2014/09/17

Kei Nishikori Stuns No. 1 Novak Djokovic to Reach US Open Final

(September 6, 2014) Under brutal heat and humidity, Japan’s Kei Nishikori became the first man from Asia to reach a major final, when on Saturday afternoon, the 24-year-old shocked top player Novak Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 7-6 (4), 6-3 at the US Open.

“It’s just amazing, amazing feeling to beat the No. 1 player,” Nishikori said after the match in an on-court interview.

“I expected him to be able to play another five-setter because he had two days off,” Djokovic said of Nishikori’s stamina. “He hasn’t played before this tournament, so he had a big break. He could prepare himself for this tournament. He played some great tennis. I congratulate him for the effort. He was the better player today.”

Nishokori came into the semifinals having played two marathon five-set matches against top 5 players. In the fourth round the 10th seed stopped fifth seed Milos Raonic in a match which ended at 2:26 a.m. on Thursday morning. In his quarterfinal, Nishikori defeated reigning Australian Open champions and third seed Stan Wawrinka. Nishikori played more 81/2 hours combining those two matches.

“That second set my game today was not even close to what I wanted it to be,” said the Serb. “A lot of unforced errors, a lot of short balls. Just wasn’t myself.”

“I don’t want to talk about conditions,” Djokovic continued. “It’s same for both of us. I think he just played better in these conditions than I did. I just wasn’t managing to go through the ball in the court. You know, I wasn’t in the balance. Unforced errors. Even when the ball gets back to his part of the court it’s pretty short; he takes advantage of it. On the other side I didn’t. That’s it.”

 

“Well, this is definitely huge for Japan,” Djokovic commented. “It’s a big country. Over a hundred million people. This can definitely be a great encouragement for tennis in that country. He’s been around for last couple of years. He’s been making a lot of success. But playing finals of a Grand Slam and now fighting for title is definitely something different. You know, he has gotten to another level, and I’m sure that people will praise him.”

Nishikori will face Roger Federer or Marin Cilic in Monday’s final.

More to follow.

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Peng Retires in Match; Wozinacki and Williams Move into US Open Women’s Final

 

(September 5, 2014) China’s Shuai Peng, appearing to have cramps clutched her right knee and limped her way over to the back wall of the court in tears while receiving serve from 10th seed Caroline Wozniacki who was up 7-6(1), 4-3, 30-40.

At the wall, a trainer, a tournament official, a security guard and a ballperson ran to Peng’s side to help her. After about a ten minute period, which included Peng being taken off court for evaluation and being treated for heat illness, she resumed play. Points later she collapsed to the ground and retired from the match, advancing Wozniacki to her second major final.

Peng was taken off the court in a wheelchair.

In her news conference hours later, Peng said she felt fine.

“I think it was the physical because today is really humid and hot,” said the 28-year-old, ranked 39th. “And then like my body is not like from like — maybe I got from I parents when I’m born. It’s not like the strong, my physical like everything. So also from like what I does in the practice and just the lot of fitness and then try to improve with everything.”

“I said, `No, no, no. I don’t want to give up. I want to try one more time,'” said Peng, when she  had to retire. “I knew I’m not going to stay maybe too long, but I just want to try, you know. I just wanted to challenge her one more time.”

“It was really hard to watch for me whenever I saw her collapse on the court,” the 10th seed Wozniacki said. “You know, tennis is great, but the health is more important. You know, to see her struggling out there, I just wanted to make sure she was okay. I got the word that she’s okay now and just getting cooled down, so that’s great to hear. I’m in the finals, which is obviously great. It’s been five years for me since my last one here, so I’m extremely happy to be back there.”

The 24-year-old Dane lost to Kim Clijsters in the final of the US Open in 2009.

The other semifinal had very little drama as No. 1 Serena Williams ran away with a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Ekaterina Makarova. For Williams this will be her third straight US Open final. She’s looking to three-peat and win her sixth US Open crown on Sunday.

 

“I’m just really excited to be in the final,” the 32-year-old said. In the beginning of the week I definitely wasn’t sure I would make it this long. Definitely wasn’t sure I’d be here. So I’m just elated, to be honest, to have made it this far.”

“I think I played pretty well today. You know, I was able to change up my game and just keep moving forward and just keep doing what I could do today.”

Williams evaluated her match-up with Wozniacki: I” definitely expect another close match. She really knows my game well and knows how to play. She’s so consistent. I think that’s one of the things that makes her really tough. So I just have to be ready for that and, again, just stay calm and just be able to relax and be happy. You know, the beginning — the past six months I would never thought I’d be here. I think it’s just staying calm and happy.”

Williams is seeking her 18th major on Sunday which would tie her on the all-time list with Martina Navratilova and Christ Evert.

 

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Roger Federer Saves Two Match Points to Reach US Open Semifinal

 

 

 

(September 4, 2014) No. 2 seed Roger Federer saved two match points while coming back from two-sets to love down to defeat 20th seed Gael Monfils 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 on Thursday night and reach the US Open semifinals for the first time in three years.

For the first two sets, the 33-year-old veteran had no answer to a focused Monfils hard-hitting Frenchman, nor did he have an answer for dealing with the windy conditions in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Federer began to dig out of a two sets down hols in the third set. The five-time US Open winner survived two match points when he was down 5-4 in the fourth set. He won five games in a row to take the fourth set and gain majors momentum in the fifth set where Monfils’ level of play took a precipitous drop.

“Well, then it was tough, because I think then my serve was not good, so it let me a bit down again at 5-All,” Monfils said. “I think maybe I hit a double fault. I think I had a point for 6-5 and could not really quite use my serve. I think the side I was was tougher because it was against the wind, so it was a bit tougher. Then rush me with his long return, so it was very tough. But then he play good. He played good. He had the set. Then physically I had a drop, five minutes. But maybe come from mentally also, because I thought that I could have play better this fourth set. For five minutes I think I had — I was a little bit, yeah, tired and mentally also tired. So then it came quick. I think then he start to be very offensive. So then it was very tough to handle it.”

Federer was asked about how he survived his match to come back and win.

“Well, it was one of those moments where you got the back against the wall and hope to get a bit lucky and you hope to play exactly the right shots that you need or that he completely just messes it up,” Federer said. Either way works as long as you get out of it. But clearly it’s not a great feeling, because you feel it’s not in your control anymore really. So I’m very, very happy to have found a way tonight.”

“I was like saying to myself, Keep it simple, you know, and try to make him play them,” Monfils discussing having two match points. “Because I knew that he will force it, like he will put the first ball in and then for sure come to the net very quick. So it was more like, you know, I be relax and just lean a bit more on my forehand return and try to make it. And then we just played those two points, and, you know, well done.”

“It’s just unbelievable to win matches like this at slams,” Federer continued. “You know, I have won other big ones in other places. But over best of five, saving match points against Gaël in an atmosphere that it was out here tonight, it’s definitely very special. I’m. Not sure I have ever saved match point before in a slam. If that hasn’t happened, I’m unbelievably happy that it was today, because I knew I could play better after the first couple of sets. I believed I could turn it around from the get-go when the third set started, and I’m so happy the crowd got into it. The rallies were incredible at times, and my game really picked up. I served great in the fifth when it mattered, and just overall an enjoyable match also to play, because it had all the ups and downs similar to the Wimbledon final.”

This was the ninth time Federer has won a match after dropping the opening two sets down, eight of them at majors.

The victory will move Federer ahead of Rafael Nadal for the No. 2 spot in te ATP race.

Federer will take on Marin Cilic in his semifinal on Saturday afternoon.

 

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Marin Cilic Reaches First US Open Semi with Victory over Tomas Berdych

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

(September 4, 2014) Last year Marin Cilic missed the US Open because he was suspended from the tour after testing positive for a banned stimulant. He said that took the unintentionally from a glucose tablet he purchased from a pharmacy. He tested positive for nikethamide after a match in Munich in May of 2013.

This year the Croatian Cilic who is the 14th seed, is back on tour and has reached his first US Open semifinal by defeated sixth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

“It was a great performance today,” Cilic said. “Was very tricky with the conditions. Very gusty. I mean, for both of us. We are big guys. Not easy to deal with the wind and with, I mean, the ball moving in the air. I felt that I was using the wind a bit better today. Just considering the conditions and the opening of the match went in my side, that sort of relaxed me a bit more. I felt that I’m in a good driving seat and that Tomas was all the time catching me and I was serving good in the right moments. So, yeah, it feels great to be in the semis first time after three tries in quarterfinals. Lost both times to eventual winners. Just feels great to be here.”

Cilic’s serve was the key to victory, hitting 19 aces. The Croatian hit 46 winners to Berdych’s 21.

“I start pretty terribly,” Berdych said. “It was not the way to start the match like that. Then obviously was really tough to catch up. And really my serve was off. Basically, you know, when you have a game built on a serve, then it’s really tough and difficult to reschedule it and do it a bit differently. Yeah, today was not, definitely not the day I want to have. Yeah, that’s it. That’s tennis. Just need to carry over and go forward.”

Cilic is now the first Croatian to make the semifinals of the US Open since his coach, former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic did it in 1996.

“The only matches I watched on TV was Goran’s Wimbledon matches,” Cilic said of his tennis memories as a child. “That’s the only memory, you know, from tennis at very young age. And then later I started to play with him when I was 14 few times. He was out due to his shoulder injury. He played with me and one other kid from Croatia my age, and that was, for me, huge at age of 14 to play with my idol. Was amazing. Then I think he helped me a lot with pointing me in a good direction with my coach, long-time coach, Bob Brett. I think that was a very crucial part of my career.”

“You know Goran, so Goran is everything but not boring. Yeah, I feel that it’s very entertaining. We work a lot, but we still — I mean, even some days we are preparing, you know, we would have sessions of three, three-and-a-half hours or whatever, and we always have good time. I think that’s most important. It’s, I would say, can’t be better.”

Cilic will face the winner of the Roger Federer–Gael Monfils quarterfinal in his semifinal on Saturday.

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Hall of Famer Martina Hingis into US Open Women’s Doubles Final

Martina Hingis

Martina Hingis

(September 4, 2014) Martina Hingis is in the US Open women’s doubles final for the first time since winning the title in 1998.

The 2013 Tennis Hall of fame inductee and partner Flavia Pennetta reached the final upsetting third seed Cara Black and Sania Mirza 6-2, 6-4.

“Well, it means a lot to me,” Hingis said. “I only won one title here in doubles. That was a while back in ’98. I made some good matches, like some great memories, but it’s been a while. So it’s like I really cherish this moment because I have had some great matches, but also in doubles I didn’t feel like I had too many opportunities. I lost to players that actually I beat in this tournament now again, like whether it was Peschke, you know. So it felt like really far away. Also in the beginning of this tournament I think we had a really tough draw. So I think we really deserved our spot. I think this tournament it all came together for me. I played a lot better than in the previous tournaments. With Flavia I feel really comfortable being out there. I think that’s the key to success.”

Hingis and Pennetta will play fourth seeds Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in the final on Saturday.

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Bryan Brothers Back in US Open Final

 

Bryan Brothers

(September 4, 2014) Bob and Mike Bryan survived a three-set match to move into the final of the men’s doubles at the US Open. They are now within one win away from their 16th Grand Slam title, sixth US Open crown and 100th tournament victory. Their last major came last year at Wimbledon.

The top seeds defeated Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 on Thursday.

Last year the Bryans were going for a calendar Grand Slam but did not reach the US Open final. The brothers reflected on this:

“Last year was obviously crazier and we had this long streak going,” Bob Bryan said. “So it was just a lot of built up pressure and kind of angst. We were very disappointed when we lost last year, but a little bit relieved that the whole run was finished and we could just play again without having that on our shoulders. This year feels like an added bonus. You know, if we can do it, it would, you know, add something really extra special to do Grand Slam title. We’re not feeling the pressure to do it in any way. Because it’s going to happen eventually. It’s not like, Oh, my God. We’re going to be stuck on 99 forever. We’re both confident we’ll knock down the title at some point. It would be cool to do it here.”

They’ll meet the 11th seeds from Spain -Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez in the final on Sunday.

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Novak Djokovic Reaches Eighth Straight US Open Semifinal

Djokovic applauds

(September 4, 2014) Novak Djokovic stood toe-to-toe for two sets with Andy Murray until the world No. 1 took charge over the eighth seed in the third set and came through 7-6 (1), 6-7 (1), 6-2, 6-4 to reach his eighth straight US Open semifinal. The match which had many long and intense rallies, lasted three hours and 32 minutes, and finished at 1:17 a.m. on Thursday morning.

When I get to play Andy, at the Grand Slams especially, where we both try to peak with our performances obviously, I know that the matches are going to go the distance,” said the Serb.. “We’re going to have a lot of long rallies and a lot of exchanges. It’s going to be physical but also mental. I get the feeling that if I get to stay with him and kind of, you know, work, work, and, you know, not get too loose and too frustrated with points and not allow him to get into a big lead, I feel like there is a point where I feel I have that edge, you know, maybe physically. That’s where I try to always focus on and, you know, it paid off tonight.”

“I’d say definitely physically he was fresher, but towards the end I tried to hang in as best I could in the fourth set,” Murray said. “But, yeah, he was definitely — well, he appeared fresher than me. Whether he was or not I don’t know, but maybe he does a better job of hiding it than me. The pace of my serve slowed significantly towards the end of the third set.”

Murray, who underwent back surgery late last year, has not reached a Grand Slam semifinal all year, nor any other tournament.

“I’m obviously disappointed,” Murray said of the loss. ”It’s extremely late. You know, I’m tired. I don’t feel particularly proud right now. I feel disappointed. But, yeah, I think there was some good tennis. I obviously haven’t, you know, analyzed the match or had time to think about it yet, but I think there was some good tennis there. You know, hopefully I can build on that.”

 

Djokovic will play Kei Nishikori in the final four. Nishikori beat Stan Wawrinka in five sets.

 

“Well, I haven’t played Kei in a while,” Djokovic said. “He’s very, very good player, obviously. I think he’s playing best tennis of his life in the last 12 months. He started working with Michael Chang and he changed a few things in his game. He serves very efficiently. Obviously he’s very, very fast, maybe one of the fastest on the tour player. Great backhand, great forehand, all-around player. He won today against Stan, who is playing some great tennis. To be able to come back after winning against Raonic 2:30 a.m., again five sets, five sets, it’s pretty impressive. I give him credit for that. We both had some long matches in quarters, but I’m sure Uniqlo family will be happy to see us play against each other. (Both men wear UNIQLO clothing) You know, the better will win.”

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After a Slow Start, Serena Williams Soars in US Open Semifinals

 

(September 3, 2014) Two-time defending champion Serena Williams has her serve broken twice opening against 11 seed Flavia Pennetta but then won 12 out of the next 14 games to win 6-3, 6-2 to move into the US Open semifinal.

“She was playing really well and she was playing, you know, very aggressive,” Williams said. “So I had to just step up my level of game, as well.”

“I really had to step up my game. That’s why I was down Love-3. She came out really strong and really hard. It was a very, very good game for her.”

“I had confidence from the beginning,” Pennetta said. “I get in the court and try to do what I have to do to bring the match home, but she was really good today. I think we play really good tennis tonight. I mean, really strong tennis in everything. Today I push so much and she come in with the best tennis, I think.”

The win gives the No. 1 player her 19th straight win at the US Open. For the 32-year-old American, it’s the first time she’s reached the semifinals of a Grand Slam in 2014.

Williams is trying to become the first woman player to “three-peat” at the US Open since Chris Evert won four in a row from 1975-78. Should Williams win the title, she would pull even with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in total major singles titles at 18.

Williams will play Russia’s Ekaterina Makarova, a the 17th seed in her first major semifinal who advanced to her first Grand Slam semifinal by beating two-time US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2.

“Makarova moves well,” Williams said. “She doesn’t care who she plays, she gives 100%. Those types of players are often difficult to play because it makes them better. Like I say, she moves well. She has that serve that can hit — that can go out wide or you never know where it’s going to go. She’s has a great backhand and she’s improved her forehand. It’s going to be interesting for me to do the best that I can, because, you know, she has a lot of momentum going into this match as well.”

“She’s beaten me before,” Williams said. “I am obviously going to go in there and just try to do the best I can.”

The other women’s semifinal will feature No. 10 seed Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark against unseeded Peng Shuai of China.
Serena fistpump yell

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Kei Nishikori Defeats Stan Wawrinka to Reach US Open Semifinals

Kei Nishikori Memphis 2014

(September 3, 2014) Kei Nishikori became the first man from Japan to reach the US Open semifinals since 1918 beating third seed Stan Wawrinka 3-6, 7-5, 7-6 (7), 6-7 (5), 6-4 on a match which began Wednesday afternoon and ended in the evening.

Nishikori talked about coming back to play this match after the marathon from the other night.

“It was okay,” Nishikori said. “Yesterday was, you know, my body was tight. I was a little bit tired yesterday, but today was almost, you know, not 100% but close to, you know, feeling pretty good my body. It’s great for my confidence, you know, play two five-sets straight and a lot of 7-6. Yeah, it was, you know, tough game, especially after losing fourth set. You know, it was very close tiebreak, you know, but I was playing much better in third and fourth and I have more confidence to get in the fifth set. So, you know, I tried to focus on my service game. I just took, yeah, one chance in the end.”

“He finish really late two days ago, but it’s one match out of the tournament,” Wawrinka said. “So normally after two days or a little bit less you’re there, you feel good, especially when you win. So I wasn’t surprised because I know how is he. From outside he looks really dead, but we know on the court he can play, and he play long like what he did today. If even at the beginning he looks like he’s going to die on the court, but he’s there. Physically he’s there. Even at the end of the match even. We were both quite tired in the fifth set. I try not to show. I still think that I was the fresher on the court, but he handle well. He was really going for his shot in the fifth set. I had some chance to break him. Maybe I should go a little bit more, maybe I should try a few different things, but didn’t happen that way. That’s life.”

The five-set match lasted 4 hours, 15 minutes. On Monday night Nishikori played a 4 hour and 19 minute match beating Milos Raonic, ending at 2:26 a.m. Tuesday, matching the latest finish in US Open history.

Speaking of history, the top Japanese player i s happy to repeat history in being the fir man from his country since 1918 ro reach a major semifinal.

“Very honored to make the history. I always love to play here because I feel a little bit like home, you know. It’s very close where I live. Also a lot of Asian and Japanese fans come up. Always fun to play here. I always enjoy.”

Nishikori will face the winner of the match between No. 1 Novak Djokovic and No. 8 Andy Murray for a place in the final.

 

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Ekaterina Makarova Moves into her First Major Semifinal

Makarova bh

 

(September 3, 2014) Ekaterina Makarova reached her first major semifinal, beating two-time major winner and US Open finalist Victoria Azarenka 6-4, 6-2 on Wednesday at the U.S. Open.

It still has not hit the Russian that she’s in a major semifinal when the 26-year-old was in press. “I am feeling the same like the matches before. Of course I’m happy that I’m came through, finally through the quarters and I’m in semis now. Today was a great, tough match. We played so many times with Vika; she beat me and I beat her. So today was a tough one, and I’m really happy that I came through.”

Azarenka’s manager said that she had food poisoning on Tuesday, but Azarenka gave all the credit to her opponent.

“I don’t really want to talk about it,” Azarenka said. “I just, you know, want to give credit to my opponent. She played really well today. Am I disappointed? Yes, I’m disappointed. But I feel like I tried my best with whatever I had. But, you know, I just want to wish her good luck. That’s it. I’m out of the tournament.”

Makarova, the 17th seed who has not lost a set yet in the tournament, beat Wimbledon runner-up Eugenie Bouchard to get to the quarterfinals.

Makarova will play the winner of the semifinal between two-time defending champion Serena Williams and 11th seed Flavia Pennetta.

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