2015/03/31

Kei Nishikori Three-peats at Memphis Open

Kei Nishikori Memphis 2014

(February 15, 2015) Kei Nishikori is the first man to “three-peat” at the Memphis Open, taking his third straight title defeating South African Kevin Anderson 6-4, 6-4 in the final Sunday. For Japan’s Nishikori who is 10-2 this year, he earned his eighth career ATP title.

“I think I am going to move here soon,” Nishikori said during the trophy ceremony.

“It’s (an) amazing feeling because nobody ever done this before at this tournament, so it’s something special,” Nishikori continued. “But, you know, I think I have to do better to keep this, and hopefully I can keep going.”

For Anderson  who regularly practices with Nishikori, he has now has lost six straight finals.

It was a two-set win on Sunday, but the world No. 5 had three three-set battles en route to the final. In his the semifinal, Nishikori outlasted Sam Querrey 5-7, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) in the longest match of the week at two hours, 42 minutes.

Tommy Haas, Todd Martin and Jimmy Connors (twice) all won Memphis titles in back-to-back years. This was just Nishikori’s fourth appearance in Memphis.

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Serena Williams to face Madison Keys in Australian Open Semifinal

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

(January 28, 2015) No. 1 Serena Williams and No. 35 Madison Keys booked spots in Australian Open semifinals on Wednesday. Keys broke up what could have been an “all-Williams” semifinal when the 19-year-old knocked out 34-year-old Venus Williams 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach her first Grand Slam final four.

Serena Williams had a much easier time advancing, dismissing last year’s Australian Open losing finalist Dominika Cibulkova 6-2, 6-2 in 69 minutes, is still on track to try and win her 19th major and sixth Australian Open title.

Statistics tell the story for the world No. 1 American who hit 58 winners including 15 aces and made only 18 unforced errors against the Slovak. Williams has won the title at Melbourne Park each of the five previous times she has advanced to the semifinals.

“I feel I played well,” said Serena. “I felt I had to. I feel like when you’re going up against a player like that who is confident on the court – she just had a few good matches – I knew that I needed to really play well or go home.”

“It was tough match for me today,” No. 11 Cibulkova said. “She was just playing really well today, I have to say. She was putting so much pressure from the serve and return. I didn’t have a chance to play my game. Just felt under so much pressure. It was a good day for her.

“It’s the way I struggle with reading her serves. I just don’t put many first returns in the game. That’s what makes it tough. And also then I feel under a bigger pressure on my serve. That’s why I try to go for much more first serve today. It just didn’t go in. Then my second serve, she was just going for it. Yeah, that’s make it really tough. She tries to make the rallies much shorter and not to get me in the rhythm. Yeah, that’s it.”

In a battle between tennis generations, Venus Williams and Keys, it was the first All-American quarterfinal since Sloane Stephens beat Serena Williams in Melbourne Park back in 2013.

After a dominant first set by Keys, who is now coached by former No. 1 and three-time slam winner Lindsay Davenport, she had to overcome a left leg injury and rally from a break down in the third set to win the match. Keys completed the match with 34 winners to 45 unforced errors, while Venus hit 10 winners to 38 unforced errors. The match saw 12 service breaks.

“I definitely didn’t serve as consistently as I wanted to,” said the seven-time major champion. “I felt like just not as aggressive off the ground as I would have liked. So I think in this kind of match you have to be aggressive. Like I said, I give a lot of credit to her because she really set her points up. She was swinging freely. Most of them went in for her. So it was just, you know, great for her.”

“It already feels like a long season already, so many matches in a row,” Williams said. “But it’s a great start. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep this level up.”

Venus is 9-1 on the year, having won the tournament in Auckland.

“I think she played really well,” Venus said “Of course, I have to give credit to her just for playing well, landing a lot of great shots I think is ultimately — ultimately she played really well.

Venus hadn’t reached the quarterfinals of a Grand Slam since the U.S. Open in 2010 since being diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome in 2011, an auto-immune disease which causes fatigue.

“I think just being able to come back from being down and from not being able to move as well, not having as effective of a serve, just being able to kind of grind through that, still figure it out, manage to win some points, is what I’m most happy about,” Keys said about her left abductor injury.

“It was definitely one of those things where it wasn’t nearly as bad as Wimbledon, but it was that nightmare of `I don’t want this to happen again,’” Keys said. “Luckily the pain meds kicked in.”

“I mean, it definitely feels amazing,” said the teenager about the victory. “It’s one of those things where you want to feel this way all the time. But it’s not, you know, this unbelievable excitement either ’cause you want to keep winning and you want to keep doing better. I am very happy and I am very excited, but also not getting too far ahead of myself and being too content where I am.”

This is the third straight year that a teenager has reached the Australian Open semifinals: 2013 – Sloane Stephens, 2014 – Eugenie Bouchard and 2015 – Keys.

“I think Genie and Sloane are both really talented and can play some really good tennis,” Keys said.” It’s not super surprising they made semifinals. But, no, it’s one of those things when you see some of your fellow peers doing well, going deep in tournaments, it’s inspirational. Makes you kind of believe that you can do the same.”

About how Venus sees Keys’ future: “Sky’s the limit. There is no limit on what you can achieve. No one can stop you. Sometimes you may not win every match, but there’s a lot of them you can win. Really the sky’s the limit for her and anyone out there.”

On playing Serena next, Keys said: “It’s just one of those things where I have to go out and I have to do my best and I have to really just have to stay focused on my side of the court, because she’s obviously very, very good and she’s going to play very well. So if I get too focused on what she’s doing I think I can kind of let the moment get away from me. So I’m just really going to stay focused on myself.”

Serena on playing Keys:“I think she likes the surface. I’m just happy to be in the semis, and whatever happens an American will be in the final.”

“She’s playing great. I told her I was really happy that she did well. She’s in the semis. It’s good to see another American, another African American, in the semifinals playing so well. Regardless, there’s going to be an American in the finals, so that is great. It’s also great for me and Venus because we know that finally there’s other Americans that are constantly playing well and playing better, showing that they want to be the world’s greatest.”

On the men’s side of the draw, No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka posted straight set wins to reach the semifinals. Djokovic defeated Milos Raonic 7-6 (5), 6-4, 6-2 to gain his 25 major semifinal, while defending champion Wawrinka dominated Kei Nishokori with a powerful backhand 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (6).

This sets up a repeat of the last year’s dramatic quarterfinal which Wawrinka won in five sets.

 

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2015 Australian Open Men’s Contender Profiles

(January 17, 2015) Profiles of the top Men’s Singles contenders for the 2015 Australian Open. Note: Grand Slam records for main draw matches only.  – by Jack Cunniff     http://twitter.com/jrcunniff

Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

2014 Record: 61-8

Grand Slam Record: 180-33

Australian Open Record: 43-6

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2008, ’11-’13)

Fast Fact: If Djokovic wins the title, he will be tied for 5th for Grand Slam titles won (8) with Agassi, Connors, and Lendl, and will have the most Australian Open titles (5) in the Open era.

 

Roger Federer

2014 Record: 73-12

Grand Slam Record: 279-45

Australian Open Record: 73-11

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2004, ’06, ’07, ’10)

Fast Fact: Over the last five years, the Australian Open has been Federer’s most successful Grand Slam event, with 26 match wins (French – 22 wins, Wimbledon – 22 wins, US – 21 wins).

 

Rafael Nadal

2014 Record: 48-11

Grand Slam Record: 187-25

Australian Open Record: 41-8

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2009)

Fast Fact: Over the last seven months, Nadal has lost as many matches (3) against players ranked outside the top 100 as he had over the prior seven years.

 

Stan Wawrinka

2014 Record: 39-17

Grand Slam Record: 82-38

Australian Open Record: 23-8

Australian Open Best Result: W (2014)

Fast Fact: In 2014, Wawrinka won 73% of his matches vs. Top Ten players (8-3); in prior years he won only 29% vs. Top Ten (27-67).

 

Kei Nishikori

2014 Record: 54-14

Grand Slam Record: 37-21

Australian Open Record: 12-5

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2012)

Fast Fact: In 2014, Nishikori won $4.4M in prize money, more than he had earned in his entire career prior to 2014 ($3.6M in 2007-2013).

 

Andy Murray

2014 Record: 59-20

Grand Slam Record: 134-33

Australian Open Record: 33-9

Australian Open Best Result: RU (2010, ’11, ’13)

Fast Fact: Murray has reached at least the QF in his last 15 Grand Slam events played, a streak dating back to 2010 US Open (lost 3R to Wawrinka).

 

Tomas Berdych

2014 Record: 55-22

Grand Slam Record: 103-45

Australian Open Record: 29-11

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2014)

Fast Fact: Berdych has played 15 five set matches at Grand Slam events, but only one at the Australian Open (2009, lost 4R to Federer).

 

Milos Raonic

2014 Record: 49-20

Grand Slam Record: 35-16

Australian Open Record: 10-4

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2011, ’13)

Fast Fact: Raonic has only one Top Ten win at a Grand Slam, defeating No. 10 Youzhny in the 3R of the 2011 Australian Open.

 

David Ferrer

2014 Record: 54-24

Grand Slam Record: 121-48

Australian Open Record: 32-12

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2011, ’13)

Fast Fact: Ferrer’s win over Berdych in Doha last week was his first win vs. a Top Ten player since May, 2014 (def. Isner, Madrid 3R).

 

Grigor Dimitrov

2014 Record: 50-18

Grand Slam Record: 20-17

Australian Open Record: 6-4

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2014)

Fast Fact: Dimitrov is the only player born after 1990 to have reached the Top Ten in the ATP rankings.

 

Ernests Gulbis

2014 Record: 41-21

Grand Slam Record: 27-29

Australian Open Record: 2-6

Australian Open Best Result: 2R (2009, ’14)

Fast Fact: Gulbis has lost in the first or second round in 22 of the last 24 Grand Slam events he has played.

 

Feliciano Lopez

2014 Record: 39-26

Grand Slam Record: 73-52

Australian Open Record: 17-12

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2012)

Fast Fact: In his 17th year as a professional, Lopez had his most successful year in 2014, winning 39 matches.

 

Gael Monfils

2014 Record: 36-15

Grand Slam Record: 67-32

Australian Open Record: 16-9

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2009)

Fast Fact: Monfils is the only seeded man at the 2014 Australian Open to win the Boys Singles title (2004).

 

John Isner

2014 Record: 39-20

Grand Slam Record: 37-26

Australian Open Record: 7-6

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2010)

Fast Fact: Of Isner’s 18 career final appearances, 15 have been in U.S. events.

 

 

 

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Sharapova Wins Brisbane; Federer a Victory Away from 1000

Sharapova fh

(January 10, 2015) Maria Sharapova won her 34th career title with a 6-7 (4), 6-3, 6-3 victory over Ana Ivanovic at the Brisbane International on Saturday. The battle lasted for two hours and 38 minutes.

Sharapova let a 4-1 first set lead slip to the Serbian who came back to win the first set.

“She was doing a lot of things better in the first set, and she deserved to win the first set, but I hung in there,” Sharapova said. “It was important to get that break, and the third set came down to a few points, really. I’m just happy that I managed to get it in three.”

“She had some great comebacks”, ” Ivanovic said. “She got back the balls that I thought weren’t coming over the net. That’s why she’s where she is, and that’s why she’s such a great champion.”

The victory gives the Russian a chance to overtake Serena Williams for the No. 1 ranking depending on the results at the Australian Open, which begins on January 19. Sharapova is within 681 points of Williams.

“I played four good matches against very different types of opponents. Couldn’t have asked for better preparation,” Sharapova said. “Now that I won a tournament, maybe I have a better chance of going higher in the rankings. Right now I am No. 2; the next spot is 1.”

Roger Federer (2)-001

Roger Federer is aiming to become just the third male player, behind Jimmy Connors (1,253) and Ivan Lendl (1,071) to win 1000 career matches on Sunday when he takes on Milos Raonic in the final of Brisbane.

Federer took down Grigor Dimitrov in the semifinals on Saturday 6-2, 6-2 in 53 minutes while Raonic won an intense battle against Kei Nishikori 6-7(4), 7-6(4), 7-6(4).
“I was able to play straightforward tennis, like yesterday, just really aggressive,” said Federer. “Against a really good player, it’s a great result. Happy I didn’t waste much energy like this. I’m fresh for the finals. Probably got a slight advantage over Milos in that regard.”

“It’s a goal for the season, so I still have time to get to a thousand,” Federer said in a post-match interview. “I mean, it’s a really big number, no doubt about it. Love to get it tomorrow. If not tomorrow, I hope it happens at the Australian Open. It would definitely be an incredible milestone to reach.”

 

RESULTS – SATURDAY, 10 JANUARY 10, 2015

WTA Singles – Finals
[1] M Sharapova (RUS) d [2] A Ivanovic (SRB) 67(4) 63 63

WTA Doubles – Finals
M Hingis (SUI) / S Lisicki (GER) d [4] C Garcia (FRA) / K Srebotnik (SLO) 62 75

ATP Singles – Semi-finals
[1] R Federer (SUI) d [4] G Dimitrov (BUL) 62 62
[3] M Raonic (CAN) d [2] K Nishikori (JPN) 67(4) 76(4) 76(4)

ATP Doubles – Semi-finals
J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS) d S Johnson (USA) / S Querrey (USA) 76(3) 76(2)

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 11 JANUARY 2015

PAT RAFTER ARENA start 4:30 pm
ATP – J Murray (GBR) / J Peers (AUS) vs A Dolgopolov (UKR) / K Nishikori (JPN)

Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – [1] R Federer (SUI) vs [3] M Raonic (CAN)

 

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Djokovic endures stormy weather to down Nishikori in three sets

Chalkdust Chronicles – Djokovic ensures stormy weather to down Nishikori in three sets

(November 15, 2014) LONDON – Two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic showed the first cracks to his super-human armor when he took three sets to halt Kei Nishikori’s bid to reach the title match of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals – winning 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.

 

At first it could not have looked more routine. The tournament has been almost plagued by one-sided matches, and after breaking the Japanese player in his second service game, Djokovic piled on the pressure as Nishikori seemed to struggle to get any purpose on his shots.

 

Nishikori has been struggling with a wrist injury all week, and with constant returns by the trainer to treat and tape the wrist, it looked as though this would all be over very quickly when Djokovic started the second set with an immediate break.

 

The semi-final crowds wanted to see a good contest and threw their support firmly behind Nishikori, gamely cheering on a Djokovic double-fault which earned Nishikori a break, and in return they were rewarded with a less than appreciated hand clap from Djokovic.

 

The immediate break back seemed to give Nishikori a new lease of life as Djokovic’s lapses in concentration and shot selection opened the door, and Nishikori wasted no time in leveling the match.

 

With two break points up on Djokovic at the start of the deciding set, the Serb dug deep and clawed back to register a vital hold and from there, Nishikori’s resolve left him as Djokovic raced through the set, leaving the final blow for Nishikori to deliver himself, with a double-fault on match point.

 

After the match, he believed he had the chances in the final set, despite the apparent one-sidedness of it all

 

Nishikori said: “The first set he played really good, too good for me. But second set I start playing well. He got little bit tight. I took some risk. Everything worked well in the second. I was playing well. Even first couple points in third set, I thought I had it. I think I start thinking too much about he’s No. 1 player, Novak. I think I risked too much. I think I did too many unforced errors first couple games. Then he start playing better.”

 

He continued: “You know, it’s very disappointing because I think if I little bit change I could be I think little more closer in the third set. But it was good one week.”

 

It has been an outstanding run for the Japanese player who has made history this year, reaching a Grand Slam final, reaching the highest rank for an Asian player and now reaching the World Tour finals for the first time, and making the semi-finals on his debut.

 

But it has been a long season and has been beset with injuries – so his plans for the new season have to take into account the pressure it will take to stay at the top of the game.

 

He explained: “Maybe mentally little bit tired because I had to fight couple tight moment, especially in Paris. I had to win couple matches to get in here. US Open was first experience to go final and play seven matches, five sets. But I think physically I show that I could, you know, play seven matches, play two times five sets. I think physically I’m getting strong.

 

“I think it’s going to be very important I do well this December, a lot of train, good practice, try to prepare for next year.”

 

It was a strangely subdued Djokovic who faced the press, cryptically refusing to answer why he opted to sign the camera with just a full-stop instead of his usual message, and why he reacted to the crowd cheering the double-fault break-point.

 

“Honestly, today I found it a little bit difficult mentally to stay concentrated throughout the whole match. After emotional three matches I had, especially yesterday when I achieved the goal to finish as No. 1 of the world, knowing that, I felt a little bit, I would say, flat emotionally today. I needed a little bit more time to kind of give myself a boost.

 

“I was fortunate because in the beginning of the third set, he had breakpoints. If he broke me, the match could have gone either way. I managed to find that little bit of strength and get a win today. “

 

There is a real sense that the end of the season cannot com quick enough, especially for the World No. 1 who was also low key in his press conference yesterday after reclaiming the World No. 1 spot.

 

“Tomorrow is the last match of the season. Of course, it’s one of the biggest tournaments in the world, aside of the Grand Slams. This is already the biggest possible motivation. I will try to give everything I have.”

 

Djokovic will face either Roger Federer or Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s final.

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Federer and Nishikori reign supreme in Group B at ATP World Tour Finals

Roger Federer photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Roger Federer photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Chalkdust Chronicles: Federer and Nishikori reign supreme in Group B at ATP World Tour Finals

(November 13, 2014) LONDON – Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori qualified from Group B to advance to the knockout stages of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

 

The Japanese player had to wait for his confirmation, but his win over alternate David Ferrer pushed Federer into the semi-finals. Nishikori was scheduled to face Milos Raonic, who was 0-2 already in the competition, but despite practicing earlier, he pulled out with a quad injury a couple of hours before the match was due to start.

The Canadian explained: “It was just something I sustained during my last match. Through extensive sort of research with the doctor’s team here, we found that I have a slight tear on the vastus medialis on my quad.”

 

On medical advice he was told that taking to the court could mean putting himself out of action for a considerable amount of time.

 

“Losing six to eight weeks of solely rehab sort of means you lose 12 weeks of getting back into shape and everything, those are definitely significant factors in my decision. At some points I didn’t want to accept it and listen to it. But it is what it is. I, alongside my team, all the staff with the ATP, made the best decision I believe.”

 

So it was left to David Ferrer to step in with the scenarios changing, and for the first time the crowd were treated to a three-set match as the Spaniard took advantage of a lapse in Nishikori’s level to edge the first set, but an early break at the start of the second sent the momentum back Nishikori’s way, as he ran away with it in the third set claiming th amtch 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

 

“It’s never easy playing against David because he’s very consistent from the baseline,” said Nishikori. “If I want to win, I have to do something to break his tennis. From the second set, I was more aggressive. The final set was almost perfect.”

The final match alas did not live up to its promise, as Roger Federer blasted Andy Murray off the court 6-0, 6-1. After holding his first game, Federer went on a tear to win 10 games in a row before the battered Brit finally got a game on the board, only for Federer to wrap up the set in less than an hour.

 

After the match Federer said: “I think if there’s a slight difference of the level from the baseline, hard to get out of it. We’ve seen it all week. The serve doesn’t have that much impact. I didn’t even necessarily serve so well. But you got to play the right way here, use the court to your advantage as much as you can.

 

He continued: “But I had the upper hand from the baseline, which hasn’t always happened against him. But I definitely was able to play on my terms. For me, things went very well. I was able to put Andy under pressure very often, and I think the match couldn’t have gone any better for me really.”

 

 

Coming straight into his post-match news conference Murray admitted: “He played exceptionally well. I can say I’m disappointed with my level tonight. But if I played well, he probably still would have won anyway. He was striking the ball very, very clean. Made very few mistakes. Was hitting the ball off the middle of the racquet on serve, returns.”

 

Murray is on best-man duty for best friend Ross Hutchins next week and has just 14 days before the start of the International Premier Tennis League, where he will be playing in a series of exhibition events, before playing in the Mubadala World Tennis Championships and the Hopman Cup ahead of the start of the season.

 

Tennis Panorama News is covering the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.  Follow on twitter for live updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Roger Federer in cruise control in London

Federer on court-001

Chalkdust Chronicles: Roger Federer in cruise control in London

(November 11, 2014) LONDON – Roger Federer breezed through his second round robin match of the ATP World Tour Finals, as he eased past Kei Nishikori 6-3 6-2.

 

The Japanese player, who overcame nerves to edge out Britain’s Andy Murray in the first round started promisingly, and indeed in the early exchanges looked to be the sharper of the two, but once the errors started racking up, and his backhand down the line deserted him, he looked a shadow of the player who stepped up on his debut.

 

He admitted: “Maybe he didn’t play maybe hundred percent, but all the tough points he played, you know, good serve, good points. He didn’t give me a chance to come back. Yeah, I think he did great that. Important points, he put all the efforts.”

 

“I didn’t play really bad. But still, you know, I wasn’t really consistent everything, my serve, my strokes. I had a little bit of unforced errors. So that’s why I couldn’t, you know, stay there.”

 

For the second time in the tournament, Nishikori received treatment on his wrist, but he played it down, in a season where wrist injuries have plagued many players.

 

“[I] just had a little bit of soreness today. I mean, the tennis was okay. I was playing really solid from the baseline. Maybe serve wasn’t there, you know, today. But I have one more day, tomorrow, off. So try to come back, recovery well, and hopefully I can win next one. “

 

Federer in the mean time is riding high, almost virtually assured of his place in the semi-finals, if Andy Murray beats Milos Raonic in three sets, and the benefit of a guaranteed place is not lost on him.

 

“I’d like to be qualified, to be quite honest. At least I know I am through maybe than having to win a set or maybe having to win the entire match. I don’t even know what it takes. Usually if you do win in straight sets twice, things look very, very good.

 

He continued: “The advantage of being qualified, if that were to happen, is just that you can go into the match a bit more laid back. But then again, the integrity of the game, and there’s so much still at stake for me, wanting to beat a fellow rival and wanting to win the points that are at stake, go in with a clean sheet into the semis is any way to go.”

 

The final Group B round robin matches will be played on Thursday.

 

Tennis Panorama News is covering the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.  Follow on twitter for live updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Notes and Quotes from Day 1 of the ATP World Tour Finals

Singles+Official+Portrait

Photo by www.red-photographic.com

(November 9, 2014) LONDON – Notes and quotes from the Day 1  news conferences of the ATP World Tour Finals, which included Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori, Andy Murray and Milos Raonic.

 

Roger Federer

On the possibility of ending 2014 year with the No. 1 ranking:

“I have a small shot at world No. 1 after winning Shanghai. I mean, I’m happy it’s this way. But I think it’s highly unlikely it’s going to happen. If it does, obviously it’s great.

“But for me personally, it doesn’t really matter if it happened at the end of the year or any other week during the year, as long as you could get back to world No. 1 for one more time. I think that would be very special because I’ve been there and I know how much it would mean, because winning a tournament is a one‑week thing or a two‑week thing, but getting back to world No. 1 is an entirely different animal.

“I’ll try to get there, but obviously Novak is going to dictate as well what’s going to happen here.”

 

Asked about the greater rivalry of his career – Nadal or Djokovic:

“I feel a special connection towards Rafa just because we did, I don’t want to say come up together somewhat on the tour, but we did have a very strong, intense rivalry for many years, starting 2004 maybe. Especially we played each other that many times in finals of slams, which hasn’t been the case with the other players as much.

“I know Novak, the matches and the rivalry is nice. I really enjoy playing against him. It’s very evenly matched, you know. But I played him more often probably in semis than in finals most likely. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s kind of how it felt like.

“Because me and Rafa were always 1 and 2 or 2 and 1 for so long. Murray and Djokovic always ended up in our semis for so long. So there was actually more opportunities to play those guys than Rafa, quite honestly, because getting to the finals is difficult.

“But then also I always like to look back and see who were my tougher players when I was coming up. In the beginning I struggled against the likes of Henman, Nalbandian, Hewitt, Roddick. So for me those were really interesting players to play against. I was lucky enough that Andre Agassi played as long as he did because I got to play him also, I think almost 15 times.”

 

Evaluating his win over Raonic:

“I think I played really well for probably one and a half sets. It was good to get off to a good start like I did against him at Cincinnati, and Wimbledon, I broke first game and sort of never looked back. I think when I had breakpoint in the second set, he was able to save that. When I was trying to hit a lob and he smashed it home, after that it became complicated. I don’t know why.

“I had a couple of games where I was up 40‑Love, and both times he came back and got into the game, which was probably my mistake. But it made me uncomfortable. I started to play a bit more passive. He started to become a bit more offensive. I actually think he was the better player from that moment on and deserved the set more than I did.

“Thankfully he didn’t play quite so well, like he did in Paris maybe. He gave me a few shots here and there, especially at the beginning of the breaker. I think those were crucial.

“I was happy to bring it home because it was very close at the end of the second.”

 

 

Milos Raonic

 

“But it’s obviously disappointing, very disappointing actually, the way I finished that second set off. “

 

“It took me more a set to find my way into the match because of playing Roger, not because of being here for the first time.”

 

“Every time you play Roger, the crowd’s on his side, even if he’s playing a local favorite. It’s hard for people to cheer against Roger.

“I’ve played him a few times. I’ve played home favorites on big courts also a few times, and in Davis Cup, many different situations. So it wasn’t any type of an issue.”

 

“I get pretty angry when I lose, so…

I’m going to have to learn how to slap myself out of it.”

 

Andy Murray

On his loss to Nishikori:

“I didn’t serve well enough today. I would say that was the biggest difference in the match. And when you’re not serving well, obviously on your own service games you want to be looking to dictate the points. When you’re returning, you kind of dictate when you have the opportunity. You don’t always have the chance if someone’s serving well.

“And, yeah, I didn’t serve well enough. He was able to dictate a lot of points, especially behind my second serve. That was, yeah, statistically the part of the match ‑‑ yeah, I mean, that was the part of the match where he had the upper hand. That was the difference. “

 

“It’s still obviously disappointing to lose the first match. And, yeah, I would have liked to have done better.”

 

“Obviously now I need to win my next two matches more than likely, and win them well if I want to go through. That’s going to be tricky because Milos obviously played fantastic last week in Paris, and Roger always plays well at this event.

 

“So I’m definitely going to have to play better if I want to get through.”

 

On the surface at the O2 Arena: “It’s quite lively, to be honest. It can be hard to control the ball that can bounce pretty high up on the serve, on the kick serve. Yeah, it’s quicker than the other courts.

 

“It’s definitely quicker than Valencia and Paris, I would say that. I don’t know exactly why that is, because the balls are the same and it’s the same court, I believe, manufacturer. I don’t know if it’s to do with just how big the stadium is, and it does get warm in there. I’m not sure. But, yeah, it’s quite lively.”

 

#458693032 / gettyimages.com

 Kei Nishikori

Asked about his confidence in his first–ever win over Murray:

“For sure I was different than these couple matches we played because this year I was, you know, much better player than before and more aggressive, you know, have bigger result this year.

 

“So that’s why I try not to think, you know, I can’t beat these guys, because I’ve been beating those top‑10 guys already. You know, this is even first time for me to play to a Final.

 

“But we’ve been playing a lot these players, and I was a little bit tight in the beginning, but, you know, I start feeling little more confidence in especially second set. I was very, very, you know, solid player.”

 

 

About playing in the O2 Arena:

“The court is same as Paris, so I was little bit used to, you know, playing this surface. But the stadium is huge. You know, I try not to look up too much because there was too many people on the top. Try to stay focus.

“Maybe when I walk into the stadium, I was nervous, but same time I was really excited to play with this crowd.

You know, I was thinking, you know, very honored to be here. You know, first time to be top‑eight player. I was really happy that I played good tennis on this situation.”

 

“There is, you know, still a long way to going to final and to win it. Play one match at a time and hope I can win couple matches here and go to semifinal.”

 

“I see Li Na and Srichaphan, I was looking up to them. I felt a lot of motivation from them.”

Tennis Panorama News is covering the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.  Follow on twitter for live updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Chalkdust Chronicles: Federer rampant over Raonic

 

Chalkdust Chronicles: Federer rampant over Raonic

 

(November 9, 2014) LONDON – World Tour Finals rookie Milos Raonic got a baptism of fire on his debut, as memories of his Paris win and first victory over Roger Federer was all but banished from memory in a 25 minute first set.

 

From the offset, Federer raced out to a 3-0 lead and while Raonic spared his blushes of avoiding a bagel, getting a solitary game on the board, it was not enough to hold back the tide of errors flowing from his racquet.

 

Where in Paris he was serving like a demon, the lack of variety started to harm Raonic as he lacked the court smarts in the first set to try and stay with Federer.

 

It was a more competitive start for the Canadian, but not without some battling still with a big hold to stay in contention at the start of the second before being rewarded with the rarity of break points on the Federer serve, taking the World No. 2 seven minutes to hold as the big serving Canadian was starting to serve a lot better. It was the boost he needed as Federer started to go off the boil.

 

Frustratingly break point chances came again for Raonic in the all important 11th game, and some clutch play from Federer forced a tie-break, and the rhythm and form started to desert him a little as Federer build up a sharp 6-0 lead in the tie-break. He needed just the one match point, as he roasted Raonic 6-1 7-6(0).

 

It was a very satisfied Federer who laid his loss at Paris to rest, as he explained:

 

“I think I played really well for probably one and a half sets. It was good to get off to a good start like I did against him at Cincinnati, and Wimbledon. I had a couple of games where I was up 40‑Love, and both times he came back and got into the game, which was probably my mistake. But it made me uncomfortable. I started to play a bit more passive. He started to become a bit more offensive. I actually think he was the better player from that moment on and deserved the set more than I did.

 

“Thankfully he didn’t play quite so well, like he did in Paris maybe. He gave me a few shots here and there, especially at the beginning of the breaker. I think those were crucial.      I was happy to bring it home because it was very close at the end of the second.”

 

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

Raonic, on the other hand knows that he faces a real challenge, and so far has come of worse with one more debutant to go tomorrow, as Marin Cilic takes on Novak Djokovic.

 

“It’s obviously disappointing, very disappointing actually, the way I finished that second set off. He was a lot more consistent on his return games. In Paris, okay, I’d get free points when I hit aces, but today the big difference was when he would get his racquet on the ball, he would make me play all the time. He was giving me some shots in Paris in that sense, some quicker points.

 

“I believe he played better today. I believe I started off not playing nearly as well, but I think I sort of found that Paris level that I had against him come the second set. I think that’s why I was able to create some opportunities for myself.”

 

He will face Andy Murray who was edged out by the third newcomer to London Kei Nishikori.

 

“It’s a completely different match. Things are going to be quite different than the first match. We both, after today, have more so of an idea what we need to do different for the next round. It’s going to be about who necessarily adjusts better, who can play better come Tuesday night.”

 

Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych will play the Monday day session and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic starts his defense in the night session.

 

Tennis Panorama News is covering the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.  Follow on twitter for live updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

 

 

RESULTS FOR SUNDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 2014

Singles – Group B Round Robin
[2] R Federer (SUI) d [7] M Raonic (CAN) 61 76(0)
[4] K Nishikori (JPN) d [5] A Murray (GBR) 64 64

Doubles – Group B Round Robin
[7] I Dodig (CRO) / M Melo (BRA) d [2] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) 63 75
[6] M Granollers (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP) d [4] J Benneteau (FRA) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 64 64

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Chalkdust Chronicles: Grey Day for Murray as he drops first round to newcomer Nishikori

Chalkdust Chronicles: Grey Day for Murray as he drops first round to newcomer Nishikori

 

(November 9, 2014) LONDON – Any fears that Andy Murray might have had about having to win fins back were answered with rousing cheers as the home-grown champion opened the day’s proceedings at the Barclays ATP world Tour Finals.

 

It looked to be starting so promisingly too. While Kei Nishikori starting nervously and Murray looking to be just that more solid, the poppy-sporting Brit drew first blood with a break to more rapturous cheering. However that was soon muted as Nishikori started generating a lot more pace and hustling Murray more, breaking him to love straight away.

 

It was a wasted opportunity of a battle that saw Murray squander a couple of breakpoints and from there Nishikori seemed to take heart, dealing the final break to seal the first set.

 

Maybe there is something about the day matches that tends to leave the atmosphere a bit flat, but Nishikori stunned them into silence racing into a 3-0 lead.

 

British hopes were roused a little when Murray stemmed the flow winning three games in a row to level at 4-4 in the second set and it looked as though the day crowd were going to get their money’s worth, but almost immediately the same lapse in concentration saw Murray broken, as Nishikori came through his London debut 6-4 6-4.

 

Murray had little choice but to be quite clinical with his review of the match.

 

“I didn’t serve well enough. He was able to dictate a lot of points, especially behind my second serve. Both of us struggled at the beginning of the match. The conditions, when you play with no one in there, it seemed like it was pretty full today. It’s obviously warmer, which then makes it quicker, the ball becomes a bit more lively.

 

“He definitely started playing better at the end of the first set and started feeling a bit more comfortable with those conditions.

 

Of course the benefit of the World Tour finals is that there are still two more round robin matches to go, but in a close group where it is maybe not as clear cut as perhaps the group of three Slam winners, Murray wasted a valuable chance to make life easy on himself.

 

“It’s harder to qualify when you lose your first match. But unlike the other events, you still have a chance to go through,” Murray said. “If this were anywhere else, I would be out of the tournament. You need to try to forget about today, work on some things tomorrow, and hopefully play better on Tuesday.”

 

For Nishikori it is a great start to cap a fantastic year for the record breaking Japanese player, who has battled to stay fit, despite having to call the trainer out briefly at the end of the first set.

 

“The court is same as Paris, so I was little bit used to playing this surface,” Nishikori said. “But the stadium is huge. You know, I try not to look up too much [and] try to stay focus. Maybe when I walk into the stadium, I was nervous, but same time I was really excited to play with this crowd. I was really happy that I played good tennis on this situation.”

 

Nishikori in the past has been almost a fragile little flower, so it has been pleasing to see him weather several weeks of tough competition, and he explained how he had improved in that area.

 

“I’m spending more time on the gym and also on the courts, too, you know, more practice during off‑season. Even when I’m on the tour, I try to do little bit of rehab and little bit of training. Maybe that’s one of the reason. I had couple injuries this year, you know, I had to retire couple matches, important matches. But I’ve been getting really strong, my body. Yeah, in US Open I played five sets. But I can able to finish seven matches first time, so I think I’m very strong physically.”

 

But with that comes the need to become tougher mentally, and given how shaky Nishikori’s first serve at times wandering around the cavern that is the O2, it was a testament to his improved strength of focus that he did not crumble when Murray fought back in the second set.

 

“I was [trying] to stay calm, even he was playing little better, you know, start playing little more consistent.

 

“First time I play Roger, couldn’t play anything ’cause I respect too much. I wasn’t go for win actually. I was just, you know, play tennis against my idol. That was one of the problem I had. But after couple years, I got mentally strong. I have to be strong to beat them. Maybe that’s one of the reason we Asia players has to be really strong. You have to believe yourself.”

 

It will be the turn of Group A to take to the court on Monday, with Group B playing again on Tuesday.

Tennis Panorama News is covering the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 Arena in London.  Follow on twitter for live updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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