:11 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 
Italian Open 2003

May 14, 2003

Williams firmly focused on more grand-slam glory
By Neil Harman, Tennis Correspondent in Rome

SERENA WILLIAMS says that she is getting antsy. The French Open and Wimbledon are sweeping inexorably into view, two of the four championships she owns, tennis gems that sparkle as vividly as the encrusted jewel holding her pigtail in place. There are few better cities than this for the shopaholic with millions in the bank but Serena is focused on the six weeks that can further endorse her position among the true greats of sport.
The Italian Championships have a certain allure (the Via Condotti makes Oxford Street look decidedly shabby) but, in truth, they are a stepping stone to the grottoes filled with bounty in Paris and London that she has raided with rapacious vigour in the past year. The 21-year-old, the younger of the Williams brood that has changed the character of women’s tennis, takes a moment, leans back on her left hand and ponders the greatness of her achievements.

“You know, I was practising the other day and hit a bad shot and it suddenly crossed my mind what I have done, so I said to myself: ‘Serena, you have won four grand-slams in a row, you shouldn’t be so angry.’ It is quite an amazing feat, an historic thing, especially being so young. I’m No 1 in the world, I have these titles. I couldn’t be happier with what I am. It’s pretty cool.

“I had always wanted to win Wimbledon since I started to hit tennis balls and the atmosphere there is so amazing, but it all started at the French Open. For me that was huge. Everyone said neither Venus nor I could win on clay, we weren’t that good on it. It had also been three years since I had won the US Open and I was beginning to wonder.”

Since that May afternoon at Roland Garros, all the doubts have flown away, like tree pollen on a sudden breeze. Serena stands in colossal command of women’s tennis and if she paused to look at the magnificent statues surrounding the Pallacorda court here — built as monuments to the might of man — she might wonder if someone will one day sculpt a physique that reflects her dominance of the women’s game.

Only once in 24 matches this year has she lost — to Justine Henin-Hardenne, of Belgium, in Charleston last month — otherwise 2003 has been a spotless vindication of the poise that underpinned her breathtaking successes last year. There were patchy periods in her 6-4, 6-3 victory over Klara Koukalova, of the Czech Republic, in the first round of the Tennis Italia Masters yesterday (at one stage she lost nine points in a row) but there never seemed a shred of doubt that she would pull through.

It is what makes Williams so special. Of the recent standard-bearers, Martina Navratilova intimidated opponents on grass because so few felt that they could beat her on it, Steffi Graf was an irresistible power on clay, Billie Jean King wore her opponents down through sheer force of will.

Williams has a bit of each, plus a physique that thunders authority. “I am able to fight a little bit harder, work a little bit harder in any conditions and that’s what makes the difference,” she said. “My confidence is high as well. If there is one thing that counts against me it is that I am such a perfectionist in everything I do. Everything has to be absolutely right and it can’t always be that way. I feel like I’m really, really ready for the next six weeks. I’m ready now. I just have to make sure I don’t get overly anxious to get the jobs done I want to do, because then I would lose the focus I need to have.”

There was a perception that she had shed a couple of pounds since the spring. “Oh, really, you think so, great,” she said, the child in her still beating strong. “To be honest I haven’t stepped on scales for at least six years but I have been watching what I eat. I don’t take meat any more, I’m not ready for that ‘mad cow’ disease.”

When Richard, her father, flew into print recently, insisting that his two champion daughters — we should not forget that Serena has beaten Venus in the past four grand-slam championship finals — can win anything for as long as they please, one wonders if Serena blanches or simply finds it fun when the old man lets off steam.

“Everybody is playing better, you had better believe that,” she said. “Venus and I have raised the bar. Without us, the sport would not have been as competitive as it is now. There are some girls I played when I first came on to the tour who have improved incredibly. They are all much faster. We cannot rest.

“Actually, Venus loves the sport a lot more than I do. She was telling me the other day that she will probably play into the thirties and I thought ‘Oh, wow’. I’d be pretty surprised if she did, but she really enjoys the work that goes into it. More than I do, I think.”

And, inevitably, as she heads to Roland Garros and Wimbledon, the two grand-slam events that do not offer equal prize-money, the opinions of their champion are fascinating to hear and will be received with great interest — and perhaps a touch of anxiety — by Tim Phillips, the Wimbledon chairman, and Christian Bimes, the president of the French federation. “You would never hear me say that a woman tennis player doesn’t deserve exactly what a man gets,” their leading lady said. “I definitely feel very strongly about it. It has to happen.”

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
Sponsored Links
Advertisement
 
post #2 of 27 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2003, 12:12 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
post #3 of 27 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2003, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
 
post #4 of 27 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2003, 12:13 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
post #5 of 27 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2003, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
post #6 of 27 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2003, 12:14 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
post #7 of 27 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2003, 12:15 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 
Serena Starts Rome Defense With Win


By Richard Pagliaro
05/14/2003

Serena Williams spent her first day on European red clay doing the dirty work needed to grind out a victory when her best play eluded her. With her sneakers and socks stained with streaks of red clay, Williams began her defense of her Rome title with a 6-4, 6-3 second-round victory over competitive Czech qualifier Klara Koukalova today.

Though the score seems to suggest a relatively routine win, the top-ranked Williams was tested in some lengthy first-set rallies that spanned all corners of the court. The reigning Roland Garros champion seemed to take charge of the match with a 3-1 first-set lead when Koukalova came back to win eight straight points.

"I started slowly and she played very well," Williams said. "I hope I play better than that on Thursday."

Holding serve at love to even the set at 3-3, the 20-year-old Prague native surprised Williams by taking the initiative in their baseline exchanges. Aggressively attacking Williams' serve, Koukalova broke for the second straight time to take a 4-3 lead.

During the ensuing changeover, Williams stared straight ahead as if she was strengthening her resolve for the rest of the set. When play resumed, Williams promptly broke back for 4-4. Still struggling to hold serve, she fought off three break points to eventually hold for 5-4.

The serve may be the weakest part of Koukalova's game and Williams exploited the weakness by breaking to seize the first set, 6-4.

The second set offered several lengthy rallies. Koukalova's ability to effectively hit down the line helped her produce some timely winners, but Williams again showed why she's the world's best player by elevating her game on the pivotal points.

In the seventh game, Williams ripped a vicious swing forehand volley crosscourt then followed it to the net where she smashed an emphatic overhead winner to hold for 4-3. Koukalova could never get any closer as Williams closed out the victory by slicing an ace down the middle to advance to the third round.

"I love it here," Williams said. "I love the people and the weather is always fantastic during the tournament."

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
post #8 of 27 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2003, 12:16 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 
Sluggish Serena advances at Rome Masters
ROME (AFP) - World number one and defending champion Serena Williams (news - web sites) clinched a place in the third round of the Rome Masters after beating Czech Klara Koukalova 6-4, 6-3 at the Foro Italico.


AFP Photo



Given a first round bye, Williams performed way below her best but still had too much for her fellow 21 year-old Koukalova, ranked 72nd in the world.


Williams, holder of all four of the Grand Slam titles - Australian, French, Wimbledon (news - web sites) and US - will now meet the winner of the second round match between France's Natalie Dechy and South African Amanda Coetzer.


Looking distinctly out of sorts, Williams started poorly and allowed Koukalova to break her in the seventh game of the opening set to go 4-3 up.


But Williams responded well with her massive serve digging her out of trouble, breaking Koukalova twice to edge the first set.


Williams improved in the second set as the Czech ran out of steam to complete a sluggish victory in 65 minutes.


"I started slowly and she played very well," Serena admitted. "I hope I play better than that on Thursday."


Serena said she was very happy to be back in Italy after receiving such a warm reception when she beat compatriot Jennifer Capriati.


"I love it here, I love the people and the weather is always fantastic during the tournament," she added. "I hop I can go far this year too."


American Monica Seles advanced to the second round after defeating feisty Swiss 17-year-old Myriam Casanova.


Winner of four Grand Slams, 29-year-old Seles rallied after losing the first set and eventually triumphed 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.


A champion here in 1990 and 2000 and a former world number one, Seles will now face Russian Nadia Petrova.


"It's a great feeling to be back here and see my fans," said Seles, who was just 19 when she was stabbed in the back in Hamburg by a fanatical fan of her then-rival Steffi Graf.


"Myriam is a young, up-and-coming player and she hits the ball so hard, it was a really hard fought match."


Broken in the opening game, Seles had quick chances to even the scores but she spurned two break points in an error-strewn fourth game.


Growing in confidence, Casanova's two-handed backhand proved her most effective weapon as she went on to take the first set 6-4 in 36 minutes.


With Seles' first serve percentage remaining above 70 per cent in the second, Seles stormed back to draw level, as Casanova wilted in the blazing afternoon sun.





Casanova broke in the fourth game of the decider to go 3-1 up in the third, and although her vicious serve gave her experienced opponent problems, a string of unforced errors undid all her good work and allowed the American to advance.

Bulgarian Magdalena Maleeva hit 40 winners on her way to a 6-4, 6-4 first round victory over local favourite Silvia Farina Elia, while Greek Eleni Danilidou, winner of one ATP Tour title, edged American Samantha Reeves 6-2, 6-4.

Left-handed Spaniard and keen golfer Magui Serna booked her second round ticket by ousting Russian Elena Likhovtseva 4-6, 6-2, 6-0.

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
post #9 of 27 (permalink) Old May 14th, 2003, 12:19 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
post #10 of 27 (permalink) Old May 16th, 2003, 02:49 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 


Serena Williams, of the United States, returns the ball to France's Nathalie Dechy during the women's tennis Italian Open on clay at Rome's Foro Italico, Thursday, May 15, 2003. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
post #11 of 27 (permalink) Old May 16th, 2003, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 


Serena Williams, of the United States, waves to her fans after defeating France's Nathalie Dechy 6-3, 6-0 during the women's tennis Italian Open on clay at Rome's Foro Italico, Thursday, May 15, 2003. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
post #12 of 27 (permalink) Old May 16th, 2003, 02:50 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
post #13 of 27 (permalink) Old May 16th, 2003, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 


Serena Williams, of the United States, serves to France's Nathalie Dechy during the women's tennis Italian Open on clay at Rome's Foro Italico, Thursday, May 15, 2003. Williams beat Dechy 6-3, 6-0.

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
post #14 of 27 (permalink) Old May 16th, 2003, 02:54 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
post #15 of 27 (permalink) Old May 19th, 2003, 12:28 PM Thread Starter
Senior Member
 
V.S.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: USA
Posts: 15,624
 
Mauresmo stuns Serena with huge comeback

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Associated Press


ROME -- Top-ranked Serena Williams lost her second match of the year Saturday, falling 1-6, 7-5, 6-3 to Amelie Mauresmo in the semifinals of the Italian Open.


Amelie Mauresmo was able to beat Serena Williams in her sixth attempt.
Williams was within two points of closing out the match in the second set as she served with a 5-4 lead. But a tricky backhand volley miss gave Mauresmo a break to get back on serve, and Mauresmo won three straight games to send the match into a third set.

Mauresmo broke to go ahead 5-3 when a shot by Williams was called long on an overrule by the chair umpire. Helped by four errors from Williams, Mauresmo then served out the match in this $1.3 million clay-court tuneup for this month's French Open.

She next plays second-seeded Kim Clijsters of Belgium, who defeated 13th-seeded Ai Sugiyama 6-3, 6-2 in the other semifinal.

"Everything went wrong for me,'' Williams said. "I was making too many errors and struggling with my serve. I guess that sums it up. You can't win a match with a second serve.

"There was nothing in particular she did. When I lose a match it's usually because of how I played. In the end it's better to lose in Rome than in Paris.''

Williams, the defending champion in Rome and Paris, cruised through the first set in just 21 minutes as the fourth-seeded Mauresmo won just four points in the first five games.

"I had to stay in there and wait for a chance to play my game,'' Mauresmo said. "I think I realized I could beat her only in the last two games. That's when I had my chance and I took it.''

Williams' only other loss this year came against Justine Henin-Hardenne in the final of the Family Circle Cup in Charleston, S.C., last month. She dropped to 26-2 on the season.

Mauresmo had never beaten Williams in five previous meetings.

Clijsters improved to 4-2 against Sugiyama, who is her doubles partner. In the final, Clijsters will be going for her third title of the year.

The Official Fashionista of the Royal Court
V.S. is offline  
Reply

Quick Reply
Message:
Options

Register Now



In order to be able to post messages on the TennisForum.com forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Password
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.

Password:


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:
OR

Log-in










Thread Tools
Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
Email this Page Email this Page



Posting Rules  
You may post new threads
You may post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are On
Pingbacks are On
Refbacks are On

 
For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome