2014/11/27

Djokovic supreme as he lays waste to Wawrinka

Djokovic applauds

Djokovic supreme as he lays waste to Wawrinka

 

(November 12, 2014) LONDON – In a week of strange matches, it was left to the two-time defending champion to make things interesting, by taking six minutes to be broken as Wawrinka continued his bullish approach in the second round robin match.

 

It took until the third game for Djokovic to get a handle on his service game, holding to love after the first two games involved being dragged up to deuce, and with a break to love, Djokovic rapidly brought things back to level pegging.

 

From there it went rapidly downhill for a couple of games for Wawrinka, losing the next eight points behind his serve. If it could be called a brief rally, Wawrinka managed to get another game on the board before Djokovic wrapped up the first set.

 

From there, though, Wawrinka’s game totally came apart, as errors were the only things flowing free from his racket. His forehand had let him down badly and his backhand followed suit, leaving Wawrinka nowhere to go, winning just seven points in the second set falling 6-3, 6-0.

 

He assessed his performance candidly after the match: “He put me in a position that I think a little bit too much. I’m not really clear what I’m going to do, because he’s doing everything well and he’s returning well.”

 

He continued: “The serve was not good enough. Then I start to do mistake because here the conditions are really low. His ball is always coming to me and I cannot really mix the spin and try to get higher ball to try to attack him.”

 

Djokovic is now in a commanding position not only to advance, as if that was in any doubt, into the semi-finals, but to also wrap up the year-ending No. 1 for the third time in his career.

 

He said: “I just played very solid from all over the court. I think I covered the court very well, got a lot of balls back, mixed up the pace, got him off the comfort zone. That’s something that was part of my game plan. After I lost the first two games, you know, obviously I didn’t start so great. I thought he played very well the first two games. But, again, I wasn’t frustrated. I kept my calm. After that, was a really amazing performance.”

 

Djokovic will face Tomas Berdych in the final round robin match on Friday.

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Berdych rekindles his chances he wins his second round robin match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London

Berdych applauds

Chalkdust Chronicles: Berdych rekindles his chances he wins his second round robin match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London

 

(November 12, 2014) LONDON – Almost like clockwork, Tomas Berdych put aside his very disappointing performance in the opening round against Stan Wawrinka, with a convincing win over US Open champion Marin Cilic.

 

In all five years he has played here, the tall Czech has always struggled in the opener, only to flourish later in the tournament, as he delivered a beat down on the Croatian in just an hour and a quarter, 6-3, 6-1.

 

Again, we see the uniqueness in the round-robin format perhaps come into play – where those have more experience with handling the second (and third) chance.

 

Berdych said: “I think that’s the beauty of this event. One day you can be swept out from the court like I did, or I’ve been actually, and in two days’ time you can come up and you can play a different tennis.”

 

The Czech is not out of the woods yet, as he tackles two-time defending champion up next, with the night session between Wawrinka and Djokovic to hopefully deliver the first three-setter of the tournament.

 

“I’m going to try to, you know, maybe three, four games,” he joked. “That would be better from the last time (laughter). You know, it’s always a huge challenge to play No. 1 player in the world. The way he’s playing, where are we playing, it’s pretty much all set up for him and for his game. That’s how it is.

 

“So for me it’s going to be great to play a match with him, maybe the last of the season, maybe not. But even if it’s the last one, it’s with the No. 1 player in the world. It’s really, as I said, huge challenge. I’m going to try to bring all I have what is left in me, challenge him.”

 

For Cilic, maybe mentally he had checked out of the tournament, admitting that the season has been long for him, and that he was feeling it a little.

 

“It’s, of course, a little bit disappointing to play like this. I was not expecting it. But sort of I feel a little bit tired, and body feels a little bit tired on the court. It seems that the things that I’m doing that are all basically going in a wrong direction. Especially with these guys at this kind of level, even small mistakes, or if you’re not at your best performances, the outcome is not going to be going in your favour. I haven’t also been playing last few weeks. Also the body, of course, is not at the best possible shape.”

 

He plays Stan Wawrinka in the final round robin, and after the Swiss’ fine return to form against Berdych, Cilic knows he can perhaps swing a little more freely.

 

“It’s going to be I think more pressure on Stan, that he has to win. I mean, we’ll see, I don’t know. But, anyway, I’m going to try to enjoy. I deserve to be here as a matter of having a great season. Of course, try to play well and to perform well on Friday.”

 

Cilic and Wawrinka will play in the last of the Group A round robin matches on Friday.

 

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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Murray on the board as errors do in Raonic

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Chalkdust Chronicles: Murray on the board as errors do in Raonic

 

(November 11, 2014) LONDON – Andy Murray thrived with a raucous evening crowd to get his first win on the board at the Barclays ATP world Tour Finals, with a straight sets win over Milos Raonic 6-3, 7-5.

 

After a day of one-sided matches, and even the match-up between Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori earlier in the day not living up to its potential, it was down to Murray to address his head to head deficit over Raonic, who played pretty solidly in Paris before heading here.

 

Murray started with some very solid returning and was hitting with much more purpose than we saw in his first match against Nishikori, and was perhaps pressuring Raonic into rushing his shots. Certainly the Canadian was having a tougher time reigning in his first serve, and the flood of errors, especially on the forehand side over the match by far outweighed some sharp winners.

 

Raonic had little choice but to offer a frank assessment on his form, acknowledging that his first serve, a key foundation to his game, was not up to scratch.

 

“Whatever the reason is, I have 24 hours to solve it if I want to have any hope. There’s no way around that.”

 

He continued: “I’ve been too passive on the court. I’ve been trying to beat the two guys playing their tennis, and that’s going to work for me.”

 

Murray broke in the first set and kept his nose in front, but just when it seemed that the momentum was firmly with him with an early break at the start of the second, a lazy choice of drop-shot played onto Raonic’s hands to give him enough of an advantage to break straight back.

 

Murray was starting to rush a little and if anything Raonic was beginning to find that serve of his, banging down a couple of aces to threaten taking it to a tie-break or even a third set.

 

Twice Murray had to dig himself out of a 0-30 but again the Canadian was beginning to get carried away, going for too much, with Murray rewarded with another break.

 

Not that it was plain sailing at 6-5 for the Brit, with Raonic saving a match-point but Murray made no mistake at the second as yet another Raonic error gave Murray the match, but not before a cheeky little challenge by the Canadian before the inevitable.

After the match Murray said: “I obviously played better tonight. I hit the ball a lot cleaner than I did on Sunday from the beginning of the match. So that was pleasing. [I] started to try and use as much variation as possible on my second serve. So served more serves into his forehand. I wouldn’t serve like two or three serves to the same spot in a row. I would just try and use as much variation as I could so that he couldn’t be in as much of a rhythm.”

 

In a little bit of spice, Federer will have to qualify out of his third and final round robin match. He needed Murray to grind out a win in three sets to have guaranteed his place in the last four.

 

“For me it depends on the winner of the Nishikori/Raonic match. If Kei wins, then I need to beat Roger, it depends on the scoreline of that match with Kei and Raonic. If Raonic wins, then I know that all I need to do is win the match against Roger and I’ll be through.’

 

He concluded: ‘Hopefully I can get through the group and keep going. If not, playing against Roger is a good way for me to finish the year, as well.”

 

The final round-robin matches for Group B 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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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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Breadstick Day in Notes and Quotes from Day 2 of the ATP World Tour Finals

(November 10, 2014) LONDON – Notes and quotes from the Day 2 news conferences of the ATP World Tour Finals. Monday’s matches included a pair of 6-1, 6-1 victories for Group A players Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic who demolished opponents Tomas Berdych and year-end rookie Marin Cilic respectively.

Stan Wawrinka

“I didn’t expect to win that easy in the score, for sure. But I was ready to play well. I did a great week of preparation. I did work really, really hard since few weeks with Magnus. Even if the result wasn’t there in Basel and Paris, I was feeling the ball really well at the practice court.”

 

“I’m happy with my performance. I’m happy the way I was playing. Serving really well. Returning almost everything. It seems it’s not usual. And, yeah, feeling good on the court.”

 

Q. Do you know the score of the first set was the same as the Federer/Raonic match yesterday?
STAN WAWRINKA: Good start for the Swiss.

Q. Good for the Davis Cup.
STAN WAWRINKA: Exactly. I try to show him that I’m going to be ready for the Final.
Q. You have the best record on tour against the top 10 this year, you’re 7 1. Against everyone else, you win two thirds of the time. You’re winning more against the top 10. Why is that?
STAN WAWRINKA: I had, what, six win against top 10 in the first three months of the year, then I never played them again because I lose early in the tournament, so it was a tough six months after (smiling).

 

 

Tomas Berdych

 

“Unfortunately it was my worst match of the whole season, and I kept it for the start here in the World Tour Finals. So that’s not the best one at the start.

“But, yeah, there are days like that. Now it’s over of that. Really, I mean, it’s just matter of, you know, 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.”

 

My game is about hitting the ball nice, clean, then you can create something. But that’s the beginning what I didn’t have today at all. I hit so many frames. You know, just was not there. It’s the thing that I have to sit with my team and find out and make the right things for the future days.

 

How did you find the court surface today? How does it compare to the previous four years you qualified?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, honestly, I don’t know if I’m in the right mood, the right feeling just to judge the court. Because today I didn’t really feel anything right.

 

 

Novak Djokovic

“It was a great performance. I was hoping I could play this way. 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.

 

“How do I feel returning indoors comparing to outdoors. It is different and it’s better for the returner. It’s better for the server, but I feel it’s better for the returner because the ball more or less bounces the same every time, so you can anticipate better.”

 

Which is your most memorable memory with Grigor Dimitrov this year?

” I know what it was last year. When we took off our shirts at the exhibition event in Boodles before Wimbledon. We had a lot of fun there.

“He’s a great guy. A very good player that has the potential definitely to be a Grand Slam winner one day. He’s already working his way through. Played semifinals of Wimbledon. I think that’s our most memorable, let’s say, day of this year, of this season, where we played each other over three hours match, pushed each other to the limit.

“He’s got a lot of talent. He’s good‑looking. He speaks good English. He has Maria Sharapova for a girlfriend. What more can you ask for (laughter)? And he’s Bulgarian.”

 

 

Marin Cilic

 

Well, I mean, from my own side, it’s also first time being here. Also 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.

“That’s what I felt today. I felt a little bit uncomfortable on the court, rusty. In some situations where I felt I was, you know, having a chance to get in the score. Also in the beginning of the second set where I broke back to come back to level the score, you know, played pretty sloppy service game.

“In some situations, you know, the score just goes, and it’s difficult to stop it.”

 

 

“It’s medium‑paced court. It’s difficult to get the ball past the opponent. I mean, especially Novak. I didn’t have too many winners today.

“Also he was able to, you know, dictate the rallies. He was also able to return very well.

“That was a difficult part for my game to get some advantages at the beginning of the points.

“You know, when we are at the rallies, Novak starts to dictate, he’s always in a much better position. So that was, you know, a difficult part for me to get out of.

“Considering the court, it’s, I mean, a solid court, but you have to be able to, you know, keep the ball away from the opponent. If you are hitting the ball well, it’s going to pay off.

“But today I felt that I was not hitting it clean. That’s always difficult, especially against Novak, to get away with a win when you’re not playing so good.”

 

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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Notes and Quotes from Day 1 of the ATP World Tour Finals

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(November 9, 2014) LONDON – Notes and quotes from the Day 1  news conferences of the ATP World Tour Finals, which included Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori, Andy Murray and Milos Raonic.

 

Roger Federer

On the possibility of ending 2014 year with the No. 1 ranking:

“I have a small shot at world No. 1 after winning Shanghai. I mean, I’m happy it’s this way. But I think it’s highly unlikely it’s going to happen. If it does, obviously it’s great.

“But for me personally, it doesn’t really matter if it happened at the end of the year or any other week during the year, as long as you could get back to world No. 1 for one more time. I think that would be very special because I’ve been there and I know how much it would mean, because winning a tournament is a one‑week thing or a two‑week thing, but getting back to world No. 1 is an entirely different animal.

“I’ll try to get there, but obviously Novak is going to dictate as well what’s going to happen here.”

 

Asked about the greater rivalry of his career – Nadal or Djokovic:

“I feel a special connection towards Rafa just because we did, I don’t want to say come up together somewhat on the tour, but we did have a very strong, intense rivalry for many years, starting 2004 maybe. Especially we played each other that many times in finals of slams, which hasn’t been the case with the other players as much.

“I know Novak, the matches and the rivalry is nice. I really enjoy playing against him. It’s very evenly matched, you know. But I played him more often probably in semis than in finals most likely. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s kind of how it felt like.

“Because me and Rafa were always 1 and 2 or 2 and 1 for so long. Murray and Djokovic always ended up in our semis for so long. So there was actually more opportunities to play those guys than Rafa, quite honestly, because getting to the finals is difficult.

“But then also I always like to look back and see who were my tougher players when I was coming up. In the beginning I struggled against the likes of Henman, Nalbandian, Hewitt, Roddick. So for me those were really interesting players to play against. I was lucky enough that Andre Agassi played as long as he did because I got to play him also, I think almost 15 times.”

 

Evaluating his win over Raonic:

“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 broke first game and sort of never looked back. I think when I had breakpoint in the second set, he was able to save that. When I was trying to hit a lob and he smashed it home, after that it became complicated. I don’t know why.

“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

 

“But it’s obviously disappointing, very disappointing actually, the way I finished that second set off. “

 

“It took me more a set to find my way into the match because of playing Roger, not because of being here for the first time.”

 

“Every time you play Roger, the crowd’s on his side, even if he’s playing a local favorite. It’s hard for people to cheer against Roger.

“I’ve played him a few times. I’ve played home favorites on big courts also a few times, and in Davis Cup, many different situations. So it wasn’t any type of an issue.”

 

“I get pretty angry when I lose, so…

I’m going to have to learn how to slap myself out of it.”

 

Andy Murray

On his loss to Nishikori:

“I didn’t serve well enough today. I would say that was the biggest difference in the match. And when you’re not serving well, obviously on your own service games you want to be looking to dictate the points. When you’re returning, you kind of dictate when you have the opportunity. You don’t always have the chance if someone’s serving well.

“And, yeah, I didn’t serve well enough. He was able to dictate a lot of points, especially behind my second serve. That was, yeah, statistically the part of the match ‑‑ yeah, I mean, that was the part of the match where he had the upper hand. That was the difference. “

 

“It’s still obviously disappointing to lose the first match. And, yeah, I would have liked to have done better.”

 

“Obviously now I need to win my next two matches more than likely, and win them well if I want to go through. That’s going to be tricky because Milos obviously played fantastic last week in Paris, and Roger always plays well at this event.

 

“So I’m definitely going to have to play better if I want to get through.”

 

On the surface at the O2 Arena: “It’s quite lively, to be honest. It can be hard to control the ball that can bounce pretty high up on the serve, on the kick serve. Yeah, it’s quicker than the other courts.

 

“It’s definitely quicker than Valencia and Paris, I would say that. I don’t know exactly why that is, because the balls are the same and it’s the same court, I believe, manufacturer. I don’t know if it’s to do with just how big the stadium is, and it does get warm in there. I’m not sure. But, yeah, it’s quite lively.”

 

#458693032 / gettyimages.com

 Kei Nishikori

Asked about his confidence in his first–ever win over Murray:

“For sure I was different than these couple matches we played because this year I was, you know, much better player than before and more aggressive, you know, have bigger result this year.

 

“So that’s why I try not to think, you know, I can’t beat these guys, because I’ve been beating those top‑10 guys already. You know, this is even first time for me to play to a Final.

 

“But we’ve been playing a lot these players, and I was a little bit tight in the beginning, but, you know, I start feeling little more confidence in especially second set. I was very, very, you know, solid player.”

 

 

About playing in the O2 Arena:

“The court is same as Paris, so I was little bit used to, you know, playing this surface. But the stadium is huge. You know, I try not to look up too much because there was too many people on the top. 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.

You know, I was thinking, you know, very honored to be here. You know, first time to be top‑eight player. I was really happy that I played good tennis on this situation.”

 

“There is, you know, still a long way to going to final and to win it. Play one match at a time and hope I can win couple matches here and go to semifinal.”

 

“I see Li Na and Srichaphan, I was looking up to them. I felt a lot of motivation from them.”

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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