May 5, 2016

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer Set Up Semifinal Clash at the Australian Open

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(January 26, 2016) Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will clash in the semifinals of the Australian Open as both men advanced with straight set victories on Tuesday.

The No. 3 seed Federer moved into his 12th Australian Open semifinal beating Tomas Berdych 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-4. No. 1 seed and defending champion Novak Djokovic bested No. 7 seed Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 in the night session in Rod Laver Arena.

“I think I played well overall,” said the 17-time major champion. “You know, wished maybe I didn’t get a break here or there. At the same time Tomas was pushing for it, he was looking for it, so clearly it can happen.

“He’s got a lot of power. He knows how to do it. So I was happy that on both occasions, first and third, I was able to react quickly. The second set, when I did have the break, I was able to roll with it.

“Yeah, I think the first set was tough. It was the one that took the longest, had the most importance of all the sets, in my opinion. It was definitely key to the rest of the match because I think it maybe might’ve taken some energy out of Tomas. Who knows? If not physical, also mental. It’s always tough to lose the first set in best of five in a breaker in my opinion.”

The match was the 80th win at the Australian Open for Federer. He became the oldest player at 34, since Colin Dibley at 35 to reach the semifinals at Melbourne.

Djokovic is hoping to win the tournament for a record sixth time – only Rod Laver has accomplished that feat.

For the 28-year-old Djokovic this will be his 29th Grand Slam semifinal and sixth in Melbourne. The Serbian has gone on to win the tournament the each of the five previous times he’s reached the final four.

228 Federer smiles-001

Federer was asked about what it would mean to him to win one more major in the “Djokovic” era: “I mean, a lot, yeah. It’s part of the reason why I guess I’m still playing. I feel like I’m competitive at the top. I can beat all the guys on tour. It’s nice now that in the last three slams that I’ve been as consistent as I have been.

“I’m playing good tennis, fun tennis for me anyway. I really enjoy being able to come to the net more like back in the day. So I’m very pleased.

“It would mean a lot to me, no doubt about it.”

“Roger is playing really terrific tennis in last two years,” Djokovic said as he’ll play the Swiss for the 45th time in his career on Thursday. “We played two Grand Slam finals last year. I know very well how good he plays, especially in the later stages of a major event.

“He always makes you play your best. My best is what is going to be necessary to win against him. Hopefully I’ll be able to deliver.”

 

“It’s obvious that he’s a very complete player. He’s trying lately to come to the net more, kind of shorten up the rallies. I mean, he definitely has the game for that. He’s got a great variation from the backhand side with the slice, short slice. He’s got great defense, amazing offense. He’s very complete. He puts constant pressure on the opponent. You have to be aware at all times. You got to be tough. You got to be concentrated.”

Djokovic and Federer are tied in their head-to-head record at 22-22.

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Djokovic Survives Five Set Test Against Simon; Federer Cruises Past Goffin to Reach Australian Open Quarterfinals

(January 24, 2016) Novak Djokovic survived a five-set test from Gilles Simon, while Roger Federer routed David Goffin to reach the quarterfinals of the Australian Open on Sunday.

No. 1 Djokovic made 100 unforced errors in his 6-3, 6-7 (1), 6-4, 4-6, 6-3 win in four hours, 32 minutes over Simon.

“I made a lot of unforced errors today,” Djokovic said after the win. “Nevertheless, he was fighting. He was playing well. Physically very demanding. I’m just happy to get through this one.”

The defending champion’s victory puts him in his 27 consecutive quarterfinal at a major equaling Jimmy Connors and behind Roger Federer with 36.

“These are the tournaments that we value the most and to be able to always come up with the best performance in the Grand Slams, of course I’m very proud of it and hopefully I can keep going,” Djokovic said.

“I don’t feel good,” Simon said about the loss.

“It’s always a bad feeling when you lose in five also. Always like when you play so long, you feel so many things are happening on the court. So many things could have been different. Just had, like, couldn’t make it today.”

“Gilles is a great defender,” the world No. 1 explained. “Always makes you play an extra shot. You have days like this, but fortunately you manage to fight your way through. I think in important moments the serve was getting me out of trouble. That’s what I take as a positive from today.”

No. 7 Kei Nishikori will be playing Djokovic in the quarterfinals. He defeated No. 9 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4, 6-2, 6-4.

“It’s gonna be big challenge to play Novak, for sure,” said Nishikori.

So what’s the most difficult thing when playing Djokovic?

I think the biggest thing is he doesn’t miss,” Nishikori said. “He doesn’t give you easy points, any free points. I have to, you know, be the one to dictate. I think he’s serving well, too.

“It always makes tough player.”

Nishikori upset Djokovic in the 2014 semifinals at the U. S. Open.

“That (win) gives me a lot of confidence to play against him again, but we played in London and he, you know, kind of destroy me,” explained Nishikori. “It wasn’t easy match for me. It’s different condition, but I hope I can make some changes and try to play better.

“Yeah. I’m ready to beat him again.”

Roger Federer’s win over David Goffin lasted less than 90 minutes with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 score.

“It was good,” Federer said. “Surprised it went as fast as it did. You know, to win the first two sets within 50 minutes is the best thing that can happen out there, especially with a late start and against a quality player. So I was very happy.

“It was important to keep the momentum going, keep staying aggressive and, you know, trying to get the match done in three. I was able to do that. I was very pleased.

“There were some great moments in the match which I can take a lot away from. I was happy to, which after the Dimitrov match, which wasn’t so straightforward, wasn’t so easy, I was able to find an extra gear, I guess.”

Federer will match up against No. 6 Tomas Berdych in the quarterfinals. Berdych defeated Roberto Bautista Agut 4-6, 6-4, 6-3, 1-6, 6-3.

“I have to play well,” said the Swiss about his upcoming match against the Czech. “I think the court suits him. I think this sort of flatter bounce and faster court is good for his serves, good for his returns. It’s a fast court. I think for his kind of game it’s good.

“I think I matched up well against him as of late. Then again, we haven’t played that much. He played very well here last year in exactly these conditions. I was very impressed how he played against Nick (Kyrgios). Today I didn’t see that much against Bautista Agut. It was about switching to a different court, day session, beating a different kind of player, beating him in five sets, which gives him, I’m sure, a lot of confidence, as well, even though maybe the scoreline doesn’t suggest that.

“I would assume he’s exactly where he wants to be and he’ll recover and make it a tough match for me, no doubt about it.

“It’s going to be a good match. We’re both going to play aggressive. This court pays off when you do play good and aggressive tennis.”

“I think he’s playing really well, especially in the last season,” Berdych said of his next opponent. “He’s become a very, very danger(ous) opponent, as always he is. I mean, it’s always difficult to say something else or something new. I mean, it’s Roger, so it’s always going to be a huge challenge to play him. It’s the quarterfinal of a slam.

“Yeah, I like it. I like my chances. I’m just looking forward to that match.”

 

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Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova Reach Milestones with Wins at Australian Open

 

(January 22, 2016) Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova reached milestones on Friday at the Australian Open. Federer became the first male player to post 300 wins in majors with his 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 victory over 27th seed Grigor Dimitrov. The four-time Australian Open champion trails Martina Navratilova who leads overall with 306 victories at majors.

“It’s very exciting, I must tell you,” Federer said. “Like when I reached 1,000 last year, it was a big deal for me. Not something I ever aimed for or looked for, but when it happens, it’s very special. Yeah, you look deeper into it, I guess, where it’s all happened and how. Yeah, so it’s very nice. I’m very happy.”

The Swiss who currently sits at No. 3 in the world is now 5-0 against the Bulgarian Dimitrov. Federer hit 48 winners against Dimitrov.

Federer faces No. 15 David Goffin for a spot in the quarterfinals.

No. 5 and 2008 Melbourne champion Maria Sharapova became just the seventh woman in the Open Era to post 600 match-wins when she held off American Lauren Davis 6-1, 6-7(5), 6-0 in a third round match.

“Wow. I’ve won 600 matches?” Sharapova asked, in her on-court interview. “Is this like a friendly reminder that I’m getting old?”

She told media: “I think it’s a proud number. I’ve played for many years. I don’t think about those numbers until I finish the match and someone does mention it. I think it’s a good fact that I’ve been able to win that many matches.”

The Russian was up a set and a break when the American began to turn the match around.

“I felt like I made it a little bit more difficult than I should have,” said the five-time major champion. “I definitely had a letup at 2-1, 30-Love. You know, felt like I was hitting the ball well, doing the right things to get in that position, then let up. In a Grand Slam environment against anyone you can’t expect to get away with it, and I didn’t in the second set.

“But overall really happy with how I came out in the third and stepped up, considering it’s been, you know, many weeks since I’ve been in that position. So I was happy with the way I finished.”

Sharapova will take on No. 12 Belinda Bencic in the fourth round. The Swiss defeated Kateryna Bondarenko 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

Fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska had a competitive first set and then dominated the second set to take down Puerto Rico’s Monica Puig 6-4, 6-0. The woman from Poland has reached the round of 16 at the Australian Open for the sixth straight year.

Radwanska will take on Anna-Lena Friedsam of Germany next, who upset 13th seed Roberta Vinci 0-6, 6-4, 6-4. Vinci ended Serena Williams’ bid for a calendar Grand Slam when she defeated the world No. 1 in the semifinals of the U.S. Open.

 

On the men’s side, seventh seed Kei Nishikori had to take a medical time out for his wrist, but reached the fourth round at the Australian Open with a 7-5, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over No. 26 Guillermo Garcia-Lopez.

“It was little bit sore in the beginning, but after the treatment it was fine,” Nishikori said. “I’m sure it’s going to be okay. Yeah, it was a really tough match. There was many long rallies.

“I have to give a lot of credit to him, because he was hitting really hard. I thought he was going to hit more spin, but he was hitting a lot of flat balls and it was going in.

“So it was, you know, tough to play. But I start playing much better in the third and fourth. I tried to dictate little more, tried to step in and use more forehands, and I think I able to come in many times today.”

The 2014 U.S. Open finalist will play the 2008 Australian Open finalist – Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who beat fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-4, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (4).

Tsonga says that he expects a tough battle from Nishikori as always.

“Every time we played, it was a good fight,” Tsonga said. “We have a different style. Anyway, yeah, it’s going to be good I think – for spectator, for sure. For us, we’ll see.”

No. 15 David Goffin beat No. 19 Dominic Thiem 6-1, 3-6, 7-6 (2), 7-5 for his first victory against a Top 20 player at a major.

More to follow…

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Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova Advance to Third Round of Australian Open

(January 20, 2016) Both Day and Night sessions in Rod Laver Arena produced no drama for the top seeds as Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams, Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova had easy straight set victories on Wednesday at the Australian Open.

No. 5 seed and 2008 champion Sharapova lead off the day session with an easy win 6-2, 6-1 over Aliaksandra Sasnovich. Rain delayed the start of matches on the outer courts.

 

Six-time champion Serena Williams followed with a 6-1, 6-2 dismantling of 90th ranked Hsieh Su-wei. The victory set an all-time record for Williams – her 79th main draw match at the Australian Open. She 70-9 at the first major of the year where she first played in 1998.

 

The world No. 1 dominated her opponent with 26 winners, closing the match in just one hour. One of her winners was a shot around the post, a first for her she admitted to media. “It’s cool,” she said. “You know, it’s always cool to do something fresh and new. I don’t know if I have done that. I could be wrong, but I definitely don’t remember ever hitting a shot like around the net. So it was good.”

Williams was pleased with her consistency on court: “I don’t think I made that many errors today. Something I was hopefully trying to get back into. And I moved much better today, I think, so slowly but surely feeling a little bit better.”

 

Williams will be taking on Russian Daria Kasatkina in the third round. The Russian defeater her sister Venus in the Auckland tournament earlier this month.

“I don’t think it’s gonna be easy,” Serena said of the match-up. “Any time someone is beating Venus they are more than likely playing really good.

“So I definitely will be ready for that. I obviously will ask Venus what she thought of the match, and I’m sure Patrick will know everything about her match and stuff. He’s really good at studying.

“I’ll be ready for that.”

Roger Federer hit 25 aces in his 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 win over Alexandr Dolgopolov to advance to the third round.

“I thought today I did serve very well,” Federer said. Maybe just matched up well with maybe Dolgopolov maybe wasn’t seeing it as well. But also conditions are fast during the daytime, so that helps to be able to serve through opponents.”

This was his 299th match victory at a major tournament a record setting 65th straight major. This is Federer’s 17th straight Australian Open.

“It’s been going very well for me, and I hope to keep it up as long as I choose to play tennis. You know, I mean, it’s the least I expect to be in the third round of a slam, obviously, so I’m pumped up, playing well, feeling good.”

Federer will play 27th seed Grigor Dimitrov next. Last year Federer lost in the third round of the Australian Open.

“I think it’s a tough draw, to be honest,” Federer said of his next opponent. “He’s got the game to be really dangerous.

“He’s fit enough for a five-setter, so, yeah, I mean, gotta definitely bring my best game to the court.”

Evening session began with fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who beat Eugenie Bouchard 6-4, 6-2. Bouchard, a semifinalist in Melbourne in 2014, had been off the tour after the U.S. Open after falling in the dressing room and sustaining a concussion. Bouchard has filed a lawsuit against the United States Tennis Association.

“I was prepared for that match 100%,” Radwanska said. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy. She had good start of the year, as well, playing couple good matches. I knew I would have to play good tennis today.

“She start very well. She was hitting the ball very good. I think I was just more consistent today. That’s why I could really come back in that first set especially. I was really serving good. I was focusing on that. That helped, as well.”

Novak Djokovic ending the night session in Rod Laver Arena with a 6-1, 6-1, 7-6(3) victory over Frenchman wild card Quentin Halys.

“I think I played a good match,” Djokovic said. “Third set was a close set. Was a battle. Credit to him for fighting, for serving well.”

Djokovic in his post-match news conference denied a report in an Italian newspaper that he tanked a match in the 2007 Bercy event.

 

Djokovic answered:“My response is that there’s always going to be, especially these days when there is a lot of speculations, this is now the main story in tennis, in sports world, there’s going to be a lot of allegations, so…

“I have nothing more to say. I said everything I needed to say two days ago. You know, until somebody comes out with the real proof and evidence, it’s only a speculation for me.”

Defending champion Djokovic is a going for a sixth Australian Open title.

In the upset of the day, sixth seed Petra Kvitova lost to Russian-born Australian Daria Gavrilova 6-4, 6-4. Svetlana Kuznetsova, the 23rd seed lost to Kateryna Bondarenko 6-1, 7-5.

In a 4-6, 7-6(6), 9-7 loss to Monica Puig, Kristyna Pliskova hit a record 31 aces in the match.

Seeded winners in the women’s draw included No. 10 seed Carla Suárez Navarro, No. 12 seed Belinda Bencic, No. 13 seed Roberta Vinci and No. 28 seed Kristina Mladenovic.

Other seeded winners on the men’s side included No. 6 Tomas Berdych, No. 7 Kei Nishikori, Marin Cilic, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, No. 14 Gilles Simon, No. 15 David Goffin, No. 19 Dominic Thiem and No. 24 Roberto Bautista Agut.

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In Their Own Words – Players Reactions to Allegations of Match Fixing

(January 18, 2016) On Monday at the Australian Open, players were asked to respond about allegations cited in reports by BBC and BuzzFeed News that tennis authorities have suppressed evidence of match fixing and ignored possible cases involving players ranked in the top 50, including winners of majors in singles and doubles.

 

Here are some of the reactions from players in their news conferences which include Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams, as well as the specific questions asked.

 

Are you aware of reports today that there is possibly match fixing allegations within professional tennis? Would you be surprised to learn of something like this happening?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Yeah, I just heard about it today, just as a warning that I might be asked about it. But that’s literally all I have heard about it.

Have you ever seen any hint of that, any indications of that at all?
SERENA WILLIAMS: Not that I’m aware of. When I’m playing, I can only answer for me, I play very hard, and every player I play seems to play hard.

I think that, you know, we go –you know, as an athlete, I do everything I can to be not only great, but, you know, historic. You know, if that’s going on, I don’t know about it. You know, I’m kind of sometimes in a little bit of a bubble.

 

Kei Nishikori

Kei Nishikori

There was a report today which suggested there was a problem with match fixing in tennis. Would you be surprised to learn there was a problem with match fixing on the tour?
KEI NISHIKORI: Yeah, it is. I didn’t know anything. It’s a little bit surprised, but, I mean, obviously I never, you know, involve with this. Actually I have no idea what’s going on.

So it’s — yeah.

 

We all turned up today to see the reports of the allegations of match fixing in tennis. What is your take on it? None of these players have been identified. Do you feel bad that it casts a shadow over everybody?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I don’t think so. Honestly I’ve heard about the story and I read that there were a couple of players mentioned who are not active anymore, talking about the matches that have happened almost 10 years ago.

Of course, there is no room for any match fixing or corruption in our sport. We’re trying to keep it as clean as possible. We have, I think, a sport evolved and upgraded our programs and authorities to deal with these particular cases.

I don’t think the shadow is cast over our sport. In contrary, people are talking about names, guessing who these players are, guessing those names. But there’s no real proof or evidence yet of any active players, for that matter. As long as it’s like that, it’s just speculation. So I think we have to keep it that way.

Q. In 2007 you were quoted as saying you’d been offered $200,000 to throw a first-round match in St. Petersburg. I believe you didn’t actually even play in the tournament. Can you clarify that and tell us what happened.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I was not approached directly. I was approached — well, me personally. I was approached through people that were working with me at that time, that were with my team. Of course, we threw it away right away. It didn’t even get to me, the guy that was trying to talk to me, he didn’t even get to me directly. There was nothing out of it.

Unfortunately there were some, in those times, those days, rumors, some talks, some people were going around. They were dealt with. In the last six, seven years, I haven’t heard anything similar.

I personally was never approached directly, so I have nothing more to say about that.

Q. As a young player on your way up, how did that make you feel, even be indirectly associated with it?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It made me feel terrible because I don’t want to be anyhow linked to this kind of — you know, somebody may call it an opportunity. For me, that’s an act of unsportsmanship, a crime in sport honestly. I don’t support it. I think there is no room for it in any sport, especially in tennis.

But, you know, I always have been taught and have been surrounded with people that had nurtured and, you know, respected the sport’s values. That’s the way I’ve grown up. Fortunately for me, I didn’t need to, you know, get directly involved in these particular situations.

Q. (Question regarding attending Zupska Berba wine festival with friend Ilija Bozoljac.)
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I’m not so sure. Yeah, Ilija is a good friend of mine. I grew up with him. I drink more water than wine, I must say. So although I like to enjoy every once in a while a glass of wine, not more than that.

I’m sure it’s a great festival. For now I don’t really have time. But I do enjoy my life. I don’t know if you question that. But I assure you that I enjoy my life.

Q. You’re someone who takes your role as an ambassador for the sport really seriously. You care about the message you put out there. Does it make you uncomfortable at all that this Grand Slam has a betting company as one of its big sponsors? There’s so many ads, even on Twitter.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, this is a subject for discussion, I think, today and in the future. It’s a fine line. Honestly it’s on a borderline, I would say. Whether you want to, you know, have betting companies involved in the big tournaments in our sport or not, you know, it’s hard to say what’s right and what’s wrong.

One of the reasons why tennis is a popular and clean sport is because it has always valued its integrity. Protecting that integrity was one of the highest priorities of each and every leadership that was part of the association. I think especially in the Grand Slams that are and always have been the most valued and respected and known tennis tournaments around the world throughout the history of this sport.

You know, I know that there is also many betting companies that on the websites are using the names, the brands, images of tournaments and players and matches in order to profit from that. Tennis hasn’t been really getting the piece of that cake, if you know what I mean.

It’s hard to say. I don’t have yet the stand and clear opinion about that. I think it is a subject of discussion. We’ll see what happens.

Q. We’ve known you for a long time. You always tell it like it is. But how can tennis go to some 137th ranked player who has been struggling on the circuit and tell him don’t double-fault, don’t throw a point here or there, when the top officials themselves go to a betting company and take that money and send an obvious mixed message to everyone?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s the first time that I hear something like that. Obviously I can’t speak about that from this position where I don’t have the support of the facts and information and evidence, you know. Obviously you hear some stories here and there.

From my knowledge and information about, you know, the match fixing or anything similar, there is nothing happening on the top level, as far as I know. Challenger level, those tournaments, maybe, maybe not. But, you know, I’m not entitled to really talk about it. I can give my opinion. But there is an organization, authorities, people who take care of that on a daily basis and make sure to track it down.

It’s always a choice for a tennis player, an athlete or any person in life. You know, even though it seems that you don’t, but you always have a choice, especially for somebody who is on the tennis court, whether or not you’re going to accept something that is going against everything that the sport stands for.

I would always make the right choice. But I can only speak on my own behalf.

 

 

I’m sure you’ve heard that today there’s been new stories and allegations about match fixing in tennis. As a lot of it happened under your watch when you were head of the Player Council, what is your latest take on it?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know exactly how much new things came out, to be quite honest. I heard old names being dropped. That story was checked out. Clearly you got to take it super serious, you know, like they did back in the day. Since we have the Integrity Unit, it puts more pressure on them that a story like this broke again.

But I don’t know how much new things there is out there. It’s just really important that all the governing bodies and all the people involved take it very seriously, that the players know about it. There’s more pressure on these people now maybe because of this story, which is a good thing.

Under my watch, I mean, we discussed it early on. I actually never heard about it until it was brought up at a player meeting when somebody came and spoke about it. I was like, Okay, came totally from left field. Had no clue what it was about. Didn’t sort of know it existed. I hadn’t been approached.

Doesn’t matter whether I’ve been approached or not, I haven’t. It’s a bit farfetched, all these things. Clearly for a few years now we know this is very serious. Got to do everything about it to keep the sport clean. It’s vital, there’s no doubt about it.

You made your views clear on not being probably spent enough on doping, anti-doping. Do you think there’s enough being done with the TIU, enough resources and men?
ROGER FEDERER: I don’t know the numbers. Really, you can always do more. It’s like I can always train more. There’s always more you can do. So a story like this is only going to increase the pressure. Hopefully there’s more funding to it. That’s about it. Same as doping. Yes, absolutely, got to be super aggressive in both areas, no doubt about it.

You’ve always called for a level playing field in tennis or other sports. But still perception is so important. How can tennis ask players not to be involved in gambling and yet take one sponsorship deal after another and have big signage promoting betting companies at events?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. It’s a tough one, you know, to talk about one or the other. In some ways they’re connected. In some ways they’re not connected at all. It depends on how you really look at it.

Betting happens all across the world in all the sports. The players just need to know, we need to make sure the integrity of the game is always maintained because without that, I always would say, why do you come and watch this match tonight or any match, because you just don’t know the outcome. As long as we don’t know the outcome, the players, fans, it’s going to be exciting. The moment that gets taken away, there’s no point anymore to be in the stadium.

That’s why it’s super important to keep it clean. In terms of having sponsors around there, I guess there is a lot of money there. Maybe, who knows, could it be helpful maybe? I don’t know. This is a question for more people in suits than a guy in a track suit, I don’t know.

If you got wind of someone you knew was offered or fixing matches, would you tell the authorities straightaway?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, well, I guess so. It’s important that person, how he’s been approached. He needs to feel he’s been supported by the tour, or whatever the governing body is, that there’s a place he can go and speak about it. It’s uncomfortable, not a fun thing. It’s not like, Oh, I’ve just been approached, it’s all cool, and we don’t talk about it.

I think it’s really important that you get supported and get also told how to manage that. So, yes, I guess I would encourage that person to go and say something, otherwise I would say something or I would encourage us to go together or whatever. I would be very helpful in this situation because it’s a very tricky situation to be in.

Is there anything inside the ATP that talks to younger players, older players, that gives advice on how to deal with people who approach them about match fixing?
ROGER FEDERER: You have the ATP University I went to. It was a three-day training thing. I had it in Monaco back in the day. I know they still have it at the end of the year. There was a time they stopped doing it. They were more handing out CDs and explaining everything. It was about everything: how you handle the press, how you handle financially maybe down the road, your fitness, the tour in general. They explain how things are done. Then part of that definitely today is this one as well, the doping issues as well. It’s just like with the whereabouts you, how important, how serious it is. They educate you there.

So I’m sure match fixing is also a priority in those meetings. All the guys that came up, I don’t know exactly the age, like the first to break into the top 100 maybe, or you’re close to that, you get asked to do it. You have to come and show up at the end of the year, which is a great thing. I wasn’t in favor of them handing out CDs because that just ends up being in a drawer at home. They’re taking it serious again like they did with me back in the day.

Honestly, for me it was very helpful to be there. I wasn’t happy to go there in the first place, but I made friends there. I felt supported by the tour. I learned things. For me it was more about the press, how to handle that, to see the press as an intermediary from us to the fans rather than looking at the press as the bad guy.

For me it was very educational. I hope it’s the same thing for the young guys coming up.

When you’re not top 100 or 150, it’s tough to stay alive on the circuit without finding other ways. That’s probably the reason why, even if we wouldn’t accept, it happens. Don’t you think the problem should be to find some more money for those people who are not top 100? Challengers, minor tournaments, it’s there where they try to fix.
ROGER FEDERER: I completely disagree with you. I think you don’t understand. It doesn’t matter how much money you pump into the system, there’s always going to be people approaching players, or people, any sport. It’s all a question of money, you know.

It doesn’t maybe happen at the challengers. It’s going to happen at the futures. It’s going to go away if you offer $1 million for every player to play at every tournament? It’s not going to change a thing.

Still might be approached. That’s why I think you’re wrong there, that more money there is going to solve the issue completely.

I agree we should have more money at futures, challengers, all these levels. But it’s not going to solve the issue. The issue is elsewhere, in the player’s mind.

Among the allegations in the report was some of the suspected match fixers were Grand Slam singles and doubles players. Is it surprising, that element, that they’re saying Grand Slam champions are being involved?
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, it’s like who, what. It’s like thrown around. It’s so easy to do that.

I would like to hear the name. I would love to hear names. Then at least it’s concrete stuff and you can actually debate about it. Was it the player? Was it the support team? Who was it? Was it before? Was it a doubles player, a singles player? Which slam? It’s so all over the place. It’s nonsense to answer something that is pure speculation.

Like I said, it’s super serious and it’s super important to maintain the integrity of our sport. So how high up does it go? The higher it goes, the more surprised I would be, no doubt about it. Not about people being approached, but just people doing it in general. I just think there’s no place at all for these kind of behaviors and things in our sport. I have no sympathy for those people.

 

Today there are a lot of discussions and debates about this match fixing story that came out. Of course, people like you who are top 100 or 10 or so were never in the position to survive getting fixed matches. What do you think? Do you think it exists at the minor level, when someone has to stay from 120 to 180 for five, six years, having to pay maybe a coach, transportation?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: Yeah, honestly, I really hope not. I mean, to me the sport itself has always meant a lot more than money. I know that the more successful you are and the more matches you win, the more prize money, the more money you will receive.

But ultimately that’s never been my personal driving factor in the sport. There’s just so much more on the line. There’s the competitiveness. There’s the challenge of being better. There’s playing in front of thousands of people, playing you against somebody across the net and you trying to win that match.

When you’re out there, it’s not about money.

 

Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova

What I’m asking is, when you are not a player of your standard, playing in front of thousands of people.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I don’t think it really matters what level you are. The sport itself is meaningful. It’s our career. It’s our job. I mean, I guess I can only speak for myself, but we want to succeed at it by improving, by getting better, by beating our own best, and not by anything else.

That’s how I would hope everyone else would think, as well. Make it a better and more competitive sport.

We have the situation where tennis, to its great credit, asks players at all levels not to be involved in gambling. Yet our leading organizations go out and get their own money, so to speak, but getting sponsorships from Betway and other companies. Players aren’t willing to say that’s a bad thing.
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I personally don’t understand that. It’s not that I’m for or against it. As you know, I’ve had many great opportunities to work with great brands in my career. That’s just not a direction that I’ve ever followed. I don’t even know if I’ve had the chance, because I know my management would shut that down very fast. It’s so far away from any of my interests, everything I want to be a part of and the people I want to work with. It has to be true and real. That’s just not something I would ever associate myself with.

My question is, with all respect, do you think in terms of the sporting public out there, do you think it’s a problem to have signage and sponsors that say betting?
MARIA SHARAPOVA: I’m not in their seat. I’m not in the organization’s seat. It’s tough for me to speak about it.

 

Sam Stosur

Q. The match fixing allegations, Novak said his team historically had been approached to throw a match. Have you ever been?
SAMANTHA STOSUR: Never been asked. Never heard of anyone being asked. Don’t know anything about it.

Related Article:

Media Statement From Tennis’ Governing Bodies in Reaction to BBC and BuzzFeed News’s Report on Match Fixing

 

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Defending Champions Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams Open Australian Open Defenses with Wins

 

(January 18, 2016) World No. ones and Australian Open defending champions Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams made straight set starts in Melbourne on Monday. Novak Djokvic dominated teenager Chung Hyeon of South Korea 6-3, 6-2, 6-4 while Williams stopped No. 34 ranked Camila Giorgi 6-4, 7-5.

Coming into Melbourne, knee inflammation forced Serena Williams to withdraw from Hopman Cup. The 21-time major champion had not played a competitive match since she lost in the semifinals of last year’s U.S. Open, falling short or claiming a calendar Grand Slam.

Williams responded to media questions about her knee:It’s great. It was an hour and 43 minutes and I didn’t feel it at all.”

I think I served well today,” Williams said. “I think, you know, I got broken once, but other than that, I was able to stay focused on that part. And I was able to serve really well and that really helped me.”

Williams gave herself an “A for effort,” for her win.

“I have played her (Giorgi) a couple of times before, and just wanted to be as consistent as I could.”

Williams has won the Australian Open six times.

 

Djokovic who is trying to win a sixth title at Melbourne had to beat the heat as well his opponent, with temperatures in the 90’s (93 Fahrenheit).

“Having to play somebody for the first time, especially somebody that is as young as him, he’s only 19, you know, it can be tricky,” Djokovic said. “Obviously getting out on the court and playing against a player that has nothing to lose.

“His baseline game is very good, very solid, especially from the backhand side. Very flat, strong backhand, solid shots, both angles. Once he gets into the good rhythm, he can serve well.

“He’s a pretty tall guy. For somebody of his height, he moves very well, as well. He can play equally well from defense to offense. And he’s one of the players that people are talking about as a potential top player in the future.

“He’s got that potential, no question about it. As I said on the court, he needs experience, he needs more time.”

Chung said: “Great honor to play with Novak. He’s No. 1 in the world. He’s my idol. It was good experience to play with him.

“I’m just trying to fight every point, because too tough to win one games. Great experience. Great test to start season.”

Four-time Australian Open champion Roger Federer had an easy time with Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 in the night session. In the process, the world No. 3 is playing his 65 straight major, a record.

“That was a good match,” Federer said. “I’m really pleased how I was able to play. Definitely gives me a bit of a lift in confidence, you know, because this year I haven’t been able to play properly yet. I mean, I had some decent matches in Brisbane, but it was all under, you know, sort of a cloud knowing that I wasn’t 100%.

“But this was a match where I was able to focus, you know, on my game, on tactics, all that stuff. So it was nice to play that way.”

Federer will play Alexandr Dolgopolov in the second round.

“I think it’s going to be very tough, to be honest,” Federer said. “I’ve practiced with Dolgopolov in the off-season in Dubai. Had some great practice sessions together there, this year and last year. I know him very well. This is going to be a different challenge than the first round. This was more of an unexperienced player today, but still dangerous and still a good player.

“But Dolgopolov is a different player, a different level. He’s been there before. He’s got the fitness, the power, the speed, tennis IQ, all that. It’s going to be a big challenge.

“Curious to find out if it’s going to be day or night because that plays a big part in how it plays out. I feel it plays very different day to night, the conditions. Yeah, I’m ready for a very tough match, to be quite honest.”

No. 4 seed Agnieszka Radwanska is into the second round at Melbourne Park with a 6-2, 6-3 win over American Christina McHale as is two-time major champion Petra Kvitova. Kvitova, who had to withdraw from the Shenzhen Open, a warm-up event before the Australian Open, defeated Thai qualifier Luksika Kumkhum 6-3, 6-1. The Czech lost to her in three sets back in 2014.

Kvitova, who had to withdraw from a warmup tournament in China because of a stomach virus, said her preparation was disrupted and she was nervous ahead of the rematch with Kumkhum.

In the night session, Maria Sharapova had no problems against Nao Hibino 6-1, 6-3. Sharapova did not play a warm-up tournament before the Australian Open due to a left forearm injury.

There were some upsets on the women’s side. No. 16 Caroline Wozniacki lost to 76th-ranked Yulia Putintseva 1-6, 7-6(3), 6-4, No. 17 Sara Errani fell to Margarita Gasparyan 1-6, 7-5, 6-1, No. 22 Andrea Petkovic lost to Elizaveta Kulichkova 7-5, 6-4,  2013 quarterfinalist 24th seed Sloane Stephens had no answers Chinese qualifier Wang Qiang who won 6-3, 6-3, 25th seed, Australian Sam Stosur was beaten by qualifier Kristyna Pliskova 6-4, 7-6(6), 26th seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova was eliminated by American Lauren Davis 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 and No. 27 Anna Karolina Schmiedlova went down 6-3, 6-3 to Daria Kasatkina in the first round.

 

No. 7 Kei Nishikori beat Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. He’ll play friend Austin Krajicek in the next round.

Actually, it’s great to see him, especially on Grand Slam,” Nishikori said of the American. “We can play each other it’s great because, you know, because we train together when we are really young, like when we were junior(s).
“It’s going to be not an easy one.”

“It’s always tough to play with friends. Actually tougher than maybe top 10 players.”

Other men’s seeds advancing included No. 6 seed Tomas Berdych and No. 15 David Goffin. No. 22 seed Ivo Karlovic retired from his match with a left knee injury trailing Federico Delbonis 7-6 (4), 6-4, 2-1.

In the upset of the day on the men’s side of the draw, 19-year-old wild card Noah Rubin from Long Island, New York, ranked 328th in the world dismissed 17th seed Benoit Paire 7-6(4), 7-6(6), 7-6(5) for his first main draw win at a major

More to follow….

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Milos Raonic Reverses Last Year’s Result Against Roger Federer to Win Brisbane International

 

(January 10, 2016) Milos Raonic exacted some revenge on Roger Federer on Sunday. In a rematch of last year’s Brisbane International final, the Canadian reversed last year’s loss to claim the title 6-4, 6-4 over the Swiss. This is just Raonic’s second win over the 17-time major champion in 11 meetings. It’s Raonic’s eighth career ATP title.

“It feels great,” said Raonic. “It feels great considering how the past nine months have been. It adds a sort of cherry on top to all that. [The win] does great things. For myself it signifies within the team how concrete and good the work we’re doing is.

“At the same time, with the difficulties I’ve had last year, it’s maybe a good way for me to show the other guys I will face going in to Melbourne that I’ve got my stuff back together and I can play some good tennis again.

“Against him it’s always about who can dictate. I felt that other than maybe one service game where I double faulted three times, I was staying quite a bit ahead on my serve and always close on his, except for one that I lost at love. I felt like most of the other ones I was getting to 30. I was giving myself opportunities and then was able to capitalize twice.”

“I definitely didn’t play my best, because when you play a big sever first you focus on your own game, and then see what you can do on his game,” Federer said. The No. 3 player postponed his opening match of tournament due to the flu. “Both sides were not really happening. I was struggling on the serve. Quite inconsistent. He’s a good aggressive player. It was just not happening.

“Considering the week I’ve had, I’m actually quite happy. That’s why I’m not down or anything or disappointed. If I would’ve known I would’ve made the finals five days ago I would’ve been unbelievably happy.”

In an ironic twist, Raonic’s former coach is now a part of Federer’s coaching team – Ivan Ljubicic. Ljubicic was with Federer this week.

The 25-year-old Raonic, after parting with Ljubicic late last year, has added former No. 1 Carlos Moya as part of his team which includes Riccardo Piatti.

The Canadian starts off the year positively, wiping away the end of last year when he was sidelined with injuries during parts of the year. He missed the French Open with a foot injury. He was forced completely off the tour for the last three weeks with a back problem.

“(The win) it does great things – it signifies within the team how concrete and good the work we’re doing is.”

“At the same time, with the difficulties I’ve had last year, it’s maybe a good way for me to show the other guys I will face going in Melbourne, you know, I’ve got my stuff back together and I can play some good tennis again.”

“Hopefully, a better year this year than last,” said Raonic. “Every single year until now my ranking had been going up. That’s the thing I was most proud of. To see that slip was hard to accept and also very motivating.”

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Roger Federer Begins 2016 with Decisive Win in Brisbane

(January 7, 2016) Brisbane International defending champion Roger Federer began his season on Thursday with a 6-2, 6-1 win over qualifier Tobias Kamke. The top seed and world No. 3 asked tournament organizers to delay his match by a day as he along with his family are battling the flu.

Federer took advantage of five break point chances to defeat his opponent in 55 minutes in his first match of 2016.

Federer’s win puts him the quarterfinals against Grigor Dimitrov who rallied to beat Viktor Troicki 5-7, 7-6 (6), 6-2. Federer is 3-0 against Dimitrov.

On the women’s side, injuries have knocked out the top seeds earlier in the week, but two-time Australian Open champion Victoria Azarenka demolished Roberta Vinci 6-1, 6-3 to reach the semifinals. Azarenka has suffered foot and leg injuries over the past few years.

Azarenka will take on surprise semifinalist U.S. qualifier Samantha Crawford, ranked No. 142 who beat Andrea Pektovic 6-3, 6-0. Crawford, who won the 2012 US Open Junior Girls’ title, became the first female qualifier in tournament history to reach the semifinals of the event

BRISBANE INTERNATIONAL

RESULTS – JANUARY 07, 2016
Women’s Singles – Quarterfinals
[4] A. Kerber (GER) d A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) 64 64
[6] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP) d V. Lepchenko (USA) 46 64 75
V. Azarenka (BLR) d [8] R. Vinci (ITA) 61 62
[Q] S. Crawford (USA) d A. Petkovic (GER) 63 60

Women’s Doubles – Quarterfinals
A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) d [3] A. Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) / E. Vesnina (RUS) 26 76(8) 10-7
[WC] A. Kerber (GER) / A. Petkovic (GER) d R. Atawo (USA) / A. Cornet (FRA) 62 63

Men’s Singles – Second Round
[1] R. Federer (SUI) d [Q] T. Kamke (GER) 62 61
[4] M. Raonic (CAN) d [Q] I. Dodig (CRO) 67(2) 61 64
L. Pouille (FRA) d [6] D. Goffin (BEL) 76(5) 46 63
G. Dimitrov (BUL) d V. Troicki (SRB) 57 76(6) 62

Men’s Doubles – Quarterfinals
[4] D. Inglot (GBR) / R. Lindstedt (SWE) d [WC] M. Reid (AUS) / J. Smith (AUS) 76(0) 62

ORDER OF PLAY – FRIDAY, JANUARY 08, 2016
PAT RAFTER ARENA start 11:00 am
ATP – L. Pouille (FRA) vs [4] M. Raonic (CAN)

Not Before 1:00 pm
ATP – [7] B. Tomic (AUS) vs [2] K. Nishikori (JPN)

Not Before 3:00 pm
WTA – [4] A. Kerber (GER) vs [6] C. Suárez Navarro (ESP)

Not Before 7:00 pm
ATP – [1] R. Federer (SUI) or [Q] T. Kamke (GER) vs G. Dimitrov (BUL)

Not Before 9:00 pm
WTA – V. Azarenka (BLR) vs [Q] S. Crawford (USA)

SHOW COURT 1 start 1:00 pm
WTA – [1] M. Hingis (SUI) / S. Mirza (IND) vs [4] A. Klepac (SLO) / A. Kudryavtseva (RUS)

Not Before 4:30 pm
ATP – [3] M. Cilic (CRO) vs [8] D. Thiem (AUT)
WTA – A. Medina Garrigues (ESP) / A. Parra Santonja (ESP) vs [WC] A. Kerber (GER) / A. Petkovic (GER)

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Novak Djokovic Four-peats at ATP World Tour Finals

 

(November 22, 2015) LONDON, UK – Capping a career season, Novak Djokovic won his fourth straight ATP World Tour Finals title beating Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4 on Sunday.

 

First blood in the first set went to the three-time defending champion even though at times he looked off kilter as he pounded away in the rallies. Nerves looked to still be with him as he gifted away a set point on Federer’s serve before finally wrapping it up.

 

There were no SABRs but there were some great rallies, but Federer’s inconsistency tended to lead in and away from moments of brilliance, and that appeared to be the story of his final.

 

In the second set, even after having to claw his way back from three break points down in a game, he found himself in trouble again and this time, he could not pull off the Houdini act. He saved one match point, but relinquished the other, although he made Djokovic wait for the victory, challenging the line call before conceding the match.

 

Djokovic now carves out a bit of history for himself – he is the first player to win four titles in a row, and he how equaled his head-to-head records with both Rafael Nadal and Federer in just this week alone.

 

Speaking on court after his win, he said: “I’m very proud together with my team for the achievements this season,” Djokovic said on court. “It could not have been a better finish. It’s the best season of my life.

 

“I’d like to congratulate Roger, tough luck today. We’ve played so many matches. I wish you a great next season. Rest well with your family and close ones. I hope we can have many more great matches next season.”

“For some reason or another, I’ve been playing some of my best tennis after the U.S. Open, in Asia and also indoors, both Paris and London.”

 

Federer could only really concede he had lost to the better player. Also talking during the trophy presentation, he said: “It’s better than not paying at all like last year. I’d just like to say how happy I am that I could play today.

 

“It was a tough moment last year but this week was great again. I’ve had a fantastic year all round. I tried my best this week, thought I played some great tennis, even in the final. Some of the points were crazy.

 

“Novak deserved the win today. He’s had a ridiculously good year. This year has been long, grueling, tough. But I loved every moment of it.”

With that loss Federer also loses out on the World No. 2 spot to Andy Murray, who will play in the Davis Cup Final starting Friday November 27 in Belgium.

 

Djokovic ends 2015 winning 11 tournaments – three out of the four major titles, six Masters Series 1000 trophies in addition to the ATP’s year-end event.

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Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer Reach Final of ATP World Tour Finals

(November 21, 2015) LONDON, UK – In a repeat of a round robin match earlier in the competiton, Novak Djokovic will take on Roger Federer in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals on Sunday.

 

Novak Djokovic def. Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-3

If there were any lingering doubts about whether Djokovic was ready to mount his offensive for a fourth straight title, at the ATP World Tour Finals, they only had to look at his start in the semi-final.

 

Swiftly establishing a 3-0 lead, he was the one calling all the shots. Nadal seemed to struggle to even stay with the Serbian, much less even get a look at his serve.

 

It took just a single break in the first set for Djokovic to keep his advantage, and at the start of the second set he looked like he was going for a mirror image of the first.

 

While Nadal managed to at least hold that attempt off, he would surrender a break shortly afterwards and in a final indignity, Djokovic broke him to seal the match.

 

Djokovic said, in his on-court interview: “It was a great performance, no doubt. From the very beginning I pushed to execute my game plan, trying to be aggressive, dictate the play.

 

“It’s easier said than done when playing as great of a defender as Rafa. He was playing some great tennis earlier this week. I managed to pull out my best game when it was needed the most. Just glad to get through to final.”

 

For Nadal – it was his best close post-US Open after a disastrous start to the year by his standards, and so he looks forward to 2016 in the hope that he has regained his confidence.

Roger Federer def. Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-3

This had the promise of being a hard fought three-setter, and indeed when Wawrinka broke Federer in the middle of the first set, it looked as though this would most certainly go the distance.

 

A sloppy game at the end of the set though handed it to Federer, and that momentum stayed with him as he quickly jumped out to a 3-0 lead.

 

Wawrinka was at least able to stop the rot and prevented Federer from breaking him to grab the set, but all to rapidly, Federer served out to love for a most straight forward win.

 

“He [Djokovic] should be knocked out by now,” Federer joked in his on-court interview. “I’m joking. It’s a great format, the round robin. He’s had a tremendous year, another great semifinal against Rafa [Nadal]. I know it will be difficult tomorrow. I’ll give it all I have, it’s the last match of the season.”

 

He now sets up the final fans were denied last year, and will face three-time defending champion Novak Djokovic.

 

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