2014/08/23

Around the Grounds at the Rogers Cup Toronto

 

(August 3, 2014) TORONTO, CANADA – Photographer Nida Alibhai snapped photos all around the grounds of the Rogers Cup on Sunday, August 3, 2014.

Photos include: Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Bernard Tomic,Tomas Berdych, Feliciano Lopez and others.

Follow Nida Alibhai’s photo coverage of the tournament on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

 

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Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer Advance to Wimbledon Final

 

(July 4, 2014) Top seed Novak Djokovic will face No. 4 Roger Federer for the Wimbledon final on Sunday after semifinal victories on Centre Court on Friday.

Novak Djokovic overcame a second set charge by Grigor Dimitrov to move into his third Wimbledon final in four years, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (7). For the 11th seed Dimitrov, who reached in his first major semifinal, had a 10-match winning streak snapped by the Serb.

Djokovic broke serve to go up 3-1 and held on to take the set 6-4. Dimitrov, after going down a break in the second set 1-3, with his girlfriend Maria Sharapova in attendance, the Bulgarian reeled off five straight games to even the match at a set apiece.

Djokovic came back with a more aggressive game, while the 23-year-old Dimitrov had serving woes, including a string of three double faults in the third game of the fourth set.

Roger Federer took on the big-serving 23-year-old Milos Raonic in the second of the men’s semis. Federer opened the match by breaking the Canadian’s serve and held on to take the set 6-4, Federer broke in the 9th game of the second set and held for 6-4, a feat he repeated in the third set to complete the win.

“He just played well,” said the Canadian.  “I didn’t put in the serves I needed to.  Normally I start off serving much better, and then he came up with the right shots.

“Pretty much every single time he was leaning the right way.  He was hitting good, deep returns that didn’t allow me to sort of get into it.

“I’m quite disappointed with the level I was able to put out, Raonic added.  “I know I can do much better.

“Obviously I wasn’t expecting by any means to play my best, but I was expecting much better from myself.”

“Well, it’s big in the moment itself because you just don’t know how many chances you’re going to get,” Federer talking about the first break of serve against Raonic.  “I think he was in the lead maybe, 15‑Love, 30‑15.  I didn’t see it coming necessarily, but I grabbed it and then ran with it.

“Because clearly I’m also looking for rhythm on my own serve, so holding for the next couple service games was important for me to stay ahead and somehow get the first set under the belt, which I did, because I don’t think we both necessarily played great in that first set.

“So it was good for me to get it that way.  I just felt like I created some good opportunities when I was in his service games.  Yeah, clearly looking back it’s always going to be big, any break you do, you make against Milos.”

The 27-year-old Djokovic will be going for his seventh Grand Slam title, while Federer will be looking for his 18th, a record 8th Wimbledon crown. Djokovic last played Federer in a major final back in the 2007 U.S. Open final where the Swiss defeated Djokovic in straight sets. Djokovic has lost in his last two major finals, falling to Rafael Nadal at the French Open last month and at the 2013 U.S. Open.

“I came out on the court to win, said Dimitrov.  “Okay, I think I had a pretty slow start, but at some point I think I got my act together and I was really playing a good tennis.”

Dimitrov had a 6-3 lead in the fourth set tiebreak and had he won it, the match would have been extended to a fifth set.

“You never know what would have happened if I had taken that fourth set.  I think at the same time I had my momentum.  It’s just he came on top today, so all the credit to him.”

It may have been a disappointing loss for the Bulgarian, but it’s been a good fortnight for him.

“I think this is the first time for me to be in semifinal of a slam, so obviously to me that’s just positive,” Dimitrov said.  “I’m not going to overanalyze much what’s been happening the past weeks to me because there’s no need for that.

“I think I’m in a good spot at the moment.  I’m practicing well.  I’m doing a good work on and off the court.  I’m focusing really on every match that I’m playing, regardless.  Doesn’t matter what kind of tournament I’m playing.

“It’s a good learning curve for me to put myself in such a position and play against those kind of players and attack the top in a different way.

“Of course, I’m going to have to play even better when it comes to matches like that, but it’s a good lesson for me.  I can take a lot of positives out of all the matches I played out here in England.  It’s been, you know, solid weeks for me.”

Djokovic, who will be playing Federer for the 35th time on Sunday talked about the keys to the match:

“We know each other’s games.  We played many matches on different occasions.  As you said, only once on grass court, but we played so many times in semifinals and finals of Grand Slams, different surfaces, big matches over the years.  They were very exciting.

“And, of course, most of the matches we play against each other went the distance.  So I’m going to be, of course, physically ready and fit to go the distance this time.  Of course, there is plenty of motivation from my side to win this Grand Slam final after losing last three out of four.

Of course, I want to try to, you know, get the title.  It would mean a lot mentally for me.  The key against him in the game, of course, is trying to not allow him to dictate too much because he likes to be very aggressive, he likes to come to the net.

“I’m going to have to be able to get as many returns back in the court and try to also stay closer to the line, protect the baseline.”

 

“We both like to be close to the baseline.  We both like to take charge, especially on quicker courts.  He has a wonderful way of either redirecting or taking the ball early, you know, taking pace from the opponent, even generating some of his own.

“So I think that’s what makes him so hard to play.  There’s not really a safe place you can, you know, play into.  Like back in the day there was many guys where you just knew, Oh, this guy is a bit dodgey on the backhand.  Let me play that and then build up the point from that.

“Novak can hurt you down the line or cross‑court on both sides.  He’s really improved now through the years.  I’ve seen him come through the ranking.  His forehand, his serve, his movement clearly is what stands out the most at this moment now.  He’s really been able to improve that and make it rock solid.

“I think for me it’s really important to stay aggressive against him.  And especially here at Wimbledon it’s more simple how we need to play against each other.  It’s not like on a slow court where you can maybe maneuver the other guy around so much.

“I think on grass it’s a bit more straightforward and I think we’re both aware of that.”

Federer leads Djokovic in head-to-head matches 18-16.

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Semifinals Set for Both Men and Women at Wimbledon

 

 

(July 2, 2014) WIMBLEDON – Grigor Dimitrov ended the run of defending champion Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6(4), 6-2 to reach the semifinals of Wimbledon, becoming the first Bulgarian man to do so. Dimitrov joins No. 1 seed Novak Djokovic, seven-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer and another newcomer Milos Raonic in the semifinals.

The No. 11 seed ended Murray’s 16-match winning streak at the All England club which went all the way back to the 2012 Olympic Games.

“I have very good memories from that court out there,” Murray said.  It’s a special court for me.

“Yeah, I mean, you can have bad days as an athlete.  You don’t win all of the time.  Sometimes you just have to take it on the chin and move on.

“But, yeah, when you don’t feel like you played as well as you can, that’s disappointing and frustrating.  Yeah, that’s happened a few times in the slams over the last year, so I’m disappointed about that.”

“I think I got early on in the match on top of him, and I think that really helped me, you know, progress in that way.” Dimitrov said.  “I think second and third set was just a little different.

“But, I mean, I can’t say much about the match because I came out to win the match.  I was really positive.  I was ready.  I had a lot of patience no matter how many sets I was supposed to play.

“But I was just composed and I was looking for every point that I had to play.”

On Friday, Dimitrov face 2011 Wimbledon champion in Novak Djokovic who reached the semifinals for a fifth straight year. Top seed Djokovic had to rally to top No. 26 Marin Cilic of Croatia 6-1, 3-6, 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-2.

On the lower half of the draw, Federer will play No. 8 Milos Raonic, the first Canadian man in a Grand Slam semifinal since the early 1920s.

Federer dropped his first set of the fortnight to Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka en route to a 3-6, 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-4 win over his Swiss countryman.

“There was a lot on the line today playing against Stan,” Federer said.  “Quarters sort of shows the direction on how you’re playing and all these things.

“I’m really pleased to have come through.  Like you said, last year was a major disappointment for me because I always see Wimbledon as one of my main goals of the season, side-by-side with rankings and some other highlights that I choose that there are for me.

“I try to be in the best possible shape, so last year was rough.  I was very disappointed.  Went back to the practice courts.  Didn’t have any options left at that point.

“So I’m happy that one year later I’m back in the semis and with a chance to go further.”

In the battle between big servers, Raonic defeated teenager Nick Kyrgios, who beat Rafael Nadal in the fourth round 6-7 (4), 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4). Raonic hit 39 aces.

In the women’s quarterfinals, No. 3 Simona Halep beat 2013 Wimbledo runner-up Sabine Lisicki 6-4, 6-0, and will take on No. 13 Eugenie Bouchard, who beat No. 9 Angelique Kerber 6-3, 6-4.

“It was a great match for me today,” said Halep.  “I played really well and I’m really excited that I can play semifinals tomorrow.

“I like this tournament and I feel really well here.  I’m looking forward for the next round just to play good tennis and to try my best on court.”

Bouchard has reached her third straight major semifinal.

“I’m excited to be in the semis,” said the 20-year-old.  “But, of course, you know, never satisfied, so definitely want to go a step further, or as far as I can.

“I think, you know, I played some great players when I lost in the semis.  You know, you don’t win every single time.  But, you know, I’m going to look forward to try to play a little bit like I played today.  I thought I was pretty solid out there and playing the right way on the grass.

“So that’s going to be a key.”

Thursday’s other Ladies’ semifinal will be a battle between two left-handed Czech women -2011 champion Petra Kvitova versus No. 23 Lucie Safarova.

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Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic Move into Wimbledon Quarterfinals

 

 

(June 30, 2014) WIMBLEDON -Top seed Novak Djokovic and third seed Andy Murray are getting closer to a semifinal clash as both men reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals on Monday at the All England Club.

Defending champion Murray reached his seventh straight Wimbledon quarterfinal after beating Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (6) under a closed roof on Centre Court, after a rain delay in the second set forced the roof to be shut.

For the Scot Murray it’s his 17 straight match win at the All England club dating back to the 2012 Olympic Games in London.

The Serb Djokovic beat France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the 11th consecutive time with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (5) win.

“I was just happy that I won the match,” Murray said.  “I was a bit disappointed with how I started under the roof.  The beginning, like I said, I was a little bit tentative.  Apart from that, that sort of three or four games when we came back out, I played well.

“I created many chances, gave him a few opportunities.  That’s what you need to do on grass court tennis.  You don’t always break.  But if you keep putting them under enough pressure, you’re going to get through in the end.”

“I knew I was going to get tested, you know, at some stage,” the Scot added.  “And, yeah, today I was pushed, especially in the middle part of that second set, then obviously later on in the third there were some tight moments.

“But I handled them fairly well.  It was a good match.”

“I think he was moving great,” Anderson said of Murray’s play.  “That’s a big part of his game.  I think especially on the grass I think that’s a big contributor to why he’s had so much success on this surface.”

Murray will face No. 11. Grigor Dimitrov in his quarterfinal. Dimitrov defeated Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 7-6 (6), 6-2.

“It’s a step up because it’s one round further, and the guys that are in the quarterfinals are going to be playing top tennis,” Murray said about his encounter with the Bulgarian.  “He obviously won Queen’s a couple weeks ago.  He likes the grass courts.

“Yeah, it’s a big opportunity for him, as well, playing on the Centre Court, the courts at Wimbledon for the first time.

“Yeah, it’s a great opportunity for him.  Hopefully we can play a good match.”

 

“I’m happy that I’m in the quarterfinal match,” Dimitrov said.  “Just going to give credit to myself for that.  But my job isn’t over yet.

“So I’m excited to get on the court tomorrow.  Just go through my regular routines, through all the gears, you know, come on Wednesday.”

 

“I’m just going to play my game,” Dimitrov added.  “I’m not going to step back.  I just want to come out with my big game and play my aggressive tennis.”

 

“I was aware of his qualities, especially on this surface,” Djokvic said of his match with Tsonga.  “He looked, before the match, very determined to play his best and very focused.

“I think I did really well from the start to the end, especially in the third set where I thought he elevated his level of game and he started serving very high percentage first serve, very strong, all angles.

“It was difficult to get the return back in play, but managed to save a couple break points, crucial ones, get myself in the tiebreak and wait for the opportunity to be presented.

“We both served very well in the tiebreak, and the only opportunity I had was on second serve on 6-5, and I used it.  I went for the shot.

“Yeah, I’m just glad that I didn’t allow him to go into the fourth set, because he started to use obviously the crowd support.  And, you know, I knew that he’s going to do that because he’s the kind of player that feeds off the energy, so it was very important for me to get this done in straight sets.”

Djokovic will play Marin Cilic for a place in the semifinals.

“I will try to stick to the kind of a game plan that I had against Marin in the previous occasions,” Djokovic said.

“I am aware of the fact, as well, that since he started working with Goran Ivanesevic that he has improved, especially in his service department, where for his height I thought that he didn’t use his full potential up to now work with Goran, where it’s evident that it works well for him.

“Especially on the grass it serves as a great weapon.  He won here in straight sets against Chardy and Berdych and some very good players.

“So it says enough about his quality play in this tournament.”

Stan Wawrinka was finally able to complete his third round match on Monday. Rain on Saturday delayed his chance to play.

The No. 1 Swiss will face 19th seed Feliciano Lopez in the fourth round. Lopez dismissed the last American man in the singles draw, Ninth seed John Isner, 6-7 (8), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (3), 7-5, despite the American hitting 52 aces.

“Tough match to play,” Lopez said.

“As I said before, I knew it’s going to be like this.  I knew we going to play a lot of tiebreaks, so this is the match I was excepting to play.

“Luckily I made it.  I’m very happy to went through.  It was a very difficult one for me today.”

With Isner beaten and Madison Keys withdrawing from the tournament with an injury, it’s the first time since 1911 that no Americans have reached the round of 16 at Wimbledon.

Asked about this fact, Isner said, “Didn’t know that. Don’t really care either.”

Keys was forced to pull out of the tournament with a left adductor injury.

On the women’s side of the draw, the conqueror of Serena Williams has been knocked out of Wimbledon.

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard, the 13th seed defeated Alize Cornet 7-6 (5), 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals.

“I think we played some good tennis today, “Bouchard said.  “You know, we had some tough points.  She has good wheels.  So I had to really try and finish off the point.

“You know, I think it made for some really tough, physical points.  So that’s definitely the most physical match I’ve played I think this tournament.

“But I’m proud that I really, really fought till the end.  She’s a good fighter, too.  We were really just battling.”

“This is what I’ve worked so hard for, to be in the quarters at Wimbledon,” Bouchard said. “But I want to go another step. I want to keep going.”

Bouchard will play the winner of the fourth round match between Maria Sharapova and Angelique Kerber.

Bouchard spoke briefly about playing both of these women:

“I think she’s a great player,” Bouchard said of Sharapova.  “She, you know, tries to be aggressive like I try to be aggressive as well.  So I think, you know, I’m going to go in and try to battle and go for my shots.  We had a tough match recently at the French Open.  But that’s the past.  So it’s a new match.  If I were to play her, I would just be very excited and really try to go for it.”

“Kerber I played at the French as well.  I played both opponents recently.  Of course with her she’s a lefty so you keep that in mind with tactics.  I played well last time against her because I was really trying to go for it.  Whenever I had an opening, I would really go for it.  I would keep my basic game against both players.”

Three players from the Cazech Republic are among the women’s quarterfinalists – 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, Lucie Safarova and unseeded Barbora Zahlavova Strycova.

Zahlavova Strycova, who beat No. 2 Li Na, defeated No. 16 Caroline Wozniacki 6-2, 7-5 to reach her first Grand Slam quarterfinal. Back in April 2013, she completed serving a a six-month doping ban after testing positive for the stimulant sibutramine.

“I can’t believe it for right now,” Zahlavova Strycova sid about the win and reaching the quarterfinals.  “It’s great.  I mean, it was a tough match obviously, and I had to make a fifth match point.

“I’m really, really happy that I could win today.”

She spoke about the six month ban to press: “First of all, I didn’t wanted to play again because I felt like it’s a little bit unfair.  Everything was kind of against.

“So first two months I didn’t want to come back.  Then I missed it.  I missed the feeling of working out, the feeling of winning matches, and being on tour.

“It was tough, but on the other hand, it also brings me some positive things.  Like I say, I am seeing the sport a little bit different now.

“And here I am.”

Last year’s finalist Sabine Lisicki ousted 11th seed Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 to reach the fourth round in a match carried over from Saturday.

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After the Clay, a Pain in the Grass

 

By Wendy M. Grossman

 

(June 13, 2014) LONDON – The most spectacular day of tennis every year is the first day of Queen’s Club. The day before is the French Open final, the culmination of months of looking at crushed-brick courts and players knocking the burnt-orangey dust out of the treads on their shoes. The next morning the courts are bright emerald-green and everything old is new again. It’s grass season.

 

The difficulty of the shift is underlined by the abrupt change in cast. All of a sudden, the tour is awash in tall, skinny beanpoles whopping down serves from the height of a basketball hoop. Physically, even the best-adapted grass-court player pays a price for the change.

 

“My back,” said Kevin Anderson, when asked what body part hurts the most. He explains: the ball stays definitely lower. At 6 foot 8, Anderson has to bend a lot anyway – but the need is more pronounced on grass, and he has to reach more and farther because of the way grass can skid a ball away from you. “I feel it more on grass.” Apparently he’s happy to help dish out the pain, naming the backhand slice, which notoriously stays low and skids off the grass, as the shot he most needs to get in gear for the grass season.

 

Andy Murray, coming off his third-round loss to Radek Stepanek, noted the “little pains” because of the change of surface (while not blaming them for the loss). You use different muscles, and you use them differently, he said, than on clay, where he finds that the sliding makes his quads hurt most. On grass, he says his lower back, butt, and hamstrings “can get a bit stiff”.

 

Stanislas Wawrinka said, “You have to be lower on your feet, and sometimes the knee or the back can be difficult. But this year was OK. I had time to adapt myself.”

 

Grigor Dimitrov, because of his early loss at the French Open, has also had more time to adjust than some of the others. He said he spent last week running 25 miles, which, he says, has added up: “the quads, the glutes”. In general, he says, “I think the part that really hurts the most on grass is the lower back, the glutes, and the adductors. I think those are the parts that always, even if you play the shortest two sets, the next day you’re gonna come back and feel a little funky.”

 

What seems to definitely help is experience. Radek Stepanek, who beat Murray in the third round and followed up by downing Anderson in the quarters, said “I know exactly which muscles are going to hurt me after the first two days on grass. I’m protecting them already before coming here with the prevention exercises.” The issue for him, he said, is glutes and lower back. Despite the preventive work he does, though, he said wryly, “It always comes anyway, but you know, I’m trying to adjust the level of pain, you know, as low as I can.”

 

Leave it to Dimitrov to put the whole thing in perspective: “[I] don’t really care any more, because with or without pain, it doesn’t really matter.”

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Li Na Ousted in First Round of French Open

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

Li Na photo courtesy of MiamiTennisNews.com

(May 27, 2014) In less than 24 hours both reigning Australian Open singles champions find themselves victims of first round losses at the French Open. On Monday it was Stan Wawrinka, on Tuesday No. 2 Li Na fell to French woman Kristina Mladenovic 7-5, 3-6, 6-1.

It is the first time in history that both the men’s and women’s Grand Slam singles champions have lost in the first round of the next major.

Li, the 2011 Roland Garros champion had an error-filled match, 37 unforced miscues in all.

“In my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match,” Li told media.

“Nobody says if you’re No. 2 in the world you win all the matches. That’s tennis.”

“I don’t think it is only the bad day,” Li continued. “I think it’s probably about me. Of course the easy thing is to say today was a bad day for me, but it’s not. I’m 100% sure. The problem is me. I don’t think I’m doing well on the court. And also, even during the match, I wasn’t thinking through what I should do, especially, I didn’t follow the game plan, and even when I was standing out on the court, in my mind I didn’t have any idea how to play the match.”

For the 21-year-old Mladenovic, who won the Roland Garros Junior championship in 2009 and is currently ranked 10 in the world, this is the biggest win of her career.

Also early on Tuesday an upset on the men’s side, 11th seen Grigor Dimitrov lost to big-serving Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 7-5, 7-6 (4). Dimitrov reached the third round to Paris last year.

“Today he was all over the court,” Dimitrov said in press. “He was just hitting his shots, you know, penetrating every volley, low slice, serving really good.”

 

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Grigor Dimitrov Wins Bucharest Title

Dimitrov waves

(April 27, 2014) No. 1 seed Grigor Dimitrov knocked out defending champion Lukas Rosol of the Czech Republic 7-6 (2), 6-1 on Sunday to win the Nastase Tiriac Trophy for his third career ATP World tour title.

The world No. 16 completed the tournament without losing a set.

Domitrov joined his girlfriend in the winner’s circle on the same day as Maria Sharapova won the Stuttgart title for the third time in a row.

“It feels good to have won. I lifted my game, not having been happy with my previous matches in the tournament,” Dimitrov said. “I knew I had to lift my level, especially after the first set. Lukas is a very good winner, who hit some outstanding winners. It was a pleasure to play in front of Ilie Nastase and other greats.

“I have worked really hard to start winning titles. I have put in enough effort, time and sacrifices to get here.”

“A run to a final was very good,” said last year’s winner Rosol. “It was a perfect week. If you had told me I would have reached the semi-finals at the start of the week, I would have taken it. Grigor was just amazing today. I played good tennis, but Grigor was better on the court and I had no answer. I am sure he will break into the Top 10 very soon.”

The 22-year-old Bulgarian will rise to a career high No. of 13 in the Emirates ATP Rankings on Monday.

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Rafael Nadal Fights Off Grigor Dimitrov to move into Melbourne Semis

Nadal waves and smiles

By Alana Mitchelson

(January 22, 2014) MELBOURNE – The world No. 1 Rafael Nadal rose to a 10-match winning streak after dismantling Grigor Dimitrov in a gritty four setter on Wednesday, 3-6, 7-6(7-3), 7-6(9-7), 6-2, however not without being somewhat shaken by the unrelenting 22-year-old Bulgarian in the first set.

 

In his quarterfinal debut, Dimitrov rose to the occasion and leapt to an early 3-0 lead. Shockingly, Nadal found it increasingly difficult to gain a good swing on Dimitrov’s 200 plus kph (124 mph) (and at times, 210 plus (130 mph)) serves rocketing down from the other side of the net and he tried to compensate for the speed by returning serve from a fair distance back from the baseline.

 

Dimitrov had no trouble holding service throughout the opening set and served it out 6-3, going for big winners and not so much as hesitating to attempt the odd ace during his second serves.

 

It was not really until a fair way into the second set when Nadal began to gain his usual momentum.

 

While Dimitrov produced 54 winners throughout the match, his ‘no fear’ game mentality did not always work in his favor as his first serves suffered significantly, his unforced error count skyrocketing to a costly 61 errors for the match on the whole.

 

The men dueled through tough, exciting rally sequences whereby the men kept the ball in play and showcased some fantastic lobs and drop shot volleys, making for truly entertaining quality tennis.

 

Dimitrov’s new racquet at 4-4 in the second did not seem to offer much to his game as he found himself in tricky situations where he opened up the court for Nadal to work much spin and depth onto his groundstrokes. He also had difficulty recovering after a couple of disheartening set point opportunities lost in the third set, which will surely improve in time with more experience on the big stage.

 

The Bulgarian commendably saved three match points in the last set, but on the fourth opportunity the world No. 1 finally prevailed to clinch the match.

 

Nadal had, all the while, been battling with some serious blisters on his left, dominant hand.

 

“With the forehand it’s not a big issue but with the serve, a little bit,” Nadal admitted.

 

“I feel that with the tape I can lose the racquet when I serving. That’s a terrible feeling for a serve because then when you have this feeling you are not able to accelerate at the right moment, you lose a little bit of coordination. That’s a big deal. I served slower.

 

“When you lose confidence with one shot, one important shot, then you are not able to play calm for the rest of the shots. So I’m going to try to improve on that for after tomorrow… if not, I’m not going to have the chance to be in the final.

 

“I was able to win a match against a very difficult opponent, so that has much more value than when everything is great. And because of these victories, sometimes it happens that the next day you are able to play much better and that these victories, at the end of the day, are more important than the days that you are playing great.”

Dimitrov grew quite emotional when reflecting upon his efforts during the match and how close he had come to a chance at dethroning the world No. 1.

 

​”There’s a lot of mixed feelings right now. I’m a bit shattered. It’s tough losing that match, my first quarterfinal. I came out expecting nothing less than to win,” Dimitrov said.

 

“All credit to Rafa. He’s been a tremendous competitor, a great guy off the court. We’ve had great battles over the past year, and now again, and hopefully more in the future.”

 

Nadal is bidding to win each of the four majors twice in his career by securing this year’s Australian Open title. He is now just two matches away from making that dream a reality.

 

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.

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Dimitrov Recovers form to best Klahn at Australian Open

 

By Alana Mitchelson

 

dimitrov

(January 14, 2014) MELBOURNE, Australia – Grigor Dimitrov recovered after being dominated by a fiery unseeded Bradley Klahn in a huge first set tie-break to finally pull through in four sets, 6-7(7) 6-4, 6-4, 6-3.

 

In what was his debut appearance at the Australian Open, Klahn wore the colors of the American flag with pride. He was very focused on pumping himself up, feeding off the supportive American accented cheers audible at scattered points among the crowd. He was going to ensure he gave them a show.

 

And what an incredible first set it was. The lefty used his reliable two-handed backhand to pressure Dimitrov’s unusually slice-weakened backhand which forced the Bulgarian into panicked do or die moments early on in the match.

 

Dimitrov returned to court refocused and with heightened aggression after his disappointing first set, establishing an early break in the second. He continued this refreshed form (as refreshed as one could be in such heat), lifting his service game to new impressive heights as he delivered three consecutive aces in the fourth game.

 

Playing best when he did not hesitate to go for winners, the American often found his rhythm during points but mostly failed to lift his game when his efforts would have been reflected on the scoreboard. Nine double faults on the whole did not help his confidence.

 

Despite this apparent change of pace, Dimitrov was still inconsistent and, much to his frustration, he double faulted on his next serve.

 

Again, the world No. 22 made up for the momentary loss of focus by serving out a further 11 aces throughout the match, loading groundstrokes with top spin, making for more powerful hitting during rallies. He skidded along the baseline deflecting the sweeping drives posed by the left-handed ambitious American.

 

Dimitrov was relieved to have protected the match from progressing to five sets, taking an ice bath to recover from the devastating heat.

 

“Felt strong towards the end of the match but I still think I deserve this! Ice bath never felt better!” Dimitrov tweeted after the match.

 

The temperature reached its expected high of 42ºC (approx. 106ºF) on Tuesday, peaking late in the day at about 5.30pm.

 

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.

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Third Time Not a Charm as Dimitrov Loses Again to Nadal

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By Kevin Ware

(August 15, 2013) MASON, Ohio – Grigor Dimitrov lost a tightly-contested match to Rafael Nadal  6-2, 5-7, 6-2 Thursday night  at the Western and Southern Open. The loss was his third straight to Nadal after losses in Monte Carlo (’13) and Rotterdam (’09). It would be great if we could say that he’s getting closer to solving the Nadal puzzle, but there’s still a ways to go before that happens.

All three previous matches have gone the distance (three sets), and all have followed the same pattern of Dimitrov mounting a second set comeback only to lose in the third. This latest loss in Cincinnati even included two breaks of serve in each of the sets he lost; this on a night when he was serving at a respectable 73% overall on the night.

What will it take for Dimitrov to overcome the man of steel from Mallorca?

I had a chance to chat with Dimitrov  immediately following the match, and was able to ask him about his physical condition (after a couple of injury scares during the match), his strategy going into this match, and what he thinks is needed in order to turn this pattern of defeats into a first win.

How are you feeling physically? You were grabbing at your chest sometimes during the match.

I thought I pulled a muscle in the second set on one return. So I was just struggling a little bit. But I went through the pain and had a good second set which was actually pretty good. Yeah, physically I’m not too bad anymore and I’m happy for that. It’s a positive thing.

Is it hard on your body running from side to side, covering as much court as Nadal makes you defend?

You know where he’s going to play, but the ball comes really fast. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, you just gotta go to the ball and get it back in the court. I think he has one of the best forehands. I mean, obviously it was just an unbelievable first set from him. Not much I can say about that. Definitely congrats and well, life goes on. Work even harder, and look forward to playing him again.

It looked like your game plan was to slice to Nadal’s forehand to keep the ball low, and attack his backhand. Did you feel you were successful in doing so?

I tried I think a lot of things in the first set but obviously it didn’t really work. He was making absolutely every single shot. I was just trying to find/see where I could find the gap, and there you go. I found the gap in the second set and had this momentum that I grabbed it. And he came out of the block pretty good in the third set so I couldn’t really do much. And even if I was serving 74% it wasn’t enough. I definitely will sit down with my coach and discuss that.

Was the effort that it took out of you to take the second set the difference in the third set? Was it hard to maintain that same level?

He started putting even more balls into the court. He was waiting for me to attack him. And here and there, I missed a few shots and that was the breaks. Even though the score was 6-2 almost every game was 30-40 or deuce or something like that. So the margin was pretty small. And at that level it just takes one or two points.

Given the loss, were you happy with how you played?

I wouldn’t say happy. One thing I’m happy physically. I feel quite alright and I’m still feeling good which is very positive to me. Last time I played him for two hours I was cramping a little bit. So that’s a positive thing. But other than that, of course. Playing against a guy like him, a Top 10 player in general, is always a pleasure. I always enjoy the battles. But I’m looking forward to really starting to give them even a harder time.

What do you think is the difference, that small delta you need to take a match like this?

I’ve done it once, I just need to find the same formula in the same way I’ve been preparing for consistency on and off the court and throughout all the weeks. It’s never easy to travel and come to the week playing then next week playing again. So if you have that good level, and after you raise up your low level, then when matches like this come you will definitely be more ready.

Are you going to take a few days off?

I say maybe one day is gonna be enough, and then looking forward to getting to the (US) Open.

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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