2014/04/21

Fashion Statements in Notes and Quotes at the Sony Open

 

Fashion statements

 

(Match 20, 2014) On Thursday at the Sony Open some of the players were asked about their “fashion” and “style” on and off-court. Here is what some of them had to say.

Serena Williams

The world No. 1 sported Miami Dolphins colors on court on Thursday. The 17-time major champ is a co-owner of the NFL team.

Actually, we’re playing ‑‑ Nike and I wanted to pay homage to my team that I co‑own, so it was like, We should totally do the Dolphin colors.  Just have something really fun for Miami.  You know, Dolphins are great, so just, Go Dolphins, go Fins.

 

Djokovci inpress

Novak Djokovic

The World No. 2 was asked about his inspiration in designing his outfits.

You mentioned Andre Agassi.  I mean, he definitely revolutionalized the fashion in tennis.  He was the first one to dress differently and to have some kind of statement on the court.

Well, I have been through a process in my career, as well.  I had different dragons and wings on my shirts (smiling).

But I’m at a different stage right now.  Of course I’m very much involved in giving ‑‑ trying to give my input as much as I can to design my own clothes.  I’m fortunate to have a really good team of people and designers from Uniqlo Company who represents me the last two years.

There is various, I will say, inspirations behind the certain designs for different periods of the year depending on color of the surface, depending on the time of the year, depending where we go, color of Serbian flags, so forth and so forth.

So there are different sources of inspiration we are trying to put into the design and kind of create something that looks nice on the court.

 

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

The Swiss No. 2 and 17-time major champ had a question posted to him about his process of picking out colors and styles and if he had any fashion advice.

Well, normally, look, it’s great to see fans wearing the RF cap, you name it, or Nike in general.  It’s like a tag of approval maybe in a way that they enjoy what I’m wearing.  They feel like they’re connected to me, which I do feel is the case.

The hard part is deciding today what I’m going to wear for US Open next year.  It’s kind of hard, you know, sometimes to put myself in the right mind and mindset to know, Am I going to like, you know, stripes in one‑and‑a‑half years?  I’m not sure, you know.

Right now I maybe do, but maybe one‑and‑a‑half years maybe not so cool.  That’s the hard part when we work together with Nike.  But I really enjoy the process, and it’s nice to be part of it rather than just getting stuff and then not liking or loving stuff.

It has that element where you can be part of it.  My advice probably is you’ve got to make sure you wear the clothes and not the clothes wear you.  It’s quite simple in a, way but don’t wear something you totally feel uncomfortable with, but, you know, take some chances.  Play around a bit.

I felt very uncomfortable in suits when I was younger, so what I just started doing was wearing suits when I was going to dinner.  I used to overdress a little bit so I got used to wearing suits.  Now wearing a suit is like wearing a track suit for me.  So it’s all good.

 

Murray in press

Andy Murray

Andy Murray was asked how players showcase through fashion and individual styles.

This is a tough question for me.  I don’t really know how to answer it (smiling).

To be honest, I mean, I just like wearing on the court what’s comfortable.  So long as the products work well, then that’s the most important thing for me.

I mean, adidas, the way they work is they tend to have their ‑‑ they have their own colors, so all of the players wear a fairly similar kit; whereas some of the other companies, you know, it’s more sort of individual.

So you see that player’s sort of style or what they like a little bit more.

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Juan Martin del Potro Withdraws From Indian Wells with Wrist Injury

Del Potro in press

(March 9, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Sixth-seeded Juan Martin del Potro withdrew from the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday due to ligament damage in his left wrist. Del Potro also pulled out of the Dubai tournament last week with the same injury.

“Well, my situation, it’s the same as Dubai,” said the Argentine.  “The wrist is still bothering me a lot.  I signed up for doubles here to try before singles how I’m feeling, and I played yesterday and I didn’t feel really well.

“I’m not feeling 100%, and I’m not in good conditions to compete and to try and to win the tournament.

“I mean, I always like to feel good and feel the chance to win the tournament, and I’m not feeling that.  The wrist is still bothering me a lot, and my doctors tell me to wait ten more days doing the treatment and do everything possible to play in Miami.

“That’s what is my focus now.  I will have the next ten days for do the same treatment, the same exercises, the same rehabilitation, and try to get in Miami much better than here and see what could happen in that tournament.”

“The problem start in Melbourne,” Del Potro said.  Yeah.  In my first round in Melbourne, yeah.

“And after that match is painful all the time.  I couldn’t spend time without the pain after Melbourne.”

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Twizzles and Selfies in Notes and Quotes for Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 8, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – a quick at the more unusual player quotes from the BNP Paribas Open.

Maria Sharapova who was an NBC Olympic correspondent in Sochi was quizzed on the word “twizzle” after her straight sets win over Julia Goerges.

 Sharapova 382014 IW

 

Q.  Who is the coolest athlete you met, and do you know what a twizzle is?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  A twizzle?  Is that part of figure skating?  Right, right.  I don’t know if that was a trick question.

Who did I meet?  I met a lot of former athletes that were working for NBC, which was like Scott Hamilton.  I don’t know.  It was really bizarre just like having breakfast around each other like it was no big deal.  All these athletes getting together, not actually working on our sport, but that was special.

Q.  Did you and Johnny Weir hang out at all?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Unfortunately I missed him, but I was told we had a coat competition.  Yeah, we tried to upstage each other’s coats.  I brought 12 and he brought 25.  I mean, that’s pathetic.

Q.  Never going to win that battle?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, you never know.

Q.  Would you consult him for designing for Serena?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  That could be fun.  He could design for me, as well.

Serena Williams tweeted her approval for Sharapova’s dress. The Russian was quizzed about this and talked about tennis dresses and how she and Serena Williams could design one for each other.

Q.  I think Serena tweeted during your match that your outfit was totally cute.  She approved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Really?  Are those her exact words, Totally cute?

Q.  She said #approved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think we have to exchange designs.  We have to design an outfit for each other.  That would be fun.  Without knowing…

Q.  Cat suit?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I have to put an end to the cat suit on me (Laughter.)  I mean, I’m 26 already, so I think those days are over.

But that would be fun without telling each other what it is, just unveiling it.

Q.  You would trust each other to do that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, yeah.  That would be a lot of fun, don’t you think?  You guys would all show up for that, right?  (Laughter.)

We’re going to get great coverage.  Nike is going to be happy.  It’s all good.

Q.  What kind of ideas do you have for dressing up Serena then?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It’s our secret.  Show up to the unveiling.

Q.  No hints?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No hints.  I have a few things in mind, a few silhouettes.

 

 

Federer 382014

 

 

 

 

Roger Federer bested Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-6(5). The Swiss who has been on twitter about a year was asked about taking “selfies,” as he has recently posted a couple on his twitter account.

Q.  On your year or so on Twitter, you have gotten very good at selfies.

ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, okay.

Q.  If you could take a selfie with anybody, who would it be?

ROGER FEDERER:  Nobody.  I mean, this is totally for the supporters of me, whoever follows me or a fan of me, whoever it is, the people who do, you know, follow me on Twitter or Facebook.  Just trying to make it fun and different.

Took me a long time to sort of warm up to social media, because I just didn’t know how it’s supposed to be used ‑ even though there is no rule to it.  But I find some people use it in a very funny way and some in a very strange way

First, for myself, I had to find out what was going to be my direction.  I saw it more as giving more sort of the extra, you know, sort of hints, sort of my angle, an extra angle to our life on tour.

So it’s actually become quite enjoyable.  The last thing I want to feel is pressure that I have to take pictures or have to is something.  If I don’t want to post anything for weeks, I have the right to do that and that needs to be the case.

But I must say it’s pretty funny, and it doesn’t stress me out.  You just can’t being sucked into it too crazy, otherwise all you start doing is spending time on the phone, and that’s not what I want to start happening to me.

 

LiNa 382014

Li Na – no more doubles please.

 

Q.  We see a lot of the top players playing doubles at a tournament like this.  Why not you?

LI NA:  I think doubles court for me too small enough (Laughter.)  I don’t know.  Maybe last time I play doubles was 2007.  Or I play Olympics I think with a young girl.

When I was stand up the court I even didn’t know what I have to do.  Even I return, I was feeling the court so small.  Everywhere is people (smiling).  I cannot do it.

So for me, I really, how do you say, focus on my singles right now to see maybe I can, I even can improve a little bit.

Q.  Do you not like doubles?

LI NA:  Not really, no, because you have to, how do you say, talk to your opponent all the time.  Yeah.

Warinka in press

Stanislas Wawrinka and the boring questions.

Q.  Where have you placed the Australian Open trophy?  And when do you think it will start getting boring with all the questions and Australia and all the things you achieved over there?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA:  Well, I think I’m not going to get boring about those questions, you know.  It’s more about being Swiss No. 1 that’s annoying me.

But about winning Grand Slam, I think it’s great.  It’s positive.  So I can answer many few questions if you want.

The trophy is in Switzerland in a safe place

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Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Bryan Brothers Among Laureus World Sports Awards Nominees

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(February 26, 2014) The nominations for the the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards were announced.

Among the nominees are three-time Laureus winner Serena Williams, two-time winner Rafael Nadal and the Bryan Brothers.

The full list of Nominees for the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards is:

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
Usain Bolt (Jamaica) Athletics – won 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m World Championship gold medals
Mo Farah (UK) Athletics – won classic 5,000m and 10,000m double in World Championships
LeBron James (US) Basketball – Miami Heat star, voted NBA MVP for fourth time in five years
Rafael Nadal (Spain) Tennis – winner of French Open, US Open and five ATP Masters event
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Football – scored 69 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal in 2013
Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Motor Racing – won fourth straight Formula One World Championship

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year
Nadine Angerer (Germany) Football – FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, captain of German team
Missy Franklin (US) Swimming – at 18, won a record six gold medals in World Championships
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) Athletics – won three sprint gold medals in World Championships
Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) Athletics – won pole vault world title in front of home Russian crowd
Tina Maze (Slovenia) Skiing – won Overall World Cup and three other disciplines, plus Super G world title
Serena Williams (US) Tennis – won French Open and US Open, plus eight other tournaments in 2013

Laureus World Team of the Year
All Blacks (NZ) Rugby Union – first time a national team achieved a 100% record in professional era
Bayern Munich (Germany) Football – won Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble
Brazil Men’s Football Team – won Confederations Cup, beating World Cup holders Spain in final
Bob & Mike Bryan (US) Tennis – completed doubles ‘Golden Slam’ – four Grand Slams and Olympic gold
Miami Heat (US) Basketball – won NBA title for second straight year, beating San Antonio Spurs in final
Red Bull (Austria) Motor Racing – won fourth straight Formula One Constructors’ World Championship

Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year
Afghanistan Cricket Team – learned cricket in refugee camps, in 2013 reached first World Cup finals
Marc Márquez (Spain) Motor Cycling – youngest ever MotoGP world champion, at 20 years 266 days
Raphael Holzdeppe (Germany) Athletics – won Germany’s first World Championship pole vault gold
Nairo Quintana (Colombia) Cycling – first Tour de France rookie to finish on the podium since 1996
Justin Rose (UK) Golf – won his first Major Championship at US Open, at the age of 32
Adam Scott (Australia) Golf – first Australian winner in the 77-year history of US Masters

Laureus World Comeback of the Year
Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) Athletics – won pole vault world title in front of home Russian crowd
Rafael Nadal (Spain) Tennis – winner of French Open, US Open and five ATP Masters event
Oracle Team USA – Sailing – 8-1 down in America’s Cup, Oracle fought back for a remarkable 9-8 victory
Tony Parker (France) Basketball – European Championship MVP after recovering from serious eye injury
Ronaldinho (Brazil) Football – at 33, led unfashionable Atlético Mineiro to victory in Copa Libertadores
Tiger Woods (US) Golf – US PGA Player of the Year after five tour victories, regained world No 1 ranking

Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Marie Bochet (France) Skiing – first winner of all five disciplines at a single Alpine World Championships
Marcel Hug (Switzerland) Wheelchair Racing – won five golds and a silver medal at World Championships
Tatyana McFadden (US) Wheelchair Racing – won four city marathons and six golds at World Championships
Sophie Pascoe (NZ) Swimming – won five gold medals out of five attempts at World Championships
Sarah Louise Rung (Norway) Swimming – won four gold medals in her five races in World Championships
Olga Sviderska (Ukraine) Swimming – took five individual and two relay golds in the World Championships

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year
Jamie Bestwick (UK) BMX – only athlete in X Games history to win eight straight gold medals
Bob Burnquist (Brazil) Skateboarding – overtook Dave Mirra to win a record 25th X-Games gold medal
Mick Fanning (Australia) Surfing – clinched his third World Surfing Championship in last event of year
John John Florence (US) Surfing – scored perfect 10 for completing the Alley Oop in Bali
Maya Gabeira (Brazil) Surfing – nearly drowned after attempting to surf a 70ft wave in Portugal
Shaun White (US) Snowboarding – won sixth consecutive SuperPipe gold medal at Winter X Games

The 15th Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the calendar year 2013, is the premier honours event on the international sporting calendar. The winners, as voted by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time, will be unveiled at a globally televised Awards Ceremony staged in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday, March 26.

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Venus Williams Dominates in First Round Victory in Dubai

IMG_6086

(February 17, 2014) DUBAI – Wild Card entry and two-time former champion Venus Williams was off to a winning start at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships besting Elena Vesnina 6-3, 6-2 hitting 10 aces along the way.

“The last couple matches I played against her, at Wimbledon she played so well and it wasn’t my day, and Cincy as well – I had some chances there but she was clearly more on her game,” Williams said after the win.

“These days I’m a little more on mine, so I was glad to get a win.”

Venus Williams dubai

“I definitely don’t take for granted any win anymore,” said Williams. “Not that I used to. But now it’s even more special, every win. My serve keeps improving pretty much every tournament. That always helps me.

“I think the more matches I’ll play, the better I will feel. You know, in moments where I’m controlling the match, the better I will feel in moments where things are close.”

The 2009 and 2010 champion’s win will set up a second round meeting with the winner of sixth seed Angelique Kerber and former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic.

DUBAI DUTY FREE TENNIS CHAMPIONSHIPS
Dubai, UAE
February 17-February 22, 2014
$2,000,000/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Monday, February 17, 2014
Singles – First Round
Carla Suárez Navarro (ESP) d. (WC) Nadia Petrova (RUS) 63 62
Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) d. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) 64 67(3) 64
Sorana Cirstea (ROU) d. Roberta Vinci (ITA) 64 63
Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. Sloane Stephens (USA) 63 75
(WC) Venus Williams (USA) d. Elena Vesnina (RUS) 63 62

Doubles – First Round
Kops-Jones/Spears (USA/USA) d. Chan/Huber (TPE/USA) 63 76(4)
Groenefeld/Rosolska (GER/POL) d. Dushevina/Parra Santonja (RUS/ESP) 64 63
Raymond/Zhang (USA/CHN) d. (WC) Flipkens/Kvitova (BEL/CZE) 06 64 107 (Match TB)

Singles Qualifying – Final Round
Annika Beck (GER) d. (1) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 61 64
(3) Flavia Pennetta (ITA) d. (5) Yvonne Meusburger (AUT) 61 63
Karolina Pliskova (CZE) d. Camila Giorgi (ITA) 75 62
Maryna Zanevska (UKR) d. Mona Barthel (GER) 76(8) 64

Order Of Play – Tuesday, February 18, 2014
Centre Court (from 14.00hrs)
1. Alizé Cornet vs. Simona Halep
2. Caroline Wozniacki vs. Sabine Lisicki
3. Angelique Kerber vs. Ana Ivanovic (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Serena Williams vs. Ekaterina Makarova

Court 1 (from 14.00hrs)
1. Maryna Zanevska vs. Jelena Jankovic
2. Samantha Stosur vs. Annika Beck
3. Kaia Kanepi vs. Flavia Pennetta
4. Kirsten Flipkens vs. Karolina Pliskova

Court 3 (from 14.00hrs)
1. Hlavackova/Safarova vs. Black/Mirza
2. Errani/Vinci vs. Pavlyuchenkova/Petrova (NB 16.00hrs)
3. Jankovic/Kleybanova vs. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova

 

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Venus Wins, Stephens Falls in Doha

venusWilliams-600x399

(February 10, 2014) Venus Williams returned to the court for the first time since losing in the first round of the Australian Open, while countrywoman Sloane Stephens fell in Doha on Monday.

Williams bested qualifier Petra Martic 6-2, 6-2 to set up a second-round match with former Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.

No. 2 American Stephens could not find any consistency and lost to qualifier Petra Cetkovska 7-5-6-1.

QATAR TOTAL OPEN
Doha, Qatar
February 10-February 16, 2014
$2,440,070/Premier
Hard/Outdoors

Results – Monday, February 10, 2014
Singles – First Round
(Q) Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) d. (11) Roberta Vinci (ITA) 63 63
(Q) Petra Cetkovska (CZE) d. (14) Sloane Stephens (USA) 75 61
Peng Shuai (CHN) d. (Q) Nadia Petrova (RUS) 76(5) 75
Venus Williams (USA) d. (Q) Petra Martic (CRO) 62 62
Annika Beck (GER) d. Mona Barthel (GER) 76(5) 62
(Q) Hsieh Su-Wei (TPE) d. Flavia Pennetta (ITA) 75 63

Doubles – First Round
Pliskova/Pliskova (CZE/CZE) d. (WC) Al Nabhani/Honcova (OMA/SVK) 63 62
Buryachok/Diatchenko (UKR/RUS) d. Dushevina/Parra Santonja (RUS/ESP) 63 26 103 (Match TB)
(WC) Jankovic/Kleybanova (SRB/RUS) d. Lepchenko/Panova (USA/RUS) 76(3) 06 102 (Match TB)

Order Of Play – Tuesday, February 11, 2014
Centre Court (from 15.30hrs)
1. Francesca Schiavone vs. Magdalena Rybarikova
2. Dominika Cibulkova vs. Alisa Kleybanova
3. Ana Ivanovic vs. Daniela Hantuchova (NB 19.00hrs)
4. Marina Erakovic vs. Samantha Stosur

Court 1 (from 14.30hrs)
1. Tadeja Majeric vs. Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova
2. Stefanie Voegele vs. Alizé Cornet
3. Andrea Petkovic vs. Yanina Wickmayer
4. Eugenie Bouchard vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Court 2 (from 14.30hrs)
1. Kaia Kanepi vs. Varvara Lepchenko
2. Alla Kudryavtseva vs. Sorana Cirstea
3. Lucie Safarova vs. Kirsten Flipkens (NB 18.00hrs)
4. Chan/Huber vs. Klemenschits/Olaru

Court 3 (from 14.30hrs)
1. Zhang Shuai vs. Maryna Zanevska
2. Karolina Pliskova vs. Cagla Buyukakcay
3. Monica Niculescu vs. Fatma Al Nabhani
4. Pavlyuchenkova/Petrova vs. Beygelzimer/Savchuk

Court 4 (from 14.30hrs)
1. Barthel/Moulton-Levy vs. Kops-Jones/Spears
2. Mirjana Lucic-Baroni vs. Yvonne Meusburger (NB 15.30hrs)
3. Elina Svitolina vs. Klara Zakopalova (NB 18.00hrs)

Court 6 (from 15.30hrs)
1. Kristina Mladenovic vs. Jana Cepelova
2. Karin Knapp vs. Caroline Garcia
3. Husarova/Rosolska vs. Raymond/Zhang

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US Hopes Youth Will Triumph When They Face Italy in Fed Cup this Weekend

Fed Cup logo

(February 5, 2014) The USA will face Italy for the fourth time in the last six years when both teams meet again in Cleveland this weekend in Fed Cup quarterfinal play.

Neither team will have its “A” team so youth will be served, especially for Team USA. Fed Cup Captain Mary Joe Fernandez named the team last month – Madison Keys (18), Alison Riske (23), Christina McHale (21) and Cleveland native Lauren Davi (20).

“It’s exciting to have young members, new members on the team, said Captain Fernandez to media on Wednesday in a pre-draw news conference.  “Christina (McHale) is our experienced one, the veteran at the prime old age of what, 21?

“And I think Alison is our oldest player at 23.  So you bring a lot of excitement and energy and enthusiasm when it’s your first time.  You get this great experience to play for your country, represent your country.
So those are all pluses.  I don’t really see any negatives.  Obviously not having played under the pressure of Fed Cup before you never know how someone is going to handle it.
“I think that’s a positive regardless because of the experience and the feedback you get in it.  For me’s really it’s all positive.”

“I think this team from Italy, the challenge is that they’re big hitters,” said Fernandez. “They hit the ball hard and they’re aggressive.  Good indoors.  Probably one of their favorite surfaces.”

Team Italy who will be sporting a team of mostly first-timers are up to the challenge.

“I think will be a tough match, very talented match,” said Italy’s captain Corrado Barazzutti.  “They are young team against, so we come here to try hard to win this match and we know that will be difficult.”
“I think it’s pretty clear the future is very bright, and this is an example of it,” Fernandez said of the US squad.  “This group and the group around them has really been really making strides the last few years and working hard to break each category.
“When I started with the Fed Cup as captain five, six years ago I want to say there were only three Americans in the top 100.  I believe we’re at 11 or 12 now.  So everybody is improving and pushing each other.  We’re seeing the results.
“We have different game styles, which is great, and personalities, but it’s very positive.  It’s extremely exciting to be part of and to see the young players grow and develop as people and as players as well.

As the lone member of the Fed Cup team with any Fed Cup experience, Christina McHale offer some advice to her teammates:

“I’ve had some of my best memories and just fun weeks playing Fed Cup, so I’m really excited to be back on the team.
“I think everyone here has come to a Fed Cup before, so I think they already have some experience.
“I mean, I think just, you know, it’s such an honor to play for your country, so just giving it everything you have, which we always do.  I think that’s the best advice.”

Italy beat the US in the first round of Fed Cup last year. Overall, the US has a 9-3 record versus Italy in Fed Cup play. The US has the record for the most Fed Cup titles at 17, while last year’s winners Italy have now won the cup four out of the past eight years.

 

 

 

 

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Wawrinka Upsets an Injured Nadal to Claim First Major at Australian Open

Yonex photo of Stan Wawrinka

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 26, 2014) MELBOURNE – After playing the tournament of his career, Stanislas Wawrinka has earned himself his first ever Grand Slam title in his major final debut, prevailing over a struggling Rafael Nadal in four sets 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3.

 

His Australian Open success will see Wawrinka rise to a career-high ranking of world No. 3 on Monday and he will become the new Swiss No. 1, having outlasted Roger Federer in the tournament.

 

With three consecutive wins over top 10 players during the fortnight gone by, Wawrinka’s story is one of the underdog and is one which has garnered the respect from tennis aficionados far and wide.

 

The nervous energy surrounding his first Grand Slam final appearance was most noticeable during the Swiss’ first few service games. But he quickly shook them off, showing no fear in going for the big shots and did not so much as hesitate to rip winners down the line, even upon return of service.

 

Throughout the entirety of the first set, Wawrinka did well to disguise his nerves, appearing calm and confident on the exterior and backed this up with a solid execution of his game plan. The opening set saw him win each and every one of his first serve points kept in play, as well as all of the points whereby he approached the net.

 

He powered through his service games, Nadal having difficulty instilling much pressure on the Swiss, and at 5-3 Wawrinka saved three break points. He followed through to ace his way to snatching the first set over the world No. 1, 6-3.

 

​”I was surprised about how well I was playing,” Wawrinka said after winning the title.

 

“I was expecting to be a little bit nervous, not to move so well, especially at the beginning like I did against Djokovic. But tonight was just the perfect start.”

 

During his previous 12 tournament encounters with the Spaniard, Wawrinka had not once taken a set off the current world No. 1.

 

“He was playing amazing. It is very tough to stop him when he’s playing that way,” Nadal said.

 

“He’s playing better and better and he’s playing with amazing confidence, hitting every ball very, very hard and moving great.”

 

But the Swiss’ momentum did not follow on at this same level throughout the match as Nadal suddenly called a medical timeout early on in second set shortly after Wawrinka had established another early break lead. The crowd reacted in the most peculiar way by booing the usual, regular crowd favourite.

 

​”The crowd wants to enjoy a great match. They paid tickets to watch the best match possible and I was not able to offer that to them. I wanted to try my best until the end but I can understand very well the reaction. They understood later that it was bad,” Nadal said.

 

A very different Nadal returned to court. His usual intensity had dropped dramatically, movement was at a bare minimum, serves were deficient in power, and his groundstrokes were lacking in depth and generated a greater clearance of the net. He was, at times, also merely chipping at returns.

 

The Spaniard had undergone an injury to his back and received treatment from a massage therapist after the second set.

 

​”That wasn’t easy,” Wawrinka said, reflecting on Nadal’s physical state during the remainder of the match.

 

“He wasn’t serving at all. He wasn’t moving during one set. Then it was a completely different match. I had to focus on myself, to try to find a way to just win it… I knew it was really, really difficult for him. I was unhappy for that because normally that’s not the way I want to win a match.

​”I had to keep myself calm and just try to stay aggressive because he was injured, but he was still trying. It was not easy. I started to be really nervous because I started to realize that I could win a Grand Slam. In the end I just went back to the game and focused on what I wanted to do.”

 

Nadal, who had an emotional year after facing serious injury setbacks which had forced him to miss last year’s Australian Open, found the back pains especially frustrating but nevertheless pushed on. For the 13-time Grand Slam champion, retirement was not an option.

 

“Since the beginning, I felt a little bit from the warmup… end of the first set, I started to feel worse. Then at the beginning of the second was the key moment that I felt very stiff during a serve,” Nadal said.

 

“​Last thing that I wanted to do was to retire. I hate to do that, especially in a final. Same time, it’s tough to see yourself working for a moment like this the whole year and when the moment arrives, you feel that you are not able to play at your best.

 

​”It was not an easy situation for me to be on the court like this but I tried hard until the end, trying to finish the match as good as I could for the crowd, for the opponent, for me.”

 

Nadal managed to break ahead in the third set but these opportunities were mostly presented as a result of his opponent’s mistakes rather than from the success of his own offensive play. His slow, and hence, very predictable serves gave Wawrinka more chances to be aggressive upon return and break ahead.

 

Wawrinka too began to deal with an internal battle of his own as he encountered a different kind of challenge on the court – one which was more psychological – and that was how to respectfully attack an injured opponent. This seemed to throw him off his game to an extent, his unforced errors accumulating, and a couple of untimely mistakes handed Nadal the third set.

 

Nadal recognized that his injury should not in any way take away from the resilient stand Wawrinka has made on behalf of the lower ranked players trying to breakthrough in this sport and that he should receive nothing but praise for the sensational, entertaining tennis he has dished out for fans throughout the tournament.

 

​”​It is a moment to congratulate Stan. He’s playing unbelievable. He really deserves to win the title. I’m very happy for him. He’s a great, great guy. He’s a good friend of mine. I am really happy for him… he had a great year last year and to start the new year winning two titles is just amazing.

 

“I’m obviously disappointed and very sad about what happened. But that’s life, that’s sport.”

 

Wawrinka is the first man in eight years to clinch the title after winning a pre-Australian Open tournament; in Wawrinka’s case, Chennai. He is also the first man in 11 years to defeat the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds at a Grand Slam; an incredible achievement that should not be overlooked in the tennis history books.

 

​”Before today, for me it wasn’t a dream. I never expected to play a final. I never expected to win a Grand Slam,” Wawrinka admitted with a smile.

 

“And right now I just did it. Especially with the way I was playing all tournament, it’s for me a big surprise to play that well. To beat Rafa today, even if he was injured, I think I played my best first set during the match. I was ready to play four hours or five to beat Novak in the quarter, to beat Berdych in semis. That shows me I’m doing the right thing… that if you practice well, if you work hard, you will always have a chance.

 

​”I will need time to realize what I did in these two weeks. In the end, even if Rafa was injured, I think I deserve that Grand Slam because I won against Djokovic, No. 2 and (now) I won against Rafa. I had an amazing two weeks and I was playing my best tennis ever.”

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist was covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.

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Final – Li, Li Na wins Australian Open in Third Final

 

Li Na Nike

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 25, 2014) MELBOURNE – Very few players in history have gone on to win a Grand Slam title after saving a match point but, on Saturday night, Li Na defied those odds to prove herself as a more than deserving Australian Open champion. It took her little over an hour-and-a-half to overcome slam final newbie Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets, 7-6(7-3), 6-0.

 

The two-time Australian Open runner-up has had her heart set on clinching this particular title for a few years now and so it seemed fitting for her to change into a T-shirt with Chinese characters iterating the very appropriate words “my heart has no limits”.

 

But the victory had not come without an abundance of hard work and having been beaten down a few times, before finally getting a taste for what it feels like to finish at the top of a Grand Slam. Li described the summation of her efforts in a single, telling word; “tough”.

 

During her first training session with coach Carlos Rodriguez, Li had deliberated over whether she would give up the game entirely and not go on another year. And in the third round of the tournament, Li saved a threatening match point against Lucie Safarova. She has also received much press in regards to her age since 31 is considered as post ‘prime’ years in her particular field of work.

 

After winning the title, Li celebrated the notion of being the oldest player to have won the tournament.

 

“Age is nothing,” Li asserted.

 

“I still can win a Grand Slam so I’m pretty happy with my age. I’ve got more experience on the court.”

 

Li did however experience some difficulty calming the nerves during the first set and made a notable number of forehand errors, plus a surprising two consecutive double faults.

 

Cibulkova too often tightened up on serve and her balls were launched at speeds significantly slower to that of her opponent’s. Her power especially fizzled upon her second serves which granted her an abysmal 21 per cent success rate with winning the point in the face of an aggressive Li Na. A total of seven double faults did not add to her resolve.

 

As the nerves settled, Li dominated play from the baseline. She challenged Cibulkova to play out of her comfort zone close at the baseline, pushing her back during the rallies and occasionally reeling her in towards the net.

 

Li ripped backhand winners down the line without fear, while a somewhat tentative Cibulkova hesitated to trust herself to go for the big shots and set up only three break point opportunities for herself throughout the match.

 

Cibulkova was content with the successful run she has experienced at the Australian Open this year and was proud to be the first Slovakian to have reached the Grand Final.

 

“After she won the first two games, she just relaxed,” Cibulkova said.

 

“She was more relaxed and she was going for her shots. After that, it was impossible for me to do something and be aggressive because she was just really, really playing well.

 

​”She could push me from the first balls and I was under pressure all the time. Sometimes I’d catch myself running one metre behind the baseline. That’s not how I play. This is why she was better.

 

“I’m just 24 years old and have already played in a Grand Slam final. I feel like my game is there, to challenge the biggest names and to beat them.”

 

 

The Slovakian will rise to No. 13 in the WTA rankings come Monday, while Li will shoot up to No. 3 and only 11 points behind Victoria Azarenka.

 

​”When she served at 15-40, I was thinking ‘okay, after I win the match, what should I do?’,” Li said, reflecting on her bizarre thought patters upon receiving a couple of match points.

 

“It’s amazing, I was already thinking about that,” she chuckled. “But after I lost one break point I was like ‘okay, don’t think. Just focus on this point.’ After I won the match, I was really, really excited. I think I have (tear) drops still coming down, you know. I tried to hug my team, but they were too high up, I couldn’t reach them.”

 

During the ceremony at the end of the match, Li gave one of her famous, funny speeches. She sent the crowd into hysterics which ended the night on a positive high with smiles all round.

 

For now, Li will return home to her family for some time off to celebrate before continuing on with her strict training schedule.

 

“This year, Chinese New Year is the 31st of January, year of the horse. I will go back to my home with my mom and be with my family for a couple days.

 

“I finally got it… I have to say, this is my favourite slam. I cannot wait to come back.”

 

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.

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Wawrinka Gains First Major Final at Australian Open

Yonex photo of Stan Wawrinka

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 23, 2014) MELBOURNE – Stanislas Wawrinka has paved his way into his first ever Grand Slam final after overcoming Tomas Berdych in four tight sets, 6-3, 6-7(7-1), 7-6(7-3), 7-6(7-4) and will boost himself into the position as the No. 1 Swiss men’s player come the end of the tournament if he is able to outlast Roger Federer.

 

The Swiss began the first set pumped and seemed to be channeling a similar momentum to that of his match in which he dethroned the Australian Open defending champion Novak Djokovic on the same stage just two nights prior. And it was clear from the beginning that Wawrinka had garnered quite the following since, as the crowd backed the all too often unsung hero who has finally been able to assert himself unto the welcoming arms of the general public.

 

He did well to disguise his serve placement, Berdych often finding it difficult to predict his movements, and the Czech mostly failed to deliver his A-game at critical moments.

 

Berdych missed an easy overhead to give Wawrinka the break in the first set, allowing the Swiss to serve it out, and devastatingly double faulted to hand Wawrinka the third.

 

There were some huge serves bolting down from both sides of the net and Wawrinka notably even launched three consecutive aces during one service game.

 

It was during the second set tie-break (and those few points only) that Berdych played more aggressively than he did for the entire match put together, shooting ahead to establish some mini-breaks and followed through to clinch the second set.

 

With the exception of an initial, brutal service game of Berdych’s which lasted over 10 minutes at the start of the fourth and final set, thereafter both men dropped their aggression levels down to a minimum which unfortunately did not make for the most entertaining viewing.

 

There was minimal fight asserted by the much too passive semifinal contenders. It appeared as though nerves had gotten the better of them, both of which were less experienced in handling the pressure of a match so near to granting entrance to the coveted Grand Slam final.

 

“It was a strange game,” Wawrinka admitted.

 

“I don’t think we played our best tennis, but we served really well. We were really aggressive on (our) service games. It was going really fast tonight so it was not easy to make some long rallies and to make him work.”

 

This led to inevitable tie-breaks as they each routinely held serve, but the odd backhand winner down the line from Wawrinka gave the crowd signs that he was maintaining the confident attitude required to stick it out to the very end.

 

Another all too familiar double fault by Berdych during the tie-break, reminiscent to that of the third set, contributed to Wawrinka being up a few mini-breaks in the fourth set. He nervously double faulted before forcing the error off Berdych’s backhand to secure a spot in the grand final.

 

​”I feel great. It’s amazing, you know. I didn’t expect to make a final in a Grand Slam in my career. Tonight it’s happening, so I’m really happy. I’ve been working really hard (for) many years, trying to improve my game, trying to get some big matches in big stadiums. Now I’m in my first final of a Grand Slam, so I can be only really happy.

 

​”I’m at the top of my career. Already, last year, I had the feeling that I was playing better and I was dealing better (with) the pressure also. I’m more mature, I’m 28 now. I’ve (been) on the tour for 10 years. Now I feel that it’s my time to play my best tennis. I’m enjoying more what I’m doing, when I’m winning, and also maybe I know more how to deal with all the pressure around.”

 

The triumphant Swiss will face one of two greats to the sport, either Rafael Nadal or Roger Federer, on Sunday night for the final showdown on Rod Laver Arena.

 

​”If they can pull out, that would be good,” Wawrinka said jokingly with a smile.

 

​”My record against Rafa is not really good and neither against Roger. But, for sure, to play a Swiss final will be amazing for Switzerland, for the country. He is the best player ever. For me it’s my first final. To imagine playing against Roger would be amazing.”

 

Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.

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