2014/09/02

Tennis News Net Notes for for Wednesday, August 14, 2013

A brief look at the news headlines of the day in the tennis world.

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- Wimbledon champion Marion Bartoli has announced her retirement from tennis after losing her match to Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 at the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday night in Mason, Ohio.

The 28-year-old Frenchwoman said in a post-match news conference: “I made my dream a reality and it will stay forever with me, but now my body just can’t cope with everything.”

Bartoli said her Achilles, shoulder, hips and lower back hurt when she plays.

“but my body just can’t do it anymore.  I’ve been already through a lot of injuries since the beginning of the year.  I’ve been on the tour for so long, and I really push through and leave it all during that Wimbledon.

“I really felt I gave all the energy I have left inside my body.  I made my dream a reality and it will stay forever with me, but now my body just can’t cope with everything.”

-The United States Tennis Association has called a news conference for Thursday to reveal plans for a makeover for the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

Plans include a retractable roof over Arthur Ashe Stadium, along with two other stadiums and a plaza where spectators can view the practice courts.

Nicole Gibbs

Nicole Gibbs

-The USTA has announced the women’s wild cards for the US Open. Spots in the main draw will go to ttwo-time NCAA singles champion Nicole Gibbs, U.S. Fed Cup team member Vania King, rising young Americans Alison Riske, Shelby Rogers and Maria Sanchez and USTA Girls’ 18s national champion Sachia Vickery. Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and France’s Pauline Parmentier also will receive US Open main draw wild cards.

Players receiving 2013 US Open qualifying wild cards are: Jan Abaza, Brooke Austin, a USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships semifinalist; local teenager Louisa Chirico who reached the girls’ singles semifinals at both the French Open and Wimbledon this year; Victoria Duval, the 2012 USTA Girls’ 18s national champion; Allie Kiick, this USTA Girls’ 18s National Championships singles runner-up and doubles champion each of the last two years; local teenager Jamie Loeb, a 2013 Wimbledon junior singles quarterfinalist; Brianna Morgan, a freshman at Florida this year who won her first pro singles title in June; and Taylor Townsend, who made history in 2012 as the first American girl in 30 years to hold the year-end No. 1 world junior ranking.

- According to L’Equipe, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga has withdrawn from the US Open with a knee injury which has kept him off the tour.

Jack Sock

Jack Sock

-Former Top 10 player Fernando Verdasco and up-and-coming American Jack Sock have joined the singles field for the 2013 Winston-Salem Open.

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Mardy Fish and Gael Monfils Withdraw from Montreal

MardyFishRogersCup

Mardy Fish

Gael Monfils

Gael Monfils

(August 1, 2013) Montreal – Rogers Cup Tournament Director Eugène Lapierre announced Thursday the withdrawal of world No. 49 Gaël Monfils of France, who injured his ankle in training today, along with Mardy Fish.

“I am frustrated and disappointed that I am unable to come through on the faith that Eugène put in me by giving me a wildcard,” said Monfils. “I sprained my ankle in practice this morning and received treatment before returning to the court to find that it was too painful. My doctor strongly advised me to be careful and take ten days of rest. I am sincerely sorry that I will not be able to play in Montreal.”

The withdrawal of Monfils is to the benefit of young Canadian Filip Peliwo (Vancouver, BC) who will receive the final wildcard for the main draw. The 19-year-old won two junior Grand Slam singles titles last year and finished 2012 as the no. 1 ranked junior player in the world. He will join his compatriots Frank Dancevic (Niagara Falls, ON), Jesse Levine (Ottawa, ON), Vasek Pospisil (Vancouver, BC), and Milos Raonic (Thornhill, ON) in the main draw.

American Mardy Fish also withdrew from the tournament for personal reasons. He will be replaced in the main draw by world no. 65 Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan.

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Jo-Wilfried Withdraws From Montreal

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

(July 31, 2013) Rogers Cup Tournament Director Eugène Lapierre announced  the withdrawal of world No. 8 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France.

“I am sorry that I won’t be able to play in Montreal, a tournament and a city with friendly fans that I really appreciate,” said Tsonga. “I need to continue to rehab my knee that I injured at Wimbledon. I hope to be ready for the U.S. Open at the end of August. I wish everyone a great Rogers Cup and Canada, I will see you soon.”

Tsonga was forced to withdraw from his second round match at Wimbledon because of a left knee injury and has not played a match since June 26. The last time he came to Montreal in 2011, he reached the semifinals before falling to eventual champion Novak Djokovic of Serbia.

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Djokovic Win Streak Up to 22 with Win Over Tsonga

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(March 15, 2013) No. 1 Novak Djokovic extended his win streak to 22 on Friday with a defeat of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for 8th straight time, 6-3, 6-1 to advance to the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open.

The last time Djokovic lost was back on October 31 to American Sam Querrey at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris. The Serb is 17-0 this year with two titles including the Australian Open.

Djokovic broke Tsonga’s serve four times during the 54 minutes match. The Frenchman is now 0-11 against the world’s top 5 since November 2011.

“I served really well and used the shots around the court well, and that’s what matters for me,” Djokovic said.

“Things went well from the start.  You know, it was quite different conditions from that previous match when I played at night and was much slower.  Today was a hotter day obviously, and the ball’s going through the air much faster.  That required a big focus and adjustment steps before every point and every shot.

“I thought I did well.  I was in the balance.  I returned well when I needed to.  He made a lot of unforced errors, which obviously helped me to get in front.

“When it was important, I didn’t allow him to come back to the match.  I didn’t allow him to have an opportunity to believe that he can maybe have a break back and get back into the match.

“So that was very important for me to stay mentally, you know, committed throughout the whole match.

“Was tough for me to keep the ball in the court, said Tsonga.  “Not because he put me a lot of pressure.

“I don’t know.  Just because it was ‑‑ I don’t know.  I don’t know how to explain that, but it was a day for me without sensation.  Everything I tried to do, I missed it, and not about a point like this.  In the match you have many, many points.”

Djokovic will play the winner of Andy Murray versus Juan Martin Del Potro match.

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On the Green Carpet – Photos from the 2013 BNP Paribas Open Players’ Party

Victoria Azarenka and Redfoo

Victoria Azarenka and Redfoo

"Austin Powers" and Caroline Wozniacki

“Austin Powers” and Caroline Wozniacki

(March 7, 2013) INDIAN WELLS, California – The BNP Paribas Open held their players’ party at the IW club on Thursday night. The tennis players drove up to the “Green Carpet” in classic cars included  Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Victoria Azarenka, Redfoo, Sloane Stephens, Petra Kvitova, Andy Murray, Ana Ivanovic, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, John Isner, Agnieszka Radwanska, Sam Stosur, James Blake, David Ferrer,  and a host of others including Austin Powers.

Photos by Curt Janka and Maria Noble. Follow Tennis Panorama News’ BNP Paribas Open coverage here and on our twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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The Wit and Wisdom of Li Na – 2013 Australian Open Edition

Li Na

( January 27, 2013) Some people call her “Nails.”  In her home country they refer to her as “Golden Flower” or “Big Sister Na.” She is Li Na of China – 2011 Roland Garros champion and  2013 Australian Open finalist, who fell to Victoria Azarenka on Saturday in Melbourne. Li will be ranked No. 5 in the world when the WTA rankings come out on Monday, January 28, 2013.

The 31-year-old who first turned pro in 1999,  has won seven WTA tour level tournaments. She became the first player from an Asian country to appear in a major singles final when she lost to Kim Clijsters in the 2011 Australian Open.  Her career-high singles ranking of No. 4 came in June 2011, the same month when she won her first and so far only major, the French Open.

One of the many joys in covering tennis is attending a Li Na news conference. In these days of media training for all of the players, they are conditioned to give the media “cookie cutter” answers to questions. Not so with Li.  Her answers are candid, refreshing, usually entertaining and come from the heart. Sure, her English is not perfect, but she is well understood.

Chatting with her is like conversing with your “cool” older young-adult cousin who doesn’t care what she says, but is honest without being insulting and makes you laugh in the process. It makes me wish I could speak Chinese so I could understand her news conferences with her home country journalists.

When I was media in Melbourne last year, I never missed seeing Li in action with the media, whether in person in the main interview room or viewing her through my workstation in the media center. Even though I was not in Melbourne this year, I made a point of watching all of her news conferences and reading all of the transcripts. I actually do this for every tournament she’s in, if I’m able to get video and /or transcripts – she’s just that entertaining.

I hope more players take after her “media” skills. She has a journalism degree from Huazhong University of Science and Technology. Perhaps when her on-court tennis career is over she can become a member of the tennis media? Wonder what type of questions she’d pose to the players? But with 31 being the new 21 in the tennis world,  she’ll turn 31 on February 26, I think Li is far from retirement.

Here are some of the more entertaining portions of Li Na’s news conferences throughout the Australian Open fortnight:

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Q.  Why do you think you fell down?
LI NA:  Because I’m stupid (smiling).

Q.  There was a controversy in the semifinal between Sloane Stephens regarding medical timeouts.
LI NA:  Hey, this is real injury.  Everyone can saw that.

Q.  Have you ever called a timeout like that? (Asked in reference to Victoria Azarenka calling for a medical timeout near the end of her semifinal win over Sloane Stephens.”
LI NA:  If I’m injured, yes.  If no, not.

 

 

LiNaMarionBartoliWTAAllaccessNewhaven

Q.  Do you remember the first time you saw yourself on a billboard or in the airport?  Can you talk about what that experience was like for you?
LI NA:  I say, Okay, I know this girl.  No, because, I mean, first time I was a little bit afraid to watch.  I was feeling like, Oh, it’s real.  Because sometimes you think it’s different when you watch.
First time was like, Ah, like this.  And then I look, Okay, okay, it’s you, so don’t worry about.
After the team or the friend say, I think I know this one.  I was like, yeah, yeah, yeah, me, too.  Yeah.

Q.  Do you remember when that was, the timing of that?
LI NA:  I think the huge big one was in French Open, after.  Yeah, because next day I was back to Germany, so I saw in the airport.  I don’t know if it BBC or CNN or something news like   how you say   24 hours.  I mean, Why?  I just win title.  I just go and everyone saw.
Also funny thing is I was bought economy ticket because just so short.
They come and say, We know you just win tournament, so move to business.  I was, Oh, is not bad.

 

BabolatClijstersLiNaBabolatEvent05242012

Q.  Yesterday Jo Wilfried Tsonga was asked why top seeded women’s players lose more than the top seeded men.  He said because of hormones, because women are more emotionally unstable. 
LI NA:  And then?
Q.  Do you have any thoughts on that? 
LI NA:  I mean, but for all of the world, why should the man marry for the women?  It’s, how you say, different thinking.  Women’s tour is women’s tour; men’s tour is totally different.  So nothing prepare for that.
Q.  You don’t think hormones have anything to do with it; you think it’s more about tennis?
LI NA:  Sorry about that.  Now I’m only interesting about tennis.  Maybe when I retire I’m thinking about the hormones one day.
Q.  Do you have a theory on why there’s sort of upsets at the top level in the women’s game as opposed to the men? 
LI NA:  I mean, if I’m retire, I will go to university to learn this thing and I can answer you.
Sorry about that.
LiNaMontreal
Q.  Do you feel calmer on the court these days, and why do you think you’re feeling more calm?
LI NA:  Getting a little bit old, getting more experience.  Right now I really   how you say   enjoy for every match.
Also I was working a lot this point in winter training, as well.  Carlos always say, Calm down, calm down.  All the day I was listening too much, like, Calm down.
Li Na
Q.  This is your third semifinal here in four years.  Why do you think this is your best slam?  This seems to be your best slam.  Do you agree?
LI NA:  Yes, I agree.
Q.  Why do you think it is?
LI NA:  I mean, I don’t know.  Every time I was come here I was feeling, I don’t know, just something around with me.  It’s not wrong.
I don’t know.  I mean, maybe I like the court.  Maybe.
Q.  Do you think it being the beginning of the year also helps for you?
LI NA:  What do you want to say?
Q.  I’m saying you work hard in the off season. 
LI NA:  I working hard all the year (laughter).
Li Na

Li Na

Q.  What sort of stuff was he (Coach Carlos Rodriguez) doing to you?  How difficult was the pre season?
LI NA:  I mean, you know, before I was always training in gym for the winter training because I have to see the doctor for my knee.
So last time I was stay two weeks in Germany still for to check the body.  I was with Carlos for two and a half or three weeks in Beijing.  Totally different program, you know.
He was not   how you say   like every day five, six hours, but not only for tennis.  Tennis like maybe two, three hours, but fitness for two, three hours as well.
So, like, when first time I was training with him I was so exciting, but after three days I was dying.  Yeah, because my husband didn’t come with me in Beijing.  I call him and say, Carlos is crazy.  He was like, Why?  I was say the program to him.  He was like, Don’t make the joke.  I say, Hey, listen, I’m not joke.  I really doing this in the morning.
He said, Okay, okay, I will come to you next day.  So next day he was in Beijing.  I was doing some exercise with Carlos.  He was sitting in the gym.  After halfway, he was like, Are you finished?  I said, No, only halfway.  He said, What?  I said, Really, yes.  I do this for three days already.
He said, I’m tired.  I say, Don’t say that.  I’m doing exercises, you’re only sitting.  Don’t say you’re tired.
Yeah, but Carlos   how you say   he was very nice guy but also is tough.  I have to finish all the program.  He will say, Let’s go, continue, with smile.  I can’t say anything.  I have to continue until finish.
Q.  Did you think about quitting at some point, stopping your work with him?
LI NA:  After three days I was really tired.  I was call my husband, I say, I really want to retire.  I say, Now only three days; how be I can continue for three weeks or all the year?
But I think he’s good because you can see until now, I mean, it’s not bad, yeah.
LiNa1022012
Q.  Maria Sharapova has only lost five games in her first four matches.  Have you been able to see any of her?  What do you think about playing somebody who is playing that well?
LI NA:  At least now I’m in the semis.  She has to play, so…  Right?
Now I can start now to enjoy my day.  She has to fight, yeah.  So that’s better.
The match is on Thursday, so I still have the time to recover.
Q.  If you play her, who do you think Max will root for? (Max Eisenbud is the agent for both Maria Sharapova and Li Na.)
LI NA:  I think Max just eat sugar and be somewhere else.  You couldn’t find him.  Be just like, Oh, good shot, you know.  Yeah, this is Max.  He is going to change something.
LiNabh10052012
Q.  On court you mentioned since your husband stopped coaching you you have a better family life.  Could you tell us a bit more about that. 
LI NA:  We always have good communication.  I mean, just coach and husband is   how you say   tough to find a balance.  He was doing very good job.  But between like husband and the coach for us, both of us, is very tough, yeah.
Because sometimes, you know, if he say, We should do something, I was feeling, I’m tired.  You’re my husband.  Why should you be training me so tired.  But I forgot he’s coach as well.  That’s why sometimes we have to fight, we have to shouting.
The funny thing is I think two years ago, China, someone say I was divorced.  They was asking me.  Because they thinking we always like shouting, maybe we divorced.  They ask me, Li Na, we hear you are divorce.  I say, Already two years, don’t worry about that.
I really have to say I have the same husband for long time, so don’t try to push me down.  Even one day we are didn’t love anymore maybe we should divorce.  This is the life.  We couldn’t always together.
10062012 China Open Li Na flying fh
Q.  Many of the players have a particular rival that they see as their main rival.  Who do you see as the biggest rivalry you have in tennis?
LI NA:  You know, I always try to play my game on the court, so, yeah.  But sometimes I was fighting against myself.  I always waste a lot of energy on the court.
Right now first step I have to follow what I do.  I don’t have to against myself.  So this is big step for me.  Yeah.
Q.  Has your coach helped you stop fighting against yourself?  Is that something that Carlos has done?
LI NA:  Yeah, he try.  He try a lot.  He was try very hard.  I think I doing good job.  I mean, at least not like before.  I have like maybe eight of the ten of the time I have the time for fighting against myself.
Now I try to relax on the court or off the court.
10062012 China Open Li Na in press 2
Q.  In this tournament there are four Chinese females in the main draw and one qualifying male.  Similar proportions in the juniors.  In China, is tennis more attractive to the females than the males, do you think?
LI NA:  They are here.  You can ask all of them.  Because for me, I mean, I was traveling all of the world to play some tournament.  I really can get some information, I don’t know, maybe from Internet or from newspaper.  But all the information from them, you know, so you can ask them.  (Smiling.)

 

Karen Pestaina is the founder and Editor-in-chief of Tennis Panorama News. She’s worked as a member of the media in the New York City market since her teenage years and tries never to miss a live Li Na news conference when she’s covering tennis tournaments. Follow her and the site on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

Transcript excerpts courtesy of ASAPSports.

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Notes and Quotes From Tuesday at the China Open

BEIJING, China – A few of the more “notable” quotes from some of Tuesday’s news conferences at the China Open.

 

Li Na

On finally defeating Nadia Petrova, Li Na was 0-6 against her before Tuesday’s 6-1, 6-2 win:

I think that’s, you know, the charm in playing tennis.  Every day you can challenge yourself.  You are defeated consecutively, but it doesn’t mean you were defeated by her all the time.  This is sport.  You never know what’s gonna happen.

I’m very much glad to see that I’m still making progress in this match.

Q.  Another question is we noticed when you are in rush a little bit or when you are a little bit impatient you like to say something to your coach, and Carlos has said that you have to calm down.  He give you a gesture to make you calm down.  In that case, you have a very important role in balancing the relations between you and Carlos?

LI NA:  You are absolutely correct.  I think before Carlos jump in, I didn’t have any intent to share with my team.  But I’m not sure ‑‑ how did you spot the detail that when I start to be impatient Carlos told me to calm down?

I have to share this information to Carlos.  I think he will definitely share the same thing with me.

Q.  I will follow the questions from the previous reporters.  When you employed the coach, you definitely need some time to get along with the coaches.  How long does that take between you and your coach Carlos?  When people are choosing the coaches they have to have some standard.  Since you have already chose Carlos to be your coach, does it mean that you will follow his suggestions or instructions all the time?

So actually when we meet for the first time, he told me that why he didn’t choose to coach player until he came to China for one year after and give me a lot of reasons.  So after I chosen him definitely I will give a lot of credit or confidence to him.

Even my team we have meeting on a regular basis.  We make a plan, and everybody will play their role.  It’s not the case that we just work out, you know, a temporary solution.  We have overall schedule or plan, all of us already.

I really have to say he’s very good coach.  I mean, he’s not only teach me how to play tennis.  It’s more important for, how you say, the whole team to make the goal.  And also, he was teach me a lot how to doing on the court.  I mean, before I was always like easy to explosion on the court.  Now I think I change a lot.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

 On the increase in prize money at the Australian Open:

I think it’s a good thing for tennis, not only for players but for tennis.  It means, you know, tennis is going well.  I hope, you know, tennis will continue to do well.

Q.  I know this was kind of at the end of the match, and you were probably focused on other things, but did you happen to catch the sleeping girl on the Jumbotron after the crowd woke her up?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  Yeah, I saw her.

Q.  Can you believe she was sleeping that late in the match when it was getting that close?

JO‑WILFRIED TSONGA:  I mean, I can understand.  Sometimes when I watch some review of me, sometimes I sleep too.  (Laughter.)

 

Victoria Azarenka

On playing Lisicki:

Yeah, she’s a very dangerous opponent.  I knew that, and so that was important to try to be focused right from the beginning to take control, not to let her into the game to start, you know, going for her shots, because she’s kind of player that doesn’t give much of a rhythm.  She likes to take control right from the very beginning.

I felt like I played really well in the beginning and took all of my opportunities.  You know, I was maintaining from then a very high level.

Her opinion on the WTA’s  attempt to try to control grunting in the future:

Well, honestly I mentioned it before already, and I don’t really know how it’s going to happen, but it’s going to be in the future.  It’s not going to be concerning our generation.

So it’s a little bit difficult for me to judge, but I guess we’ll see what happens.  I don’t really feel there is something to comment before it actually happens.  You know, we can see the results from there.

I understand there are few concerns about it, but in the near future, I don’t see that changing too much.

On the increased prize money at the Australian Open: 

Yeah, I actually just read the news today.  Any comments, we just have to be really happy about it, you know, and thank, you know, the players who helped make it happen in the tournament of course to increase the prize money.

I mean, we are really lucky, and I’m really happy about it.

I think everybody in general wants more money, not only in tennis.  (Laughter.)

It’s fair enough, but I feel like there has been already, you know, a step forward.  We can only make it better, and I think that’s the plan from all the players to do that.  We have to be more united to make that, you know, bigger statement.

I feel like the Grand Slams, the other ones, have to take a good example from what the Australian Open did.

 

Novak Djokovic

On defeating Berrer

He’s a big guy and he chips the ball really well. It was definitely unusual because not many players do that, and I had to make the adjustment as the match was going on.

I had tough time to really return his serve in the second, because he went for precision more than really speed of his first serves. He had very high percentage of first serves in, and, you know, he put a lot of pressure on my serves coming in.

He deserved to win the second set. He pushed the second set into a tiebreak where he hasn’t missed the first serve and came into the net a couple of times, played some really good points.

 

On the increased prize money at the Australian Open:

Great news for every player that plays this sport.” A fight for a great share of revenue is “not over yet.”
It’s a step forward, definitely
They have clearly shown understanding for players’ demands and what the players had to say, so that’s really nice to see.

Obviously there are other Grand Slams that need to react, and we are still in negotiations and we are still doing it behind closed doors.

Tennis Panorama News is in Beijing this week covering the China Open. Follow the updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Del Potro and Tsonga Upset in Toronto

By Brodie McPhee

TORONTO – It was a star studded day at Rogers Cup in Toronto as several big names finally got under way. Bronze, silver and gold medalists highlighted centre court after a quick turn around from the 2012 London games.

Unfortunately, the turn around might have been two quick for singles bronze medalist Juan Martin del Potro and doubles silver medalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga who bowed out one after another under the blazing Toronto sun.

First up was del Potro who took on the ever energetic Radek Stepanek. The Argentine struggled to find a rhythm early, and was broken in the opening match of the game. Even after del Potro battled to break back, he was broken immediately and Stepanek served out the first set with three aces, 6-4.

There was a similar story in the second set. Del Potro appeared to be gaining his rhythm, but was immediately broken after breaking Stepanek on two separate occasions. Stepanek then finally took the match in the second set tiebreak.

“I came here Monday night. Many players pull out from here. It’s not easy [to] play after big effort in Olympics, but I tried anyway. Now I need time to recovery my body if I want to stay healthy.”

Del Potro pulled out of his doubles match later in the day with the very same Radek Stepanek, but was unsure on whether or not he would go to Cincinnati “I wish to play there, but I need time to relax.”

It was a similar situation for Tsonga, who played a marathon match in London against Raonic in singles and won the silver medal with partner Michael Llodra. He fell 6-4, 7-6 to fellow Frenchman Jeremy Chardy who utilized an effective serve to stay perfect on serve. Regardless, Tsonga was still upbeat after his loss.

“I’m disappointed because I lost. But, you know, this is the rule… for me it’s a mandatory tournament; I have to be here.”

The quick turn around clearly took it’s toll on Tsonga who played a remarkable amount of tennis last week. “I didn’t have enough energy to move well. That’s it… I mean, I just played 287 games last week and I took the plane.”

Asked whether or not he looks at his medal every day, Tsonga could only smile. “Every day.”

Jeremy Chardy will play Marcel Granollers in the third round, and Stepanek will play the winner of Simon and Haas.

Video – Juan Martin Del Potro August 8, 2012 Rogers Cup News Conference

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Tsonga Win over Raonic Makes Olympic History

 

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

Two Olympic Tennis Event records were broken on Tuesday in London in the men’s singles second round match between No. 5 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga of France and Milos Raonic from Canada, which Tsonga won 6-3, 3-6, 25-23 in 3 hours 57 minutes.

At the All England Club, Tsonga and Raonic resumed a match delayed by rain second round match  at a set a piece 2-1 in the third. Little did they know that this that this match would prove to be a record-breaker.

Tsonga and Raonic held serve, again, and again and again – altogether 23 times each until Tsonga broke Raonic in the 48th game of the third to win the match 6-3, 3-6, 25-23. The match, at 66 games long set a record for the longest three-set match in Olympic history. The third set, at 48 games is also the longest-ever set at the Olympics.

The previous records for the most games in a 3-set match (63) and longest set (38 games) were both set at 1988 Seoul in a first round doubles match, in which Carling Bassett-Seguso/Jill Hetherington (CAN) defeated Mercedes Paz/Gabriela Sabatini (ARG) 7-6, 5-7, 20-18.

The previous record in men’s singles event set in 2004 in the bronze medal when Fernando Gonzalez defeated Taylor Dent in the third set, 16-14.

“He served unbelievable, it’s really difficult. But I was strong tonight and I am really happy to go through,” Tsonga said after the match.

Milos Raonic

“I’m on the wrong part of Olympic history. It’s nice to be somewhere but hopefully I can change that and put my name on the right part,” said Raonic.

“I felt like I played really well for most of the match and I just let it slip away from me at the end.”

“This is the only way for me to write my name in history at the moment,” Tsonga said in reference to the domination of the top three men in the world at major tournaments.

“(The record) It’s good for tennis and it’s good for sports.”

“(The win was) good for my confidence, but not really good for my body,” he said.

Tsonga will next face Feliciano Lopez for a place in the quarterfinals.

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Murray Chasing History, Advances to First Wimbledon Final

WIMBLEDON – It all ended with smiles, and a hug at the net between two players who genuinely respect and like each other, but Andy Murray took one step closer to a nation’s dream in defeating Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, 6-3, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

Statistics spoke of a 5-1 win/loss record, but Jo-Wilfred was the guy who beat Murray in the first round of the Australian Open, in 2008.

Murray led two sets to love, but it was Tsonga who put Roger Federer out of Wimbledon in 2011, after being in that same position.

Even when Murray started aggressively, quickly and decisively, at the back of people’s minds, Tsonga still remained a threat.

At the start of the match, he seemed to be struggling with a back injury, and after an off-court medical time-out, Tsonga returned a new man, leaving Murray shrugging up at his box after Tsonga took the third set.

Tsonga said: “He didn’t give me one chance, you know, one chance to go to the net.
“He didn’t miss one serve.  He was really, really good.

“After that his level was a bit down in the third set and I took my chance.”

Tsonga also had to contend with a wayward ball to his groin which left him doubled over, not surprisingly.

When asked if he had ever been hit like that, he replied: “Never.  But I will have a revenge one time.”

As the weight of expectation settled all around the court, on match point in the fourth set, Murray had to wait for a challenge to see if he had sealed a place in his first Wimbledon final.

Tsonga waited at the net while Hawkeye did its thing, smiling, he and Andy had a brief chat at the net.

He said: “He ask me, How is it?  I said, I really don’t know.  That’s why we laughed.”

And what of the man, now, who would be king, come Sunday?

Well given that his first question in press was: “What were you doing 74 years ago?,” it is clear that the sheer weight of history still looms heavy.

The reality is stark, but Murray is philosophical.

Murray said: “It’s a great challenge, one where I’m probably not expected to win the match, but one that, you know, if I play well, I’m capable of winning.

Above all he still has respect for Roger Federer’s achievements, both in the past and over this tournament.

“Well, he’s obviously one of the greatest players ever to have played,” he said, “I’d be surprised if he wasn’t the best in terms of his win/loss ratio here.”

Emotions ran high despite the final challenge.

Murray said: “Well, I knew it was in when it left my racquet, and then I thought that he challenged it.

“I mean, obviously it was close, but then the umpire said to me that the ball had been called out and that he hadn’t overruled it.

“So then obviously I challenged, and that was it.”

Murray-mania could engulf the Women’s final tomorrow, and Murray had nothing but praise for Serena Williams.

He said: “She’s probably one of the best female athletes ever in terms of she’s got strength, she’s quick, you know, she’s got very powerful, powerful strokes.

“She’s probably one of the best that the woman’s tour has seen for a few years.”

Hopefully people will remember we have one final to go before Sunday.

As for Murray, he will allow himself the luxury of enjoying the sensation of eclipsing Bunny Austin, and then back to work tomorrow.

One final thought, though.

In 1977, in the Queen’s Silver Jubilee Virginia Wade won the women’s singles final.  In a Diamond Jubilee year, could we see a men’s champion at last?

He will have to play the best tennis of his life to do it, but I think he would not want it any other way.

Ros Satar is a British Journalist- an IT journalist by day, and a sports journalist in all the gaps in between. She is the co-founder of Britwatch Sports (britwatchsports.com). Follow her on twitter at @rfsatar.

 

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