2014/11/28

Federer Withdraws from Year-End Final with Back Injury

Federer on changeover

Chalkdust Chronicles – Sad end to a low-key tournament

 

(November 16, 2014) LONDON – After semi-finals that finally set the tournament alight, there was an audible gasp from the crowds who had gathered for the Finals as Roger Federer wandered out in a cardigan and trousers to announce that he was pulling out of the ATP World Tour Finals with World No. 1 and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic.

 

The rumors had already been circulating when he had not shown up for practice, having opted for one of the courts in the public area and not on the main court.

 

As the announcement was made to media to take to the court for the announcement, it seemed a fitting end to one of the strangest tournaments, with the only shining lights being the semi-finals.

 

“Unfortunately I’m not match fit,” Federer said to the crowd at the O2 Arena. “I tried everything I could last night, also today: painkillers, treatment, rest, so forth, warm-up, until the very end. But I just can’t compete at this level with Novak. It would be too risky at my age to do this right now and I hope you understand.”

In a muted on-court presentation, for his third consecutive title, Djokovic said:

“I feel really sorry for Roger. If he could have come out and played, he would have done.”

 

People who had paid good money for the tickets over the entire week have been disappointed over the week with heavy one-sided matches in the singles until the semi-finals.

 

However the gasping audience were partially mollified with the news that Djokovic would be playing Andy Murray in a pro-set followed by another exhibition match pitting Murray with John McEnroe against Tim Henman and Pat Cash.

 

Meanwhile Swiss thoughts must turn to how they mentally and physically prepare for the Davis Cup on French clay, as that had to have been part of Federer’s decision to pull out.

 

A further complication arises as John McEnroe hinted at a fall out with the Swiss team that went on well into the night. During the match Wawrinka had seemed to have an angry altercation with someone in Federer’s box, and with them being the mainstays of the Swiss team, could spell a mental triumph for the French team before they all even step on court.

 

The World Tour Finals of 2014 will not be known as one of the classics, and if next year should be its last year in London, hopefully it will go out with a bang, and not the whimper of this year.

 

 

Federer’s message on his Facebook page:

fedpullout

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Tournament thriller to set up World 1 Djokovic versus No. 2 Federer in the ATP World Tour Finals

Chalkdust Chronicles – Tournament thriller to set up World 1 Djokovic versus No. 2 Federer in the ATP World Tour Finals

 

(November 15, 2014) LONDON – After a week of sometimes lackluster performances at the ATP World Tour Finals, finally the crowds had something to shout about as Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka battled through an intense three-setter, with Wawrinka just being edged out by the most heartbreaking of margins 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(6), unable to take advantage of any of the four match points he held.

 

That Federer won is no surprise, but to come from a set down after being left standing as Wawrinka built up a double break was not in the script. Maybe nerves caught up with him the first time he tried to serve out the first set as the always dangerous Federer clawed back one of the breaks, and Wawrinka did the deed on the second time of asking.

 

The quality certainly did not diminish in the second set as Federer still failed to capitalize on his opportunities to push into a decider sooner rather than later.

 

Soon it would be Wawrinka’s turn to send a match-point begging, and beating each other up into the deciding set tie-break, Federer got the predictably more confident start. By the time Wawrinka got himself in the lead again, he was starting to feel the effects of the match, cramping up. With Davis Cup around the corner, Federer opted to go for the attack, finally saving four match-points and taking one of his own with a cutting drop volley to set up the final the organizers were longing for.

 

“For sure that game at the end I was nervous,” Wawrinka said in regard to failing to serve out the match. “You make some choice, especially when you’re tired, when you’re nervous. Just wanted to go for it and not wait for mistake.”

 

“I got lucky tonight,” admitted Federer. “Stan played better from the baseline and that usually does the job on this court. But I kept fighting. It’s tough but I’m thrilled to be in another final in London. Novak is playing great tennis. It usually brings the best out of me.”

 

Federer will face off against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Federer is seeking his seventh year-end title, while Djokovic is looking for his third in sucession.

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Djokovic delivers killer blow to clinch the year-end No. 1 ranking

DjokovicYENo120142

Chalkdust Chronicles: Djokovic delivers killer blow to clinch the year-end No. 1

 

(November 14, 2014) LONDON – Novak Djokovic dispatched Tomas Berdych in short order 6-2, 6-2 to regain with year-end No. 1 spot on Friday, as he went 3-0 in the round-robin stage of the Barclays ATP World Tour Final.

 

Although Berdych has the slimmest of chances (Wawrinka has to only win three games to advance) but in a week where the scores have been bizarrely low to say the lest, Berdych seems intent on packing, answering a definitive “no” when asked if there was still a possibility he could win.

 

Djokovic was in devastating form right from the start of the match, breaking immediately to race out to a 3-0 lead in both sets. It was all that Berdych could do to get more than one game on the board, as Djokovic sealed his place in the semi-finals with the first set, before clinching the year-end No. 1 spot with his win, as well as finishing on top of the group.

 

Berdych, who was straight into press, praised Djokovic’s achievement.

 

“Well, definitely he deserves to win. There was no question about it. He just secure his spot for the No. 1 player in the world. I think it just show how great he is, how well he played during the whole season.”

 

He continued: “I find the court very tricky, very challenging. It doesn’t allow you for any mistakes. In my word, I think it’s very slow. You know, for us who wants to hit the serve and try to play aggressive, it’s very difficult. So that’s why we kind of struggle with that.”

 

For someone who had just regained the No. 1 spot, Djokovic was in contemplative move, with a job still to do as he bids for his fourth season-ending title.

 

He said; “It’s difficult to say what is more important. But both these goals are always my goals in the beginning of the season. So I’m glad I managed to achieve both. To win a Grand Slam in one season and be No. 1.”

 

Djokovic will face Kei Nishikori who qualified out of Group B in second place, and although they split their head to head, Djokovic lost to him in the US Open semi-final, before beating him handily in Paris.

 

He surmised: “It’s obvious that he’s experiencing the best season of his life. He’s top 5 of the world. He’s playing some great tennis. He’s one of the quickest players around. Deservedly he’s in semifinals only on his debut.”

 

Djokovic added: “I expect a tougher match than it was in Paris, that’s for sure. But, again, the conditions indoor and outdoor, where I lost to him in US Open, are quite different. I’m feeling pretty confident playing now, as well as he. So it’s going to be a good, high‑class tennis.”

Djokovic and Nishikori will play in the day session on Saturday.

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Federer and Nishikori reign supreme in Group B at ATP World Tour Finals

Roger Federer photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Roger Federer photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Chalkdust Chronicles: Federer and Nishikori reign supreme in Group B at ATP World Tour Finals

(November 13, 2014) LONDON – Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori qualified from Group B to advance to the knockout stages of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

 

The Japanese player had to wait for his confirmation, but his win over alternate David Ferrer pushed Federer into the semi-finals. Nishikori was scheduled to face Milos Raonic, who was 0-2 already in the competition, but despite practicing earlier, he pulled out with a quad injury a couple of hours before the match was due to start.

The Canadian explained: “It was just something I sustained during my last match. Through extensive sort of research with the doctor’s team here, we found that I have a slight tear on the vastus medialis on my quad.”

 

On medical advice he was told that taking to the court could mean putting himself out of action for a considerable amount of time.

 

“Losing six to eight weeks of solely rehab sort of means you lose 12 weeks of getting back into shape and everything, those are definitely significant factors in my decision. At some points I didn’t want to accept it and listen to it. But it is what it is. I, alongside my team, all the staff with the ATP, made the best decision I believe.”

 

So it was left to David Ferrer to step in with the scenarios changing, and for the first time the crowd were treated to a three-set match as the Spaniard took advantage of a lapse in Nishikori’s level to edge the first set, but an early break at the start of the second sent the momentum back Nishikori’s way, as he ran away with it in the third set claiming th amtch 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

 

“It’s never easy playing against David because he’s very consistent from the baseline,” said Nishikori. “If I want to win, I have to do something to break his tennis. From the second set, I was more aggressive. The final set was almost perfect.”

The final match alas did not live up to its promise, as Roger Federer blasted Andy Murray off the court 6-0, 6-1. After holding his first game, Federer went on a tear to win 10 games in a row before the battered Brit finally got a game on the board, only for Federer to wrap up the set in less than an hour.

 

After the match Federer said: “I think if there’s a slight difference of the level from the baseline, hard to get out of it. We’ve seen it all week. The serve doesn’t have that much impact. I didn’t even necessarily serve so well. But you got to play the right way here, use the court to your advantage as much as you can.

 

He continued: “But I had the upper hand from the baseline, which hasn’t always happened against him. But I definitely was able to play on my terms. For me, things went very well. I was able to put Andy under pressure very often, and I think the match couldn’t have gone any better for me really.”

 

 

Coming straight into his post-match news conference Murray admitted: “He played exceptionally well. I can say I’m disappointed with my level tonight. But if I played well, he probably still would have won anyway. He was striking the ball very, very clean. Made very few mistakes. Was hitting the ball off the middle of the racquet on serve, returns.”

 

Murray is on best-man duty for best friend Ross Hutchins next week and has just 14 days before the start of the International Premier Tennis League, where he will be playing in a series of exhibition events, before playing in the Mubadala World Tennis Championships and the Hopman Cup ahead of the start of the season.

 

Tennis Panorama News is covering the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.  Follow on twitter for live updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Roger Federer in cruise control in London

Federer on court-001

Chalkdust Chronicles: Roger Federer in cruise control in London

(November 11, 2014) LONDON – Roger Federer breezed through his second round robin match of the ATP World Tour Finals, as he eased past Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-2.

 

The Japanese player, who overcame nerves to edge out Britain’s Andy Murray in the first round started promisingly, and indeed in the early exchanges looked to be the sharper of the two, but once the errors started racking up, and his backhand down the line deserted him, he looked a shadow of the player who stepped up on his debut.

 

He admitted: “Maybe he didn’t play maybe hundred percent, but all the tough points he played, you know, good serve, good points. He didn’t give me a chance to come back. Yeah, I think he did great that. Important points, he put all the efforts.”

 

“I didn’t play really bad. But still, you know, I wasn’t really consistent everything, my serve, my strokes. I had a little bit of unforced errors. So that’s why I couldn’t, you know, stay there.”

 

For the second time in the tournament, Nishikori received treatment on his wrist, but he played it down, in a season where wrist injuries have plagued many players.

 

“[I] just had a little bit of soreness today. I mean, the tennis was okay. I was playing really solid from the baseline. Maybe serve wasn’t there, you know, today. But I have one more day, tomorrow, off. So try to come back, recovery well, and hopefully I can win next one. “

 

Federer in the mean time is riding high, almost virtually assured of his place in the semi-finals, if Andy Murray beats Milos Raonic in three sets, and the benefit of a guaranteed place is not lost on him.

 

“I’d like to be qualified, to be quite honest. At least I know I am through maybe than having to win a set or maybe having to win the entire match. I don’t even know what it takes. Usually if you do win in straight sets twice, things look very, very good.

 

He continued: “The advantage of being qualified, if that were to happen, is just that you can go into the match a bit more laid back. But then again, the integrity of the game, and there’s so much still at stake for me, wanting to beat a fellow rival and wanting to win the points that are at stake, go in with a clean sheet into the semis is any way to go.”

 

The final Group B round robin matches will be played on Thursday.

 

Tennis Panorama News is covering the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.  Follow on twitter for live updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Something in the air in London as Djokovic crushes Cilic 6-1, 6-1 in his World Tour Finals opener

Djokovic

Chalkdust Chronicles: Something in the air in London as Djokovic crushes Cilic 6-1, 6-1 in his World Tour Finals opener

 

(November 10, 2014) LONDON – It can hardly be credited that Day 2 of the World Tour Finals would see two very one sided matches between 4 of the ATPs elite, yet the evening match was a near perfect copy of the day match.

 

Novak Djokovic was in devastating form with a break before even the first change of ends, and somewhat unbelievably the score-line matched Stan Wawrinka’s, in the first match, albeit a whole two minutes longer.

 

There was a brief flurry of hope for Marin Cilic fans when he broke Djokovic back at the start of the second set but that was to be his only game, as the Serb and two-time defending champion surged ahead once more, closing out a 6-1, 6-1 win in 56 minutes.

For Cilic, it will be his first experience of the peculiarities of this tournament: Arriving by river-boat, he could be forgiven for equating that to a sinking feeling as the good ship Cilic gave the Titanic a run for its money.

 

“I felt that Novak played really, really solid today. In some matches, the score just keeps running. You are sinking a lot. You are, you know, always trying to find something. But whatever you try, it’s not working.”

 

He continued: “I felt a little bit uncomfortable on the court, rusty.”

 

If Cilic was rusty, Djokovic and his team were a well-oiled machine of preparation and in therein lies the real secret of success, as Djokovic explained:

 

“I was preparing myself for this match. I knew already one week ago that I’m going to play Marin at 8 p.m. on Monday. My team did a good scouting. We thought about, you know, what’s the game plan. I stepped in and executed really well.

 

“His debut in the World Tour Finals has gotten best out of him in terms of his nerves. You could see that he didn’t feel so comfortable. Tried to use my experience playing on this stage, the stadium, which is pretty different from any other.”

 

 

Djokovic now extends his unbeaten run on indoor courts to 28 matches, and srely has the form to handle Wawrinka in the next round robin match, although given his sudden reversal in form, hopefully this will be a bit more of a match.

 

And all is not lost for the unlucky losers and a host of must win matches now abound.

 

It has been a bad start for two out of the three rookies, so will the round-robin be their friend or foe, and should we get the life-belts out?

 

 

Tennis Panorama News is covering the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.  Follow on twitter for live updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Chalkdust Chronicles – Berdych blown off court by Wawrinka

 

Chalkdust Chronicles – Berdych blown off court by Wawrinka

 

(November 10, 2014) LONDON – Tomas Berdych may have to wait until next year for a chance to finally break his World Tour Finals opening round duck after being completely blown off court by Stan Wawrinka in the Group A opening round robin match.

 

Wawrinka, who has struggled for form since the US Open, certainly made up for that by steaming to a 5-0 lead in the first set before going on to match the score-line and time of Roger Federer the night before, wrapping up the first set in just 25 minutes.

 

Think for a moment about those who paid just for a day ticket – if they decided to give the doubles a miss, that was some outlay for just shy of an hour’s work by Wawrinka as he notched up his first win in the group 6-1, 6-1.

 

The Swiss had been very relaxed in his pre-tournament press conference, happy to be here in different circumstances to last year as one of the early qualifiers, and now, feeling very confident.

 

“I didn’t expect to win that easy,” said Wawrinka. “But I was ready to play well. I had a great week of preparation. Even if the result wasn’t there in Basel and Paris, I was feeling the ball really well on the practice court.

“When I feel good on the court, I’m ready to beat everybody. It’s never easy, but you have to fight for it.”

Berdych could not do much more than admit it had not been his day.

“There are days like that. Now it’s over of that. Really, I mean, it’s just matter of looking forward, trying to find a way for next few days. Just try to leave this somewhere very far and try to come up with some better tennis.”

 

Wawrinka and Berdych will next play on Wednesday when the two winners and the two losers will pitch against each other.

 

Tennis Panorama News is covering the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.  Follow on twitter for live updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Chalkdust Chronicles: Federer rampant over Raonic

 

Chalkdust Chronicles: Federer rampant over Raonic

 

(November 9, 2014) LONDON – World Tour Finals rookie Milos Raonic got a baptism of fire on his debut, as memories of his Paris win and first victory over Roger Federer was all but banished from memory in a 25 minute first set.

 

From the offset, Federer raced out to a 3-0 lead and while Raonic spared his blushes of avoiding a bagel, getting a solitary game on the board, it was not enough to hold back the tide of errors flowing from his racquet.

 

Where in Paris he was serving like a demon, the lack of variety started to harm Raonic as he lacked the court smarts in the first set to try and stay with Federer.

 

It was a more competitive start for the Canadian, but not without some battling still with a big hold to stay in contention at the start of the second before being rewarded with the rarity of break points on the Federer serve, taking the World No. 2 seven minutes to hold as the big serving Canadian was starting to serve a lot better. It was the boost he needed as Federer started to go off the boil.

 

Frustratingly break point chances came again for Raonic in the all important 11th game, and some clutch play from Federer forced a tie-break, and the rhythm and form started to desert him a little as Federer build up a sharp 6-0 lead in the tie-break. He needed just the one match point, as he roasted Raonic 6-1 7-6(0).

 

It was a very satisfied Federer who laid his loss at Paris to rest, as he explained:

 

“I think I played really well for probably one and a half sets. It was good to get off to a good start like I did against him at Cincinnati, and Wimbledon. I had a couple of games where I was up 40‑Love, and both times he came back and got into the game, which was probably my mistake. But it made me uncomfortable. I started to play a bit more passive. He started to become a bit more offensive. I actually think he was the better player from that moment on and deserved the set more than I did.

 

“Thankfully he didn’t play quite so well, like he did in Paris maybe. He gave me a few shots here and there, especially at the beginning of the breaker. I think those were crucial.      I was happy to bring it home because it was very close at the end of the second.”

 

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

Raonic, on the other hand knows that he faces a real challenge, and so far has come of worse with one more debutant to go tomorrow, as Marin Cilic takes on Novak Djokovic.

 

“It’s obviously disappointing, very disappointing actually, the way I finished that second set off. He was a lot more consistent on his return games. In Paris, okay, I’d get free points when I hit aces, but today the big difference was when he would get his racquet on the ball, he would make me play all the time. He was giving me some shots in Paris in that sense, some quicker points.

 

“I believe he played better today. I believe I started off not playing nearly as well, but I think I sort of found that Paris level that I had against him come the second set. I think that’s why I was able to create some opportunities for myself.”

 

He will face Andy Murray who was edged out by the third newcomer to London Kei Nishikori.

 

“It’s a completely different match. Things are going to be quite different than the first match. We both, after today, have more so of an idea what we need to do different for the next round. It’s going to be about who necessarily adjusts better, who can play better come Tuesday night.”

 

Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych will play the Monday day session and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic starts his defense in the night session.

 

Tennis Panorama News is covering the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.  Follow on twitter for live updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

 

 

RESULTS FOR SUNDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 2014

Singles – Group B Round Robin
[2] R Federer (SUI) d [7] M Raonic (CAN) 61 76(0)
[4] K Nishikori (JPN) d [5] A Murray (GBR) 64 64

Doubles – Group B Round Robin
[7] I Dodig (CRO) / M Melo (BRA) d [2] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) 63 75
[6] M Granollers (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP) d [4] J Benneteau (FRA) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 64 64

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Chalkdust Chronicles: Grey Day for Murray as he drops first round to newcomer Nishikori

Chalkdust Chronicles: Grey Day for Murray as he drops first round to newcomer Nishikori

 

(November 9, 2014) LONDON – Any fears that Andy Murray might have had about having to win fins back were answered with rousing cheers as the home-grown champion opened the day’s proceedings at the Barclays ATP world Tour Finals.

 

It looked to be starting so promisingly too. While Kei Nishikori starting nervously and Murray looking to be just that more solid, the poppy-sporting Brit drew first blood with a break to more rapturous cheering. However that was soon muted as Nishikori started generating a lot more pace and hustling Murray more, breaking him to love straight away.

 

It was a wasted opportunity of a battle that saw Murray squander a couple of breakpoints and from there Nishikori seemed to take heart, dealing the final break to seal the first set.

 

Maybe there is something about the day matches that tends to leave the atmosphere a bit flat, but Nishikori stunned them into silence racing into a 3-0 lead.

 

British hopes were roused a little when Murray stemmed the flow winning three games in a row to level at 4-4 in the second set and it looked as though the day crowd were going to get their money’s worth, but almost immediately the same lapse in concentration saw Murray broken, as Nishikori came through his London debut 6-4 6-4.

 

Murray had little choice but to be quite clinical with his review of the match.

 

“I didn’t serve well enough. He was able to dictate a lot of points, especially behind my second serve. Both of us struggled at the beginning of the match. The conditions, when you play with no one in there, it seemed like it was pretty full today. It’s obviously warmer, which then makes it quicker, the ball becomes a bit more lively.

 

“He definitely started playing better at the end of the first set and started feeling a bit more comfortable with those conditions.

 

Of course the benefit of the World Tour finals is that there are still two more round robin matches to go, but in a close group where it is maybe not as clear cut as perhaps the group of three Slam winners, Murray wasted a valuable chance to make life easy on himself.

 

“It’s harder to qualify when you lose your first match. But unlike the other events, you still have a chance to go through,” Murray said. “If this were anywhere else, I would be out of the tournament. You need to try to forget about today, work on some things tomorrow, and hopefully play better on Tuesday.”

 

For Nishikori it is a great start to cap a fantastic year for the record breaking Japanese player, who has battled to stay fit, despite having to call the trainer out briefly at the end of the first set.

 

“The court is same as Paris, so I was little bit used to playing this surface,” Nishikori said. “But the stadium is huge. You know, I try not to look up too much [and] try to stay focus. Maybe when I walk into the stadium, I was nervous, but same time I was really excited to play with this crowd. I was really happy that I played good tennis on this situation.”

 

Nishikori in the past has been almost a fragile little flower, so it has been pleasing to see him weather several weeks of tough competition, and he explained how he had improved in that area.

 

“I’m spending more time on the gym and also on the courts, too, you know, more practice during off‑season. Even when I’m on the tour, I try to do little bit of rehab and little bit of training. Maybe that’s one of the reason. I had couple injuries this year, you know, I had to retire couple matches, important matches. But I’ve been getting really strong, my body. Yeah, in US Open I played five sets. But I can able to finish seven matches first time, so I think I’m very strong physically.”

 

But with that comes the need to become tougher mentally, and given how shaky Nishikori’s first serve at times wandering around the cavern that is the O2, it was a testament to his improved strength of focus that he did not crumble when Murray fought back in the second set.

 

“I was [trying] to stay calm, even he was playing little better, you know, start playing little more consistent.

 

“First time I play Roger, couldn’t play anything ’cause I respect too much. I wasn’t go for win actually. I was just, you know, play tennis against my idol. That was one of the problem I had. But after couple years, I got mentally strong. I have to be strong to beat them. Maybe that’s one of the reason we Asia players has to be really strong. You have to believe yourself.”

 

It will be the turn of Group A to take to the court on Monday, with Group B playing again on Tuesday.

Tennis Panorama News is covering the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.  Follow on twitter for live updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Serena Williams Three-Peats at WTA Finals

Singapore trophy presentation

(October 26, 2014) Serena Williams avenged a round-robin stage loss to Simona Halep and gave the Romanian a dose of her own medicine, as the American claimed her third straight WTA Finals championship on Sunday routing the fourth seed 6-3, 6-0.

Just four days ago Halep demolished Williams during the group stage 6-0, 6-2. The 33-year-old veteran turned the tables on her 23-year-old opponent on Sunday, winning 11 of the last 12 games of the match.

For Williams, it’s her fifth year-end championship, which puts her in a tie for second all-time with Steffi Graf, behind Martina’s Navratilova with eight. In winning her 64th career title, Williams is now just three behind Billie Jean King for the seventh-most of the Open Era. For the fourth time in her career Williams has won at least seven titles during a season.
“I just started training again last week because I had such a bad knee in Beijing,” said the 18-time major winner. “I can’t believe I even made it to Singapore, and now I have the Billie Jean King Trophy, so I’m just really excited.”

Halep admitted to being tense. “I was nervous before the match that I had to play this big final,” she said. “I couldn’t manage very well the situation.”

“I was a little bit nervous. I was tired a little bit and I couldn’t make the step into the court and to, you know, open the court to play more aggressive.”

“I knew that she would be more motivated during this match because we played a few days ago and I won.”

Williams played a relentless attacking game on Sunday, different from her Thursday encounter with Halep.

“I had to play more Serena‑style tennis and just do what I do best: enforce myself,” said the world No. 1 who hit 25 winners on the day. “That’s what I was trying to do.”

“I knew she will play better this match because she saw how I play, she saw what she has to do during the match,” Halep said.

“So she did really well today.”

“I gave everything today, and, you know, that was my level today,” Halep said. “Wasn’t my best day, but I’m still happy and I’m still enjoying this moment because it’s a good moment for me.”

 

“She was more motivated and more focused maybe this match, and she tried to hit the balls very strong.

“Like I said before, every day is a new day, it’s different day. So we saw today that was different day.”

The twist and turns of the situation of the group stage that let Williams qualify for the semifinals in the first place, was Halep taking a set off Ana Ivanovic in her final round-robin match. Had Halep not won a set off of the Serb, Williams would not have reached the semifinals.

“No, I have no regrets, because I did my job on court against Ivanovic,” Halep. “I tried to win the match. I couldn’t, but I never thought that I have to lose in two sets against Ivanovic.

“That was the chance. She deserves to win the title. She’s much better. So, yeah, it’s okay. I have no regrets.”

Williams said she would have done the same thing if she were in Halep’s situation.

“We play and give our all for everything,” Williams said.

“She (Halep) definitely gives her all, so I don’t think that went through her mind at all. If anything, she would’ve won three matches would’ve had a chance to go for more points, more money. It’s a much better incentive to try your best.”

For Halep, it’s been a career year for the Romanian now ranked No. 3 for 2014. She reached No. 2 in the world and was a finalist at the French Open – A big improvement from her No. 64 ranking less than two years ago.

“I improved a lot this year, this period, so I’m happy with my game,” Halep said.

“I can say that my dream is to win a Grand Slam, but I don’t know if I can next year.

“I want just to be focused for every tournament, to take very important ‑‑ every tournament to be very important for me.

“I want to improve more in my game, and then we will see what is going to happen. I want to remain in top 10 next year.”

Williams talked about her rollercoaster ride of a year in 2014.
“It’s been a really difficult year for me,” Williams admitted. “I don’t think I’ve had such an up and down year. I started out well with Brisbane; then didn’t do well in Australia; then I did well again in Miami.

“It was really up and down. I ended the year well. I had a couple injuries in the beginning of Asia, but I’m glad I came and I was able to end well. So I think that was important. How you start is how you finish, right?”

Williams took home a check for two million dollars and will have an orchid named after her for victory this week.

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