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USTA FL Friday Blog: Serena v Maria; U.S. Jrs. at French Open

June 7, 2013 09:30 AM
Serena (right) with Venus at the last Olympics. The pair were forced to withdraw from the doubles at Roland Garros due to Venus' ongoing back issues
It's an all-women, all-French Open, almost-all-Florida edition of the Friday blog covering the success of American women (and girls) in Paris at the French Open.
World No. 1 and long-time Palm Beach Gardens resident Serena Williams is an overwhelming favorite in the women's final against world No. 2 and long-time Bradenton resident Maria Sharapova, who hasn't beaten Serena on tour since she was a teenager in 2004.
"I'd be lying if it doesn't bother me, obviously," said Sharapova of her 2-13 record against the younger Williams sister. "Whatever I did in the past hasn't worked, so I'll have to try to do something different and hopefully it will. I don't feel like I have taken my chances and opportunities."
Williams is riding a 30-match winning streak, and is an amazing 73-3 since losing in the first round at Roland Garros last year. Venus Williams won 35 matches in a row in 2000, a run that will be in her sisters' sights during the grasscourt season if she can defeat Sharapova on Saturday.
Williams is also gunning for her 16th Slam title in her 20th overall final. The French is the only Slam that she has not won multiple times.
"I don't think there's anything that can describe how happy I would be," she said of raising the trophy on Saturday. "But right now it's still a dream."

U.S. Girls Go Deep in Paris

townsend taylor 2011
Taylor Townsend at the US Open
Yesterday an all-U.S. girls' semifinal at the French Open junior championships was averted when No. 11 seed Taylor Townsend, the No. 1 junior in the world last year, was outlasted by No. 2 seed Belinda Bencic of Switzerland 2-6, 6-2, 9-7.
Townsend in the semis would have faced fellow American Louisa Chirico, who moved on Thursday with an impressive 6-0, 6-2 win against Slovak qualifier Kristina Schmiedlova.
Townsend in her match was up a break twice in the third set but could not capitalize, then late in the set lost serve a third time after being up 40-0. Speaking to ESPN, she said a new workout regiment with USTA High Performance is allowing her to last longer and be stronger as she goes deeper into tournaments.
"I like [training] now. Before, I hated it, I'm not going to lie to you," she said. "I see a difference. I feel a difference on the court. I know the hard work will pay off. I feel a difference, and that's the biggest thing for me. Being able to last longer."
On Tuesday night the 17-year-old Townsend was honored at the annual ITF Champions Dinner as the 2012 ITF Junior World Champion. This year's French juniors could be one of her last on the junior circuit, as she has been concentrating on raising her WTA ranking by playing smaller tour events.
"I have absolutely no pressure," she told ITFTennis.com of participating at the junior Slams. "So I'm just going out on the court and having a blast, and playing it like a practice match. We've been working on a lot of different things in my game so I'm going out every single match and doing it every single point. If it works, it works; if it doesn't, it doesn't. That's like our mindset that we have."

Tennis on TV This Weekend

7-11am -- French Open, Tennis Channel (live)
11am-2pm -- French Open, NBC (live)
9am-12pm -- French Open women's final, NBC (live)
9am-2pm -- French Open men's final, NBC (live)
Happy weekending,
The USTA Florida Friday blog is written by USTA Florida Communications Coordinator Rick Vach, former publications editor for the ATP World Tour and editor/publisher of Play Tennis Florida magazine. The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of USTA Florida, USTA national, or anyone that can fire him. Want a USTA or tennis-related question answered? E-mail HERE.





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