October 13, 2015

Montreal Rogers Cup Day 2 – Bursting Montreal’s Bubble


Montreal Rogers Cup Day 02: Bursting Montreal’s Bubble

By Charles David Mathieu-Poulin


(August 11, 2015) MONTREAL, Canada – The crowd in Montreal is notorious for its emotional and vocal cheering of the local players. In the past few years, players like Frank Dancevic, Stephanie Dubois, Aleksandra Wozniak and Vasek Pospisil have used that energy to cause upsets and reach latter stages of the tournament. But with this attention also comes pressure: many will remember Eugenie Bouchard’s surprising loss in her opening match last year, and in a year’s time, one might reflect similarly on Milos Raonic’s early exit to Ivo Karlovic in this year’s edition.


Raonic, seeded 8th, wasn’t coming to the tournament in optimal shape: the top-ranked Canadian had been sidelined for most of the past few months by a nasty foot injury, which even required surgery to repair a pinched nerve. He had skipped the French Open and Davis Cup and admitted to playing through pain in Wimbledon. His rust was apparent Tuesday night, while his opponent, Ivo Karlovic, gave a serving masterclass in his 7-6(1) 7-6(1) win.


The Croat, No. 2 in player in career number of aces, never faced a break point and served 22 aces. During the match, he became only the second player in history to reach the 10,000 aces mark, and is well on his way to surpass his countryman Goran Ivanisevic. “Of course it is my goal, Karlovic admitted. I would hope that it happens this year, if not it will be next year. Hopefully I will be healthy enough to do it soon.”


Despite being 0 for 12 in break points throughout the match, Karlovic was flawless in the two tiebreaks, only conceding one point to Raonic. The Canadian, who usually thrives in these situations, was spraying uncharacteristic unforced errors. On the other hand, Karlovic, who stands tall at 6-foot-11, was covering the court surprisingly well for his size: “I was moving unbelievably well this evening, everything was going my way. This win means a lot to me.” It was Karlovic third top 10 win of 2015.

Milos Raonic 1

Asked whether his foot injury was a factor, Raonic replied with a smirk: “No, it wasn’t. I’ve been feeling something sort of in my back. I think I’m subconsciously protecting my foot. So, therefore, compensating, just finding different injuries at different times of the day.” Optimistic, he concluded: “A poor week this week doesn’t mean a poor week next week. I’ll just try to turn that around.”


This loss by Raonic means that Vasek Pospisil is the last Canadian standing. In his first round, Pospisil handled Yen-Hsun Lu for the second week in a row, this time in two sets. And, like last week, big-serving John Isner is next, as the American won a tight three setter against Benjamin Becker. “We’ve played four times already, five times including Hopman Cup, Pospisil said. I know what to expect, and so does he. I’d say it’s a pretty open match.”


While Raonic’s loss was a sure disappointment for the crowd, it wasn’t the only bubble that burst today.


While play started about one hour late due to rain on all outside courts, fans had to wait an extra hour to see Nick Kyrgios and Fernando Verdasco step out on Center Court. The reason? Some air bubbles popped up under the surface, most likely from water infiltration from the torrential rain, and made the court unplayable. The technical crew had to carefully remove the air in order to keep a smooth surface and consistent bounce.


Other winners of the day included first seed Novak Djokovic, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga (10), David Goffin (13), Grigor Dimitrov (14), while 12th seed Kevin Anderson was upset by Lukas Rosol. Andy Murray’s match against Tommy Robredo, which started way past 10pm, had to be suspended due to rain with the Scot serving at 4-all. Match will be postponed until Wednesday.



Singles Second Round
[1] N. Djokovic (SRB) d T. Bellucci (BRA) 63 76(4)
I. Karlovic (CRO) d [8] M. Raonic (CAN) 76(1) 76(1)

Singles First Round
[10] J. Tsonga (FRA) d B. Coric (CRO) 64 64
L. Rosol (CZE) d [12] K. Anderson (RSA) 76(2) 76(4)
[13] D. Goffin (BEL) d S. Johnson (USA) 62 62
[14] G. Dimitrov (BUL) d [Q] A. Dolgopolov (UKR) 64 75
[16] J. Isner (USA) d B. Becker (GER) 64 67(6) 63
J. Sock (USA) d A. Mannarino (FRA) 62 26 76(5)
[Q] E. Gulbis (LAT) d D. Thiem (AUT) 36 76(8) 61
N. Kyrgios (AUS) d F. Verdasco (ESP) 63 46 64
[WC] V. Pospisil (CAN) d [Q] Y. Lu (TPE) 64 63
J. Chardy (FRA) d [LL] N. Mahut (FRA) 61 75
[Q] M. Youzhny (RUS) d V. Troicki (SRB) 63 75
P. Andujar (ESP) d [WC] F. Dancevic (CAN) 62 64
R. Bautista Agut (ESP) d [PR] J. Tipsarevic (SRB) 63 64

Doubles First Round
M. Cilic (CRO) / R. Lindstedt (SWE) d [WC] P. Bester (CAN) / A. Shamasdin (CAN) 63 64
G. Monfils (FRA) / J. Tsonga (FRA) d [WC] L. Hewitt (AUS) / N. Kyrgios (AUS) 75 64


COURT CENTRAL start 12:30 pm
P. Andujar (ESP) vs [4] K. Nishikori (JPN)

Not Before 2:30 pm
[7] R. Nadal (ESP) vs S. Stakhovsky (UKR)
T. Robredo (ESP) vs [2] A. Murray (GBR) 44

Not Before 6:30 pm
[WC] V. Pospisil (CAN) vs [16] J. Isner (USA)
[3] S. Wawrinka (SUI) vs N. Kyrgios (AUS)

BANQUE NATIONALE start 12:30 pm
[Q] M. Youzhny (RUS) vs [9] G. Simon (FRA)
[15] G. Monfils (FRA) vs G. Muller (LUX)
[Q] D. Young (USA) vs [5] T. Berdych (CZE)
R. Bautista Agut (ESP) vs [10] J. Tsonga (FRA)
P. Cuevas (URU) / D. Marrero (ESP) vs D. Nestor (CAN) / E. Roger-Vasselin (FRA)

COURT 9 start 12:30 pm
J. Sock (USA) vs [14] G. Dimitrov (BUL)
[6] M. Cilic (CRO) vs B. Tomic (AUS)
[PR] N. Djokovic (SRB) / J. Tipsarevic (SRB) vs [4] R. Bopanna (IND) / F. Mergea (ROU)
R. Nadal (ESP) / F. Verdasco (ESP) vs [8] P. Herbert (FRA) / N. Mahut (FRA)
After Suitable Rest – F. Fognini (ITA) / T. Robredo (ESP) vs R. Klaasen (RSA) / R. Ram (USA)

COURT 5 start 12:30 pm
J. Chardy (FRA) vs L. Mayer (ARG)
[13] D. Goffin (BEL) vs S. Querrey (USA)
L. Rosol (CZE) vs [Q] E. Gulbis (LAT)
M. Cilic (CRO) / R. Lindstedt (SWE) vs [6] A. Peya (AUT) / B. Soares (BRA)
F. Lopez (ESP) / M. Mirnyi (BLR) vs D. Goffin (BEL) / D. Thiem (AUT)


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?


Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer to Clash in Indian Wells Final

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(March 21, 2015) The top two men’s tennis players will face off in the final of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday in Indian Wells, California.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic defeated No. 4 Andy Murray 6-2, 6-3 in the first semifinal of the day, a rematch of the Australian Open final, while No. 2 Roger Federer bested Milos Raonic 7-5, 6-4.

In Sunday’s final, defending champion Djokovic will be aiming to capture his fourth Indian Wells tournament, while Federer will be going for his fifth title in the desert. Federer leads Djokovic 20-17 in their head-to-head records.

Djokovic is now 17-8 against Murray, after winning for the sixth straight time against the Brit. Djokovic is 18- 2 on the year.

Considering this was probably the first match that I’ve played in the day in the entire year ‑‑ because I have played Doha, Dubai, Australian Open, and 90% of the matches I played during the night ‑‑ I thought I handled the conditions well.

It wasn’t easy, but I needed some time to adjust. The fact that I’m in another finals makes me definitely feel very good, very confident.

I had a phenomenal start of the season, and hopefully I can, you know, do my best tomorrow and maybe get another trophy.

Murray had a below average serving day against the Serb, losing his serve four times in the match.

“I tried to go for a few more serves today and to try to get a few more free points, but, you know, serving 50% or just below is, you know, not good enough against the best players,” sais Murray. “You obviously need to serve better.

“I thought I actually hit my second serve better than I did in Australia today, but first‑serve percentage was too low.”

Murray had 29 unforced errors and only seven winners in the contest

“I think obviously I didn’t start either of the sets well,” Murray said. “That obviously makes things difficult against the best players. I mean, Novak didn’t give me any free points at the beginning of either of the sets, and I made a few too many errors early on.

“Then, you know, in the end of both sets, middle of both sets, I started to play a bit better and made it tougher and was able to push him a bit, but not enough at the beginning of the sets to make it challenging enough for him.”

“I thought I played solid, with the right intensity from the beginning,” said Djokovic. “Good first‑serve percentage. Got some free points there in the important moments.

“Just overall it was a good performance.”

Djokovic admitted that his opponent did preform as well as he could have.

“Even though it’s a straight‑set victory, I still had to earn it,” Djokovic stated. “I thought that he hasn’t played close to his highest level. Made a lot of unforced errors, especially from the forehand side. Low percentage of first serves in. That allowed me to obviously step in and be aggressive.”


Roger Federer

Roger Federer

Milos Raonic broke up the potential “Big Four” reunion in the semifinals when he upset Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals on Friday. Raonic tested Federer in the straight set loss on Saturday.

The hard-serving Canadian was broken in the eleventh game of the first set, which the Swiss closed out 7-5 in 45 minutes. Federer opened the second set with a break, and never looked back.

Federer has now reached his 40th Masters Series 1000 final. Federer claimed the desert crown 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2012.

“I’m very happy how well I’m playing,” said Federer. “Feel good physically. Obviously I feel refreshed after the holiday. I’m serving well, which is always crucial.”

“He was neutralizing well on the serve, but especially during the points I felt like a few times I was able to stretch him,” Raonic said.

“He was doing a good job of getting legs behind and always playing deep cross so I could never find that short forehand I was looking for.”

“I wish I would have served a higher percentage, but I felt like when I was putting my first serve in I was doing a good job,” the Canadian explained. “I don’t think I mixed up my second serve enough.”

Djokovic discussed the possibility of playing Federer in the final:

“If I get to play Roger, it’s the ultimate final that right now I can have. Probably the player that is in the best form. You know, in the last 12 months he’s been playing some of his best tennis, I thought.

“Especially after, for his standards, pretty average season in 2013. He came back and played the finals in Wimbledon, played some great tournaments, won titles, and we had a fight for No. 1 spot all the way up to last couple of matches in London.

“He started off the year well again except that third‑round loss in the Australian Open. He won two titles. You know, he’s playing great. There no question about it.

“We all know that Roger, with all his records, we know the experience that he has. He’s not expected to play nothing less than his best in these stages of the tournament.

“He’s been proving that. He won so many titles. He loves the big occasions, and I’m sure he’s gonna come out wanting to win, being aggressive.

“He moves great. I thought since he changed the racquet it helped him with maybe reaching balls in the defense that he wasn’t able to do maybe before that. Seems like he has more control in the backhand. Great serve, as always.

“So he’s a very complete player. No question about it.”

“One thing about Roger is that he always makes you play highest level if you want to win against him,” Djokovic added.

“That’s something that’s always in the back of my mind. This is something that makes me come out with the highest possible concentration and intensity and commitment. If I want to win that match and win this title, I definitely need to be on top of my game.”

“After losing so close last year I was quite disappointed, even though I was happy how I was playing,” said Federer. “Can’t wait until we get a chance again to play him here, because you have to wait one entire year, got to win another five matches, and finally you’re in the finals again.

“So I think it’s very exciting for both of us, and also for fans, to see a rematch of the great final from last year. I’m looking forward to it, and I hope I can keep up my good play.”

“I like these big matches. I have been playing so well and I don’t feel tired. I feel great going into the finals, and I hope I can keep up this kind of a level. I know I need an extra special performance tomorrow because Novak’s going to push you there to come up with a lot of great shots in a row, which is not always easy to do.

“So I will see how it goes.”

Asked if his rivalry Djokovic is on par with Rafael Nadal, Federer said: “It will never be the same. Not better or worse. It just will be different just because the matchup is so unique for me with Rafa; whereas Novak’s is totally, like I said, straightforward.

“With Rafa I feel like I need to change everything when I play him. I have played so many times against Rafa on clay, as well, that it feels different; whereas Novak has been a much more of a hard court rivalry, whereas with Rafa has been more clay and grass.”

Federer on his rivalry with Djokovic: “What remains is that you know it’s always been tough against him. I have seen the rise of him, you know, as he’s gotten fitter and more match tough, mentally tougher, became one of the best movers we have in the game. It’s been nice seeing him do that, you know, and improve as you move along.

“Sometimes I wonder if everybody’s willing to improve as much as Novak did. It’s been interesting to see him figure his game out, and I’m happy I can still hang with him. I must be quite honest, because he’s in his absolute prime right now, and I enjoy the challenge of him. I hope he enjoys my challenge.

“So we will see tomorrow, but I think it’s a very dynamic rivalry we have. Great movement. I don’t think we need to change our games very much when we play each other. We can just go out there and play our game, which I think is quite cool also for fans and for ourselves, which is interesting.”





What a Difference a Week Makes

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(March 20, 2015) INDIAN WELLS, CALIFORNIA – Just as the tournament spun in the early days with the expectation of Serena Williams’ return, so it would end in an almost eerie echo of 14 years ago.


Social media had already buzzed about the news during the previous semi-final, and when she took to the court mostly to cheers, a few boos could be clearly heard from the Press balcony, coming from above, but the announcement was cleverly stage managed to celebrate 40 years of the tournament, and the momentousness of Williams come-back just a week ago.


Williams spoke to the press immediately afterwards and confirmed: “I was just on the practice court two days ago, day and a half ago, yesterday, and everything was going good. Literally last two couple minutes of practice I went for a serve and I just felt a super sharp pain in my knee.


“It was like, Okay, and I served again. I felt it again. I just came off, and it hasn’t been the same since. I have done everything. Like I have just pretty much done everything from taping to research and I even did an injection. I have never done an injection before.


“I think if this was any other event I probably wouldn’t have considered it. I wanted to give 200%. It just wasn’t meant to be this year.”


She has stated she intends to return to Indian Wells next year.


Meanwhile – we had the ATP quarter-finals to conclude, and that too was a tale of two halves.

315Federerin press.-001

Roger Federer almost bullied his way to the semi-finals of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. From the outset he had Tomas Berdych on the back foot, at one stage throwing up three double faults in one game before Federer finally broke through the door he had been battering down. A single break was a respectable margin for the first set, but it was not enough as Federer stepped up a gear, and Berdych crumbled once more in a key match 6-4, 6-0.


The confidence he had at the start of the year with regards to changing the team around him, once more could not manifest itself when it came to the crunch, as Berdych tried to explain.


In his post-match news conference he said: “When you feel that he’s in control right from the beginning, then of course you have to come up with your best game from the beginning of the match. I mean, you just want to play well. You just want to play your best. There is a very thin line in between that and overdoing it. It’s not so easy, really, to control it every single time that you go play with a player like this, even if he’s playing in such a good shape.


“Today I stepped a little bit over it, so hope the next time, next day, it’s just going to stay on the line.”


With the very real prospect of the World Top 4 contesting the Indian Wells semi-finals, Federer cast his eye over another match up with Rafael Nadal. The Spaniard started aggressively against Milos Raonic, breaking him before the first change of ends in the first set.


Federer said: “Matches against him are always tough, I think. You know, he’s going to play the percentages high. He’s not going to miss many shots. He’s got a great forehand, one of the best ever. Then physically and mentally he’s always going to be there. That what makes him so good and so tough over all these years. “


It looked for all the world like we would be in for a quick afternoon, but somehow Raonic clung on to set, needing five set points in total (three in the tie-break) to take only his second set off the Spaniard.


Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

Going toe-to-toe with him in the decider had everyone ready for a decisive tie-break but for a loose game by Nadal to give Raonic a 6-5 lead. For once it was right to come down to that serve as Raonic held his nerve to close out a 4-6, 7-6(10), 7-5 win, his first over Nadal and it sets up an intriguing rematch now against Federer after their encounter in the season opener in Brisbane.


Raonic believes he can be ready for Saturday’s semi-final after such a momentous win.


He said: “I think I have a good understanding of what I need to do against Roger. Obviously that’s the easiest part, understanding it, rather than doing it. But I think the last three times we have played I have sort of been able to change course a little bit, especially when it was important to me in Paris. Even the other two I didn’t play well at the start of the matches, in London and in Brisbane, but I was able to find a way to fight myself back into those matches and give myself some opportunities.


“I’ve just got to keep calm, keep collected, and just try to figure out solutions and adjustments as they come.”


The ATP semi-finals will be played on Saturday.


Ros Satar is a British sports journalist and a writer at Livetennis.com.


Serena Williams to face Madison Keys in Australian Open Semifinal

Madison Keys

Madison Keys

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



2015 Australian Open Men’s Contender Profiles

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


Novak Djokovic

2014 Record: 61-8

Grand Slam Record: 180-33

Australian Open Record: 43-6

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

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


Roger Federer

2014 Record: 73-12

Grand Slam Record: 279-45

Australian Open Record: 73-11

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

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


Rafael Nadal

2014 Record: 48-11

Grand Slam Record: 187-25

Australian Open Record: 41-8

Australian Open Best Result: Won (2009)

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


Stan Wawrinka

2014 Record: 39-17

Grand Slam Record: 82-38

Australian Open Record: 23-8

Australian Open Best Result: W (2014)

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


Kei Nishikori

2014 Record: 54-14

Grand Slam Record: 37-21

Australian Open Record: 12-5

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2012)

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


Andy Murray

2014 Record: 59-20

Grand Slam Record: 134-33

Australian Open Record: 33-9

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

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


Tomas Berdych

2014 Record: 55-22

Grand Slam Record: 103-45

Australian Open Record: 29-11

Australian Open Best Result: SF (2014)

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


Milos Raonic

2014 Record: 49-20

Grand Slam Record: 35-16

Australian Open Record: 10-4

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

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


David Ferrer

2014 Record: 54-24

Grand Slam Record: 121-48

Australian Open Record: 32-12

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

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


Grigor Dimitrov

2014 Record: 50-18

Grand Slam Record: 20-17

Australian Open Record: 6-4

Australian Open Best Result: QF (2014)

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


Ernests Gulbis

2014 Record: 41-21

Grand Slam Record: 27-29

Australian Open Record: 2-6

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

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


Feliciano Lopez

2014 Record: 39-26

Grand Slam Record: 73-52

Australian Open Record: 17-12

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2012)

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


Gael Monfils

2014 Record: 36-15

Grand Slam Record: 67-32

Australian Open Record: 16-9

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2009)

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


John Isner

2014 Record: 39-20

Grand Slam Record: 37-26

Australian Open Record: 7-6

Australian Open Best Result: 4R (2010)

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





Roger Federer Wins 1000th Match, Claims Brisbane Title

(January 11, 2015) Roger Federer gained entrance into the exclusive “1000 win club” on Sunday when he defeated Milos Raonic 6-4, 6-7(2), 6-4 to claim the Brisbane International title, his 83rd career tournament crown.

The 33-year-old Federer is the third player in the Open Era to earn this achievement, joining Jimmy Connors with 1253 wins and Ivan Lendl with 1071 victories.
“It feels very different to any other match I’ve ever won. 1000 means a lot because it’s such a huge number,” Federer said. “Just alone to count to 1000 is going to take a while. It’s funny emotions right now, but clearly very proud and happy.

“Looking back it’s almost nicer winning this way, through a tight match with nerves and humid conditions against a great player in a final. It means so much more than just running away with it with the score maybe 6-4, 6-4, which was looking very likely at one stage. I guess I was much more happy having to go three sets in the end rather than winning in straight.”

“It was a great tennis match,” said Raonic, who was seeking his 7the ATP World Tour title. “I stayed out there, competed, gave it my all. I gave myself a chance after being down a set and a break. I think it just shows the development I’ve been able to make over the last little while. You put me in that same situation few months and weeks ago and I think I could be out of that stadium pretty quickly.

“Give and take few situations, I couldn’t have asked for a better way to go into the Australian Open. The progress I’ve been making, especially over the last six weeks from physically as a tennis player, technically, and just the way I go about things even mentally, I’m happy with that. I feel like I’m just going to get better over the next eight or nine days.”

Rod Laver and Roger Federer photo courtesy of Tennis TV

Rod Laver and Roger Federer photo courtesy of Tennis TV

Tennis Hall of Famers by Rod Laver and Roy Emerson joined Federer during the trophy ceremony which included ballboys held up 1,000 in big, white numbers near the net. Laver presented Federer with a framed montage of images with the words “Congratulations Roger, 1,000 match wins,” while Emerson handed Federer the trophy named after him.

Next stop for Federer is the Australian Open which begins January 19. The Swiss says he is aiming for more major titles. “Clearly I do believe I have a shot in Melbourne, otherwise I would go home.”


Sharapova Wins Brisbane; Federer a Victory Away from 1000

Sharapova fh

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

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

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

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

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

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

Roger Federer (2)-001

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

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

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



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

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

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

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


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

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



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

Roger Federer photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Roger Federer photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

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

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


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

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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



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


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


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


Murray on the board as errors do in Raonic

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

Chalkdust Chronicles: Murray on the board as errors do in Raonic


(November 11, 2014) LONDON – Andy Murray thrived with a raucous evening crowd to get his first win on the board at the Barclays ATP world Tour Finals, with a straight sets win over Milos Raonic 6-3, 7-5.


After a day of one-sided matches, and even the match-up between Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori earlier in the day not living up to its potential, it was down to Murray to address his head to head deficit over Raonic, who played pretty solidly in Paris before heading here.


Murray started with some very solid returning and was hitting with much more purpose than we saw in his first match against Nishikori, and was perhaps pressuring Raonic into rushing his shots. Certainly the Canadian was having a tougher time reigning in his first serve, and the flood of errors, especially on the forehand side over the match by far outweighed some sharp winners.


Raonic had little choice but to offer a frank assessment on his form, acknowledging that his first serve, a key foundation to his game, was not up to scratch.


“Whatever the reason is, I have 24 hours to solve it if I want to have any hope. There’s no way around that.”


He continued: “I’ve been too passive on the court. I’ve been trying to beat the two guys playing their tennis, and that’s going to work for me.”


Murray broke in the first set and kept his nose in front, but just when it seemed that the momentum was firmly with him with an early break at the start of the second, a lazy choice of drop-shot played onto Raonic’s hands to give him enough of an advantage to break straight back.


Murray was starting to rush a little and if anything Raonic was beginning to find that serve of his, banging down a couple of aces to threaten taking it to a tie-break or even a third set.


Twice Murray had to dig himself out of a 0-30 but again the Canadian was beginning to get carried away, going for too much, with Murray rewarded with another break.


Not that it was plain sailing at 6-5 for the Brit, with Raonic saving a match-point but Murray made no mistake at the second as yet another Raonic error gave Murray the match, but not before a cheeky little challenge by the Canadian before the inevitable.

After the match Murray said: “I obviously played better tonight. I hit the ball a lot cleaner than I did on Sunday from the beginning of the match. So that was pleasing. [I] started to try and use as much variation as possible on my second serve. So served more serves into his forehand. I wouldn’t serve like two or three serves to the same spot in a row. I would just try and use as much variation as I could so that he couldn’t be in as much of a rhythm.”


In a little bit of spice, Federer will have to qualify out of his third and final round robin match. He needed Murray to grind out a win in three sets to have guaranteed his place in the last four.


“For me it depends on the winner of the Nishikori/Raonic match. If Kei wins, then I need to beat Roger, it depends on the scoreline of that match with Kei and Raonic. If Raonic wins, then I know that all I need to do is win the match against Roger and I’ll be through.’


He concluded: ‘Hopefully I can get through the group and keep going. If not, playing against Roger is a good way for me to finish the year, as well.”


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


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