Posts filed under ‘Tennis’

Federer wins 18th Grand Slam.

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Roger Federer has won his 18th Grand Slam title and put some extra distance on the all-time list between himself and Rafael Nadal, the man he beat 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in a vintage Australian Open final on Sunday.

It was the 35-year-old Federer’s fifth Australian title, his first at a major since Wimbledon in 2012, and it reversed the status quo against his nemesis, Nadal.

Federer had lost six of the previous eight Grand Slam finals he’d played against Nadal, and had only previously beaten the left-handed Spaniard in 11 of their 34 matches.

Both players were returning from extended layoffs for injuries – Federer the left knee; Nadal the left wrist – and were seeded 17th and ninth respectively.

Nadal remains equal second with Pete Sampras on the all-time list, with the last of his 14 majors coming at Roland Garros in 2014.

After four sets where the momentum swung alternately from one player to the next, the fifth had all the tension and drama that these two players are famous for.

Nadal went up an early break and it seemed as if the injury time-out Federer needed after the fourth set may have been an indicator of things to come.

But the Swiss star rallied, and broke back in a pivotal sixth game and took control in a period when he won 10 straight points.

Nadal saved three break points in the eighth game but lost momentum again when Federer finished off a 26-shot rally – the longest of the match – with a forehand winner down the line.

Consecutive forehand errors gave Federer the pivotal break for 5-3, but Nadal made him work for the very last point.

Serving for the match, Federer had to save two break points with an ace and a forehand winner.

At deuce, he was called for a double-fault but challenged the out call on his second serve. The call was overturned, and he got to play two.

Not long after, he fired an ace to get his second match point and hit a forehand crosscourt winner to finish off.

His celebrations were delayed, though, when Nadal challenged the call. Federer watched the replay on the tournament screen, and leaped for joy when it showed his last shot was in. His 100th match at the Australian Open ended with his fifth title at Melbourne Park.

No two players had met more often in Grand Slam finals in the Open era, and Nadal had previously dominated. But they hadn’t met in a major final since the 2011 French Open, won by Nadal.

Three months ago, they were both on breaks when Federer joined Nadal in Mallorca for the opening of the Spaniard’s tennis academy and the pair joked about ever being able to contend for majors again.

Yet here they were, first Grand Slam tournament of the season, renewing the classic rivalry that saw them dominate tennis a decade ago.

The long-odds final – No. 9 against No. 17 – unfolded after six-time champion Novak Djokovic was shockingly upset by No. 117-ranked Denis Istomin in the second round and top-ranked Andy Murray, a five-time losing finalist in Australia, went out in the fourth round to left-handed serve-volleyer Mischa Zverev.

Federer beat Zverev in the quarterfinals and U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka in an all-Swiss semifinal to reach the championship match. The six years between his Australian titles set a record, too, longer than the five years that both Boris Becker and Andre Agassi had between championships in Melbourne.

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January 31, 2017 at 2:15 am Leave a comment

Novak Djokovic beats Roger Federer in Wimbledon 2015 men’s singles final

Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer for the second straight year in a Wimbledon final, winning the tournament for the third time with a 7-6 (7-1) 6-7 (10-12), 6-4, 6-3 victory and rewarding himself by taking a bite out of Centre Court.

Djokovic, ranked  No. 1 in the world, has now won nine Grand Slam tournaments and kept No. 2 Federer from becoming the oldest man to win Wimbledon at age 33. He regained his composure and rallied after Federer won an epic second-set tiebreak that left Djokovic yelling angrily from the bench.

“It’s a dream come true again. Even though I’ve won it for a third time, every time it feels like (the) first,” Djokovic said afterward. “Today, I knew that Roger was going to come out being very aggressive. I knew he was going to play as he always plays in finals and majors — at the highest possible level. If I wanted to have a chance to win, I needed to stay mentally tough.

July 18, 2015 at 9:17 pm Leave a comment

77 Year Drought for the British finally ends.

As an adoring nation watched and roared, Andy Murray ended 77 years of frustration at Wimbledon by defeating No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, 6-4, 7-5, 6-4, on Sunday to become the first British man to win the singles championship since Fred Perry triumphed in 1936.

Murray, ranked No. 2 in the world, rode out a lull in the third set to win his first Wimbledon title and second Grand Slam event. He had previously won the U.S. Open in 2012, beating Djokovic for that honor.

The last British tennis player to win a singles title here was Virginia Wade, in 1977.

Murray, who lost the Wimbledon final to Roger Federer a year ago, was foiled on his first three championship points in the third set Sunday, in keeping with the long games he and Djokovic had played under a broiling sun. The game went to deuce four times before Murray finally
prevailed, setting off roars in the stadium and, undoubtedly, around the country.

When Murray realized that Djokovic’s backhander had gone into the net and that the title was his, he pumped his fists and grinned. He hugged Djokovic, whom he has played against since they were both 11 years old, before kneeling on the grass in relief and exultation, eventually climbing toward the box where his friends and family sat. He began to descend toward the court for the awards ceremony and almost forgot to hug his tearful mother, Judy, but went back to hug her.

“I just heard her screaming behind me and I went back,” he said during an on-court interview.

In a nice moment, TV cameras caught Djokovic’s parents hugging Judy Murray.

Murray said he was simply glad to get through a grueling final game and final point as he held off an attempted comeback by Djokovic. Murray was only beginning to realize the magnitude of his feat in the first few moments after the match.

“It feels slightly different to last year,” Murray said, drawing a laugh from the crowd. “I hope you guys enjoyed it. I tried my best.”
Djokovic, the 2011 Wimbledon champion and a six-time Grand Slam tournament winner, had won his previous three matches against Murray — including at this year’s Australian Open — and each time had rallied after Murray had won the first set. But Murray, though vexed sometimes in the third set, wouldn’t be stopped this time.
“Congratulations to him and to you guys. I know how much this means to the country,” Djokovic said in an on-court interview. “I’m aware of the pressure that he gets…. It’s a great achievement.

“I gave it all. It was an asbolute pleasure and honor to be part of this match, this final.”

The first set took 59 minutes and featured countless long rallies. Murray had three break points in the first game but Djokovic held him off; Murray had four more break points in the third game before finally getting that break for a 2-1 lead.

However, Djokovic broke back and then held for a 3-2 lead. Murray then gained another break, at love, after Djokovic sent a backhand into the net.

Murray double-faulted twice to start the eighth game, which went to deuce four times before Djokovic hit a long forehand and then a forehand into the net to give Murray a 5-3 lead.

Djokovic held his serve, but Murray won his service game at love and cashed in on his first set point when Djokovic sent a return wide.

Djokovic appeared to steady himself in the second set, breaking Murray in the fourth game and building a 4-1 lead. But Murray, pushed by the crowd at every turn, came back to level the set at 4-4 after converting the second of two break points in the eighth game.

Perhaps Djokovic was feeling the effects of his 4-hour, 43-minute, five-set semifinal victory over Juan Martin del Potro on Friday, the longest semifinal in Wimbledon history. He held service to take a 5-4 lead but committed a series of unforced errors that allowed Murray to pull even at 5-5 and then for Murray to break him for a 6-5 lead. The crowd, riding on every move, roared as Murray capitalized on his second break point and gave him a standing ovation when he hit an ace to win the next game at love to win the set, which took 69 minutes to complete.

Djokovic simply seemed to have nothing left as the third set began and Murray won the first two games, but Djokovic found the strength to push back. He won three games in a row to go up, 3-2, with the help of a volley by Murray that dropped just wide and allowed Djokovic to get the break.

Suddenly, Murray seemed to be feeling the pressure and Djokovic gained strength from it. Resorting to more drop shots that seemed to catch Murray wrong-footed, Djokovic broke Murray’s serve again for a 4-2 lead and there was no question that the momentum had drastically shifted toward
the Serb.

Murray halted that momentum by breaking Djokovic’s serve to cut his lead to 4-3. Murray pulled even at 4-4 with a running forehand on game point and then played out a great game to take a 5-4 lead, coming up with a beautiful passing shot to set up break point and winning the game when Djokovic hit a forehand into the net.

July 8, 2013 at 3:02 pm Leave a comment

Roger Federer loses in second round at Wimbledon.

Seven-time champion Roger Federer was stunned by 116th-ranked Sergiy Stakhovsky in the second round of Wimbledon on Wednesday, his earliest loss in a Grand Slam tournament in 10 years.

The 27-year-old Ukrainian outplayed Federer on Centre Court, serving and volleying his way to a 6-7 (5), 7-6 (5), 7-5, 7-6 (5) victory that stands out as one of the biggest upsets in Grand Slam history.

The result capped a chaotic day at Wimbledon when seven players were forced out by injuries, and former champion Maria Sharapova fell in the second round to a qualifier.

Federer’s loss ended his record streak of reaching at least the quarterfinals at 36 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, a run that began at Wimbledon in 2004, shortly after a third-round exit at that year’s French Open.

“It’s very frustrating and very disappointing,” Federer said. “But I’m going to accept it and move forward.”

The owner of a record 17 major championships, Federer hadn’t been beaten in the second round or earlier since a first-round defeat at the 2003 French Open.

Federer’s shocking defeat was his earliest at the All England Club since a first-round loss in 2002 to No. 154-ranked Mario Ancic. Stakhovsky is the lowest-ranked player to beat Federer at any event since then.

Federer said the tournament’s ban of the orange-soled shoes he wore in his first-round win had no effect on Wednesday’s match, CBSSports.com reported.

Wednesday’s defeat came on the same grass court Federer has made his own for nearly a decade.

It ended with Stakhovsky converting on his second match point, a 13-stroke rally that finished with Federer hitting a backhand wide.

Stakhovsky fell onto his back in celebration. He later bowed to the crowd as Federer walked off the court with a quick wave.

Federer managed only one break of serve against Stakhovsky, who broke the Swiss star twice. The Ukrainian piled up 72 winners against 17 unforced errors, while Federer had 56 winners and 13 errors.

“I’m still in disbelief,” Stakhovsky said. “When you play Roger Federer at Wimbledon it’s like you are playing two persons. First you play Roger Federer, then you play his ego, and on the Centre Court of Wimbledon, where he is historical. So that’s like playing two against one.”

June 28, 2013 at 11:58 pm Leave a comment

Is Eight Enough?

PARIS — If Rafael Nadal truly was going to be challenged, if his bid for an unprecedented eighth French Open championship would be slowed even a bit, this might have been the moment.
Leading by a set and a break 70 minutes into Sunday’s final against David Ferrer, another generally indefatigable Spaniard, Nadal faced four break points in one game. The last was a 31-stroke exchange, the match’s longest, capped when Nadal absorbed Ferrer’s strong backhand approach and transformed it into a cross-court backhand passing shot.
Ferrer glared at the ball as it flew past and landed in a corner, then smiled ruefully. What else was there to do? Dealing with Nadal’s defense-to-offense on red clay is a thankless task. His rain-soaked 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Ferrer was Nadal’s record 59th win in 60 matches at the French Open and made him the only man with eight titles at any Grand Slam tournament.
“I never like to compare years, but it’s true that this year means something very special for me,” Nadal said, alluding to the way he managed to come back from a left knee injury that sidelined him for about seven months.
“When you have a period of time like I had,” he added, “you realize that you don’t know if you will have the chance to be back here with this trophy another time.”
But he does it, year after year.
He won four French Opens in a row from 2005-08, and another four in a row from 2010-13.
“Rafael was better than me,” said Ferrer, who had won all 18 sets he’d played the past two weeks to reach his first Grand Slam final at age 31. “He didn’t make mistakes.”
A week past his 27th birthday, Nadal now owns 12 major trophies in all — including two from Wimbledon, one each from the U.S. Open and Australian Open — to eclipse Bjorn Borg and Rod Laver and equal Roy Emerson for the third-most in history. Nadal trails only Roger Federer’s 17 and Pete Sampras’ 14.
“Winning 17 Grand Slam titles, that’s miles away,” Nadal said. “I’m not even thinking about it.”
This was Nadal’s first major tournament after a surprising second-round loss at Wimbledon last June. Since rejoining the tour in February, he is 43-2 with seven titles and two runner-up finishes. He’s won his past 22 matches.
“For me, it’s incredible,” said Toni Nadal, Rafael’s uncle and coach. “When I think of all that Rafael has done, I don’t understand it.”
No one, perhaps not even Ferrer himself, expected Nadal to lose Sunday.
That’s because of Nadal’s skill on clay, in general, and at Roland Garros, in particular, but also because of how Ferrer had fared against his friend and countryman — and video-game competitor — in the past.
Ferrer entered Sunday 4-19 against Nadal. On clay, Nadal had 16 consecutive victories over Ferrer, whose only head-to-head win on the surface came the first time they played, in July 2004, when Nadal was 18.
Nadal had yet to make his French Open debut then, missing it that year because of a broken left foot. On May 23, 2005, Nadal played his first match at Roland Garros, beating Lars Burgsmuller 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-1 on Court 1, known as the “bullring” because of its oval shape.
And so began the reign.
Nadal won a record 31 consecutive matches at the French Open until the fourth round in 2009, when Robin Soderling beat him. In 2010, Nadal started a new streak, which currently stands at 28.
There was occasional shakiness this year. Nadal lost the first set of each of his first two matches and was pushed to a tiebreaker to begin his third.
He barely edged No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic in a thrilling semifinal that lasted more than 4½ hours and ended 9-7 in the fifth set Friday.
By any measure, that match was far more enjoyable to take in than the final, akin to dining on a filet mignon accompanied by a well-aged bottle of Bordeaux one day, then grabbing a hot dog and can of soda from a street vendor 48 hours later.
Under a leaden sky that eventually would release a steady shower from the second set on, Ferrer felt nerves at the outset, he acknowledged later. But after the players traded early breaks, Ferrer held for a 3-2 lead.
That’s when Nadal took over, winning seven games in a row and 12 of 14. His court coverage was impeccable, as usual, showing no signs of any problems from that left knee, which was supported by a band of white tape. His lefty forehand whips were on-target, accounting for 19 of his 35 winners and repeatedly forcing errors from Ferrer.
When Nadal did have lapses, he admonished himself, once slapping his forehead with his right palm after pushing a lob wide. But what’s demoralizing for opponents is the way Nadal slams the door when they have openings, then rushes through when he gets the slightest chance.
He was at his relentless best on key points, including those four break chances for Ferrer at 3-1 in the second set. Immediately after, Nadal broke to 5-1 on a forehand winner down the line.
As Nadal prepared to serve in the next game, a man wearing a white mask and carrying a fiery flare jumped out of the stands nearby. The intruder quickly was shoved to the ground by one security guard, while another went to protect Nadal.
“I felt a little bit scared at the first moment,” Nadal said, “because I didn’t see what’s going on.”
It happened within a few minutes of other actions by protesters, including chanting from the upper deck that briefly delayed play. Police said seven people were held for questioning.
Nadal got broken in that game, then broke back right away to take the second set.
The third set was similar to the first. It was 3-all, then suddenly over. Nadal took the last three games, ending the match with a forehand winner before dropping his racket and falling on his back, leaving a rust-colored smudge on his white shirt and flecks of clay on his stubbled cheeks. Soon he was standing, holding his index finger aloft.
Yes, Nadal is No. 1 at the French Open. When the ATP rankings are issued Monday, however, he will be No. 5, because of points he dropped while hurt.
Ferrer will be at No. 4.
“Yeah, it’s strange, no? I lost the final against Rafael, but tomorrow I am going to be No. 4 and him No. 5,” Ferrer said with a grin, then delivered his punch line: “I prefer to win here and to stay No. 5.”
Sorry, David. This is Nadal’s tournament.
Now the question becomes: Is eight enough?

June 11, 2013 at 7:38 pm Leave a comment

Is Roger Federer done?

His coolness may have been undimmed, but what he looks as he is given the runaround by the heavyweight, pummelling, whacking Frenchman is something more debilitating: for a moment he looks old. As Tsonga rampages, he suddenly seemed past it, a spent force, yesterday’s man. His gaunt expression says only one thing: retirement is surely now imminent.

Which is why, even as the odds lengthen exponentially, it seems the perfect time to put money on him winning Wimbledon. In fact, studying that picture of him seemingly lost and forlorn, apparently arthritic and creaking, the only astonishment will be if Roger Federer drops a set on his way to retaining his All England title.

This is what the implacably smooth champion does as he reaches his sporting dotage: he gives the impression that it is all over just before staging a perfectly timed comeback. Writing off Federer has become a routine of the tennis circuit. And just as routine has been the subsequent requirement to make a meal of such dismissive words.

Sure, Federer is now 31. Sure, he has yet to win anything this season. Sure, the twinges in his back are becoming more frequent and more aggressive. But the notion that he is finished at the top of the game is not just premature. It is laughable.

The thing about Federer is that he has always played to his own set of rules. When he was at the summit of his powers six or seven years ago, he appeared not to indulge in any kind of exertion. He could beat the most vigorous thrasher with barely any suggestion of effort.

While opponents changed their sweat-soaked shirts after every set, he looked as if he had just stepped out of an air-conditioned lounge. As a psychological ploy, it was untouchable. It gave him an aura of utter invincibility. That and a range of strokes previously thought only to exist in the imagination.

As he has got older, however, the assumption of superiority has been more frequently challenged. Though the mask of effortlessness has never slipped, the defeats have become more frequent. It is not just Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who can get the better of him these days.

Juan Martin Del Potro, Tomas Berdych, Robin Soderling and Tsonga have all done it in recent slams. Andy Murray did it at the Olympics. It appears that from a position of total pre-eminence he has been brought back into the chasing pack, dragged down from Olympus to mere mortality. From once being the one and only, he is now no more than one of the boys.

But that does not mean it is over. That does not mean he should hang up his headband and retire to the Swiss mountains to tend to the herd of prize cows he has accumulated over the years, one for every slam. Especially not when his competitive instinct remains undimmed. This is the thing about Federer: beneath that elegant exterior bubbles a boiling determination to win.

You could see that in last year’s Wimbledon final. When Murray won the first set, it seemed as if the plotline was running to a pre-ordained script. A home Wimbledon champion in Olympic year: the force, not to mention the overwhelming majority of the centre court crowd, appeared to be with the Scotsman. There were many convinced this was the moment. We should have known.

Instead of the saltire flying proud above the All England Club, centre court was subject to a display of astonishing competitiveness by the Swiss. Simply refusing to be beaten, Federer hauled back the momentum by sheer force of will. Even against an opponent as determined as Murray, he simply refused to accept defeat. It was a comeback which perfectly encapsulated his latter career: at the very point you think it is over, he storms back.

With Nadal and Murray both circumscribed by injury, with Djokovic distracted by off-court issues, opportunity is opening up for Federer to retain his Wimbledon crown. But it is that defeat by Tsonga and its seeming apocalyptic implications for his legacy that will provide the greatest incentive.

He has no interest in defeat becoming the motif of his twilight playing years. He wants more cows before he bows out. Holding up the trophy in Wimbledon’s centre court on July 7 is the most unequivocal way of demonstrating it is not over for Roger Federer. Only the unwise would bet against it.

June 6, 2013 at 7:42 pm Leave a comment

Andy Murray finally wins a grand slam! 2012 US Open Champion!

They are partying in Scotland!

Continue Reading September 11, 2012 at 2:13 am Leave a comment

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