Cumberland Times-News

Local Sports

January 15, 2013

Serena Williams romps on bad ankle in Australia

MELBOURNE, Australia  — Flat on her back, her sore right ankle raised and her hands covering her face, Serena Williams tried to block out thoughts that her bid for a third straight Grand Slam title might be ruined.

After a dominating run the last six months, Williams was a big favorite to win the Australian Open. Suddenly, though, there seemed a way for her to be gone in the first round.

“I almost panicked, and I thought, ‘I can’t do that,’” she said. “I just have to really remain calm and think things through.”

The stats showed this was nothing more than a stroll — a 6-0, 6-0 wipeout in 54 minutes of No. 110-ranked Edina Gallovits-Hall at Melbourne Park on Tuesday. Williams conceded only six points in the second set.

But this match took significantly longer to complete given the medical timeouts. And while the score may have been painful to her opponent, there was plenty of pain to go around.

The first set was 4-0 after 19 minutes at Hisense Arena when her tumble near the baseline diverted attention on Day Two from center court, where a day session featuring Roger Federer, Andy Murray and women’s champion Victoria Azarenka was under way.

After some deep breaths, the 31-year-old Willlams pulled herself together, got to her hands and knees for a few minutes and gradually to her feet.

Her already heavily taped ankle was assessed and retaped. She went back on court and won the next four points to get herself to another changeover, and more attention from the doctor. She went back and held another service game to clinch the set, giving her time for more treatment.

“A very similar thing happened to me last year, almost on the same side, the same shot,” Williams said, referring to a fall that forced her to pull out of the Brisbane International last year and contributed to her fourth-round exit at the Australian Open.

Her subsequent trip to the French Open ended in her only first-round exit at a Grand Slam tournament, more painful mentally than physically. Stunned by the defeat in Paris, she hired a new coaching consultant, amended her training regime and won Wimbledon, the London Olympics, the U.S. Open, the season-ending championship and added the 2013 Brisbane International title to her collection.

Now she has 36 wins from her last 37 matches. And she decided that she’d ice her ankles, wait for the swelling and bruising and think about medical tests later.

“I would really rather not know,” she said. “One year I won this tournament and had two bone bruises in both knees. I had no idea. I just knew I was in pain. I think sometimes what you don’t know cannot hurt you.”

She expects to at least start her second-round match Thursday against Spain’s Garbine Muguruza, who beat Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia 4-6, 6-1, 14-12 — the final set lasted more than two hours.

“Oh, I’ll be out there,” Williams said. “I mean, unless something fatal happens to me, there’s no way I’m not going to be competing. I’m alive. My heart’s beating. I’ll be fine.”

If results go according to rankings, Williams will meet top-ranked Azarenka in the semifinals. But a lot can happen before then.

Azarenka has lost 11 of her 12 matches against Williams, including the U.S. Open final. Even if Williams is on one leg, Azarenka is still wary of the 15-time Grand Slam champion. After her 6-1, 6-4 win over Monica Niculescu, she checked the progress in the Williams match.

“I heard she won love and love, so what kind of injury are we talking about?” she joked.

She progressed along with former No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, who beat Sabine Lisicki of Germany 2-6, 6-3, 6-3, and American teenager Sloane Stephens, who beat Simona Halep of Romania 6-1, 6-1.

In a battle of two major winners, 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova defeated 2010 French Open titlist Francesca Schiavone 6-4, 2-6, 6-2.

And 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm upset 12th-seeded Nadia Petrova of Russia 6-2, 6-0 to set a record for being the oldest woman to win a singles match at the Australian Open.

“Some players’ mothers are younger than me,” she said, laughing.

On Wednesday, fourth-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland won her 11th consecutive match to start the year with a 6-3, 6-3 victory over Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania. Radwanska won tournaments in Auckland and Sydney in the lead-up to the Australian Open.

Fifth-seeded Angelique Kerber of Germany also advanced to the third round with a 6-3, 6-1 win over Lucie Hradecka and will play her next match Friday on her 25th birthday. In another early match Wednesday, Kirsten Flipkens of Belgium beat 23rd-seeded Klara Zakapalova 6-1, 6-0.

Murray, playing his first match at a major since winning the U.S. Open and breaking a 76-year drought for British men at Grand Slam tournaments, defeated Robin Haase of the Netherlands 6-3, 6-1, 6-3.

No. 2 Roger Federer beat Benoit Paire of France 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 in his first competitive match of the season. Other men progressing included 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, 2008 finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic.

Federer reflected on learning that Brad Drewett is preparing to resign as ATP World Tour executive chairman and president after being diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

“I saw him yesterday and he told me the news,” Federer said of the 54-year-old Australian who was a top 40 singles player before he got into tennis administration. “Obviously, very emotional.”

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic will continue his push for a third consecutive Australian title when he meets American Ryan Harrison on Wednesday night. Venus Williams plays Alize Cornet of France for a spot in the third round, where she could meet French Open champion Maria Sharapova.

In the first completed men’s match Wednesday, 10th-seeded Nicolas Almagro beat fellow Spaniard Daniel Gimeno-Traver 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

Williams has won five Australian titles, starting in 2003 when she completed her “Serena Slam” by adding the victory at Melbourne Park to her consecutive victories in 2002 at the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. She’s halfway to another run of four major titles.

“I’ve played this tournament with so many injuries and was able to come off pretty on top,” Williams said, rubbing her ankle as she spoke at a news conference. “I have a day to work on it. At this point it’s not a lot of time. But I’m not 18 years old where I want to sit this one out.”

1
Text Only
Local Sports
  • Jenna Miller named AMAC Player of the Year Jenna Miller named AMAC Player of the Year

    Always in complete control in the circle or in the batter’s box, Jenna Miller was rewarded for helping Mountain Ridge to its third undefeated championship in a row by being voted the Appalachian Mountain Athletic Conference’s Player of the Year by the league’s seven head coaches

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Ridgeley, Kiwanis advance to Hot Stove semifinals

    Wyatt Yates knocked in the tie run and Nate Strietbeck brought in the winning run with singles in the bottom of the seventh inning as Ridgeley rallied from a one-run deficit to beat Bedford, 5-4, and advance to the next round of the Hot Stove League playoffs Friday in the decisive Game 3 at Hamilton Field.

    July 25, 2014

  • Stags try to ford Rivermen

    The Western Maryland Stags, a semi-pro football team of the Mason Dixon Football League, will play their third game today, 7 p.m., at Greenway Avenue Stadium against the North Neck Rivermen.

    July 25, 2014

  • Sports Roundup - 07/26/2014

    July 25, 2014

  • Kiwanis evens series with Eagles

    Blake Beal outdueled Brenton Miller in a finely pitched game Wednesday night at Memorial Field to lead Kiwanis to a 4-2 victory over the Cresaptown Eagles and tie their best-of-three Hot Stove League playoff series at a game apiece.

    July 24, 2014

  • Sports Calendar - 07/25/2014

    July 24, 2014

  • The un-Armstrong? Tour ‘boss’ Nibali wins Stage 18 The un-Armstrong? Tour ‘boss’ Nibali wins Stage 18

    As his team hoped, Vincenzo Nibali demonstrated he’s the “boss” of the Tour de France. Just don’t compare him to the last rider to regularly bear that sobriquet at cycling’s greatest race, Lance Armstrong.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sooners ready to move past Sugar Bowl win Sooners ready to move past Sugar Bowl win

    Oklahoma got a lot of attention with its upset victory over Alabama in the Sugar Bowl.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lakeview needs extra innings to defeat Hobo’s

    POTOMAC PARK — Lakeview Auto Parts won two extra inning games Wednesday evening to advance to next week’s American League Championship Series in Hot Stove League playoff action.

    July 23, 2014

  • Northside wins, 12-3, advances to title series

    CRESAPTOWN — Logan Stewart and Mason Dick each had three hits to lead Northside Diamond Dogs over Hite Roofing 12-3 Wednesday evening and advance to the Rec League championship series.

    July 23, 2014