October 23, 2016

Third Time Not a Charm as Dimitrov Loses Again to Nadal


By Kevin Ware

(August 15, 2013) MASON, Ohio – Grigor Dimitrov lost a tightly-contested match to Rafael Nadal  6-2, 5-7, 6-2 Thursday night  at the Western and Southern Open. The loss was his third straight to Nadal after losses in Monte Carlo (’13) and Rotterdam (’09). It would be great if we could say that he’s getting closer to solving the Nadal puzzle, but there’s still a ways to go before that happens.

All three previous matches have gone the distance (three sets), and all have followed the same pattern of Dimitrov mounting a second set comeback only to lose in the third. This latest loss in Cincinnati even included two breaks of serve in each of the sets he lost; this on a night when he was serving at a respectable 73% overall on the night.

What will it take for Dimitrov to overcome the man of steel from Mallorca?

I had a chance to chat with Dimitrov  immediately following the match, and was able to ask him about his physical condition (after a couple of injury scares during the match), his strategy going into this match, and what he thinks is needed in order to turn this pattern of defeats into a first win.

How are you feeling physically? You were grabbing at your chest sometimes during the match.

I thought I pulled a muscle in the second set on one return. So I was just struggling a little bit. But I went through the pain and had a good second set which was actually pretty good. Yeah, physically I’m not too bad anymore and I’m happy for that. It’s a positive thing.

Is it hard on your body running from side to side, covering as much court as Nadal makes you defend?

You know where he’s going to play, but the ball comes really fast. It doesn’t matter how fast you are, you just gotta go to the ball and get it back in the court. I think he has one of the best forehands. I mean, obviously it was just an unbelievable first set from him. Not much I can say about that. Definitely congrats and well, life goes on. Work even harder, and look forward to playing him again.

It looked like your game plan was to slice to Nadal’s forehand to keep the ball low, and attack his backhand. Did you feel you were successful in doing so?

I tried I think a lot of things in the first set but obviously it didn’t really work. He was making absolutely every single shot. I was just trying to find/see where I could find the gap, and there you go. I found the gap in the second set and had this momentum that I grabbed it. And he came out of the block pretty good in the third set so I couldn’t really do much. And even if I was serving 74% it wasn’t enough. I definitely will sit down with my coach and discuss that.

Was the effort that it took out of you to take the second set the difference in the third set? Was it hard to maintain that same level?

He started putting even more balls into the court. He was waiting for me to attack him. And here and there, I missed a few shots and that was the breaks. Even though the score was 6-2 almost every game was 30-40 or deuce or something like that. So the margin was pretty small. And at that level it just takes one or two points.

Given the loss, were you happy with how you played?

I wouldn’t say happy. One thing I’m happy physically. I feel quite alright and I’m still feeling good which is very positive to me. Last time I played him for two hours I was cramping a little bit. So that’s a positive thing. But other than that, of course. Playing against a guy like him, a Top 10 player in general, is always a pleasure. I always enjoy the battles. But I’m looking forward to really starting to give them even a harder time.

What do you think is the difference, that small delta you need to take a match like this?

I’ve done it once, I just need to find the same formula in the same way I’ve been preparing for consistency on and off the court and throughout all the weeks. It’s never easy to travel and come to the week playing then next week playing again. So if you have that good level, and after you raise up your low level, then when matches like this come you will definitely be more ready.

Are you going to take a few days off?

I say maybe one day is gonna be enough, and then looking forward to getting to the (US) Open.

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.


Nadal Continues His Winning Ways against Becker in Cincy Opener

Rafael Nadal

By Kevin Ware

(August 15, 2013) MASON, Ohio – Rafael Nadal handily dispatched Benjamin Becker in Wednesday’s first match of the evening at the Western and Southern Open. It was his first since winning the Rogers Cup title in Montreal on Sunday.

Nadal didn’t play his best, but on this night and against this opponent, it wasn’t needed. His “B” game was more than enough to keep the 100th-ranked Becker frustrated by excessive topspin, scrambling to stay in points, and struggling to hold serve.

Neither player served particularly well (52% for both). But Nadal won a whopping 95% of his first serve points, and a strong 60% of second serve points. He also saved the two break points he faced in the match, coming back from 15-40 to hold for a 5 games to 1 lead in the first set.


Generally, Nadal was pleased with his game. “Just for a few games the serve was down a little bit.  I served with too much second serves just a few games. For the rest, I think I played a great match.”

Since most went deep in their respective Rogers Cup events in Montreal and Toronto, many of the top players had little practice time and have struggled with the court conditions in Cincinnati. Nadal was asked to weigh in with his thoughts on the different conditions.

“When you change cities, change a little bit of weather, the feelings on the ball is different. The speed of the court is not exactly the same.  It’s a little bit slower here than in Montreal.” Given Nadal’s preference for slower surfaces, this should give him comfort in the later rounds with the big hitters.

Nadal’s biggest battle on the night was the consistency in his forehand. At times, he hit monster forehands that Becker had no chance to reach. At other moments, he over-hit badly. Fortunately, the good outnumbered the bad with 15 winners on the night.

Additionally, big misses are a positive sign that Nadal is playing aggressively and going for big shots; which was a key to his victory over Djokovic in Montreal.

Nadal’s next match is against the talented Grigor Dimitrov.  Though their last match was on clay in Monte Carlo – one of Nadal’s most fruitful tournaments – it was a tough three-setter that Nadal won by a break in the third. He is keenly aware of the potential for danger in this match.

“He had already tough matches against Murray, Djokovic.  He’s a player that has great potential.  Tomorrow will be a tough match for me, so I have to keep playing this way and play very well.  When I have chances, I’m going to try.”

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

Cincinnati, OH, USA
August 12-18, 2013

Results – Wednesday, August 14, 2013
WTA Singles – Second Round
(1) Serena Williams (USA) d. (Q) Eugenie Bouchard (CAN) 46 62 62
(4) Agnieszka Radwanska (POL) d. Varvara Lepchenko (USA) 64 60
(5) Li Na (CHN) d. (WC) Lauren Davis (USA) 46 61 61
(6) Sara Errani (ITA) d. (Q) Polona Hercog (SLO) 64 57 64
(7) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. (Q) Marina Erakovic (NZL) 64 67(7) 63
Simona Halep (ROU) d. (8) Marina Bartoli (FRA) 36 64 61
(9) Angelique Kerber (GER) d. Alisa Kleybanova (RUS) 76(3) 62
(10) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) d. (LL) Monica Niculescu (ROU) 64 63
(11) Samantha Stosur (AUS) d. Jamie Hampton (USA) 63 76(3)
(12) Roberta Vinci (ITA) d. (Q) Andrea Petkovic (GER) 64 67(3) 63
(14) Jelena Jankovic (SRB) d. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) 26 63 63
Mona Barthel (GER) d. (16) Maria Kirilenko (RUS) 64 64
Elena Vesnina (RUS) d. Venus Williams (USA) 62 57 62
Magdalena Rybarikova (SVK) d. Alizé Cornet (FRA) 36 75 75

WTA Doubles – Second Round
(1) Errani/Vinci (ITA/ITA) d. (WC) Hantuchova/Hingis (SVK/SUI) 64 64
(2) Makarova/Vesnina (RUS/RUS) d. (WC) King/Kleybanova (USA/RUS) 62 64
(3) Hsieh/Peng (TPE/CHN) d. Dushevina/Soler-Espinosa (RUS/ESP) 61 61
(WC) Kerber/Petkovic (GER/GER) d. (4) Hlavackova/Raymond (CZE/USA) 63 46 119 (Match TB)
(6) Groenefeld/Peschke (GER/CZE) d. Pavlyuchenkova/Safarova (RUS/CZE) 62 61
(7) Chan/Srebotnik (TPE/SLO) d. Kudryavtseva/Rodionova (RUS/AUS) 46 63 106 (Match TB)
Goerges/Zahlavova Strycova (GER/CZE) d. (WC) Flipkens/Kvitova (BEL/CZE) w/o (Kvitova: dizziness)
Huber/Llagostera Vives (USA/ESP) d. Date-Krumm/Parra Santonja (JPN/ESP) 76(2) 67(4) 104 (Match TB)

Singles – Second Round
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) d J Monaco (ARG) 75 62
[2] A Murray (GBR) d M Youzhny (RUS) 62 63
[4] R Nadal (ESP) d [Q] B Becker (GER) 62 62
[6] T Berdych (CZE) d J Nieminen (FIN) 63 62
[7] J del Potro (ARG) d N Davydenko (RUS) 75 75
J Isner (USA) d [8] R Gasquet (FRA) 76(6) 62
T Robredo (ESP) d [9] S Wawrinka (SUI) 75 36 63
[11] T Haas (GER) d M Granollers (ESP) 64 61
[12] M Raonic (CAN) d J Tipsarevic (SRB) 64 76(4)
[Q] D Goffin (BEL) d V Pospisil (CAN) 75 16 76(6) – saved 4 M.P.
[Q] D Tursunov (RUS) d [WC] J Blake (USA) 64 64
F Lopez (ESP) d J Chardy (FRA) 64 22 ret. (left knee)

Doubles – Second Round
[2] M Granollers (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP) d [PR] M Fish (USA) / J Melzer (AUT) 75 64
[3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) d M Mirnyi (BLR) / H Tecau (ROU) 64 76(6)
S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) d [6] R Lindstedt (SWE) / D Nestor (CAN) 76(3) 64
[8] R Bopanna (IND) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) d A Seppi (ITA) / M Youzhny (RUS) 75 63

Doubles – First Round

J Janowicz (POL) / L Kubot (POL) d P Kohlschreiber (GER) / J Tipsarevic (SRB) 61 64
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) d M Llodra (FRA) / N Mahut (FRA) 76(5) 64


CENTER COURT start 11:00 am
M Rybarikova (SVK) vs [2] V Azarenka (BLR) – WTA
Not Before 1:00 PM
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs [Q] D Goffin (BEL) – ATP
[5] R Federer (SUI) vs [11] T Haas (GER) – ATP
Not Before 7:00 PM
G Dimitrov (BUL) vs [4] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP
Not Before 9:00 PM
[1] S Williams (USA) vs M Barthel (GER) – WTA

GRANDSTAND start 11:00 am
F Lopez (ESP) vs [7] J Del Potro (ARG) – ATP
[14] J Jankovic (SRB) vs S Stephens (USA) – WTA
J Benneteau (FRA) vs [2] A Murray (GBR) – ATP
[7] P Kvitova (CZE) vs [10] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
[11] S Stosur (AUS) vs S Halep (ROU) – WTA
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) vs J Chardy (FRA) / R Gasquet (FRA) – ATP

COURT 3 start 12:00 noon
[3] D Ferrer (ESP) vs [Q] D Tursunov (RUS) – ATP
[12] M Raonic (CAN) vs J Isner (USA) – ATP
Not Before 2:30 PM
[4] A Radwanska (POL) vs E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA
Not Before 7:00 PM
[6] T Berdych (CZE) vs T Robredo (ESP) – ATP

COURT 9 start 11:00 am

[5] A Qureshi (PAK) / J Rojer (NED) vs M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) – ATP
Not Before 1:00 PM
[6] S Errani (ITA) vs [12] R Vinci (ITA) – WTA
Not Before 3:00 PM
[9] A Kerber (GER) vs [5] N Li (CHN) – WTA
[1] S Errani (ITA) / R Vinci (ITA) vs J Goerges (GER) / B Zahlavova Strycova (CZE) – WTA-After Suitable Rest
[WC] J Blake (USA) / S Johnson (USA) vs [7] J Benneteau (FRA) / N Zimonjic (SRB) – ATP-After Suitable Rest
L Huber (USA) / N Llagostera Vives (ESP) vs [2] E Makarova (RUS) / E Vesnina (RUS) – WTA-After Appropriate Rest

COURT 4 start 3:00 pm
J Janowicz (POL) / L Kubot (POL) vs [4] L Paes (IND) / R Stepanek (CZE) – ATP
Not Before 4:30 PM
[3] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA) vs S Gonzalez (MEX) / S Lipsky (USA) – ATP
[WC] A Kerber (GER) / A Petkovic (GER) vs [6] A Groenefeld (GER) / K Peschke (CZE) – WTA-After Suitable Rest

COURT 6 start 4:00 pm
[7] H Chan (TPE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs [3] S Hsieh (TPE) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA


Marion Bartoli Announces Retirement After Loss at Western & Southern Open



(August 14, 2013) 2013 Wimbledon Ladies’ champion Marion Bartoli has announced her retirement from tennis after losing her match to Simona Halep 3-6, 6-4, 6-1 at the Western & Southern Open on Wednesday night in Mason, Ohio.

“Well, it’s never easy and obviously there is never a time to say it or whatever, but that was actually the last match of my career, ” Bartoli said to open her post-match news conference.  “Sorry.”

“It’s time for me to retire and to call it a career.  I feel it’s time for me to walk away actually.”

The 28-year-old Frenchwoman ranked No. 7 in the world continued: “I made my dream a reality and it will stay forever with me, but now my body just can’t cope with everything.”

Bartoli said her achilles heel, shoulder, hips and lower back hurt constantly when she played.

“My body just can’t do it anymore.  I’ve been already through a lot of injuries since the beginning of the year.  I’ve been on the tour for so long, and I really push through and leave it all during that Wimbledon.

“I really felt I gave all the energy I have left inside my body.  I made my dream a reality and it will stay forever with me, but now my body just can’t cope with everything.”

So what does Bartoli plan on doing in the future? “Oh, gosh, I don’t know,” she said.  “I haven’t think about it so much.  There is so many things to do in life rather than playing tennis, so I’m sure I will find something.  I just need a bit of time to kind of settle down.”

“It’s been a tough decision to take.  I don’t take this easily.  I mean, I’ve been a tennis player for a long time, and I had the chance to make my biggest dream a reality.  I felt I really, really push through the ultimate limits to make it happen.

“But now I just can’t do it anymore.”



Monday’s All-Access Madness at the Western and Southern Open

Serena Williams Cincy 8122013

By Kevin Ware

(August 12, 2013) MASON, Ohio – WTA All-Access hours can be great fun.  They can also feel like the media equivalent of a rugby scrum. Don’t get me wrong, though. I love a scrum as much as the next writer.  But it’s difficult to give equal time and focus to the tournament’s top seeds when they’re brought out at roughly the same time.

So rather than elbow my way through the masses to reach all of the players, I chose my spots carefully and got quality time with Serena Williams, Victoria Azarenka, and Agnieszka Radwanska.  Here are some of their most quotable moments.

The Tireless and Inspirational Serena

Though Serena Williams can be a fiery competitor on the court, she often comes across as very subdued in the press room.  But then again, we’re usually talking to her after another victory and ensuing travel.  So she can easily be forgiven for low energy in the press room after such dominating victories, such as her Toronto win over Sorana Cirstea.

On the difference between last year’s long Olympic season and this year’s long season due to match wins:

“I don’t feel fatigued this year even though I’m doing well.  At the Olympics I was still on a high, and really into the moment. I was still up from that.”

“I feel motivated and I feel happy. I’m definitely feeling healthy. And hopefully I’ll be able to continue.”

On the inspiration she uses to stay so motivated that can help others:

“For me, one thing that I always think, ‘Is there a way I could do better?’ and if the answer is yes I strive to go through that door. And if the answer is no then it’ll be time to rethink what I’m doing.” So she hasn’t hit too many times where ‘No’ might have been the answer? “Not yet, thankfully.”

Radwanksa cincy 8122012

Radwanska’s Feeling Good and Looking for New Thrills

In spite of the incredible amount of tennis that Radwanska has played this summer (including her semifinal appearance at Wimbledon), she was relaxed, smiling, and feeling good heading into the final swing of the American hard court season.

On the difference between her two matches against Serena in Miami and Toronto:

“In Miami, I wasn’t really playing bad. But she was playing unbelievable. And I really couldn’t do much.” In Toronto, she felt the surface and balls made a marked difference in the match. “It was much slower than in Miami, and I could get more into the games.”

On playing so much tennis the past few weeks:

“Yeah, I’ve had a couple of good long matches, but I prefer to play a lot of matches than one match in two weeks.” I asked if that also meant that she was winning a lot, to which she replied,”Exactly. It’s a good problem to have.”

On riding roller coasters with her sister:

“I went there last year, and I wanted to ride the biggest one. But when I went there, I didn’t go to the biggest one. Something stopped me at the door, and I couldn’t do it. So I turned around.” When asked if her sister, Urszula, wanted to go, she said “We both looked at each other and said ‘Are you sure?’, then didn’t go. I think there’s supposed to have a bigger one next year, so maybe then…”

Azarenka Cincy

Azarenka Loves John Legend and Watching Tennis

Victoria Azarenka was in rare form when she sat down with the press in Cincinnati, chatting and laughing as though tennis was merely a small part of her being here.

On being normal:

“I’m weird sometimes, but I am also normal. I got a shirt for my birthday that says ‘Normal is boring’, and I think it’s a motto. My new motto.”

On driving and John Legend:

The fun for Vika actually began Sunday night, singing and dancing while being driven around Mason. She heard a song that she loved so much she couldn’t help herself. The song was ‘Tonight’ by John Legend.  “It’s so good. Just incredible. I couldn’t wait to tell somebody.” When I asked her if it was good enough to make her “on-court walk” playlist, she quickly said “Oh I think it’s too sexy for that.”

On what she did after Wimbledon:

As for watching tennis, that subject came up when she was asked what she did after leaving the All England Club. “I didn’t watch anything, to be honest. But I did watch the (men’s) final.”

“It was really exciting I think not only for British tennis, but also for the history it was incredible to see. And I’ve never seen Andy Murray so emotional, that’s for sure. But I was in the mood to see what I could do to be healthy again.”

On watching tennis:

I love to watch when I’m excited about something. I love to watch tennis in general. But at that moment I was focused on what I needed to do to be better to recover. And I also had lots to do with the move (to LA) and everything. And with the time difference, it was perfect (to not watch).

Sharapova Cincy

A Thought on the “Maria and Jimmy” Questions

Most of the questions that Maria Sharapova is asked these days, Grigor Dimitrov notwithstanding, revolve around her (admittedly) intriguing partnership with Jimmy Connors, and the ‘real’ reasons why she decided to start working with him. Judging by her generic words and closed body language, we can expect nothing outside of “He’s been there before” and “There are things he can bring to my game” platitudes. If Maria did, in fact, hire Jimmy to help find a way to mentally overcome Serena – as we all suspect – we’ll find out soon enough the next time they meet.

Kevin Ware is covering the Western & Southern Open as media for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.