2014/04/21

Nadal and Federer Move into Third Round of Monte Carlo With Easy Wins

 

Nadal

Rafael Nadal

(April 16, 2014) The top seeds had easy wins on Wednesday at the Monte Carlo Masters. No. 1 Rafael Nadal rebounded from 1-3 down in the first set to stop Teymuraz Gabashvili 6-4, 6-1.  Roger Federer took just 52 minutes to put out Radek Stepanek 6-1, 6-2, while countryman Stanislas Wawrinka destroyed Marin Cilic 6-0, 6-2 in 45 minutes.

Eight-time Monte Carlo champion Nadal will face Andreas Seppi in the third round while Federer will take on Lukas Rosol.

The Associated Press reported that Federer, whose wife Mirka is expecting their third child, said he would skip tennis to be with his wife when she gave birth.

“So we’re just waiting. It’s a priority for me trying to be there, trying to support my wife,” Federer said to the Associated Press on Wednesday at the Monte Carlo Masters. “I’ve played enough tennis matches. Missing a tournament or missing a match wouldn’t change anything for me.”

MONTE CARLO RESULTS – WEDNESDAY, 16 APRIL 2014

Singles – Second Round
[1] R Nadal (ESP) d [Q] T Gabashvili (RUS) 64 61
[3] S Wawrinka (SUI) d M Cilic (CRO) 60 62
[4] [WC] R Federer (SUI) d R Stepanek (CZE) 61 62
[8] M Raonic (CAN) d Y Lu (TPE) 67(4) 62 61
[10] F Fognini (ITA) d R Bautista Agut (ESP) 76(6) 64
[11] T Robredo (ESP) d J Benneteau (FRA) 46 60 61
[12] G Dimitrov (BUL) d [Q] A Ramos (ESP) 46 63 64
[15] N Almagro (ESP) d N Mahut (FRA) 76(3) 63
G Garcia-Lopez (ESP) d [17] A Dolgopolov (UKR) 61 75
A Seppi (ITA) d P Andujar (ESP) 76(5) 57 64
L Rosol (CZE) d [Q] M Llodra (FRA) 64 64
[LL] P Carreno Busta (ESP) d G Monfils (FRA) 63 76(6)

Doubles – Second Round
[1] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) d L Rosol (CZE) / R Stepanek (CZE) 64 76(4)
[3] I Dodig (CRO) / M Melo (BRA) d [WC] J Chardy (FRA) / G Simon (FRA) 62 67(3) 13-11
R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK) d [7] L Kubot (POL) / R Lindstedt (SWE) 63 60

Doubles – First Round
[WC] R Arneodo (MON) / B Balleret (MON) d J Rojer (NED) / H Tecau (ROU) 26 63 10-8

SCHEDULE – THURSDAY, 17 APRIL 2014

COURT CENTRAL start 10:30 am
[9] J Tsonga (FRA) vs [10] F Fognini (ITA)
[1] R Nadal (ESP) vs A Seppi (ITA)
L Rosol (CZE) vs [4] [WC] R Federer (SUI)
[LL] P Carreno Busta (ESP) vs [2] N Djokovic (SRB)

COURT DES PRINCES start 10:30 am
[11] T Robredo (ESP) vs [8] M Raonic (CAN)
Not Before 12:30 pm
[3] S Wawrinka (SUI) vs [15] N Almagro (ESP)
[12] G Dimitrov (BUL) vs [6] D Ferrer (ESP)
[5] T Berdych (CZE) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)

COURT 2 start 12:00 noon
M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs [5] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB)
[6] M Llodra (FRA) / N Mahut (FRA) vs M Mirnyi (BLR) / M Youzhny (RUS)
After suitable rest – [Alt] R Bautista Agut (ESP) / A Seppi (ITA) vs [WC] R Arneodo (MON) / B Balleret (MON)

COURT 9 not before 1:00 pm
After Suitable Rest – [PR] S Bolelli (ITA) / F Fognini (ITA) vs [2] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)
J Cabal (COL) / R Farah (COL) vs [8] J Benneteau (FRA) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA)

Share

Djokovic Handily Defeats Nadal at Sony Open For A Second Indian Wells-Miami Double

By Kevin Ware

(March 30, 2014) KEY BISCAYNE – In a result that few expected, Novak Djokovic handily beat Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-3 in the Sony Open men’s final for his fourth title in Miami (2007, 2011, 2012, 2014). This win is also his fourth Masters Series title win in a row (Shanghai, Paris, Indian Wells, Miami), and his second Indian Wells-Miami double.

More importantly, it was his third straight win over his Spanish rival before the start of the clay season, which could make for interesting drama in run up to the French Open.

Sunday’s match between Djokovic and Nadal was the 40th meeting in what has become the most prolific rivalry in ATP history. Many expected Sunday’s match to provide an encore to their epic 2011 final. But after fending off his only break point in his first service game of the match, Novak eventually settled into a ground game for which Nadal had few answers.

For Nadal, the key to winning this match was threefold: serve well, vary his ground game, and defend the Djokovic “down the line” backhand with aggressive hitting on his own backhand. There were early signs, however, that Nadal’s weaponry was misfiring.

He struggled to find the necessary depth on his crosscourt forehand, his backhand often sailed long, and Djokovic rarely allowed him to tee off on his preferred inside-out forehand. Conversely, once Djokovic found his range on his backhand and forehand shots, Nadal was on constant defense with little chance to assert his game on his Serbian opponent.

The crucial break in the first set came at 3-2 on the Nadal serve. Struggling to find his first serve, Nadal quickly sank to Love-30 with the help of a Djokovic touch volley winner and an untouchable crosscourt backhand winner. A timely unreturnable serve gave Nadal a glimmer of hope, but was quickly snuffed out by an amazing baseline-kissing Djokovic forehand followed by a Nadal backhand unforced error.

That one break was all that Djokovic needed to close out the first set in 39 minutes.

Nadal’s usually reliable serve let him down badly in the final. His first serve percentage of 59% wasn’t great, but his 47% second serve percentage was major a liability. Nadal’s lacking offensive game stemmed from an inability to defend second serves that were often 80-90 mph. Then again, it’s difficult to defend that speed at the top of the men’s game, even with perfect placement.

There was concern that perhaps a flair-up of his earlier back issues was affecting his serve speed. Nadal, always reluctant to talk about injury issues, gave a curt, “I am fine.  Thank you very much” when asked about this in post-match press.

The second set continued as the first ended, with Nadal struggling on offense, and Djokovic confidently hitting every shot in his repertoire. There were moments when Nadal’s offensive game surfaced, only to be muted by one of his many unforced errors on the next point. Nadal fought as best he could, but couldn’t stop the inevitable as Djokovic ended the long championship point rally with a volley into open court.

Nadal ended the match with 15 winners against 20 unforced errors. Djokovic’s numbers were significantly better at 22 winners against 14 unforced errors. In matches that are determined by a handful of points, it’s hard to overcome this type of deficit.

For Nadal, however, the primary cause for Sunday’s final failures was the superior play of his opponent. Djokovic is one of the few players who can hurt Nadal when he’s playing his best tennis. He can hurt Nadal in many ways, and with few defensive options.

“So playing against him is the worst thing that can happen for me, because in general, talking about the first two shots, he has a better return than my one, he has a better serve than my one in this surface, especially.”

“Today Novak played at very high level in my opinion and was better than me.”

In sharp contrast to the relief displayed by Djokovic after his win over Roger Federer at Indian Wells, the newly-crowned Miami champion came into Sunday’s post-match news conference smiling, happy, and obviously looking forward to continuing his momentum as the tour moves to European clay. He credited the confidence from that Federer win for much his strong play in Miami.

“That was a great confidence boost for me that I carried on in this week, and this tournament has been perfect from the beginning to the end.  The matches that I have played I played really well, and I elevated my game as the tournament progressed.  The best performance of the tournament came in the right moment on Sunday against the biggest rival (Nadal).”

When asked if he was glad that Djokovic existed to offer him a challenge”, Nadal quickly (and jokingly) said, “No.  I like challenges, but I am not stupid.”

In a telling reversal, Novak offered a very different viewpoint on the challenge of playing his rivals. “I think challenges, big challenges that I had in my career changed me in a positive way as a player. Because of Rafa and because of Roger I am what I am today…”

“Obviously it’s not easy when you’re playing a top rival at the finals of any tournament, but if you want to be the best, you have to beat the best, you know.  You have to win against the best players in the world. That’s the biggest challenge you can have.”

Nadal’s loss in Sunday’s final continued a disappointing trend for Spaniards in Miami. No Spanish men have won the title in the tournament’s 30-year history, and are 0-7 in the Miami final. Nadal lost in four of those finals, and is joined by David Ferrer (2013), Carlos Moya (2003), and Sergi Brugera (1997).

Kevin Ware was in Key Biscayne covering the Sony Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

Share

Tomas Berdych Pulls Out of Miami, Rafael Nadal Advances to Final Aganist Novak Djokovic

Tomas Berdych

(March 28, 2014) Seventh  seed Tomas Berdych has been forced to withdraw from the Sony Open due to gastroenteritis.  Rafael Nadal will advance to the final with a walkover. He will play Novak Djokovic for the Miami Masters title on Sunday. This will mark their 40th head-to-head meeting.

Earlier in the day Kei Nishikori withdrew from his semifinal against Djokovic with a left groin injury.

Novak Djokovic Moves into Sony Open Final After Kei Nishikori Withdraws with Left Groin Injury

“I just woke up with a pain in my stomach, just went for toilet, and got really strong diarrhea,” Berdych said.  “And since then, it starts to go on and on.  More time, diarrhea, and then also throwing up and stuff like that.

“So I lost so much of the liquid and all the possible energy I could have.

“Came here.  Tried to do as much as I could, you know, see the doctors, receiving the IV, and basically not with good results that I can basically go and try.”

“It’s not what we wish for,” Adam Barrett, the Sony Open tournament director said.  “First, I just want to thank Tomas that he did ‑‑ that he got out to the site.  We all know when you’re not feeling well, especially with the stomach bug of some sort, flu, virus, even a bad cold, you know, most of us don’t go to work.

“Yet to try to come out and prepare for a three‑set match against the No. 1 player in the world, it took a lot of effort for him to do that.  As I said, most of us would have been in bed watching TV all day.

“So I really appreciate that he gave it a shot.  Appreciate all the work that the doctors did trying to get him ready.  But unfortunately we have been unlucky today.  It’s never happened before.”

“It’s very unlucky, very unusual for something that can happen,” Rafael Nadal said.  “Sorry for Kei, sorry for Tomas, and sorry for the tournament, especially sorry for the fans.”

This weekend’s finals will both feature match-ups of the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players in the world. Saturday’s women’s final at 1 pm will see No. 1 Serena Williams taking on No. 2 Li Na. The men’s final at 2:30 pm on Sunday will see No. 1 Nadal battling No. 2 Djokovic.

 

Share

Rafael Nadal Makes Quick Work of Denis Istomin

Nadal 321 press-001

(March 24, 2014) Rafael Nadal may have received a warning for slow play, but he made quick work of disposing of Denis Istomin 6-1, 6-0 in 59 minutes to reach the fourth round of the Sony Open on Monday.

“I played a very complete match,” the world No. 1 said.  “Talking about the things that you can do well in the tennis court, today I think I did the most ‑‑ not every one because not match is perfect, but I did a lot of things very well.  No mistakes, serving with good percentage, and playing a lot of winners.

“My movements were better than what I did last event events.  That’s a very important thing for me.  I am happy to be in that fourth round, winning not against an easy opponent like Istomin, a tough one, that way.  It’s impossible win with that result if I don’t play well.”

Next for Spaniard is Italian Fabio Fognini.

“He’s an opponent, very uncomfortable opponent,” Nadal said.  “He’s an opponent that is playing great.  He has an amazing talent.  Great forehand, great backhand, especially the forehand, but he’s able to hit winners from every part of the court.

“So he’s an opponent sometimes that can be unpredictable, and is difficult to play against these kind of players ‑ especially when they are playing well and Fognini is playing well.

“I need to try to let him play with ‑‑ if he wants to play, try to find the winners, and I need to try to let him play from not easy positions.  If he’s playing with comfortable positions will be very difficult for me.”

Share

Rafael Nadal Dusts Off Lleyton Hewitt at Sony Open

Nadal 321 press-001

(March 22, 2014) Rafael Nadal dominated Lleyton Hewitt on Saturday night 6-1, 6-3 at the Sony Open.

Back on Thursday Hewitt joined Nadal and Roger Federer as the only active players with 600 or more career wins on the ATP World Tour.

Lleyton Hewitt Reaches 600th Win Milestone

“I think I played a solid match with not many mistakes,” Nadal explained.  “It’s true that I am having the feeling of the back better for two weeks already, so I start to feel a little bit more comfortable with the serve because I am able to practice a little bit the serve and to do the normal movement again.

“So that’s important thing for me.  And from the baseline, I think in Indian Wells I didn’t play the right way.  I think I played with too many mistakes.  Some good points; some bad points.  I tried to play with all the time the logical shot.

“So playing against his backhand, and when I had the chance change to the down the line with the forehand, no?  I think the good thing is I didn’t have a lot of mistakes.

“I think Lleyton played much better in the second set.  He played more aggressive.  I was solid with my serve.  Some good rallies.

“Very happy the way that I played at the end of the first set.  Start to feeling the ball very well with the forehand, changing directions.

“In general, I have to be very happy the way that I start, I think.”

Nadal moves into the third round.

Share

Rafael Nadal to Meet Lleyton Hewitt in Opening Match at Sony Open

Nadal 321 press-001

(March 21, 2014) No. 1 Rafael Nadal opens up his campaign to try and win his first Sony Open on Saturday when he meets 33-year-old veteran and former No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt on Saturday day night in Key Biscayne.

 

“I think he’s a great inspiration for a lot of players after winning a lot of things as he did, and having a lot of physical problems he’s able to keep competing with unbelievable spirit, great motivation” Nadal said of Hewitt.  “He’s able to come back after important injuries.

“So that’s a great example for the rest of the players.  I am happy to see him playing well again.  Hopefully not tomorrow,” Nadal said with a smile.

“But, yeah, he already won a tournament this year, so it will be a tough match for me.  I need to play well.  I’m going to try.”

 

The Sony Open is one of very few events the Spaniard has never won.

 

“I would love to win here any year,” Nadal said.

 

“When I am playing a tournament, I always try my best in every one.

So when I go on court, I try my best in every tournament, in every match.  I gonna do it the same here, no?

“Hopefully I will have a good few days.  I hope to be competitive tomorrow.  Never is easy the first round, especially when you play an opponent like Lleyton, and especially when he already played a match, so it will be tough battle.

“I need to be very competitive.  I need to be ready.  I hope I will be.”

“I prefer an easier opponent,” said a smiling Nadal.  “But that’s what there is.  I cannot choose the draw.

“Gonna be tough one.  But at the same time, he’s a player that you can play ‑‑ we are gonna play rallies from the baseline.  Gonna be a hard one.

But the good thing of playing these kind of matches is that if you are able to win, you will be in rhythm for the tournament.

“Against the players that I played last week, (Radek) Stepanek or (Alexamdr) Dolgopolov, even if you win, you feel that you are not playing the point the way you want to play.

“So different history.  The good thing is if I am able to play a good match tomorrow and win, probably I will be confident and on rhythm.

If I lose, I gonna be on rhythm flying home.”

Nadal holds a  6-4 head-to-head record against Hewitt.

Share

Photos from the Sony Open for March 19, 2014

(March 19, 2014) KEY BISCAYNE, FL – Photos from the Sony Open which includes shots from the players party on Tuesday night, Caroline Wozniacki’s visit to the Baptist Children’s Hospital and events around the grounds.

 

Share

Nadal and Murray Tested as Federer and Wawrinka Also advance at the BNP Paribas Open

DSC_34450547rafa friday photo

(March 8, 2014) Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, Roger Federer, and Stanislas Wawrinka all advanced to the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday.

Both Murray and Nadal were forced to rally for their victories. No. 1 Rafael Nadal was extended by Radek Stepanek 2-6, 6-4, 7-5 on Stadium 1 to lead off the night session.
“Happy to be through, because the start of the match, even if I felt at the beginning I didn’t play that bad, was very quick 4 1, and I felt I was not playing that bad, no?,” Nadal said.
“He is not the right player to play against in the first round. He’s not the right player because what you want to find in the first round is rhythm and against him every point is different. He goes quick to the net. They don’t give you that few games to find your rhythm, to find a way that you want to play.”
Nadal, who injured his back during the Australian Open final spoke about his concern for the past injury and how his serve was affected during the match. “With my serve I was doing nothing. When that happens, the opponent is able to play more aggressive, play more confident and in the end, eight double faults, I give him an opportunity to win a lot of free points,” Nadal said.
“You know, a little bit scared for the back, Nadal continued. “I am not feeling yet 100% confident with my serve. Even if my back is better than Rio in Rio I was feeling the back not very well.

“I am feeling the back better, but probably that match gonna help me to understand that I really can start to serve normal again, because I was serving with limitations, with, you know, no confidence, because I was scared to feel again the back, no?

“I think I can try to serve again at 100%, because I am feeling better. That match show me that I can try.”
Playing for the first time since the Australian Open Murray came back to beat Lukas Rosol 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.
“Here I have always kind of struggled at the beginning of the tournament with, you know, I don’t know if it’s the conditions or, you know, whatever reason it is, but I have never really started this tournament that well,” Murray said.

“I have always struggled, especially in the first round. So, yeah, just have to try to find a way to get through.”
“I was a set and a break down,” Murray said. “I got broken three times in a row the end of the first set, beginning of the second. I just kind of kept going and found a way to win, which is always the most important thing.”

Seventh seed Federer defeated French qualifier Pail-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-6(5).

After his win over Ivo Karlovic, Wawrinka spoke about where he keeps his Australian Open trophy.

“The trophy is in Switzerland in a safe place,” Wawrinka said.

Share

Rafael Nadal Signs with Ronaldo’s Agency

Nadal wins

(February 27, 2014) Associated Press reports that World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and Soccer legend Ronaldo are pairing up in Brazil.

The soccer star’s marketing agency said on Thursday it will manage the Spaniard’s advertising contracts in Brazil.

The “non-exclusive” agreement was made with Goramendi Siglo XXI, which deals with Nadal’s image rights worldwide.

Share

Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal and Bryan Brothers Among Laureus World Sports Awards Nominees

Serena Williams

Serena Williams

(February 26, 2014) The nominations for the the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards were announced.

Among the nominees are three-time Laureus winner Serena Williams, two-time winner Rafael Nadal and the Bryan Brothers.

The full list of Nominees for the 2014 Laureus World Sports Awards is:

Laureus World Sportsman of the Year
Usain Bolt (Jamaica) Athletics – won 100m, 200m and 4 x 100m World Championship gold medals
Mo Farah (UK) Athletics – won classic 5,000m and 10,000m double in World Championships
LeBron James (US) Basketball – Miami Heat star, voted NBA MVP for fourth time in five years
Rafael Nadal (Spain) Tennis – winner of French Open, US Open and five ATP Masters event
Cristiano Ronaldo (Portugal) Football – scored 69 goals for Real Madrid and Portugal in 2013
Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Motor Racing – won fourth straight Formula One World Championship

Laureus World Sportswoman of the Year
Nadine Angerer (Germany) Football – FIFA Women’s Player of the Year, captain of German team
Missy Franklin (US) Swimming – at 18, won a record six gold medals in World Championships
Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce (Jamaica) Athletics – won three sprint gold medals in World Championships
Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) Athletics – won pole vault world title in front of home Russian crowd
Tina Maze (Slovenia) Skiing – won Overall World Cup and three other disciplines, plus Super G world title
Serena Williams (US) Tennis – won French Open and US Open, plus eight other tournaments in 2013

Laureus World Team of the Year
All Blacks (NZ) Rugby Union – first time a national team achieved a 100% record in professional era
Bayern Munich (Germany) Football – won Champions League, Bundesliga and German Cup treble
Brazil Men’s Football Team – won Confederations Cup, beating World Cup holders Spain in final
Bob & Mike Bryan (US) Tennis – completed doubles ‘Golden Slam’ – four Grand Slams and Olympic gold
Miami Heat (US) Basketball – won NBA title for second straight year, beating San Antonio Spurs in final
Red Bull (Austria) Motor Racing – won fourth straight Formula One Constructors’ World Championship

Laureus World Breakthrough of the Year
Afghanistan Cricket Team – learned cricket in refugee camps, in 2013 reached first World Cup finals
Marc Márquez (Spain) Motor Cycling – youngest ever MotoGP world champion, at 20 years 266 days
Raphael Holzdeppe (Germany) Athletics – won Germany’s first World Championship pole vault gold
Nairo Quintana (Colombia) Cycling – first Tour de France rookie to finish on the podium since 1996
Justin Rose (UK) Golf – won his first Major Championship at US Open, at the age of 32
Adam Scott (Australia) Golf – first Australian winner in the 77-year history of US Masters

Laureus World Comeback of the Year
Yelena Isinbayeva (Russia) Athletics – won pole vault world title in front of home Russian crowd
Rafael Nadal (Spain) Tennis – winner of French Open, US Open and five ATP Masters event
Oracle Team USA – Sailing – 8-1 down in America’s Cup, Oracle fought back for a remarkable 9-8 victory
Tony Parker (France) Basketball – European Championship MVP after recovering from serious eye injury
Ronaldinho (Brazil) Football – at 33, led unfashionable Atlético Mineiro to victory in Copa Libertadores
Tiger Woods (US) Golf – US PGA Player of the Year after five tour victories, regained world No 1 ranking

Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year with a Disability
Marie Bochet (France) Skiing – first winner of all five disciplines at a single Alpine World Championships
Marcel Hug (Switzerland) Wheelchair Racing – won five golds and a silver medal at World Championships
Tatyana McFadden (US) Wheelchair Racing – won four city marathons and six golds at World Championships
Sophie Pascoe (NZ) Swimming – won five gold medals out of five attempts at World Championships
Sarah Louise Rung (Norway) Swimming – won four gold medals in her five races in World Championships
Olga Sviderska (Ukraine) Swimming – took five individual and two relay golds in the World Championships

Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year
Jamie Bestwick (UK) BMX – only athlete in X Games history to win eight straight gold medals
Bob Burnquist (Brazil) Skateboarding – overtook Dave Mirra to win a record 25th X-Games gold medal
Mick Fanning (Australia) Surfing – clinched his third World Surfing Championship in last event of year
John John Florence (US) Surfing – scored perfect 10 for completing the Alley Oop in Bali
Maya Gabeira (Brazil) Surfing – nearly drowned after attempting to surf a 70ft wave in Portugal
Shaun White (US) Snowboarding – won sixth consecutive SuperPipe gold medal at Winter X Games

The 15th Laureus World Sports Awards, which recognise sporting achievement during the calendar year 2013, is the premier honours event on the international sporting calendar. The winners, as voted by the Laureus World Sports Academy, the ultimate sports jury, made up of 46 of the greatest sportsmen and sportswomen of all time, will be unveiled at a globally televised Awards Ceremony staged in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Wednesday, March 26.

Share