July 29, 2016

Almagro, Kohlschreiber and Schwartzman Win ATP Titles

Diego Schwartzman

Diego Schwartzman

(May 1, 2016) Unseeded Diego Schwartzman came back to win his first career ATP title on Sunday when he upset second seed and former top ten player Grigor Dimitrov 6-7 (5), 7-6 (4), 6-0 to win the Istanbul Open. Schwartzman, from Argentina rallied from 2-5 down in the second set before marching on to the victory.

It was a career week for Schwartzman, beating top seed Bernard Tomic in the second round and saving a match point in the final eight.
“It was an amazing match for me,” said the winner. “I played well and fought all match. What happened to Grigor with the cramps also happened to me in Australia this year. With my doubles final and title in singles, it’s amazing.

“I’ve practiced really hard to improve my tennis. I played all the points with 100 per cent effort and I need to. All the matches are tough, against Tomic, Dzumhur and Bagnis. I played really well.”

 “I started cramping at 5-2 in the second set, said the Bulgarian runner-up. “It was very unfortunate that I couldn’t close out the match. I have to give credit to Diego.

“I have two big events coming up and hope that I can face one of the top guys there. There will be some altitude in Madrid and I won’t have much time to get ready, but I like it there.”
AlmagroIMG_3445_AlmagroNicolas Almagro came back to beat Spanish countryman Pablo Carreno Busta 6-7 (6), 7-6 (5), 6-3 to win the Estoril Open on Sunday. This was Almagro’s 13th career title. All of his titles have come on clay.

This is Almagro’s first tour-level title since Nice 2012.

 

Kohlscreiber in press

Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber claimed his third Munich crown beating Dominic Thiem of Austria 7-6 (7), 4-6, 7-6 (4). The German also won titles in 2007 and 2012.

“Unbelievable. Great story the whole week,” said the champion. “Great performance. Huge final… I’m very happy and pleased with my performance.
“I think it was another great final in Munich.”

“It was a very close final, attractive for the crowd, for sure,” Thiem said. It was very painful for me but Philipp was the better player today, and he deserves to win.
“Almost every final is close because both players never give up. They want to win the title. I’ve won the last five finals… now I’ve lost one. It’s no tragedy, especially against Philipp.”

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Dominic Thiem Captures Argentina Open

 

(February 14, 2016) Austrian Dominic Thiem came back from a break down in the final set to beat Spain’s Nicolas Almagro of Spain 7-6 (2), 3-6, 7-6 (4) to win the Argentina Open on Sunday for his fourth ATP World Tour singles title.

Thiem reached the finals beating defending champion and 14-time major winner Rafael Nadal in semifinals, saving a match point.

“It’s the best of my titles so far because the tournament draw was so strong,” said the Austrian.

“It’s tough to stay focused and ready mentally. All the players who play here have a lot of experience. It’s something you cannot simulate. You just need to be in that situation to become strong mentally. I’m a bit older, more experienced. Even if you beat Nadal in the semis, you still want to win in the final. I didn’t think much about the victory yesterday and focused on the final today.

“You have to be aggressive against these great players. If you let them dictate, you’ll always be second best.”

The world No. 19 now has four tournament trophies, with all of his titles coming on clay courts.

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Serena Williams Avoids Early Exit, Rafael Nadal Cruises at French Open

(May 28, 2015) Serena Williams survived a possible upset on Thursday when she came beat German Anna-Lena Friedsam ranked 105th in the world 5-7, 6-3, 6-3 in the second round of the French Open.

“Probably more frustrated than relieved, but I know I’m capable of playing great tennis, just haven’t seen it yet,” Williams said.

“I feel like one thing Venus always tells me: A win is a win, and as long as you live to survive the next day, you can always improve. I know my level is literally a hundred times better than I played today, so I think I take more solace in the fact I can play better as opposed to the fact that that’s the best I could play. Then I would be in trouble.”

Next for Williams in the third round will be two-time major champion Victoria Azarenka who defeated Lucie Hradecka 6-2 6-3.
“It will be a tough match, obviously,” Williams said. “We had a really tough match in Madrid. So I do know if I play the way I did today, I probably won’t be winning my match. So I’m going to have to step it up a level. Probably just get out, start up better and be more relaxed and go from there. But it’s definitely not going to be easy, but, you know, at the end of the day it is what it is. I’m ready.”

“I think out of all the top players she’s, for whatever reason, has given me particularly some troubles. But, you know, she’s great at what she does. She fights hard and never gives up, and she’s really feisty. And I think that’s obviously why she’s been able to be a Grand Slam champion, not just on one occasion. So, I mean, yeah, those players aren’t always the easiest to play, but they also get you excited to play those matches and to be ready for that.”

“Facing somebody who is, you know, No. 1 in the world is never easy,” Azarenka said. “But I just want to try to focus, you know, on my game, on my energy, and try to play the best as possible. But there is no question you have to come up with your A game and play well.”

No drama for 9-time French Open champion Rafael Nadal who dismissed Spanish countryman Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-3, 6-1.

“I think I played a good match against an opponent I think he didn’t play bad through a lot of very hard games, long games,” Nadal said. “The score is easier than what the match was like. Very happy, I think I did a few things very well.”

2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone saved a match point in a 3 hour 50 minute marathon against 18th-seeded and 2009 French Open champion Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-7 (11), 7-5, 10-8 to move into the third round. Kuznetsova served for the match four times.

Both women played the longest women’s match in Grand Slam history at the 2011 Australian Open, 6-4, 1-6, 16-14 which lasted 4 hours, 44 minutes. Schiavone won that match as well.

“She went for it,” Kusnetsova said. “She played unbelievable shot. She played the deeper ball on high bounce to my backhand. I played good angle. For one-handed backhand to play it like that down the line, she totally went for it and all credit to her. She played unbelievable point. It’s nothing I can do, you know. It’s many more other opportunities I have to think about on my serve, which I didn’t serve well. I was not too sharp today for me.”

“Today was the key that long line with backhand,” Schiavone said. “I had to, otherwise backhand against backhand she was much better than me. So I had to play over there or in or out, and I play very good long line. Long match, yeah. With Svetlana I think we can play hours and hours and hours because we know each other exactly like I said before to play. Was great for me. I don’t know. She is amazing, and every time I play against her I say, Oh, my God, now what can happen? And it’s happen a long match again.”

Another upset victim, Caroline Wozniacki, the fifth seed, fell to 72nd ranked Julia Goerges in 6-4, 7-6 (4).

“I think I don’t play the typical women’s game on clay court,” said the German. “I play a little bit more spin, a little bit higher the ball over the net than some of the other girls. Well, she gets the ball in her striking zone she doesn’t miss any ball, but if you give her different balls, then it’s tougher for her to manage to bring the ball back with good quality, what she usually does when she has it in her striking zone. You have to mix up a lot. That’s what I did in all the matches I’ve played her. It’s never a guarantee you’re going to win the match, but you have to execute well, as well, and that’s what I did mainly today very well.”

Americans Madison Keys, Sloane Stephens and Jack Sock also advanced to the third round.

The 16th seeded Keys defeated Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic 6-0, 6-3.

“Belinda is also a great player,” Keys said. “So I knew it was going to be tough. I knew I was going to have to be playing well and kind of in my best form in order to get past them. Just really happy with kind of how I managed to fight through the first one. I thought I played really well today.”
“I thought I came out and was aggressive and tried to play the best I could,” Stephens said about beating Watson 6-2, 6-4. “Obviously executed really well my shots and I stayed pretty consistent throughout, so that was good.”
Watson, who had never lost to Stephens before, was wearing tape on her arm. “I’ve had this with my arm for a week and a bit now, but it wasn’t the reason I lost today,” Watson said. “I felt fine. I had it all taped up and I took some painkillers before the match. But it was just me really. I was just pretty sluggish and slow out there. Finally after like a set and a bit I finally got into it, but at that point it was kind of a little bit too late.”

Jack Sock continues to win on American men’s least successful surface in recent times, but his favorite. The American defeated Pablo Carreno Busta in four sets to advance.

“I thought he played a really good match,” Sock said. “I’ve seen him play a few times, not a whole lot. Yeah, I thought he was kind of on top of his game today. It was a match I had to win. He wasn’t going to be given to me, by any means. I finally found my serve three hours in, which was nice. It was letting me down there for a while, but I was able to find a little bit and the rhythm there at the end.”

May 28, 2015 Results French Open

Men’s Singles – Third Round

[5] Kei Nishikori (JPN) d. Benjamin Becker (GER) W/O (right shoulder)

Men’s Singles – Second Round

[1] Novak Djokovic (SRB) d. Gilles Muller (LUX) 61 64 64
[3] Andy Murray (GBR) d. Joao Sousa (POR) 62 46 64 61
[6] Rafael Nadal (ESP) d. Nicolas Almagro (ESP) 64 63 61
[7] David Ferrer (ESP) d. Daniel Gimeno-Traver (ESP) 62 63 61
[9] Marin Cilic (CRO) d. Andrea Arnaboldi (ITA) 76(3) 61 61
[15] Kevin Anderson (RSA) d. Yen-Hsun Lu (TPE) 57 64 64 64
Jeremy Chardy (FRA) d. [16] John Isner (USA) 64 46 63 63
[17] David Goffin (BEL) d. Santiago Giraldo (COL) 63 46 75 62
Pablo Andujar (ESP) d. [22] Philipp Kohlschreiber (GER) 61 76(5) 36 36 64
[23] Leonardo Mayer (ARG) d. Jerzy Janowicz (POL) 64 64 67(1) 61
Thanasi Kokkinakis (AUS) d. [27] Bernard Tomic (AUS) 36 36 63 64 86 – saved 3 M.P.
[29] Nick Kyrgios (AUS) d. Kyle Edmund (GBR) W/O (stomach)
Simone Bolelli (ITA) d. [31] Viktor Troicki (SRB) 62 64 63
Jack Sock (USA) d. Pablo Carreno Busta (ESP) 67(2) 76(4) 61 76(4)
Andrey Kuznetsov (RUS) d. Jurgen Melzer (AUT) 61 57 76(0) 75

 

Women’s Singles – Second Round
(1) Serena Williams d. Anna-Lena Friedsam (GER) 57 63 63
(4) Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Silvia Soler-Espinosa (ESP) 67(4) 64 62
Julia Goerges (GER) d. (5) Caroline Wozniacki (DEN) 64 76(4)
(10) Andrea Petkovic (GER) d. Lourdes Dominguez Lino (ESP) 46 64 64
Andreea Mitu (ROU) d. (12) Karolina Pliskova 26 76(5) 64
(16) Madison Keys (USA) d. Belinda Bencic (SUI) 60 63
(17) Sara Errani d. Carina Witthoeft (GER) 63 46 62
Francesca Schiavone (ITA) d. (18) Svetlana Kuznetsova (RUS) 67(11) 75 108 (saved 1mp)
(23) Timea Bacsinszky (SUI) d. Tereza Smitkova (CZE) 62 60
(27) Victoria Azarenka (BLR) d. Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 62 63
(30) Irina-Camelia Begu (ROU) d. Ana Konjuh (CRO) 62 60
Alison Van Uytvanck (BEL) d. (32) Zarina Diyas (KAZ) 06 61 64
Kristina Mladenovic (FRA) d. Danka Kovinic (MNE) 63 75
Irina Falconi (USA) d. (Q) Sesil Karatantcheva (BUL) 36 61 62
Sloane Stephens (USA) d. Heather Watson (GBR) 62 64
Tsvetana Pironkova (BUL) d. Denisa Allertova (CZE) 63 76(2)

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Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray Advance at Miami Open

Nadal at Miami Open Media day

(March 27, 2015) Fourteen-time major champion Rafael Nadal has won almost everything there is to win on the men’s tennis tour. One of the few titles which has escaped him is the Miami Open. Nadal a four-time finalist, began his quest for his first title with an 89-minute victory over Spanish countryman Nicolas Almagro 6-4, 6-2 to move into the third round.

Nadal was asked about his ankle which he hurt during practice earlier in the week.

“I am well, no?,” said the second seed. “I had just a little bit, how do you say, small torn in the beginning, so it was going to be tough.

“The day after I had pain, but after two days I improved 50% and stays the same. It’s not limiting my movements.”

“The real thing is the wind was really high,” Nadal said of the breezy conditions on court. “Very difficult to find a positive feeling on court.

“But in general I think I played a solid match. I played well. I had a good movement. I think I moved myself quick for moments, and when I had to put the balls in and play with no mistakes ‑ that was the idea today with that very tough conditions ‑ I did, I think.

“For some moments I went for the points. I worked well with my forehand. I had some good winners.

“Yeah. I’m happy the way that I played. Sure, second round against I don’t know yet, but Almagro was not an easy opponent for the first round. I am happy for that.”

Nadal who raised his record against Almagro to 11-1, will face the winner of Fernando Verdasco, and James Duckworth in the third round.

“The court in Miami I think is the same than since 10 years, since I came here,” Nadal said. “I don’t see difference with the court, no?

“The ball is heavier here than in Indian Wells for the humidity, so the ball flies is little bit slower through the air. That’s it.”

Two-time Miami champion Andy Murray defeated Donald Young 6-4, 6-2 in 82 minutes in an earlier match. Murray defeated the American recently – in Glasgow during the first weekend in March, when Great Britain defeated the United States 3-2 to reach the quarterfinals of Davis Cup.

“I played well against him the last couple of times,” said the third seed. “Obviously today was a very different match to Davis Cup; completely different conditions.”

“The tactics that you go into the match with completely change because of the weather and the wind.”

The Scot is just two wins away from reaching a milestone – to become just the ninth active player to win 500 ATP World Tour –level matches.

Murray will match-up against 27th seed Santiago Giraldo in the third round.

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On the Green Carpet – Photos from the BNP Paribas Open Players’ Party

 

INDIAN WELLS, California (March 8, 2012) – The BNP Paribas Open held their players’ party at the IW club on Thursday night. Driving up to the “Green Carpet” in classic cars included the likes of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova, Andy Murray, Ana Ivanovic, Jo-Wilfred Tsonga, John Isner, Agnieszka Radwanska, Jelena Jankovic, David Ferrer, Feliciano Lopez and a host of others.

Photos by Curt Janka and Jennifer Knapp.  Follow Tennis Panorama News’ BNP Paribas Open coverage here an on our twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

 

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Sony Ericsson Open Players Party – Welcome to the Oscars


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by Craig Hickman

Tuesday night, the players chose their fashion-forward best for the “Oscars” of the player party circuit. Venus Williams, Maria Sharapova, and Ana Kournikova were the biggest stars of the tennis world in attendance, as well as world No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, Fernando Verdasco, and pretty boy Feliciano Lopez, who made one of the photographers weak-kneed.

Robin Soderling
, along with his girlfriend, were among the first to show up and they were already walking out when we arrived. Tomas Berdych and Lucie Safarova were the last to arrive on the red (blue) carpet. An adorable couple close up, their chemistry was palpable. Tomas has always had the look of an angel and Lucie’s baby-doll face was all aglow. I was thrilled to see Anastasia Myskina who arrived with the self-proclaimed “Russian Mob,” led by Svetlana Kuznetsova in another one of her head-scratching get ups.

Mixed in with the players were a few actors, a couple professional gamers, some well-known local DJ’s, and a few mystery men.

Venus Williams arrived about midway through and when Serena Williams wasn’t far behind, it was clear the superstar wasn’t coming. Also noticeably absent was Andy Roddick, Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Kim Clijsters.

Tweeting the photos was a stroke of genius suggested by photographer  JD Blom. I was all set to tweet my best descriptions of the outfits when he looked over my shoulder and said, “Just snap a photo.” Ah, technology. I’m not a wizard with the latest toys, so I had no clue you could do such a thing. Once I got the hang of it, it was all over. Would love to do that again someday.

Right before the paparazzi packed up equipment to leave, one of the Getty photographers asked my to identify most of the players he’d just captured for he only recognized a few big names. Who knew?

More photos from the live tweets – here.

On the Red (Blue) Carpet of the Sony Ericsson Open Players Party

Craig Hickman is founder and editor of Craig Hickman’s Tennis Blog He is covering the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on twitter @CraigHickman.  Find his Sony Ericsson Open tweets on @GVTennisNews.

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