2015/03/27

“On The Call” with Roger Federer and the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden

Roger Federer of Switzerland (R) and Pete Sampras of the U.S. (L) smile together on the court as they play against Andre Agassi of the U.S. and Rafael Nadal of Spain during their doubles exhibition doubles in the Hit for Haiti fund raiser event at the Indian Wells WTA and ATP tennis tournament in Indian Wells, California, March 12, 2010. REUTERS/Danny Moloshok (UNITED STATES – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

 

Sixteen-time major champion Roger Federer held a conference call on Thursday to promote the BNP Paribas Showdown taking place on March 5 at Madison Square Garden.

Federer spoke to media about returning to play in Madison Square Garden:  “super excited as you can imagine. Playing Pete was obviously a great moment for me. Especially, it was something Pete really wanted to get done after we played some exhibitions in Asia and I think…there was a buzz in town that we were back in the city at a different time of the year really. It’s been a successful event since, and I can’t believe it’s been five years already. I’m really looking forward to it, being in America and the great rival, and I’m sure it’s going to be a wonderful night for tennis and for New York.”

Federer has been keeping up with the rise of New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin and what people are calling “Linsanity.” I think it’s quite an incredible story actually.” Federer said. “I hope he can come to the exhibition I think it would be great. I think this is why we all follow sports because of great stories like this, that all of a sudden someone breaks through that you didn’t know or didn’t expect and you didn’t know the result was going to happen and that he was able to help the Knicks to come through in the way he did now is a great thing. You know, I love New York Knicks, and obviously having played in that arena you know as well has been amazing for me. I wish the team well and I thought what Lin has done has been great, so I hope to meet him when I come to New York soon. “

Tennis Panorama News asked Federer if he thought if he sees the ATP World Tour Finals ever returning to Madison Square Garden.

Federer responded: “I would love for it to happen. I mean we have a great world tour final at the moment in London, Shanghai was extraordinary, and Houston also I enjoyed a lot. There’s many great places I think the world tour finals could go, but obviously sort of back to the roots as well, where McEnroe, Lendl, and Borg, and all these guys used to be playing at the Garden. I think it would just be amazing. I don’t know if it’s going to happen. I hope the tour will consider and New York will have interest in hosting it, because I think it’s an amazing event and the players and fans and media will love it, so we’ll see how it goes, but for now, London is a very hot place to play and they put on an amazing show the last few years as well, so we’ll see how it goes, but especially after playing Pete and now Andy, you could imagine that I would love to have the world tour finals in New York again, hopefully in the near future.”

On Monday, March 5th, 2012, the BNP Paribas Showdown returns for its fifth year at the World’s Most Famous Arena – Madison Square Garden.  The night starts with three-time Grand Slam champion Maria Sharapova against former World No. 1, Caroline Wozniacki followed by, Roger Federer, against long-time rival and former World No. 1 and US Open Champion Andy Roddick.  Both matches will be best of three sets.

The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by MSG Sports and StarGames and is part of “Tennis Night in America.” For more information – www.thegarden.com, www.tennisshowdown.com.

 

Tennis Panorama News participates in many tennis media conference calls. “On The Call” serves to give readers an inside view of tennis news.

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Tennis Channel to Count Down 100 Greatest Players

Tennis Channel will rank the best 100 tennis players. 100 Greatest of all Time is a five-night, weeklong special series, will count down the game’s best competitors. The series will air in prime time at 7 p.m. ET each night, the first edition gets underway Monday, March 19, with the all-time No. 1, the greatest tennis player in history, unveiled at the conclusion of the final episode Friday, March 23.

 

“This is a televised answer to the old sports saying that great athletes don’t just compete with their contemporaries – they compete with everyone who ever played the game, said Laura Hockridge, vice president, original programming. “No one has devoted this much air time to exploring and ranking the top 100 tennis players in history and, while we don’t think viewers will be surprised with the names at the top of our list, we expect this series to add to the ongoing fan debate, rather than settle it.”

Tennis Channel’s 100 Greatest of all Time rankings were decided by an international committee of players, journalists, coaches, historians and industry representatives. Participants hailed from six continents and included the International Tennis Hall of Fame. During the 2011 voting and selection process, the series’ producers spent several months taping interviews and collecting footage before editing the individual episodes this winter. In all, the entire project has taken about a year to prepare.

Each new edition of 100 Greatest of all Time will debut at 7 p.m. ET throughout the week of March 19-23, with all previous episodes replayed immediately prior. This means that on Tuesday, March 20, the previous night’s opening edition will air at 6 p.m. ET, followed by the second installment at the standard, 7 p.m. ET debut time. By Friday, March 23, the week’s entire run will begin at 3 p.m. ET, with the Monday-through-Thursday episodes preceding the final night’s premiere.

Throughout the spring, Tennis Channel is supporting the 100 Greatest of all Time project with online activity on its Web site (www.tennischannel.com/goat), Facebook page (www.facebook.com/tennischannel), YouTube channel (www.youtube.com/tennischannel) and Twitter feed (@TennisChannel – www.twitter.com/tennishcannel – with the hashtag #TC100).

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Friendly Fribourg – The Swiss City Did Itself Proud As a Davis Cup Host

By Junior Williams

FRIBOURG, Switzerland — When I heard that the United States had drawn an away tie against Switzerland for the first round of Davis Cup World Group 2012, I assumed it would end up in a large city such as Geneva or Zurich. Then the word came down: Fribourg.

Huh?

The announcement expanded my education about Switzerland. I had never heard of Fribourg, but learned that it’s halfway between Geneva and Zurich, has centuries of history and is in a region famous for fondue and Gruyere cheese.

I arrived in Fribourg Wednesday after a 90-minute train ride from Zurich Airport. At the train station: Buses everywhere, snow flurries and below-freezing temperatures. But I immediately warmed up to the Swiss people who were happy to answer my questions even though they noticed I was butchering my attempts to speak French. We’d converse in English and they didn’t give me that “Ugh – typical American” look.

After checking in at the hotel, I went back out and walked around the Fribourg Centre mall, right across the street from the train station, to get one of life’s necessities for a foreigner in Switzerland — a universal adapter for circular three-prong outlets — necessary so I could write this column. The shocker for me was that the mall closes at 7pm during weekdays, much earlier than back home in the U.S.

Thursday was my big sightseeing day, so I hopped on the city bus, which costs 2.90 CHF ($3.17 US) and you have to buy a ticket from the machine at the bus stop before boarding. But each time I took a ride, the driver never asked for the ticket. One Fribourg native explained to me that there was an honor system where passengers were expected to do the right thing and pay. He said that “on occasion, someone might follow up” to make sure the fare was paid. This system wouldn’t work back home in New York City.

Walking around the Place de Tilleul — near the Town Hall — I made my way to the Cathedrale St-Nicolas, which was completed in the 15th century after two centuries of construction. There was something peaceful about being alone inside the cathedral, with gorgeous stained glass windows and huge organ pipes near the ceiling.

I continued my trek through the narrow streets and walked up the Route de Alpes, where you get stunning postcard views of centuries-old villages below, with snow-covered buildings and parks. Minutes later, I was back into modern times, near the train station.

That night, I had to get my fondue fix, and the folks at Cafe du Midi did not disappoint. I savored a nice big pot of “moitie-moitie” — a mixture of Gruyere and Vacherin cheeses — with boiled potatoes instead of bread for dipping. The meal was pricey as many things are in Switzerland, but it was worth the cost.

Yes, there are cheap eats in town. For lunch I enjoyed the Xpresso Cafe in the Fribourg Centre, home of tasty crepes (ham and cheese for 7.50 CHF did the trick).

The buses were packed for the trip to the arena Friday. To my surprise, there were tickets still available for the Davis Cup tie. Two men told me they were on line at 6pm and successfully snagged tickets three hours later, after standing outside in sub-zero Celsius temperatures. It’s a sign of how the Swiss love their team. Fans showed up wearing afros, the signature Swiss cowbells, and just about anything red-and-white.

Chants of “Hop Suisse” and “Allez” filled the arena for three days, especially when it came to rooting for their hero Roger Federer. But it ended up being a rough weekend for the home team — no wins. Nonetheless, the Swiss fans were gracious in congratulating their American counterparts, even taking pictures together in the true spirit of Davis Cup. The workers at the venue were also very courteous and friendly.

Of course, there’s a lot more to see in Fribourg, and hopefully one day I’ll get the chance on a return visit to Switzerland. Even though the country’s Davis Cup team lost, the class and friendship shown by the Swiss people make them big winners in my book.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He was in Fribourg, Switzerland covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the US and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

U.S. Completes Davis Cup Sweep of Switzerland

Bryan, Fish win doubles over Switzerland’s Federer, Wawrinka to Send USA to Davis Cup Quarterfinals

Davis Cup Stunner in Switzerland – Isner upsets Federer, Fish outlasts Wawrinka to put U.S. up 2-0

Nethead Photo Album from US-Switzerland Davis Cup Tie

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Notes and Quotes from Day 2 of Davis Cup – US versus Switzerland

FRIBOURG, Switzerland – The United States clinched a berth in the Davis Cup quarterfinal round with the doubles team of Mardy Fish and Mike Bryan stunning the Swiss team of Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The win gave the US an unassailable 3-0 lead to gain victory in the tie.

 

Federer on the loss: Actually played pretty good considering again it was a high standard of match on both sides.  We did have our own chances.  Maybe they were just a touch better than us today and it showed in the score.

We had our chances, played well for a long time actually.  Sometimes we struggled a bit too much.  But they deserved it.

I think they did really well.  I think they played well in the singles and the doubles, too.  It’s a pity we couldn’t go to Sunday, but that is how it is, unfortunately.

Sure, it’s disappointing, but we’re not too down about it.  We have respect for their performance.  They did really well.  We had missed opportunities.

Swiss Captain Severin Luthi: I mean, we knew that it was going to be a very difficult tie for us on any surface.  That’s what it was.

We know, for example, that Isner is dangerous on every surface.  Mardy is a top‑10 player.  He’s going to be a tough one anyway.  We didn’t underestimate them at all.  For sure we wished for another result, but it has nothing to do with underestimation.

Mike Bryan:  This is probably going to go down as one of the most memorable, after Portland (2007 Davis Cup final).

It was a really tough tie, playing Switzerland.  Really tough team on the road, on dirt.  Everybody stepped up.  Jim did a great job coaching.

It was a dogfight.  We just hung in there.

 We just thought we had to go in there, make a lot of first serves.  We were just going for our shots.

Came down to a few breakpoints there.  Luckily we capitalized.  It’s not very easy to win on the road.  The crowd was pretty loud.  I think Mardy stepped up.  He played a five‑and‑a‑half‑hour match yesterday.

US Davis Cup Captain Jim Courier: Obviously on paper you look at the American team in recent years and you go, ‘of course, no brainer, play us on clay’.

But altitude indoors is a different surface than outdoor slow clay.  I’m sure they recognized that.  Conditions we knew were not going to be our favorite, but also not the worst for us.

I have to give our guys credit for coming in here and grinding all week on a surface which started off as a pretty poor court and got better every day.

Our attitude remained strong all week long.  We were ready for whatever.  That’s really what we needed to be.  Every road tie you have to come in for the unexpected, ready for everything to be the worst.  Our guys never wavered from that commitment.  I think it showed.  When we got bad bounces, as did the Swiss team, we just shook them off, just kept playing.  It worked out well from that standpoint.

I mean, if I was the Swiss captain, I was looking at the American team, I would have said, Of course, red clay.  I think every team would be thinking that if their team were as good as Roger and Stan are on this surface.

Mardy Fish: Physically I felt fine.  It’s what we train for.  Mentally Davis Cup obviously takes a lot out of you.  So three days in a row would have been tough to play.  But we’re happy about that.  We’re happy to pull through, obviously.

It’s great that the guy that I have to tee it up with is the best doubles player ever.  It’s pretty easy.  I’m just trying to do my part on that side.  He played great today, Mike did.

Courier fielded a question on whether it’s “all business” with his suit:  That’s not really what I’m saying with it.  But I made a decision when I was offered this captaincy that I would do that because I wanted to make it clear to everyone that there’s absolutely no chance that I’m going to be swinging a racquet.  I’m going to be sitting down, watching what’s going on.

When it’s hot outside in a place like Santiago, Chile, I wore slacks and a collared shirt because it was too hot to wear a suit.  This will be my uniform just as this is these guys’ uniform.  I hope you don’t mind too much, but I honestly don’t really care what you think (laughter).

 

Courier on what team the US will face in the quarterfinal round in Davis Cup on the road: Worst draw you can have.  If it’s Canada, it’s not as bad as France on paper.  But you saw what paper meant here, which is absolutely nothing.

I think the winner of that most likely gets Spain away.  So we have a very tough draw, but we got through a tough one here.  That should give us some confidence going forward.

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Nethead Photo Album from US-Switzerland Davis Cup Tie

FRIBOURG, Switzerland – They travel the world to cheer on the United States Davis Cup team. You’ve probably noticed them wearing red, white and blue adorned with a net that says ‘USA” on their heads – they are the Netheads.

A few of the Netheads attending the USA- Switzerland Davis Cup tie were kind enough to send Tennis Panorama News a few of their personal photos from Saturday’s Davis Cup action which saw the US clinch a spot in the quarterfinals of Davis Cup. The Netheads had a special moment after the US won the doubles as players John Isner, Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish made their way in to the stands to shake their hands and thank them for their support.

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Bryan, Fish win doubles over Switzerland’s Federer, Wawrinka to Send USA to Davis Cup Quarterfinals

DAVIS CUP: U.S. HEADS TO QUARTERFINALS
Bryan, Fish win doubles over Switzerland’s Federer, Wawrinka

By Junior Williams

FRIBOURG, Switzerland — The shocker is complete.

The United States is moving on to the Davis Cup World Group quarterfinals after Mike Bryan and Mardy Fish defeated Switzerland’s Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka in doubles competition 4-6, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. The win gives the U.S. an unassailable 3-0 lead over the Swiss, with two dead rubbers on tap for Sunday.

The home crowd of 7000 was pumped up from the start, hoping that the 2008 Olympic gold medalists would keep Switzerland’s hopes alive.
The Swiss got off to a fast start by breaking the U.S. in the first game, which included two double faults by Fish. The home team went on to win the first set as Federer’s strong service game and Wawrinka’s lethal backhand led the way.

It was a different story in the second set. The U.S. capitalized with a break of their own. This time it was Wawrinka with two double faults in a game, and the U.S. held on to knot the mach at a set apiece, thanks to Fish’s strong net play and Bryan’s serves keeping the Swiss of balance.

The U.S. capped the third set with a Mike Bryan winner up the middle, breaking Federer for the first time in the match, and making the Swiss faithful uneasy.

But the crowd wasn’t giving up, and in the fourth set was louder than at any time during the match, the fans shouting their trademark chant “Hop Suisse” (Let’s go Switzerland). But the U.S. broke the Swiss to go up 3-1, as an unfriendly net cord for Federer resulted in a Bryan winner. At 4-2 Federer saved two break points and the Swiss faithful erupted, hoping for a momentum shift. It was not to be.

The last two points of the match were indicative of a lost weekend for Switzerland. Federer whiffed on a ball resulting in match point, after which Wawrinka netted a deep Bryan serve to clinch the victory for the U.S.

The stunned crowd left the arena, buzzing about how Federer wasn’t at his best, but giving the U.S. credit nonetheless. The question is whether Federer will play for Switzerland in the Davis Cup World Group playoff in September. A loss would relegate the Swiss to the second tier of Davis Cup.

As for the Americans, they are waiting to find out their destination for the quarterfinals. It’ll either be a trip to France, or a hike north of the border to Canada. But first, there’s another day of tennis to be played. The U.S. will likely field 19-year old Ryan Harrison in one of the dead rubbers.

DROP SHOTS:

At the end of the match, after the on-court interviews were complete and much of the crowd had left the arena, Mardy Fish, John Isner and Mike Bryan climbed up into the stands to high-five the NetHeads, the cheering squad that follows the U.S. Davis Cup Team around the world.

The Americans’ last three victories have been on clay: Colombia in September 2010, Chile in March 2011, and now, Switzerland. Their last loss was on the U.S.’ favorite surface, a hard court at a quarterfinal home tie in Austin, Texas last year against David Ferrer and his friends from Spain.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Fribourg, Switzerland covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the US and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Notes and Quotes from Day 1 of Davis Cup – US versus Switzerland

FRIBOURG, Switzerland – The United States took a 2-0 lead over Switzerland  on Friday in its 2012 Davis Cup World Group first round match at the Forum Fribourg in Fribourg, Switzerland.  John Isner stunned Roger Federer in four sets to earn his first win in a live Davis Cup singles match after Mardy Fish opened the tie with a 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 9-7 victory over Stan Wawrinka.

Federer on Isner: I thought he played great. He played it tough and served great when he had to. I just missed a couple more opportunities than he did and that’s what cost me the match.

It’s been a difficult day for us. We still have a chance to go through. I’m going to enjoy the challenge.

Isner on the win: It feels good.  Certainly it’s a huge win for me.  It’s the biggest win of my career thus far.  So very proud of it.

We’re up 2-0, which is a great start.  That was our goal coming into today, and we accomplished it.  Mardy put forth a great effort in the first match.  Obviously that was so gutsy.  What it did, it took a lot of pressure off of me, I felt.  Mardy getting that win was obviously huge, and it was huge for me as well.

I was up a break, so I had absolutely nothing to lose.  Just went out and went for my shots, and they found the court.  That’s really the blueprint for how I need to play and how I need to return for all my matches, no matter who I’m playing.

Courier on coaching two very emotional matches: I guess that’s hiding what’s going on inside.  It’s like a washing machine when you’re out there.  You’re riding the ups and the downs with our players.

But I have two different players out there emotionally.  John needs more encouragement, likes more encouragement.  Mardy is a little bit more kind of self‑sufficient at the moment.

It’s my goal to get John to be very self‑sufficient out there, as well.  He doesn’t need me to remind him of this stuff.  He’s going to figure out very quickly that this is a great way for him to play.

But it’s fun.  It’s fun to be out there and try to help these guys and also know when to shut the fuck up and stay out of the way.  That’s the biggest trick.  Still learning that one.

Courier on Fish: Mardy played on guts out there.  He and Stan were both struggling.  It wasn’t pretty tennis.  It’s all about being better than the other guy.  Mardy has lost a few tight matches like that.  He stepped up today and won a tight match.  That’s huge for him and that’s huge for us as a team.

Fish on one of his biggest comebacks: It’s certainly up there.  There’s no doubt about it.  I think, you know, (Davis Cup at) Colombia jumps out me; obviously the Olympics jump out at me.  As far as the Davis Cup and the team aspect of it, yeah, this is certainly right up there with them.

Isner on court conditions :  (The balls were) Not necessarily flying, but they were pretty quick and the ball stayed firm.  The balls don’t fluff up too much here.  So even in the eighth, ninth game of a new set of balls, they’re still, in my opinion, pretty quick.  That played to my advantage.  I think it plays to our team’s advantage a little bit there.

Yeah, I was happy with the conditions out there.  I don’t mind playing on clay.  It gives me more time, which sometimes is what I need.  Clay isn’t really such a bad surface for me.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Fribourg, Switzerland covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the US and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Davis Cup Stunner in Switzerland – Isner upsets Federer, Fish outlasts Wawrinka to put U.S. up 2-0

DAVIS CUP STUNNER IN SWITZERLAND
Isner upsets Federer, Fish outlasts Wawrinka to put U.S. up 2-0

By Junior Williams

FRIBOURG, Switzerland — This wasn’t supposed to happen.

A home crowd left the Forum Fribourg stunned after the United States took a 2-0 lead against Switzerland in their first round Davis Cup World Group clash, as John Isner shocked Roger Federer 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4), 6-2 and Mardy Fish defeated Stanislas Wawrinka 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-1, 9-7 in a 4 hour 26 minute showdown.

Switzerland’s game plan was set: Host the tie on clay — a surface that’s usually Kryptonite to the Americans — and throw 16-time Grand Slam winner Federer into the mix. But the Americans had other ideas.

At first it looked as if Federer was on track to dispatch Isner quickly. The Swiss was working his usual magic with forehand winners and strong service games resulting in short points. It took Federer only 29 minutes to win the first set. But Isner evened things up in the second set, thanks to his biggest weapon — his serve.

Isner got off to a fast start in the third set tiebreak, jumping to a 3-0 lead, but Federer broke back in with a forehand winner to make it 4-3 USA, putting the Swiss back on serve. But Isner recovered his mini-break as a Federer shot into the net put the American up 5-4. The former Georgia Bulldog went on to serve out the set, silencing the Swiss faithful.

Federer had an opportunity with the fourth set tied at 2-2 and a triple break point, but Isner withstood the challenge and held to go up 3-2. He never lost another game in the match as he mixed up his serves from power to slice, and hit groundstrokes resulting in powerful forehand winners. Federer looked as stunned as the crowd, as if he couldn’t believe what was happening, He had lots of company.

In his post match on-court interview, Isner — the first to beat Federer in Davis Cup singles since Lleyton Hewitt in 2003 — said it was the biggest win of his career. Who can argue with that?

“We’re up 2-0, which is a great start,” Isner said in his post-match news conference.  “That was our goal coming into today, and we accomplished it.  Mardy put forth a great effort in the first match.  Obviously that was so gutsy.  What it did, it took a lot of pressure off of me, I felt.  Mardy getting that win was obviously huge, and it was huge for me as well.”

For the Americans, Isner’s victory was the cherry on top. According to conventional wisdom, Fish’s match against Wawrinka was a must win for the U.S., assuming a Federer win in the second match. But Fish pulled out the victory despite an erratic service game including eight double faults. He saved five break points to go up 5-3 in the fifth set, but failed to serve out the match up 5-4, as Wawrinka’s masterful backhand shots helped even things up at 5-5.

Much to the dismay of the crowd, Fish broke the Swiss to go up 8-7, and capped the victory with a winner at net.

In terms of victories Fish said: “It’s certainly up there.  There’s no doubt about it.  I think, you know, (Davis Cup at) Colombia jumps out me; obviously the Olympics jump out at me.  As far as the Davis Cup and the team aspect of it, yeah, this is certainly right up there with them.”

The Americans can clinch the tie Saturday with a doubles victory. The U.S. is scheduled to send out Mike Bryan and Ryan Harrison, as Mike’s brother Bob didn’t make the trip since he’s a new father. But the watch is on to see if U.S. captain Jim Courier swaps out Harrison for either Fish or Isner.

No matter who Courier picks, the U.S. will have its hands full, likely facing the 2008 Olympic Gold Medal doubles team of Federer and Wawrinka.

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He is in Fribourg, Switzerland covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the US and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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