Raonic Sets Up Semifinal Date Against Federer in Cincinnati

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

By Dave Gertler


(August 15, 2014) MASON, OHIO – After the disappointment of failing to reach the semifinal of his home Masters 1000 last week in Toronto, Milos Raonic has breezed into the Western & Southern Open semifinal today in Cincinnati. While Raonic’s 6-1, 6-0 win over Fabio Fognini might seem ominous, his semifinal opponent will be Roger Federer who defeated Andy Murray 6-3, 7-5 in the evening session.


Fognini – who had advanced to his first career quarterfinal in Cincinnati – ran out of luck as he stepped up against the big-serving Canadian. In a match lasting 57 minutes, Raonic’s serve statistics were troubling for his opponent. He only lost 4 points the whole match behind his first serve, and of the 10 he lost behind his second serve, 3 were double faults. “You can’t really control him,” said Raonic of his often erratic opponent, “It can be very sporadic at times. You just focus on yourself and make sure you do yourself and see and adjust to how things are coming from him as you go.”


Although the 27-year-old Italian forced Raonic to successfully defend 7 break points in the second set, he had fewer points than that won on his own serve, and was unable to get on the scoreboard. Despite having two game points in the last game of the match, Fognini double-faulted twice. The last play of the match was a Fognini foot-fault, reminiscent of his loss last year in Cincinnati to Radek Stepanek, where he deliberately foot-faulted to lose the match, before being booed off the court.


In Friday’s first men’s quarterfinal, Julien Benneteau scored an upset win over 3rd seed Stan Wawrinka in three sets on Center Court. Despite the Swiss racing away to a 6-1 lead, Benneteau drew on the confidence of his winning career record against Wawrinka, and was able to turn the match around, losing only three more games, taking the match 1-6, 6-1, 6-2.


“At the end of first set,” said the 32-year-old Frenchman, of how he turned the match around, “I talk to myself and I said, OK, if I don’t change anything it’s going to be 1 and 3 in 50 minutes and you’re going to lose it. So I said that I need to play harder from the baseline and to put a little bit more intensity in my strokes. Even if I miss it’s OK, but I have to play like this. I thought that the two, three first games of the second set are going to be tough. It’s going to be a tough fight, and I prepare myself to resist to that. I say, OK, you have to stay in the game. You have to take the score. And I broke in the first game, on his first service game in the second set.”
Making his first career appearance at a Masters 1000 semifinal, world No.41 Benneteau is looking forward to the opportunity, saying, “Of course it means something. But the tournament is not done, and I still have a lot to do. We will see.” His semifinal opponent will be David Ferrer, who ousted fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo earlier on Friday.


Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .


“Big Four,” Nadal, Djokovic, Federer and Murray Advance to Sony Open Quarters


(March 25, 2014) No. 1 Rafael Nadal, No. 2 Novak Djokovic, No. 5 Roger Federer and No. 6 Andy Murray all reached the Sony Open quarterfinals on Tuesday while No. 3 Stanislas Wawrinka and No. 4 David Ferrer were upset.

Nadal had no problems dismissing Fabio Fognini 6-2, 6-2. Nadal only lost only three points during the match has dropped a total of only nine games in the three matches played so far at the Sony Open.

“First three matches I was able to find the right rhythm on court, playing aggressive, playing with no mistakes, so today was a little bit strange match,” Nadal said.

“I am sorry for Fabio.  I think he felt a little bit, I don’t know how to say, but he felt a little bit close to the hip, something from yesterday.  So was not easy for him to play that match.

“But anyway, I think I managed well the situation.  The wind, it was hard tonight, and I was manage to do well.  So I think I played the right match.”

Novak Djokovic pushed past Tommy Robredo 6-3, 7-5. In a bit of good sportsmanship, Djokovic gave back a point which was called out, which was indeed in.

“I mean, for me, it’s something as normal,” Djokovic said about giving the point back.  “I don’t want to talk about the nice gesture that I have done.  I don’t like to talk about myself, you know.  I let everybody else to judge.

“But for me that’s something that is absolutely normal if I am not able to ‑‑ if I judge that I couldn’t win the point, that I had no chance to get that ball back in the court, or if I see the ball is good, I’m going to tell him to challenge it or that it’s very close.

“For me it’s something that is part of the sport and fair play that, you know, I think I expect everybody else to do the same.  Of course, not everybody else is the same, but for me that’s something that’s normal, just a normal, natural reaction.”

Djokovic will play Andy Murray next in the quarterfinals. Murray beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-1.

“Andy is a defending champion,” Djokovic said of a potential match-up with Murray.  “He won a couple of Grand Slams, Olympic gold medal, and obviously he’s the player who can, you know, play big‑time tennis on a big stage.”

Murray who had back surgery last year, appeared to be some pain during his win over Tsonga, despite winning easily in 73 minutes.

“My game is getting there.  I mean, the last six sets I played have been very high‑level tennis.  Again, very few errors and aggressive tennis.  You know, coming forward, taking my opportunities to hit winners, and come to the net when I had the chance.

“Yeah, I’m playing better each match, and I hope that continues.  You know, last couple of weeks have been difficult for obvious reasons.  But, you know, hopefully I’m coming out the other side of that now and keep playing better.”

“It was sore, but I still moved well throughout the rest of the match, which is a good sign.  Was probably moving better at the end of the match than I was at the beginning, so that’s probably a good sign.”

Roger Federer only needed needing 49 minutes to defeat No. 9 seed Richard Gasquet 6-1, 6-2. Federer hit 25 winners during the match to Gasquet’s 8.

“I think I played well.” Federer said. “I served well.  I made my returns I had to and stayed aggressive, so I didn’t let him just make errors.  I forced him to do stuff.  It was a good match for me.”

Federer will play Kei Nishikori who saved 4 match points before upsetting fourth seed David Ferrer 7-6 (7), 2-6, 7-6 (9).

“He had obviously a very difficult match with Ferrer, but a great one which everybody watched in the locker room and the player restaurant,” Federer said.  It was one of those thrilling end to the matches, you know, into the tiebreaker with match points saved.  It had the whole drama.

“Either one could have won, but in tennis always one guy’s got to win.  Kei did a good job getting it done at the end.  I only played him twice but practiced with him many times, so we know each other well so there are no real secrets out there.

“Clearly I think it’s an advantage at this point now that I had a quick match today and he had a really brutal match against Ferrer.  Can I take advantage of it?  Can he recover quickly?  We will see tomorrow.

“But I’m sure we will see him out on the court, and he will give it everything he has.  He always has.”

In another upset on the day, No. 22 Alexandr Dolgopolov stopped three seed Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals.

Also advancing to the quarterfinals were Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych who eliminated the last American man, John Isner 6-3, 7-5


David Ferrer “Three-Peats” in Buenos Aires

David Ferrer

David Ferrer

(February 16, 2014) David Ferrer won his third straight Copa Claro title, beating Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. It’s Ferrer’s 21 ATP World Tour crown.

Ferrer ended a seven-match losing streak in tour-level finals, winning his first title since last year’s Copa Claro.

Ferrer became the first player to win three straight Buenos Aires titles, marking his third three-peat on the ATP World Tour – Auckland (2011-13), Acapulco (2010-12).

“The key was I played consistent all the match, very solid, and in important moments I played better than Fabio,” Ferrer said. “I’m happy for my new title. The last seven finals I lost, and this time I can change my luck so I’m happy for that. I try to always do my best and finally I can win again another title.”

“Of course I’m happy and confident with my game because I won a new [title], but now I will like to enjoy tonight and tomorrow to be focused for Rio de Janeiro. It’s going to be a new tournament, a big tournament also, and I hope to play similar to this week.”

“It’s always difficult to play against him because he’s a really good fighter, but I’m still happy because it was another great week for me,” said Fognini said. I played my second final in two weeks. I’m in a good way. Now it’s time to rest, recover well and see you in Rio.”


Fognini Wins Title in Chile

F Fognini

(February 9, 2014) Top seed Fabio Fognini lived up to his seeding and defeated first-time finalist Leonardo Mayer to claim the title at the Royal Guard Open Chile.

For Fognini this was his his third ATP World Tour title in his last four clay tournaments, adding to his wins at Stuttgart and Hamburg last July. Including a finalist finish in Umag, the World No. 15 has a 19-1 clay-court record since Roland Garros.

“I’m going to stay with the positives” said the Italian. “This was another important week for me. I was coming from reaching the fourth round at the Australian Open after overcoming an injury I had earlier in the year. I couldn’t ask for a better start of the season. It’s the third title, it’s important, and now I go to Buenos Aires with a lot of confidence.”

“I didn’t play that well today and he played incredible,” Mayer said. “I was sick in the morning, I almost didn’t play, but later the doctors and I decided that I could play.”
Fognini will try to reach his fifth straight clay-court final at next week’s Copa Claro in Buenos Aires, where he is the No. 2 seed.


Novak Djokovic Eases into Quarters of Australian Open

Djokovic wins 89

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 19, 2014) MELBOURNE – Novak Djokovic encountered little difficulty on his way to dismantling the funny Fabio Fognini on Sunday, 6-3, 6-0, 6-2, fighting off the urge to laugh at his childhood friend’s jokes to secure his nineteenth consecutive quarterfinal at a major.

It was reasonably smooth sailing for the world No. 2 as he grasped hold of an early break and held his service games all too comfortably to serve out the first set. Just 28 minutes later, Djokovic had already powered through a second set bagel much to the Italian’s disbelief.


“Mentally I was there. I was tough. I was focused. I feel great about myself in this moment,” Djokovic reflected after the match.


“There is this confidence that I carry on, obviously from the many wins that I had in the last two months of the 2013 season, and I started off this season in good style. I’m trying to keep it up.”


While Fognini’s unforced errors for the match more than doubled that of his Serbian opponent’s, it took some courage and will power to pick himself back up and return to court, even though seemingly for the slaughter. He got the crowd involved in his jokes and appealed to their tendency to support the underdog, refocusing to kick off the third set with a ‘love’ service game.


The Italian lost some focus as he allowed himself to be distracted by jokes with the crowd and an unflinching Djokovic on the other side of the net. He also grew particularly fussy about the balls he was to use; hitting, kicking and rolling those not quite up to his standard aside, perhaps desperate to make the most of loose superstitions since luck was not going his way. The Italian looked as though he was just about ready to throw down his racquet and give up altogether during many frustrating instances, especially when Djokovic launched especially elegant forehand winners which sent the crowd erupting in applause.


“When he had his moments during the match, and I’ve known him for long time, for me it’s funny but I tried not to laugh too much about it. I tried to direct my focus to my side of the court, what I needed to do and not pay attention to him – even though he was funny at times, I have to say,” the Serbian admitted.


“Being two sets up and making that break in the third, when then he started to, you know, have his five minutes of humorous actions on the court. It was funny, as I said, but you cannot get carried away too much. You can lose focus so easily on the court, really. Anything can distract you. Tennis is such a mental game at the end of the day. It’s very dynamic. Everything happens fast. In one or two points you can lose a break and the match can turn around. That’s why it’s important to really stay within yourself and focus on what you can do.”


It all became too much for the joking Italian to bear as he laughingly sent his racquet flying over the net in complete and utter despair when Djokovic broke him to lead 5-2 in the third. And fair enough considering the Serbian went on to serve out the match, acing his way to victory.


When the serious business was done and dusted upon winning the match, Djokovic also became in the mood for a good laugh and the three-time Australian Open champion graced the crowd with one of his famous impersonations – this time, of his new coach Boris Becker’s mannerisms while serving.


“​​I’m going to have to gain a few kilos and colour my hair in order to do the proper Becker imitation,” he joked.


The world No. 2 next faces Stanislas Wawrinka and must prepare for a potential rematch of last year’s five-set quarterfinal epic, acknowledging the fact that the match-up could very well give rise to yet another long night.


​”I have to be ready to play another 12-10 in the fifth like last year. I know that he’s been playing the tennis of his life in last 15 months. He’s a top 10 player now. He’s established himself in the top level, he won against some of the top guys in the big tournaments and he is confident. You could feel that mentally when he comes to the court, he believes in himself more. He can win against the top guys in the later stages of events.”


Alana Mitchelson is a Melbourne-based freelance journalist covering the Australian Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her tournament updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN and read her personal website.


Fognini Saves Three Match Points to Win Hamburg Title

F Fognini

(July 21, 2013) Italy’s Fabio Fognini saved three match points before coming back to beat Argentine qualifier No. 114 Federico Delbonis 4-6, 7-6 (8), 6-2 to win the German Tennis Championships on Sunday in Hamburg. For the Italian it’s for his second title in two weeks with both titles coming in Germany on a clay court. Last week he won the title in Stuttgart. He now has a 10 match winning streak.

Fognini came back from 1-4 down in the second to reach the tiebreaker. The Argentine failed to take advantage of three match points.

Delbonis, who upset Roger Federer in the semifinals, was trying to become the seventh first-time winner on the ATP World Tour in 2013.

“It’s an amazing week. I can’t believe it right now,” Fognini said. “I just feel incredible, a real good sensation. I’m very happy. I was, I think, a little bit lucky. I was nervous. Today, I didn’t play really good, but I fought hard. I think that was the key. Another trophy, that’s the important thing. I want to enjoy [this] as soon as possible and fly to Umag tomorrow, [where I] have another chance to play.”

“I tried to do my best on the match points,” Delbonis said. “I don’t know if I played bad. I tried to do my best on the three points. But Fabio also played well on these points. To lose the final with match points is disappointing. But at the end of the week, the result of all the week is positive or me. It’s my first final. I beat Roger [Federer] yesterday [in the semi-finals].”

Fognini is projected to move into the top 20 of the ATP World Tour rankings next week.



Fognini Wins First ATP Title with Stuttgart Victory


(July 14, 2013) Italy’s Fabio Fognini joined the ATP winner’s circle for the first time taking the clay court event in Stuttgart defeating German Philipp Kohlschreiber 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 for the title.

“Finally, after two finals, I have won,” Fognini said. “I played great, great tennis this week. I am really happy to have beaten Philipp in the final. I was focused on my game and I think I felt fresh physically. The tension increased at the end, but then I got some luck. I just thought about my serve and playing solid. This gives me a lot of confidence. I will never forget my first title. It would be great to play on hard courts like this.”

“It is always tough to lose in the final, especially in Germany, in front of a home crowd,” Kohlschreiber. Maybe it was not the best final ever, but intensity wise it was tricky. Fabio played a great tournament and I can also be happy. There was great support. I think I started badly in the second and third sets. After winning the first set, I should have relaxed more.”

Fognini became the sixth first-time ATP World Tour titlist of 2013. The Italian took home €74,000 and a Mercedes-Benz A 45 AMG, ‘Edition 1’ car for his efforts.


Alves Fails to Qualify, Questions About Court Conditions at Brasil Open

Brazil Open

By Barbara Galiza


(February 10, 2013) Even with an impressionable run in the Davis Cup play-off against America last week, Brazilian Thiago Alves still failed to quality for his home tournament. The 135th player in the world fell in the second round of qualifying and his reaction hinted the indoor clay at São Paulo was to blame. After his loss, the Brazilian smacked his racket and kicked the surface so hard, some areas had to be refilled.


Fabio Fognini‘s coach, José Perla, also complained about the surface, but on Twitter: “The only problem with São Paulo are the courts. They are in terrible conditions and the balls are from the supermarket. (…) We hope no one gets hurt.”


The ATP 250 São Paulo has the presence of Rafael Nadal confirmed, after just returning to tour last week from a seven-month injury lay-off. The Spaniard will make his debut on Tuesday, but the organizers insist the courts will be in perfect condition for the start of the tournament tomorrow.


“The courts are still being adjusted. The clay hasn’t even had a month to settle down (since the Federer Tour exhibitions, held on the same site, but on hardcourts). The people from the ATP will still arrive and make the conditions 100% for the start of the tournament,” says Brasil Open’s press agent.


Barbara Galiza is a journalist from Rio de Janeiro covering the Brasil Open in São Paulo for Tennis Panorama. She likes tennis and writing. Sometimes she blogs, most of the time she tweets. – @fiercetennis. Follow her São Paulo updates on @TennisNewsTPN.


Notes From Behind the Wall at the China Open

Notes From Behind the Wall:

Count on the Chinese to ask the blunt questions, no sugar-coating. Exhibit A:

Q. You are used to being good friends with Azarenka but actually have some unpleasant experience this year. Will you bother to make a further explanation to that unpleasant experience this year?

AGNIESZKA RADWANSKA: Well, actually, we’re still okay, we are still friends, so I don’t know really what is the question about.


What the transcript does not show was Radwanska saying she does not understand the question before having it repeated and giving the answer above. The question was definitely a surprise since the two haven’t met since Madrid after facing off one tournament after another since the start of the year. By Indian Wells, already their fourth encounter, the friendship seems to have soured after Radwanska called out Azarenka for exaggerating an injury sustained during their match in Doha. In the tennis calendar, Doha in February seems like a lifetime ago. But don’t blame the Chinese media for bringing that up now, after all, they’ve been waiting the whole year for the tour to finally make its way here.


The drawing power of the Armada?


The practice courts on Monday morning were a relatively calm place for a scattered group of spectators to check out the players as they do their thing. On court 1 was Christina Mchale still here and practicing hard, on court 5 there was Laura Robson against Virginie Razzano. Then you see several security people lined up behind the fence that straddles practice courts 1 and 2.

It turns out that scheduled for noon at court 1 were Fernando Verdasco and David Marrero and on court 2 were Feliciano Lopez and Pablo Andujar. In the end, there weren’t many people around the practice courts anyway for security to control.


The legend of the Fabio


Having heard so much about the on court antics of one Fabio Fognini, I had to go check it out for myself. I left the media room when Fognini was down a break at 1-3 and I get to the court and he had just lost the first set 1-6. Then it was all Fabio talking to the umpire complaining about the line calls. Fognini to Steve Ulrich “You make me crazy. I’m not joking, you make me crazy.” I feel for his coach who was very enthusiastic, yelling encouragement even in French and Spanish “Tres bien” Vamos!” This was all to no avail as the complaining Fognini loses to Florian Mayer 1-6 2-6.


Abigail Hinto is in Beijing this week covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow her updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.



Klizan Wins First ATP Tournament Title


Seven months ago, Martin Klizan was ranked at No. 121 in the world, today he’s is No. 45 and climbing. The Slovak captured his first ATP World Tour on Sunday defeating Fabio Fognini of Italy 6-2, 6-3 for the St. Petersburg Open.

The 23-year-old’s breath through win came at the recent US Open when the southpaw upset 6th seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

Klizan made his way to the finals by stunning top seed Mikhail Youzhny of Russia in an almost four-hour match.

“It’s always very difficult to play a tournament after Davis Cup. I’ve played many matches and it was a tough Davis Cup for us, so it was a very, very tough week this one, “Klizan said. “I was really ‘dead’ yesterday after the match, but I’ve played really solid this week and I’m very happy to win my first title. I hope I can get more points at the end of this season.

“I said last year that I would like to be Top 100 by the end of this year and I’ve already done it. Now I’ve been Top 50, Top 40, maybe I can be Top 30 at the end of the year. I hope I can be healthy and still with enough power to play until the end of the season. I’ve played many, many great weeks.”



Singles – Final
[3] M Klizan (SVK) d [4] F Fognini (ITA) 62 63

Doubles – Final
[1] R Ram (USA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) d L Lacko (SVK) / I Zelenay (SVK) 62 46 10-6