AP Images

Easy going: Williams crushes Beck to reach 4th round

1 Comment

LONDON —¬†Serena Williams will still get a decent day’s rest on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon.

The defending champion and six-time winner overwhelmed Annika Beck 6-3, 6-0 in just 51 minutes on Centre Court early Sunday afternoon, advancing to the fourth round with her 300th career Grand Slam match win.

Williams, who compiled a 25-2 edge in winners, wasn’t aware of the 300-win milestone until she was asked about it in a post-match interview.

“Was it? Cool. Oh, nice,” she said with a laugh. “I had no idea. That’s awesome, right? That’s good, right? I think that’s a lot of matches.”

Williams’ latest win breaks a tie at 299 wins with Chris Evert and now ranks second in the Open era behind Martina Navratilova, who went 306-49.

For only the fourth time in Wimbledon’s 139-year history, play was scheduled on the middle Sunday, which is the traditional rest day, because of rain delays in the first week that caused a backlog of matches.

“Obviously I love having that Sunday off but I’m a little behind in my matches, so I guess I had to play an extra day,” Williams said.

She didn’t have to work very hard as she completely dominated the 43rd-ranked Beck, who has never been past the third round here.

After falling an early break behind at 2-1, Williams won 11 of the last 12 games and 24 of the second set’s 28 points. She finished the first set with one of her seven aces and served out the match at love.

“I still want to get out to a little bit of a faster start,” Williams said. “But I was really focused and calm today.”

Williams will next face No. 13 Svetlana Kuznetsova, who came from behind to beat No. 22 Sloane Stephens 6-7 (1), 6-2, 8-6 to reach the fourth round at Wimbledon for the first time since 2008. The 2 1/2-hour match started on No. 1 Court long before Williams and Beck began play on Centre – and finished after.

Kuznetsova, a two-time Grand Slam champion, has reached the quarterfinals here three times, but the last time was back in 2007.

CoCo Vandeweghe, making a strong run at Wimbledon for the second year in a row, beat No. 7 Roberta Vinci of Italy 6-3, 6-4 in the first match on Centre Court. The 27th-seeded American advanced to the quarterfinals here last year before losing to Maria Sharapova in three sets. This is the first time she’s been seeded at a Grand Slam.

“Roberta’s a really tough opponent,” Vandeweghe said. “She has a lot of craftiness to her game that you don’t see too much. She makes you beat her. So that’s what I tried to do, stay focused and keep pressing.”

Her fourth-round opponent will be 23rd-seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, who downed No. 11 Timea Bacsinszky of Switzerland 6-3, 6-2. Bacsinszky made it to the quarterfinals last year, but failed to break serve once on Sunday.

Also advancing was 50th-ranked Elena Vesnina, who beat 225th-ranked American qualifier Julia Boserup 7-5, 7-5. The Russian previously reached the fourth round here in 2009.

All 22,000 tickets for Sunday’s play were snapped up in 27 minutes when they went on sale online on Saturday.

The tournament is still reverberating from the stunning exit of Novak Djokovic, whose bid for a fifth consecutive major title and the third leg of a calendar-year Grand Slam was stopped by American Sam Querrey in the third round.

Two-time champ Azarenka gets Australian Open wild card

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Two-time former champion Victoria Azarenka has been awarded a wild card for the Australian Open.

Azarenka, who won the Australian Open in 2012 and 2013, has been involved in a custody dispute involving her son Leo, who was born last Dec. 19.

She hasn’t competed anywhere since Wimbledon, where she lost to Simona Halep in the fourth round on July 10. The dispute with her former partner started shortly after Wimbledon ended.

Azarenka has played only six matches this year and is ranked 208th.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said on Wednesday that every assistance would be provided to the former No. 1, adding “Vika’s current situation is obviously very difficult for her and we have reached out to offer any support we can.”

The Australian Open starts on Jan. 15.

Nadal, Muguruza win ITF player of the year awards

AP Photo
Leave a comment

LONDON — Rafael Nadal and Garbine Muguruza have won the International Tennis Federation’s player of the year awards.

At 31, Nadal becomes the oldest ITF men’s world champion after a season in which he won a 10th French Open and a third U.S. Open.

The Spaniard also became the oldest player to finish the year at No. 1 since the ATP rankings began in 1973.

Muguruza dropped only one set en route to her first Wimbledon title and finished the year at No. 2 behind Simona Halep.

“Becoming ITF world champion in such a competitive year is amazing for me,” said Muguruza, who is also Spanish. “(Nadal) is a great role model for all of us, so it is a great moment for tennis in Spain.”