Sunday, August 3, 2014

Serena to face Kerber in Bank of the West final

Angelique Kerber, shown in March, saved a
match point in her win over Varvara Lepchenko.
Photo by Paul Bauman
   Angelique Kerber somehow pulled out a victory over Varvara Lepchenko on Saturday night in the semifinals of the Bank of the West Classic.
   Now comes the hard part.
   Kerber must come back 16 hours later to face more-rested Serena Williams in the final at Stanford. The match will be televised live on ESPN2 today at 2 p.m.
   Kerber outlasted Lepchenko, a U.S. citizen from Uzbekistan, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 in a 2-hour, 39-minute battle of left-handed veterans. Kerber trailed 6-4, 5-2, saved a match point at 6-4, 5-4 and was behind 4-2 in the second-set tiebreaker.
   "I have no idea how I did it," the 26-year-old German, seeded third, said on "I was just trying to fight until the last point and believe in me, and just try to change my game in the middle of the match, but I have no idea how I won."
   On Saturday afternoon, Williams won the last eight games in a 7-5, 6-0 victory over eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic of Germany.
   "Andrea and I both had really long matches (on Friday), so I was just hoping to come out again today with fresh legs and just try to do the best I could out there," Williams said after the 1-hour, 17-minute match. "My body feels great. I'm just really excited to be in the finals of Stanford again."
   Williams, 32, seeks her third singles title in the Bank of the West Classic, fourth crown of the year and 61st overall. She is seven titles from tying Billie Jean King for sixth place in the Open era, which began in 1968.
   Regardless of today's outcome, Williams will spend her 200th (non-consecutive) week at No. 1 in the world rankings beginning Monday.
   Williams is 4-1 against Kerber, all on hardcourts similar to Stanford's. In the players' last meeting, Williams won 6-2, 6-2 in the quarterfinals at Miami in March en route to the championship. 
   Kerber, ranked eighth, will try to win her fourth WTA singles crown and first since 2012. She is 0-3 in finals this year.
   Kerber is playing in the main draw of the Bank of the West Classic for the first year. In her only other appearance at Stanford, she lost in the second round of qualifying seven years ago.
   Williams needs one more Grand Slam singles title to tie Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for fourth place on the all-time list behind Margaret Court (24), Steffi Graf (22) and Helen Wills Moody (19).
   Kerber reached the semifinals of the U.S. Open in 2011 and at Wimbledon in 2012 for her best Grand Slam results.
   In Saturday's doubles semis, unseeded Paula Kania of Poland and Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic knocked off top seeds and defending champions Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears from California 6-7 (3), 6-3 [12-10].
   Kops-Jones, a San Jose resident, won the 2003 NCAA doubles title with Cal teammate and Sacramento native Christina Fusano.   
At Stanford's Taube Family Tennis Center
Singles semifinals
   Serena Williams (1), United States, def. Andrea Petkovic (8), Germany, 7-5, 6-0.
   Angelique Kerber (3), Germany, def. Varvara Lepchenko, United States, 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
Doubles semifinals
   Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro (3), Spain, def. Alla Kudryavtseva, Russia, and Anastasia Rodionova (2), Australia, 5-7, 7-6 (2) [10-8].
   Paula Kania, Poland, and Katerina Siniakova, Czech Republic, def. Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears (1), United States, 6-7 (3), 6-3 [12-10].
Today's schedule
(Starting at 2 p.m.)
   Serena Williams (1), United States, vs. Angelique Kerber (3), Germany.
   Garbine Muguruza and Carla Suarez Navarro (3), Spain, vs. Paula Kania, Poland, and Katerina Siniakova, Czech Republic.

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