2014/10/23

Murray, Ferrer, Kohlschreiber and Troicki Reach Semis in Vienna

By Florian Heer

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

(October 17, 2014) VIENNA – In a bid for crucial points in the ATP Race to London, David Ferrer and Andy Murray took last minute wild cards into the 40th edition of the Erste Bank Open and both headlined the action on quarterfinal day in Vienna on Friday.

Andy Murray is making his Vienna debut as he continues his push for a Top 8 finish and a spot at the ATP World Tour Finals. It is the first time the Brit has played in four straight post-US Open tournaments since 2008. Murray started his week with a 6-4, 6-4 victory over Vasek Pospisil on Thursday. In the quarterfinal he clashed German youngster Jan-Lennard Struff for the first time. Murray emerged victorious after 86 minutes winning 6-2, 7-5 but had to work hard for his points.

The world No. 11, who didn’t know much about the German before the match, didn’t seem to be surprised facing such a competitive opponent.

“I expected a good match,” Murray said. “He is a big guy, strong with a good serve. Playing against such a player on indoor courts is always difficult. I had to fight hard. Nonetheless, I was more solid than yesterday and made less mistakes. I changed rhythm and the variety in my shots as much as I could and tried to go for the winners,” Murray explained.

 

Top-seed David Ferrer went up against big-serving Croat Ivo Karlovic. The pair has met three times with the Spanish world No. 5 leading their head-to-head record 2-1 before Friday’s encounter. After taking the opening set without any break points, in the tie-break, Ferrer gained the decisive break in the third game of the second and served out by an ace winning 7-6, 6-4 after 84 minutes.

“It was very difficult today because Ivo has the best serve on the Tour,” said the relieved Spaniard afterwards.

“It is very nice to get the support from the people here in Vienna. You feel that the crowd loves tennis and this is very good for us players on the court,” Ferrer said about the Austrian audience, which backed the Spaniard in the important moments of the evening match.

Philipp Kohlschreiber will be the next opponent for the second seed, as he won the first ever all-German encounter against an in-form Benjamin Becker, who reached the stage of the final four in Tokyo two weeks ago, in straight sets winning 6-4, 7-6. The man from Augsburg, who turned 31 on Thursday, hit eleven aces and won 67 percent of his serves to advance to his third semi-final in Vienna after 2008 and 2009.

 

Viktor Troicki

Viktor Troicki

Great Britain’s No. 1 is going to face Viktor Troicki in the next round. The Serbian qualifier has reached his first semi-final since Moscow 2011 winning 7-6, 6-7, 6-2 over Tomaz Bellucci in two hours and 27 minutes.

“I’m happy to reach the semi-finals here in Vienna, a tournament with so many tough players,“ said the Serb. “It has passed a long time since I have reached this stage. I had some pretty close matches here in the qualifying and a long one today. Playing six matches is hard but I’m feeling good and fresh on the court. I felt physically more prepared in the third set. I also felt that Tomaz (Bellucci) was not at 100 per cent, and I took that opportunity to play on the offensive. It worked out well,” Troicki said afterwards.

“Against Andy you have to play smart. You need to play offensive and of course you have to use your chances,” the Serb is looking forward to the match, even though he has never been able to gain a victory against the Brit.”

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Future Circuit!  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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University of Florida Repeats as USTA Tennis on Campus Fall Invitational Champions

Photo by Peter Staples / USTA TOC

Photo by Peter Staples / USTA TOC

By Steve Pratt

HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C., Oct. 12, 2014 – University of Florida became the first repeat winner at the USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational as the Gators defended their 2013 title with a 25-18 win over Auburn University on Sunday at the Palmetto Dunes Tennis Center.

 

Captained by sophomore Max Koller of Daytona Beach, Fla., Florida showed its strength in doubles and won four out of the five matches in the World TeamTennis format final, including all three in doubles, at the fifth annual event that serves as the kickoff to the popular Tennis On Campus season.

 

“It was a long tournament and all the teams were really good,” Koller said. “The talent level was extremely high and we are happy to repeat as champions.”

 

Koller did not play on last year’s championship team, joining the squad in November. “After they won I saw a post on Facebook that they had won the big Fall Invite and I knew they had a really good team,” Koller said. “I wanted to be part of that and had heard how fun Tennis On Campus is.”

 

Both Florida and Auburn earned an automatic bid to compete for the national title at the 2015 USTA Tennis On Campus National Championship, to be held April 9-11, 2015, in Cary, N.C.

 

Auburn’s men’s singles player Mitchell Vegas of Spanish Fort, Ala., had the only set win in the final for Auburn, beating Florida’s Joey Rudy of Boynton Beach, Fla., 6-1.

 

“They had stronger doubles play today,” said Auburn Captain Christian Lyerly. “This is the farthest we’ve ever gotten so we were excited to be in the final.”

 

Past winners of the event include: University of Alabama (2010), University of Virginia (2011) and Duke University (2012).

 

Earlier in the day, Florida just got past University of Georgia’s “B” team in one semifinal as the match went to a supertiebreaker with the Gators prevailing, 23-22. Auburn beat N.C. State “A”, 23-16 in the other semifinal.

 

In the third-place match, N.C. State “A” was down by two points going into the final mixed doubles match but pulled out a 6-3 set win for a 22-21 narrow victory over the University of Georgia “B”.

 

“We played really well and we won most of our matches by one or two points,” said N.C. State captain Phillip Cardella, whose team was beaten by Georgia “B” in pool play on Friday. “I think our girls are a lot better than last year so we should be pretty good this year.”

 

It was the second consecutive year the Wolf Pack has finished third at the Fall Invite. N.C. State won the Bronze title at the TOC Nationals in April.

 

Forty-eight teams competed in the tournament. Alabama won the Silver Bracket; Ohio University won the Bronze and Indiana University captured the Copper.

 

Individual Results Final Match

Women’s Doubles

Florida’s Natalie Boruk (Clearwater, Fla.) /  Anna Rachman (Daytona Beach, Fla.) def. Auburn’s Jennifer Costigan (Naples, Fla.) / Holly Maxey (Stockbridge, Ga), 6-0

Florida leads 6-0

Men’s Doubles

Florida’s Adam Decker (Panama City, Fla) / Joey Rudy (Boynton Beach, Fla). def. Auburn’s Danny Hester (Nashville, Tenn.) / Jonathan Hibbert (Montgomery, Ala), 6-4

Florida leads 12-4

Women’s Singles

Florida’s Barrie Eisenberg (Weston Fla.) def. Auburn’s Courtney Johns (Mobile, Ala.), 6-4

Florida leads 18-8

Men’s Singles

Auburn’s Mitchell Vegas (Spanish Fort, Ala.) def. Florida’s Rudy, 6-1

Florida leads 19-14

Mixed Doubles

Florida’s Decker / Eisenberg def. Auburn’s Vegas / Johns, 6-4

FINAL: Univ. of Florida 25, Auburn 18

 

Other Auburn players included: Captain Christian Lyerly (Birmingham, Ala.), Jake Muller (Windermere, Fla.) and Michael Feirer (Milton, Ga). Other Florida players included: Koller (Daytona Beach, Fla.), Spencer Ong (Tampa, Fla.) and Stephanie Cruz (Palm Harbor, Fla.).

 

Sunday’s Results

GOLD BRACKET RESULTS

Final

Univ. of Florida 25, Auburn 18

Semifinals

Univ. of Florida 23, Univ. of Georgia (B) 22

Auburn 23, N.C. State (A) 16

Third Place

N.C. State (A) 22, Univ. of Georgia (B) 21

Consolation Final

Harvard 26, Kentucky 17

Consolation Semifinal

Kentucky def. Wisconsin (withdraw)

Harvard 25, UNC-Charlotte 21

Consolation

Georgia Tech (A) 26, Boston College 19

Georgia (A) 24, Virginia 16

Georgia (A) 25, Georgia Tech (A) 23

Clemson (A) 28, William & Mary 19

Cornell 21, Ohio State 20

Cornell 21, Clemson (A) 19

Boston College 23, Virginia 19

 

SILVER BRACKET RESULTS

Final

Alabama 22, South Carolina (A) 19

Semifinals

South Carolina (A) 28, Tennessee (A) 18

Alabama 24, Cincinnati (A) 22

Third Place

Cincinnati (A) 27, Tennessee (A) 13

Consolation Final

Elon 27, UNC-Charlotte 15

Consolation Semifinals

Elon 27, Duke 14

UNC-Charlotte 26, Wake Forest 24

Consolation

Georgia College 21, Villanova 17

Cincinnati (B) 30, Ferris State 28

Georgia College 24, Cincinnati (B) 9

Virginia Tech 24, College of Charleston 17

Georgia Tech (B) 24, Virginia Tech 18

NC State (B) 28, College of Charleston 17

Georgia Tech (B) 27, NC State (B) 21

 

BRONZE BRACKET RESULTS

Championship

Ohio University 25, Connecticut 19

Third-Place

Vanderbilt 30, South Carolina (B) 17

Consolation Final

Colorado School of Mines 25, Furman 24

Consolation

Old Dominion 26, Coastal Carolina 11

 

COPPER BRACKET RESULTS

Championship

Indiana 28, Ohio State 16

Third Place

Clemson (B) 30, Tennessee (B) 21

Consolation Final

Dayton 11, Armstrong Atlantic State 11

Consolation

Mercer 24, Middle Tennessee State 16

 

Past USTA Tennis On Campus Fall Invitational Champions

2010 – University of Alabama

2011 – University of Virginia

2012 – Duke University

2013 – University of Florida

2014 – University of Florida

 

ABOUT USTA TENNIS ON CAMPUS: The USTA TOC program features more than 37,000 college students competing nationwide in intramural coed club play. Developed by the USTA in partnership with NIRSA (National Intramural Recreational Sports Association), World TeamTennis and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association  the program gives college students the opportunity to build leadership skills, network in a coed sports environment and compete on a college team without the rigors of playing in a varsity program. With year-round match play, and sectional and national championship competition, students maintain active and healthy lifestyles through their college years. Since its inception in 2000, Tennis On Campus has grown significantly and today has programs on more than 640 college campuses across the country.

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Karolina Pliskova Saves a Match Point to Claim Second Title of the Year in Linz

Generali_Ladies_Linz_logo

(October 12, 2014) Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic came back from a match point down before defeating Italy’s Camila Giorgi of Italy 6-7 (4), 6-3, 7-6 (4) to win the Generali Ladies event on Sunday.

Pliskova served for the match twice in the third set and saved a match point at 5-6 in the third set.

“It’s an amazing feeling to come back from a match point,” said the Czech. This was Pliskova’s third WTA title, second in as many months. She has three career WTA titles.

“It could have been a little easier, but I’m still happy I won the title!,” Pliskoova said. “After I was 5-1 up and she came back and had match point, I was already thinking I would lose, and that I would cry afterwards! But she was playing so well in that part of the third set. Before that she was making so many mistakes, but she stopped doing that and calmed down, and she played so much better there.”

The 30th ranked Pliskova was the only seed left in the tournament after the first round. The top two seeds Eugenie Bouchard and No. 2 Ana Ivanovic withdrew with injuries, while Dominika Cibulkova, Andrea Petkovic and Sabine Lisicki all lost.

Pliskova is now 16-3 since the US Open.

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“Lucky” Federer Wins Shanghai Masters for Fourth Title of the Year

Federer wins with arms raised

(October 12, 2014) Roger Federer defeated Gilles Simon 7-6 (6), 7-6 (2) to capture his first Shanghai Masters title on Sunday, his fourth tournament win of the season, 81st of his career.

Down five match points in his opening match against Leonardo Mayer just four days ago, who would have thought that Roger Federer would be the champion of the Shanghai Masters.

“I got very, very lucky,” Federer said after the match. “I know what a privilege it is to be here today.”

Federer had his serve broken to begin the match, but brought the match back on serve breaking his French opponent as Simon was serving for the first set at 5-4.

Simon had a set point in the first set tiebreak, which the Swiss fought off with an unreturnable serve.

Forward to the tightly contested second set where Simon had set points on Federer as the 17-time major champion was serving at 5-6 in which he could not take advantage. Federer dominated the tiebreak 7-2 to close the match.

Federer leads the men’s tour this year in match wins with 61, top ten wins with 13 and final appearances with 9.

“It makes me very happy winning here because this tournament means a lot to me,” Federer said. “I’ve always enjoyed coming here. I’ve come close a couple of times, but I’ve always wanted to win it as a Masters 1000.

“I feel unbelievable prestige to win this event. Especially putting my hands on the trophy for the first time is a good feeling, I must say. I’m very happy with the way I’m playing. Overall I’m just extremely happy right now.”

Playing a more aggressive game, Federer won 24 of 35 points at net.

“He still has the same strengths, this fantastic serve and this huge forehand,” Simon said. “He’s always showing you that he is ready to be really aggressive on every shot. So he keeps you under pressure.”

Federer will move past Rafael Nadal into the No. 2 spot in the rankings on Monday. Nadal who lost in Shanghai in his opening round match against Feliciano Lopes, is dealing with appendicitis.

Simon, currently No. 29, will move up to No. 19 in the world.

The Bryan Brothers, who won the doubles title, became the first pair to clinch a career golden Masters – winning all of the Masters Series events at least once. For Bob and Mike it was their 101st career title as a team.

“It’s another great milestone,” said Bob Bryan. “This week was full of them for us. To come and get in the title match, have a shot at winning the tournament that’s eluded us, complete the Golden Masters, is amazing.”

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Riske Wins Tianjin for First WTA Title

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

(October 12, 2014) Sixth seeded Alison Riske defeated third seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Tianjin Open on Sunday for her first WTA Tour title.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for me to win my first WTA title, and I was here by myself, which made it even more special, just to know that I was able to do it by myself,” said the American Riske. “I hope I can keep up the momentum and try to compete every week as best as I can. Obviously there was a little momentum change in the second set. But that was because Belinda upped her level at that point. She’s been playing so well this year and has a really bright future ahead of her. I knew coming into the match that it would be a battle and it really was.”
Benic, the 17-year-old Swiss, playing in her first final, was trying to become the youngest woman to win a tournament since 15-year-old Tamira Paszek won the Portoroz title in 2006.

 

Riske is now the fifth American to win a WTA title in 2014, joining  Serena Williams  Venus Williams, Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe.

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Stosur Wins Third Japan Open Title

(October 12, 2014) Defending champion Sam Stosur won her third Japan Women’s Open title on Sunday, pushing back Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 7-6 (9-7), 6-3.

“Zarina played very good match today,” said the 30-year-old Australian Stosur who saved two set points in the first set. “She managed to put me under a lot of pressure and returned serve really well. She gets to a lot of balls and can put you under pressure. You have to be out there and try to attack.”

“It was my first final so I am happy with how I played, said the 20-year-old. “She served very well and it was tough, especially on those set points. But this was a great experience for me.”

“Trying to serve out a set in a final, I don’t know if maybe she was a little nervous but I tried to play a little bit more aggressive or put a bit more on my shots to make her come up with something else, Stosur said.”

It’s Stosur’s sixth career title and half of them have come in Osaka.

Sam Stosur

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Federer Ends Djokovic’s 28-Match Win Streak in China to Reach Shanghai Final

Federer fist pump 2

(October 11, 2014) Roger Federer upset top player Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 in the semis of the Shanghai Masters on Saturday to reach the final Federer’s win halts Djokovic’s 28-match win streak in China. Regardless of the outcome of the final between the Swiss and the Frenchman Gilles Simon, who defeated Feliciano Lopez 6-2, 7-6(1),  Federer will move to No. 2 in in the rankings on Monday.

Federer played an aggressive serve-and-volley game against the Serb hitting 35 winners, winning 20 of 35 points at net.

“If you come to net, you have to be agile and explosive,” Federer said in press.

“I had it all today. I’m very happy that I’m feeling so good every single day.”

“He played a perfect match,” Djokovic said. “Definitely one of the best matches he has played against me, that’s for sure.”

“He’s playing as good as ever.”

Federer will be trying to capture his 23rd Masters 1000 events leads 4-2 head-to-head against Simon.

“I’m not going to come into the match and play terrible,” said Federer after his semifinal win. “It just won’t happen – not in the finals, not against Simon. That’s the confidence I have right now.”

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Djokovic and Sharapova Win China Open Titles

Novak Djokovic

(October 5, 2014) Novak Djokovic won his 24th straight match in Bejing to caoture his 5th china Open on Sunday, dismantling Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-2 in the final.

The Serb was a point away from a “double bagel,” 6-0, 6-0 win over the Czech, who fought off match point and broke Djokovic’s serve.

“This has been, in the circumstances, probably the best performance of any final in my career,” said the world No. 1 who captured his 5th tournament win of the year, 46th in his career. “It was incredible. Incredible. Especially against Tomas, who has a big game and is already an experienced player. It was 6-0, 5-0 in under an hour. Everything I tried worked. To be proud of the performance is the least I can say of how I played tonight.

“I have played some great finals, had some convincing wins, some straight-set wins against top rivals. But with this kind of performance and with this domination result-wise, I mean it’s never happened.”

Berdych was in stunned disbelief: “I met somebody in the final who I’ve never seen before. The way that he performed today was really outstanding. There is really not much I can add to that because, really, I was just swept off the court.

“I just said to my coach now that I probably played over 700 matches in my career, and I met guys like Andre (Agassi), Roger (Federer), all those probably in their best times. But I have never, ever experienced anything like that.”

 

Sharapova

On the women’s side, in a re-match of the 2011 Wimbledon final, Maria Sharapova moved into the No. 2 spot in the rankings when she beat Petra Kvitova 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 to win the China Open.

At this time last year the Russian was off the tour with a shoulder injury.

“It’s definitely great to be a year later in a situation where this is my fourth title of the year, you know, a Grand Slam this year,” she said. “A lot to put in perspective. You look back and think about how you kind of struggled, but you kept going.”

“I knew she’d been on a roll in the last couple of weeks,” Sharapova said. “It’s probably the toughest opponent you can face in a final, that’s had that success, yet you just want to focus on your side, what you do best.

“She became the more aggressive player in the second set. I think I took a few too many steps back and let her play that way. But I was able to lift my game again in the third and come out with a win.”
“Yeah, I was tired,” said the Czech Kvitova bidding to win tournaments in two straight weeks, playing 9 matches in 13 days. “But it was a final, and every time I’m playing a final, I’m giving everything I have inside. What I did today was a great battle. It was small things and small points that made the difference in the end. I had some chances, but Maria just didn’t let them go.”

For Sharapova it was her fourth title of the season, tying her with Ana Ivanovic for second on the year behind No. 1 Serena Williams who has six titles.

The China Open was Sharapova’s 33rd career title, putting her in a tie for 15th place in the Open Era with Conchita Martinez.

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Kei Nishikori Wins Japan Open Crown

Kei Nishikori withdrawal

(October 5, 2014) Japan’s top player, fourth seed Kei Nishikori won his second Japan Open title on Sunday in Tokyo, taking out the third seed, Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4.

For Nishkori, it’s his fourth ATP World Tour title of the year and second in two week. He won last week in Kuala Lumput. for Raonic, it’s his third straight loss in the final of Tokyo.

Nishikori is fifth in the ATP Race to London with five berths up for grabs to compete in the ATP World Tour Finals.

 

“I hope to get to London,” Nishikori said. “I am getting close, but there are two more Masters 1000s and 500s left. These next few weeks will be really important for me.”

“He was serving really well, with a lot of aces. Luckily, I got the first tie-break and that helped my motivation for the match. If I had lost the tie-break, I might have screwed up the whole match. He started aggressively and I think it was one of my toughest games against Milos. I am really happy to win. He had a lot of chances in the third set; he almost broke my serve a couple of times.

“It’s the first time I have won a title two weeks in a row. After the US Open, it was hard to maintain my motivation. I had to stay strong and focused, especially this week when I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent.”

“It is disappointing to lose in my third straight [Tokyo] final,” Raonis said. “To be honest with you, other than the first year [2012] I felt I created my opportunities. Against Kei, he just played better when it came down to the third set [in 2012]. I have felt I have always been in the thick of things the past two years, so I would say two years ago was more disappointing.

“It was a great match. We both played a high level of tennis. At the beginning, the match was passing by really quick, but in the second and third set it was really good. He has been playing with a lot of confidence, he went for his shots and it paid off.”

The 24 year-old, who was US Open finalist, has a 49-10 record on the year.

 

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Djokovic Reaches 5th Beijing Final After 23rd Straight Win

Novak Djokovic

(October 4, 2014) No. 1 Novak Djokovic improved his perfect record to 23-0 in Beijing on Saturday when he defeated Andy Murray 6-3, 6-4 to reach his fifth China Open final.

Despite the straight set score, Djokovic felt as though he worked a lot harder.

“It was a two‑set victory today, but still it felt like I had to work hard to win the points,” the Serbian said. “There was a lot of rally exchanges. He had a lot of chances to come back. He was 4‑3 up. Just in important moments I managed to play the best tennis.”

“I just wasn’t myself on the court,” Djokokic commented about his lackluster performances since winning Wimbledon. “I wasn’t really prepared emotionally to go back and compete again after Wimbledon and a very exhausting summer, everything that happened in my professional and private life.

“I’m glad that I’m back in the form that I would like to be in, especially in these courts where I still haven’t lost ever since I played this tournament.”

Djokovic will face Czech Tomas Berdych for the China Open title on Sunday. Berdych defeated Martin Klizan, who upset Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals, 6-4, 6-1.

“It’s a final and it’s against Novak,” Berdych said. “It’s really special day for me. Every Sunday that we have to go on court and play, it means a lot because it’s a final. Playing with No. 1 player in the world is always a bit special.

“But Novak is playing in incredible form, back again. Really, he’s having a great record playing here in China Open. There is a new challenge, a new day, a new opportunity for me. I’m going to try to go there, try to take my chance and, again, try to play my tennis. Let’s see what I can do with that.”

IMG_3625-001

On the ladies side, it will be a rematch of the 2011 Wimbledon title, with the added bonus for the winner to move to No. 2 in the world with Petra Kvitova facing Maria Sharapova on Sunday.

Kvitova was pushed by Samantha Stosur 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, while Sharapova dominated Ana Ivanovic 6-0, 6-4.

Kvitova is going for her second title in China in as many weeks. She captured the inaugural Wuhan Open last week.

He chance to move up to No. 2 is not that important to the Czech.

“I was No. 2 already, so I’m not really excited about,” she said. “But, no, I’m kidding.”

“I’m not really focusing on the number. I mean, it’s just number before my name. More important for me are results on the big tournaments and on the Grand Slams, as well.

“So tomorrow I will play for the title, not for be No. 2.”

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