May 6, 2016

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

Nadal 881

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

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

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

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

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

“I look forward to it.”

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I think it’s going to be explosive.”

 

 

RESULTS – FRIDAY, 15 APRIL 2016

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

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

SCHEDULE – SATURDAY, 16 APRIL 2016

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

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

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

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Novak Djokovic to Meet Rafael Nadal in Indian Wells Semifinals

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(March 18, 2016) INDIAN WELLS, California – No. 1 Novak Djokovic will face off against No. 4 seed Rafael Nadal in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday.

Djokovic held off No. 7 seed, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-6(2), 7-6(2) while Nadal stopped No. 5 seed Kei Nishikori of Japan 6-4, 6-3 in the earlier semifinal.

Djokovic served for the first set at 5-4, but Tsonga broke serve, but the Serb recovered to win the set in the tiebreak.

“Well, it was definitely very challenging to play in these kind of conditions with Jo that was in form this week,” Djokovic said.

“I thought, you know, being a break up and couple of break points for double break in the first set, you know, I felt playing well, very solid; had the match under control; serving 5-4, 30-Love.

“All of a sudden, not putting a first serve in. He started mixing up with a slice and decided to play a bit different tactically. That got me off a little bit, you know, the balance and the rhythm.

“He started playing better. He started swinging more freely from the forehand corner, especially. Yeah, it was very close.

“But, you know, I take positives out of today’s match, the fact that I have played somebody that was feeling good throughout the week, somebody that serves very, very big and plays very, you know, quick and efficient, precise forehands, you know, that gave me a lot of trouble today to win in straight sets and to win in two tiebreaks, I think it’s gonna help definitely my confidence and, you know, mentally I will take that.”

Djokovic, who earned his 20th win of the year, has only dropped one set during Indian Wells this year and that was to Bjorn Fratangelo.

In an era dominated by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, Tsonga was asked to compare them: “They all are really good. I mean, if you have to count Grand Slam, it’s maybe Federer. If you have to count number of title, it’s maybe Federer.

“And then you have two guys who are just amazing. Rafa was the best on clay for 10 years, and Novak, he’s now the actual best player, I think, because he’s No. 1 since a while now. So it’s tough to compare.

“Yeah. Anyway, they will be part of history, and for sure for a long time. Yeah, they’re good players.”

 

 

Rafael Nadal

Rafael Nadal

In Nadal’s quarterfinal match, the Spaniard, rallied from a 1-3 deficit in the first set, taking five out of the next six games to close it. Nadal took a break lead in the second set in which his Japanese opponent broke him right back, to make it 4-3 in Nadal’s favor. Nadal won the next two games to seal the match.
“I never thought impossible for Kei playing at this level,” Nadal said. “He’s an amazing player, one of the best players, and he’s able to play at highest level, no?

“He started so quick hitting all the balls very well, very aggressive, and serving great, no?

“Then I think he started to miss some first serves and I was returning very well the second set serve, returning very aggressive. That was so important, I think, in my opinion. The development of the game, no?

“So my return was so important, and at the same time I think I served — my serve was enough good for this match.”
“I think the beginning I was stepping in little more and was hitting using my forehand,” Nishikori said. “My serve was hitting really good serve, first serve, second serve, and maybe he start hitting more deep. I start backing up a little more.

“You know, I think everything changed after, between that first set. Yeah, thought I had couple chances first set and second set, too, but, yeah, some unforced errors. And, yeah, he played good tennis.”

Nadal is set to play Djokovic for a place in the Indian Wells final. He spoke about the potential match-up with the Serb. The last time they played in Doha, Nadal only won three games.

“I think the (Doha) result was so easy. The game was not that easy, no?

“But is obvious that Novak played unbelievable, and when he plays that way, so difficult to stop him. Nothing to say about that match than offer congratulations to him. Tomorrow is another day. He’s a clear favorite because he’s winning all the matches almost every time.

“So I am here to, as I said, enjoy the match of tomorrow, to enjoy the victory of today against a great player. That’s something important for me. Semifinals before the tournament start is a very positive result for me. Tomorrow is an opportunity to play against another top player and enjoy that fact.”

Djokovic talked about the Doha result: “Well, that’s definitely one of the best matches I have played against Rafa. I will try to take a close look at that match and what I have done right.

“But, again, you know, we have to consider the different — completely different conditions. We played in Doha on a bit quicker surface. The balls were not bouncing as high. It was night. It was colder than here.

“Tomorrow is going to be very warm. Ball bounces very high, which he, you know, prefers, because the spin, rotation that he generates with his shots is, you know, really big.

“The court is picking that rotation up here with the bounce. He likes the conditions, actually. We played against each other here several times and always close matches.

“Well, I’m hoping I can deliver my best game tomorrow.”

Djokovic on playing Nadal:

“Well, completely different matchup against most of the players that I play against this week. He’s a great competitor, a great fighter. He’s been getting himself out of trouble a few times this week and showing why he’s one of the best players in the history of the game.

“You know, he never gives up. He always makes you play an extra shot. Always makes you earn the win. You know, I’m going into tomorrow’s match knowing what’s expecting me and I know how to get ready.

“I won the last couple times we played against each other, so maybe that can give me a slight mental advantage coming into the court.”

“But, again, everything is open. It’s semifinals. We both have won multiple times titles here, and hopefully we can come up with some good tennis.”

Nadal goes into his semifinal match against Djokovic with a 23-24 record. The last time Nadal defeated Djokovic was int eh 2014 final of Roland Garros, the French Open.

Djokovic is looking to win a fifth BNP Paribas Open title, while Nadal is looking to get his fourth trophy there.

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Djokovic Wins Third Shanghai Crown; Jankovic, Radwanska and Pavlyuchenkova Claim WTA Titles

 

(October 18, 2015) Novak Djokovic won his third Shanghai title on Sunday besting Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the final 6-2, 6-4. The victory, which gave him his 25 ATP Masters Series title and 57th career tournament win extended his current winning streak to 17 straight matches.

“Today the key was to get as many serves back into play to Jo because he has one of the biggest serves in the game,: said the world No. 1. “He has shown that in the second set, with some break points early in the set. He came up with some aces, some big serves.

“Generally I always felt in control of the match. I felt like I’ve done everything right. I’ve won many of my service games very comfortably. I didn’t allow him to get into the rhythm, get into the match. Today’s match, and overall the tournament, it’s gone incredibly well for me.”

“The first set went quick,” Tsonga said. “It’s not easy to stop him. He is really consistent on his return. Today I didn’t serve well enough, especially in the first set. After that, in the second, I served a little bit better, and it gave me the opportunity to have a chance on his serve. But finally I was not able to do it, and he broke me at 4-all.

“I’m very satisfied. To come back at your best level, it’s always a long process. I’m happy today to be back really close to the Top 10. Like I said just before, it gave me energy to continue to work hard and try to achieve other good things.”

With his performance this week, the Frenchman in now No. 9 in the Race to London for a spot in the ATP World Tour Finals.Just two spots remain in the eight-man field as Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych secured their places this week. They will join Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka who have already qualified.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova photo courtesy of Taste of Tennis

Twenty-ninth ranked Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova won her first title of the year and eighth WTA title overall defeating Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany 6-4, 6-3 for the Linz title Generali Ladies.

 

Jelena Jankovic

Jelena Jankovic

Veteran Jelena Jankovic rallied from a set and 6-5 down to beat second seed Angelique Kerber in the Hong Kong Open final 3-6, 7-6 (4), 6-1

For the former No. 1 WTA player coming into the event as a Wild Card, Jankovic this was her 15th career crown. Jankovic said that this win will improve her confidence, especially beating Kerber and Venus Williams. She said it proves that she can still play at the top level and said that if she works hard, maybe she can win a major next year.

Aga Radwanska Party with the pros

Agnieszka Radwanska easily defeated Danka Kovinic 6-1, 6-2 win the Tianjin Open title and claim a place in the WTA Finals in Singapore.

Radwanska, who won her 16th WTA title of her career, became the fifth player to qualify for the year-end championships. She will be joining Maria Sharapova, Simona Halep, Petra Kvitova and Garbine Muguruza in Singapore. No. 1 Serena Williams withdrew from the event to rest and recover.

 

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Great Britain Clinches Place in Davis Cup Semifinal

 

By Ros Satar

(July 19, 2015) LONDON, UK – In a rollercoaster race to the finish, Andy Murray overcame the worst possible start in the fourth rubber to clinch Great Britain’s place in the Davis Cup quarter-final against France.

 

From the outset though, it looked as though the crowds would be getting their money’s worth as a sluggish looking Murray floundered early against a far fresher looking Gilles Simon at the start of the first set.

 

The Frenchman seemed completely impenetrable on his serve, attacking well and out maneuvering Murray at every turn as he quickly consolidated an early break before wrapping up the first set.

 

While it was imperative that Murray got off to a quick start, getting broken in the first game of the second set was not in the plan, and there was many a furrowed British brow, as he struggled to stay with the Frenchman who was getting the better of the ling rallies, and at one stage reduced Murray to sink to his knees in despair. Even when he did get the break back, the Brit looked too exhausted to even bring forth a fist-pump, despite the crowd willing him on, yet somehow he consolidated.

 

Even in the tie-break, it looked as through the French were running away with it, with a 4-1 lead, but a couple of lacklustre points from Simon put Murray right back in it. Leveling the set saw a bit of a reaction, but there was still an awfully long way for him to go.

 

Murray was on the attack though, racing through the third set now that the momentum was shifting towards this side of the English Channel. But a bad slip after being broken at the start of the fourth set put the French at a disadvantage. Simon had already taken a tumble when his knee gave way as he landed from a serve, but after rolling his ankle, his movement was impaired as the fourth set got away from him completely. That being said, it took Murray four match points to wind up the tie 4-6, 7-6(5, 6-3, 6-0 and for Great Britain to win 3-1.

 

Of course once again the doubles was the pivotal point, no matter how many times team captains want to play it down, and at one stage it must have felt as though the entire tie was France versus The Murray family.

 

French team captain Arnaud Clement said: “It was every time a little push from the British team, a little bit more solid. A lot of sets during this weekend, just can see one or two points are missing and maybe can change but it was always in the same for the British team. So it’s just the British was a little bit more solid than us, and deserve this win.”

 

Leon Smith said: “It’s incredible how he find a way to dig as deep as he can. It is phenomenal what he finds within himself, a set and a break down and that tiebreak, 4-1 down but he fights and he fights and he fights and after a couple of those long brutal rallies, to be able to get up and serve again, ready for the next point. I was sitting there thinking this is why he does the hard work, those moments when he digs into his dark places of training and he finds a way to do it because his legs and his heart have been conditioned to do it, and he does it better than anyone. I have nothing but immense respect.”

 

For Murray it will be another tough battle to go deep at the US Open, and then face two if not three vital matches, if Britain are to keep their hopes of a place in their first Davis Cup final since 1936.

 

He said: “The memories that you have from those matches, like playing Glasgow earlier in the year, I mean I’m sure the whole team would agree the atmosphere was absolutely unbelievable there. You don’t get that in any other event, so you have a lot of memories from the Davis Cup and that’s one of the reasons you’re passionate to play.”

 

Great Britain will now play host to Australia, who fought back from 2-0 down against Kazakhstan in September, following the US Open.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

 

 

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Brits Serve Up a 2-1 Lead Going into Last Day of Davis Cup Quarterfinal

By Ros Satar

(July 18, 2015) LONDON, UK – Great Britain gave themselves the best chance of advancing in the Davis Cup since the 1980’s after they beat the French to set up a 2-1 lead going into the final day.

 

Although Britain had nominated doubles specialists Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot, there was a widely held consensus that in order for the Brits to give themselves the best possible chance, Andy Murray had to play.

 

Yet he himself had said that he would have to be very honest with the team about how he felt after a long European swing, which saw him win his first titles on clay, Queen’s and then bowing out at the semi-final stage of Wimbledon.

 

His older brother Jamie had the best success of his career to date, making the Wimbledon men’s doubles final with his Australian partner John Peers. He, along with Inglot had paired up in Glasgow earlier in the year, but lost to the Bryan Brothers in a close affair against the United States.

 

Right down to the wire, the decision was made that the Murray brothers would face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nicolas Mahut in Saturday’s pivotal rubber, and early on it looked as though this might not be the wisest choice, as Andy Murray was broken in the opening game of the match, the French not relinquishing the advantage.

 

The second set was a much tighter affair between the sides, with the Brits finally earning their first break point to hit the front for the first time in the match, and with a far more boisterous crowd than yesterday, the atmosphere was electric as Britain leveled.

 

There was drama to come through, as the court has had very little time to recover to be ready for the tie, and over the course of the two days the players have been taking tumbles. The younger Murray had already tweaked his groin in his first match, and an awkward slip rendered him face down in the grass, not to mention some embarrassingly painful looking manipulation afterward.

 

Yet as the pair battled through a tense tie-break to secure a 2-1 lead, Murray minor was leaping around pumped and getting the crowd behind him. It must have worked as the brothers quickly notched up a 5-0 lead, with the French registering a game on the board, and even pushing Jamie’s serve to a break point, before the doubles specialist stole the day with the final winner on match point – final score 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-1

 

It was a subdued Arnaud Clement who met with the press to defend his choices, and of course he can field Richard Gasquet in place of Gilles Simon tomorrow for the fourth rubber, leaving Tsonga to face James Ward if it comes to a fifth rubber.

 

Definitely not subdued was Jamie Murray whose confidence after his Wimbledon run spilled over as he made the most of being chief speaker after today’s result.

 

He said: “I think the crowd were great from first to the last point. Obviously that tie-break proved critical. I don’t really even remember much about it to be honest other than Andy getting that serve back and Mahut diving, and turning round and seeing Andy six feet off the ground. But you know, that’s the thing [about] home support – it’s brilliant to have it and I think as long as we’re playing home ties, everyone that’s coming to watch us should be there and cheering as loud as they can and trying to help the players, because it does really help us to perform as best we possibly can.”

 

Andy now has to try and get himself in gear for the earlier start on Sunday, especially with mixed reports about weather closing in, although no one wants this to push through into next week.

 

He said: “Got to make sure tonight conserve as much energy as possible, go back, recover properly. Get a good night’s sleep and hopefully come out tomorrow and feel good when I get up. Obviously right now after that match, it’s hard not to feel good.

 

“But I’ve also played matches where you do have a massive high, a massive adrenalin rush during the match and in the evening you can feel quite fatigued as well. I’ve been through that before. Just deal with whatever cards I’m dealt tomorrow when I wake up and hopefully play a good match.”

 

The final day starts with Murray facing either Richard Gasquet or Gilles Simon in the fourth rubber, and if it comes down to a fifth and decisive rubber, James Ward will face Tsonga.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

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Andy Murray Levels Great Britain versus France Davis Cup Tie at 1-1

Tsonga Murray 8814

By Ros Satar

(July 17, 2015) LONDON, UK – It was always going to be a tough ask for James Ward to tackle France’s highest ranked singles player (mind you, they are all stacked one after the other in the rankings).

 

With the fans kitted out in red and blue T-shirts, it was les Bleus who took first blood, as Gilles Simon edged past Ward in the first two sets with a single break, just having to up the level of intensity a little.

 

The third set was a runaway though by French standards as Simon closed out the first rubber comfortably under two hours, 6-4, 6-4, 6-1.

 

The Frenchman is no stranger to these courts this year, having reached the semi-finals here earlier this year, before going on to the quarter-finals at Wimbledon.

 

Ward had no option really but to praise his some-time hitting partner as ‘crafty’. He said: “He hits the ball very flat and moves very well, so even if guys are serving well, he returns well, he makes a lot of balls. And he’s pretty crafty, he puts the ball in places that are not always easy to attack from.”

 

The disappointment was evident in his body-language as he admitted that he and tea, captain Leon Smith had agreed upon tactics for the game, that just hadn’t worked out well today.

 

Ward said: “The guy moves very well, and even when I feel like I’m being aggressive, you can’t go too much because he gets a lot of balls back. And as I say it was very windy, it was moving around a lot there, so to time the ball perfect is very difficult. Sometimes you’re more worried about getting the ball in than trying to go for a winner and close to the line because the margins are small.”

 

So it was left to Andy Murray to level the tie, with a competitive first set just edged as Jo-Wilfred Tsonga went off the boil, spraying some wild forehands generously around the court.

 

There was a hope for the French though, as Tsonga broke at the start of the second set, and as the pair battled into a second set tie-break it looked again as though the French had the upper hand.

 

A strong fight-back from Murray saw them swap set points between them until finally an unforced error from Tsonga put the Brits in a commanding 2 set to love lead. From there it seemed to get away from Tsonga very quickly, with a nervy serve out by Murray at the end to level the tie.

 

He said: “I thought I did well. I mean the atmosphere helps. The crowd was great today, especially the important moments and yeah I was happy with the job I did today. I didn’t feel like I played amazing. I played some good shots at important times but it was very tough conditions today. It was extremely windy on the court today and swirling around a lot so it wasn’t easy to play very well.”

 

It remains to be seen what possible permutations come out for either teams for what is sure to be the pivotal doubles rubber on Saturday.

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

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French Pull Surprise at Davis Cup Draw Versus Great Britain

 

Tsonga Murray 8814

By Ros Satar

LONDON, UK – The BNP Paribas offices in Central London played host to the draw ceremony for the Davis Cup quarter-final tie between Great Britain and France

 

France perhaps pulled off the biggest surprise of all by announcing that the French No. 1 and No. 2 would be Gilles Simon and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, leaving Wimbledon semi-finalist Richard Gasquet off the side.

 

The British team were predictably in good spirits, laughing at in-jokes, and explaining away the strength in depth that the French have got, and always acknowledging that at any time, team captain Arnaud Clement could change his mind.

 

James Ward has the task of starting the whole tie off, and with a close history between his coach and Simon’s, the pair probably know their games inside out.

 

“I know him better than the other guys, I practice with him a lot so he knows my game just as well as I know his. I just need to stay aggressive and try and play my game and not worry too much about him, and yeah see how we get on.”

 

Simon agreed when asked in the French team’s press conference, adding: “I know what to expect, it will be hard but I think it will be a good match.”

 

The main focus of course is on Murray, who admitted yesterday that it had taken a few days to get over the Wimbledon semi-final loss to Roger Federer. But within the banter of the team, he was able to put his finger on what to expect when he plays the second rubber on Friday.

 

“He’s an explosive player, he can serve big, he can get to the net quickly, he can be dangerous,” he said. “The things that I’ll look for is to try and play a very consistent match from start to finish. If his level drops at times where he makes a few errors, try to capitalize on that, but he’s a tough tough guy to beat on this surface.”

 

There is always the option of adding Andy to the doubles mix, instead of Dominic Inglot who had to struggle to get fit in time for Wimbledon, and a lot will now depend on how that first rubber kicks off.

 

But one thing was clear – this was a team effort, and not a chance for Andy only to fill any hole in his trophy cabinet.

 

He said: “I wouldn’t say winning this year is the chance of the lifetime because we’re playing against a great team. It’s not like this is an amazing opportunity because the draw has opened up, this is an easy match or we have an easy path through to the final. It is extremely tough tie, beating the States was hard as well, and yeah it’s an opportunity obviously, but opportunity of a lifetime for me personally, no I don’t agree with that at all.”

 

As part of the team effort, the team are altogether in a hotel, fostering the team spirit we have seen when they greet the press for these draw conferences. Equally, the French team are just as motivated after their loss to the Swiss last year in the final.

 

The tie will start on Friday – James Ward v Gilles Simon followed by Andy Murray versus Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The doubles is expected to be Jamie Murray and Dominic Inglot versus Nicolas Mahut and Richard Gasquet, with the reverse singles on Sunday starting with Murray versus Simon.

 

Ros Satar is a British sports journalist covering tennis, and can also be found at Britwatch Sports.

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Djokovic – Murray Match Suspended: Winner to Face Wawrinka in Men’s French Open Final

 

(June 5, 2015) Stan Wawrinka still does not know yet who his opponent will be in the French Open men’s final on Sunday. The Swiss, who defeated French favorite Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-3, 6-7 (1), 7-6 (3), 6-4 in Friday’s first men’s semifinal, awaits the conclusion of the Novak DjokovicAndy Murray match which was suspended due to an impending rain storm in the fourth set. No. 1 Djokovic was leading No. 3 Murray 6-3, 6-3, 5-7, 3-3.

The Serb and the Scot will resume play on Saturday at 1 p.m. local time. The women’s final featuring No. 1 Serena Williams against 13th seed Lucie Safarova is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.

Williams canceled her practice session and news conference due to trying to recover from the flu she’s had since the third round of the tournament.

“It’s just a matter of resting and keeping hydrated – there’s not much else I can do,” Williams said in regard to her illness. “I need time, and obviously don’t have a lot of it. I just have to hope that tomorrow I will be feeling a lot better and able to give my best on court.”

For Safarova, who at 28-years-old is playing her first major final it will be a new experience.

“It’s been (a) long way and a lot of hours on court,” said Safarova. “I have been on tour, it’s my 12th year, and to reach this, finally, it’s just, you appreciate it much more, I think.”

Safaraova is also in the doubles final pairing up with American Betthanie Mattek-Sands. Together they won the Australian Open title in January.

In the second men’s semifinal, Djokovic rushed off to a two set lead lead, Murray broke Djokovic’s serve for the first time in the third set to take a 6-5 lead and closed out the set on his serve.

At 3-3 in the fourth set, play was called for the fading light due to the dark clouds moving in.

In the first men’s semifinal, Wawrinka had both Tsonga and the French crowd to battle. It’s been since 1983 that a French man won the French Open – Yannick Noaj and the last French man who reached the finals was Henri Leconte in 1988. The key statistic in the match was the fact that Tsonga was 1 for 17 on break points.

“Jo is always a tough player to play,” said the 8th seed Wawrinka, “especially when he’s playing at home.”

For Wawrinka, who won the French Open Junior title in 2003, Sunday will mark his second major final, he won the Australian Open back in 2014. Last year he was bounced out of the French Open in the first round.

For Djokovic, should he defeat Murray and then Warinka, he will be looking to become just the eighth man to win a career Grand Slam – winning a title at all four majors – Australia, Paris, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.

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Tsonga Withdraws From Australian Open

Tsonga in contemplation

(January 7, 2015) 2008 Australian Open runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has withdrawn from the Australian Open due to an injury to his right forearm.

The No, 12 ranked player said that he is “still suffering from a forearm inflammation that prevents me from being at 100 percent of my capacities in a competition.”

The Frenchman says that he needs three more weeks of treatment on his forearm.

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Roger Federer Win Clinches Switzerland’s First Davis Cup Title

 

(November 23, 2014) Switzerland became the 14th country to claim the country’s first Davis Cup title on Sunday when they defeated France 3- 1 in Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille, France.

In front of a record setting crowd of 27,448, world No. 2 Roger Federer clinched the tie for Switzerland defeating Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-2, 6-2, falling to the ground in celebration after hitting a drop shot winner. Gasquet filled in for an ailing Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

The Swiss No. 1 was in command of the match from beginning to end, which lasted an hour and 42 minutes.

“He was playing fast. He was very focused and making very few mistakes. I was not even able to have a break point,” said Gasquet. “It was difficult for me to give him problems. We are all disappointed. I would have liked to do more for the team because the crowd was ready, ready to support me to the end. In that situation, the only thing you want to do is play a fourth or fifth set just to please the crowd.”

“He was not unbeatable today, but he only made a few mistakes,” Gasquet explained. “It’s a shame I could not get any break points.”

Federer was dominated in a straight set loss to Gael Monfils in the second singles rubber on Friday. Stan Wawrinka opened the tie with a four-set victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and teamed with Federer to claim the doubles rubber on Saturday to give the Swiss a 2-1 lead coming into Sunday.

Being a part of a winning David Cup, adds another victory to his career resume, in which he already holds 17 major titles.

“I’m unbelievably happy. Amazing feeling to be celebrating with my friends,” said Federer post match in an on-court interview. “Just a great match, great atmosphere. It was a beautiful weekend for tennis.”

“We fought hard for it, I’ve been playing this game for almost 15 years now and clearly I’ve never come as close as this last weekend. I’m happy I was able to stay calm and play a good match when I had to and I’m happy for all the guys on the team.”

With Federer coming into the Davis Cup final in questionable health due to a back injury which forced him to withdraw last week’s ATP World Tour Final against No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the Basel native gave full credit to Wawrinka as the “MVP” of the Davis Cup Final.

“Everybody worked incredibly hard to get me match ready, Stan has put in so much effort over the years and played an unbelievable weekend that gave me the opportunity today,” said Federer.

“I’m very much aware of that, this one is for the boys. It’s not for me. I’ve won enough in my career and did not need to tick any empty boxes. I’m just happy for everybody else. I’m happy we could live a great tennis historic moment in our country.”

Just over a week ago, there appeared to be friction between Federer and Wawrinka when some media reports claimed that Federer’s wife Mirka allegedly heckled Wawrinka by calling him a “crybaby” during the ATP World Tour Finals semifinals between Federer and Wawrinka. It was later reported that Federer and Wawrinka had an argument in the locker room after the match.

“At the end, it’s a tennis match, you feel great emotions,” Federer continued. “You’re unbelievably happy and relieved “We wanted this clearly very badly, especially being up 2-1. You inch yourself closer and closer. Clearly seeing Stan out there, the rest of the team supporting you, gives you an extra push. It was definitely one of the better feelings in my career, no doubt about it. So much nicer to celebrate it all together.”

“It’s an amazing feeling. The best,” said Wawrinka. “We all know how it’s great to watch such an amazing player when he’s playing good tennis.”

With the Davis Cup win on Sunday, Wawrinka, became the first person since Andre Agassi in 1992 to win his first Grand Slam title and his first Davis Cup trophy in the same year. Wawrinka also won his first Masters 1000 title in Monte Carlo, taking out Davis Cup teammate Federer back in April.

Federer set a new record as the most successful Swiss player in the history of the Davis Cup. It was his 50th win, now ahead of Jakob Hlasek for total wins.

Asked about comparing this victory to winning his first major, Wimbledon in 2003, Federer said, “You can’t compare. When I won Wimbledon, it was a total shock honestly. Davis Cup is something that I knew was possible at some stage in my career.

“Of course, there was the pressure of being able to manage all this and make everyone happy with all the support we had for the team and everything. So it is a totally different feeling. Also I was not alone on the court. This changes everything.”

 

Final scores:

DAVIS CUP BY BNP PARIBAS FINAL

SWITZERLAND defeated FRANCE 3-1

Venue: Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, FRA (clay – indoors)
Stan Wawrinka (SUI) d. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) 61 36 63 62

Gael Monfils (FRA) d. Roger Federer (SUI) 61 64 63

Roger Federer/Stan Wawrinka (SUI) d. Julien Benneteau/Richard Gasquet (FRA) 63 75 64

Roger Federer (SUI) d. Richard Gasquet (FRA) 64 62 62

Gael Monfils (FRA) v Stan Wawrinka (SUI) not played

 

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