2014/08/20

Roger Federer Takes Sixth Cincinnati Crown for 80th Career Title

By Dave Gertler

(August 17, 2014) MASON, OHIO – After making the final of four Masters 1000 events this year, Roger Federer has finally broken through to win his first title at that level since 2012. After beating fellow top 10 players Andy Murray and Milos Raonic to reach the final, Federer’s opponent at the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio, was world No. 6 Spaniard David Ferrer, who has troubled the world No .3 lately, but had not beaten Federer in their 15 career matches.

 

Like their quarterfinal played out in Toronto last week, their meeting at the Lindner Family Tennis Center today also went three sets, with 33-year-old Federer giving away the middle set to his 32-year-old opponent.

 

With Federer serving first, both players held easily until Ferrer – serving at 3-4 – double faulted twice to hand Federer the break. Although Federer consolidated for 6-3, it was not before he went down 0-40 and proceeded to save four break points, perhaps a sign of what was coming in the following set.

 

“Let’s not talk about the second set,” Federer joked after the match, perhaps offering some insight into the kind of mentality that brought his title count to 80 today. “I can dwell on it for like 30 minutes if you want and then the press conference is over and we talked about the second set rather than the good stuff.”

 

The second set saw Ferrer tighten up his return game, find his rhythm and apply pressure on Federer’s serve, breaking the Swiss twice for a 6-1 second set. However, said Federer, “I did get some momentum back I think at the end of the second set, even though I did end up losing it 6‑1. I really thought I was feeling better again towards the end of the second set, like he felt better at the end of the first.”

 

Federer, who has reached 8 finals in 2014, compared to a total of 3 in 2013, led with his serve in the third set, when he served 4 of his 6 aces in the match. “The third set he serve unbelievable,” said Ferrer, who was unable to make his opponent save any break points in the final set, while Federer broke him twice for a final score of 6-3, 1-6, 6-2. Federer remains unbeaten in Cincinnati finals, and holds a record 6 titles there.

 

“We’ve never played each other in slams,” said Federer when asked about his one-sided rivalry against Ferrer, “So from that standpoint, like I mentioned the other day, head‑to‑heads don’t mean everything.”

 

Having played ten matches in 13 days, Federer said that on Monday, he considered not playing the Western & Southern Open, in order to conserve energy for next week’s US Open. “I could have just not played here,” said Federer, “And gone into the Open feeling good about my chances, now I feel even better, you know. On the flip coin, what was the other plan? Practice? Take a few days off? But then I have to grind out in the practice. I still believe matches are the best practice right now.”

 

For Federer it was his 80th career singles title.

 

Earlier, Serena Williams beat Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-1 to claim her first Cincinnati title, while Bob and Mike Bryan ended Vasek Pospisil and Jack Sock’s 14-match winning streak when they beat them in the doubles final 6-3, 6-2 for their fifth title in Cincinnati. Americans were also winners in the women’s doubles, where Raquel Kops-Jones and Abigail Spears played Timea Babos and Kristina Mladenovic, who retired injured from the match trailing 1-6, 0-2.

 

The Western & Southern Open also set new attendance records, drawing 191, 752 fans over 16 sessions to the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio.

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney who was covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days

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Serena Williams Wins First Cincinnati Title

By Dave Gertler

(August 17, 2017) MASON, OHIO – Serena Williams proved on Sunday she’s in slam-winning form, by taking out Ana Ivanovic 6-4, 6-1 in the final of the Western & Southern Open, her last match before the US Open begins in New York.
Williams only dropped one set the whole week, on the way to a 62nd WTA title, and was convincing at the Lindner Family Tennis Center, serving 12 aces and only being broken once – in the first game of the match – on her way to a straight-sets win which took just over an hour.

 

Ivanovic joked after her loss that it “Felt like way more” than 12 aces were being fired at her by the world No.1. “She served a lot bigger and was placing it a lot better. It was very hard for me to read her serves too.” The Serbian world No. 11 had raced out to a 3-1 lead, using her cross-court forehand to dictate points from the baseline, before the world No. 1 was able to assert herself in the match. “She was obviously at that point playing so well,” said Williams, “It was good for me to just kind of get through that moment.”

 

The 32-year-old American did exactly that by jumping on Ivanovic’s first and second serves, hitting clean winners off the return of serve and breaking in the 6th game to level the score. Serving to stay in the first set, Ivanovic hit two consecutive double faults to lose the set 4-6.

 

“That’s something that you cannot do,” Ivanovic said of her two double faults, “Especially against Serena when she’s at her best, like I thought she was today. Then serve fell apart because I tried to force it a little too much. She makes you go for more. That’s when the unforced errors creep in, too.”

 

After Ivanovic held for 1-1, Williams closed out the match in dominant form, losing a total of 5 points on her way to 6-1, hitting two aces in her final service game. “My first day of practice here something just clicked,” said Williams, “I was playing better and I was serving better.”

 

“This is definitely a level that could take me to the title,” said Williams, referring to the US Open which begins next week, a couple of weeks before her 33rd birthday on September 26. “I feel great I think at 32,” she said, “I’m in some of the best shape I’ve been in. I can play long points and be ready to go again. I feel really fit. 32 is the new 22, right?”
Ivanovic, whose previous best result in Cincinnati was a semifinal which she lost to Kim Clijsters in 2010, will begin next week in the WTA’s top 10 for the first time in 5 years. “It’s the biggest final I’ve been in in a while,” said the 26-year-old, “It feels good to be part of it. I just want now to keep working hard and keep improving the areas that I can. There are still few points in my game that I feel I need to work on for the US Open and also for the end of season. Definitely exciting times.”

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney and was covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Serena Williams and David Ferrer Reach Cincinnati Finals

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

By Dave Gertler

 

(August 16, 2014) MASON, OHIO - Serena Williams and David Ferrer are through to their respective finals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio. To win her first title in Cincinnati after reaching last year’s final, said Williams, “It would mean a lot. I haven’t had an opportunity to win this one. It’s a tournament in the States. It would be great for me and for American tennis.”

 

To reach the final, she had to get past an in-form Caroline Wozniacki in a see-saw match that saw Williams go down a set 2-6 to the 12th seed before swinging the momentum back in her favor and taking the second set 6-2.

 

Williams alluded to some physical wear and tear, perhaps from 12 matches in the last 3 weeks, saying her lower back was feeling ‘super tight’ in the match. “That’s when I really relaxed, to be honest,” said Williams, “By then I was able just to go for more shots and come to the net more and just kind of just not have anything to lose.”

 

“I’m fine,” Williams elaborated about her physical condition leading into the US Open, “Just played a lot of tennis in three weeks. I’ve won one, semis in another. I’ve just been going, going, going, going. So that’s it. Just a little wear and getting my body used to playing matches, because my body is not used to playing a lot of matches anymore this year.”

 

Although she was broken 8 times throughout the match, Wozniacki dropped her serve a total of 8 times, also serving 8 double faults. “I was serving pretty well in the beginning,” said Wozniacki, who also lost to Williams in last week’s Roger’s Cup quarterfinal, “But then I kind of just lost a little bit of timing. Then trying to work my way back in, it’s hard.”

 

Between Williams and Wozniacki, there were only 3 holds of serve in the final set, compared to 7 breaks. “Hopefully my arm will be OK tomorrow. We’ll see.” said Williams, who fired off 4 aces in the final set to take the match, and will face either Maria Sharapova or Ana Ivanovic in the final.

 

Meanwhile David Ferrer has reached his 7th career Masters 1000 by beating Julien Benneteau in the first men’s semi-final. Pleased to be appearing in his debut semi-final at this level, Benneteau lasted 1 hour and 11 minutes on Center Court against his opponent who was long ago dubbed The Wall because of his retrieving abilities. “When he has the ball on the racquet, on the return,” said the 32-year-old Frenchman, outlining the type of stress the Spaniard typically causes most of his opponents, “He doesn’t miss anything. Never, never, never.”

 

Ferrer, known more for his returning than his serving, won 75% of points on first serve, and saved the only break point Benneteau made him face during the match. After winning the match 6-3, 6-2, Ferrer was asked who his preferred opponent would be out of the next semi-final. “Well, you know, with Roger,” said Ferrer, “I never beaten him, so of course I prefer Milos. It’s normal.” Ferrer will be focusing singularly on the Western & Southern Open final to be played on Sunday. “I don’t care the US Open in these moments,” he said, “US Open is going to be in two weeks or one week. This tournament is very important for me and for everybody because. Is one Master 1000.”
While Canadian up-and-comer Milos Raonic has the odds stacked against him in his semi-final, never having beaten Roger Federer in their five meetings, Ana Ivanovic has won her most recent match against Maria Sharapova, although Sharapova leads their rivalry 8 wins to 3.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Raonic Sets Up Semifinal Date Against Federer in Cincinnati

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

By Dave Gertler

 

(August 15, 2014) MASON, OHIO – After the disappointment of failing to reach the semifinal of his home Masters 1000 last week in Toronto, Milos Raonic has breezed into the Western & Southern Open semifinal today in Cincinnati. While Raonic’s 6-1, 6-0 win over Fabio Fognini might seem ominous, his semifinal opponent will be Roger Federer who defeated Andy Murray 6-3, 7-5 in the evening session.

 

Fognini – who had advanced to his first career quarterfinal in Cincinnati – ran out of luck as he stepped up against the big-serving Canadian. In a match lasting 57 minutes, Raonic’s serve statistics were troubling for his opponent. He only lost 4 points the whole match behind his first serve, and of the 10 he lost behind his second serve, 3 were double faults. “You can’t really control him,” said Raonic of his often erratic opponent, “It can be very sporadic at times. You just focus on yourself and make sure you do yourself and see and adjust to how things are coming from him as you go.”

 

Although the 27-year-old Italian forced Raonic to successfully defend 7 break points in the second set, he had fewer points than that won on his own serve, and was unable to get on the scoreboard. Despite having two game points in the last game of the match, Fognini double-faulted twice. The last play of the match was a Fognini foot-fault, reminiscent of his loss last year in Cincinnati to Radek Stepanek, where he deliberately foot-faulted to lose the match, before being booed off the court.

 

In Friday’s first men’s quarterfinal, Julien Benneteau scored an upset win over 3rd seed Stan Wawrinka in three sets on Center Court. Despite the Swiss racing away to a 6-1 lead, Benneteau drew on the confidence of his winning career record against Wawrinka, and was able to turn the match around, losing only three more games, taking the match 1-6, 6-1, 6-2.

 

“At the end of first set,” said the 32-year-old Frenchman, of how he turned the match around, “I talk to myself and I said, OK, if I don’t change anything it’s going to be 1 and 3 in 50 minutes and you’re going to lose it. So I said that I need to play harder from the baseline and to put a little bit more intensity in my strokes. Even if I miss it’s OK, but I have to play like this. I thought that the two, three first games of the second set are going to be tough. It’s going to be a tough fight, and I prepare myself to resist to that. I say, OK, you have to stay in the game. You have to take the score. And I broke in the first game, on his first service game in the second set.”
Making his first career appearance at a Masters 1000 semifinal, world No.41 Benneteau is looking forward to the opportunity, saying, “Of course it means something. But the tournament is not done, and I still have a lot to do. We will see.” His semifinal opponent will be David Ferrer, who ousted fellow Spaniard Tommy Robredo earlier on Friday.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Djokovic Upset by Robredo, Murray Survives Isner in Cincinnati

 

Andy Murray

Andy Murray

By Dave Gertler

(August 14, 2014) MASON, OHIO – Two of the three Big Four players competing at this year’s Cincinnati Masters played their third-round matches during Thursday’s day sessions. One survived, one didn’t.

 

“The focus is winning right now,” said a composed Andy Murray after his 6-7(3), 6-4, 7-6(2) win over John Isner, “Not so much how I’m hitting the ball or moving or anything like that. Just trying to win. That’s all that’s important just now.”

 

Since winning Wimbledon last year, Murray has seen his rank plunge from No. 2 to No. 9. First struggling with back surgery rehab, and then adjusting to a new coaching situation. He has regained peak physical condition, but collated a mixture of results that has not seen him advance past the semi-finals of any tournament in the last 14 months.

 

“I want to get back to winning events and being in the finals of the big tournaments,” said Murray, “And winning matches like today is a big step for me.” He and his opponent John Isner, last year’s Western & Southern Open runner-up, played for 2 hours and 23 minutes in front of a Grandstand Court that was packed to the rafters.

 

“Sort of like standing room only,” said Isner, who served 21 aces to Murray’s 14, “You could see people on Center Court at the top looking over and watching. It was great. The fans were unbelievable. I thought they were on my side the whole way, and they were.”

 

After losing the first set tiebreak, Murray then broke Isner for the only break of the match, holding on to win the second set. Then, with the sun in his eyes, serving to stay in the match, Murray served two double faults, allowing Isner his first of two match points. “When it’s 6‑5 in the third set,” said Murray, “Ideally you want to try and get some free points when you can. Maybe made a slight mistake trying to do that. Yeah, but I just managed to find a way to get through that game.”

 

While Murray cited “instinct” as what guided him to a third-set tiebreak, which he would ultimately win to advance to the quarterfinals, fellow Big Four member Novak Djokovic has faltered at the round-of-16 stage of his second consecutive hard court Masters 1000 event. The world No.1, who last bowed out in the third round in Toronto, today lost in straight sets to 16th seed Tommy Robredo.

 

“Just many, many, many things are not clicking these two weeks on hard courts,” said Djokovic, who fought back from being a break down to Robredo in the first set, before losing it in a tiebreak. “It’s unfortunate, but it’s more than obvious I’m not playing even close to what I’m supposed to play.”

 

In the second set, Djokovic was unable to make a dent on Robredo’s serve, winning only four points while receiving. While Djokovic was able to save two match points, serving at 4-5, Robredo would convert at his next opportunity, taking the second set 7-5.

 

“Well, maybe he didn’t play very good the last two matches that he played,” said Robredo after his second career win over a world No.1 – the first was against Lleyton Hewitt in 2003, “But anyway, he’s the world No. 1. He won in Wimbledon. He’s a great player. If you don’t play your best you’re gonna lose for sure. Even if you play your best, sometimes if he’s playing great, you’re gonna lose also.”

 

While Djokovic will head straight to New York to prepare for the US Open, where he is defending finalist, Murray will face either Gael Monfils or Roger Federer, who play their third-round match on Center Court this evening.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Aussies Bounced Out of Cincinnati

Sam Stosur

Sam Stosur

By Dave Gertler

(August 13, 2014) MASON, OHIO – The last three Australians left in the singles draw at the Cincinnati Masters all played their second-round matches on Wednesday, with Sam Stosur and Marinko Matosevic both bowing out to their American opponents in straight sets. Lleyton Hewitt also succumbed to the grinding baseline play of Italian Fabio Fognini.

 

Stosur and Serena Williams added another encounter to their storied rivalry, the Aussie receiving warm support from the crowd as she battled to stay in both sets, at times out-hitting her world No.1 opponent. In a match lasting almost two hours, where neither player dropped their serve, and Williams needed to come from behind in both tie-breaks to eventually win through to the next round. “She was up in both of the breakers,” said Williams, “I think it was just a great match, to be honest. She served unbelievable, and I was like, I can’t lose serve because she’s just serving great.”

 

Both players brought their big serves to the table, particularly Serena, who served 12 aces. “Really good quality match,” said Stosur, “I’m really pleased with the way I played. I’m disappointed when you have those couple of set points and don’t go through and at least win that set to take it into three. But I gave myself every chance to try and get through that one.  She came up with some really great stuff when it really counted.”

 

While Stosur was facing last year’s women’s runner up, Marinko Matosevic had to contend with the men’s runner up from last year, in a slightly less competitive 3-6, 6-7 loss to the American John Isner. That left Lleyton Hewitt in a familiar position as the last Australian in the singles draw.

LleytonHewittHOF

Hewitt would drop the first set against Fognini 6-1, before going up a break in the second set, a lead that he would ultimately relinquish, allowing Fognini back into the second set, which he won 6-4. “The second set I fought hard, I was up a break in the second set but couldn’t consolidate,” said Hewitt. The 33-year-old Australian served 9 double faults, saying, “I just didn’t hit my serve well today, especially early on,” said Hewitt, “He makes you play a lot of balls as well. He’s a confidence player, and when he’s hitting ball well, he’s tough to beat. He moves well, as well.”

 

Serena Williams’ next opponent will be Flavia Pennetta, while Isner faces No.8 seed Andy Murray. Fabio Fognini will face Yen-Hsun Lu, who had an upset victory over 4th seed Tomas Berdych. Also through to the round of 16, Roger Federer, who beat Canadian Vasek Pospisil 7-6, 5-7, 6-2 in 2 hours for his 300th win at a Masters Series 1000 event.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Three Seeds Fall Within Ten Minutes in Cincinnati

Tomas Berdych

By Dave Gertler

(August 13, 2014) MASON, OHIO – Within 10 minutes of each other, three of the biggest names in the tennis world have been bundled out of the draw at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati on Wednesday.

 

While Andy Murray was wasting no time on Center Court against Joao Sousa, for a straight sets 6-3, 6-3 win, other top seeds were getting some serious grief from their lower-ranked opponents on Grandstand, and courts 3 and 9.

 

Czech 3rd seed Petra Kvitova was up against Ukrainian world No. 39 Elina Svitolina and, having never faced her before, Kvitova went down an early break before losing the set 6-2 in just over half an hour. In the second set, it was the world No. 4 who got the upper hand early, and found herself leading 3-1 before handing back the break. Both players gave up three breaks on the way to a second-set tie-break, and although she didn’t serve any double faults in the breaker, Kvitova’s 9 in total was indicative of her inconsistency throughout the match, as she dropped the second set, and the match, to a more aggressive Svitolina. “From the beginning I didn’t feel very comfortable out there,” said Kvitova after the match, “And I was trying really fight, I just wasn’t able to do that today.”

 

Over on Court 9, Yen-Hsun Lu was attempting for the second time in a week to topple world No. 5 Tomas Berdych, having lost to him in three sets last week in Toronto. The Taiwanese world No. 43 served strongly throughout the match, serving 9 aces to Berdych’s 6, and saving 4 out of 5 break points, all in the first set, which he lost 3-6. Turning the match around in the second and third set, Lu would break his opponent once in each set, not facing any break points himself, taking the second and third sets, and the match in 1 hour, 44 minutes. Lu will face either Fabio Fognini or Lleyton Hewitt in the third round.

 

As they say, good/bad things happen in threes, so to cap off this threesome of upsets within ten minutes of each other, Jerzy Janowicz was in the final stages of a significant win over fellow 23-year-old Grigor Dimitrov. The two had never played each other outside of juniors, and while up until a year ago, the two were comparable as prospects, Dimitrov has been the first to break into the upper echelons of the game, recently breaking into the top 10 while Janowicz’s string of bad results and injury has relegated him to world No.65, his lowest rank since 2012.

 

Janowicz dictated on serve in the first and third sets, serving a total of 12 aces – none of which came in the second set, which was the only one he would lose on his way to a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 win over the Bulgarian. Janowicz will now face Julien Benneteau in the third round.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Sharapova Fends Off Keys in Cincinnati

 

By Dave Gertler

(August 12, 2014) MASON, OHIO – Maria Sharapova, seeded 5th at the Western & Southern Open, has survived a second-set resurgence from home-grown up and coming star Madison Keys, to win in three sets in just under two hours. Sharapova is now the first women’s player into the third round.

 

The first set was a one-sided affair, Sharapova racing to a 5-0 lead and taking the set 6-1. “After a bad first set I could have gone away,” said Keys post-match, drawing positives from the loss, “But I kind of figured it out and started playing better. It’s definitely an improvement.”

 

At 2-1 in the second set, there was an exchange of breaks before Keys broke again, holding her serve for a 5-2 lead before serving out the set 6-3, the Lindner Tennis Center crowd well and truly behind her.

 

At that point, Sharapova left the court for a few minutes, saying afterwards that a change of clothes was required because of the humidity. “I guess maybe that’s just what dry clothes does to you,” said the 27-year-old, “It gets you a bit calmer.” Sharapova broke Keys in the second game of the third set, the 19-year-old adding to her unforced-error tally at key moments.

 

Playing a high-stakes game to compete with her grand slam-winning opponent, the world No. 28 Keys served 7 double faults to 5 aces throughout the match. In the decider, said Keys of Sharapova, “She definitely stepped up her game. I also think, you know, in big points I got a little tentative. I mean, that showed, you know. I mean, after I got broken at the very beginning it was really hard to try to break back.”

Final score for Sharapova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3.

“I’m very happy with what I have been able to achieve this year,” said Sharapova, who has reached two finals here, winning one in 2011, “Because last year it was tough to miss the end of the season, you know, finding yourself in a position where you’re hurt again. I’m very happy with what I have been able to achieve this year.”

 

There’s a chance Sharapova might face fellow Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who faces Italian Karin Knapp in the third round, while Keys heads back to Boca Raton to finish preparations for the US Open.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Venus Williams Falls in Opening Round of Cincinnati

By Dave Gertler

(August 12, 2014) MASON, OHIO – The Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio, began its qualifying rounds on Saturday, and is now in the completion stages of first-round matches in both the men’s and women’s main draws. On Tuesday morning, the tournament confirmed that Victoria Azarenka – the defending champion – has withdrawn due to injury, thus adding her name to those of Rafael Nadal, Juan Martin Del Potro and Li Na as notable absentees from the event, all due to injury.

 

“I’m going to get more treatment and get more work done,” said Azarenka about her plan for the remainder of the American hard court season, “And should be good for the US Open.”

 

Venus Williams, who last week in Montreal made it to her third WTA final in the last 12 months, won’t duplicate that success this week, having lost to 16th seed Lucie Safarova in the first round. In a match lasting 2.5 hours, Williams won the first set in a tie-break, but Safarova broke her opponent first each set, never giving up the lead, despite Williams breaking back in the second before Safarova served the match out.

 

“I think she just played so well,” said Venus Williams, “No matter what shot I hit she hit a winner, or if I hit it really deep she somehow managed to control it down the line.” Williams said in the third set, “I think she got a little tight at 5‑1. So I had some chances to come back, but it’s a deep hole.”

 

First-round men’s action saw Lleyton Hewitt and Alejandro Falla both advance before the end of the weekend, while Monday’s matches saw no significant upsets. American Jack Sock succumbed to Spaniard Tommy Robredo, while 23-year-old Ohio State graduate Chase Buchanan went down to Portugal’s Joao Sousa in an epic three-setter that lasted over 2.5 hours, touted match of the day by those who saw it.

 

British qualifier James Ward has provided the upset of the day so far on Tuesday, beating No.32-ranked Guillermo Garcia-Lopez. In the second round, the 27-year-old Brit will face either Julien Benneteau or another local favorite, Blaz Rola, another graduate of Ohio State.

14th seed Marin Cilic advanced past Feliciano Lopez in two tight sets to face Spain’s Fernando Verdasco, who overcame compatriot Marcel Granollers in one of Grandstand Court’s most entertaining matches on Monday, 5-7, 6-3, 7-6.

 

Dave Gertler is a tennis journalist, player and musician based in Sydney covering the Western & Southern Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his Twitter updates from the tournament on @TennisNewsTPN, follow him on his personal Twitter @davegertler,  read his blog,  and listen to his podcast, Tennis Days .

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Knapp Sacks Riske: Italy Advances in Fed Cup Over USA

DSCN0663

By Steve Fogleman

(February 9, 2014) Karin Knapp followed up on her win over Christina McHale yesterday with a clinching 6-3, 7-5 victory today over Alison Riske in the first round of the 2014 Fed Cup season in Cleveland, Ohio. The Italians defeated the American team in all three live rubbers.

Knapp did had some trouble closing it out over Riske, who was a last-minute replacement for Madison Keys in an effort by Captain Mary Joe Fernandez to get some momentum for the US. Riske acquitted herself well. She elevated her game in the second set, and after drawing even with the Italian, she was broken at 5-5 in the next game. Knapp served it out from here.

Overall, the match was more competitive than it might appear.

“It’s not easy because she came back. I got a little bit nervous. I got a little bit of emotion.”

Knapp told the press that the team made a pact to jump in the Cleveland snow if they won the tie.

“After this, we will all put the jacket on, the scarf on and we will jump in the snow!”, she said.

No word on when and where that photo opportunity will occur, but the snowy tundra of Cleveland Public Square is conveniently located between the venue and the Fed Cup hotel.

The snow didn’t stop the crowd from arriving to cheer on the US team, but it did slow them down. There were many empty seats at the start of the tie, but the fans filled in to create a boisterous cheering section by the beginning of the second set. The Public Auditorium was noticeably louder than yesterday.

Riske

Riske

Riske had a “big group of people from Pittsburgh” to join her for the event. She called the tie “an unbelievable experience” and noted the “awesome” support from the fans.

She’ll be in training in the two weeks leading up to Indian Wells.

Madison Keys and Lauren Davis won the inconsequential doubles rubber 6-2, 6-3 over Nastassja Burnett and Alice Matteucci.

Italy will advance to the quarterfinals, while the US will be attempting to simply avoid relegation from the World Group in their next outing.

Steve Fogleman is Editor of TennisEastCoast.com, a Mid-Atlantic based tennis website. He is in Cleveland, Ohio covering the Fed Cup tie between USA and Italy for Tennis Panorama News.

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Catching Up with Alison Riske at Fed Cup in Cleveland

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