Halep into Rome last four with Kontaveit win

The in-form Simona Halep reached the semi-finals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia with a clinical straight-sets victory over Anett Kontaveit on Friday.

The classy Halep won the Madrid Open last weekend after reaching the last four of the Stuttgart Open and could claim back-to-back titles in Rome after dispatching qualifier Kontaveit 6-2 6-4.

Kontaveit hammered Angelique Kerber in the second round, but was no match for Halep as the sixth seed gave another demonstration that she is capable of challenging for a first grand slam title at the French Open.

Simona Halep

Either Kiki Bertens or Daria Gavrilova will stand in the way of the world number four and a place in another final at the Foro Italico this weekend.

Halep beat Kontaveit in the Miami Open recently and wasted no time in gaining the upper hand over the Estonian, breaking twice to take a 3-0 lead.

Kontaveit stopped the rot by breaking back with a powerful backhand winner down the line, but the Romanian was a set up in only 34 minutes.

Halep unleashed some brutal groundstrokes as she pressed home her advantage to surge into a 4-1 lead in the second, but Kontaveit broke back with another fierce backhand.

But the 2014 French Open runner-up's passage into the last four was secured when the battling Kontaveit fired a backhand wide.

Maria Sharapova’s Return to Tennis: This is What She Did, said after Victory

After a 15-month absence from the WTA Tour, former tennis Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova was delighted to return with a win on Wednesday.

Maria Sharapova plays a return to Italy's Roberta Vinci during the Grand Prix tennis tournament in Stuttgart on Wednesday. Sharapova was given a lukewarm welcome by 4,500 spectators upon her return to professional tennis after a 15-month doping ban.

The five-time grand slam champion, in her first match back since a 15-month suspension for taking the banned steroid meldonium, overcame Roberta Vinci 7-5 6-3 on Wednesday.

Roberta Vinci had been one of many in the game to criticise the decision to hand Maria Sharapova a wildcard entry in Germany, but the 30-year-old was just delighted to be back on the world stage.

“It’s the best feeling in the world,” she said in her on-court interview. “Those first few seconds before you enter the arena – it’s been a stage of mine since I was a young girl and to know that I’d be walking back on it was really special. I’ve been waiting for this moment for a long time.

“I spent a long time without hitting any balls. I didn’t know when I would be back. I went to school for a little bit, I grew my business and had a normal life. I put the racquet away for a little bit.

“I felt I had to grow as a person and I think I’ve done that.

“This is what I’ve done for so long. I’m a competitor, that’s when I’m at my best.”

Next up for Maria Sharapova is a meeting with compatriot Ekaterina Makarova, when she can likely expect another capacity crowd as she remains a major draw in the women’s game.

Maria Sharapova – who will learn on May 16 whether she will be given a wildcard for the French Open, which she has won twice – added of her round-two opponent: “She’s a lefty, but no matter who I play it is important for me to play points, play games, play sets. It’s a journey and this is just the start.”

Genie Bouchard’s lawsuit against USTA

Genie Bouchard’s lawsuit against USTA appears to be heading to trial after two failed attempts at mediation, according to a report from ESPN.

At the 2015 US Open, Bouchard was in a late-night mixed doubles match. After the match, Bouchard, who was also into the fourth round in singles at the Grand Slam event, found the women’s locker room dark and unattended. She went in to use the ice bath, but according to the lawsuit, slipped on a substance on the floor and banged her head.

Genie Bouchard

She pulled out of the tournament two days later, showing symptoms of a concussion, and started just one more singles match in 2015 before she quit halfway through the second set, complaining of dizziness.

“We’ve had two attempts at mediation, and both have failed,” Bouchard’s lawyer, Benedict Morelli, told ESPN. “The USTA has yet to accept responsibility and concede liability for what happened. I’m going into a new mode — ‘super hardball.'”

After Bouchard retained Morelli, her lawyer sent the USTA a pro forma letter requesting officials to retain all evidence pertaining to the incident, but now claims that the USTA destroyed significant security camera footage. Morelli is seeking a motion to sanction the USTA for “spoliation” of evidence, which could result in a fine for USTA and leaving the jury to give the benefit of the doubt to Bouchard in areas of missing evidence.

The USTA issued the following statement in response to Morelli’s claims:

“The USTA is confident that it preserved all documents, footage and other materials requested by Mr. Morelli at the time he advised us of Ms. Bouchard’s claim. Other than that, the USTA followed its standard retention policies, which make it impossible to accommodate an additional request that came more than 14 months after the original notice.”

Bouchard, currently ranked No. 56 in the WTA rankings, had a strong start to 2017, making the semifinals of Sydney before losing to eventual champion Johanna Konta and then making it to the third round at the Australian Open before losing to Coco Vandeweghe. However, she hasn’t won a match in a WTA event since then.
She is currently playing in this week’s minor league ITF event in Indian Harbor Beach, Florida.

Tennis management program gets $17.000 USTA grant

The Berry College Professional Tennis Management Program has been awarded a $17,000 grant from the USTA National Campus.

The goal of the grant is to bring innovative ways to introduce the sport of tennis to new players, progress youth through the play pathways and increase tennis participation and awareness, said Executive Director Tom Daglis. The grant will help fund eight scholarships and marketing efforts for the program.

The Berry College Professional

The Berry College Professional Tennis Management Program will benefit from the newly opened Rome Tennis Center at Berry College. Rome Tennis Center at Berry College, which opened July 2016, is comprised of 60 USTA standard, asphalt tennis courts and includes six NCAA regulation courts, three center courts for tournament and collegiate play, a clubhouse with an expansive viewing porch, open green spaces, a family zone and more. All courts have lighting and shade structures.

The tennis center is also the 2017 hosting the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) men’s and women’s tennis championships that begins Wednesday. Six days of competition will bring 13 men’s teams and 15 women’s teams from the 15 ACC schools beginning Wednesday, April 26.

Andy Murray beaten by Albert Ramos-Vinolas at Monte Carlo Masters

World number one Andy Murray blew a 4-0 lead in the deciding set as he fell to a shock defeat by Albert Ramos-Vinolas in the Monte Carlo Masters third round.

Murray went on to lose 2-6 6-2 7-5 in only his second match back after a month out with an elbow injury.

Two breaks had the Briton in command of the third set, but Spanish 15th seed Ramos-Vinolas hit back with successive breaks to set up a famous victory.

Andy Murray

Marin Cilic awaits Ramos-Vinolas in the last eight after beating Tomas Berdych.

Murray, 29, was playing his first tournament since being beaten in the second round at Indian Wells in March.

He beat Gilles Muller in straight sets on Wednesday, but admitted afterwards his elbow injury was still causing him some problems.

Murray began his second-round match against Muller with three double faults in the first four points of the match, and his service game was again an issue against Ramos-Vinolas.

The Scot was broken seven times as 29-year-old Ramos-Vinolas claimed a first ever win against a world number one.

Murray showed trademark fight in fending off three break points at 4-4 in the decider, but could not respond when the Spaniard was in the ascendancy in his next service game.

Murray briefly threatened to break back with the score at 30-30 as Ramos-Vinolas served for the match, but he dragged a forehand wide and misjudged a drop shot into the net at match point.

Jamie Murray, meanwhile, made a winning start, joining forces with Bruno Soares to beat Tommy Haas and Treat Huey 6-3, 6-2 in the last 16 of the men's doubles.

Federer May Skip French Open

The Australian Open champion is taking a break following his triumphs in Melbourne, Indian Wells and Miami and plans on playing no lead-in clay court tournaments ahead of Roland Garros.

Federer says at this stage he intends on playing the year's second grand slam, but his plans could change.

He said if he feels he's not 100 percent in it and fired up then it might be better to skip it, but the break before tournaments could be too long before the grass court season.

Roger Federer remains no certainty to play the French tennis Open.

In a recent interview to the Mercedes Cup event last week, the Swiss player assured having started the season so well can allow him to be calm and enjoy the competition for the rest of the season. 'I can play very free, nothing to lose, because I had much success at the early start of the year that I never thought I would have,' said Federer, who won't play any tournament at least until Roland Garros. 'I probably did a lot of right things at the end of last year when I trained really hard. I needed to take a break off, my knee wasn't well and when I came back it was an absolute dream, I couldn't believe it and I am just hoping that now with the break I am going to take during the clay-courts season that's going to be a beneficial moving. I've high hopes for the grass-court season, I think it's going to be quite exciting because that's my big goal for the next few months now, to actually get ready for the grass and play my best.'

Federer said he will make a final decision in five weeks.

The French Open starts in five and a half weeks.

Andy Murray overcomes slow start to beat Gilles Muller in Monte Carlo

Andy Murray showed early rust on his return from injury but recovered to beat Gilles Muller and reach the third round of the Monte-Carlo Masters.

The world number one was playing his first match since March 12 after recovering from an elbow problem that affected his serve.

Ahead of the match, Murray insisted he was serving normally again, but three double faults in the first four points of the match got him into early trouble.

Andy Murray

He then had to save a set point before reeling off four games in a row and, despite continuing to play some way below his best, battled through the second set to win 7-5 7-5.

Murray has significantly extended his lead over Novak Djokovic at the top of the rankings despite a slow start to the season but has a huge amount of ranking points to defend from now until the end of the year.

Clay has been very profitable for the Scot over the last two years having previously been by far his weakest surface.

Luxembourg’s Muller, who was previously guided by Murray’s assistant coach Jamie Delgado, is a serve-volleyer and not a typical clay-court opponent.

That seemed to be a positive thing for Murray, who had won all five of their previous meetings, but the 29-year-old made a decidedly ropey start.

Muller, a top-30 player for the first time aged 33 and one of tennis’ flourishing old guard, missed a chance to take the set at 5-3, and that gave Murray the spark he needed as he broke back to love.

And two games later Murray completed the turnaround by winning the set when Muller missed a simple volley, smashing his racket in frustration.

After an exchange of breaks at the start of the second Murray missed several openings as he struggled to find any consistency.

But a bit of the old Murray magic brought up his first match point with a backhand dinked across the court and he took it when Muller blazed a forehand wide.

The top seed next faces Spanish 15th seed Albert Ramos-Vinolas.

Murray told Sky Sports: “It was a tough first match, I started the match pretty slow, I obviously wasn’t serving that well at the start.

“I haven’t been in the best rhythm on serve because I only started serving at full speed four or five days ago. I knew it would take a bit of time but I wasn’t expecting to start serving like that.

“It got a little bit better, I started to create a lot of chances in the second set. I couldn’t get the breakthrough until right at the end.”

Ahead of Thursday’s clash with Ramos-Vinolas, Murray said: “He’s always a tough guy to play against. I’ve practised with him quite a bit, he obviously likes the clay.

“He’s a lefty as well so it’s good I got some practice in. It’s a completely different match-up and I’ll need to be ready for a big fight because he doesn’t give anything for free.”

WTA Bogota 2017: Sara Errani Beat the American Sachia Vickery

Sara Errani beat in straight sets 6-2 6-3 to the American Sachia Vickery (number 133 of the ranking) in one hour and fifteen minutes of play qualifying for the quarter-finals of the tournament in Bogota (Colombia) . Vittoria more than convincing for the Adriatic tennis player in the next round, the Colombian clay, will face Sweden's Johanna Larsson, number 57 ranking and the third head of the tournament series, which got rid of with a double 6-4 Paraguayan Veronica Cepede Royg.

Sara Errani Beat the American Sachia Vickery

The Romagna starts immediately with a break in the third game of the first September The beginning of the game, however, is characterized by many errors for both: in fact, in the next game Sara commits before a double fault, then a backhand error, only to lose the service. Soon, however, the Italian began to take the game in hand , commanding cross-country exchange and creating hardships the Vickery with the depth of his strokes, especially the backhand . The US in fact, begins to make mistakes a lot, unable to bear the exchange: Sara takes advantage and makes the break (3-2). From here, the match is put down to the blue , which again ripping her opponent service and closes the first partial 6-2 .

In the second set Sarita  continues to lead the game . The Italian has a break point in the first game but failed to exploit it; it's just a matter of time in the third game comes the break (2-1). The game continues well on track for the Italian, it comes to having a match point, not exploited, 5-1 and Vickery service. Here comes a small vacuum passage for Sara , serving for the match at 5-2 and end up losing the service. But the closure is only postponed because Vickery gives another match point in the next game and commit double fault. Errani then won 6-2 6-3 .

Convincing performance for Sarita Errani , who for the first time this season, affected by the adductor muscle problem in his right thigh, won two straight games in a tournament. It is important injection of confidence for the difficult challenge of the quarter-final against Johanna Larsson.

Virginia Men's Tennis Coach Moving to Role with USTA

Brian Boland, who has guided Virginia men's tennis to three national championships in the past four years, is leaving after this season for a position with the United States Tennis Association.

The school made the announcement Wednesday, saying the 10-time Atlantic Coast Conference coach of the year is leaving May 29.

"I believe it's the opportunity of a lifetime," said Boland, who will work in player development with the USTA in Florida.

At Virginia, Boland compiled a 436-57 (.884) record in 16 seasons. The Cavaliers also won 140 consecutive matches against ACC opponents, a decade-long streak that is the longest in conference history in any sport. His teams have featured three NCAA singles champions and three NCAA doubles champions.

Boland said one of his first acts after making the decision was reaching out to recruits to ask them to stick with their decision to attend Virginia. He also said that after sharing his plans with his team, the players were supportive and excited for what describes as the "next step in my career."

"We're going to turn this into a huge positive," he said of the remainder of the season. "We're going to do something special."

Boland said there are two main reasons for his departure: His parents have relocated to Florida, where his siblings live, and, "It's time for my parents to be afforded the opportunity to spend time with their grandchildren, and get to know them."

"Secondly, it's time for a bigger challenge. I really believe I can help American tennis, and I intend to do that," Boland said, "and put every bit of energy and knowledge and experience and effort into the players that are trying to succeed at the highest level. ... There's going to be a massive challenge awaiting me ... and I intend to take it head on."

Virginia said a national search for Boland's successor is underway.

Miami Open: Roger Federer To Face Rafael Nadal In Summit Clash

Gear up for the mouth watering clash as Roger Federer will again battle it out in the summit clash against Rafael Nadal on Sunday. Federer beat Nadal in the Australian Open 2017 final thriller in January to claim an 18th Grand Slam title and he swept past the Spaniard in straight sets in the fourth round at Indian Wells en route to the title there.

"If it's Roger, going to be another one for both of us, and that's it. Just another one," Nadal said of another installment in their long-running rivalry. In the semi-final clash, Federer defeated Australia's Nick Kyrgios 7-6 (11/9), 6-7 (9/11), 7-6 (7/5) on Friday.
Federer and Kyrgios produced an extraordinary range of shots in an enthralling, fiercely intense semi-final that kept the capacity crowd at Key Biscayne on the edge of their seats.

When Federer won the third tie-break a furious Kyrgios hammered his racket into the ground three times as the frustration of a remarkable near-miss came flooding out.

Kyrgios broke in the first set to go 4-3 up but Federer, with the loud crowd behind him, broke back to level at 5-5 when the Australian missed with an attempted big return.

Kyrgios finally won the battle in a tie-breaker with an amazing cross-court return to go 10-9 up, then followed it up with a thundering ace to force a third set.

There was nothing to choose between the pair in a third set that went to yet another tie-break.

Kyrgios was furious when a fan called out during one point, and Federer enjoyed two successful challenges late on his way to a win that sent the crowd wild with delight as Kyrgios went wild with rage.

No drama for Nadal

There was little drama in Nadal's 6-1, 7-5 win over Italian Fabio Fognini.

The unseeded Fognini struggled to get going in the first set which was dominated by fifth-seeded Nadal and over with in 25 minutes.

The Italian, who indicated he had some trouble with his elbow, put up a better response in the second but his work was undone when he double-faulted on break point, leaving the Spaniard to serve out for the win, Nadal will play in his fifth Miami final but will be looking for his first title in the Masters series event.