Nadal on track for Federer showdown as Sock downed

MIAMI, March 30, 2017 – Rafael Nadal took a step closer to a possible final against long-time rival Roger Federer in the Miami Open after a straight sets win over American Jack Sock on Wednesday at Key Biscayne.

Nadal’s 6-2, 6-3 win over the 13th-seeded Sock sets up a semi-final meeting with unseeded Italian Fabio Fognini who upset second ranked Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2 earlier in the day.

The Spaniard’s forehand was ominous as he neutralised Sock in one hour and 22 minutes.

Nadal was able to save six of seven break points earned by Sock as he kept control of the contest.

He broke Sock in the American’s first service game and swiftly established a 3-0 advantage and a second break at 5-2 wrapped up the opening set.

The American showed his spirit though as he broke Nadal at the start of the second but was unable to take advantage of a double break that could have put him 3-0 up.

Instead Nadal pulled back to 2-2 and with Sock failing to make the most of a chance of further break points it was comfortable in the end.

The 30-year-old Spaniard has never won in Miami despite being a four-time finalist and he expects plenty of work to get past Fognini and make it a fifth appearance.

“We know each other very well. He has beaten me a couple of times and so it will be a good test. I am happy to be the semi-finals but it will be a tough one and I will need to play my best,” said Nadal.

Fognini has three wins from ten meetings with the Spaniard, the most recent coming on clay in Rio de Janiero in 2015.

The 29-year-old world number 40 showed plenty of confidence as he took the game to his Japanese opponent from the outset.

It was the Italian’s first victory in three attempts over Nishikori and his first Masters series quarter-final win since 2013, when he reached the last four in Monte-Carlo.

Nishikori earlier said he had not felt fully in top shape for the contest.

“I wasn’t 100%, physically, I mean, it was tough conditions for me,” he said, referring to the heat on the mid-afternoon Key Biscayne centre court.

“But it was also same for him, too. He was playing a lot of the long matches, but I think he still played good enough to beat me today,” he added.

Fognini, who was cheered on by his friend, former Italy footballer Christian Vieri, said he had come through a demanding test.

“It wasn’t easy and I was just focused on my game. I am very happy, I’m in the semifinal, I’m playing well and I feel good again on the court,” he said.

On Thursday, Federer takes on Czech tenth-seed Tomas Berdych while the last quarter-final pits Germany’s Alexander Zverev against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios.

Source -TheNation

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Roger Federer reaches Indian Wells final against Wawrinka

Roger Federer might soon have to reset his goals for the year, seeing how well things are going for him.

Having won his record 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, Federer will pursue a record-tying fifth BNP Paribas Open title after beating Jack Sock 6-1, 7-6 (4) Saturday to reach the final.

He takes on Stan Wawrinka in an all-Swiss title match after Wawrinka eased past Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-3.

Federer was sidelined by various injuries for much of last year, forcing him to skip Indian Wells. Heading into this year, his plan was to play as far as the Miami event next week and then see how he felt.

“I was just happy to be feeling healthy again at the end of last year,” he said. “I was just happy to be playing another 10 events maybe.”

Now, Federer is poised to win his 90th career title in the final, keeping him third behind Jimmy Connors ( 109 ) and Ivan Lendl ( 94 ) for the most titles in the Open era.

“It’s not a goal of mine per se to play until I reach 100,” he said. “Could be. It’s a nice goal to have. But that stuff can change. Ask me again in three to six months how I’m feeling, if I won any more or not.”

Federer is 4-2 in finals at Indian Wells with his last title coming in 2012. He owns a 19-3 edge over Wawrinka, including 14-0 on hard courts, and has won their last three meetings, including in the Australian Open semifinals in January.

Two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova plays 14th-seeded Elena Vesnina in an all-Russian women’s final Sunday.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Sam Querrey beats Rafael Nadal in Mexican Open final

American Sam Querrey used a strong serve to beat Rafael Nadal 6-3, 7-6 (3) on Saturday night in the Mexican Open final.

Querrey had 19 aces to win his ninth career title. He’s the first American champion in the history of the event.

The American had a great week beating favored players on the road to the championship. He ousted fifth-seeded David Goffin, fourth-seeded Dominic Thiem, sixth-seeded Nick Kyrgios and the second-seeded Nadal.

It was Querrey’s first title since Delray Beach in 2016.

Nadal, the tournament winner in 2005 and 2013, had won 14 straight matches in Mexico.

On the women’s side, the Ukraine’s Lesia Tsurenko won her third career title, beating second-seed Kristina Mladenovic of France 6-1, 7-5.

Tsurenko, the world’s 50th player, won her first title since Guangzhou in September 2016.

Source: TheJakartaPost

Venus Williams (36) wants to Olympics in Tokyo

Seven-times grand slam winner Venus Williams, fresh off an inspirational run to the Australian Open finals at age 36, sees no end in sight on the tennis court, even envisioning another Olympics alongside her sister Serena.

The American former world number one’s on-court form has been nothing short of remarkable considering she was diagnosed in 2011 with the debilitating Sjogren’s syndrome, but Williams said that will not bring an end to her career.

“I’m planning on playing tennis for a very long time yet,” Williams said on Friday. “That dream is still going strong.”

Since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s, an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue and joint pain and forced her to withdraw from the 2011 U.S. Open, Williams had to rebuild her career and re-evaluate her lifestyle.

Rather than throw in the towel on one of the sport’s great careers, Williams took on a new diet, exercise regimen and managed to come back and play at a high level.

“Sjogren’s is something that stays around, hangs around in your body and tries to take over but that’s not how I see it. I’m running the show,” said Williams, who is promoting a #StrengthHasNoGender campaign by Brawny paper towels during Women’s History Month.

“It’s definitely challenging, but it’s mind over matter for me to be able to live the life I want to live regardless.”

Undaunted, by 2012 she teamed up with Serena to win their fifth Wimbledon women’s doubles crown, and later that year won a third Olympic doubles gold in London with her sister, adding to her own singles gold claimed from the 2000 Sydney Games.

Williams, who rose from the cracked, public hard courts of Compton, California, as an African American woman to world number one by the age of 21 in a largely white sport, relishes the tests still to come:

” I personally love a challenge and challenges motivate me. I don’t like to go to bed at night knowing that I haven’t done my utmost to overcome any challenge that I’ve faced.”

” Playing tennis, (my sister and I) were definitely very different for tennis at the time and that definitely broke down a lot of barriers. It’s wonderful to see all kinds of people and all kinds of women playing tennis at all ages. So that’s been a highlight for us, to see that happen.”

Next up for Williams will be the March 6-19 BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells, where she and Serena endured racial taunts in 2001 leading them to boycott the event for nearly 15 years.

Off the court, Williams owns a fashion design business, an interior decorating company and with Serena is a limited owner of the NFL’s Miami Dolphins but is not yet ready to give all of her attention to those endeavours.

“There’s still a lot of time to do a lot of things on and off the court,” said Williams, who is ranked 13th in the world.

Asked if there might be another chase for Olympic glory at the 2020 Games in Tokyo with sister Serena, Venus said: “That’s my absolute dream. I have a dream partner.

“I would love that.”

Federer wins Nadal thriller

Federer, Nadal clash in blockbuster Aussie final

MELBOURNE – Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal will collide in a hugely anticipated Australian Open final on Sunday after both veterans beat the odds to open a new chapter in their thrilling Grand Slam rivalry.

Federer, 35, will become the oldest Grand Slam finalist in 43 years, while Nadal, 30, has defied a series of injuries to reach his first major title match since he won the 2014 French Open.

It’s a final that nobody saw coming but after the early exits of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, the old rivals have seized their opportunity with both hands.

For Federer, it’s a chance to extend his all-time record tally of Grand Slam wins to 18, and exact a measure of revenge on his long-time nemesis.

Nadal can win his 15th Grand Slam title, closing the gap on Federer and drawing level with Pete Sampras in second place on the all-time list of major-winners.

It comes after Serena and Venus Williams, aged 35 and 36 respectively, met in the women’s final — making it the first Open-era Grand Slam tournament where all four singles finalists have been in their thirties.

Neither of the former world number ones was expected to reach the final after injuries disrupted their seasons last year and their rankings dipped, to 17 for Federer and nine for Nadal.

The unexpected reprise of one of tennis’s great rivalries will be their ninth meeting in a major final, the most between any two players in the post-1968 Open era.

Nadal has won six of their major finals, with Federer’s last victory in 2007. But the Spaniard said past results were irrelevant.

– May the best man win –

========================

“It’s a different match, different moment for both of us. I think this match is completely different than what happened before,” he said.

“It’s special. We have not been there in that situation for a while, so that makes the match different.

“I really don’t think about what happened in the past. I think the player who plays better is going to be the winner.”

The pair last contested a Grand Slam final at Roland Garros three years ago. They also met in the Australian Open semi-finals in 2014, with Nadal winning each time.

“Now it’s a different time. A lot of time has gone by,” Federer said. “I know this court allows me to play a certain game against Rafa that I cannot do on centre court at the French Open.”

It will be Federer’s sixth Australian Open final and his 28th Grand Slam decider in total, and caps a marvellous comeback after the second half of last season was wiped out by a knee injury.

He has thrilled his many fans with his revival, having not figured in a Grand Slam final since the 2015 US Open.

“This is the last one (match) so I will leave it all out here in Australia and if I cannot walk for another five months I will give it all I have,” Federer said.

Federer can become the first man to win five or more titles at three Grand Slam events, while Nadal stands to become the only man in the Open era to win all the majors at least twice.

Source: TheNation

Murray after early retreat: ‘Mischa was great’

MELBOURNE, Jan 22, 2017 – World number one Andy Murray found his stunning defeat hard to swallow after 50th-ranked Mischa Zverev extended his Australian Open agony in the fourth round on Sunday.

Murray, who has lost five finals in Melbourne, again left without the trophy after he fell to the inspired Zverev 7-5, 5-7, 6-2, 6-4 in a three-hour, 34-minute classic.

This time, Murray departs in week one after failing to capitalize on the second-round defeat of six-time champion Novak Djokovic, so often his nemesis at the tournament.

Mischa Zverev

“I’ve had tough losses in my career in the past. I’ve come back from them. This is a tough one,” Murray said.

“I’m sure I’ll come back okay from it. But right now I’m obviously very down because I wanted to go further in this event, and it wasn’t to be.”

Murray looked set to break his Melbourne Grand Slam jinx when his arch-rival Djokovic, who has beaten him in four Australian finals, was dumped out by Denis Istomin.

The British top seed refused to concede that it was a big opportunity lost after he was ambushed by serve-and-volley specialist Zverev, a former rival from their junior days.

“Did I miss an opportunity? I don’t know. I mean, every year you come is a different chance, different opportunity,” Murray said.

“I mean, still even had I got through this match, (Kei) Nishikori or Roger (Federer) are waiting. Stan’s (Wawrinka) still in.

“There’s certainly no guarantees, even if I got through today’s match, that I would have gone further.”

– ‘Wasn’t meant to be’ –

Murray was coming off a magnificent 2016 which included a second Wimbledon crown, a successful Olympic title defence and replacing Djokovic to become world number one for the first time.

“I’m obviously down about it. It’s just tennis. I had great success for a number of months,” he said.

“Obviously in the biggest events you want to do your best. That’s not been the case here. You know, it happens.”

Murray paid credit to Zverev’s inspired tennis in only their second meeting. The previous time, in Munich two years ago, the Scot cleaned up 6-2, 6-2.

“It just wasn’t meant to be. He served very well when he needed to, especially when he was behind in games,” Murray said.

“Yeah, he deserved to win because he played great when he was down, and also in the important moments.”

Murray couldn’t find a solution to left-hander Zverev relentlessly coming into the net behind his serve, and many times resorted to the lob to get points.

The British top seed’s serve was broken eight times and he made 66 forced errors, testament to the constant pressure put on him by Zverev, who came to the net 118 times.

“I don’t think it’s so much someone necessarily coming in,” Murray said. “It’s the shots he was coming up with when he did come forward.

“I mean, he came up with some great pick-ups, reflex volleys especially at the end of the match when it was tight.”

Murray had not lost before the quarter-finals at the Australian Open since going out to Spaniard Fernando Verdasco in five sets in 2009.

Murray had also not lost to a player ranked as low as the German in Melbourne since he fell to number 51 Juan Ignacio Chela in 2006.

 

Serena Williams simple to fourth round

MELBOURNE, Jan 21, 2017 – A “super-focused” Serena Williams joined sister Venus in the fourth round of the Australian Open Saturday, ruthlessly snuffing out Nicole Gibbs’s challenge as she accelerates towards a record 23rd Grand Slam title.

The second seed clinically dispatched her fellow American 6-1, 6-3 on Rod Laver Arena, further dispelling any lingering doubts about her early-season form.

It is the 14th time in her 17 Australian Opens she has made at least the fourth round, and sets her up with a clash against 16th-seeded Czech Barbora Strycova, who beat French 21st seed Caroline Garcia.

If she gets through that, Johanna Konta, Caroline Wozniacki or Ekaterina Makarova could be waiting for her in the quarter-finals.

“It was really good to get this under my belt,” she said. “I always try to take everyone super-serious and I’m always super-focused.”

Williams, looking to become the most decorated Grand Slam champion in the Open era, contested just eight events in an injury-shortened 2016, concluding with the US Open.

But any doubts about her form have been put to bed in Melbourne with three comfortable wins — including over former top-ten players Belinda Bencic and Lucie Safarova.

She hardly got out of first gear against Gibbs, dictating terms from the opening game against a player ranked 92 who had never been past the third round at any major.

Gibbs, who was only two years old when Williams made her WTA debut in 1995, was overawed and broken in the fourth game, with the 35-year-old winning every net point she contested.

It was a leisurely work-out with Williams having an answer for everything Gibbs threw at her, breaking again to race through the set in just 26 minutes.

After her second round, Williams said she had been trying to channel positive thoughts on court as she targets a seventh Australian crown, which would also take her past Steffi Graf’s Open-era record of 22 major titles.

She cranked up the pressure in the second set, breaking Gibbs on a double fault to go 2-1 ahead.

Williams, who played her first match on Rod Laver Arena 19 years ago, was going through the motions but she let her guard down briefly when serving for the match, allowing Gibbs to secure her first and only break.

It only delayed the inevitable, with Gibbs promptly broken for the fifth time as Williams drew her masterclass to a close.

Melbourne Park is a happy hunting ground for Williams, who claimed her first Australian Open title way back in 2003, beating elder sister Venus in the final.

Source: TheNation

Rafael Nadal smashes Marcos Baghdatis

Rafael Nadal dispatched Marcos Baghdatis in straight sets on Thursday night to set up a tantalising third-round clash against German teen sensation Alexander Zverev.

The 14-time grand slam champion muscled his way past Baghdatis, a beaten finalist at Melbourne Park in 2006, in an impressive 6-3-6-1 6-3 win on Rod Laver Arena.

“I won in straight sets against a difficult opponent, so very happy for the victory,” Nadal said.

“I think I can do things better, is true. I need to have some less mistakes. But in general, I have been playing well. I played solid with my serve.

“Then I created lot of chances on the return against a player that serves, well, no? So that’s good news.”

A jubilant Nadal punched the air in delight after he closed out the match.

Unique loss Novak Djokovic

MELBOURNE, Jan 19, 2017 – Defending champion Novak Djokovic was sensationally knocked out in the second round of the Australian Open by unheralded Uzbek Denis Istomin in a major shock on Thursday.

The 117th-ranked Istomin ousted the six-time winner 7-6 (10/8), 5-7, 2-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 in 4hr 48min on Rod Laver Arena.

It was the world number two’s earliest Grand Slam exit since Wimbledon 2008, when he was beaten by Marat Safin in the second round.

It was also only Djokovic’s second loss to a player outside the top 100 in seven years, after his defeat to 145th-ranked Juan Martin del Potro at last year’s Rio Olympics.

“He played obviously above his level. You got to give him credit for that,” Djokovic said. “Many things came together for him today. He’s a well-deserved winner.

“He deserved to win. No doubt, he was a better player in the clutch moments. There’s not much I could do.”

Istomin, who got into the main draw as the winner of the Asia wildcard play-off in December, said it was the high point of his playing career.

“It is the biggest win for me, and it means so much,” Istomin said, struggling with the emotions of his achievement.

“So now I can feel that I can play with these guys and to be with them on the same level.”

He added: “I feel sorry for Novak. I was playing so good today. I mean, I also surprised myself today.”

Serbia’s Djokovic was bidding to win a record seventh Australian Open title and overtake Australian Roy Emerson, who won six in the 1960s.

It was a miserable start to the Grand Slam season for Djokovic, who surrendered his top world ranking to Andy Murray last year and fell to second in the world for the first time since June 2014.

Istomin played at an extraordinary level from the opening game, which took 16 minutes — signalling the impending struggle for Djokovic.

Last year Djokovic survived an epic four-and-a-half hour five-setter against Frenchman Gilles Simon in the Australian Open fourth round, but this time there was no escape.

Istomin broke the defending champion’s serve in the seventh game before Djokovic broke back in the following game as the marathon first set went to a tiebreaker.

Djokovic had two set points but it was Istomin who grabbed the set 10-8, ending an 85-minute struggle.

The 12-time Grand Slam champion had more early problems when he clutched his left hamstring after stretching for a volley in the third game of the second set, and called for the trainer at the next changeover.

Istomin held two set points at 5-4 for a two-love lead but Djokovic fought them off and broke the Uzbek in the next game before levelling the match after almost two-and-a-half hours.

Istomin looked to be tiring and he dropped three straight service games as Djokovic surged back to take the third set and hit the front for the first time.

But Istomin wouldn’t go away. He broke Djokovic’s serve early in the fourth set and had a set point at 5-4, but the Serb saved it.

Istomin had control of the tiebreaker and got to 5-1 before he took the match into a fifth set with a second-serve ace on his fourth set point.

He was too strong in the final set, breaking Djokovic’s serve in the fifth game and admirably handling the pressure to serve it out.

He only needed the first of his two match points to claim victory when Djokovic’s return of service went over the baseline.

Istomin will now meet Spanish 30th seed Pablo Carreno Busta in the third round.

Source: TheNation