July 29, 2015

Serena Williams, Sharapova, Radwanska and Muguruza Reach Wimbledon Semis

 

(July 7, 2015) Serena Williams kept her hopes for a fourth straight major alive on Tuesday, rallying to defeat Victoria Azarenka, taking 10 out of the last 13 game to win 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 and reach the Wimbledon semifinals. Williams blasted 17 aces and 46 winners en route to her 26th straight Grand Slam match win.

“It’s been up and down, up and down, but somehow I’m still alive. I don’t know how,” said Williams. “So we’ll see what happens, but I’m just happy to still be here.”

“I can’t lie and say I’m not disappointed, because that’s a normal reaction,” Azarenka said. “But it is what it is. It was a high quality match. I can’t say I went out there and didn’t play well – we just saw why Serena is No.1. I haven’t seen her play like this, honestly, even the last matches before that.”

“I feel like Victoria and I always have really wonderful matches. She’s always able to push it to three sets, we always have some great three set matches,” Williams said to media.

“Whenever I see her name I get excited, because I feel like there’s going to be an opportunity to see how well I’m doing. We play each other pretty much every tournament. I’m getting used to that.”

“I’ve been really proud of her and her comeback,” Williams said when asked about her post-match hug at the net. “I told her in Madrid, ‘Man, you’ve gone through a lot. I really support that. I really support you coming back.’ And we really get along off the court. She’s so sweet – we always text each other when we’re doing well.

“She’s a really nice girl. I really admire her because she’s so intense on the court, but the second she comes off the court, she’s just so different. It’s really interesting to see. It’s super respectful.”

“I have a lot of respect for Serena,” said Azarenka.  “We have a great friendship off the court.  You know, once the match is over, we put it out a long time ago.  We’re going to put it out all on the court.  She played a great match and I respect that.”

Williams, who is now 37-1 on the year is looking to complete a second “Serena” Slam with a Wimbledon trophy, which would mean she would be holding the last four major trophies. She did this in 2002-03.

Winning Wimbledon would also give her the third leg of the calendar-year Grand Slam.

Next for the world No. 1 and 20-time major winner, will be the fourth seed Maria Sharapova who bested unseeded American youngster CoCo Vandeweghe 6-3, 6-7 (3), 6-2.

“I’ve played five matches already, I’ve faced different challenges, matches, opponents, circumstances – the first four matches I was playing quite well and got the job done in two sets,” Sharapova said.

Sharapova led 6-3, 5-3 when Vandeweghe made a comeback.

“Today, serving for the second set, I could have made it easier,” Sharapova said. “It went to a third, but I still got the job done. I have to be pleased with that, that I’m in the semifinals again here after so many years.”

“I thought I relished it pretty well,” said the young American about her fortnight.  “I enjoyed my experience.  I enjoyed the crowd out there.

“I didn’t enjoy the result too much.  But I’m sure tomorrow I’ll be feeling even less happy about this, at least body‑wise.

“It’s been a long two weeks, playing singles and doubles here.  So I’m happy with my progress through the tournament, and I’m happy with the whole experience of it.”

Williams owns a 17-2 record against Sharapova, including a winning streak against her at 16 in a row.

“Definitely no secrets between each other’s games,” Sharapova said.

“But, I mean, look, I haven’t played Serena here in 11 years.  That would be an incredible moment for me to step out on Centre Court against her again.”

“I love playing Maria,” Williams said.  “I think she brings out the best in me.  I think I bring out the best in her.  I thought we had a wonderful final in Australia.  It was very entertaining.  She played really well.

“For me, I don’t feel like I have any pressure going into this match.  We both actually lost early last year.  We both are kind of enjoying this moment and one of us will be in the final.”

The other semifinal will pit No. 13 seed and 2012 Wimbledon finalist Agnieszka Radwanska against No. 20 Garbine Muguruza.

Radwanska beat No. 21 Madison Keys 7-6 (3), 3-6, 6-3. Muguruza defeated No. 15 Timea Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-3 to reach her first major semifinal.

“I couldn’t feel any better, I’m just so happy I managed to stay in that match. It was very tight and I just tried to play it point by point, game by game,” Radwanska said. “That’s how you have to play it and in the third set one break was the difference.”

“I’ve seen a few of her matches this tournament and she’s playing great tennis,” Radwanska said. “She’s actually playing very similar to Keys so I think it could be a similar match.

“It’s the semifinals so, of course, there’s nothing to lose. All the players are playing great tennis. I’m just going to fight for each point and try to play my best. One day’s rest and I’ll be ready to go.”

“It’s amazing, I’m so happy. It was a very tough match,” said Muguruza, the first Spaniard to reach the Wimbledon semifinals since Arantxa Sánchez-Vicario in 1997. “The last game was a very intense one, so there was so much relief after that.”

“It’s very hard to achieve this, so I’m very proud and happy for Spain also! All this experience helps you a lot and makes you believe that you can do it. So I’m going to be confident and ready for the match.”

Novak Djokovic completed a five-set match held over from Monday, due to darkness with a win over to reach the Gentlemen’s quarterfinals 6-7(6), 6-7(6), 6-1, 6-4, 7-5.

The world No. 1 will play Marin Cilic on Wednesday. The other men’s quarterfinal match-ups include: Roger Federer vs. Gilles Simon, Andy Murray vs. Vasek Pospisil, and Stan Wawrinka vs. Richard Gasquet.

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Notable Quotables from the Queen’s Club Tennis Tournament

315Kyrgiosserve-001

By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 21, 2015) LONDON, England – Notable quotes from 2015 Queens Club tournament:

Nick Kyrgios, asked about buying a scooter: “I don’t know, mate. I just bought a scooter because I felt like buying a scooter. I can’t tell you if it’s linked to tennis or anything like that. I just bought a scooter.”

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka, asked after their match about Nick Kyrgios’s comment that he doesn’t want to think about tennis for a couple of weeks: “I think he’s saying a lot of things every day, so it’s quite interesting for journalists to hear that. I’m sure he’s not going to switch off…If he switch off two weeks of tennis, then he can go home and not play Wimbledon…When I read his interview, it’s always funny, a lot of things you can take. When I read before the match he was ready, excited for the challenge, and now he was sick.”

Nadal

Rafael Nadal, asked if he’d look for advice from Jose Mourinho, the Portuguese manager of Chelsea Football Club, who attended Queen’s on Tuesday: “He’s a football manager. He’s one of the best of the world. And I have my team. I will not give him never an advice of football and probably he will not giving me never advice of tennis.”

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Grigor Dimitrov, asked about being defending champion: “It’s one of the tournaments for me that every time I step on that court I feel like I own the court.”

 

Kevin Anderson, asked if he’d rather watch a guy with big aces or a match with lots of rallies: “Sometimes it would be interesting to see both.”

 

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Andy Murray, asked after his three-set Muller match if he was having as good a time as it looked like: “I was when I was winning.”

 

Milos Raonic, on this year’s extended grass schedule: “I think just from the start of [Wimbledon] the quality of tennis will be better just because of time. You can’t really cheat time, spending time on court and so forth.”

 

Kevin Anderson, asked how much of an impression Kevin Curran, Wimbledon runner-up 30 years ago, made on him growing up: “Wayne Ferreira was the influence when I was growing up.”

 

Andy Murray, asked what shot he would pick if he could have a shot from any other player on the tour: “Probably would be Isner’s serve, I think. I mean, it makes the game a whole lot easier when you can serve like that.”

 

Kevin Anderson, asked to name the best servers in the world at present: “If you just look at the serve itself, I think – if you just looked at numbers, I think you’d have to look at [Ivo] Karlovic or [John] Isner. I mean, just in terms of stats…But I feel like Raonic, I feel like myself I think probably would round out the top four in terms of serving.”

Raonic trophy (1 of 3)

Milos Raonic, asked who he thought was the best server in the world: “I believe myself.”

 

Gilles Simon, asked if he thought he was reading Milos Raonic’s serve better in the second set: “I was guessing. There is nothing to read.”

 

Andy Murray, in response to the comment that the last time he won at Queen’s he went on to win Wimbledon: “Yeah, but that means nothing, really. You know, it’s great preparation obviously, but, you know, I think it has only happened six times where someone has won Queen’s and gone on to win.”

 

Andy Murray, in response to a comment about his nine-match winning streak since Jonas Bjorkman joined his team: “I also have to give a lot of credit to Amélie, because a lot of the work I have done with her is paying off. All of the things I have worked on with her, like using my variety is something I have spoken about a lot in the past, that’s things I have been working on with her for quite a while now.”

 

And finally, this exchange…

Question (after Kevin Anderson talked about being given Jack Nicklaus’ three grass courts in Florida to use for training): What’s your favorite Jack Nicholson film?

Anderson: Jack Nicholson?

Question: Or Jack Nicklaus.

Anderson: I don’t know. Is he in any films?

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Andy Murray Wins Fourth Queen’s Club Crown

(June 21, 2015) Top seed Andy Murray won his fourth title at Queen’s Club on Sunday with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over unseeded Kevin Anderson. This was the Scot’s 36th career ATP World Tour tournament title. He joins John McEnroe, Boris Becker, Andy Roddick and Lleyton Hewitt as the only four-time winners of the London event.

Due to Saturday’s rain, Murray was forced to win two matches on Sunday. He won his semifinal 6-3, 7-6 (4) over Serbia’s Viktor Troicki in the morning with the final in the afternoon.

“I served extremely well and then, thankfully, when the chances came I managed to come up with some kind of instinctive shots,” Murray said about his match against the South African.

“I felt like once I got into the rallies I was doing really well, but it was obviously tough to do that some of the times. He served an extremely high percentage of first serves and was serving big. But it was a good performance.”

“It was tough today,” Anderson said. “I didn’t feel like I played my best tennis today, but I think that’s a lot to do with the way Andy played. I felt he served really well. I tried to be aggressive… It’s tough grass-court tennis like that; just a couple of breaks, and then [the] match feels over. It was pretty tough out there today.”

For Murray it was his third title of 2015, he won events in Munich and Madrid.

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At Queen’s Club Wawrinka Loses, Simon Ends Kokkinakis’ Long Journey

 

By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 17, 2015) LONDON, England – The big emotional high notes of the first two days at Queen’s – Monday, Lleyton’s Hewitt’s 16th and final appearance, Tuesday, Rafael Nadal’s loss – have given way to mid-tournament flatness. The biggest news of the day is that Hewitt, who is currently ranked 117, has been granted a wild card into his 17th and final Wimbledon. Until or unless British favorite Andy Murray loses, that may be it for major excitements until the final. True, two current Grand Slam champions are still in the draw – Stan Wawrinka, facing Kevin Anderson, and Marin Cilic, facing Adrian Mannarino – but neither is famed for his grass court game.

There were hopes – if not high ones, at least of the “new! kid! big! chances!” variety – for the second round match between the veteran Frenchman Gilles Simon and newcomer Thanasi Kokkinakis. For two games, this seemed justified as Kokkinakis quickly went up 2-0. And then…those hopes faded quickly despite some nice moments: a dink volley here, a well-executed drop shot/lob combination there. The match lasted an hour and 16 minutes and went 6-4, 6-2 to Simon.

“I liked it yesterday,” Kokkinakis joked about the grass. “I didn’t like it so much today.”

Afterwards, Kokkinakis tweeted, “Feel bad for the spectators tbh about that one….😐 yuck. Hope to redeem myself on the doubles court with Rusty”. To the press, he explained, “I felt like I had to say something. I felt like it was one of my poorest performances in a while.”

Jet lag can sometimes be worse a couple of days later than it is at first. Kokkinakis had planned to play the qualifying here, but instead went home to Adelaide to pay a quick visit to his sick grandmother. He was on the way back when he got the news Queen’s had awarded him a wild card. He arrived back Monday at noon, and although he declined to blame the “something like 48 hours in [the air in] three days”, he admitted to waking up “pretty tired” this morning and to getting distracted by spotting Top Gear TV presenter Jeremy Clarkson in the crowd.

Wawrinka vs Anderson which ended 7-6, 7-6 in Anderson’s favor, was a more tense affair but, much like the grass-court contests of 20 years ago, came down to serve and return. “Maybe [I] didn’t return great,” Wawrinka said afterwards, “but he was serving big”.

Yesterday, after his win against a coughing Nick Kyrgrios, Wawrinka said he thought he’d be better able to manage the aftermath of winning his second major title; after the first, the 2014 Australian Open, he took six weeks off, and then struggled to get his form back for some months.

“Australia, everything was new and I didn’t know what to expect,” he said yesterday. “Everybody was saying it’s going to change your life and change your career. And that’s true. You win a first Grand Slam, especially in that era and you have only the big four winning Grand Slam since 10 years. So that was a big thing for myself. I did few mistakes after. I had a lot of ups and downs. I had to learn and to change the way I was and trying to adapt myself to my new life. ” This time, although he thinks the achievement is bigger, “what’s coming after, I have more under control”. And, of course, no chance to take off much time: Queen’s and Wimbledon awaited.

Today’s losses, put together with Nadal’s, leave the bottom half of the tournament draw looking a little anemic: Milos Raonic, seeded 3, and Simon, seeded 7, are all the remaining seeds, and they play each other in the quarter-finals on Friday. For the right to face the winner of that match in the semi-finals, Anderson will play Guillermo Garcia-Lopez, who put out Alexandr Dolgopolov, whose win against Nadal carried him no further. In the top half, tomorrow top-seeded Murray faces Fernando Verdasco, Grigor Dimitrov faces Gilles Muller, fourth-seeded Marin Cilic faces Viktor Troicki, and, in probably the most interesting match-up of the four, John Isner plays eighth seed Feliciano Lopez, who is an exceptionally strong grass-court player.

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Lleyton Hewitt Bids Farewell to Queen’s Club in Loss to Kevin Anderson

By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 15, 2015) LONDON, England – There are certain kinds of matches that no one likes to play. The young kid swinging pressurelessly from her heels when you’re the established, perhaps even aging, champion (Chris Evert’s 1989 Houston final against 15-year-old Monica Seles made her decide to retire). Or: the retiring established star that everyone else is rooting for when you’re a mid-career journeyman.

 

The latter was Kevin Anderson‘s lot on Monday on the Centre Court at the Queen’s Club, where he faced Lleyton Hewitt playing in his second-to-last grass-court tournament before he retires after next year’s Australian Open, gets into the pumpkin waiting outside, and turns into a Davis Cup captain.

 

Not that Hewitt is preparing for this. “I’ve prepared my whole life,” he said after today’s match, meaning that stretching all the way back into childhood he was always planning, preparing, training, doing whatever his body needed so he could play his best. The idea of not having to prepare for anything sounds like his idea of freedom. He will miss, he said, the motivation of playing the majors and Davis Cup, but he relishes the idea of “Not always having to think about training and all those 1-percenters you have to do to keep playing on the tour.”

 

For the first set and a half, Hewitt did not play like it was almost midnight. He sliced, ran, lobbed, and used all the grass court skills that have won him 52 matches here – more than any other player in the Open Era. Among active players, only Roger Federer has won more grass-court matches, and that only by a hair: 132* for Federer (as of Monday), 128 for Hewitt. Titles are a different story: Federer 14, Hewitt 8. Still, one was at Wimbledon (2002, beating David Nalbandian in the final) and four at Queen’s, where this is his 16th outing: 2000-2002 and 2006, beating, respectively, Pete Sampras, Tim Henman, Henman, and James Blake in the finals. The surprise is to remember that Hewitt and Federer are the same age: Hewitt broke through five years earlier, half a tennis generation.

 

In the first-set tiebreak, Hewitt got a mini-break on the second point, and that carried him through to take the set. In the second set, he broke Anderson early on, and serving at 5-4 everything looked solid. Match point, Hewitt serving at 40-30, nets a forehand. Still, it’s only deuce, and while the winning horizon had receded just a little, surely…Double-fault. Advantage, Anderson. A long series of cross-court backhands followed, which Anderson interrupted with a down-the-line forehand that Hewitt scraped back, giving Anderson the chance to hit a winner. Which he did. Now 5-5, Anderson serving. Hewitt won the first point with a fine lob over Anderson’s head – not an easy task, since Anderson is one of those beanpole giant servers that seem to come out of mothballs the day after the French Open final. Maybe that lob was, in the long run, a bad idea. The rest of the game took only a few seconds: three aces, and a service winner. Serving to stay in the set, at deuce, Hewitt netted a backhand and then sent a forehand long. Set all.

 

Probably few would have expected in 1998, when 16-year-old Lleyton Hewitt broke through to win his first ATP title that he would still be playing in 2015. The most surprising change in those years, he said, is, “The bigger guys, how well they move around now on the court.” Citing players like Anderson (6’8″), John Isner (6’10”), and Ivo Karlovic (6’10”), he noted that they are not just big servers: “They are quality players from the back of the court, and they make a lot of balls out there.” When he started, he said, the big servers didn’t do much besides serve and volley – and if you could pin them to the back of the court, “They weren’t going to make a lot of balls.”

 

The third set was all Anderson, who quickly went up 3-0, and although Hewitt fashioned a break point serving at 1-3, the shot he netted looked tired, far from the Energizer Bunny of 2002. Anderson ran out the match 6-7, 7-5, 6-2.

 

Looking ahead, Hewitt, who loves this time of year, expressed the wry hope that his first match at Wimbledon will be easier than today’s or his second-round loss in Stuttgart to Nicolas Mahut: “It would be nice to play someone who’s not quite as good as those two on grass first up, at least. You’re in the hands of the gods, though, when you’re not seeded.” Which he won’t be: his current ranking is 117, and he needed a wild card to get in here.

 

Afterwards, the Queen’s Club presented Hewitt with a replica of its giant silver trophy and a bottle of Moet Chandon with his name inscribed upon it.

 

Anderson was pretty happy with his win – but for Hewitt at this point even a loss feels something like that. “Not many people in sport get to go out on their terms,” he said. “It looks like I will be able to do that.”

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Djokovic, Murray and Nadal Reach French Open Fourth Round with Straight Set Wins

(May 30, 2015) Top seeds Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal earned straight-set victory to reach the fourth round of the French Open on Saturday.

No. 1 Novak Djokovic, seeking the only major he has yet to win defeated young Australian Thanasi Kokkinakis 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. Djokovic currently on a 25 match win streak hit 34 winners in the one hour and 49 minute match.

“I think that tennis needs players like Thanasi, who is a teenager, but still able to come out on center court and play with courage and play with power and believe in himself,” Djokovic said. He’s one of this group of three, four young players that are, you know, starting to be more and more consistent and make couple of big wins in their careers and that are obviously expected to do very well from the tennis world. Now, we didn’t have that many young successful players under 20 year olds in last six, seven years, so I think it’s quite refreshing for tennis and it’s pretty good to see that. I thought he served well. He played pretty well. I made the three breaks each set, and that was enough for the win.”

“Great experience for me to play on such a nice court against No. 1 in the world and one of the greatest players of all time,” said the the Australian ranked 84th in the word. “I wasn’t too nervous going into the match. Felt like I served all right. I played all right. Just wasn’t quite enough.”

Next up for Djokovic will be No. 20 Richard Gasquet of France. Gasquet came back against Kevin Anderson 4-6, 7-6(4), 7-5, 6-4

Third seed Andy Murray remained unbeaten on clay this season reaching the fourth round defeating Nick Kyrgios 6-4, 6-2, 6-3.

“Definitely coming into the tournament, I mean, is the best I have played on clay,” Murray said. “The results would obviously suggest that. Never won a clay court tournament, never been to the final and had many wins against any of the top guys, you know, for a while on the clay. Obviously in Madrid, I managed to do that against Kei (Nishikori), Milos (Raonic), and against Rafa(el Nadal), played some very good matches there. I think winning the tournament and changing my schedule helped a lot. I never played any of the smaller events on the tour, on clay, and getting my first win on clay helped, for sure. I feel that that was a good decision from me and my team there. And then also physically, as well. I gave myself time to get used to the surface, and a surface I struggled with my back for a few years and gave myself a proper training period, built it up slowly, and made a few changes to the way that I preferred for this clay court season. That was, I think, they are the things that I have changed and the things that have helped me.”

“Murray, I think he’s one of the best defenders of the game at the moment,” Kyrios said. “Yeah, obviously matchup is key thing in tennis, but today I wasn’t near 100%. Not to take anything from him. He played unbelievable. I don’t think he served well, but he made a lot of returns and he just does what he does best: that’s make a lot of balls and mix up the game. He was too good.”

Murray with try to reach the quarterfinals when he takes on Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

Jeremy Chardy upset 17th seed David Goffin 6-3, 6-4, 6-2.

“He’s so confident, he didn’t lose a match on clay court,” Chardy said about playing Murray. “I play against him in Rome. I play a good match, but still I lost 3 and 3. Yeah, after he beat me, he pull out from Rome to be fresh for Roland Garros, and I think for him it’s a big goal. So it will be a really tough match. In the past we always say Andy doesn’t like to play on clay court, but now I think everybody change and he like more now to play on clay.”

Rafael Nadal won his 69th career match at Roland Garros to move into the round of 16, besting 120th-ranked Andrey Kuznetsov 6-1, 6-3, 6-2 and extending his winning streak at Roland Garros to 38.

The sixth seeded Spaniard will face 22-year-old American Jack Sock next.

On playing Sock in the round of 16, Nadal said: He’s a great player, no? He’s playing fantastic, winning very tough matches against very difficult opponents like (Grigor) Dimitrov, Pablo Carrena (Busta), and today against (Borna) Coric. He has an amazing forehand, good serve, very good serve, and then he’s a player that can play very aggressive and is dangerous, no? I know I have to be very solid. I know I have to play aggressive, try to don’t let him to hit the forehand in positions, because I am going to be in big trouble. I gonna try.”

In a battle of young guns of the ATP World tour, Sock overwhelmed 18-year-old Borna Coric with his forehand with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win.

Coric said: “He just played way too good today. He was serving too big. His forehands were very heavy and I was struggling to cope with that. I couldn’t stay close to the line. You know, yeah, he was just playing too good. I mean, it was maybe the combination that I didn’t play great. That’s for sure. But I think that the first thing was that he played too good.”

“It was a good day for me, for sure,” Sock said. “I was fortunate enough to play great tennis. And, you know, once again, things I was looking to do, serving forehand and dictate a lot of points, like I said yesterday or a couple days ago, I was able to do that very well today. In general, I think he plays pretty far behind the baseline and kind of lets the opponent maneuver the ball a little bit. He’s a great defender, makes a lot of balls, and is very quick. I usually feel pretty good when I’m hitting a lot of forehands, especially from the left side of the court, and able to move the ball around and dictate play. I was able to do that today fortunately.”

Ninth seed and reigning U. S. Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia had a straight forward 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 victory over No. 23 Leonardo Mayer of Argentina.

The round of 16 is set for the men:

Novak Djokovic vs Richard Gasquet

Rafael Nadal vs Jack Sock

Andy Murray vs Jeremy Chardy

David Ferrer vs Marin Cilic

Kei Nishikori vs Teymuraz Gabashvili

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga vs Tomas Berdych

Stan Wawrinka vs Gilles Simon

Roger Federer vs Gael Monfils

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Andy Murray Reaches 500th Win Mark with Victory Over Kevin Anderson at Miami Open

(March 31, 2015) Andy Murray became the ninth player on the ATP World Tour to win 500 career matches with his victory over Kevin Anderson 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 to reach the Miami Open quarterfinals.

The Scot is the 46th player in the Open era with 500 or more wins and the first British player to accomplish this feat.

“It’s nice I think obviously for me the fact that it happened here,” said the two-time Miami Open champion. “It’s just fitting just because I have spent so much time training here and working to get better and to improve. That was nice.

“Yeah, I hope I’ve still got a lot more wins in me. To get to 500 is good. It’s not an easy thing to do at my age. It’s nice. Hopefully I can keep going.”

“I hope for me this isn’t the end and I can keep trying to progress,” he added. With each win you get closer to going past a great player.

“You know, the people that are ahead of me have all done pretty amazing things in the sport, so that’s what’s nice about it. And, yeah, it gives me ‑‑ also feels like it gives me motivation, as well, for some reason.

“I don’t know why, but getting to 500, yeah, it gives me motivation to go on and try and win more. When you look at the list of players and the wins that certain guys have got, it gives you something to aim at, as well.”

No. 3 seed Murray will face off against 21-year-old Dominic Thiem, who reached his first Masters 1000 quarterfinal with a win over No. 28 Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-5.

“He had his best year on the tour last year,” Murray said. “He’s a very talented guy. He’s strong. I know him fairly well. I practice with him quite a bit. He’s very hard worker. Very good attitude. Very respectful guy. He’s got a very good career ahead of him.

“So I expect tomorrow will be a tough match. He struggled a little bit the beginning part of the year. He changed racquets. “You know, always takes a few months to get used to that. Obviously this week he’s played very well again.”

Also advancing to the quarterfinals were No. 1 Novak Djokovic, No. 4 Kei Nishikori, No. 6 David Ferrer, No. 8 Tomas Berdych, and Juan Monaco.

Djokovic survived a test from Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-7, 7-5, 6-0. Dolgopolov was a point a way from a 7-6, 4-0 lead. Berdych advanced when Gael Monfils retired from the match with a hip injury in the second set.

 

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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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Kyrgios Saves a Match Point to Join Nadal and Berdych in Australian Open Quarterfinals

Kyrgios

(January 25, 2015) Australian teenager Nick Kyrgios rocked the jam-packed Hisense Arena on Sunday in Melbourne Park coming back from two sets down and saving a match point by beating Roger Federer conqueror Andreas Seppi 5-7, 4-6, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 8-6 to reach the quarterfinals. Seppi knocked out Federer in the third round.

He is now the first Australian to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on the men’s side since 2005. The 19-year-old also becomes the first male teenager since Roger Federer to reach two Grand Slam quarterfinals. Kyrgios reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year defeating then No. 1 Rafael Nadal along the way.

After the match in an on-court interview Kyrgios said to the crowd, “Thanks mate. Feels so good.”

“I know that he (Seppi) had a lot of confidence, obviously, beating Roger,” Kyrgios said. “Drawing all my experience from Wimbledon, coming back from two sets down, I knew I had the legs to do that.”

“I knew it was going to be a tough battle. He’s playing some of the best tennis he’s played ever since coming off that win against Roger. I knew it was going to be tough from the get-go. I just had to draw on my experiences of coming back from two sets to love. Paid off in the end.”

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet. When I saw I had finally won the match it was incredible. It was the best feeling I ever had. To know the body could come back from two sets to love, knowing I haven’t had matches, it’s just massive confidence.”

“As you all know – you’ve been asking about my back a fair bit – that’s a bit sore. Physically I thought my legs pulled up well throughout the whole match. I got a bit tired halfway through the fifth set, you know, I guess just by being out on the court. Being in that atmosphere is pretty tiring, but I knew he’d be feeling the same way. He’s never reached a quarterfinal before. All those thoughts going through his head. I think I had to draw on that. I just stuck in there.”

“I think I just played a couple bad games at the beginning of the third set, Seppi said. “I missed three easy forehands for the break for him. And, yeah, maybe he played a little bit more relaxed after that. Yeah, I think maybe if I could stay even in the third set it’s a little bit already change.”

The young Australian will play Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. The seventh seed Murray won the last five games of the match to take out Grigor Dimitrov 6-4, 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-5

Asked about the potential match against Murray or Dimitrov, Kyrgios said: “They’re both some of the best players in the world. Obviously for the last couple years, they’ve been in the best form of their life. Murray, I think he’s one of the greatest athletes on the tour. He’s going to make me play a lot of balls. And Dimitrov, obviously he’s got unbelievable talent, can come forward, can transition, returns well, mixes it up well. They’re both great players. I’m just excited to go up against either one of those guys.”

2009 Australian Open champion Rafael Nadal and Tomas Berdych will match-up in the final eight.

Nadal fended off six break points in the first set before changing the momentum and passing Keven Anderson 7-5, 6-1, 6-4. Nadal will play No. 7 Berdych next. Berdych took out another Australian hope Bernard Tomic 6-2, 7-6 (3), 6-2.

“The chance to be in the quarterfinals after a tough period of time for me is a fantastic result,” said Nadal. “But for me quarterfinals is a great result, talking seriously. Arriving here, losing in the first round of Qatar, not playing matches for the last seven months, to have the chance to be in quarterfinals again here is a very positive thing for me. I’m very happy for that. I am sure that going to help me for the next events. For sure I going to try my best after tomorrow. I am not a person that I am happy like this and that’s it. No. I try to play better and better every day. If that happens, I hope to keep having chances for the next match. But today is a day to be happy the way that I improved my level of everything, talking about tennis, all the things I have to do on court. I was closer today. Even if I played the first two sets the other day well, today I was much closer what I have to do to try to have success.”

More to follow….

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Anderson Ousts Third Seed Wawrinka in Toronto

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

By Dave Gertler

 

(August 7, 2014) TORONTO – Big-serving South African Kevin Anderson has made the most of relatively cold and gusty conditions to upset 3rd seed Stanislas Wawrinka in their Rogers Cup round-of-16 match on Thursday. This is the second straight win Anderson has had over Wawrinka since the Swiss 29-year-old won the Australian Open in January.

 

“I’m very happy,” said Anderson to media, appearing fresh and unruffled by their one-hour, 44-minute exchange, “Any time beating one of the best guys in the world is a great feeling. Obviously it’s a big challenge walking out there.”

 

Both players exchanged breaks early on their way to a first-set tie-break, in which both players had set points, Anderson claiming it 10-8. “After going down that early break (in the first set),” said Anderson, “Stan gave me a couple of double faults and just allowed me back in the match, and from there, I thought I served really, really well. I couldn’t be more happy on that front.”

 

Anderson increased his first-serve percentage in the second set to 75%, serving 7 aces along the way, keeping the pressure firmly on Wawrinka’s service games. “When I’m taking care of my serve games,” said Anderson, “It just allows me to relax a little bit more, and I thought I did a good job especially in the second, when I wasn’t getting too many looks on his serve. Sometimes in the past, I’ve let that frustrate me a little bit, and today I just let it go, and stayed focused on my serve game.”

 

“I had some chance,” said Wawrinka, showing minimal alarm at his early exit to the unseeded world No.21, “I had set point. I had two, three times 0-30, and the chance I didn’t took, it was more about choosing the right shot to play. Did some mistake that I shouldn’t do, and that’s happened.”

 

In general, I’m feeling great,” said Wawrinka, who will now leave Toronto for Cincinnati to compete at the Western & Southern Open next week, “I’m feeling physically good. I’m moving well. I’m playing well. It’s just that I need more matches to be really at the top.”

 

Anderson will contest his first career quarterfinal in Canada against Grigor Dimitrov.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Rogers Cup in Toronto for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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