2014/12/22

Notes and Quotes from Day 1 of the ATP World Tour Finals

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Photo by www.red-photographic.com

(November 9, 2014) LONDON – Notes and quotes from the Day 1  news conferences of the ATP World Tour Finals, which included Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori, Andy Murray and Milos Raonic.

 

Roger Federer

On the possibility of ending 2014 year with the No. 1 ranking:

“I have a small shot at world No. 1 after winning Shanghai. I mean, I’m happy it’s this way. But I think it’s highly unlikely it’s going to happen. If it does, obviously it’s great.

“But for me personally, it doesn’t really matter if it happened at the end of the year or any other week during the year, as long as you could get back to world No. 1 for one more time. I think that would be very special because I’ve been there and I know how much it would mean, because winning a tournament is a one‑week thing or a two‑week thing, but getting back to world No. 1 is an entirely different animal.

“I’ll try to get there, but obviously Novak is going to dictate as well what’s going to happen here.”

 

Asked about the greater rivalry of his career – Nadal or Djokovic:

“I feel a special connection towards Rafa just because we did, I don’t want to say come up together somewhat on the tour, but we did have a very strong, intense rivalry for many years, starting 2004 maybe. Especially we played each other that many times in finals of slams, which hasn’t been the case with the other players as much.

“I know Novak, the matches and the rivalry is nice. I really enjoy playing against him. It’s very evenly matched, you know. But I played him more often probably in semis than in finals most likely. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s kind of how it felt like.

“Because me and Rafa were always 1 and 2 or 2 and 1 for so long. Murray and Djokovic always ended up in our semis for so long. So there was actually more opportunities to play those guys than Rafa, quite honestly, because getting to the finals is difficult.

“But then also I always like to look back and see who were my tougher players when I was coming up. In the beginning I struggled against the likes of Henman, Nalbandian, Hewitt, Roddick. So for me those were really interesting players to play against. I was lucky enough that Andre Agassi played as long as he did because I got to play him also, I think almost 15 times.”

 

Evaluating his win over Raonic:

“I think I played really well for probably one and a half sets. It was good to get off to a good start like I did against him at Cincinnati, and Wimbledon, I broke first game and sort of never looked back. I think when I had breakpoint in the second set, he was able to save that. When I was trying to hit a lob and he smashed it home, after that it became complicated. I don’t know why.

“I had a couple of games where I was up 40‑Love, and both times he came back and got into the game, which was probably my mistake. But it made me uncomfortable. I started to play a bit more passive. He started to become a bit more offensive. I actually think he was the better player from that moment on and deserved the set more than I did.

“Thankfully he didn’t play quite so well, like he did in Paris maybe. He gave me a few shots here and there, especially at the beginning of the breaker. I think those were crucial.

“I was happy to bring it home because it was very close at the end of the second.”

 

 

Milos Raonic

 

“But it’s obviously disappointing, very disappointing actually, the way I finished that second set off. “

 

“It took me more a set to find my way into the match because of playing Roger, not because of being here for the first time.”

 

“Every time you play Roger, the crowd’s on his side, even if he’s playing a local favorite. It’s hard for people to cheer against Roger.

“I’ve played him a few times. I’ve played home favorites on big courts also a few times, and in Davis Cup, many different situations. So it wasn’t any type of an issue.”

 

“I get pretty angry when I lose, so…

I’m going to have to learn how to slap myself out of it.”

 

Andy Murray

On his loss to Nishikori:

“I didn’t serve well enough today. I would say that was the biggest difference in the match. And when you’re not serving well, obviously on your own service games you want to be looking to dictate the points. When you’re returning, you kind of dictate when you have the opportunity. You don’t always have the chance if someone’s serving well.

“And, yeah, I didn’t serve well enough. He was able to dictate a lot of points, especially behind my second serve. That was, yeah, statistically the part of the match ‑‑ yeah, I mean, that was the part of the match where he had the upper hand. That was the difference. “

 

“It’s still obviously disappointing to lose the first match. And, yeah, I would have liked to have done better.”

 

“Obviously now I need to win my next two matches more than likely, and win them well if I want to go through. That’s going to be tricky because Milos obviously played fantastic last week in Paris, and Roger always plays well at this event.

 

“So I’m definitely going to have to play better if I want to get through.”

 

On the surface at the O2 Arena: “It’s quite lively, to be honest. It can be hard to control the ball that can bounce pretty high up on the serve, on the kick serve. Yeah, it’s quicker than the other courts.

 

“It’s definitely quicker than Valencia and Paris, I would say that. I don’t know exactly why that is, because the balls are the same and it’s the same court, I believe, manufacturer. I don’t know if it’s to do with just how big the stadium is, and it does get warm in there. I’m not sure. But, yeah, it’s quite lively.”

 

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 Kei Nishikori

Asked about his confidence in his first–ever win over Murray:

“For sure I was different than these couple matches we played because this year I was, you know, much better player than before and more aggressive, you know, have bigger result this year.

 

“So that’s why I try not to think, you know, I can’t beat these guys, because I’ve been beating those top‑10 guys already. You know, this is even first time for me to play to a Final.

 

“But we’ve been playing a lot these players, and I was a little bit tight in the beginning, but, you know, I start feeling little more confidence in especially second set. I was very, very, you know, solid player.”

 

 

About playing in the O2 Arena:

“The court is same as Paris, so I was little bit used to, you know, playing this surface. But the stadium is huge. You know, I try not to look up too much because there was too many people on the top. Try to stay focus.

“Maybe when I walk into the stadium, I was nervous, but same time I was really excited to play with this crowd.

You know, I was thinking, you know, very honored to be here. You know, first time to be top‑eight player. I was really happy that I played good tennis on this situation.”

 

“There is, you know, still a long way to going to final and to win it. Play one match at a time and hope I can win couple matches here and go to semifinal.”

 

“I see Li Na and Srichaphan, I was looking up to them. I felt a lot of motivation from them.”

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

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Nadal Has Successful Appendix Surgery in Spain

(November 3, 2014) Rafael Nadal has had successful surgery on his appendix and will remain in the hospital for up to two days for recovery.

Nadal’s communication’s team said that the operation took place Monday at the TEKNON Medical Center. Due to the surgery he will miss the ATP World Tour Finals in London next week.


Todo ha ido muy bien. Muchas gracias por vuestro apoyo. Abrazo!

Everything went great. Thank you very much for your support. Big hug!

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Nadal Upset by Qualifier Klizan at China Open

Nadal

 

(October 3, 2014) Less than a week ago Slovakia’s Martin Klizan was down a set and 1-5 in the qualifying tournament for the China Open to a player ranked No. 927th in the world. On Friday, Klizan bounced back to beat 14-time major champion and No. 2 seed Rafal Nadal 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-3 to reach the semifinals of Beijing.

For Nadal, in his third match back from a tight wrist injury, it was his first loss to a qualifier since 2004, when he fell to Julien Benneteau in Lyon.

Nadal was up a set and a break, before the flat, hard-hitting Klizan became more consistent with his strokes. Nadal hit 37 errors with just 21 winners.

Nadal said her was not playing well – “when one player plays bad, plays without rhythm, no confidence on the shots, having more mistakes than usual, being not confident how to play the points and how to win the points, that happens, no?, Nadal said.

“I was not playing well. But I had 7‑6, 4‑2, breakpoint for 5‑2, then he play more aggressive, and I play bad mistakes. That’s it.

“When you are playing bad, the opponent is able to push you in some moment of the match like he did, is normal that he has a better chance than me to win the match. That’s it, no?

“I say it the other day. I coming back from an injury. As I say the other day, is not the perfect conditions for me to come back. Probably is the most difficult part of the season because different facts that I spoke about the other day.”

For Klizan, it was the win of his career.

“Before we played two times, one time in Roland Garros and one time in Wimbledon,” Klizan said. “Both matches we played in four sets. I lost. This one was also, you know, very close match. The previous ones was also very close.

“You know, I don’t know, Rafa is a big star, he’s a big player. He was still up. He was set up and break. You know, I had nothing to do, but I was just fighting.

“I’m just so proud of myself that I could win today. I’m looking forward to tomorrow to play semifinal. It’s my first semifinal in ATP 500 tournament.”

“I think my tennis is now great,” Klizan continued. “I think I can beat anyone on tour. For me this victory, that was the best night in my life. I’m just very happy that I beat Rafa. He’s a legend. I’m just very happy that I beat a legend.”

“I came here to two tournaments knowing that normal things that happen like today are going to happen, Nadal said of his return to the tour. “Accept that. Is practice here. Shanghai, even if it’s a Masters 1000, today I cannot think about big things. I have to think about day by day, trying to do the best as possible to do again quick. But I need time.”

Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych advanced to the semifinals. The top-seeded Djokovic defeated Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-4, Murray beat U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-4 and Berdych knocked out his Beijing doubles partner John Isner 6-1, 6-4.

 

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Nadal Criticizes Balls in Beijing

 

(October 2, 2014) Back on the court for his first tournament since recovering from a right wrist injury, Rafael Nadal is in his first quarterfinal since winning his ninth French Open in June, beating German qualifier Peter Gojowczyk at the China Open on Thursday 6-3, 6-4.

After the win, the No. 2 seed criticized the balls being used in Beijing.

Critical of some of the balls used on tour in the past, the 14-time major champion was asked about what was wrong with them.

“I don’t know what’s good,” Nadal said with a smile.

“Seriously, no, I think the bounces are not the same all the time. If you throw the ball on the floor, the bounces goes everywhere. Is not a question of winning or losing. I won in Rio with this ball. I won tournaments with this ball.

“It’s just that we’re competing at the top level of our sport, tennis, and the ball is an important thing. There is a lot of good balls around the world. The brand of this ball is a strong brand. So if they have a contract with the ATP, they need to find a solution, change the ball, find another solution, because this ball is not working well.

“I am not talking for me only. That’s the feeling of the players out there on the locker room. Lot of players comes to me and tell me that.

“But is not question of this tournament. I say it in the past. Is more than a year that we are playing with this ball, and the ball is bad.

“Is not ATP Tour world‑class ball.”

“Changing balls every tournament create problems because the feeling of the ball…,” Nadal continued.

“I understand for people who really are not players, probably persons who will read that, sounds strange. But the ball is a big difference. Is a big difference between one ball and another ball.

“This week we are playing with one ball. Next week we are playing with a different ball. At the same time is a different ball and you need to adapt to the new ball in just two days.

“That’s dangerous for the shoulder, dangerous for the elbow. At the end that’s the thing we are talking for a long time on the tour, since I arrived here, and probably before. Seems very difficult to fix that almost ‑ as everything.”

Andy Murray who defeated Pablo Cuevas  6-2, 6-2 to reach the quarterfinals, was also asked about Nadal’s comments about the tennis balls, He said:

“I haven’t spoken to him about the ball. I think it’s something that players throughout the year tend to complain about because we have to change balls almost weekly really. That’s hard. If you want to see consistently high‑level tennis, it’s very difficult when you’re changing balls from week to week because they all react differently.

“For example, I had one day to get used to the conditions here. It’s tough. I’m sure if you gave golfers a different ball to play with each week, it would take them time to adjust to that, as well. It’s the same for the tennis players.

“But, yeah, the balls feel different to last week. I don’t have a problem with the balls. It’s just they feel different to last week.”

Nadal will face another qualifier in the next round in Martin Klizan. Klizan advanced when Ernest Gulbis retired from the match with a shoulder injury, trailing 6-2, 3-0.

 

All photos by Natalie Ho.

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Li Na’s Retirement Ceremony in Around the Grounds Beijing Photo Gallery

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING – Photos by Natalie Ho from around the grounds to the main interview room on Tuesday of the China Open including Li Na’s retirement ceremony.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

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Rafael Nadal Returns with a Win in Beijing

 

By Abigail Hinto

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING – What rust?  Rafael Nadal didn’t show any rust in his first singles match back to the competition after being sidelined with a right wrist injury for three months.  In a comfortable 6-4, 6-0 win over Richard Gasquet.

Nadal was playing aggressively off both his forehand and backhand, hitting winners all over the court.  Once Gasquet was pushed off the court with Nadal dictating play, and there was nothing more the Frenchman could do to get back in to the point.  His only other option was to be as aggressive as Nadal, which he managed to do well in the first set earning him a couple of break points but which unfortunately for him, he was unable to convert especially in the crucial tenth game as Nadal saved the break point with an ace while serving for the set.

 

The second set saw Gasquet’s frustration boil over as he started making more errors with overly aggressive play while Nadal was as steady as rock both offensively and defensively.

 

There were no signs of the wrist injury from Nadal, “the wrist is much, much better,” according to Nadal.  “Is almost recovered hundred percent.  I cannot say ‘hundred percent’ because when you have some feelings on it when you warm up at the beginning, it’s not hundred percent.  But let’s say 90 something percent.  The most important thing is the wrist is not limiting me to play my tennis, to hit the normal backhand.”

 

Overall, Rafael Nadal is happy to be back on court playing again.  “I have to be happy the way that I played, no?  Three months without a match, winning against a player who is a good player like Richard, is a very positive comeback for me.”

 

“More important than win, lose, is spend time on court.  And winning, I have another chance to play another match after tomorrow, no?”

 

“That’s the key for me today:  spend time on court, play matches.  At least I going to play two matches minimum here.  That’s a positive thing.  I’m going to try my best to play three.”

 

Next up for Nadal is Peter Gojowczyk who took him to three sets earlier this year in Doha in their only meeting so far.

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

 

Photos by Natalie Ho.

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Doubles for Singles, Nadal Returns to the Court After Wrist Injury

By Abigail Hinto

(September 29, 2014) BEIJING – Rafael Nadal was back on the court on Monday for the first time since injuring his right wrist in July to play a doubles match at the China Open. He partnered with Spanish compatriot Pablo Andujar in his return.

 

The ever enthusiastic crowd of Chinese fans greeted all four singles players, Rafael Nadal and Pablo Andujar versus Tomas Berdych and John Isner, playing their first matches here at the China Open as doubles players with their usual zeal and passion.  Along with the return of Rafael Nadal to competition after being out for 3 months with a wrist injury, a first round doubles match brought out a full and noisy crowd to the Moon Court of the Beijing National Tennis Center with numerous Spanish flags swaying with the cool breeze under a hot sun.

 

Meanwhile, who cares for a team uniform for these singles players when no one bothered to coordinate with their teammates. Andujar, Berdych and Isner were all in white shirts with varying designs with Berdych sporting printed grey and orange shorts.  Nadal, on the other hand was the standout in an aquamarine/teal shirt with orange highlights and grey shorts.

 

As for the match, both the first and second sets were close with only one break each deciding the winner of the sets.  Andujar was broken in the first set serving 5-6 down, deuce, when Nadal, eager to win the point for his team crossed for a volley, cut it too close and netted the ball.  The second set break came on against Isner’s serve thanks to Andujar’s returning.  No wonder Andujar was chosen by the team to receive Isner’s serve when the first game reached the deciding point. Another good return from Andujar and the break was the Spaniards’.  Nadal then served out the set for 6-4 but not before facing 2 break back points.  A poor return by Berdych off a second serve from Nadal, then another error netting a volley while approaching the net, saw Nadal hold to take the second set.

 

The match was then decided in a match tiebreak which Berdych and Isner ran away with after being down 1-3 with great plays from both players winning 8 consecutive points until eventually winning the match tiebreak 10-4. Final score: 7-5, 4-6, 10-4.

 

A fun, competitive atmosphere for these single players who probably played doubles for match practice but definitely went out there to win.

Nadal begins his quest for the singles title Tuesday, when he faces Richard Gasquet in the opening round.

 

Abigail Hinto and Natalie Ho are in Beijing, China covering the China Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow their twitter updates on @TennisNewsTPN.

 

Photos by Natalie Ho.

 

 

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Defending Champ Rafael Nadal Withdraws from US Open with Wrist Injury

Nadal at changeover

(August 18, 2014) NEW YORK, NY – The USTA has announced that reigning US Open champion Rafael Nadal, of Spain, has withdrawn from this year’s US Open men’s singles tournament due to a right wrist injury.

 

Statement from Rafael Nadal:

 

“I am very sorry to announce I won’t be able to play at this year’s US Open a tournament on which I’ve played 3 consecutive finals in my last participations. I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things… Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.”

 

“Siento anunciar que no podré participar en el US Open, torneo en el que en los últimos años he tenido muy buenos resultados. Entenderéis que es un momento duro para mi porque es un torneo que me encanta y en el que tengo muy buenos recuerdos, de los fans, de los partidos nocturnos, de tantas cosas. No me queda otra que aceptar que no puedo competir este año y como siempre trabajar para que cuando vuelva esté preparado de la mejor manera para competir.”

 

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Top Chef Masters Finalist Kerry Heffernan to Host Celebrity Chef Challenge as part of Taste of Tennis Week

sam and Kerry

Chef Kerry Hefferman with Sam Stosur

(August 13, 2014) Since 2000 the world’s top tennis players and chefs have been serving up culinary delights at the Annual BNP Paribas Taste of Tennis. This year’s premier pre-US Open social event to be held on Thursday night, August 21 at the W New York Hotel, is again being hosted by world No. 1 Serena Williams, along with featured Chef Masaharu Morimoto. Other players scheduled to appear are Gael Monfils, Victoria Azarenka, Agnieszka Radwanska, Bob & Mike Bryan, Dustin Brown and Sloane Stephens.

Serena Williams, Azarenka, Bryan Brothers and More To Headline First-Ever Taste of Tennis Week

In addition to the Thursday gala, Taste of Tennis will be hosting several special events as part of “Taste of Tennis Week” including the Celebrity Chef Doubles Tennis Challenge on Wednesday, August 20th at the Midtown Tennis Club. The tournament will pair guests with a top chef in a round-robin style tournament. Serena Williams will team up with Chef Morimoto for the event which will be televised at a later date on MSG Plus and New England Sports Network on a program hosted by sports broadcaster Harry Cicma.

Hosting the Celebrity Chef Challenge will be Top Chef Masters Finalist Kerry Heffernan. Hefferman who is one of the chefs who has participated in Taste of Tennis the longest, said although he played a little tennis growing up in the suburbs, he didn’t really get thoroughly absorbed by it until he received a tennis racquet as one of the gifts in his Taste of Tennis goodie bag a few years ago.

”You get these great goodie bags and in them were these amazing tennis racquets,” he said.

“Wait a minute these look like really good racquets, maybe I should try this thing. One thing led to another… and it’s been three years now since I really got into it.”

“It grows on you, you want to get better, you want to play more, you want to find people that play. You just mushroom into this obsession that creeps into all different parts of your life.”

The idea for the Celebrity Chef Challenge came about as the result of attending the BNP Paribas showdown at Madison Square Garden earlier in the year.

“Other chefs were in attendance tweeting pictures at the event,” Hefferman continued. “Through social media and texts among other chefs” the idea gained a lot of momentum.

I asked Chef Hefferman if he thought that many tennis players are “foodies” and many chefs are into tennis.

“I would concur 100 percent,” he said. “The passion that most chefs have for tennis, is like their display of their cooking. Many similarities – it’s hot, it’s unpredictable, you’re subject to a lot of pressure.

“Lot of parallels between a tennis match and cooking in a professional kitchen.

“The other thing is I notice, having done this for 13 years, that probably a set number of celebrities come and cook with me, so many of them are interested in food and are so knowledgeable about food, it’s really, really satisfying to have somebody come back and recognize that you have an heirloom tomato, or chose a carrot with an usual herb, just to have that culinary fluency.

“And I would say that certainly the European players are a little more fluent even. But the Bryan Brothers for example are super. We did this almost quickfire challenge with Gail Simmons from Top Chef and Top Chef Masters and they were having a blast. Bob Bryan is such a great guy, he still follows me on twitter, we still both keep in touch. Okay, he’s a bit busier than I am. It was a connection through food that like lasts.”

With such a link between Chef Hefferman and tennis, I asked him: ‘If you were a tennis player, who would you be in the Culinary world?’

“That’s a good question,” he said. “I guess you would want to be (Roger) Federer because it’s that effortless execution, that focus and determination.

“Like many chefs, I have such admiration for him having gone back and strengthen part of your game….. his serve for example brought him to the finals at Wimbledon that you just have some respect for the craft. Many chefs would like to be compared to someone like that because he approaches it with ultimate appreciation for how the game is played almost the technical aspect. Anybody would want to be a (Rafael) Nadal or even a (Novak) Djokovic, for the passion, the energy and the dedication but for me if I could be compared to a Federer.

“Your cooking should appear as effortless as his backhand, it shouldn’t looked contrived, it shouldn’t look like you are trying to make look like something it’s not.

“The way that Roger plays the game has got sort of that natural beauty to it. There’s a kind of energy that we really appreciate.”

For more details on the Taste of Tennis events, visit www.tasteoftennis.com.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

 

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Rafael Nadal Withdraws from Toronto and Cincinnati with Wrist Injury

Nadal at changeover

 

(July 30, 2014) World No. 2 Rafael Nadal has withdrawn from both the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati due to a right wrist injury.

 

“I’m extremely disappointed that I am unable to defend my Rogers Cup title this year,” said Nadal through a Rogers Cup press release. “I was looking forward to coming there and playing again in Toronto as I have always loved to play in Canada and had great results in the past at a very important event.

 

“Unfortunately I injured my right wrist yesterday during practice and after the tests I have undergone today in Spain, including an MRI, and checking with my doctors, I will have to stay out of competition for at least 2-3 weeks,” Nadal said via a news release from the Western & Southern Open. I am sorry and wish the best to the tournament and thank all of the fans for their support,” said Nadal. “I’m extremely disappointed that I am unable to defend my titles and compete in Toronto and Cincinnati this year. I was looking forward to coming and playing again after my great results last year.”

 

Official announcement from Nadal’s management team in Spanish:

Rafa Nadal no podrá participar y defender los títulos que ganó en la pasada temporada en los torneos de Toronto y Cincinnati.
El jugador ha sufrido una molestia en los entrenamientos preparativos para la gira norte americana y tras unas pruebas realizadas hoy en la Clínica Mapfre de Medicina del Tenis, se ha encontrado una pequeña desinserción de la vaina del cubital posterior de la muñeca derecha.
El tenista tendrá que estar de 2 a 3 semanas con una célula de inmovilización de la muñeca derecha.
En función de la evolución, que será seguida detenidamente por el Doctor Angel Ruiz-Cotorro incluyendo pruebas de ecografia y resonancia magnética, se valorará el retorno del jugador a la competición prevista inicialmente para el US Open.

 

More to follow…..

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