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Two matches played, two matches won. No.5 seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova are into the semifinals at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open digging deep to survive a long day.

Published September 29, 2016 12:13

WUHAN, China – The No.5 seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova dug deep to pull off a doubleheader at the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open, winning two matches in a day to book their spot into the semifinals.

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With rain washing out the doubles action yesterday, Mattek-Sands and Safarova played both their second round and quarterfinal match today, but showed no signs of fatigue as they powered through both in straight sets.

“We played really well today, especially against two tough teams where we had to be playing our best,” Mattek-Sands said after their quarterfinal. “We had a court change, where we went from hot and humid outside in the beginning of the week, to cold and rainy and playing indoors. But we got it done today.”

The pair started out the day with an hour-and-a-half battle against Chinese wildcards Zhu Lin and Han Xinyun. They were pushed in the second set but saved set points to advance 6-4, 7-6(7). They kept things tidier in the quarterfinal, powering past Aleksandra Krunic and Katarina Siniakova 6-3, 6-4.

By virtue of reaching the semifinal, Safarova and Mattek Sands improve their position on the doubles Road To Singapore leaderboard. The pair currently sit at No.7, and are among the five teams that could grab three spots into the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, pending other results.

“Of course, Singapore is our goal. We are fighting for it and trying to take it step by step,” Safarova said. “We have tough matches ahead, but we are playing well and we are ready.”

Mattek-Sands added: “It’s the best of the best, the best teams get to go. I think it’s an honor to make it here in the end. At this point, everyone is fighting for a spot and the rankings are pretty close.”

Joining Mattek-Sands and Safarova in the quarterfinals are the No.2 seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Chan Yung-Jan, as well as Peng Shuai and Christina McHale.

Pair beat Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina 6-2, 7-6 in US Open semi
American and Czech take just 27 minutes to win first set
Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova, seeded 12th, defeated the fifth seeds on a hot, draining afternoon.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova, seeded 12th, defeated the fifth seeds on a hot, draining afternoon. Photograph: Kena Betancur/AFP/Getty Images

Bethanie Mattek-Sands will fly the flag for the hosts in the final of the women’s doubles on Sunday after teaming up with her Czech friend Lucie Safarova to beat the fifth-seeded Russians Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in two contrasting sets on the new Grandstand court on a hot, draining afternoon of the US Open.

Day 11 of the tournament had an oddly low-key feel about it, as organisers opened the gates to allow free admission – a move that followed the new format of doing away with the daft old Super Saturday, a log-jam specifically created for television and a result of the late start to the tournament. That pleased the host broadcasters but not the players.

As it is, Mattek-Sands and Safarova, seeded 12, have two days to rest, although it was only in the second set that they were properly stretched.

They took an hour and 24 minutes to win 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) and might have got the job done earlier but for a rousing Russian fightback.

The flamboyant American and her less extravagant Czech team-mate took only 27 minutes over the first set, forcing a slew of six errors from their opponents in the final game.

The mistakes kept coming in the second as another women’s match at the business end of the tournament looked like descending into a one-sided no-contest. Already fans have been served up a couple of substandard matches in the singles. Doubles, the preserve of entertainment for the hardcore, is not supposed to be so one-sided.

The Russian duo gave up five break opportunities in the early exchanges of the second set, saving all but one, and grabbing one of their own. Makarova and Vesnina then decided to make a fight of it and, in the time it took them to surrender the first set, they had stemmed the flow and were on serve mid-set, after coming back from the brink at 0-4.

Not many who had witnessed the embarrassing first set would have bet good money on this match lasting even an hour, but it had turned into a decent match in that time.

The Russians held for five-all to stay in the fight and battled to a tie-break. They had three match points against them, after an hour and 23 minutes, and saved one but not the next one on serve. They had at least played their part in saving the match from being a farce.

Mattek-Sands, who went out in straight sets to Johanna Konta in the first round of singles, is a busy player. In her four doubles matches since then, she and Safarova have given up just 23 games to reach the semi-finals.

She and Safarova looked good in the quarters, beating her compatriots Asia Muhammad and Taylor Townsend 6-1, 6-2, but will want to guard against another second-set lapse in focus if they are to lift the title.

by: BRAD KALLET August 18, 2016 – Tennis.com

The gold medalist didn’t have a ton on her fastball, but she reached the plate effortlessly. (AP)

On Wednesday night, Bethanie Mattek-Sands became the latest tennis player to throw out the first pitch at a Major League Baseball game.

The doubles specialist, who won a gold medal in mixed doubles with Jack Sock in Rio de Janeiro last week, tossed the pitch at Chase Field in Phoenix ahead of the Arizona Diamondbacks’ 13-5 win over the New York Mets.

Mattek-Sands, one of the most interesting and eccentric characters on tour, was born in Minnesota, though she currently resides in Phoenix.

View image on TwitterView image on Twitter

There wasn’t much velocity on the 31-year-old’s fastball to D-backs infielder Philip Gosselin, but she reached the plate effortlessly. A generous umpire might have given her the high strike call.

It was more impressive than Patrick McEnroe’s first pitch earlier this season, but John’s bullet put it to shame. (In fairness, John could probably pitch out of the Mets’ bullpen right now.)

 

By: David Woods, USA TODAY NETWORK

Catch up on all the action from championship Sunday in Rio de Janeiro.

RIO DE JANEIRO — Venus Williams did not divulge where she will store her fifth Olympic tennis medal. We do know where those stars-and-stripes socks worn by Bethanie Mattek-Sands are going, though.

“Definitely, the socks will get retired and put in a frame,” Mattek-Sands said.

Mattek-Sands and Jack Sock won the gold medal in mixed doubles, beating Venus Williams and Rajeev Ram 7-6, 1-6, (10-7) in an historic all-USA match Sunday at the Olympic Games.

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It was the first loss ever in an Olympic final for Williams, whose silver nonetheless allowed her to tie the Olympic record for tennis medals. She won singles gold in 2000, and doubles gold with sister Serena in 2000, 2008 and 2012.

Great Britain’s Kitty McKane won five medals, with one gold, in the 1920s. Venus Williams was also trying to become the first to win gold in singles, doubles and mixed doubles.

Mattek-Sands conceded playing against Venus was “intimidating, really.” The Phoenix resident did not play like it. Although Mattek-Sands has four Grand Slam titles in doubles or mixed doubles, she said Olympic gold topped that.

She said she “got chills” as she relived her experience from opening ceremony, saying all the American athletes chanted, “U-S-A, U-S-A” before entering Olympic stadium.

“You can’t compare any Grand Slam to that,” she said.

The United States previously swept gold and silver in mixed doubles in 1924. Hazel Wightman and Dick Williams defeated Eleanor Goss and Lillian Scharman in the final.

Venus Williams was ill before leaving for Rio de Janeiro, and she was upset in the first round of both singles and doubles. She and Ram had a series of tight matches leading up to the final.

“It’s been an amazing experience, five Olympics for me,” she said. “It’s surreal that I even came out with any hardware at all.”

She did not rule out a sixth Olympics at Tokyo in 2020, when she would be 40.

After falling behind 3-0 in the tiebreaker, Williams and Ram won the next six points to go ahead 6-3. Then Mattack-Sands and Sock won the next six, seizing a 9-6 lead.

The match was sparsely attended, largely because ticket buyers drifted over to the singles match involving Spain’s Rafael Nadal. The14-time Grand Slam winner lost to Japan’s Kei Nishikori for a bronze medal.

Ram was added to the roster shortly before the opening ceremony after the 2012 doubles gold medalists, Bob and Mike Bryan, withdrew. Ram, 32, a first-time Olympian, is coming off a men’s doubles semifinal appearance at Wimbledon.

David Woods writes for The Indianapolis Star

USA TODAY SPORTS
By:

Learn more about Team USA’s doubles specialist Bethanie Mattek-Sands.
The United States’ Bethanie Mattek-Sands (born Bethanie Mattek) is a self-described “adrenaline junkie” with a flashy fashion sense, one that’s earned her a reputation as “the Lady Gaga of tennis”. But more importantly, Mattek-Sands is one of the world’s top doubles players. By year-end 2015, she was ranked World No. 3 in women’s doubles by the Women’s Tennis Association.

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Beginnings:

Mattek-Sands was born in Rochester, Minnesota on March 23, 1985 to parents Tim and Heidi. She began playing tennis at 5 years old, inspired by her dad; Mattek-Sands says on her website she “nearly knocked [her father] over” with her powerful shots.

Mattek-Sands loved all sports as a child, and possessed a particularly fierce competitive spirit. She often practiced with her father and her golden retriever, Rocky, who would pick up stray tennis balls.

bethanie-mattek-sands (1)

Mattek-Sands is known for her eccentric fashion sense.
Mattek-Sands is known for her eccentric fashion sense. Credit: Susan Mullane/US Presswire

When not whacking tennis balls, Mattek-Sands also played piano. She has one younger sister, Alison (nicknamed “Tsiony”), and two younger brothers, Chaddy and Andrew (“Boom Boom”). Mattek-Sands also has a twin named Sania; together, they sometimes refer to themselves as “the Bryan Sisters” – a reference to tennis twins Bob and Mike Bryan.

A more detailed (and highly entertaining) biography is available on Mattek-Sands’ website. The athlete made her professional debut at just 14 years old in 1999.

Major competitions:

As of July 2016, Mattek-Sands has won 19 WTA doubles titles. However, she has also performed well at the Grand Slam tournaments’ singles competitions in recent years.

Best Grand Slam singles results:
Australian Open: Third round, 2015
French Open: Fourth round, 2013
Wimbledon: Fourth round, 2008
US Open: Third round, 2015

Best Grand Slam doubles results:
Australian Open: Winner, 2015 (alongside the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova)
French Open: Winner, 2015 (alongside the Czech Republic’s Lucie Safarova)
Wimbledon: Semifinals, 2010 (alongside the United States’ Liezel Huber)
US Open: Quarterfinals, 2007 (alongside India’s Sania Mirza), 2009 (alongside Russia’s Nadia Petrova), 2010 (alongside the United States’ Meghann Shaughnessy)

Best Grand Slam mixed doubles results:
Australian Open: Winner, 2012 (alongside Romania’s Horia Tecau)
French Open: Winner, 2015 (alongside the United States’ Mike Bryan)
Wimbledon: Semifinals, 2015 (alongside the United States’ Mike Bryan)
US Open: Final, 2015 (alongside the United States’ Sam Querrey)

Olympic experience:
The Rio Games will serve as Mattek-Sands’ first Olympic experience.

Off the court:
Even while competing, Mattek-Sands has a very distinct fashion sense that has earned her the nickname “America’s Tennis Rock Star”. She often dyes her hair and wears knee-high compression socks.

In 2008, Mattek became Mattek-Sands when she married her “best friend … and Brett Favre lookalike” Justin “Bubs”. They have a huge South African Boerboel Mastiff dog named Ruger.

 

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Her hobbies include cars, shopping, cooking, hiking and watching the Green Bay Packers. She was selected as the first pro athlete “Glass Explorer” by Google.

Top quote:

“I feel like my style on court helps me be a better player, because it’s me, it’s who I am.”
Bethanie Mattek-Sands to The Daily Mail

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