December 1, 2015

2015 Wimbledon Ladies’ Contender Profiles – Fast Facts with Jack Cunniff

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(June 28, 2015) Profiles of the top Women’s Singles contenders for 2015 Wimbledon. Note: Grand Slam records for main draw matches only.  – by Jack Cunniff


Serena Williams

2015 Record: 32-1

Grand Slam Record: 273-39

Wimbledon Record: 72-10

Wimbledon Best Result: Won (2002, ’03, ’09, ’10, ‘12)

Fast Fact: This is the best year-to-date record entering Wimbledon (32-1, 97%) of Serena’s career.


Petra Kvitova

2015 Record: 24-7

Grand Slam Record: 70-26

Wimbledon Record: 27-5

Wimbledon Best Result: Won (2011, ‘14)

Fast Fact: In the last five years, Kvitova has won 26 of her 29 matches at Wimbledon, with her loses coming to Serena Williams (2010, ‘12) and Flipkens (2013).


Simona Halep

2015 Record: 32-8

Grand Slam Record: 32-20

Wimbledon Record: 7-4

Wimbledon Best Result: SF (2014)

Fast Fact: Halep has recorded only two wins vs. Top Ten players in 2015, both coming in three set matches in Dubai (def. Makarova, Wozniacki).


Maria Sharapova

2015 Record: 29-6

Grand Slam Record: 174-42

Wimbledon Record: 41-11

Wimbledon Best Result: Won (2004)

Fast Fact: Sharapova’s Grand Slam match winning percentage (80.6%) is second best among active players, trailing Serena Williams (87.5%).


Caroline Wozniacki

2015 Record: 27-12

Grand Slam Record: 81-33

Wimbledon Record: 16-8

Wimbledon Best Result: 4R (2009, ’10, ’11, ‘14)

Fast Fact: Wozniacki has reached the quarterfinals only once in her last 13 appearances in Grand Slam events (RU, 2014 US Open).


Lucie Safarova

2015 Record: 22-12

Grand Slam Record: 48-40

Wimbledon Record: 9-9

Wimbledon Best Result: SF (2014)

Fast Fact: Since 2014, Safarova has a record of 19-6 (76%) in Grand Slam events; prior to 2014, her Grand Slam record was 29-34 (46%).


Ana Ivanovic

2015 Record: 16-11

Grand Slam Record: 103-41

Wimbledon Record: 23-10

Wimbledon Best Result: SF (2007)

Fast Fact: In 2014, Ivanovic had a 37-9 record entering Wimbledon, winning more than twice as many matches as she has in 2015.


Ekaterina Makarova

2015 Record: 18-11

Grand Slam Record: 56-31

Wimbledon Record: 9-7

Wimbledon Best Result: QF (2014)

Fast Fact: Since 2013, Makarova is 24-2 in Grand Slam events when playing a lower ranked opponent, with her losses coming against Kuznetsova and Safarova.


Carla Suarez Navarro

2015 Record: 35-13

Grand Slam Record: 47-26

Wimbledon Record: 7-5

Wimbledon Best Result: 4R (2013)

Fast Fact: Suarez Navarro has a losing record vs. Top 50 players in Grand Slam events (13-20), including a 2-4 record since 2014.


Angelique Kerber

2015 Record: 30-12

Grand Slam Record: 50-30

Wimbledon Record: 12-7

Wimbledon Best Result: SF (2012)

Fast Fact: After compiling an 8-9 record in the first three months of 2015, Kerber has since gone 22-3 and won three titles (Charleston, Stuttgart, Birmingham).


Karolina Pliskova

2015 Record: 35-13

Grand Slam Record: 9-12

Wimbledon Record: 2-3

Wimbledon Best Result: 2R (2013, ‘14)

Fast Fact: Following the 2014 U.S. Open, Pliskova has more than doubled her WTA main draw match wins: 42 wins between April 2008 – August 2014, 49 wins between September 2014 – June 2015.


Eugenie Bouchard

2015 Record: 8-13

Grand Slam Record: 27-9

Wimbledon Record: 8-2

Wimbledon Best Result: RU (2014)

Fast Fact: Having lost her last six three-set matches, Bouchard now has a losing WTA record in three setters (20-25).


Agnieszka Radwanska

2015 Record: 22-15

Grand Slam Record: 93-36

Wimbledon Record: 31-9

Wimbledon Best Result: RU (2012)

Fast Fact: Radwanska’s grass court record in the last year is 10-3 (77%), compared to a record of 27-22 (55%) off of grass.


Andrea Petkovic

2015 Record: 20-12

Grand Slam Record: 34-22

Wimbledon Record: 5-4

Wimbledon Best Result: 3R (2011, ‘14)

Fast Fact: The highest ranked player Petkovic has defeated on grass is Garcia (No. 33) who she defeated in 2015 Eastbourne.


Venus Williams

2015 Record: 20-7

Grand Slam Record: 225-59

Wimbledon Record: 73-12

Wimbledon Best Result: Won (2000, ’01, ’05, ’07, ‘08)

Fast Fact: 2015 Wimbledon marks Venus’ 67th appearance in a Grand Slam event, tying her with Navratilova for second place in the Open Era (Frazier, 71).


Sabine Lisicki

2015 Record: 15-15

Grand Slam Record: 48-27

Wimbledon Record: 23-6

Wimbledon Best Result: RU (2013)

Fast Fact: Lisicki has appeared in 27 Grand Slam events, but nearly half of her match wins (23 of 48) are from her last 5 Wimbledon appearances.




Notable Quotables from the Queen’s Club Tennis Tournament


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.”


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.”

315dimitrov fh-001

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?


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.


Federer Reaches Tenth Halle Final, Murray-Troicki Semi Rained Out in London

(June 20, 2015) Roger Federer is looking for a record eighth Gerry Weber Open title on Sunday when he takes on Andreas Seppi. Seppi reached the final when Kei Nishikori retired from their match with a left calf injury. Nishikori said he hurt yesterday and felt a bit of pain today and did not want to take a chance with Wimbledon approaching.


In London, rain has forced the Andy Murray Victor Troicki match to be completed on Sunday morning. The match was at 3-3 when Troicki fell and injured his left shoulder, received treatment but the rain stopped the contest.

Gerry Weber Open

Halle, Germany


Singles – Semi-finals
[1] R. Federer (SUI) d [8] I. Karlovic (CRO) 76(3) 76(4)
A. Seppi (ITA) d [2] K. Nishikori (JPN) 41 ret. (calf injury)

Doubles – Semi-finals

[2] R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU) d E. Butorac (USA) / S. Lipsky (USA) 76(10) 46 13-11

STADION start 13:00
[1] R. Federer (SUI) vs A. Seppi (ITA)
R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA) vs [2] R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU)



Aegon Championships

London, Englnd


Singles – Semi-finals
K. Anderson (RSA) d [7] G. Simon (FRA) 63 67(6) 63

CENTRE COURT start 11:00 am
[1] A. Murray (GBR) vs V. Troicki (SRB) 33

Not Before 2:25 pm
[1] A. Murray (GBR) or V. Troicki (SRB) vs K. Anderson (RSA)
[4] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA) vs [3] D. Nestor (CAN) / L. Paes (IND) or [2] M. Matkowski (POL) / N. Zimonjic (SRB)

COURT 1 start 12:00 noon
[3] D. Nestor (CAN) / L. Paes (IND) vs [2] M. Matkowski (POL) / N. Zimonjic (SRB)


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.


“I was not lucky enough today,” Rafael Nadal Falls in Opening Round of Queen’s Club


By Wendy M. Grossman

(June 16, 2015) LONDON, England – On Monday, Lleyton Hewitt had a match point and lost it and, soon afterwards, the match. Today, Alexandr Dolgopolov, up against Rafael Nadal in the first round at Queen’s Club, found himself in the same situation: a single match point, on his own serve, in the second set tiebreak. A game, later, having held serve to open the third set, Dolgopolov was still shaking his head. In that second set tiebreak, he led 5-4 with two service points to come. The match point itself, on the Nadal serve, was always a trickier ask.


“Here is the right place to be for me today, and that’s my decision.” Nadal said on Monday, and “I feel myself ready to play well, and I gonna try.” noting that as long as his knees as fine he has “chances to compete well”. Today, he said, he doesn’t have the physical limitations he had in 2012 and 2013. Still, the first half of the year was poor, by his standards, and he said his main goal now is to qualify for the year-end championships. “Fourteen are enough,” he said, when asked if he felt himself ready to start winning Grand Slam titles again.


It’s three years since Nadal last played at Queen’s, largely, as he admitted in his opening press conference, for tax reasons. Most countries charge foreign athletes taxes on their local earnings; you (or your accountant) claim back what you’ve paid if it’s under a certain threshold. But a few years ago, Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs began claiming that foreign tennis players owe Britain taxes on all their worldwide income, including endorsements, for the days they are in this country, on the basis that it’s appearing at Wimbledon that enables them to earn those monies. Andre Agassi took a case to court – and lost. For most players this is likely more nuisance than vast expense (although they’re likely paying higher accountants’ fees), but for the top few the difference could be a substantial chunk.


“I think changed a little bit the last ‑‑ still not the ideal situation for us, but is better than a few years ago,” Nadal said Monday. “I had to stop playing here for a while. But I like playing here. You know, I think is the best thing possible to try to play well and for my game. Is obvious that I have to say thanks to Halle for they give me during that years, but is obvious that in Halle I didn’t play well, no? Stuttgart, of course, were good. Here the courts are good.”


This was a great match for fans of spins, angles, and all-court play; both players are, after all, at their most comfortable on clay.


“I like it more the last few years,” Dolgopolov said of grass after the match. “I never played in my junior life on grass, so the first years was tough for me to figure out the movements.” He grew up on clay, and had to learn the hard way that sliding on grass was a bad idea. “You just fall down.” Asked about his sidespin backhand, a shot shown off to great effect toward the end of the second set, he said, “I just know it’s uncomfortable.” He added, “My father tried to teach me all my shots. Then I try to use them as I need to win matches.”


Indeed, Halle did not work out too well for Nadal: In 2014, he lost his first (second-round) match to wild card Dustin Brown; in 2013 he withdrew and then lost in the first round at Wimbledon to Steve Darcis; in 2012 he lost in the quarterfinals in both singles (Philipp Kohlschreiber) and doubles (partnered with Marcel Granollers) – and then lost in the second round of Wimbledon to Lukas Rosol. What Nadal may have forgotten is that other than 2008, when he beat Novak Djokovic in the final to win the title, his showings at Queen’s haven’t been quite so stellar either: he lost in the quarters in 2006, 2007, 2010, and 2011, and withdrew in 2009. Still: two Wimbledon titles, 2008 and 2010. As he says, grass is “probably the second surface where I had more success in my career, no?”


When Dolgopolov lost his next serve game, giving Nadal a 2-1 lead in that third set, it looked like yes, indeed, yesterday was repeating itself. With Nadal serving at 4-3, Dolgopolov lost his first break point with an inside-out forehand that landed wide – but took his second with an angled volley Nadal could do nothing about. Four-all, Dolgopolov serving. A double-fault gave Nadal two break points. The first was saved with a series of wide angles to outrun the Spaniard. The second, Dolgopolov hit a curling backhand with such wicked spin to Nadal’s backhand that all the latter could do was hit it into the net. Deuce. With Nadal coming in, Dolgopolov attempted a lob that went wildly wrong. An ace saved that third break point. Nadal then netted an attempted backhand approach shot to give Dolgopolov a game point, which he won when an attempted Nadal lob dropped just long. Back on serve, 5-4, Dolgopolov, with Nadal now serving to stay in the match.


A superb angled response to a Nadal drop shot secured the first point for Dolgopol. Nadal leveled with a forehand winner, but then netted a shot for 15-30. A return winner gave Dolgopolov two match points, the first of which he snatched with a well-executive passing shot, taking advantage of a slightly tentative Nadal foray to the net to win 6-3,6-7,6-4.


Afterwards, Nadal was disappointed but stoic. “I played against uncomfortable player in the first round here, and I had my chance. I didn’t play a bad match, but matches sometimes here decide in just a few things, and I was not lucky enough today. I probably didn’t play enough aggressive when I had the break up in the 4-3.” He will stay on to play the doubles with Marc Lopez, then will return home to Mallorca for a few days before coming back to practice for Wimbledon.


Dolgopolov was, of course, happier: “Overall I’m really happy with the match. You know, not even because I beat Nadal but the way I played and the way I fought back after a disappointing second set.” He meets Kevin Anderson, Hewitt’s conqueror, in the next round.




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.”


Federer Withdraws from Year-End Final with Back Injury

Federer on changeover

Chalkdust Chronicles – Sad end to a low-key tournament


(November 16, 2014) LONDON – After semi-finals that finally set the tournament alight, there was an audible gasp from the crowds who had gathered for the Finals as Roger Federer wandered out in a cardigan and trousers to announce that he was pulling out of the ATP World Tour Finals with World No. 1 and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic.


The rumors had already been circulating when he had not shown up for practice, having opted for one of the courts in the public area and not on the main court.


As the announcement was made to media to take to the court for the announcement, it seemed a fitting end to one of the strangest tournaments, with the only shining lights being the semi-finals.


“Unfortunately I’m not match fit,” Federer said to the crowd at the O2 Arena. “I tried everything I could last night, also today: painkillers, treatment, rest, so forth, warm-up, until the very end. But I just can’t compete at this level with Novak. It would be too risky at my age to do this right now and I hope you understand.”

In a muted on-court presentation, for his third consecutive title, Djokovic said:

“I feel really sorry for Roger. If he could have come out and played, he would have done.”


People who had paid good money for the tickets over the entire week have been disappointed over the week with heavy one-sided matches in the singles until the semi-finals.


However the gasping audience were partially mollified with the news that Djokovic would be playing Andy Murray in a pro-set followed by another exhibition match pitting Murray with John McEnroe against Tim Henman and Pat Cash.


Meanwhile Swiss thoughts must turn to how they mentally and physically prepare for the Davis Cup on French clay, as that had to have been part of Federer’s decision to pull out.


A further complication arises as John McEnroe hinted at a fall out with the Swiss team that went on well into the night. During the match Wawrinka had seemed to have an angry altercation with someone in Federer’s box, and with them being the mainstays of the Swiss team, could spell a mental triumph for the French team before they all even step on court.


The World Tour Finals of 2014 will not be known as one of the classics, and if next year should be its last year in London, hopefully it will go out with a bang, and not the whimper of this year.



Federer’s message on his Facebook page:



Tournament thriller to set up World 1 Djokovic versus No. 2 Federer in the ATP World Tour Finals

Chalkdust Chronicles – Tournament thriller to set up World 1 Djokovic versus No. 2 Federer in the ATP World Tour Finals


(November 15, 2014) LONDON – After a week of sometimes lackluster performances at the ATP World Tour Finals, finally the crowds had something to shout about as Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka battled through an intense three-setter, with Wawrinka just being edged out by the most heartbreaking of margins 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(6), unable to take advantage of any of the four match points he held.


That Federer won is no surprise, but to come from a set down after being left standing as Wawrinka built up a double break was not in the script. Maybe nerves caught up with him the first time he tried to serve out the first set as the always dangerous Federer clawed back one of the breaks, and Wawrinka did the deed on the second time of asking.


The quality certainly did not diminish in the second set as Federer still failed to capitalize on his opportunities to push into a decider sooner rather than later.


Soon it would be Wawrinka’s turn to send a match-point begging, and beating each other up into the deciding set tie-break, Federer got the predictably more confident start. By the time Wawrinka got himself in the lead again, he was starting to feel the effects of the match, cramping up. With Davis Cup around the corner, Federer opted to go for the attack, finally saving four match-points and taking one of his own with a cutting drop volley to set up the final the organizers were longing for.


“For sure that game at the end I was nervous,” Wawrinka said in regard to failing to serve out the match. “You make some choice, especially when you’re tired, when you’re nervous. Just wanted to go for it and not wait for mistake.”


“I got lucky tonight,” admitted Federer. “Stan played better from the baseline and that usually does the job on this court. But I kept fighting. It’s tough but I’m thrilled to be in another final in London. Novak is playing great tennis. It usually brings the best out of me.”


Federer will face off against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Federer is seeking his seventh year-end title, while Djokovic is looking for his third in sucession.


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.