2014/11/01

Roger Federer vs. Grigor Dimitrov in BNP Paribas Showdown at MSG on March 10, 2015

Federer vs Dimitrov

(October 22, 2014) New York, NYRoger Federer will return to Madison Square Garden to face Grigor Dimitrov and headline the annual BNP Paribas Showdown on Tuesday, March 10, it was announced today.

 

Federer, current World No. 2, will make his third appearance in the BNP Paribas Showdown after facing Pete Sampras in 2008 and Andy Roddick in 2012.  Arguably the greatest tennis player of all-time, he holds several men’s world records including holding the world No. 1 ranking for an unprecedented 302 weeks, including 237-consecutive-weeks from 2004 to 2008; winning 17 Grand Slam singles titles; reaching each Grand Slam Final at least five times (an all-time record); and reaching the Wimbledon final nine times. He is one of seven men to capture the career Grand Slam. Federer also shares the Open Era record for most titles at the Australian Open with Andre Agassi and Novak Djokovic (4), at Wimbledon with Pete Sampras (7) and at the US Open with Jimmy Connors and Sampras (5).

 

The young rising star, Dimitrov, who is often compared to Federer, is currently ranked No. 11 and will be making his Madison Square Garden debut.  He recently cracked the top ten when he climbed to No. 8 after reaching the Wimbledon semifinals in 2014.  Dimitrov is the only Bulgarian tennis player to ever be ranked in the top 10.  He’s also the first Bulgarian to win an ATP singles title (Stockholm – 2013) and reach a final in doubles (in 2011) as well as the only one to reach the third round or better at a Grand Slam tournament.

 

The two top players faced each other once before in Basel, Switzerland with Federer beating Dimitrov 6-3, 7-6 (2) in a quarterfinal match.

 

The BNP Paribas Showdown is produced by MSG Sports and StarGames. Tickets start at $50.00 and will go on-sale Monday, October 27. They can be purchased at the Madison Square Garden box office, online at www.thegarden.com and at all Ticketmaster outlets.

 

“It’s huge and I’m unbelievably excited.  I did have the honor twice already to do it, once against Pete Sampras and once against Andy Roddick and both nights were very special,” said Roger Federer.  “I’ve played in many arenas and many cool places around the world but, there is nothing like MSG.  That is why when I heard there is another opportunity for me to come back and people wanted to see me, it got me going and I can’t wait for March 10.”

 

“Growing up, Roger was one of my heroes. To play him on such a stage is definitely an honor for me. I am really happy and excited to be part of the event since it is one of the biggest sporting venues,” added Grigor Dimitrov.  “This will absolutely be different. I’m getting goose bumps thinking about it. I’m just going to really enjoy it and embrace the moment. You are in New York and in one of the biggest arenas against arguably the best player of all-time. It means a lot to me to have an opportunity like that. I’m just going to try and make every moment count.”

 

“The BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden has continually showcased the very best players in the world and has provided countless thrills and terrific moments for New York tennis fans,” said Joel Fisher, executive vice president, MSG Sports.  “At any given moment you can see Ben Stiller come from the crowd to play doubles or watch the No. 1 golfer in the world, Rory McIllroy take to the Garden court. Having the best player in the world in Roger Federer back for a third time to face Grigor Dimitrov will certainly entertain the thousands in attendance and make new memories for years to come.”

 

“The BNP Paribas Showdown continues to be the crown jewel of World Tennis Day and this year will be no different with the New York fans being able to see great tennis between Roger and Grigor who I expect will put on a dazzling display,” said Jerry Solomon, president StarGames Inc.  “And, to add to the excitement, we will soon be announcing an opening match which will feature two of the greatest players in women’s tennis history to fill out a night that no one will want to miss.”

 

The 8th annual BNP Paribas Showdown, which consistently attracts the biggest names in tennis, will follow the likes of Pete Sampras, Rafael Nadal, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Ivan Lendl, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Mike and Bob Bryan, John and Patrick McEnroe, Serena and Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, Kim Clijsters, Victoria Azarenka, Caroline Wozniacki, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic who all took part in previous Showdowns providing unforgettable memories for New York tennis fans.

 

As in years past, the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden will once again headline a full day of nationwide activities as part of “World Tennis Day,” a global tennis participation effort. All events promote tailoring the game to players 10-and-under with smaller racquets, lighter balls and modified scoring.

 

Additional information on the BNP Paribas Showdown and World Tennis Day will be announced at a later date.

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Berdych Rallies Past Dimtrov to Take Stockholm Crown

(October 19, 2014) Top seed Tomas Berdych kept himself in the ATP World Tour Race to London by defeating defending champion Grigor Dimitrov 5-7, 6-4, 6-4 on Sunday to win the Stockholm Open for the second time.

Berdych won his 10th career title beating the defending champion. The Czech’s win keeps him on course to qualify for the season-ending ATP finals in London for the fifth straight year.

“It’s the first and only tournament I’ve won twice,” Berdych said. “The hospitality and care here is very nice. That’s why I like to come back. I feel at home here.”

“It was a good match, “Dimitrov said. “I give all my respect to Tomas. It’s never easy to lose a final, but he was just better out there today. He had bigger momentum in the second and third (sets). That made the biggest difference.”

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No Coach, No Problem – Gael Monfils Reaches US Open Quarterfinals

Monfils

 

(September 2, 2014) FLUSHING MEADOWS – No coach, no French flair but a big win. The 20th seed Gael Monfils took out 7th seed Grigor Dimitrov 7-5, 7-6 (6), 7-5 to reach the quarterfinals of the US Open on Tuesday.

Monfils, usually the showman, played with focus to reach the quarterfinals in Flushing Meadows for the first time and he’s done it without dropping a set and without a coach.

Monfils denies that he’s playing differently.

“I’m the same,” he said. “I think I played good. I’m in better position today. It’s easy to say, but, you know, I think every time I’m the same. So I will say I’m a bit more lucky than I was maybe sometime in the past. I think I haven’t changed a lot, to be honest. I haven’t changed a lot. I just play maybe solid today, but I’m still the same.”

“I think, first of all, it was a very poor match for me,” the favored Dimitrov said. “I don’t know. Where should I begin? Just a bad match for me. Didn’t play as close to the way I wanted to, and I think it was a great stage for me to come out on there on the center court and perform my best. Just everything went the opposite way today. I don’t have to be too down for that. Of course I have to give credit to Gaël that he played a really good match, but I also did a lot of unforced errors and that cost a lot. 6-3 in the tiebreak, I had all odds on me. And it was just poor shot selection. Eventually I didn’t execute at the right time.”

“I’m happy to be back in quarterfinal in a slam. That’s it,” Monfils said.

“For me tennis is a sport, you know. It’s not a job, you know, it’s a sport. Sometime if I’m fed up with that, you know, just leave it.”

He’ll face the winner of the Roger Federer versus Roberto Bautista Agut.

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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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