2015/04/18

Novak Djokovic Beats Andy Murray for Fifth Miami Title

 

NovakDjokovicLockerroomwithtrophyTPN-001

(April 5, 2015) Novak Djokovic won his fifth Miami Open title on Sunday to become the first player to complete an Indian Wells – Miami Open double three times. With Djokovic’s 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-0 victory over Andy Murray, he became the first player ever to win the Indian Wells – Miami double in back-to-back years.

“Well, it’s obviously nice and flattering to hear that I have achieved another record,” Djokovic. “Of course I do pay attention of that. Any kind of achievement that goes into history books I’m hugely proud of and I appreciate it very much, because I work hard for it and I do cherish it.

“Again, it’s not something that obviously takes away my discipline. It just allows me to motivate myself even more. Just going to try and keep the same routine and mindset so far which helped me to achieve all these results.”

World No. 1 Djokovic broke Murray five times in the over two-and-a-half hour match in which he won his 22nd Masters Series crown. It is the 27-year-old Serb’s fifth Miami tournament victory.

“It was just very tough, brutal conditions for both of us,” Djokovic said about the hot conditions on the court.

“First set was really up and down for both of us, and we tried to stay mentally tough, both of us, and kind of hang in there, battle, and wear down the other player physically.

Mubadala World Tennis Championship

“There were lots of exchanges, a lot of long rallies. I was expecting that coming into the match, but one thing is to really expect and the other is to really experience it and really go through it on the court.

“So wasn’t easy, but as I said, it was the same for both players. I played a good tiebreak; managed to hang in there. Wasn’t really a great tennis display. A lot of unforced errors.

“But in these conditions you just want to try to stay with the other player and extend the punching exchange and try to wait for the opportunities. I did have some opportunities in the beginning of the second set where I maybe could have gotten the break and maybe win the match in straight sets, but he came back. He played better in the second.

“Then the third the beginning was, again, important part. First two games were pretty long. I managed to win those. After that, I felt like he was getting tired. That’s where the momentum was on my side.

“But generally it was just a physical battle between the two of us that play similar game. You know, we haven’t served that well, so we haven’t had that many free points, as a matter of fact. With first or second serve we needed to earn every single point, to work for it.

“That’s why this particular match was very tough.”

“I struggled physically,” Murray said. “I mean, yeah, I played very well for a couple of sets. Maybe I could have done a little bit better in the tiebreak in the first set.”

“I feel like when I play well against Novak the matches tend to be pretty physical, long, grueling matches. It’s tough, but, I mean, that’s what part of being a professional athlete is, is dealing with those different conditions and making those adjustments.”

Asked about what makes Djokovic difficult to play against Murray said: “He serves well, he runs well, he moves exceptionally well. Physically he’s in great shape; he hits the ball well off both sides.

“So, yeah, he does most things on the tennis court well. That’s why he’s the No. 1 player in the world just now.

“In terms of game‑wise, I feel like in a couple of the matches we played this year I feel like I’ve been able to hang with him, but just not quite for long enough unfortunately.

“Yeah, I need to try to work out why that is. Like I say, I can’t do loads more than what I’m doing to get myself in the best condition possible.”

For Djokovic, it’s his seventh straight win over the Brit, raising his overall head-to-head record to 18-8. Murray who will be getting married in Scotland on Saturday, will move up in the rankings on Monday to world No 3.

Share

Djokovic and Murray to Meet in Miami Open Final

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(April 3, 2015)Sunday’s Miami Open men’s final will feature a battle between a pair who have won multiple times in Key Biscayne when No. 1 Novak Djokovic takes on Andy Murray.

Djokovic, who will be going for his fifth Miami crown, moved past hard-serving John Isner in Friday night’s semifinal 7-6(3), 6-2. Murray, who will be attempting to capture his third Miami Open title, defeated Tomas Berdych 6-4, 6-4.

Djokovic outserved Isner 10 aces to nine. Djokovic never faced a break point. After a very tight first set, Djokovic broke Isner’s serve twice in the second set. Isner lost 70 percent of his second-serve points.

“I didn’t quite have my legs underneath me like I did yesterday maybe for whatever reason,” Isner said. Conditions, it was a little bit more humid out there tonight. I didn’t have quite as much pop on the ball as maybe I had earlier in the tournament. I needed a lot of pop in order to make a match like that closer. I just didn’t quite have it tonight.”

 

“I created a lot of opportunities for myself in the first set, even though there was only one break point and it was actually a set point,” Djokovic said.

 

“I thought I made him work for his serves games a lot from the beginning. I thought that that has influenced a little bit his physicality. I think towards the end of the first and beginning of the second set he already felt a business exhausted, and I wanted to use the opportunity and the early break in the second to open the door for me.

 

“That’s when I felt like I could start swinging through, and played a great second set.”

 

Despite the loss, Isner had a good fortnight in Miami, beating three top 11 players in succession – Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic and Kei Nishikori en route to the semifinals

 

“Novak is the best in the world,” Isner said. “He’s so good. It was a good two weeks for me. I’m playing better. I have to build on this, and I will.”

 

‘He’s No. 1 in the world for a reason. I had to play pretty close to my best to beat him, and I don’t think I did that tonight.”

 

Mubadala World Tennis Championship

This will be the Scot’s 13th Masters Series final and fourth Miami final.

“I felt like I served well,” said Murray. “It was tricky from one end of the court. We’re basically serving right into the sun at that time of day, so I had to take a little bit off the serve. On the second serve it was very tough to see.

“But I thought when I was behind in games, like the last game, for example, I came up with some big serves and was able to dictate a lot of the rallies from the baseline as well. I was moving him around a lot. That was good.”

Murray’s win has evened up his record against the Czech 6-6.

“Andy changed the game plan a bit,” Berdych said. “He starts to play much more aggressive in those last two matches that he played to me. I think that he’s been doing that pretty well. I think that’s the only reason.

 

“So, you know, I’m just going to need some time to put myself ‑‑ prepare better for the next time I’m going to play him.

Now I know what to expect and just be more ready for it.”

 

“Well, I thought I obviously started both sets well,” Murray said of the early breaks in each set. “Yeah, that was really the difference, to be honest. We played some good points. I thought throughout the match I thought it was a pretty clean match.

Yeah, I felt like I just played a bit better than him. That was the difference.”

Murray on playing Djokovic in the final: Novak obviously started the year extremely well obviously winning Australia, and then also last week, too. He’s come through a couple of tough ones so far in this event.”

 

As for Djokovic on playing Murray: “The fact that I won I think last six, seven matches that we played against each other, especially the one just recently in Indian Wells, gives me confidence and maybe a slight mental advantage.

 

“But we’re talking about small margins. That’s always the case when we play against each other. Very few points, details can decide a winner. We have very similar games. We already played twice this year, and of course in a big match in Australian Open final which was very, very physical, very close.

 

“I expect a battle, long rallies, and I know what is expecting me on the court. I know his game pretty well, as well as he knows mine.”

Djokovic leads in head-to-head clashes with Murray 17-8

Share

Serena Williams Wins 700th Match; Will Face Simona Halep in Miami Open Semis

(April 1, 2015) Serena Williams overcame some inconsistent play to earn her 700th career win in defeating Sabine Lisicki 7-6 (4), 1-6, 6-3 to earn a spot the semifinals of the Miami Open on Wednesday.

Her 700th win puts the American in a very select club which has only eight members.

“I didn’t know I had 700 wins,” noted the 19-time major champion.

“So now I’m like I just want to keep going, doing the best that I can. Just staying positive and winning as much as I can.”

“I grew up playing tennis. I think my destiny was to play tennis,” Williams said. “I saw a picture where I was in a stroller on the tennis court.”

The seven-time Miami Open champion has now won 16 straight matches in Key Biscayne.

Williams made 51 unforced errors on the day, had some problems with the sun and served well below her usual efforts.

“I know today wasn’t my best day,” Williams said. “I just told myself, I’m not serving the way I normally serve and hitting the way I normally would hit, so at this point all I can do is just fight and try to give 200% instead of 100%.

“At the start of the third set it was definitely a little bit of a natural reaction. Obviously I don’t want to lose, or at least I want to try to do the best I can. She had a lot of momentum going into the third set after winning the second set, so I just wanted to stay strong, and basically hold my serve.”

 

Williams will battle No. 3 Simona Halep for a place in the final. The Romanian defeated American Sloane Stephens 6-1, 7-5.

“I look forward to it because I didn’t get to play her last time,” said Williams. “I was really disappointed to not be able to play and just not even be close to 100%.

“So, you know, I look forward to it this time. I’m just happy to be in the semis and still be alive somehow.”

Simona Halep

Simona Halep

“It will be a very nice match,” Halep said after he win. “I have to try everything. She is No. 1 in the world. She’s the best player. I have nothing to lose.”

“I have just to play aggressive like I did today at the beginning the match. I think this is the most important thing to have to the chance against Serena.

“So I just want recover my body until tomorrow and to be ready it hit the balls.”

No. 9 Andrea Petkovic will face No. 12 Carla Suarez Navarro in the other semifinal on Thursday.

Andy Murray fistpump

In men’s action, two-time Miami champion world No. 4 Andy Murray advanced to the men’s semifinals by rallying past unseeded youngster Dominic Thiem 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Murray will play No. 8 Tomas Berdych next.

“At the beginning of the match I didn’t return well, especially returning his first serve,” said the Scot. That put me in sort of a defensive position a lot when he was serving. I ended up doing quite a lot of running there.

“Returned the second serve well, but everything he made a first serve I was returning short and he was dictating all of the points.

“I thought on my own serve was doing fine. I just played one bad game, and my return game let me down a bit in the first set.

“Then, again, the second set I went up and I was creating quite a lot of opportunities, which was good, but just not quite finding the right shot.

“I think in the third set the difference was really my returning. Returned his first serve extremely well. I put him on the back foot. When I was returning the first serve well I was able to dictate points when he was hitting his first serve, and on his second, and then on my first serve as well.

“So when you’re sort of able to control 75% of the points, makes a huge, huge difference. That’s the most pleasing part for me.”

It was a career week for the 21-year-old Thiem who reached his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal.

“Before this week I would have given a lot for the quarterfinals, but now of course in the first moment I’m a little bit disappointed, especially I won the first set,” said the Austrian. “I played a good match.

“But, yeah, I will leave Miami positive for sure and with a good feeling for the clay court season.”

Share

Andy Murray Reaches 500th Win Mark with Victory Over Kevin Anderson at Miami Open

(March 31, 2015) Andy Murray became the ninth player on the ATP World Tour to win 500 career matches with his victory over Kevin Anderson 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the Miami Open quarterfinals.

The Scot is the 46th player in the Open era with 500 or more wins and the first British player to accomplish this feat.

“It’s nice I think obviously for me the fact that it happened here,” said the two-time Miami Open champion. “It’s just fitting just because I have spent so much time training here and working to get better and to improve. That was nice.

“Yeah, I hope I’ve still got a lot more wins in me. To get to 500 is good. It’s not an easy thing to do at my age. It’s nice. Hopefully I can keep going.”

“I hope for me this isn’t the end and I can keep trying to progress,” he added. With each win you get closer to going past a great player.

“You know, the people that are ahead of me have all done pretty amazing things in the sport, so that’s what’s nice about it. And, yeah, it gives me ‑‑ also feels like it gives me motivation, as well, for some reason.

“I don’t know why, but getting to 500, yeah, it gives me motivation to go on and try and win more. When you look at the list of players and the wins that certain guys have got, it gives you something to aim at, as well.”

No. 3 seed Murray will face off against 21-year-old Dominic Thiem, who reached his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal with a win over No. 28 Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5.

“He had his best year on the tour last year,” Murray said. “He’s a very talented guy. He’s strong. I know him fairly well. I practice with him quite a bit. He’s very hard worker. Very good attitude. Very respectful guy. He’s got a very good career ahead of him.

“So I expect tomorrow will be a tough match. He struggled a little bit the beginning part of the year. He changed racquets. “You know, always takes a few months to get used to that. Obviously this week he’s played very well again.”

Also advancing to the quarterfinals were No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 4 Kei Nishikori, No. 6 David Ferrer, No. 8 Tomas Berdych, and Juan Monaco.

Djokovic survived a test from Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-7, 7-5, 6-0. Dolgopolov was a point a way from a 7-6, 4-0 lead. Berdych advanced when Gael Monfils retired from the match with a hip injury in the second set.

 

Share

Serena Williams Sails Past Bellis at Miami Open; Murray Wins 499th Match

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(March 29, 2015) Seven-time Miami Open winner Serena Williams moved into the round of 16 with a 6-1, 6-1 thrashing of 15-year-old countrywoman Cici Bellis in 41 minutes.

Bellis upset 2014 Australian Open finalist and the No. 12 player at the time Dominika Cibulkova in the first round of last year’s US Open.

“It wasn’t like, Oh, I’m so happy to win this match,” Williams said.

“Yeah, it was tough. I think, you know, she’s young and her being an American and her just doing so well, you want to see people like her do well. So when you’re up against them you have to kind of put that aside. Even though I’m always cheering for her. Otherwise I have to put it aside and play the match.”

“I was pretty nervous,” said Bellis. “I mean, she’s No. 1 in the world and like the best of all time for a reason.

“I think it was just a really good experience for me for the future and I’m glad I got to do it, but she’s a lot better than me for right now.”

Next up for Williams in will be 2006 Miami Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova who beat No. 13 Angelique Kerber 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Last weekend’s Indian Wells winner, No. 3 Simona Halep has reached the fourth round by besting No. 30 Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5.

“It’s first time when I’m in fourth round here in Miami,” Halep said. “I like to play here. You know, I come from Indian Wells where I won a title, and I have more confidence now to win matches.

“I’m just trying to keep my mind very focused and to recover my body every day and with good work, because I need it. I feel a little bit tired, but it’s normal. I have to accept this.

“I’m just looking forward to improve more in my shots, and I just want to hit the serve better and better day by day.

“I’m working, and, you know, I just want to go on court to fight for every chance.”

Mubadala World Tennis Championship

Andy Murray is a victory away from joining the 500-win club. The No. 3 seed at the Miami Open moved into the fourth round on Sunday defeating Santiago Giraldo 6-3, 6-4.

“It’s nice, because when you see, you know, the list of the players that have won that many matches, you know, there isn’t loads,” Murray said. “I think there is only 40 or so players that have done it.

“Hopefully I can win some more throughout my career. I mean, maybe it doesn’t happen in a couple of days; I hope it does. But if not, then, you know, I’m sure at some stage I will get there.

I obviously want to try and win more, and hopefully still have quite a few years ahead of me left to add to that number.

Yeah, it’s a lot of wins. It’s not easy these days to win that many matches, so that’s a good sign.”

Next Murray hopes to become the ninth active man to reach 500 wins when he takes on Kevin Anderson on Tuesday.

Murray said it will be a “tough match.”

“He’s a big server. He plays predominantly from the baseline. Yeah, when his game is on, he’s very tough guy to play against, because he can hold serve.

“He obviously is used to these conditions here. He lives 45 minutes away, so he obviously plays and practices in this weather a lot. I won’t have as much of an advantage against him as maybe some of the guys, because he’s used to the conditions here.

“So it will be a tough match.”

Share

Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray Advance at Miami Open

Nadal at Miami Open Media day

(March 27, 2015) Fourteen-time major champion Rafael Nadal has won almost everything there is to win on the men’s tennis tour. One of the few titles which has escaped him is the Miami Open. Nadal a four-time finalist, began his quest for his first title with an 89-minute victory over Spanish countryman Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-2 to move into the third round.

Nadal was asked about his ankle which he hurt during practice earlier in the week.

“I am well, no?,” said the second seed. “I had just a little bit, how do you say, small torn in the beginning, so it was going to be tough.

“The day after I had pain, but after two days I improved 50% and stays the same. It’s not limiting my movements.”

“The real thing is the wind was really high,” Nadal said of the breezy conditions on court. “Very difficult to find a positive feeling on court.

“But in general I think I played a solid match. I played well. I had a good movement. I think I moved myself quick for moments, and when I had to put the balls in and play with no mistakes ‑ that was the idea today with that very tough conditions ‑ I did, I think.

“For some moments I went for the points. I worked well with my forehand. I had some good winners.

“Yeah. I’m happy the way that I played. Sure, second round against I don’t know yet, but Almagro was not an easy opponent for the first round. I am happy for that.”

Nadal who raised his record against Almagro to 11-1, will face the winner of Fernando Verdasco, and James Duckworth in the third round.

“The court in Miami I think is the same than since 10 years, since I came here,” Nadal said. “I don’t see difference with the court, no?

“The ball is heavier here than in Indian Wells for the humidity, so the ball flies is little bit slower through the air. That’s it.”

Two-time Miami champion Andy Murray defeated Donald Young 6-4, 6-2 in 82 minutes in an earlier match. Murray defeated the American recently – in Glasgow during the first weekend in March, when Great Britain defeated the United States 3-2 to reach the quarterfinals of Davis Cup.

“I played well against him the last couple of times,” said the third seed. “Obviously today was a very different match to Davis Cup; completely different conditions.”

“The tactics that you go into the match with completely change because of the weather and the wind.”

The Scot is just two wins away from reaching a milestone – to become just the ninth active player to win 500 ATP World Tour –level matches.

Murray will match-up against 27th seed Santiago Giraldo in the third round.

Share

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to Clash in Indian Wells Final

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(March 21, 2015) The top two men’s tennis players will face off in the final of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday in Indian Wells, California.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated No. 4 Andy Murray 6-2, 6-3 in the first semifinal of the day, a rematch of the Australian Open final, while No. 2 Roger Federer bested Milos Raonic 7-5, 6-4.

In Sunday’s final, defending champion Djokovic will be aiming to capture his fourth Indian Wells tournament, while Federer will be going for his fifth title in the desert. Federer leads Djokovic 20-17 in their head-to-head records.

Djokovic is now 17-8 against Murray, after winning for the sixth straight time against the Brit. Djokovic is 18- 2 on the year.

Considering this was probably the first match that I’ve played in the day in the entire year ‑‑ because I have played Doha, Dubai, Australian Open, and 90% of the matches I played during the night ‑‑ I thought I handled the conditions well.

It wasn’t easy, but I needed some time to adjust. The fact that I’m in another finals makes me definitely feel very good, very confident.

I had a phenomenal start of the season, and hopefully I can, you know, do my best tomorrow and maybe get another trophy.

Murray had a below average serving day against the Serb, losing his serve four times in the match.

“I tried to go for a few more serves today and to try to get a few more free points, but, you know, serving 50% or just below is, you know, not good enough against the best players,” sais Murray. “You obviously need to serve better.

“I thought I actually hit my second serve better than I did in Australia today, but first‑serve percentage was too low.”

Murray had 29 unforced errors and only seven winners in the contest

“I think obviously I didn’t start either of the sets well,” Murray said. “That obviously makes things difficult against the best players. I mean, Novak didn’t give me any free points at the beginning of either of the sets, and I made a few too many errors early on.

“Then, you know, in the end of both sets, middle of both sets, I started to play a bit better and made it tougher and was able to push him a bit, but not enough at the beginning of the sets to make it challenging enough for him.”

“I thought I played solid, with the right intensity from the beginning,” said Djokovic. “Good first‑serve percentage. Got some free points there in the important moments.

“Just overall it was a good performance.”

Djokovic admitted that his opponent did preform as well as he could have.

“Even though it’s a straight‑set victory, I still had to earn it,” Djokovic stated. “I thought that he hasn’t played close to his highest level. Made a lot of unforced errors, especially from the forehand side. Low percentage of first serves in. That allowed me to obviously step in and be aggressive.”

 

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

Milos Raonic broke up the potential “Big Four” reunion in the semifinals when he upset Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals on Friday. Raonic tested Federer in the straight set loss on Saturday.

The hard-serving Canadian was broken in the eleventh game of the first set, which the Swiss closed out 7-5 in 45 minutes. Federer opened the second set with a break, and never looked back.

Federer has now reached his 40th Masters Series 1000 final. Federer claimed the desert crown 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2012.

“I’m very happy how well I’m playing,” said Federer. “Feel good physically. Obviously I feel refreshed after the holiday. I’m serving well, which is always crucial.”

“He was neutralizing well on the serve, but especially during the points I felt like a few times I was able to stretch him,” Raonic said.

“He was doing a good job of getting legs behind and always playing deep cross so I could never find that short forehand I was looking for.”

“I wish I would have served a higher percentage, but I felt like when I was putting my first serve in I was doing a good job,” the Canadian explained. “I don’t think I mixed up my second serve enough.”

Djokovic discussed the possibility of playing Federer in the final:

“If I get to play Roger, it’s the ultimate final that right now I can have. Probably the player that is in the best form. You know, in the last 12 months he’s been playing some of his best tennis, I thought.

“Especially after, for his standards, pretty average season in 2013. He came back and played the finals in Wimbledon, played some great tournaments, won titles, and we had a fight for No. 1 spot all the way up to last couple of matches in London.

“He started off the year well again except that third‑round loss in the Australian Open. He won two titles. You know, he’s playing great. There no question about it.

“We all know that Roger, with all his records, we know the experience that he has. He’s not expected to play nothing less than his best in these stages of the tournament.

“He’s been proving that. He won so many titles. He loves the big occasions, and I’m sure he’s gonna come out wanting to win, being aggressive.

“He moves great. I thought since he changed the racquet it helped him with maybe reaching balls in the defense that he wasn’t able to do maybe before that. Seems like he has more control in the backhand. Great serve, as always.

“So he’s a very complete player. No question about it.”

“One thing about Roger is that he always makes you play highest level if you want to win against him,” Djokovic added.

“That’s something that’s always in the back of my mind. This is something that makes me come out with the highest possible concentration and intensity and commitment. If I want to win that match and win this title, I definitely need to be on top of my game.”

“After losing so close last year I was quite disappointed, even though I was happy how I was playing,” said Federer. “Can’t wait until we get a chance again to play him here, because you have to wait one entire year, got to win another five matches, and finally you’re in the finals again.

“So I think it’s very exciting for both of us, and also for fans, to see a rematch of the great final from last year. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope I can keep up my good play.”

“I like these big matches. I have been playing so well and I don’t feel tired. I feel great going into the finals, and I hope I can keep up this kind of a level. I know I need an extra special performance tomorrow because Novak’s going to push you there to come up with a lot of great shots in a row, which is not always easy to do.

“So I will see how it goes.”

Asked if his rivalry Djokovic is on par with Rafael Nadal, Federer said: “It will never be the same. Not better or worse. It just will be different just because the matchup is so unique for me with Rafa; whereas Novak’s is totally, like I said, straightforward.

“With Rafa I feel like I need to change everything when I play him. I have played so many times against Rafa on clay, as well, that it feels different; whereas Novak has been a much more of a hard court rivalry, whereas with Rafa has been more clay and grass.”

Federer on his rivalry with Djokovic: “What remains is that you know it’s always been tough against him. I have seen the rise of him, you know, as he’s gotten fitter and more match tough, mentally tougher, became one of the best movers we have in the game. It’s been nice seeing him do that, you know, and improve as you move along.

“Sometimes I wonder if everybody’s willing to improve as much as Novak did. It’s been interesting to see him figure his game out, and I’m happy I can still hang with him. I must be quite honest, because he’s in his absolute prime right now, and I enjoy the challenge of him. I hope he enjoys my challenge.

“So we will see tomorrow, but I think it’s a very dynamic rivalry we have. Great movement. I don’t think we need to change our games very much when we play each other. We can just go out there and play our game, which I think is quite cool also for fans and for ourselves, which is interesting.”

 

 

 

Share

Old Guard Shine Once More

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic

(March 19, 2015) INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – We could be heading for a Serena Williams / Jelena Jankovic final after the Serbian continued her strong run of form at the tournament she won back in 2010. Always reliable for a chuckle in press, she walked in with a heavy sigh as if she had lost, before joking about how she and Williams had been high-fiving each other at their achievements this week.

 

In a week where the WTA Rising Stars rose up for a fraction of a time to dispatch top seeds, the old guard have reasserted themselves, and we were almost entertaining three players over the age of 30 in the semi-finals.

 

Jankovic’s passage into the final was quick, as Ukrainian qualifier Lesia Tsurenko sadly struggled throughout their quarter-final with an ankle injury she picked up in the previous round, and retired to hand Jankovic a 6-1, 4-1 win.

 

“It’s never nice to end a match in that way. I think Lesia has had such a great tournament and she has beaten so many great players throughout the draw. I knew it was going to be a tough match today. In the first set I think we played well. I didn’t see some problems. I was feeling pretty good out there. I was playing my game and waiting for my chances to execute. I was solid.”

 

She continued: “In the second set she started limping and I saw that she had some problem. You know, that’s the time as well I lost a little bit of my focus. I was kind of looking at what she was doing. It was crucial for me to win that game at 2‑1, because who knows what would happen if it was 2‑All.”

 

Defending champion Flavia Pennetta was not so lucky though, starting slowly against Sabine Lisicki before finally starting to play a bit better. After her overwhelming emotions at beating World No. 2 Maria Sharapova, she had to battle once more from a set down to keep her defence alive, even saving a match point on the way to leveling the match.

 

The tides turned in the decider, as Pennetta had her chances to close out the match, but Lisicki, who had never won in Indian Wells, edged her for a place in the semi-final 6-4, 6-7 (3), 7-6 (4) . The crowds gathering for the night match were treated to a spectacle, and the semi-finals ought to live up to that as Serena Williams will face gritty Simona Halep in the final night match on Friday, with Jankovic and Lisicki opening up the show.

 

Meanwhile the men’s quarter-finals got underway with Andy Murray thwarting Feliciano Lopez. The Spaniard could not get a break (quite literally) as Murray quietly and efficiently dismantled his serve and rendered his coming forward moot winning 6-3, 6-4.

 

He explained: “I don’t have as much trouble with the lefties just because I grew up playing with one, and that’s obviously one of his biggest advantages. I thought I played a good match. Every time he came to net I made it very difficult for him. I passed very well, and that was important, because it meant that he spent more time at the back of the court.

 

“When we were in the baseline rallies, I felt like I was able to dictate a lot of those points. Passing shots were important today.”

 

With the disappointing news that Bernard Tomic had withdrawn officially with a back injury, but also troubled with a wisdom tooth, defending men’s champion Novak Djokovic gets a walkover into the semi-final, but after struggling against him last year, Murray believes he has a chance to redress the balance.

 

He said: “He’s played extremely well here in the past. You know, he will be totally fresh as well and ready for the semis, so it will be a tough one for me. But I feel like I played well this week, and, you know, if I can keep that level up and for a sustained period on Saturday, I’ll have a chance.”

 

The men’s quarter-finals conclude on Friday.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

Share

For the Good of the Sport

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(March 18, 2015) The women’s side of the draw flipped on its head once more as the young up and coming pack started to fall away after some famous wins this week. Gone was Caroline Garcia, who felled Ana Ivanovic, while Jelena Jankovic hit one more for the oldies when she dispatched Belinda Bencic to book her place in the quarter-final.

 

But perhaps the biggest surprise was Lesia Tsurenko defeating Genie Bouchard, whose come-back had been going quite swimmingly until that point. And she’s going to be one to watch as she faces the 2010 champion Jankovic next. The Serbian is playing some really solid tennis at the moment, perhaps buoyed by a great win over the very hard-hitting Madison Keys, but she can also come undone fairly spectacularly when she’s up against a player she has not played before. We could expect all kinds of potential tantrums on court, but it still will have been her best result for quite some time.

 

Serena Williams finally ended the great run of Acapulco and Monterrey champion Timea Bacsinszky, and while she admitted she could almost see the trophy in her hands (the first American to win it since her victory in 2001) she acknowledged that she had still a way to go.

 

She said: “I think it will be really good. It’s a good surface for her. I feel like she can definitely come out here, and when we play, play really well. Hopefully I can start playing better. “

 

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

But maybe, and perhaps disappointingly, the focus at the start of the day was more on the news that Wayne Odesnik had been caught again on a doping charge, despite protesting his innocence. He was caught in two samples, and in light of his two year ban in 2010-2011 for being caught with a growth hormone and medical materials in his possession, he was banned for 15 years, and thus announced his retirement from the sport.

 

Needless to say there are not many offering to give him a handshake for his “achievements” (if a world ranking of No. 77 and no titles are to be celebrated).

 

Andy Murray tweeted “Good riddance” and called into question, quite reasonably, if one had been caught once, why would you do it again?

 

He said: “He’s been linked to a number of people that have been involved in doping presently and in the past and surrounded himself with those people, so I can’t say I’m surprised.   To have three separate issues is ridiculous. It’s good that he’s off the tour now.”

 

 

Rafael Nadal was a touch surprised to hear the news but broadly agreed, saying: “I really don’t know about him, so it’s difficult to say one or another thing. But obviously when that happens twice, you don’t deserve to be on the tour.”

 

Quarter-final action continues on Thursday.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

 

 

Share

Murray seals the deal as GB win their first round tie over the USA again

Murray UnderArmour

(March 8, 2015) GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – If at all possible the applause the loudest it has been for the three days, as the live fourth rubber set up a thrilling conclusion to the Great Britain-US Davis Cup tie.

 

With a vocal John Isner thundering down six aces in just his second service game, before he closed it out, you had a feeling we could be going to very long tie-breaks. After all if Isner hits six aces he would expect to be up by a couple of games at least, and not requiring that effort just to nab his second.

 

In fact it was the flat-footed-sounding Isner that flirted with the first break-point opportunities dulling the enthusiasm of the Glasgow crowd for just a little. There would be more drama to come in the eighth game as Murray put the crowd’s loyalty through its paces delivering them two double-faults and fending off three break points before finally grinding out a hold.

 

Isner might be one big unit but he showed early on how he could keep pace in the kinds of rallies that Murray likes to use. And it’s not as if the Brit was struggling with his movement, even throwing in one of those drop shots at a crunch moment for an audacious winner.

 

But there was no denying that Isner was beginning to get his eye in. He was less vocal and less slap-footed around the court now as he sensed he could turn the screw. Pushing Andy Murray every step of the way as the Brit was serving at 4-5, Isner forced 3 set points as the weak second Murray serve presented very hittable opportunities. Yet he could not take advantage as Murray dredged up serves to get him out of trouble.

 

We got to a first set tie-break, but not quite in the manner we thought, and soe terrible shot-making from Isner put GB in front by just enough to keep the advantage, and a collective sigh of relief from 7,700 people.

 

The second set saw Murray hold his serve much more comfortably, and even if Isner was getting a look at his second serve, much of the American’s pace on his whipping forehand was tempered as Murray earned his first break point on the Isner serve after one hour and 25 minutes. Even then, Murray showed him no less than three looks at a second serve as he worked to consolidate the break, to no avail for the American.

Two sets up, the question was would this go the distance, or even creep over four sets? Again there were moments when it looked as though Isner would steal the upper hand as Murray squandered his challenges and sent a few pleading looks the way of the umpire as Isner’s serves thundered past him.

 

Pushing up to a tie-break again, there was a huge crescendo of noise which, if anything, was louder than Murray’s entry into the arena. If the first mini-break was enough to get hopes up, as Murray surged ahead to finish it with an ace to book the British team into the quarter-finals. Final score 7-6(4), 6-3, 7-6(4).

 

Interviewed on court after jumping around with members of the team, Murray did the honours in thanking the crowd as well as hinting that perhaps it might be time for Tennis Scotland to use grass for something other than football.

 

“The whole week has been so much fun. This is one of the most special atmospheres I’ve ever played in so I would like to say a big thank you to all these guys,“ Murray said.

“With a home tie against France in the summer I’d imagine we would try to put that on a grass court. I don’t know how many they have in Glasgow but if they could lay one that would be great as the atmosphere has been incredible.”

“To be in the quarterfinals for a second year when it hasn’t happened for so long is incredible.”

Last year the British team also knocked out the USA in the first round of Davis Cup on a clay court in San Diego.

 

“This is a deserved win,” Murray said. “The attitude of everyone was excellent. Everyone fought extremely hard, especially when we were behind in the matches, no one gave up. Every person played extremely hard.

“It was huge momentum for us in winning James’ (Ward) match. We were also so close yesterday to winning 3-0, so I felt some pressure today to close it out. The way John approached the match made it difficult.”

Asked about Great Britain’s chances to win Davis Cup, US Captain Jim Courier said:

“When you have a great champion like Andy, against most teams, they should feel like they are up 2-0 going in. The way their doubles team played was impressive. Bob and Mike played unbelievably well yesterday and they were pushed to the wire. It only takes three to win.”

So where does the US Davis Cup team go from here?

“Our team changes, ‘ Courier said.  “You always try to make some adjustments and go forward. We play again in September, so I have time to assess everything. It takes time to process defeats like this and try to figure out what you can learn from it and improve going forward.”

 

With the next tie straight after Wimbledon, debates are already taking place as to where possible venues could be, as the prospect of holding an outside tournament in an English summer against the French could be intriguing.

The Davis Cup quarter-finals will take place between July 17 – 19.

As for the United States, they will play for a chance to stay in the World Group the week after the US Open concludes in September in the World Group Play-offs.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.

Share