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Sunday, May 15, 2016
Ninth-seeded Cornet upset by qualifier in Strasbourg
By AP
Sunday, May 15, 2016 08:56

SUNDAY, MAY 15, 2016

AP

STRASBOURG, France (AP) Qualifier Alla Kudryavtseva rallied to upset ninth-seeded Alize Cornet 1-6, 6-2, 6-4 in the first round of the WTA tournament in Strasbourg on Sunday.

Fourth-seeded Kristina Mladenovic needed three sets to outlast Madison Brengle of the United States 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.

Also, Hsieh Su-Wei defeated Xu Yi-fan 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the second round.

Jil Belen Teichmann rallied to defeat Kurumi Nara 2-6, 7-5, 6-1, and Alison Riske also advanced by beating Alize Lim 6-0, 7-5.

The outdoor clay-court event is a warm-up for the French Open, the second Grand Slam tournament of the year, which starts in a week.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016
Tomas Berdych fires coach Dani Vallverdu
By AP
Sunday, May 15, 2016 08:54

MONDAY, MAY 16, 2016

PRAGUE (AP) Tomas Berdych says he has fired his coach Dani Vallverdu after a 17-month partnership.

Berdych's announcement comes days after a 6-0, 6-0 loss to David Goffin in the third round of the Italian Open.

In Monday's statement, the eighth-ranked Berdych says the move is a reaction to his unimpressive recent form. He is 19-10 in 2016.

Berdych says 'I am not a player at the beginning of my career, so I had to act quickly when I felt like making a change.'

The 30-year-old Berdych led the Czechs to two Davis Cup titles but has never won a Grand Slam tournament. He was a runner-up at Wimbledon in 2010 and reached his highest ranking at No. 4 a year ago.

Berdych has yet to decide on Vallverdu's replacement.

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Sunday, May 15, 2016
SERENA REIGNS IN ROME
By WTA - Tennis News
Sunday, May 15, 2016 08:37

Published May 15, 2016 12:15

ROME, Italy - Serena Williams emerged victorious in the first all-American final since 2012 - the first on red clay since 2002 - defeating countrywoman Madison Keys, 7-6(5), 6-3, to snap a nine-month title drought and win the Internazionali BNL d'Italia for the fourth time in her illustrious career.

"I feel like it was important for me to just go out there like usual," she said in her post-match press conference. "It's a totally new match, it's a different week, you know, and hopefully just win one. If not, hope for next time, next week."

Playing in her third final of 2016, Williams had spent the season in search of her first title since the Western & Southern Open last summer, and was the heavy favorite to break that duck against Keys, who was playing the biggest final of her career on what had hitherto been her least favorite surface.

"I think no matter how many times you play Serena, you always go in and you can just feel her presence," Keys said after the match. "That's always an extra thing that you have to be worried about during the match.

"But for me today it really wasn't so much about how big the tournament was or anything like that. It was really just wanting to go out and do my best and give my best performance."

None of that seemed to matter from the outset as Keys unlocked the early break, leading 3-1 in the first set. Williams steadied from there, winning the next three games and later grabbing the opening set in a tie-break.

"I think she's such a powerful player," Williams said, backing up her praise of Keys at net, when she predicted her opponent could be a future World No.1. "Obviously going in, I knew that, but I was just trying. I think I was pretty much able to just get back what I could, you know, and that's all I was trying to do was just to go out there and be consistent, and, yeah, make my shots."

Serving for the match in the second, there would be one final momentum shift as the 21-time Grand Slam champion was broken one game from the win, but the break was swiftly repaid in kind and Williams was the winner of a 70th career title - the fifth woman to achieve such a total in singles after Martina Navratilova, Chris Evert, Steffi Graf, and Margaret Court. In all, she hit four fewer winners than Keys (13 to 17), but also eight fewer errors (24 to 32), and converted all but one of her six break point chances to seal the match in just under 90 minutes.

Missing the Mutua Madrid Open due to illness, Williams was playing her first red clay event of the season; the win in Rome sets her up in good stead to defend her French Open title as she attempts to win her fourth crown there, as well.

"I have tried to defend there once, twice, three times before. Didn't quite work so well. But this year is different. I'm going to definitely go in there and I feel more calm and I don't feel stress to, like, have to win. You know, I feel like I just am happy to be out here."

For Keys, it was a breakthrough run; recently pairing with new coach Thomas Hogstedt, the 21-year-old is set to re-enter the Top 20 at No.17 - not too far from her career-high of No.16.

"I think having a couple of Top 10 wins this week was really big for me and playing people who have done very well in Roland Garros and just on clay in general. But I think the biggest thing is just how calm I have stayed on court and really, even in tough situations, stayed calm and collected and just really focused on my game, and I feel like I'm just playing much smarter tennis."

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Sunday, May 15, 2016
Heading to Paris, Murray gets a big birthday present in Rome
By Andrew Dampf on Twitter
Sunday, May 15, 2016 08:31

ROME (AP) Andy Murray celebrated his 29th birthday by beating Novak Djokovic on clay for the first time to win the Italian Open title Sunday in a match that Djokovic argued should have been stopped due to rain.

Gaining a measure of revenge for his loss to Djokovic in the Madrid Open final a week ago, the third-ranked Murray defeated the top-ranked Serb 6-3, 6-3.

'The finals of a Masters series on clay is something that's a new experience for me,' Murray said. 'It's nice to still be sort of achieving new things and reaching new goals at this stage of my career.'

During the trophy ceremony, Murray was presented with a birthday cake. He dedicated the title to his three-month-old daughter, Sophia Olivia.

'I feel like that's what I'm playing for now so that in a few years hopefully she can be proud of what I have achieved,' Murray said.

Earlier, Serena Williams ended a nine-month title drought with a 7-6 (5), 6-3 win over Madison Keys in an all-American women's final.

Williams' previous title came in Cincinnati in August - a month before her attempt at a calendar-year Grand Slam ended with a semifinal loss to Roberta Vinci at the U.S. Open.

'It feels great,' Williams said, pointing out that she's only played four tournaments since Cincinnati. 'So it's not like I was playing every week. So that's kind of how I look at it. But it feels great to win a title, especially on clay.'

It's Murray's first title in Rome and it comes exactly a week before the French Open begins.

'The last couple of years, clay has probably been my most successful surface, which I never expected,' Murray said.

The only other British man to win the Italian Open was Pat Hughes in 1931.

'It's mostly great players have won this event. So I'm very proud to have my name on the trophy,' Murray said.

Djokovic had won all four of their previous matches on clay but had to fight fatigue following draining wins over Rafael Nadal and Kei Nishikori.

Djokovic also played with a bandage on his left ankle after bruising himself with his racket a day earlier.

'It was a week with a lot of emotions, a lot of hours on the court,' Djokovic said. 'It wasn't easy to be fresh today and have the strength to play with Andy. He was just too good today and he deserved it.'

For much of the men's final, steady rain fell and fans covered themselves with ponchos and held up umbrellas to keep themselves dry.

Djokovic argued several times with chair umpire Damian Steiner over the court conditions, saying it was too slippery.

'I don't want to play anymore,' Djokovic told the umpire late in the second set.

'I didn't ask to postpone the match,' Djokovic explained later. 'I asked to have a little break where we would give a little more time, maybe five more minutes, to people to arrange the court.'

Murray, however, appeared to have no trouble and never dropped his serve, saving all three break points he faced, finishing the tournament without losing a set.

For Williams, it was her fourth title in Rome and puts her in position to defend her title at Roland Garros.

'I'm feeling pretty fit. So I'm looking forward to it,' said Williams, who won't have to answer any questions about a potential calendar-year Grand Slam in Paris this year. 'I'm going to definitely go in there and feel more calm and (not) feel stress to have to win.'

Williams addressed the crowd in Italian during the post-match ceremony then took a selfie as she posed with the trophy.

It was the first time two American women have met in a final on clay since Serena beat older sister Venus in the 2002 French Open.

When they met at the net after the match, Serena told the 24th-ranked Keys that she can be No. 1 one day.

'Too bad what she says doesn't just happen,' the 21-year-old Keys said. 'But it's always great to hear that from her. ... Hearing that is definitely something that makes me just work harder.'

The previous all-American final in Rome was in 1970, when Billie Jean King beat Julie Heldman.

In the Rome record book, Serena drew level with Conchita Martinez and Gabriela Sabatini, who also took four titles at the Foro Italico. Chris Evert holds the women's record with five titles while Rafael Nadal holds the overall mark with seven.

It was the 70th title overall in Serena's career.

Keys was playing in the biggest final of her career. She posted personal best results at all four majors last year, including reaching the Australian Open semifinals and the Wimbledon quarterfinals.

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