July 23, 2016

Djokovic, Federer Advance, Muguruza Extended, Ivanovic Beaten on First Day of 2016 Wimbledon

(June 27, 2016) Top seed Novak Djokovic, going for his fifth major tournament win in a row and the third leg of the “Grand Slam” opened his defense at Wimbledon with a 6-0, 7-6(3) win over No. 177 British wild card James Ward. The Serb was halfway to a “triple bagel” (6-0, 6-0, 6-0) before Ward got on the board.

“I honestly didn’t expect myself to start that well,” said Djokovic. “Nine games in a row, 6 0, 3 0. I thought it was just a matter of time when James would win his first game. I knew that the reaction of the crowd, and his own reaction, will be the way it was.

“As a home player, he enjoyed a lot of support today, especially when he won his first game. That’s when the energy kind of shifted on his side. He felt huge relief obviously winning the first game. On the other hand, I maybe dropped the concentration a little bit. The second set was quite close. Credit to him for serving well.

“The first part of the match was almost flawless, so I’m very pleased with the way I started Wimbledon.”

Seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer was pushed by No. 52 Guido Pella 7-6(5), 7-6(3), 6-3. The Swiss broke the Argentine’s serve once – in the second-to-last game of the match.
Pella is now 0-4 in tour grass court matches.

“I was very happy with the way I played. If I would have used my chances earlier in the first and second set, maybe things would have been a bit easier.” Federer said. “I’m happy I made it in three straight sets.”

Federer’s win sets up a contest with the “Cinderella” of the tournament in the second round. No. 772 Marcus Willis, a British qualifier, advanced with a straight set win over Ricardas Berankis. Willis, a teaching pro came through both pre-qualifying and qualifying to reach the main draw.

World No. 772 Marcus Willis Reaches Wimbledon Second Round and Will Face Roger Federer

 

New French Open and last year’s Wimbledon finalist, Garbine Muguruza was pushed to a third set before advancing over Italy’s Camila Giorgi 6-2, 5-7, 6-4.

Five-time Wimbledon winner Venus Williams beat Croatia’s Donna Vekic 7-6(3), 6-4 in her opening match. This is Williams’ 19th time competing at the All England Club.

Former world No. 1 Ana Ivanovic was an upset victim on Monday, losing to a qualifier ranked 223rd making her major tournament debut. The Serb seeded 23rd lost to Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2, 7-5. Also exiting on the women’s side was 25th seed Irina-Camelia losing 6-1, 6-4 to Germany’s Carina Witthoeft.

Ivanovic told media that her injury caused her many miss hits.

Upsets on the men’s side of the draw on day one were twentieth seed Kevin Anderson and 21st seed Philipp Kohlschreiber.

In the comeback of the day, 28th seed Sam Querrey, rallied from two sets down to beat Lukas Rosol 6-7 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-4, 6-2, 12-10. back in 2012 Rosol stunned Rafael Nadal in the second round of Wimbledon.

Related articles:

2016 Wimbledon Day 1 Men’s Results

2016 Wimbledon Day 1 Women’s Results

2016 Wimbledon – Day 2 Men’s Preview

 

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Rafael Nadal Wins Ninth Monte-Carlo Crown

 

Nadal 881

(April 17, 2016) Rafael Nadal won his 28th Masters title and 68th career crown, claiming his ninth Monte-Carlo tournament by beating Gael Monfils 7-5, 5-7, 6-0 on Sunday.  He is now ties with Novak Djokovic for the all-time lead in Masters Series titles. It’s the 14-time major champion’s first title since last July, when he won on the clay in Hamburg.

Nadal stands just one clay court title away from tying tennis hall of famer Guillermo Vilas in total clay court crowns at 49.

 

“It was a very important week for me,” said the Spaniard. I feel much better than I did last year. The victory here confirms that I’ve been better. Monte-Carlo is one of the most important places in my career and it’s so special to win here after three years.

“Winning nine times here is unbelievable, and competing well two weeks in a row is something positive.”

“I knew (Nadal) was confident,” Monfils said. “He’s a great champion and puts more into it at the right moments. You’re just submissive to his power. Suddenly in the third set, he increased his power and I just couldn’t cope.”
“I know I worked hard to have this trophy with me,” Nadal said to media. “I am enjoying this moment. Is emotional moment after some tough moments. But that’s part of the life, is part of the sports in general.

“Very happy today. I hope and I believe that this week, Indian Wells, this week, two tournaments in a row, playing at a very high level, I think that’s so important. That’s what I needed.

“I said the first day when I arrived here in the first press conference that I needed matches in a row, I need weeks in a row competing at the highest level. I already have two weeks in a row competing at the highest level.

“Today winning nine times here is something unbelievable for me. Outside of that, that is something so special. Compete well two weeks in a row is something so positive. Another chance next week in Barcelona, I going to try my best again.”

 

“Have been working hard,” Nadal continued. “I have been working hard since long time ago. Last year have been a tough year in terms — I don’t want to talk anymore, I said enough about the nerves, I was nervous during the matches.

“Is work every day to slow down that, no? Is not going like this, going like this (indicating up and down). It’s not something that stays here and disappears. It’s the work of every day.

“The victories help. Still not 100% perfect, but still is much, much better of everything.

“I don’t have that feeling I had last year on court. Very happy for that. In terms of tennis, I am playing better. It’s obvious.

“I was able to raise the level, increase my level yesterday in the second and in the third, and today again in the third. That’s something I missed a lot the last period of time. Before when the match was coming tough, I was able to increase. This week I was able to do it.

 

 

 

In men’s doubles Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut won their third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in a row winning Monte-Carlo over Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares 4-6, 6-0, 10-6.

“We have been very humble on the court during the last month and a half,” Herbert said. “After losing the first set, we could have been overwhelmed in the second. But we weren’t. We kept fighting. That means in the long-term, we can be consistent day after day.”

“We were playing well and we also had some luck,” Muhat explained. “When you win matches, you’re more confident and you’re able to relax when you play the important points. It can turn a match around, especially in the (match) tie-break.”

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Murray to Face Nadal in Monte-Carlo Semis; Federer Falls to Tsonga

Nadal 881

(April 15, 2016) Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal posted decisive victories and will play each other in the semifinals of the Monte-Carlo Masters on Saturday. Roger Federer returning to the court for the first time since his knee surgery in February fell to Jo-Wilfred Tsonga. Tsonga will play fellow Frenchman Gael Monfils in the other semifinal.

No. 5 Nadal dominated No. 3 Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-4 while No. 2 Murray destroyed Milos Raonic 6-2, 6-0.

“If I play like I did today, I’ll have a chance,” said Murray.

“Rafa, especially on this court, he plays great on clay obviously, but on this one in particular, his record is incredible. I think he’s maybe only lost one or two matches in his life here. So, yeah, it’s a great test for me this early on in the clay season.

“I’ll go into the match with confidence having managed to win against him in Madrid on the clay last year, and having played a really good match today.

“I look forward to it.”

 

“I’ll have to play a great match, but also a smart match as well,” Murray explained. “I need to be intelligent on the court, go in with a very good idea of what I want to do in the points.

“So, yeah, that’s the most important thing, to have a good game plan and be smart on the court. Against Rafa on this surface, he has the ability to get you to sort of play – I don’t know what the word is – but he gets you to go for more than you should because he’s so consistent.

“He hits a lot of height on the ball, a lot of spin. He can make you go for winners from uncomfortable positions. You have to not allow that to happen. You need to try and stay calm, be patient. I’ll try to do that.”

Nadal broke Wawrinka’s serve four times to reach his 11th Monte-Carlo semifinal. The Swiss broke his racquet in the fifth game of the first set to the boos of spectators. Wawrinka said he was disturbed by all of the noise coming from the restaurant above the court.

“You wonder whether people are coming to have lunch or to watch tennis. I don’t believe they saw a lot of the match. I think they also drank a lot of alcohol.” Wawrinka said. “When you don’t play well and you’re not in your match, it can bother you.”

“Anyway, it was not a good day for me today,” Wawrinka said. “I really need to work on two or three things that I want to improve. I have two weeks, or a bit more, before I go to Madrid. I will try to prepare well during that period.”

I believe today it was more of a concentration issue or mentally that I had a problem. I struggled. I rushed at the beginning. This is something you pay for against Rafa.”

“The real thing is every day is a different story,” Nadal said. “Yesterday I played against an opponent that he was playing so good, in my opinion. Is true that my serve probably was a little bit better today than yesterday. But both days I think I played good, no?

“Stan today, I think the last three games of the first set, that’s the only moment that he didn’t play well. Obviously he played with too many mistakes.

“But in the beginning of the match and in the second set was a good match, in my opinion. Both played good points.

“I think he played with more mistakes than me. But is true at same time he is going more for the shots all the time. When you want to play this way, very aggressive, you can have mistakes.

“I think I played good. I defended well. I moved well. When I had the opportunity, I was trying to have the control of the point with my forehand and with my backhand, too.”

Nadal plays Murray for a place in the final. The Spaniard has a 16-6 record against the Scot.

“He played a great match today,” Nadal said. “We’ll see. I need to be ready to play the way I am playing the last two matches. If I am able to do it, I hope to have my chances.

“He always was a good clay court player, no? He played semifinals of French Open twice or three times, I don’t know.”

Federer was two points away from defeating Tsonga at 6-3, 2-6, 5-4 with the Frenchman serving, but could not close.

“Yeah, I mean, I think it had definitely some twists and turns,” said Federer. “I’m not sure how come. Maybe we were both a bit up and down. We had a couple of games here and there that we kind of gave each other on the serve. Kind of hung onto it, me in the first, him in the second.

“Third was close all the way through. Maybe had a small chance the first game maybe. The game I got broken is a tough game to get broken on because I think I had three forehands that I’m in good position, and I end up losing all three points. It’ll a tough break to get.

“You know, it was a good tournament, a good match, exactly what I was hoping for and more, so I’m very happy.”

“It was a good match. It was nice to play an intense match. I’m happy how the body reacted. So many good things this week. It’s all positive for me.

“I know where I’m at now. I hope my knee and my body is going to be okay the next couple of days. If I’m good, I might go practice tomorrow as well just to get the body into maybe a rhythm of playing maybe four days straight at a very intense level. If I feel like I need a break, the team tells me to rest, I’ll do that tomorrow.

“Things are really good right now. Of course, it was unfortunate because I had my chances. But this tournament, really doesn’t matter at all if I missed or not those chances.”

 

“It’s always special to play against him, especially on court, because you have all the crowd against you,” said Tsonga. “Wherever you play, if it’s in France or not, it’s tough to play against him because you have him, the crowd and all the monument around him.

“Yeah, it’s always special to win against Federer.”

“I was expecting a difficult match, and that is exactly what happened. He was very reactive, he was running well. From the start, I thought he was very fast.

“But I was able to turn it around. He dropped his level a little bit and I was able to come back into the match and end up winning. It’s good for me.”

 

As for playing fellow Frenchman and friend Gael Monfils next: “You feel a bit more worried against him. Before, he had his own way. Now, he changed. But it’s still him.

“He’s certainly improved in a number of things, but it’s still him. I don’t really know what to expect. I’ll go on the court doing what I’m used to doing: trying to be aggressive, serving well. Gael is just the way he is. He is him. It’s good.”

“There’s not a real favorite (in the match), “ Tsonga said. “It’s going to be an interesting match. It’s difficult to say who will be the favorite.”

“It’s going to be a big match for several reasons,” Monfils said. “First, Jo has a game that I have trouble with. I was able to beat him once, but he was coming back from an injury.

“Another time I beat him, too. He was injured in Montpellier. I can’t say I really beat him.

He gives me many problems. It’s always the case when I play against very aggressive players. There are different kinds of aggressive players. A real aggressive player is difficult for me.

“Tomorrow the match will be different. I will need to find a solution to push him back and to try to stop him dominating the rallies.

“I’m sure 100% that he will try to be very aggressive. He will not want long rallies. He will want to use his forehand as much as he can, and he will be very aggressive on my second serve.

“So if I have a slight advantage in this match, it’s because I know what he’s going to do. He’s going to play aggressively. I don’t believe I’m wrong.”

“I think it’s going to be explosive.”

 

 

RESULTS – FRIDAY, 15 APRIL 2016

Singles – Quarter-finals
[2] A. Murray (GBR) d [10] M. Raonic (CAN) 62 60
[8] J. Tsonga (FRA) d [3] R. Federer (SUI) 36 62 75
[5] R. Nadal (ESP) d [4] S. Wawrinka (SUI) 61 64
[13] G. Monfils (FRA) d [LL] M. Granollers (ESP) 62 64

Doubles – Quarter-finals
[2] I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Melo (BRA) d T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) 64 64
[3] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) d D. Inglot (GBR) / A. Murray (GBR) 64 36 12-10
[4] J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) d [6] R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU) 62 63
J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) d H. Kontinen (FIN) / J. Peers (AUS) 64 64

SCHEDULE – SATURDAY, 16 APRIL 2016

COURT RAINIER III start 11:00 am
[4] J. Murray (GBR) / B. Soares (BRA) vs [2] I. Dodig (CRO) / M. Melo (BRA)

Not Before 1:00 pm
[5] R. Nadal (ESP) vs [2] A. Murray (GBR)

Not Before 3:30 pm
[13] G. Monfils (FRA) vs [8] J. Tsonga (FRA)
J. Cabal (COL) / R. Farah (COL) vs [3] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA)

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Victoria Azarenka to Play Svetlana Kuznetsova in Miami Open Final

(March 31, 2016) A pair of former Miami Open winners and two-time major champions have reached the women’s final. Svetlana Kuznetsova, a 2006 winner of the Miami Open held off Switzerland’s Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-3. 2009 and 2011 Key Biscayne winner, 13th seed Victoria Azarenka gained a little revenge from the Australian Open by beating No. 2 Angelique Kerber. Kerber beat Azarenka in the quarterfinals of Melbourne and went on to beat Serena Williams in the final to capture her first major title.

Kuznetsova knocked out eight-time champion Serena Williams in the fourth round of Miami and survived four straight three-set wins to reach the semifinal.

The 30-year-old Russian at No. 19 in the world has become the lowest ranked finalist since 2005, when No. 38 Kim Clijsters won the Miami title.

Should Kuznetsova win the title, she would return to the top ten. She talked about her tournament so far.

“I just take match by match and I just go,” she said. “It’s one more match. I’ll play with another amazing opponent. I had great wins this week, but one match, it’s a lot. It’s almost like everything. It’s great, you know.

“I start really well playing in Sydney, and then Australian Open didn’t happen to me to play good there. But I still felt I was in good level. Then I kind of mess up with Fed Cup and all that results. It was not good for me.

“I didn’t feel going in that good shape going to the U.S. swing. I was not feeling confident at all. After I had a loss in Indian Wells I tried to work a lot and training every morning a lot just to get confidence back, get my fitness.

“I’m doing better. I’m appreciate, I am blessed I have my body to play so many years and to win against good players, top players. It’s great when things come together. Either way, it’s not the end of the world, but it’s a great week. I’m really pleased and happy the way I fight through all these tournaments and weeks and players.”

On-court after the match, the former French Open and U.S. Open champion said she was happy wrapping up the match in straight sets.

“I am happy that I could hang in there and never let my hands down,” said Kuznetsova.

“I’m happy I’m still able to play against the best in the world. I was praying to finish it in two sets so I would have a little more time to rest.”

 

Victoria Azarenka

Victoria Azarenka

Azarenka advanced during the Thursday night session, improving her record this year to 21-1, not dropping a set during the tournament. Should the Belarusian win, she’d become only the third woman player to win the Indian Wells – Miami double in the same year.

Both Azarenka and Kerber produced hard-hitting shots with very exciting rallies. Azarenka had her serve broken, serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set but won the next two games to close it.

Azarenka broke the German’s serve seven time during the match, hitting 29 winners and only making 16 unforced errors.

“Vika, she is doing amazing,” Kuznetsova said about potentially playing her in the final. “She is extremely prepared. Playing really confident taking all her chances.”

Azarenka is 4-4 against Kuznetsova in head-to-head competition. The last time they faced each other was in the quarterfinals of the 2013 Australian Open. Azarenka won the match and went on to win her second straight Melbourne crown.

Kei Nishikori photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Kei Nishikori photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 6 Kei Nishikori survived five match points to beat No. 16 Gael Monfils 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) to advance to the semifinals on Thursday. He’ll face No. 24 seed Nick Kyrgios who surprised No. 12 Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(4).

Nishikori was down 4-5, 0-40 before fighting off the Frenchman.

“I was up a break and I had many chances to break again, you know, second time,” said the top player from Japan.

“You know, I just try to focus when I lost the game for 4-All. Actually, I knew something like that was going to be happen, so I was kind of ready and like 50/50.

“But when I was down 4-5, Love-40, I thought, All right, that’s it. Especially the last couple games I wasn’t serving well, so that was — I thought it’s going to be tough to come back. I tried to play one point at time. Yeah, I thought I have to hit the ball to win the points, and I did.

“The tiebreak I was try to be focus again. I saw he was down a little bit, so try to be focus again. Yeah, did pretty good in tiebreak.”

“Then I think at 3-4 I really raise my level,” Monfils said. “I think I start to be very aggressive, start to go for it, and still had the strong feeling that I can make it.

“At the end, I think I push very hard. Then definitely I have opportunity it close it out, but actually Kei played strong. He fought well.

“Actually, I think in the breaker he was just better than me.”

Kyrgios talked about playing Nishikori next: “Obviously Kei is one of the greatest players in the world at the moment. He has an unbelievable return of serve, moves unbelievably fast, hits big from the baseline, doesn’t have many weaknesses.

“When I played him in Shanghai I didn’t really do too much wrong. I played a great match the whole time and he just played a really well in the big moments. I definitely had chances.

“I know what my game plan is going to be. It’s going to be a tough match, but I’m looking forward to it. He’s a great guy.”

For his efforts in Miami, the young Australian’s ranking will move into the top 20.

MIAMI OPEN RESULTS – MARCH 31, 2016
Women’s Singles – Semifinals
[13] V. Azarenka (BLR) d [2] A. Kerber (GER) 62 75
[15] S. Kuznetsova (RUS) d [19] T. Bacsinszky (SUI) 75 63

Men’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[6] K. Nishikori (JPN) d [16] G. Monfils (FRA) 46 63 76(3) – saved 5 m.p.
[24] N. Kyrgios (AUS) d [12] M. Raonic (CAN) 64 76(4)

Men’s Doubles – Semifinals
[5] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) d [4] B. Bryan (USA) / M. Bryan (USA) 63 63
R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) d T. Huey (PHI) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) 64 62

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, APRIL 01, 2016
STADIUM start 1:00 pm
ATP – [1] N. Djokovic (SRB) vs [15] D. Goffin (BEL)
WTA – M. Gasparyan (RUS) / M. Niculescu (ROU) vs [4] T. Babos (HUN) / Y. Shvedova (KAZ)

7:00 pm
ATP – [24] N. Kyrgios (AUS) vs [6] K. Nishikori (JPN)
WTA – [3] B. Mattek-Sands (USA) / L. Safarova (CZE) vs [8] Y. Xu (CHN) / S. Zheng (CHN)

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BNP Paribas Open Photo Gallery from Saturday, March 12, 2016

(March 12, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – Photo gallery from around the grounds of the BNP Paribas Open. All photos by Curt Janka.

 

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Murray, Wawrinka and Berdych Lead Seeded Men into Third Round

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

(March 12, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – Whereas the women’s seeds keep falling, the men up until Saturday have had fewer upset victims at the BNP Paribas Open. No. 2 Andy Murray of Scotland beat Marcel Granollers 6-4, 7-6 (3). The Scot talked about the windy conditions on court.

“It was tough because obviously the ball travels through the air pretty quick here. And then it was very windy, so blowing from — so the end we walk on to the court from you were playing into the wind. It’s such a huge contrast from one end to the other because of how the air is here.

“So when you’re playing with the wind it’s really flying on you and you feel like if you barely touch the ball it’s flying a lot. Then from the other side, you know, it’s completely opposite. You really need to give the ball a big, big hit to get it deep.

“And, yeah, much different conditions to what I have obviously been practicing and playing in in the last five weeks against a, you know, tough sort of unorthodox player. He’s got quite a different game. He’s very smart player, as well, intelligent player, and often makes the right decisions. Yeah, made it tough for me.”

Stan Wawrinka had a straight forward 6-3, 6-2 victory over Illya Marchenko.

Juan Martin Del Potro

Juan Martin Del Potro

No. 6 Tomas Berdych faced off against wildcard, former U.S. Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro 7-6 (4), 6-2. Del Potro had been sidelined until last month with a third wrist surgery.

The Argentine said he’s making progress.

“But I think this will be my first match against a top-10 player was okay,” he said. “I played a great first set. I had my opportunities to win that set and I miss it.

“I think of course I’m sad for my lose, but I’m in a good way to get better in the future. It’s not easy play against Tomas. Even if I’m 100%, he’s a great player. He plays so aggressive all the time, and I had to run a lot today.

“But I think the positive thing is I’m in a good way to improve my game.”
.

Other men’s seeds advancing included No. 8 Richard Gasquet, No. 12 Milos Raonic and No. 13 Gael Monfils.

Nick Kyrgios

Nick Kyrgios

The biggest upset on the men’s side was No. 24 Nick Kyrgios beaten by Albert Ramos-Vinolas of Spain 7-6 (4), 7-5.

Kyrgios did not play Australia’s Davis Cup tie against the United States due to a virus, but he would not blame his loss on his illness.

“I’m not going to take anything away from Ramos. Every time I have played him it’s been a tough match.

“Matchup-wise I think it’s great for me, but he always goes out there and competes. I thought that these conditions probably suit him. He likes to rip his forehand a little bit.

“But, you know, I’m nowhere near where I was. I was feeling great in Marseilles and the start of Dubai, but obviously the year hasn’t been great. I have had a lot of travel. Trying to get better. I was trying to force practice sessions here, trying to push, but body wasn’t letting me do it.”

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BNP Paribas Showdown Sees Serena Williams win “Garden Party”

BNPPS Serena Wozniacki

By Vito Ellison

(March 8, 2016) NEW YORK, NY – The match-functional braid was traded for a sleek shoulder-length ‘do, the intense self-flagellation for ingratiating smiles.  Yes, the groundies still stung at times; yes, the serve was still fluid, but as Serena Williams took to the court with Caroline Wozniacki last night in midtown Manhattan, the mood was not combative, it was celebratory.

The ninth edition of the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden segued into the night’s headliners, Williams and Wozniacki, after a stirring opening act delivered by the matchup between World No. 4 Stan Wawrinka and superstar showman Gael Monfils.

BNPPS Monfils wawrinka

Everyone wore their loyalty on their sleeves throughout the evening. The 2-time major champion, Wawrinka, was greeted with polite applause when he entered the arena in a Henrik Lundqvist jersey, before Monfils entered to full-on cheers in the Knicks’ home whites.

Determined to draw more of the crowd to his side, Wawrinka came out firing, engaging Monfils in high-octane exchanges headlined by his renowned one-handed backhand including a winner to take the first break in the match. Monfils, though, would not be denied.  At times, he let his (not so) inner clown prince get the best of him, including an attempted header where a put-away forehand into the open court would’ve sufficed, before securing a 7-6 (6) first set.

The rest of the match played out like a competitive friendly between the two Swiss residents (the Frenchman, Monfils, maintains a residence in the country), with Wawrinka setting Monfils up for a couple attempts at show-stoppers that, to the dismay of the Garden crowd, didn’t materialize. Late in the second set, Williams joined Wawrinka while Wozniacki teamed with Monfils for some light-hearted mixed doubles during which Serena jokingly chastised the Swiss that her sister, Venus, would’ve gotten to a shot that he missed. Before Monfils ultimately dealt Wawrinka the 7-6 (6), 6-3 loss, Wawrinka tried to convince Chris Evert to join them on court, but the 18-time major winner was a few steps ahead of him, demurring and holding up her glass of wine.

Where previous editions maintained the facade of full-on competition, this year’s BNP Showdown felt more like a “Night with Serena and Friends.” The first time we saw the 21-time major champion last night she was pitching in on background vocals with a kids’ choir.  Then there was the mixed doubles jaunt in a figure-hugging bodysuit that recalled Serena’s late Puma era, before the main event, a “showdown” between the two BFFs and WTA No. 1s.

 

After decades of watching the younger of the Sisters Sledgehammer sometimes play in front of often ambivalent crowds, it was heartwarming on this March evening to see the lovefest between Williams and the crowd. While Wozniacki could count a couple of fans in the near-capacity MSG crowd, the vast majority were here to watch–and celebrate Serena who won the match 7-5, 6-4. She was at turns, gracious, giving tips to a young player during a mid-match interview and gritty, leaving Wozniacki lunging after winners during play.
Amid the smiles and light-hearted attitudes of the participants, there lurked the feeling that the celebration was still a bit muted. There was the lingering feeling that the powers that be, and Serena herself, when signing the contract months ago, might have expected this night would celebrate, not only Serena and her Sportsperson of the Year title, but a Calendar Slam and perhaps an Open-era majors record. None of that mattered though, not for this crowd, not for this night, not for Serena either.

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Martin Klizan Beats Gael Monfils for Rotterdam Crown

Martin+Klizan+Miami+Open+Tennis+Day+6+1qWEZ9N_z2Sl From Zimbio

(February 14, 2016) Slovak Martin Klizan did not need to save any match points, but still had to rally past fifth seed Gael Monfils 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-1 to win the Rotterdam tournament on Sunday.

The southpaw saved five match points to stun sixth seed Roberto Bautista Agut in the quarterfinals and held off three match points in his semifinal win over Nicolas Mahut.

“I cannot believe that it happened,” Klizan said. “It was my dream to be on the board with these unbelievably great players. It’s an amazing feeling. Every day I was just fighting. Most of the time I had three-hour matches every day, so the only thing I could do was fight. In the end I saved so many match points. I still cannot believe it.

“In tennis you play best-of-three or best-of-five, so there is always the chance to win the match. So I just tried to fight until the last point and it was a good option.

“This is the best result in my career so far. I’m very, very proud of it. Also in our country, maybe I can be a motivation for the young players. I’m very happy for that.”
“Martin played a very good match,” Monfils said. “I think he just played a brilliant match today, better than me, so well done to him. I had good matches, but still it’s tough to lose in the final.”

For Klizan, it’s his four ATP World Tour title. He is 4-0 in finals, also capturing St. Petersburg in 2012, Munich in 2014 and Casablanca in 2015.

Nicolas Mahut and Vasek Pospisil won their first ATP World Tour doubles title together as they defeated Philipp Petzschner and Alexander Peya 7-6(2), 6-4.

“It’s my second 500 title and my second time here, so I think it’s a great tournament for me,” Mahut said. “I’m really proud of the week and I’m really happy to share it with Vasek; he’s a really good guy. We were a little bit disappointed last year to lose in the first round. This year we tried again and we’re really happy to hold the trophy.”

“We played a really good match,” Pospisil added. “We didn’t make any mistakes and we didn’t give them too many looks on our service games, which was key. We were serving well and putting a lot of pressure on them. Obviously, it helps to have a great partner so I think I got lucky there as well this week! We’re thrilled we got the win today.”

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Juniors Hurricane Black and Carson Branstine to Kick Off BNP Paribas Showdown at MSG on March 8

BNP Paribas Showdown

From Madison Square Garden: (February 10, 2016) New York, NY –  The BNP Paribas Showdown will once again present two  junior circuit players when Tyra Hurricane Black squares off against Carson Branstine in an opening match presented by HEAD Penn Racquet Sports as part of World Tennis Day at Madison Square Garden on March 8.

 

The future pro stars take to the court to kick off the annual BNP Paribas Showdown featuring the colorful Gael Monfils, world No. 4 Stan Wawrinka, former world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki and 21-time Major Champion Serena Williams.

 

Born and raised in Boca Raton, Florida, 14 year old, Tyra Hurricane Black is currently ranked No. 86 on the ITF World Junior Ranking.  She won three ITF junior titles in 2015 and reached the finals in the recent 52nd Coffee Bowl in San Jose, Costa Rica.  Additionally, Black helped lead the US team to the finals of the 2015 ITF World Junior Tennis Competition in the Czech Republic.  Her older sister, Alicia Black is a former top-5 world-ranked junior now playing on the pro circuit.

 

Branstine, who started playing tennis at seven years old, is 15 and hails from Orange County, California.  She is currently No. 184 on the ITF World Junior Ranking and holds 26 career singles titles.  She has played in the 2015 US Open Junior Slam and was a member of the USA Team National Junior Team. Additionally, Branstine played on an 18s national team where she went undefeated and was a finalist in the 2015 Plantation ITF.

 

Black and Branstine add to a considerable list of exceptional juniors who have taken to the Madison Square Garden tennis court at the BNP Paribas Showdown including the likes of Francis Tiafoe who turned pro in May 2015 and is said to be one of the prominent young up and coming stars as well as Sloane Stephens who is ranked No. 26 on the WTA Tour and currently representing the United States at the Fed Cup in Hawaii.

 

Previous junior matches featured:

2008: Denis Kudla (15 years old) vs Junior Ore (15)

2009: Sloane Stephens (15) vs Gail Brodsky (17)

2010: Nicole Gibbs (16) vs Sachia Vickery (14)

2014: Tiafoe (16) vs Reilly Opelka (16)

2015: Cori “Coco” Gauff (10) vs Gabriella Price (11)

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Raonic Knocks Out Fourth Seed Wawrinka to Gain Berth in Australian Open Quarterfinals; Murray Advances

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

(January 25, 2016) Thirteenth seed Milos Raonic held off fourth seed and 2014 Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Monday 6-4, 6-3, 5-7, 4-6, 6-3.

The Canadian employed an aggressive net game to take down the Swiss for the first time in their head-to-head encounters.

“I got to try to dictate, try to find my way forward and keep him out of rhythm,” he said.

Raonic dominated play in the first two sets and then the Swiss fought back to send the match to decider and get his first victory in Rod Laver Arena.

Raonic hit 82 winners in the 3-hour and 44-minute match which included 24 aces

Raonic is 8-0 this year. Earlier in the month, he defeated No. 3 Roger Federer in the final of the Brisbane International.

Raonic credits the new member of his coaching team, former No. 1 Carlos Moya with the improvement of his game and composure.

“I think it’s just about a calm, and understanding how I can be more efficient with my game,” Raonic said. “Today was a good example of that.”

“I’m very happy with the way I played, the way I competed, the way I turned things around after sort of having the momentum against me going into the fifth,” Raonic said.

“I’m happy the situation I’ve put myself in. At the same time, as happy as I am, my mind’s already on what’s the process for my next challenge.”

“Tough match in general, for sure,” Wawrinka said. “I think Milos start really well. He was pushing, playing well. Wasn’t really feeling great there, not playing my best. Wasn’t moving to do something else. I’m surprised to still have went five sets.

“For me, I tried to fight like always, tried to find solution. I think he went a little bit down with his speed, with his movement. I took the opportunity to push him to the fifth set.

“But for sure I’m disappointed. I know I tried what I could today.”

“He’s a really good player, you know,” the Swiss continued. “He’s been top five already, making semifinal in Grand Slam, winning a lot of tournament. Since two years, he’s really good.

“Today he did what I was expecting. Maybe he change few things in his game, but in general he’s the same tough player to play.”

 

Next up, the 25-year-old will face No. 23 Gael Monfils. The Frenchman, who is now in the Melbourne quarterfinals for the first time, beat unseeded over Andrei Kuznetsov 7-5, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (4) in two hours and 37 minutes.

“It was tough,” Monfils said. “I think I knew pretty much he will come and step in, try to play very fast. That’s what he did. I was a bit nervous so I could not hit through him for a while. Then suddenly I think I serve a bit better and I put more pressure. I grabbed the first set.

“Unlucky I felt in the second. I lost a bit the momentum because at this period I thought I had him. It was a bit tough for me to grip my racquet. Then it was a bit tougher to play.

“He had a good second set. Then I think I serve pretty good, try to focus on my first shot after the serve. Till the end, you know, I was fighting. I think he give me a good fight, so I was happy to come through.”

Talking about his next match against Raonic, Monfils said: “Milos is in good form. Coming in with a win in Brisbane. As we know, a big serve. Actually I think also a little bit he improve a lot his movement, hitting big from the baseline, a good return.”

“From what I’ve seen so far of him, he’s playing well,” Raonic said of his next opponent. “He’s very entertaining and he’s very difficult to play. He can give you complete ends of the spectrum within one game.

“So it’s very much of an internal match for me. I just have to take the game to him. I have to make him feel uncomfortable. Not let him get into his sort of playing comfort. If I can sort of keep up with the efficiency moving forward, I’ll have definitely some opportunities.”

Raonic has become the first Canadian to reach the quarterfinals of all four majors.

 

Andy Murray moved past local favorite Australian Bernard Tomic in the night session in Melbourne. The Scot  won 6-4, 6-4, 7-6 (4) in the fourth round.

“I didn’t think it was that straightforward,” Murray said. “It was a tricky match. You know, I mean, I got up a break I think in all of the sets. Each time he obviously got it back. So there were quite a few momentum shifts in all of the sets.”

Murray will play David Ferrer next.

“Last few days were very, very tough. A lot of emotions, yeah things sort of changing all of the time in my head,” Murray said. Two nights ago his father-in-law Nigel Sears was rushed to the hospital. Murray’s wife is expecting a baby near the end of the tournament. “It’s been a stressful few days, but I’ll try to rest up the next few days to get ready for the next one.”

No. 8 David Ferrer moved into the final eight of Melbourne for the sixth time, by defeating No. 10 John Isner 6-4, 6-4, 7-5. Ferrer has not dropped a set in the tournament.

 

 

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