2014/09/02

Final Thoughts on the China Open

 

By Abigail Hinto

(October 6, 2013) BEIJING -

1.  Should the China Open ATP event switch status with Shanghai?  As it stands now, Beijing is the only WTA Premier Mandatory tournament that isn’t combined with the same-level ATP Masters 1000.   The women are supposed to be the bigger draw here in Beijing, but the tournament often manage to get a big men’s field as an ATP 500, so on the ground, the feeling is that it’s a similar level event.  This year alone, it boasted 6 of the top 10 ATP players.  The venue is China’s National Tennis Center where its center court seats 15,000 spectators, already fit for a Masters 1000.  The event draws a big crowd not only because it’s a combined event, but also because of its position in the calendar where it often falls during a week-long holiday in China.  Therefore the Shanghai tournament the following week suffers in attendance.  No way would people go on leave from work following a week of holiday.  So optics wise, Beijing wins over Shanghai.

 

I also feel the venue for the tournament in Beijing is more accessible to the public than the one in Shanghai.  Shanghai lacks access to public transport while Beijing has a metro stop right in front of the tennis center.

 

However, if the two China tournaments do switch status then the ATP would have a calendar where the bigger 1000 Masters event will come before the smaller ATP 500.  But when has the ATP calendar ever made perfect sense?

 

2.  I keep mentioning this because it cannot be escaped.  I’m talking about Beijing’s unhealthy air quality situation.  Personally, already coming from a very polluted city, Beijing’s haze is something I’ve never seen before.  It’s right there in front of you, you can see it, feel it, smell it too.  The air quality index have shown numbers labeled as “Unhealthy” “Very Unhealthy”, “Hazardous”  I don’t know how players manage to play in this condition, but when asked, they’re very blase about it.

 

Rafael Nadal: “Yesterday and especially today again the pollution is here, so that makes the feeling, you know, not beautiful.  But if you talk about if I feel when I am breathing, no, I don’t feel.”

 

Tomas Berdych: “I think it’s quite used to here.  Probably we not going to get anything more than that.  But that’s how it is.  We are here in Beijing.”

 

Serena Williams: “Well, I’m a California girl, so I can’t help you there.”  And again: “I don’t know why, but I felt nothing.”

 

Novak Djokovic:  “It is what it is.  It’s something that has been the same for last few years that I been coming back here.  The people who are in organization of the tournament, they are trying make us feel at home and do everything possible in order to get a good tournament.  Sometimes you cannot effect the weather.  It’s nature and he’s a higher force.”

 

I guess, you also can’t ask the players to bad-mouth the tournament that’s hosting them.

 

3.  Every time the two tours land in China, comments about the Chinese fans inevitably come up.  Timid Asians?  That’s a falsehood when it comes to Chinese fandom.  They’re as enthusiastic, creative, resourceful as you’ll ever see.  From Djokovic fans, to Nadal fans, to Kvitova fans and Serena fans, they go all out in showing their support for their favorite players.  Banners, face paints, t-shirts, pins, gifts, coordinated cheering they’ve got everything here.  And it brings a lively atmosphere to so many of the matches all around the venue.  But there’s also a downside to it, as when a fan breached security, jumped over a fence and got close to Nadal during one of his practice sessions.

 

The views expressed here are those of the author.  Abigail Hinto was covering the Beijing Open for Tennis Panorama News.

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Novak Djokovic Tops Rafael Nadal for China Open Title

Novak Djokovic

By Abigail Hinto

(October 6, 2013) Out to prove something after losing the No. 1 ranking to Rafael Nadal as of Monday, Novak Djokovic came out firing on all cylinders, hitting winners in all corners, defending from everywhere and serving effectively well in his 6-3, 6-4 win to claim the China Open.  But what sealed the win was Djokovic’s ability to sustain the high level of tennis and focused determination he started with until the end of the match.  As Djokovic said, what what was the difference between his last two matches against Nadal and this one was “probably my serve, but also kind of emotional stability in the crucial moments I managed to stay tough and not drop in the concentration, which I think I did in both Montréal and US Open in the important moments.  You know, I learned my lesson.  It was few very tough and close matches that I lost against Rafa in hard courts, especially the last one in US Open final.”

 

For Rafael Nadal, the opposite happened.  Unable to execute his shots, the few opportunities he had controlling the points, he ended up missing on his final shot.  “I didn’t see the way to stop him this afternoon.  This afternoon he was too strong for me.  I didn’t play my best match this afternoon, but he played at a very high level with his serve,” said Nadal. Nadal added, “(Djokovic) was able to hit all the balls where he wants to hit.  When that’s happening against a player like Novak, you are dead.  You don’t  have not one chance.   So that’s what happened.  I played against a great player, one of the best players that I ever seen playing very well.  Was not the day to beat him.”  Nadal failed to make any inroads, not able to create any break points in Djokovic’s service games, and he was broken early in both sets.  Nadal ended the match with more unforced errors and less winners than Djokovic, a surefire recipe to a loss.

 

Novak Djokovic wins the China Open for the fourth time with a comfortable 6-3, 6-4 win, remaining undefeated in all the 4 years he’s played in Beijing.

A tournament always just has one winner.  But this time, the two top players in the world will leave Beijing with great feelings about their week.  While Rafael Nadal recaptures No. 1 from Novak Djokovic, Djokovic has finally managed to defeat Rafael Nadal again after losing to him the last three times to retain his trophy.

 

For Rafael Nadal, getting back to No. 1 “is something special for me.  I’m enjoying the situation that I’m playing one of the best seasons of my career and probably one of the more emotional years, if not the most.”

 

For Novak Djokovic, he said he “needed this win today.  I really wanted to get my hands on the trophy and win against Nadal, who has been the best player so far in 2013.”

 

So the most prolific rivalry in men’s tennis closes another chapter to their story.  But the story is far from over.  In fact next week, a new chapter begins in Shanghai.

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Notes From Behind the Wall at the 2013 China Open

 

by Abigail Hinto

(September 30, 2013) BEIJING – Notes from Behind the Wall is back for the 2013 edition of the China Open.  The wall is proving to be a tough barrier to our dispatches with the Wi-Fi not working at the media center and the VPN not connecting on my laptop.  But we’re persistent, and we will manage.

 

- First up, the ever persistent haze and smog.  Were we just lucky last year when the whole tournament made it through with mostly clear skies?  Flying in on Monday, I thought I was arriving in Beijing at dawn and not at high Noon.  Lights were already turned on for the courts by 3:30pm.  Pictures looked like stills for some horror movies.  The app for Beijing’s air quality shows that today’s is “Unhealthy.”  I can only feel sorry for the players as they play through this condition.

 

IMG_9426

- Rafael Nadal had a scheduled appearance at the booth of Kunlun, the water sponsor.  When we found out he hadn’t arrived yet at the scheduled hour, we decided we had time to check it out.  As we made it to the sponsors area, we didn’t even have to search for the booth of Kunlun, as slowly approaching us were a mob of people and in the middle of it all was Nadal himself.  It felt like a stampede of wildebeests was coming straight at you and you only had a second to get out of the way.

 

Serena Williams China Open doubles

-  Top singles players nowadays usually play doubles outside the grand slams to maybe get in a match before their singles matches or have “practice matches” to help them with their games.  They try to have more fun and are less intense on the court.  But on Monday, at the Williams/Williams- Huber/Chan match, Serena Williams and to a lesser extent, Venus Williams showed that they’re not taking this match lightly.  Serena was definitely the more intense player, constantly fist-pumping and urging on Venus.  And the fans were responding to them with shouts of “C’mon, Serena!” and “C’mon, Venus!”

 

But the star of the match turned out to be Hao-Ching Chan.  She showed from the start she was never intimidated and was never afraid.  And as she started to match the Williams’ intensity with her own, grunting along in her high-pitched voice, going toe-to-toe in the baseline exchanges and poaching at the net for volley winners, she turned the fans to her side.  As much as she was fighting hard out there, she was showing that she was enjoying the battle too, flashing smiles every time she comes out on top.  And the crowd loved it and was treated to a competitive and exciting match.  Huber/Chan eventually saved match points, and another volley winner from Chan in turn set up match point for her team which they eventually converted as Serena served a double fault.  An unfortunate end (for Serena’s racquet as well – chucked and thrown away after the double fault) to an otherwise high quality, high intensity doubles match – 6-7 (3), 6-4, 11-9.  The fans left having discovered a player to root for in Hao-Ching Chan.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are covering the 2013 China Open in Beijing for Tennis Panorama News.

Photos from Monday’s play and the players party from Natalie Ho.

SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 1 OCTOBER 2013

NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30 pm
[1] S Williams (USA) vs [WC] F Schiavone (ITA) – WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs L Rosol (CZE) – ATP
[Q] S Giraldo (COL) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP

Not Before 7:30 PM
B Jovanovski (SRB) vs [4] N Li (CHN) – WTA
[3] D Ferrer (ESP) vs V Pospisil (CAN) – ATP

LOTUS COURT start 12:30 pm
F Mayer (GER) vs [5] R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP

Not Before 3:00 PM
[13] S Lisicki (GER) vs [WC] V Williams (USA) – WTA
M Niculescu (ROU) vs [6] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA
P Andujar (ESP) vs [4] T Berdych (CZE) – ATP

MOON COURT start 12:30 pm
A Seppi (ITA) vs [6] S Wawrinka (SUI) – ATP

Not Before 2:30 PM
[10] R Vinci (ITA) vs [WC] S Zhang (CHN) – WTA
V Lepchenko (USA) vs [9] P Kvitova (CZE) – WTA

Not Before 6:30 PM
L Robson (GBR) vs [7] A Kerber (GER) – WTA

COURT 1 start 12:30 pm
S Querrey (USA) vs M Youzhny (RUS) – ATP
[8] J Isner (USA) vs [WC] D Wu (CHN) – ATP
[11] S Stephens (USA) vs [Q] E Bouchard (CAN) – WTA
N Djokovic (SRB) / S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [2] M Bhupathi (IND) / R Lindstedt (SWE) – ATP – After suitable rest

COURT 3 start 12:30 pm
F Verdasco (ESP) vs [Q] S Devvarman (IND) – ATP

Not Before 2:00 PM
J Goerges (GER) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) vs [2] S Hsieh (TPE) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA
[Q] Y Lu (TPE) vs N Davydenko (RUS) – ATP
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs F Fognini (ITA) / A Seppi (ITA) – ATP – After suitable rest

COURT 4 start 12:30 pm
[6] R Kops-Jones (USA) / A Spears (USA) vs V King (USA) / G Voskoboeva (KAZ) – WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
P Kohlschreiber (GER) / M Youzhny (RUS) vs C Fleming (GBR) / J Marray (GBR) – ATP – After suitable rest

COURT 7 start 12:30 pm
[Q] L Davis (USA) vs [12] C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA
M Matosevic (AUS) vs J Benneteau (FRA) – ATP
K Mladenovic (FRA) / F Pennetta (ITA) vs [Alt] S Soler-Espinosa (ESP) / C Suarez Navarro (ESP) – WTA – After suitable rest
S Lisicki (GER) / A Medina Garrigues (ESP) vs D Hantuchova (SVK) / L Raymond (USA) – WTA – After suitable rest

COURT 8 start 12:30 pm
V Dushevina (RUS) / A Parra Santonja (ESP) vs [4] J Jankovic (SRB) / K Srebotnik (SLO) – WTA
M Kirilenko (RUS) vs U Radwanska (POL) – WTA
T Haas (GER) / F Mayer (GER) vs [WC] M Gong (CHN) / Z Li (CHN) – ATP – After suitable rest
[1] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) vs H Chan (TPE) / L Huber (USA) – WTA – After suitable rest

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New Season, New Goals

Andy Murray 12 26 Abu Dhabi

By Abigail Hinto

(December 26, 2012) ABU DHABI – Six of the top eleven players in the world,  are gathered in Abu Dhabi to start their season at the Mubadala World Tennis Championships (MWTC). Three of the players, namely Janko Tipsarevic, Tomas Berdych and Andy Murray showed up on Tuesday for their pre-tournament news conferences.  No. 11 Nicolas Almagro replaced Rafael Nadal, who withdrew from the event with a stomach virus.

Despite all three belonging in the top 10, and despite the small gap in their rankings, these three players are in vastly different stages in their careers with varying expectations, pressures and goals. And the goals they’ve set for themselves for the new season give an interesting insight to how they see their careers, where they’re at now and what they feel they should be able to accomplish.
Tipsarevic, the relative newcomer in the top 10 has set his sights on qualifying for the World Tour Finals in London. And with his best showing at a grand slam only consisting of two quarterfinal appearances, both at the US Open this year and last, he aims to have deeper runs at the slams this year. His tight quarterfinal loss against David Ferrer at this year’s US Open has shown him that though he’s not quite there yet in the level he needs to challenge the top players, he’s getting close.
Tomas Berdych meanwhile has already made finals and a couple of semifinals at the majors. His goal now, is to hold that trophy. Saying that he was happy for Andy Murray finally winning his slam, noting that it’s good that someone had once again broken the stranglehold Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic had on winning the majors, could acknowledging Murray’s breakthrough give Berdych the inspiration to try to win one for himself as well? Davis Cup this year, a grand slam next year?
As for Andy Murray, after finally winning that major he’s been working so hard for and been pressured on winning since he was first considered a contender in 2008, how does he re-set his goals? Murray is a short-term goal-setter which he says he’s always been with his career. So, it’s one major at a time for him, now focusing solely on the Australian Open trophy. Asked if reaching no.1 is a top priority, Murray answers that it’s not, as that ranking only comes with the results from every tournament he plays.
And as the Mubadala World Tennis Championships starts on Wednesday, we’ll get to see these three players finally begin their first step towards their goals.
Abigail Hinto is covering the Mubadala World Tennis Championships in Abu Dhabi, UAE as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.
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All photos by Abigail Hinto for Tennis Panorama
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A Fan’s Guide to Beijing and the China Open

By Abigail Hinto

BEIJING, China – The week of the China Open is a perfect opportunity and the perfect time to visit Beijing. That is the Golden Week in China, a week-long holiday, when they celebrate their National Day. The infamous Beijing traffic is gone, so it’s easier to get around the city and the weather is just right. The tourist spots will be more crowded though, but you can have your pick and choose where to go. Definitely set aside a day outside the tournament to visit the Great Wall and the Forbidden City. I took a guided tour with www.beijingtourguide.com. For only RMB200, you’re in a small tour van (we were just 5) where you get an English-speaking tour guide to show you around the Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square, a stop at a jade factory where you get your lunch that’s included in the package, a silk factory tour, and of course a hike to a section of the Great Wall. Since we were only five in the group, we were able to decide amongst ourselves to skip the more famous section of the Great Wall (Badaling Wall) and opt for the one without the cable car, the tougher hike, but the lesser crowds, the Ju Yong Guan section.

 

The China Open is held in the Olympic Park, and it’s quite far from the city. So it’s better to stay at a hotel that’s within the Olympic Park area. The Intercontinental Hotel-Beichen is the official tournament hotel and is right in front of the Olympic Park. If you stay there, you may get a room that has a view of the Bird’s Nest and the Water Cube which are impressive architectural structures and beautifully lighted at night. Just a note, if you book with the Intercontinental for the week of the tournament, make sure they confirm your reservation because they can cancel your reservation for you without any notification because it would be fully-booked for the China Open. From the hotel, it’s a 10-minute taxi ride to the tennis stadium.

Beijing is huge and you’ll never run out of options to see and do. And with the tournament on, there are only so many things you can squeeze in your days. But as they say, do as the Beijingers, when in Beijing, have a Peking Duck at Da Dong Restaurant.

Abigail Hinto was covering the China Open in Beijing for Tennis Panorama News.

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A Tale from the Wimbledon Queue

WIMBLEDON – I’m not so sure if a Wimbledon experience would be complete without queuing up for tickets. But camping overnight for a fifth row Centre Court seat was totally worth it. And would I ever do it again? In a heartbeat, yes.

Maybe we got lucky with the weather (it only drizzled for a bit on our second day of camping, with a little rain late at night), but for the most part, camping for Wimbledon tickets was an enjoyable and worthwhile experience. This coming from someone who has never camped in her life, with friends who have never camped in their lives. Yet, the consensus was the same: 100% fun.

 

Even though I got lucky and won Centre Court tickets for the second Monday of the Championships (here’s a tip: your chances of getting tickets through the ballot are better if you register to become a member of British Tennis for a minimal 1 year fee) I knew I would still queue for the other days. I wasn’t going to travel to London all the way from the Philippines just to see one day of tennis.

 

Here’s what we did on our two days of camping experience:

 

1.) We booked our hotel in Wimbledon. Marple Cottage is a quaint yet inexpensive B&B, that’s only a 10 minute bus ride to Wimbledon Park. It’s run by a lovely couple and serves a delicious breakfast.

 

2.) We ordered all our camping needs (our tent and sleeping bags) online at Argos’ Wimbledon branch 24 hours before we arrived in London which we then picked up right after checking in at our hotel.

 

3.) We figured around 11am was the best time to start queuing up for next day since we wanted Centre Court tickets. For the two days we did, we were number 140 on Monday for Tuesday’s play, and 90 on the queue card on Wed.

 

4.) After setting up our tent and base camp, it’s time to wait for the queue cards which they give out around 3pm-5pm. Everyone must be there to receive their queue cards so no one could leave. But once we got them, we could leave our tent behind and have a late lunch either at Wimbledon Village, or even closer, in Southfields.

 

5.) The reason why it’s best to book your hotel in Wimbledon is so you can go back to your hotel to shower. Around 7:30pm, we’d head back to our hotel, take a shower, order take out somewhere and head back to our tent for dinner. Then it’s time to sleep.

 

6.) The stewards line everybody up by 7am. So before that time, everything must be packed up, with bags and camping equipment checked in at the left luggage facility. Then, it’s a long wait and walk till you get your choice of ticket for the day. The ticket turnstiles indicate which section of the court they sell tickets to, so line up in the one where you want to be seated.

 

Overall, the entire experience was so much easier than I imagined it would be. By our second day of camping, we were experts at putting up our tent. The restrooms at the park were always clean, well-maintained and well-stocked.

 

It’s a fun, festive atmosphere all-around with chances to meet and befriend fellow tennis fans.

 

One tip: make sure you go with fun, tennis-obsessed companions. You’ll be stuck with them the whole time, and it’s truly them that can make or break your trip.  And mine was nothing but wonderful experience I’d be willing to do all over again.

 

By Abigail Hinto visiting Wimbledon for the first time from the Philippines. All photos by Abigail Hinto.

 

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Murray Win in Shanghai Moves Him up to World No. 3

Andy Murray of Britain waves to fans after his win over Michael Berrer of Germany during their second round match at the Thailand Open 2011 tennis tournament in Bangkok September 29, 2011 . REUTERS/Chaiwat Subprasom (THAILAND – Tags: SPORT TENNIS)

 

 

By Abigail Hinto

SHANGHAI, China – Andy Murray defeated David Ferrer 7-5, 6-4 to capture the Shanghai Rolex Masters tournament, his eighth Masters title. The victory will give the Scot the No. 3 ranking on the ATP World Tour as of Monday, knocking Roger Federer down to No. 4.

 

The Shanghai Rolex Masters final started with a tight first game as David Ferrer was broken after 10 minutes that featured four deuces.   Ferrer barely put a first serve in during that long first game.   Andy Murray and David Ferrer are known for their baseline prowess; they can construct points with their ground game and extend rallies with their defense.  But here at the Shanghai Rolex Masters especially, these two players had been serving really well.  When it mattered the most, Ferrer’s serve let him down.  Serving at only 44% in the first set, the Spaniard got tight at 5-5 and hit a backhand error into the net for break point down and double faulted the break away.  In contrast, Murray served to take the first set with two aces.  Ferrer’s serving woes continued in the second set as he screamed when he was serving at 1-1 after just breaking back Murray after missing another first serve again.

 

Ferrer summed up the match, “I fought a lot, but today it was impossible to beat Andy. He’s a very good player and person. I didn’t serve really good this match, also because Andy received very well and I had to play closer to the lines. Andy was better than me in the second set. Maybe in the first set I had my chances. [But] I played so bad this game (at 5-5). After I had a long time serving very bad. Anyway, is difficult to beat Andy in these moments. He is playing with (a lot of) confidence.

“I enjoyed the week a lot. Here in Shanghai, I’ve had the best moments of my career; I reached the final (of the Tennis Masters Cup) in 2007 and again this year. I hope to win next year.”

Murray capped off his finest streak on tour so far by completing an Asian triple, winning tournaments in Bangkok, Tokyo and Shanghai. He has now won 25 of his last 26 matches and is on a 15 match winning streak. He also leapfrogs Roger Federer to No. 3 at the ATP World Tour Rankings.

“This week I think overall it’s satisfying,” said Murray. “I didn’t necessarily feel like I played amazing tennis, I just think I did the right things, made it very difficult for my opponents, and managed to win a tournament of this size when I still felt like I could have played a little bit better.

“My goal for the last three-four months after the US Open was to try to finish as high as possible and win as many matches as I could. It’s obviously been a great start. But I’m still not guaranteed to finish at No. 3. I’m still going to have to win some more matches. But if you finish in front of Federer in a year, then there’s not many people the last five, six, seven years that have been able to say that. So that’s obviously a nice thing if I can do it.

“I was really happy with the way I stayed focused. It’s hard to explain. It’s almost you’d think the more matches you win, the less pressure you feel. I was hitting the ball well, but there’s still a little bit of tension because you want to try and keep the run going. I was really happy I managed to win today because it’s always very tough playing against him.

“I think the best thing about it is just winning matches. Even like today, I wasn’t necessarily playing my best tennis the whole way throughout, but I served well when I needed to, and that was it. I chased every ball down. I fought for every single point as hard as I could. That’s something you need to do if you want to win all the time.”

Murray’s serve that had been working well all week as he was serving at 63 percent for first serves. His forehand, thought to be the weakest part of his game has become very effective and more consistent.  He has been able to dictate rallies with his cross court forehand and go for winners with his forehand down the line.

 

But the question remains, when will Murray be able to bring this kind of game to a major?  This year has been his most successful year on the grand slam stage, reaching three semifinals and one final at the Australian Open.  He can beat the best of the best having a career head-to-head lead over Federer, being only the second player to beat Novak Djokovic this year, and recently besting Rafael Nadal in the Tokyo finals with a 6-0 3rd set.  There’s nothing more left for Murray to prove on the tour but to win that elusive first major title.

Singles – Final
[2] A Murray (GBR) d [3] D Ferrer (ESP) 75 64

Doubles – Final
[2] M Mirnyi (BLR) / D Nestor (CAN) d [3] M Llodra (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) 36 61 12-10 – saved 2 M.P.

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Murray Powers Past Nishikori to Gain Shanghai Final

By Abigail Hinto

SHANGHAI, China - Andy Murray dominated Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-0 at the Qi Zhong Tennis Center to move into the Shanghai Rolex Masters final to be played on Sunday. The Saturday evening semifinal saw the Scot completely overpower his Japanese opponent, especially on his serve. Nishikori was only able to win a mere six points on Murray’s serve during the entire match.

When Kei Nishikori was asked about Andy Murray’s strengths prior to his semifinal match, he said that Murray doesn’t miss.  So against a player who does not miss, Nishikori needed to find his point-ending shots inside the court.  Nishikori was unable to do it. Murray’s steady game pushed Nishikori off-balance which forced him into committing errors.

“I think he just played really well, said Nishikori. ” Little bit too good for me. You know, maybe I was excited to play semis here. But I wasn’t like really nervous or something.”

Nishikori had a career week, knocking out seeds Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Alexandr Dolgolpolov in his run to his first Masters semifinal which will lift  his ranking to close to No. 32 in the world. “A big surprise for me, said Nishikori. “You know, I was thinking if I can get a top 30 or a top 40 this year, that was my goal. And now I have couple more tournaments. If I can get to top 32 to finish this year, it would be good for next Grand Slam.”

If Nishikori had a great week in Shanghai, Murray’s having his best post-USO season so far.  He is now in his third consecutive final after winning Bangkok and Tokyo.  Should he win Sunday’s final he will move up to No. 3 in the ATP World Tour rankings, leaping over Roger Federer. “That’s something that I’ll been trying to do for these next few months,” said Murray,” because I can’t really finish the No. 2 or 1. So it’s just a goal I had for the end of the month. It would be nice to finish the year off No. 3 if I can because that would be the highest ranking I finished at. It’s not the ultimate goal, but it’s a step in the right direction.”

On Sunday it will be a repeat of last week’s Tokyo semifinals, Murray will once again face David Ferrer, the two players playing the best during this Asian leg of the ATP World Tour.  Murray dispatched Ferrer easily in Tokyo winning 6-2, 6-3, but Ferrer has also been serving well this week.  So as much as these two players are among the best returners on tour, the match will be a test on who will come up with the goods on their serves when it matters the most.

In his post-match news conference Murray spoke to media about his opponent in Sunday’s final – David Ferrer whom he defeated last week in Japan. “He’s always tough. He’s No. 5 in the world, so one of the toughest guys on the tour to play against. Yeah, I mean, I played well against him last week. But every match is obviously different. He’s definitely going to be bang up for the match tomorrow.

“He’s got a great attitude. He fights, well, right until the end in every single match. It’s definitely a match where if I want to win, I’m going to have to play very, very well.

“Well, last week I got a good start and made sure I kept hitting my groundstrokes ’cause against him, if you leave the ball short in the court, he has one of the most accurate forehands on the tour. So he can make you do a lot of running with that.

“I think he served better this week, because he’s probably getting an extra maybe 10 kilometers an hour on his serve because of the ball. So it will definitely be harder to break him.

“But, yeah, I mean, the main thing is just to make sure you’re not leaving the ball in the middle of the court. You need to try to dictate as many points as you can. I managed to do that last week. But I’m sure he’ll try and make some changes.”

Abigail Hinto is in Shanghai as media covering the the Shanghai Rolex Masters for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her coverage on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

 

 

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Ferrer Battles Past Lopez to Advance to Shanghai Rolex Masters Final

 

By Abigail Hinto

SHANGHAI, China – In tight three-set battle between Spanish Davis Cup teammates, David Ferrer edged out Feliciano Lopez 6-7(5), 6-3, 6-3 in the first semifinal of the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Saturday.  The battle was a contrast in styles between Ferrer’s steady baseline game and Lopez’ strong serve, backhand slices and approaches to the net.  But Lopez’s serve failed him at a crucial time when he served three double faults at 3-4 down and handed Ferrer the break in the third set.  Ferrer then served it out at 15 to reach his second ATP Masters 1000 final.

 

It’s remarkable to note that Lopez leads Ferrer in their career head-to-head meetings, 6-4 overall and a 6-1 on hard court. Lopez’s game is interesting to watch as he makes full use of backhand slices which were aided by the speed of the courts in Shanghai.  When it’s working, as it was on Saturday, he can construct points with it that lead to fascinating rallies.  Will he slice it deep and approach the net for a volley?  Try a drop shot with it?  But Ferrer had ample practice against it with his match against Andy Roddick the previous day.  As Roddick said after his loss to Ferrer, “if  it’s possible to take a hard slice on the rise, he was doing that.”  Ferrer was missing a bit in the first set, but once he steadied his ground game and continued with his consistent serving and Lopez started to miss especially with his forehand, it was game, set, match Ferrer.

 

Ferrer has really been serving well this week.  Early in the tournament, against Juan Carlos Ferrero, he saved two match points with aces.  Asked about his serve, Ferrer said he did make some adjustments with it.  “Well, maybe this week I improve my serve, no?  Maybe it’s my confidence with my game.  I change a little bit my serve.  I don’t know how to explain in English, but I change a little bit.  Throw higher the ball.”

 

This will be Ferrer’s third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final after losing to Rafael Nadal both times in Monte Carlo this year and Rome last year.  He did reach the finals of Shanghai in 2007 when it was still the tour’s year-ending Tennis Masters Cup.  He’s been a solid top 10 player for about four years now, a Masters 1000 win would significantly add to his achievements.

Abigail Hinto is in Shanghai as media covering the the Shanghai Rolex Masters for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her coverage on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN.

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Nadal Upset in Shanghai Rolex Masters Round of 16 by Mayer

Florian Mayer, GER, during French Open 2011 in Paris; 24/05/2011 – Foto: SCHREYER

 

 

 

By Abigail Hinto

SHANGHAI, China -  Visibly disappointed and calling his return of serve “terrible,” World No. 2 Rafael Nadal of Spain fell to Germany’s Florian Mayer at the Shanghai Rolex Masters on Thursday 7-6(5), 6-3.

Nadal told the media that he felt he was playing well, had a good “line” with his practice and playing since the US Open, and now it was “broken”.  Acknowledging Mayer’s good play,  Nadal was very disappointed with his return of serve especially off the first serve.  Winning only four points off of Mayer’s first serve, was “terrible.”

Mayer on his inspired play and ultimate victory,” it’s a really nice feeling. He’s such a great competitor on court. Yeah, for sure it is the biggest win in my career. Yeah, it feels really nice. I cannot actually believe it right now.
But, yeah, the tournament goes on tomorrow so I have to stay focused for the rest of the week.
“I’m serving very well. Mix it up with serve and volley.
“But the main thing is like five or six years ago I had some other problems after Wimbledon quarterfinals. The life at 21 years, it was so public, was tough for me. But now I’m ready for everything and I’m really enjoying it.”

Mayer gave credit to his improved results to his improved fitness “I just am maybe a little bit fitter mentally and physically. Maybe that’s 2% or 3% more. Yeah, it gives you a lot more on court.

 

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