2014/12/21

Rafael Nadal Wins Madrid Open After Kei Nishikori Retires

 

(May 11, 2014) Rafael Nadal is back on track for the clay season. World No. 1 Nadal won his fourth Madrid Open on after Kei Nishikori was forced to pull out of the match with a back injury with Nadal leading 2-6, 6-4, 3-0 in the final on Sunday.

“I’m very sorry for Nishikori,” Nadal said. The No. 1 Japanese player was leading the Spaniard 6-2, 4-2 when he first felt pain.

“He’s an unbelievable player that will fight to be in London (ATP World Tour Finals),” Nadal added. “I am sure of that. I really hope that the injury is not too bad and he will be able to compete in Roland Garros.”

“I suffered a similar situation in Australia this year,” said Nadal who lost this year’s Australian Open final to Stanislas Wawrinka. “So I know what I’m talking about and how bitter it is, especially when you’re playing an important match.”

Nishikori, 24, who was participating in his first Masters Series final, said that despite the injury he has a positive look at the future.

“There is a lot of confidence I get from this tournament by beating (Ferrer) in three sets and playing well in the final today. It’s going to be very exciting at (Roland Garros) because I never feel like this on clay. I’m very confident of whatever I hit going for winners. I can hit from either side – forehand or backhand – so it’s a very good feeling that I have on clay right now.”

The loss ended Nishikori’s consecutive win streak at 14. He has already withdrawn

The victory gives Nadal his 27th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title and his 63 ATP career title. Nadal now is alone in sixth place in tournament wins in the Open Era.

“Winning at home is always more special than winning anywhere,” said the 27-year-old. “Having the chance to play in front of your home crowd… is unforgettable for me. This city gives me a lot. This is a very important victory for me.”

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Maria Sharapova Rallies to Win Her First Madrid Open Title

 

(May 11, 2014) Last year’s Madrid Open bridesmaid is this year’s bride as last year’s losing finalist Maria Sharapova rebounded from being dominated in the first set 6-1 to claim her first Madrid Open title over Simona Halep, 1-6, 6-2, 6-3.

 

“What a week,” Sharapova said emphatically. “Last year I lost in the finals and I really wanted to go one extra step this year, and it’s just been such a fantastic week. Simona and I had played a couple of times before, but she’s really on a different level now. I don’t know how I pulled it off. In the first set I wasn’t doing much to hurt her, and that’s the tennis she’s capable of playing – I knew I had to do some different things after the first set to win this match.”
“I don’t have regrets because it was an amazing week for me and it was my biggest final,” said the Romanian Halep. “But I’m really happy that I could play the final here in Madrid. I played really well all week and I beat top players and I played a very high level of tennis. Maria is a great player and a great champion. She played really well, and I think she deserved to win this title. ”

 

“I don’t take any finals for granted, and every tournament means a lot to me,” Sharapova continued. “I came close last year, and I didn’t have a great first set today, but I knew it wasn’t over until the last point was played.”

 

For No. 9 Sharapova the victory marks her 31st WTA title of her career. It extends her current won streak on a lay court to 11. She also captured a tournament in Stuttgart this year.

 

She has now won 46 of her last 49 matches on clay, with all three of the losses coming to No. 1 Serena Williams.

 

The 27-year-old Russian will see her ranking rise to No. 7 and Halep will remain at No. 5. Next stop for both women on the tour will be Rome which began on Sunday.

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Nadal to Face Nishikori in Madrid Open Final

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MUTUA MADRID OPEN
Madrid, Spain
May 3-11, 2014
Clay/Outdoors

 

Results – Saturday, May 10, 2014
WTA Singles – Semifinals
(8) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) 61 64
(4) Simona Halep (ROU) d. (5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) 67(4) 63 62

WTA Doubles – Final
(2) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. (WC) Muguruza/Suárez Navarro (ESP/ESP) 64 63

Singles – Semi-finals
[1] R Nadal (ESP) d R Bautista Agut (ESP) 64 63
[10] K Nishikori (JPN) d [5] D Ferrer (ESP) 76(5) 57 63

Doubles – Semi-finals

[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) d [4] D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) 76(3) 75
[6] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) d J Cabal (COL) / R Farah (COL) 75 64

SCHEDULE – SUNDAY, 11 MAY 2014

NOTE: Doubles Final will stream live at 2:00 pm CET/8:00 am ET

MANOLO SANTANA start 2:00 pm
ATP – [1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs [6] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB)

4:30 pm
WTA – [4] S Halep (ROU) vs [8] M Sharapova (RUS)

7:15 pm
ATP – [1] R Nadal (ESP) vs [10] K Nishikori (JPN)

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Tennis – Madrid Open Results and Schedule

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MUTUA MADRID OPEN
Madrid, Spain
May 3-11, 2014
Clay/Outdoors

 

Results – Friday, May 9, 2014
WTA Singles – Quarterfinals
(5) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (1) Serena Williams (USA) w/o (left thigh injury)
(8) Maria Sharapova (RUS) d. (2) Li Na (CHN) 26 76(5) 63
(3) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. (Q) Caroline Garcia (FRA) 64 46 64
(4) Simona Halep (ROU) d. (11) Ana Ivanovic (SRB) 62 62

WTA Doubles – Semifinals
(WC) Muguruza/Suárez Navarro (ESP/ESP) d. (1) Hsieh/Peng (TPE/CHN) 57 63 108 (Match TB)
(2) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. Medina Garrigues/Shvedova (ESP/KAZ) 76(7) 26 108 (Match TB)

ATP Singles – Quarter-finals
[1] R Nadal (ESP) d [6] T Berdych (CZE) 64 62
[5] D Ferrer (ESP) d E Gulbis (LAT) 76(3) 63
[10] K Nishikori (JPN) d F Lopez (ESP) 64 64
R Bautista Agut (ESP) d [Q] S Giraldo (COL) 63 64

ATP Doubles – Quarter-finals

[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) d M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) 76(4) 63
[4] D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) d [8] R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK) 76(5) 76(6)

SCHEDULE – SATURDAY, 10 MAY 2014

MANOLO SANTANA start 11:30 am
WTA – [5] P Kvitova (CZE) vs [4] S Halep (ROU)
Not Before 1:00 pm
WTA – [3] A Radwanska (POL) vs [8] M Sharapova (RUS)
Not Before 3:30 pm
ATP – [1] R Nadal (ESP) vs R Bautista Agut (ESP)
Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – [10] K Nishikori (JPN) vs [5] D Ferrer (ESP)
WTA – Doubles Final – [WC] G Muguruza (ESP) / C Suarez Navarro (ESP) vs [2] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA)

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Serena Williams Pulls Out of Madrid Open

 

Serena in press 3

(May 9, 2014) Two-time defending Madrid Open champion Serena Williams has withdrawn from the tourney with a left thigh injury. All week the world No. 1 has had her thigh heavily taped. With her withdrawal, Petra Kvitova advances to the semifinals.

“I have a left thigh injury and, unfortunately, have to withdraw from this year’s Mutua Madrid Open,” Williams said in a statement. “It happened during my first round match. It started to get better, but most importantly right now, I just need some time to rest and recover. It’s beyond words. It’s so frustrating. We couldn’t ask for a better tournament and I love it here in Madrid. I love being a champion here. Manolo Santana and his team put on a great tournament. This is not the way I wanted this week to end.”

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Roger Federer Withdraws from Madrid to be with Pregnant Wife

 

Federer in press

(May 6, 2014) Roger Federer announced on his Facebook page that he has withdrawn from the Madrid Open to be with his wife Mirka who is expecting their third child.

The Federers already have four-year-old twin girls, Myla Rose and Charlene Riva, who will turn five on July 23.

The French Open begins on May 25. The world No. 4 has not missed a major tournament since 2000.

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Final 2013 Madrid Open Results

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MUTUA MADRID OPEN
Madrid, Spain
May 4-12, 2013
Red Clay/Outdoors

Results – Sunday, May 12, 2013
Women’s Singles – Final
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (2) Maria Sharapova (RUS) 61 64

Women’s Doubles – Final (May 11th)
Pavlyuchenkova/Safarova (RUS/CZE) d. Black/Erakovic (ZIM/NZL) 62 64

Men’s Singles – Final
[5] R Nadal (ESP) d [15] S Wawrinka (SUI) 62 64

Men’s Doubles – Final
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) d [7] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) 62 63

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Quotable Quotes: Rafael Nadal defeats Stanislas Wawrinka in Madrid

 

Rafael Nadal

 

By Tumaini Carayol

(May 12, 2013)In one of the most unsurprising finals of 2013, Rafael Nadal triumphed 6-2, 6-4 over Stanislas Wawrinka in Madrid to lift the second masters title of his stunning return to tennis, winning his fifth tournament in the seven outings since his return.

Nadal on his victory:

 

“I don’t expect anything.  If I expect is the most difficult thing when I go out there and play a match. In this case what I expected was to go out there and try and do it and do what I like to do, what I want to do before I go out there in the match. I’m very happy.  I think I did a really good match.  I think I played the best match of the whole week today in the final.”

 

Nadal on his tactics:

“I managed to do what I was thinking to do before starting the match.  It’s always difficult.  I (planned) to go out there and (hit my forehand well), you know, to smack it hard, and try to win many points with my forehand.

Afterwards with my backhand I was trying to, you know, not to play down-the-line. I was trying to play balls up there in the middle, deep balls, because I knew that those balls were the right ones.  If I played that way then he didn’t have the right angle.  He has some pretty good angles with his drive and his backhand.”

 

Nadal on the importance of Madrid:

“For me it’s a moment not to talk about Roland Garros.  It’s a moment just to be happy with what I have achieved right now in Madrid, in Barcelona, and Monte‑Carlo.

In this moment nowadays I am just happy to have what I did today and win an important tournament such as Madrid.  To think this is a warmup to Roland Garros, that’s wrong.  It’s not a warmup.  I give my maximum level.

For me this tournament means a lot, the same as Monte‑Carlo and Barcelona.  I just give it the maximum importance.  At home, even more important.”

 

Wawrinka on his condition:

 

“For sure I was not feeling that well and maybe not 100% physically and mentally, so then it’s really tough to play.  And even if I’m playing my best tennis and completely fresh, it’s really, really tough to beat him.

If you’re not completely there then he’s killing you, like he did at the beginning of the match.  It was tough for me.  The ball was flying.  It was different conditions”

 

Wawrinka on starting work with Magnus Norman:

“He was No. 2 in the world and make so many big results.  He was amazing player and did a great job with Robin Soderling to get him to the No. 5 in the world.

We just start.  It’s the first week in tournament with him.  I think we did a good job this week.  I’m really happy with how we work together.  I’m really looking forward for the rest of the year with him.”

 

Both will immediately head to Rome as the clay season grind continues.

 

Tumaini Carayol was Madrid covering the Madrid Open for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault.

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How Serena Williams Defeated Maria Sharapova in Madrid

SerenaWilliamsWilsonPhoto

 

By Tumaini Carayol

(May 12, 2013) MADRID – Since their fateful Australian Open final all those years ago, contests between Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have come to closer resemble brutal murder than a simple tennis match. Over 6 of the most turbulent years the WTA has seen, one of the few constants to emerge over this period has been Williams’ domination over her rival. Irrespective of the surface, stadium or form Williams has often stumbled into these matches in; the 17-time Grand Slam Champion has developed the unshakable ability to play her best tennis.

But why? Some point to nine years ago when a 17 year-old Sharapova usurped Serena Williams in the final of Wimbledon 2004, implying that the victory and ensuing hype became forged a bitter resentment in Williams. Others look towards a few months later at the WTA Championships as the source of Williams’ malignity. Here, Sharapova recovered from a 0-4 third set deficit in the final, screaming borderline psychotic encouragement against a Williams who was forced to roll in 70mph first serves after straining her abdominal muscle. Many suggest the lopsided head-to-head is a simple matchup issue, while the rest simply say their matches are an accurate reflection of the gulf in ability between the pair.

 

Regardless, as Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova lined up ahead of their seventh championship match, the expectation among many was that a different result perhaps loomed on the clay that has slowly molded into the Russian’s best surface. It was certainly understandable. After all, as Sharapova marched onto the court, she came armed with a red clay winning streak that spanned a quarter of a century of games – a feat that eluded even Justine Henin on the surface she dominated so majestically. A year ago, a similar occasion presented itself as the Russian arrived in Stuttgart after a series humiliating losses to Victoria Azarenka. On her favored red clay, Sharapova brushed aside the Belarusian with ease, the then-number one resorting to a crude shoulder out of sheer desperation.

 

As is so often drilled to death, the competitiveness of this match would hinge on whether Sharapova could bring her top level. So, when Sharapova’s first service game showcased a double fault and three groundstrokes into the middle-to-bottom of the net, all questions were answered succinctly as any belief she may have contained rapidly seeped from her pores.

 

The first break was followed by a serve-dominated hold and 2-0 lead for the number one, as her own confidence catapulted. Another break and another unrelenting hold followed. At 0-4 down, Sharapova had only 6 points to her name as the player who had barely escaped Anabel Medina Garrigues before struggling past Sara Errani, picked apart the French Open Champion at will. At times, Williams went for – and made – outlandish margins, other times she manipulated the angles to force her opponent on the run and sometimes she simply irreverently crushed the ball straight down the middle and awaited the inevitable forced error that would follow. Williams sweetly struck first serve return winner on set point proved an all-to apt shot to end the first set.

 

The second set provided Sharapova with a fresh start, and as the second seed finally settled into the exchanges, the opening stages offered a glimpse into the pair’s differing fortunes on the surface in recent times. Sharapova’s length made the difference in the early second set exchanges, pushing Williams off the baseline with deep, penetrative groundstrokes. On clay, balance is so vital, and with Williams typically static footwork robbing her of the ability to adjust to Sharapova’s heavy strokes, the pendulum quickly swung in the opposite direction.

 

Up 3-1 in set two, it appeared Sharapova had fallen into a groove as she worked Williams from left to right with deadly depth. Though the score stood at game point to Williams, as Sharapova sent the world number one scampering around the court, it appeared she was finally dominating the neutral rallies. It wasn’t until, out of nowhere, the Williams who appeared to be firmly on the back foot calmly stroked a forehand down-the-line winner, that the dramatic mid-match improvement in Williams’ movement was noticeable. Suddenly, the world number one was gliding around the court, sliding into – rather than after – her shots and changing directions with perfect balance. This would prove the death knell for Sharapova as Williams recovered the break to lead 4-3 in the set two. Though holds were exchanged in the following service games, not many were surprised when Sharapova found herself down 4-5 0-30 in the second set and responded by double faulting to hand Williams triple match point.

 

Needless to say, shortly after, the match was won.

Tumaini Carayol was Madrid covering the Madrid Open for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault.

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Serena Williams Thinks Her Way Into Madrid Final

 

Serena Day 2 Press Conference

By Tumaini Carayol

(May 11, 2013) When Serena Williams opened with an effortless forehand winner before a statement opening service hold, one could be forgiven for assuming this was an indication that she intended to put right what had gone so terribly wrong in the previous match. That all the factors that contributed to her being on the receiving end of a bagel and a 2-4 third set deficit to Anabel Medina Garrigues were to be eradicated from living memory with a performance worthy of the world No. 1.

One was wrong.

The following games would showcase the younger Williams’ game in a rapid descent back to the pits of hell as she impatiently expected the match to fall into place without an ounce of effort. Rather than working with the clay, the world No. 1 essentially attempted to play against the basic nature of the surface, taking large and unnecessary cuts at the ball and directing the majority of shots with no margin, width or imagination. For a seasoned claycourter like Sara Errani, it was all too easy. When Williams wasn’t committing a myriad of errors, missing laughable smashes and generally gifting the majority of points to her opponent, Errani had no problem with exploiting Williams’ painfully linear play, simply redirecting her shots crosscourt and exploiting her sketchy movement on the red dirt.

One of the more maddening aspects of Serena on clay is that she is more than capable of embracing the surface and using it to compliment some of her own strengths. When discussing her sole Roland Garros triumph in 2002, people often tell of a player who was so supremely greater than the other thousands of professional female players that surface was irrelevant. While this is true, it ignores the fact that her final in Berlin and triumphs in Rome and Roland Garros that year were not the product of her playing some ballistic and otherworldly attacking tennis on clay. She prospered by obeying the surface’s core rules. She moved better than her opposition on clay, constructed points with angles and width, and understood that, to be a consistent success, it was often necessary to outmaneuver opponents rather than outhit them. Sure, there was power – lots of it – but it was tempered and she attacked with discretion. The result was that her clay court duels with Jennifer Capriati were some of the most physical ever seen. Eleven years later, though aspects of her game have notably deteriorated – her movement on clay, for example – many of those qualities remain hidden under the surface of her game, waiting to be utilized once again.

As the bleeding began again and the world number one found herself down 1-3, similar thoughts appeared to well up in the mind of Serena. From the large and unnecessary swipes at the ball came a sense of calmness as Williams finally began to think and endeavored to collaborate with the conditions rather than play against them. Out of nowhere, she began to almost exclusively attack cross-court, alternating between hitting with great depth and using the width of the court. Though errors still littered her game and left the first set in the balance, the results were immediate. She was able to gradually drag the defending French Open finalist off the court and defeated her through combinations of shots rather than single booming blows. Fittingly, after three missed set points, the 7-5 set was closed out with a perfectly-measured acute angled forehand.

It wasn’t until that first set was safely tucked away that the shackles were unleashed and Williams was truly able to play. The riskier tennis returned, but the world number one was able to strike a comfortable balance between constructing points and attacking as Errani simply played into Williams’ hands. In contrast to the hour-long first set in which 36 of Errani’s points came courtesy of Williams’ 28 unforced errors, the second set was a far more routine affair as Williams cruised to victory.

Though far from Williams’ most impressive victory, it showcased Serena at her thoughtful best – a vital quality that will aid her in her pursuit of the improbable-yet-possible feat that is her replicating her grand clay triumph of 11 years ago.

But, for now, both of her eyes will be on Maria Sharapova as the world No. 1 and French Open champion battle for the Madrid title and top spot on Sunday.

Tumaini Carayol is in Madrid covering the Madrid Open for Tennis Panorama News. He is a contributing writer at On The Baseline, and writes about professional tennis at his site Foot Fault. Follow his tournament updates on @TennisNewsTPN and his personal twitter @TumCarayol.

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