2014/04/17

Novak Djokovic Coming into Miami with Renewed Confidence

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

(March 20, 2014) Novak Djokovic came into Indian Wells not having won a tournament for the first time in four years. His comeback win over Roger Federer on Sunday 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (3) gave the world No. 2 his third BNP Paribas title. The win also renewed his confidence.

“Well, it is, in some kind, a relief for me, because I haven’t had a title this year up to Indian Wells,” Djokovic said.  “Indian Wells final was the first final of the year.  I haven’t played many tournaments; I haven’t played many matches.

“So I knew I’m playing well.  I had incredible end of 2013, so I did have confidence.  But I started a little bit doubting myself on the court.  You know, I was struggling a little bit with my, I would say, consistency and the concentration.  Throughout the tournament also I had ups and downs, but I managed to win four out of six matches in three sets.

“Mentally it’s a very encouraging win that gives me confidence and that also, you know, is very special in a way.  This time of the year I needed it very much, and hopefully I can carry that into this week.”

Djokovic comes to Miami without the head coach of his team, tennis hall of famer Boris Becker.

“He’s unable to travel,” Djokovic said.  “He has surgery of his both hips today and tomorrow, so that’s unfortunate.  He couldn’t come.”

“He was supposed to come here.  Basically in the finals of Indian Wells he called us and said that he had an emergency and he has to operate both hips.”

The Sony Open is the site of one of Djokovic’s first big tournament wins.

“I have had much success in this city before I won my first big title back in 2007.  I remember here was my first Masters 1000 event.  So I have really good memories.

“I always look forward coming back to Miami this time of the year.  It’s nice weather.  As I said, a lot of fun on and off the court.”

Djokovic will face Frenchman Jeremy Chardy in his opening match during Saturday’s day session.

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A Day of “Firsts” for Flavia Pennetta and Novak Djokovic at the BNP Paribas Open

Novak Djokovic

By Kevin Ware

INDIAN WELLS – It was a day of “firsts” on finals Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open. Flavia Pennetta won her first WTA Premier Mandatory title by defeating a hobbled Agnieszka Radwanska, and Novak Djokovic won his first title of 2014 by outlasting Roger Federer in a dramatic 3-set final. The respective paths to their titles couldn’t have been more different.

In an unexpected turn, Pennetta overwhelmed an injured Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 for the biggest title of her career. “After so many years and so much work and everything, this is the moment I was waiting for,” Pennetta said. “And it comes when you least expect it.”

Her surprise is understandable given the struggles she endured in 2013. Pennetta lost to countrywoman Francesca Schiavone in the first round of last year’s tournament: one of many bad losses she suffered after her return to the tour from wrist surgery in 2012. Thoughts of retirement crossed her mind.

“The day after I was in the garden running and talking with my physio, Max, almost crying because the feeling and everything was so bad. And now, after one year, we have the trophy.”

Pennetta played solid tennis, but never needed to do more considering the condition of her opponent. Radwanska’s knee has been hurting the past few days, but she hoped that she might still be able to compete.

“This is the sport that you’re always playing with some pain or injury or sore muscles,” Radwanska said.  “But when the pain is so big that nothing is working, no painkillers, no tape. That means it is bad. Today nothing was working.”

“Unfortunately, it was too much pain.  I tried because this is the final, and I thought, you know, maybe in one game was going to be better and I would just keep going, but that didn’t really happen.”

Disappointment at not being able to compete at her best level weighed heavily on Radwanska, her voice breaking as she wiped away tears during the trophy presentation. She apologized for not being able to run as much as needed to in order to compete. Judging by the supportive crowd response, no apology was necessary.

This is Pennetta’s 10th WTA title, and her first since 2010. With this win, Pennetta moves to No. 12 in the rankings. Radwanska remains in the No. 3 position behind Serena Williams and Li Na.

In the men’s final, Novak Djokovic had to fight tooth and nail to defeat a resurgent Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) for his first title of the year. It was a high-quality match that fittingly came down to a third-set tiebreaker to decide the winner.

Federer won the first set with skillful serving and masterful ball-striking on his forehand side. His first serve percentage was 74%, and he won 75% of his first serves and 71% of his second serves. Anytime you’re over 70%, odds are good for a victory. Federer also hit 12 winners to only 9 unforced errors. His defense was solid, and he craftily mixed backhand slices to keep Djokovic successfully out of any rhythm.

By comparison, Djokovic served at 59%, and won only 36% of his second serves. He also only hit 5 winners to 6 unforced errors. He was tentative, and mistimed many shots badly. Djokovic readily acknowledged his slow start.

“Yeah, it wasn’t a great start for me.  First service game that I had I made a few double faults and unforced errors and allowed him a break.  That was enough for the first set.”

“Roger is probably best in the world when he’s up.  When he’s a break up, he wins his service games so comfortably and so fast that sometimes it’s very difficult to keep up.  But I managed to stay composed and stay confident.”

The second set saw an obvious drop in Federer’s game, both in serve and unforced error count, as Djokovic found his footing. An early break in hand, it wasn’t long before Djokovic served out the set at 6-3 to take the match to a deciding set.

Federer’s level continued to fluctuate badly, and he gave up an early break in the third. But to his credit, he fought hard and stayed close enough to Djokovic to take advantage if any break opportunity presented itself.

The opportunity came at 5-4 with Djokovic serving for the championship. Federer pounced and immediately put him under pressure. A few minutes later with the break under his belt, Federer held serve at love.

Unfortunately for Federer, the third-set tiebreak was all one-way traffic for Djokovic. After over two hours of shot-making drama, he netted a backhand on match point to hand Djokovic the win.

This is Djokovic’s third Indian Wells title. It’s also his 42nd title overall, moving him ahead of Stephan Edberg, and his 17th Masters Series title. In a year where he’s failed to win a title – or make a final – until three months in, his relief afterward was palpable.

“I’m just very happy and thrilled to be able to win the first title in this season.  It was the first final that I played this year.  It was necessary for my confidence, and hopefully I can carry that into Miami and the rest of the season.”

Federer leaves the desert with confidence in his game, and an appreciation for his continued fitness. “I’m just happy I’m playing consistent tennis and I’m going deep in tournaments and I’m giving myself chances to win.  So clearly would have been amazing to win here and win back to back tournaments with Dubai.”

“But I got very, very close, so it’s encouraging for Miami and for the rest of the season, no doubt.”

Kevin Ware was in Indian Wells covering the BNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Federer and Djokovic Set The Stage for Indian Wells Final

Federer DSC_31670463feder practice thursday

Roger Federer

By Kevin Ware

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic Set The Stage for a Mouthwatering Indian Wells Final

 [7] Roger Federer d [28] Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-1

Roger Federer completely overwhelmed Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first men’s semifinal to book his spot in Sunday’s final. Dolgopolov is one of the ATP’s brightest, and most exciting, young prospects: capable of incredible shot-making from anywhere on the court. Against Federer, Dolgopolov missed wildly, and was never able to sink his teeth into the match enough to put Federer under any credible pressure.

Federer was taken to deuce only once in the match, in the seventh game, but snuffed out any hopes for a break with an ace and a service winner. From that point on, it was an uphill battle for his Ukrainian opponent.

“I was ready physically, mentally.  I wasn’t nervous, but I wasn’t sharp enough.  My concentration was going away for maybe one, two points every game. You can’t afford to have that in these matches.”

One of the key problems in his match against Federer was his erratic serve. Against Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals, Dolgopolov struggled with his first serve (54%) but still managed to win 90% of those points. Against Federer, his first serve dropped to 39% with a winning percentage of only 67%. And his 12 winners were thoroughly offset by 25 unforced errors.

He struggled at serve, struggled with his ground game, and struggled in his net play. Dolgopolov put it succinctly when he said, “From the start of the match I was just not good enough to compete with him today.”

Federer, on the other hand, continues to play some of the most relaxed and free-swinging tennis he’s played in years; primarily due to the continued pain-free status of his back.

“Yeah, I think I’m just playing more freely overall and with more confidence because I can get to more balls without thinking.  I can wake up in the morning without feeling sore.  I can go to bed not feeling like, I hope I feel better tomorrow.”

Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

[2] Novak Djokovic d [12] John Isner 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-1

For Novak Djokovic, the road to the final was a much tougher affair. After taking a tight first set against Isner, he served for the match twice in the second set: once at 5-4, and again at 6-5. Both times he was broken by combination of nerves, loss of focus, and the aggressive Isner return game.

Once in the second set tiebreak, it was one-way traffic for Isner, who won the tiebreaker with big serving and an equally big ground game to take the match into a deciding set.

However, once Isner was broken in the fourth game of the deciding set – the fourth break of his serve in the match – one got the sense that it was one free gift too many for Djokovic. Unlike his miscues at the end of the second set, Djokovic kept his focus and fought through three deuces to consolidate the break.

To Isner’s credit, he continued to push Djokovic even as his knee bend began to get hampered by slight pain. By no means a “gimme”, Isner made Djokovic produce his best tennis to get through.

A second break of Isner’s serve in the sixth game put the final nail in the coffin for any hope of a comeback. Djokovic served out the match at love.

Isner was understandably disappointed after fighting so hard to get back into the match only to let it slip away in the third. “Yeah, you know, it’s always disappointing when you lose, no matter the situation.  You lose first round, it’s disappointing; end of the tournament, it’s still disappointing.”

In spite of the loss, he was heartened by his great week after a sustained post-Aussie injury layoff. “I didn’t hit a ball for a full month after Australia, so, you know, it’s encouraging in that I played well this week.  I certainly did.”

Novak was clearly relieved to get by an opponent with a serve that can take much of the game out of his hands.

“Yeah, it’s never easy to play John who is if not “the” best, but definitely the top three best servers in the game.  He’s the tallest guy next to Karlovic we have in sport.  He has a great technique.”

“Twice I had chance to finish it out (the second set) and I played two bad games and he played an incredible tiebreaker.  And, you know, when you get to the tiebreaker with John Isner, whoever you are, you’re not a favorite (smiling).”

In Federer, he faces a familiar foe for Sunday’s final, and realizes that it will be a tough match; especially after a February loss to Roger in the Dubai semifinals.

“Whenever we play each other it’s always a huge challenge for both of us, and very few points can decide the winner. I do not expect anything less tomorrow.  I just hope for myself that I will be able to perform on a high level, because I’m going to need to do that in order to get a chance to win against him.”

Men’s Final
Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic
H2H: Federer leads 17-15
Last match: Federer d Djokovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 (Dubai)

Women’s Final
Aga Radwanska v Flavia Pennetta
H2H: Radwanska leads 4-2
Last match: Pennetta d Radwanska 6-4, 611 (Dubai)

 

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Li Na to Meet Flavia Pennetta in Indian Wells Semis

(March 13, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – In a rematch of the Australian Open final, top seed Li Na defeated Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, while Flavia Pennetta battled past Sloane Stephens 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 and will face off in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open

The match which lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes improved Li’s record to 17-1 on the year. The woman from China lost just her first set during the tournament.

This is Li’s first WTA Premier event where she’s the top seed.

Everything for me is new, top seed, first time on the big tournament,” Li said

“Of course, you know, everyone looking different.  Not like before if I come here, maybe like No. 6 or No. 7 seed.

“But I think I am handling very well, so just continue.”

With being the top seed and a two-time major winner Li is feeling special at Indian Wells.

“No, I feel like I’m much friendlier,” she said with a smile. “No, joke.”

“Even like practicing the fans were watching.  But I think I find more fans supporting my husband, not for me.  Even we are practicing, working out, if he hit a winner, everyone was like so happy.

“It was a pretty tough match today,” said Cibulkova.  “I’m just disappointed a little bit that I didn’t win, because I had my chances today.”

“I think the biggest difference that I lost today was because her serve was better than mine.”

Flavia Pennetta had to endure a topsy-turvy two—hour and 26 minute match against Sloane Stephens. The Italian served for the match in both the second and third sets. She had to endure a dust storm with high winds and right herself after losing six straight games from the end of the second set to 0-3 in the third. Then she won six of the last seven games to seal the win on her fifth match point.

“I mean, we didn’t have a lot of fun today,” said the 32-year-old veteran.  “We didn’t play our best tennis.

“Maybe in the beginning we play much better, and in the second set one, but the third was a disaster for both of us.  I mean, I won.  I’m happy because I get through this match, but I don’t have a good feeling right now.  I mean, it’s normal.  Outside it’s crazy now.  It’s coming the wind from nowhere.

“But in the other part I’m really happy because I was down 3‑Love in the third, and I fight until the last point and the match was for me today.”

“I wasn’t playing my best at the beginning,” said Stephens.  “It was a bit up and down, but I just tried to battle and stay in there.  Second set was playing better and better.  Then the wind came, which was pretty unfortunate.

“I just tried to do my best and fight and battle for every point.  It was unfortunate that I lost.”

Pennetta

“It was a disaster,” the American said of the third set, agreeing with Pennetta who used those words during her post–match news conference  “It wasn’t super fun, super frustrating, but that happens sometimes.  You play tennis, so it is what it is.

“It really came out of nowhere.  Like I don’t even know what happened.  We just started the third set, and all of a sudden it was like ‑‑ it was like a windstorm.  I don’t know.  It was weird.”

Pennetta said her opponent has a bright future: “I think she’s already ‑‑ she’s 20, but she’s a good player.  She have a lot of matches, important matches.  She was in the semifinal already in a Grand Slam, so you are already a big champion for me.

“I mean, she’s one of the best players, of course.  In the future, I think she will be one of the best, top 10, for sure.

“She has everything:  unbelievable forehand; backhand; she improve a lot with the backhand in the last year; she’s powerful.”

“She play more or less like me, but she’s more powerful than me,” Pennetta said of her semifinal opponent Li Na.  “I have to be real aggressive tomorrow to try to take the situation, but is not going to be easy.”

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Wawrinka Dominates, Federer, Li Also Advance

 

 

Wawrinka in press

(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Australian Open Men’s champion Stanislas Wawrinka dominated Andreas Seppi 6-0, 6-2 in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday.

“Today was amazing match,” said the world No. 3.  “Can’t complain.  “Playing that great, it’s good.  That level, depends a little bit who you play, but I’m really, really happy with my match today.

“I’m moving really well, and every time I can play aggressive it makes a difference.”

Asked if he plays to reach No. 1, the top Swiss player said:

“No.  I’m too far away from No. 1.  I’m really far.  Look at the ranking.  Look at Rafa and Novak are there since many years.  They are winning minimum two Grand Slam a year, making final, semifinal, winning Masters 1000.

“But I know my level.  I know that I can play great tennis this year.  I never won a 500.  Never won a 1000 tournament.

“We’ll see.  I’m not thinking at all to be No. 1.  I’m just trying to improve, trying to win every match.  We will see.  I’m not expecting to win a Grand Slam but I did it, so anything can happen.”

Federer 382014

Swiss No. 2 Roger Federer needed to win a pair of tiebreaks to stop Dmitri Tusunov, closing the match out with an ace.

Federer said that he’s having a better year this year.

“I feel different this year,” Federer said. “Now I feel like I’m in a good place. Zen on the court. Even if I won 6 and 6 today, I just feel like I was calm. Those are the moments where you feel there is confidence around somewhere.”

Federer changed to a new racquet with a bigger head this year and the 17-time major champion updated the press corps o how he feels about it.

“It’s good.  I’m very happy.  I mean, I’m not really thinking of it, so that’s a major step in the right direction.  That’s the best you can ask for when you change racquets.

“Then you hope that success follows.  That’s happened, too.  That’s why basically ‑‑ I had a meeting with Wilson this week looking to see if there is any small changes coming up or if that’s how I’m going to keep it right now.

“So we’re just looking to see what’s going to happen the next sort of month or so.  I’m really happy about how it’s playing, how it’s given me extra power, easier power, just easier to play with it day in and day out.  And I think have the spin necessarily, but have the control there, too.

“I must say I’m overall very happy, and it’s exciting to play with a new racquet after so many years.”

 

Li Na

Li Na

Top seed Li Na defeated Karolina Pliskova 6-3, 6-4 to reach the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open.

“At least I can win the last point, and still, how do you say, stay on tournament,” Li said.

“You know, always tough, because first time to be the top seed in a big tournament and never have, how do you say, experience before.

“So it’s very tough to hang in there, especial beginning the tournament start.”

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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.

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Around the Grounds of the BNP Paribas Open in photos for March 8

(March 8, 2014) Photographer David Sweet (@DavidSweetPhoto) snapped photos all around the grounds  and n the interview room of the BNP Paribas Open on Saturday for Tennis Panorama News.

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Twizzles and Selfies in Notes and Quotes for Saturday at the BNP Paribas Open

 

(March 8, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California – a quick at the more unusual player quotes from the BNP Paribas Open.

Maria Sharapova who was an NBC Olympic correspondent in Sochi was quizzed on the word “twizzle” after her straight sets win over Julia Goerges.

 Sharapova 382014 IW

 

Q.  Who is the coolest athlete you met, and do you know what a twizzle is?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  A twizzle?  Is that part of figure skating?  Right, right.  I don’t know if that was a trick question.

Who did I meet?  I met a lot of former athletes that were working for NBC, which was like Scott Hamilton.  I don’t know.  It was really bizarre just like having breakfast around each other like it was no big deal.  All these athletes getting together, not actually working on our sport, but that was special.

Q.  Did you and Johnny Weir hang out at all?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Unfortunately I missed him, but I was told we had a coat competition.  Yeah, we tried to upstage each other’s coats.  I brought 12 and he brought 25.  I mean, that’s pathetic.

Q.  Never going to win that battle?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, you never know.

Q.  Would you consult him for designing for Serena?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  That could be fun.  He could design for me, as well.

Serena Williams tweeted her approval for Sharapova’s dress. The Russian was quizzed about this and talked about tennis dresses and how she and Serena Williams could design one for each other.

Q.  I think Serena tweeted during your match that your outfit was totally cute.  She approved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Really?  Are those her exact words, Totally cute?

Q.  She said #approved.

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  I think we have to exchange designs.  We have to design an outfit for each other.  That would be fun.  Without knowing…

Q.  Cat suit?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Well, I have to put an end to the cat suit on me (Laughter.)  I mean, I’m 26 already, so I think those days are over.

But that would be fun without telling each other what it is, just unveiling it.

Q.  You would trust each other to do that?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  Oh, yeah.  That would be a lot of fun, don’t you think?  You guys would all show up for that, right?  (Laughter.)

We’re going to get great coverage.  Nike is going to be happy.  It’s all good.

Q.  What kind of ideas do you have for dressing up Serena then?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  It’s our secret.  Show up to the unveiling.

Q.  No hints?

MARIA SHARAPOVA:  No hints.  I have a few things in mind, a few silhouettes.

 

 

Federer 382014

 

 

 

 

Roger Federer bested Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-2, 7-6(5). The Swiss who has been on twitter about a year was asked about taking “selfies,” as he has recently posted a couple on his twitter account.

Q.  On your year or so on Twitter, you have gotten very good at selfies.

ROGER FEDERER:  Yeah, okay.

Q.  If you could take a selfie with anybody, who would it be?

ROGER FEDERER:  Nobody.  I mean, this is totally for the supporters of me, whoever follows me or a fan of me, whoever it is, the people who do, you know, follow me on Twitter or Facebook.  Just trying to make it fun and different.

Took me a long time to sort of warm up to social media, because I just didn’t know how it’s supposed to be used ‑ even though there is no rule to it.  But I find some people use it in a very funny way and some in a very strange way

First, for myself, I had to find out what was going to be my direction.  I saw it more as giving more sort of the extra, you know, sort of hints, sort of my angle, an extra angle to our life on tour.

So it’s actually become quite enjoyable.  The last thing I want to feel is pressure that I have to take pictures or have to is something.  If I don’t want to post anything for weeks, I have the right to do that and that needs to be the case.

But I must say it’s pretty funny, and it doesn’t stress me out.  You just can’t being sucked into it too crazy, otherwise all you start doing is spending time on the phone, and that’s not what I want to start happening to me.

 

LiNa 382014

Li Na – no more doubles please.

 

Q.  We see a lot of the top players playing doubles at a tournament like this.  Why not you?

LI NA:  I think doubles court for me too small enough (Laughter.)  I don’t know.  Maybe last time I play doubles was 2007.  Or I play Olympics I think with a young girl.

When I was stand up the court I even didn’t know what I have to do.  Even I return, I was feeling the court so small.  Everywhere is people (smiling).  I cannot do it.

So for me, I really, how do you say, focus on my singles right now to see maybe I can, I even can improve a little bit.

Q.  Do you not like doubles?

LI NA:  Not really, no, because you have to, how do you say, talk to your opponent all the time.  Yeah.

Warinka in press

Stanislas Wawrinka and the boring questions.

Q.  Where have you placed the Australian Open trophy?  And when do you think it will start getting boring with all the questions and Australia and all the things you achieved over there?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA:  Well, I think I’m not going to get boring about those questions, you know.  It’s more about being Swiss No. 1 that’s annoying me.

But about winning Grand Slam, I think it’s great.  It’s positive.  So I can answer many few questions if you want.

The trophy is in Switzerland in a safe place

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Ailing Victoria Azarenka Falls at the BNP Paribas Open

 

 

Azarenka

(March 7, 2014) INDIAN WELLS, California -

Nursing a left foot injury, third-seeded Victoria Azarenka fell out of the BNP Paribas Open on Friday night in her first match in more than a month. American Lauren Davis winning 6-0, 7-6 (2).

Azarenka had been off the tour since the Australian Open due to some never damage between her toes. She had to wear a boot on her foot for three weeks.

“Basically, all I had was my fighting spirit,” Azarenka said. “When I’m on the court I try to give as much as I can, even on one leg. I try to do my best in tough situations. That’s part of our job.”

Azarenka is uncertain if she’ll participate in the Sony Open in Miami in 10 days.

“I want to be pain-free because it’s not to the most fun to be out there like that,” Azarenka said.

“It means so much to me,” Davis said.  “My first top 10 win, and just being in the third round of Indian Wells really boosts my confidence.

“I just tried to focus on myself, and, I mean, at times blocked them (the crowd) out.  Because like when you’re up and you’re about to beat the No. 3 girl in the world is kind of a high and you kind of look towards the end of the match.

“So I just really just tried to focus on myself and just block them out.”

The only other seed to fall on Friday was former two-time champion Hantuchova, seeded 29th, losing to American Varvara Lepchenko, 6-3, 6-2.

Other seed to advance included second seed Agnieszka Radwanska, No. 6 Simona Halep, No. 7 Jelena Jankovic, No. 9 Sara Errani and No. 10 Caroline Wozniacki.

On a packed Stadium court 2, 2008 Olympic Doubles Gold medalists Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka paired up for a 6-2, 6-7 (4), (10-6) win over Rohan Bopanna of India and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi of Pakistan.

“I don’t know if it was sold out, but it felt like very, very full,” said Federer. “You’re not probably going to achieve that on center court (which holds 16,100) for a doubles. But that was a perfect setup, a feeling, and we can thank the tournament and (owner) Larry Ellison for building such a court so quickly.”

“It’s nice to see the game grow and seeing people coming out and enjoying it. It’s great. I really had a great time out there with Stan today.”

“It took me time to realize really what I did in Australian Open,” said current champion and No. 3 seed Wawrinka.

“Still when I’m saying that I won a Grand Slam it’s still strange for me, but that’s why it was good to be home during three weeks. It was good to be with the family, to take more time for myself.

 

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Roger Federer Rallies to Win Sixth Dubai Title

Federer wins with arms raised

By Florian Heer

(March 1, 2014) DUBAI – Roger Federer won his sixth crown in the desert at the Duty Free Tennis Championships beating last year’s finalist Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, coming back from being down a set and a break. The Swiss led their head-to-head series 11-6 before the match but it was the Czech, who emerged victorious the last two times the pair met at the US Open in 2012 as well as here in Dubai last year.

 

In front of fully packed stands, it was Federer, who gained first blood by taking the opportunity and broke a shaky third service game from the Czech. Berdych recovered quickly and broke back to even score at 2-2 when the 32-year-old former world No. 1 started to produce a couple of unforced errors with his forehand. In the following the third-seed remained aggressive, in particular on Federer’s second serve, of which the Swiss could only win 30% percent of the points. Consequently Berdych gained another break in the sixth game.

 

The Czech served out taking a not very exciting first set in 33 minutes. Berdych also made the stronger start into the second set getting a break in the fifth game. Federer, who was clearly favored and backed by the crowd was able to find the right answer by gaining the immediate break back. The Swiss now playing with an aggressive style, came to the net more often, snatched the momentum and gained another break on set point in the tenth game to take the match the distance.

In the final set, Berdych’s first serve and forehand seemed to desert him. The Czech lost his service in the fourth game and Federer confirmed impressively in the following through a nice drop shot. The Swiss eventually served out the match after one hour and 58 minutes beating Berdych 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 for the first time since Madrid Masters in 2012. Federer ended the Czech’s eleven matches winning streak by lifting his sixth Dubai crown as well as his 78th career title but will remain the world’s No. 8 in the ATP Rankings.

“It’s like one of the things you just kind of hope it turns for the better,” Federer said afterwards about coming back from a set and a break down. “At that point you’re just telling yourself to serve well to give you maybe a few good opening points on Tomas’ serve. If he serves well, it’s difficult or the margins are extremely slim at that point. So once you do get back, it’s important not to relax then and think that the hardest part is done. It’s only about to beginning actually,” the Swiss explained.

“So I was happy I was able to use the momentum, win the second set and then it was a tough third one wasting the 0-40 game on Tomas’ first service game. Then I even had to save breakpoints by myself. I mean, anything could have happened there but things definitely went my way tonight,” the champion was happy. “It was a switch I wanted to do for a long time,” Federer said about the role of his new racket. “I like the chances Wilson was able to come up with. I’m happy that the results are paying off, especially in quick succession. I have only just switched and I made it into the final in Brisbane, the semis at the Australian Open, won my Davis Cup match and now I’m here with my trophy,” he added. Federer himself, however, is not sure if he can be dominating world tennis again. “Who knows? I’m just happy that I’m healthy again and that I can focus on tactics and not focus on me,” the Swiss concluded.

“Many things went wrong today,” said a disappointed Berdych afterwards. “The match was starting pretty well. I had really many chances, and then I basically just gave him the game and that’s it. I’m disappointed how I handled the situation. I was in better shape, played really well and made my chances. Unfortunately I didn’t execute until the end,” the Czech stated.

The Swiss has won at least one ATP World Tour title every year since 2000 and Saturday’s victory saw him pass the $80m mark in career earnings. Federer now has a 42-5 event record in Dubai, previously lifting the trophy in 2003-05, 2007 and 2012.

Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi

Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi

Earlier in the afternoon, the tournament’s two top-seeded-pairs faced each other when the combination of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic took on Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi. It was only the Serb losing his service game during the match. In the opening set Zimonjic was broken in the tenth game and in the second frame it happened in the fourth game. Qureshi finally served for the title winning 6-4, 6-3 in 68 minutes. The “IndoPak Express” took their first title as a team since the ATP Masters 1000 in Paris in 2011. It was theit fifth ATP World Tour team title and first since reuniting at the start of 2014.

“We started off well this season playing a good final in Sydney but lost it to Nestor and Zimonjic. I’m happy to get a little sweet revenge back,” Bopanna said afterwards.

“Today we took our chance, which was key I think. On the big points, especially the no add points, Rohan returned remarkably well. I also think that we served really well and smartly,” Qureshi added. “Even though we have a different style of play, we both play really aggressively. In a way it does complement each other and also the fact that we always keep us motivated even after hitting bad shots. It’s just working as a team,” Bopanna told about their good partnership. “We also have Scott Davidoff traveling with us now. He’s been on the tour for many year and has a lot of experience. I think he’s brought in so much more to our game as well,” the Indian added.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Futures Circuit.  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

See all of the photos from the past two weeks of Dubai tennis coverage on the Tennis Panorama Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/OOUwHw

 

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