2014/08/30

2014 US Open Women’s Contender Profiles

Serena Williams

(August 24, 2014) Profiles of the top Women’s Singles contenders for 2014 U.S. Open. Note: Grand Slam records for main draw matches only.  – by Jack Cunniff     http://twitter.com/jrcunniff

 

1.Serena Williams

2014 Record: 38-6

Grand Slam Record: 252-39

U.S. Open Record: 72-9

U.S. Open Best Result: Won (1999, 2002, ’08, ’12, ‘13)

Fast Fact: Serena has lost only once at the U.S. Open to a player that was not a Grand Slam champion (Spirlea, 1998).

 

2. Simona Halep

2014 Record: 38-12

Grand Slam Record: 25-17

U.S. Open Record: 5-4

U.S. Open Best Result: 4R (2013)

Fast Fact: Halep has won more Grand Slam matches (18) than any other woman over the last 12 months.

 

3. Petra Kvitova

2014 Record: 30-12

Grand Slam Record: 63-23

U.S. Open Record: 10-6

U.S. Open Best Result: 4R (2009, ‘12)

Fast Fact: Kvitova has only one win at the U.S. Open over a Top 25 player – No. 1 Dinara Safina (2009).

 

4. Agnieszka Radwanska

2014 Record: 42-15

Grand Slam Record: 89-323

U.S. Open Record: 16-8

U.S. Open Best Result: 4R (2007, ’08, ’12, ‘13)

Fast Fact: Randwanska has lost to a player ranked lower than her in her last 10 Grand Slam events.

 

5. Maria Sharapova

2014 Record: 38-9

Grand Slam Record: 162-39

U.S. Open Record: 29-8

U.S. Open Best Result: Won (2006)

Fast Fact: Since winning the U. S. Open in 2006, Sharapova has only advanced past the Fourth Round once (2012).

 

6. Angelique Kerber

2014 Record: 39-18

Grand Slam Record: 46-27

U.S. Open Record: 12-6

U.S. Open Best Result: SF (2011)

Fast Fact: Kerber has reached at least the Fourth Round in nine of the last ten Grand Slam events.

 

7. Eugenie Bouchard

2014 Record: 37-17

Grand Slam Record: 20-6

U.S. Open Record: 1-1

U.S. Open Best Result: 2R (2013)

Fast Fact: Bouchard has the best record among all women in 2014 Grand Slam events, but has lost her opening round main draw match in 8 of 14 WTA Tour Events.

 

8. Ana Ivanovic

2014 Record: 47-13

Grand Slam Record: 97-38

U.S. Open Record: 20-9

U.S. Open Best Result: QF (2012)

Fast Fact: Ivanovic leads the WTA Tour in 2014 match wins (47).

 

9. Jelena Jankovic

2014 Record: 33-17

Grand Slam Record: 102-44

U.S. Open Record: 28-10

U.S. Open Best Result: RU (2008)

Fast Fact: Jankovic is the only woman in the field who has been seeded for each of the last 10 U.S. Open events (2005-2014).

 

10. Caroline Wozniacki

2014 Record: 34-14

Grand Slam Record: 73-30

U.S. Open Record: 22-7

U.S. Open Best Result: RU (2009)

Fast Fact: Prior to the 2014 Connecticut Open, Wozniacki had won at least three matches in her previous five consecutive events, her best stretch since August – October 2010.

 

11. Flavia Pennetta

2014 Record: 25-14

Grand Slam Record: 66-44

U.S. Open Record: 20-9

U.S. Open Best Result: SF (2013)

Fast Fact: Pennetta reached a Grand Slam semifinal at last year’s U.S. Open, her first time in 41 attempts; only two players took longer to reach a Grand Slam semi (Likhovtseva – 46, Tauziat – 42).

 

12. Dominika Cibulkova

2014 Record: 29-18

Grand Slam Record: 53-28

U.S. Open Record: 10-6

U.S. Open Best Result: QF (2010)

Fast Fact: A tale of two seasons: from January through April 2014, Cibulkova’s won/loss record was 24-7 (77.4%). From May through August 2014, Cibulkova’s won/loss record was 5-9 (35.7%).

 

16. Victoria Azarenka

2014 Record: 10-7

Grand Slam Record: 97-32

U.S. Open Record: 24-8

U.S. Open Best Result: RU (2012, ‘13)

Fast Fact: In her last three U.S. Open appearances, Azarenka has a 0-3 records vs. Serena Williams, and 14-0 record against all other players.

 

19. Venus Williams

2014 Record: 24-11

Grand Slam Record: 219-56

U.S. Open Record: 63-13

U.S. Open Best Result: W (2000, ’01)

Fast Fact: Venus hasn’t reached the Fourth Round of a Grand Slam in her last 10 attempts, her last appearance in the 4R was Wimbledon 2011.

 

20. Svetlana Kuznetsova

2014 Record: 20-12

Grand Slam Record: 131-45

U.S. Open Record: 33-10

U.S. Open Best Result: W (2004)

Fast Fact: Since winning the title here ten years ago, Kuznetsova has compiled a 1-4 record vs. Top Twenty players at Flushing Meadow (d. No. 6 Chakvetadze, 2007 SF)

Related article:

2014 US Open Men’s Contender Profiles

 

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2014 US Open Men’s Contender Profiles

Djokovic

(August 24, 2014) Profiles of the top Men’s Singles contenders for 2014 U.S. Open. Note: Grand Slam records for main draw matches only.  – by Jack Cunniff     http://twitter.com/jrcunniff

 

1.Novak Djokovic

2014 Record: 39-6

Grand Slam Record: 175-32

U.S. Open Record: 45-8

U.S. Open Best Result: W (2011)

Fast Fact: Djokovic is looking for his fifth consecutive U.S. Open Final, tying Connors for third place in the Open Era (Lendl – 8, Federer – 6).

 

2. Roger Federer

2014 Record: 49-9

Grand Slam Record: 274-44

U.S. Open Record: 67-9

U.S. Open Best Result: Won (2004-’08)

Fast Fact: With 67 U.S. Open match wins, Federer could pass both Sampras (71) and Lendl (73) at the 2014 U.S. Open. Connors (97) and Agassi (79) have the most U.S. Open match wins.

 

3. Stan Wawrinka

2014 Record: 31-10

Grand Slam Record: 79-37

U.S. Open Record: 23-9

U.S. Open Best Result: SF (2013)

Fast Fact: Wawrinka’s only loss to a Top Ten opponent in 2014 came in the Wimbledon quarterfinals against Federer. He has compiled a 6-1 record vs. Top Ten opponents for the year.

 

4. David Ferrer

2014 Record: 43-16

Grand Slam Record: 120-47

U.S. Open Record: 27-10

U.S. Open Best Result: SF (2007, ‘12)

Fast Fact: On August 11, 2014, Ferrer celebrated 200 consecutive weeks ranked in the ATP Top Ten, dating back to October 10, 2010.

 

5. Milos Raonic

2014 Record: 34-12

Grand Slam Record: 32-15

U.S. Open Record: 6-3

U.S. Open Best Result: 4R (2012-‘13)

Fast Fact: Raonic will pass $6 million in career earnings after the U.S. Open. He has earned 46% of his prize money ($2.75M) over the last 12 months.

 

6. Tomas Berdych

2014 Record: 37-14

Grand Slam Record: 99-44

U.S. Open Record: 24-11

U.S. Open Best Result: SF (2012)

Fast Fact: Berdych is attempting to win his 100th Grand Slam match in the first round of the U.S. Open. In nine of the last ten years, Berdych has lost at least one first round match at a Grand Slam, but he has not in 2014.

 

7. Grigor Dimitrov

2014 Record: 38-12

Grand Slam Record: 17-16

U.S. Open Record: 0-3

U.S. Open Best Result: 1R (2011-‘13)

Fast Fact: In 2014, Dimitrov has a 9-3 record in Grand Slam events (75% winning pct). Prior to 2014, Dimitrov had an 8-13 record in Grand Slam events (38% wining pct).

 

8. Andy Murray

2014 Record: 34-14

Grand Slam Record: 130-32

U.S. Open Record: 33-8

U.S. Open Best Result: W (2012)

Fast Fact: If he fails to reach the U.S. Open final, it will be the first year since 2009 that Murray does not reach a final in a Grand Slam event.

 

9. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

2014 Record: 30-14

Grand Slam Record: 81-27

U.S. Open Record: 12-5

U.S. Open Best Result: QF (2011)

Fast Fact: Tsonga is the only player in 2014 to defeat four top ten players in the same event (Toronto, defeated Djokovic, Murray, Dimitrov, Federer)

 

10. Kei Nishikori

2014 Record: 34-9

Grand Slam Record: 31-20

U.S. Open Record: 7-5

U.S. Open Best Result: 4R (2008)

Fast Fact: Nishikori is the last player to reach the second week of the U.S. Open at 18 years old (2008).

 

11. Ernests Gulbis

2014 Record: 35-15

Grand Slam Record: 26-28

U.S. Open Record: 6-7

U.S. Open Best Result: 4R (2007)

Fast Fact: Gulbis needs only three more wins this season to break his personal record of most match wins in a season (37 wins, 2013).

 

12. Richard Gasquet

2014 Record: 25-13

Grand Slam Record: 72-39

U.S. Open Record: 19-8

U.S. Open Best Result: SF (2013)

Fast Fact: Gasquet hasn’t defeated a Top Ten opponent since David Ferrer in Beijing (October, 2013).

 

13. John Isner

2014 Record: 31-15

Grand Slam Record: 35-25

U.S. Open Record: 15-7

U.S. Open Best Result: QF (2011)

Fast Fact: The last event that Isner played where he didn’t contest a tiebreak was Nice, France (May 2013), a streak of 31 consecutive events.

 

14. Marin Cilic

2014 Record: 40-16

Grand Slam Record: 56-27

U.S. Open Record: 13-5

U.S. Open Best Result: QF (2009, ’12)

Fast Fact: Only two players in the US Open draw have more match wins than Cilic in 2014 (Federer – 49, Ferrer – 43).

 

16. Tommy Robredo

2014 Record: 29-19

Grand Slam Record: 99-50

U.S. Open Record: 30-12

U.S. Open Best Result: QF (2013)

Fast Fact: Milestones: Robredo is attempting to win his 100th Grand Slam match in the first round. If he reaches the fourth round, he will play in his 800th professional match.

 

Related article:

Serena Williams

2014 US Open Women’s Contender Profiles

 

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Flipkens No Fluke

Flipkens photo by Cristiano Andujar/Foto Arena

Flipkens photo by Cristiano Andujar/Foto Arena

By Jack Cunniff

(August 21, 2014) NEW HAVEN – Samantha Stosur continued to improve her 2014 form with a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 quarterfinal win over Kirsten Flipkens in the Connecticut Open. It was a competitive match throughout, with Stosur pulling ahead at the end by capturing the final three games. But she had her hands full with Flipkens. The 28-year-old Belgian is a rarity on the WTA Tour, a player who relies on change of pace and placement, frequently looking to end points at the net. She has a solid serve, that troubled Stosur most of the evening, and is dangerous from all places on the court. Flipkens, best known as a 2013 Wimbledon semifinalist, has struggled through the majority of 2014. Her solid play in New Haven shows that Flipkens is no fluke, and will continue to be a tough opponent for the top players.

 

Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters put women’s tennis on the map for Belgium. As they began their success in the pro ranks, Flipkens was right behind, winning the Junior Girls titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2003. Results on the pro tour did not come immediately. Her career was beset by injuries, although she achieved moderate success to earn a career-high ranking of No. 59 in June, 2010. Her lowest point came in April, 2012. Diagnosed with blood clots in her calf, she was forced off the tour for two months. Shortly after, the Flemish Tennis Foundation pulled their funding for Flipkens. Her ranking dropped to No. 262, too low to enter Wimbledon qualifying. Flipkens was able to play qualifying for the Wimbledon grass court warmup in ‘s-Hertogenbosch, and she made the most of it. She qualified then reached the semifinals without dropping a set. Along the way, she defeated Roberta Vinci and Stosur.

 

This was the spark Flipkens needed. She won two ITF tournaments in the summer of 2012, then qualified for the U.S. Open before falling to No. 1 Victoria Azarenka in the second round. After the U.S. Open, she won her first WTA event in Quebec City, defeating four Top Sixty players. Throughout this period, without the support of her federation, Flipkens was on her own with no coach, no hitting partners, and no on-site support system. She relied on support from her home base, including her good friend Clijsters.

 

After Quebec City, Flipkens was on a roll. In her next four events, she reached two semifinals and one quarterfinal. At the 2013 Australian Open, she reached the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam event for the first time. Strong results continued, and her ranking was No. 20 entering Wimbledon. The next two weeks at the All England Club were the pinnacle of her career, culminating in a quarterfinal Wimbledon win over the 2011 champion Kvitova. A few weeks later, a win over Venus Williams in Toronto pushed her ranking to No. 13, which remains a career high.

 

This year has not been as successful for Flipkens. Her best result remains a semifinal in Auckland, the opening event of 2014. Her defeat of No. 19 Petkovic in the second round of the Connecticut Open was her best win of the year, and three sets against an in-form Stosur shows that she’s not ready to fade from view quite yet.

 

Around the grounds… It was a rematch of the Wimbledon quarterfinal between Petra Kvitiova and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova, with the same result. Kvitova was down a break early, but swept through ten of the last eleven games to advance 6-4, 6-1… Magdalena Rybarikova withstood a second set 6-0 drubbing at the hands of American Allison Riske, and reached the semifinals 7-5, 0-6, 6-4. Riske battled throughout the third set, but three double faults in the sixth game didn’t help her cause… Camila Giorgi wasn’t as dominant in the quarterfinals, as she dropped serve six times in her match against Garbine Muguruza. But the Italian played her game of all-court aggression to reach her second semifinal of the year, 6-4, 6-7, 6-2.

 

CONNECTICUT OPEN PRESENTED BY UNITED TECHNOLOGIES – NEW HAVEN, USA
$ 710,000.00
17-23 AUGUST 2014

RESULTS – AUGUST 21, 2014
Women’s
Singles – Quarterfinals

[2] P Kvitova (CZE) d B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) 64 61
M Rybarikova (SVK) d A Riske (USA) 75 06 64
C Giorgi (ITA) d G Muguruza (ESP) 64 67(4) 62
[WC] S Stosur (AUS) d [WC] K Flipkens (BEL) 63 46 63

Women’s
Doubles – Quarterfinals

C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) d [1] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) 76(2) 64
M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) d [5] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) 16 75 10-7

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, AUGUST 22, 2014
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
WTA – M Rybarikova (SVK) vs C Giorgi (ITA)
WTA – D Jurak (CRO) / M Moulton-Levy (USA) vs A Klepac (SLO) / S Soler-Espinosa (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [WC] S Stosur (AUS) vs [2] P Kvitova (CZE)
WTA – C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU) vs M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP)

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A Former Number One Faces an Uphill Climb

Wozniacki-001

By Jack Cunniff

 

(August 20, 2014) NEW HAVEN – Caroline Wozniacki lost to Camila Giorgi in the second round of the Connecticut Open, 6-4, 6-2. Giorgi, a hard-hitting Italian player, used a strong serve and aggressive groundstrokes to keep Wozniacki on her heels from the start of the match. Wozniacki dropped serve in the opening game, and failed to convert two break points in the second game, her only break opportunities of the day. Giorgi, who also ushered Wozniacki out of the 2013 U.S. Open, gave no rhythm, going for broke on almost all of her shots. It was a decisive loss for Wozniacki in the venue of her most dominant performances.

 

It was only three years ago, August 2011, that Wozniacki was ranked No. 1 in the world, holding that spot for all but one week of the previous 10 months. She was in the process of winning her fourth consecutive Connecticut Open, and had won seven other titles over the last twelve months. Aside from the growing criticism about her failure to win a Grand Slam event, she was on top of the world. Preparing for the 2011 U.S. Open, Caroline liked her chances: “Well, definitely I feel like I’m hitting the ball well. I’m on a good roll. I’m looking forward to the Open next week.”

 

But there were signs of rust in Wozniacki’s game. In July 2011, she had to retire from a second round Swedish Open match against Sofia Arvidsson. Following that, she suffered back-to-back opening round losses for the first time in two years, losing to Roberta Vinci in Toronto and Christina McHale in Cincinnati. Wozniacki’s downward slide had begun. After beating Petra Cetkovska to defend her New Haven title, it would be over a year before her next title in Seoul, Korea, September 2012. She began losing to lower-ranked players, such as Tamira Paszek and Irena-Camelia Begu. In the process, she would tumble from No. 1 to No. 11.

 

Her struggles continued in 2013 through Wimbledon 2014. She made sporadic appearances in­­­­ finals and semifinals, usually at smaller events. Her record against Top Ten players was a dismal 2-9. She hired and dismissed a couple of different coaches during that period, while retaining father Piotr as a primary coach. Her personal life was fodder for the tabloids, culminating in a broken engagement in May.

 

But something clicked after Wimbledon this past June. She won the Istanbul Cup in July, her first title in nine months. She reached the quarterfinals in Montreal, taking world No. 1 Serena Williams deep in a three set loss. The following week in Cincinnati, she defeated Top Ten players (Angelique Kerber, Agnieszka Radwanska) in back-to-back matches for the first time since the WTA Tour Championships in October 2010. Cincinnati provided another tight three set battle against Williams, this time in the semifinals. Heading into the Connecticut Open, Wozniacki assessed her form: “My confidence is high. I feel like I’ve played really well, I’ve had some good wins and I’ve had a lot of matches, which is great leading up to the Open.”

 

The result in New Haven, long considered Wozniacki’s home away from home, is a half-step back. Wozniacki was disappointed with the loss, and that she could never get into the match. But she wouldn’t let one match result derail her successful summer results, and is expecting success at the U.S. Open.

 

In other play Wednesday at the Connecticut Open, 2011 U.S. Open champ Sam Stosur easily dismissed a hobbled Genie Bouchard. Bouchard, the third seed, had her left thigh wrapped, and could never make an impression on the Stosur serve, falling 6-2, 6-2… Kristen Flipkens won a see-saw battle over Andrea Petkovic, 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. Petkovic served for the match twice in the second set, Flipkens was up a break through most of the third set, but it all came down to a third set tiebreak. When Petkovic saved three match points to even the tiebreak at 6-6, Flipkens held her nerve. A successful serve and volley on match point puts her in the quarterfinals against Stosur… Next for Camila Giorgi is Garbine Muguruza. Muguruza, best known for her dismissal of Serena Williams in the 2014 French Open, came from a break down in the third set to win over Shuai Peng, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2.

 

Jack Cunniff is covering the Connecticut Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

 

CONNECTICUT OPEN PRESENTED BY UNITED TECHNOLOGIES – NEW HAVEN, USA
$ 710,000.00
17-23 AUGUST 2014

RESULTS – AUGUST 20, 2014
Women’s
Singles – Second Round

[WC] S Stosur (AUS) d [3] E Bouchard (CAN) 62 62
C Giorgi (ITA) d [4] C Wozniacki (DEN) 64 62
G Muguruza (ESP) d [Q] S Peng (CHN) 62 36 63
[WC] K Flipkens (BEL) d [WC] A Petkovic (GER) 46 76(4) 76(6)

Women’s
Doubles – Quarterfinals

D Jurak (CRO) / M Moulton-Levy (USA) d [Alt] A Riske (USA) / C Vandeweghe (USA) 76(4) 16 10-8
A Klepac (SLO) / S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) d C Dellacqua (AUS) / S Voegele (SUI) 63 26 10-6

ORDER OF PLAY – THURSDAY, AUGUST 21, 2014
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
WTA – B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs [2] P Kvitova (CZE)
WTA – M Rybarikova (SVK) vs A Riske (USA)
WTA – C Giorgi (ITA) vs G Muguruza (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
WTA – [WC] K Flipkens (BEL) vs [WC] S Stosur (AUS)
Men’s Legends – J Blake (USA) vs A Roddick (USA)

GRANDSTAND start 1:00 pm
WTA – [5] A Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Y Shvedova (KAZ) vs M Erakovic (NZL) / A Parra Santonja (ESP)
WTA – [1] C Black (ZIM) / S Mirza (IND) vs C Garcia (FRA) / M Niculescu (ROU)

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Connecticut Open – Day 1

Connecticut_Open_logo

Connecticut Open – Day 1

 

By Jack Cunniff

 

(August 17, 2014) NEW HAVEN -First Round Action: Sixth seed Flavia Pennetta advanced to the second round of the Connecticut Open defeating Klara Koukalova. Koukalova was a semifinalist here last year, and had defeated Pennetta in New Haven in 2011 …Ekaterina Makarova scored a routine win over Roberta Vinci, 63 63, setting up a second round match against No. 2 seed Petra Kvitova. Makarova defeated Kvitova two weeks ago in the third round of Montreal. Makarova has compiled a very consistent record in 2014; the lowest ranked player she’s lost to this year was No. 26 Svetlana Kuznetsova in Washington, D.C…. Alison Riske defeated Casey Dellacqua in straight sets, snapping a four match losing streak that dated back to her third round Wimbledon loss to Maria Sharapova… Camilla Giorgi, ranked No. 37, defeated Coco Vandeweghe ranked no. 38. Only 3 points separated the two players in the August 11, 2014 rankings.

Qualifying: Sunday’s play at The Connecticut Open saw six players advance to the main draw from the Qualifying event: Belinda Bencic, Shaui Peng, Silvia Soler-Espinosa, Timea Bacsinszky, and by winning third set tiebreaks, Misaki Doi and Irina-Camelia Begu.  Qualifiers have had great success in New Haven. In three of the last five years, a qualifier has reached at least the quarterfinals. The most successful qualifier in recent years was Petra Cetkovska, who reached the New Haven final in 2011, defeating Li Na, Marion Bartoli, and Agnieszka Radwanska en route.
All Access Hour: Petra Kvitova, comparing her 2011 and 2014 Wimbledon wins: “I enjoyed it a little bit more the second time. I feel it is more special a little bit…This year, I felt like I was the favorite for the matches, so it was more difficult.” Kvitova enjoys playing in New Haven, comparing it to the calm before the storm that is the U.S. Open… Simona Halep is attempting her first successful title defense in New Haven. There’s pressure involved in defending her title and the ranking points that come with it, but Halep is quietly confident about her chances: “I’m also relaxed because I played good last week and I’m 100%”… Caroline Wozniacki Is happy with her current form, and feels her close matches to Serena Williams in the past two weeks is proof that her play is on the upswing. But she is concerned about one thing: cookies. “The worst part about (New Haven) is they’ve opened up this cookie shop right around the corner… that is very dangerous.” Wozniacki is doing a lot of running off-court, not only to work off the cookies, but to prepare for the New York Marathon. She will be running for the charity Team For Kids., which raises funds for health and fitness programs for kids… Genie Bouchard breaks down the top 50 players: “The most important thing at this level is the mental side. It’s really about who can play their best in the high pressure situations or on big stages.” When asked about setting Canadian tennis records, Genie cited her Junior Wimbledon title (2013) and becoming the first Canadian to win a Singles Slam “It was huge for me. I made history for my country.”

Jack Cunniff is covering the Connecticut Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN. His personal twitter is @JRCunniff.

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Roger Federer Takes Sixth Cincinnati Crown for 80th Career Title

By Dave Gertler

(August 17, 2014) MASON, OHIO – After making the final of four Masters 1000 events this year, Roger Federer has finally broken through to win his first title at that level since 2012. After beating fellow top 10 players Andy Murray and Milos Raonic to reach the final, Federer’s opponent at the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, was world No. 6 Spaniard David Ferrer, who has troubled the world No .3 lately, but had not beaten Federer in their 15 career matches.

 

Like their quarterfinal played out in Toronto last week, their meeting at the Lindner Family Tennis Center today also went three sets, with 33-year-old Federer giving away the middle set to his 32-year-old opponent.

 

With Federer serving first, both players held easily until Ferrer – serving at 3-4 – double faulted twice to hand Federer the break. Although Federer consolidated for 6-3, it was not before he went down 0-40 and proceeded to save four break points, perhaps a sign of what was coming in the following set.

 

“Let’s not talk about the second set,” Federer joked after the match, perhaps offering some insight into the kind of mentality that brought his title count to 80 today. “I can dwell on it for like 30 minutes if you want and then the press conference is over and we talked about the second set rather than the good stuff.”

 

The second set saw Ferrer tighten up his return game, find his rhythm and apply pressure on Federer’s serve, breaking the Swiss twice for a 6-1 second set. However, said Federer, “I did get some momentum back I think at the end of the second set, even though I did end up losing it 6‑1. I really thought I was feeling better again towards the end of the second set, like he felt better at the end of the first.”

 

Federer, who has reached 8 finals in 2014, compared to a total of 3 in 2013, led with his serve in the third set, when he served 4 of his 6 aces in the match. “The third set he serve unbelievable,” said Ferrer, who was unable to make his opponent save any break points in the final set, while Federer broke him twice for a final score of 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. Federer remains unbeaten in Cincinnati finals, and holds a record 6 titles there.

 

“We’ve never played each other in slams,” said Federer when asked about his one-sided rivalry against Ferrer, “So from that standpoint, like I mentioned the other day, head‑to‑heads don’t mean everything.”

 

Having played ten matches in 13 days, Federer said that on Monday, he considered not playing the Western & Southern Open, in order to conserve energy for next week’s US Open. “I could have just not played here,” said Federer, “And gone into the Open feeling good about my chances, now I feel even better, you know. On the flip coin, what was the other plan? Practice? Take a few days off? But then I have to grind out in the practice. I still believe matches are the best practice right now.”

 

For Federer it was his 80th career singles title.

 

Earlier, Serena Williams beat Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-1 to claim her first Cincinnati title, while Bob and Mike Bryan ended Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock’s 14-match winning streak when they beat them in the doubles final 6-3, 6-2 for their fifth title in Cincinnati. Americans were also winners in the women’s doubles, where Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears played Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, who retired injured from the match trailing 1-6, 0-2.

 

The Western & Southern Open also set new attendance records, drawing 191, 752 fans over 16 sessions to the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney who was covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days

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Serena Williams Wins First Cincinnati Title

By Dave Gertler

(August 17, 2017) MASON, OHIO – Serena Williams proved on Sunday she’s in slam-winning form, by taking out Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-1 in the final of the Western & Southern Open, her last match before the US Open begins in New York.
Williams only dropped one set the whole week, on the way to a 62nd WTA title, and was convincing at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, serving 12 aces and only being broken once – in the first game of the match – on her way to a straight-sets win which took just over an hour.

 

Ivanovic joked after her loss that it “Felt like way more” than 12 aces were being fired at her by the world No.1. “She served a lot bigger and was placing it a lot better. It was very hard for me to read her serves too.” The Serbian world No. 11 had raced out to a 3-1 lead, using her cross-court forehand to dictate points from the baseline, before the world No. 1 was able to assert herself in the match. “She was obviously at that point playing so well,” said Williams, “It was good for me to just kind of get through that moment.”

 

The 32-year-old American did exactly that by jumping on Ivanovic’s first and second serves, hitting clean winners off the return of serve and breaking in the 6th game to level the score. Serving to stay in the first set, Ivanovic hit two consecutive double faults to lose the set 4-6.

 

“That’s something that you cannot do,” Ivanovic said of her two double faults, “Especially against Serena when she’s at her best, like I thought she was today. Then serve fell apart because I tried to force it a little too much. She makes you go for more. That’s when the unforced errors creep in, too.”

 

After Ivanovic held for 1-1, Williams closed out the match in dominant form, losing a total of 5 points on her way to 6-1, hitting two aces in her final service game. “My first day of practice here something just clicked,” said Williams, “I was playing better and I was serving better.”

 

“This is definitely a level that could take me to the title,” said Williams, referring to the US Open which begins next week, a couple of weeks before her 33rd birthday on September 26. “I feel great I think at 32,” she said, “I’m in some of the best shape I’ve been in. I can play long points and be ready to go again. I feel really fit. 32 is the new 22, right?”
Ivanovic, whose previous best result in Cincinnati was a semifinal which she lost to Kim Clijsters in 2010, will begin next week in the WTA’s top 10 for the first time in 5 years. “It’s the biggest final I’ve been in in a while,” said the 26-year-old, “It feels good to be part of it. I just want now to keep working hard and keep improving the areas that I can. There are still few points in my game that I feel I need to work on for the US Open and also for the end of season. Definitely exciting times.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and was covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Serena Williams and David Ferrer Reach Cincinnati Finals

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

By Dave Gertler

 

(August 16, 2014) MASON, OHIO - Serena Williams and David Ferrer are through to their respective finals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio. To win her first title in Cincinnati after reaching last year’s final, said Williams, “It would mean a lot. I haven’t had an opportunity to win this one. It’s a tournament in the States. It would be great for me and for American tennis.”

 

To reach the final, she had to get past an in-form Caroline Wozniacki in a see-saw match that saw Williams go down a set 2-6 to the 12th seed before swinging the momentum back in her favor and taking the second set 6-2.

 

Williams alluded to some physical wear and tear, perhaps from 12 matches in the last 3 weeks, saying her lower back was feeling ‘super tight’ in the match. “That’s when I really relaxed, to be honest,” said Williams, “By then I was able just to go for more shots and come to the net more and just kind of just not have anything to lose.”

 

“I’m fine,” Williams elaborated about her physical condition leading into the US Open, “Just played a lot of tennis in three weeks. I’ve won one, semis in another. I’ve just been going, going, going, going. So that’s it. Just a little wear and getting my body used to playing matches, because my body is not used to playing a lot of matches anymore this year.”

 

Although she was broken 8 times throughout the match, Wozniacki dropped her serve a total of 8 times, also serving 8 double faults. “I was serving pretty well in the beginning,” said Wozniacki, who also lost to Williams in last week’s Roger’s Cup quarterfinal, “But then I kind of just lost a little bit of timing. Then trying to work my way back in, it’s hard.”

 

Between Williams and Wozniacki, there were only 3 holds of serve in the final set, compared to 7 breaks. “Hopefully my arm will be OK tomorrow. We’ll see.” said Williams, who fired off 4 aces in the final set to take the match, and will face either Maria Sharapova or Ana Ivanovic in the final.

 

Meanwhile David Ferrer has reached his 7th career Masters 1000 by beating Julien Benneteau in the first men’s semi-final. Pleased to be appearing in his debut semi-final at this level, Benneteau lasted 1 hour and 11 minutes on Center Court against his opponent who was long ago dubbed The Wall because of his retrieving abilities. “When he has the ball on the racquet, on the return,” said the 32-year-old Frenchman, outlining the type of stress the Spaniard typically causes most of his opponents, “He doesn’t miss anything. Never, never, never.”

 

Ferrer, known more for his returning than his serving, won 75% of points on first serve, and saved the only break point Benneteau made him face during the match. After winning the match 6-3, 6-2, Ferrer was asked who his preferred opponent would be out of the next semi-final. “Well, you know, with Roger,” said Ferrer, “I never beaten him, so of course I prefer Milos. It’s normal.” Ferrer will be focusing singularly on the Western & Southern Open final to be played on Sunday. “I don’t care the US Open in these moments,” he said, “US Open is going to be in two weeks or one week. This tournament is very important for me and for everybody because. Is one Master 1000.”
While Canadian up-and-comer Milos Raonic has the odds stacked against him in his semi-final, never having beaten Roger Federer in their five meetings, Ana Ivanovic has won her most recent match against Maria Sharapova, although Sharapova leads their rivalry 8 wins to 3.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Raonic Sets Up Semifinal Date Against Federer in Cincinnati

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

By Dave Gertler

 

(August 15, 2014) MASON, OHIO – After the disappointment of failing to reach the semifinal of his home Masters 1000 last week in Toronto, Milos Raonic has breezed into the Western & Southern Open semifinal today in Cincinnati. While Raonic’s 6-1, 6-0 win over Fabio Fognini might seem ominous, his semifinal opponent will be Roger Federer who defeated Andy Murray 6-3, 7-5 in the evening session.

 

Fognini – who had advanced to his first career quarterfinal in Cincinnati – ran out of luck as he stepped up against the big-serving Canadian. In a match lasting 57 minutes, Raonic’s serve statistics were troubling for his opponent. He only lost 4 points the whole match behind his first serve, and of the 10 he lost behind his second serve, 3 were double faults. “You can’t really control him,” said Raonic of his often erratic opponent, “It can be very sporadic at times. You just focus on yourself and make sure you do yourself and see and adjust to how things are coming from him as you go.”

 

Although the 27-year-old Italian forced Raonic to successfully defend 7 break points in the second set, he had fewer points than that won on his own serve, and was unable to get on the scoreboard. Despite having two game points in the last game of the match, Fognini double-faulted twice. The last play of the match was a Fognini foot-fault, reminiscent of his loss last year in Cincinnati to Radek Stepanek, where he deliberately foot-faulted to lose the match, before being booed off the court.

 

In Friday’s first men’s quarterfinal, Julien Benneteau scored an upset win over 3rd seed Stan Wawrinka in three sets on Center Court. Despite the Swiss racing away to a 6-1 lead, Benneteau drew on the confidence of his winning career record against Wawrinka, and was able to turn the match around, losing only three more games, taking the match 1-6, 6-1, 6-2.

 

“At the end of first set,” said the 32-year-old Frenchman, of how he turned the match around, “I talk to myself and I said, OK, if I don’t change anything it’s going to be 1 and 3 in 50 minutes and you’re going to lose it. So I said that I need to play harder from the baseline and to put a little bit more intensity in my strokes. Even if I miss it’s OK, but I have to play like this. I thought that the two, three first games of the second set are going to be tough. It’s going to be a tough fight, and I prepare myself to resist to that. I say, OK, you have to stay in the game. You have to take the score. And I broke in the first game, on his first service game in the second set.”
Making his first career appearance at a Masters 1000 semifinal, world No.41 Benneteau is looking forward to the opportunity, saying, “Of course it means something. But the tournament is not done, and I still have a lot to do. We will see.” His semifinal opponent will be David Ferrer, who ousted fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo earlier on Friday.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Djokovic Upset by Robredo, Murray Survives Isner in Cincinnati

 

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

By Dave Gertler

(August 14, 2014) MASON, OHIO – Two of the three Big Four players competing at this year’s Cincinnati Masters played their third-round matches during Thursday’s day sessions. One survived, one didn’t.

 

“The focus is winning right now,” said a composed Andy Murray after his 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(2) win over John Isner, “Not so much how I’m hitting the ball or moving or anything like that. Just trying to win. That’s all that’s important just now.”

 

Since winning Wimbledon last year, Murray has seen his rank plunge from No. 2 to No. 9. First struggling with back surgery rehab, and then adjusting to a new coaching situation. He has regained peak physical condition, but collated a mixture of results that has not seen him advance past the semi-finals of any tournament in the last 14 months.

 

“I want to get back to winning events and being in the finals of the big tournaments,” said Murray, “And winning matches like today is a big step for me.” He and his opponent John Isner, last year’s Western & Southern Open runner-up, played for 2 hours and 23 minutes in front of a Grandstand Court that was packed to the rafters.

 

“Sort of like standing room only,” said Isner, who served 21 aces to Murray’s 14, “You could see people on Center Court at the top looking over and watching. It was great. The fans were unbelievable. I thought they were on my side the whole way, and they were.”

 

After losing the first set tiebreak, Murray then broke Isner for the only break of the match, holding on to win the second set. Then, with the sun in his eyes, serving to stay in the match, Murray served two double faults, allowing Isner his first of two match points. “When it’s 6‑5 in the third set,” said Murray, “Ideally you want to try and get some free points when you can. Maybe made a slight mistake trying to do that. Yeah, but I just managed to find a way to get through that game.”

 

While Murray cited “instinct” as what guided him to a third-set tiebreak, which he would ultimately win to advance to the quarterfinals, fellow Big Four member Novak Djokovic has faltered at the round-of-16 stage of his second consecutive hard court Masters 1000 event. The world No.1, who last bowed out in the third round in Toronto, today lost in straight sets to 16th seed Tommy Robredo.

 

“Just many, many, many things are not clicking these two weeks on hard courts,” said Djokovic, who fought back from being a break down to Robredo in the first set, before losing it in a tiebreak. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s more than obvious I’m not playing even close to what I’m supposed to play.”

 

In the second set, Djokovic was unable to make a dent on Robredo’s serve, winning only four points while receiving. While Djokovic was able to save two match points, serving at 4-5, Robredo would convert at his next opportunity, taking the second set 7-5.

 

“Well, maybe he didn’t play very good the last two matches that he played,” said Robredo after his second career win over a world No.1 – the first was against Lleyton Hewitt in 2003, “But anyway, he’s the world No. 1. He won in Wimbledon. He’s a great player. If you don’t play your best you’re gonna lose for sure. Even if you play your best, sometimes if he’s playing great, you’re gonna lose also.”

 

While Djokovic will head straight to New York to prepare for the US Open, where he is defending finalist, Murray will face either Gael Monfils or Roger Federer, who play their third-round match on Center Court this evening.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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