2014/04/23

Djokovic Wins Third Miami Title

Top-ranked Novak Djokovic pocketed a third Sony Ericsson Open title on Sunday by taking out Andy Murray 6-1, 7-6 (5). Djokovic who won the title last year and in 2007 did not lose set during the tournament.

“Each one is different,” Djokovic said.  “Obviously the 2007 title was the first big title I won.  Since then I started making some really big results in the big events, and it was a big confidence boost for me, you know, strong wind in the back for my career.  I was still quite young and careless on the court hitting the ball very strong.

“But then over the years, you know, I got the experience playing on the top level, and I got stronger physically, worked on my game obviously, always seeking to improve.

“Last year’s tournament was great, as well, and, you know, finals especially with Rafa went the distance, you know, till the last point of the match.  Didn’t know who was gonna win it.

“Again this year, I didn’t drop a set, which is very impressive.  I’m really happy with the way I played last three matches against three very good opponents and top players, so this is a very positive thing, you know, for continuation of the season.”

Murray who benefited from two walkovers during the tournament including the withdrawal of Rafael Nadal in the semifinals should have been the fresher of the two combatants.

“I felt up for it, no question about that,” Murray said.  It could have taken me whenever, a couple of games to get used to sort of the pace of the rallies and stuff, but, yeah, I was up for it.

“I mean, if you look at the start of the match, you know, the game where I got broken, I was up 40-Love in the game and had game points and then I had a break‑point point in the next game and then another long game after that.

“You know, there was three or four long games there, all deuce games, that I had the chance to win and didn’t.  That was the difference in the first set, and then the second set was much closer.

“I didn’t return well today, which is normally one of the best parts of my game.  That was the difference, in my opinion.”

Murray added: “I didn’t feel sluggish.  Like I was saying, maybe it take took a few games to get used to the pace, but after, you know, the first few games ‑‑ I mean, there was a lot of close games in the first set.  He played better on the big points in the first set.

“In the second set, it was a very close set.  It was like an hour and 30 minutes, hour and 40 minutes for one set of tennis.  I mean, if I was sluggish and I was only a couple of points away from winning the set, I’d say that’s a very good sign because playing against the best player in the world.”

Djokovic is now 20-2 for 2012. With the current North American hard court swing over, clay court season begins.      Djokovic was asked about how important he Miami title is in preparing for the clay season and Roland Garros

 

“Oh, any title is big, and it means a lot, I mean, such a big tournament that is considered one of the biggest tournaments in our sport,” Djokovic said.  “I won three times here.  I think that says enough about how I feel playing in Miami.

“I love the crowd.  It’s a lot of support.  Night sessions are my most preferable here, because the crowd gets into it and you can feel that great vibe in the stands.

“I have been really playing well in the last couple of years here, so this is going to be very encouraging for me prior to the clay court season.  I’m gonna have more confidence coming into the Monte‑Carlo tournament.  It’s going to be the opening tournament on clay.

“I haven’t played it last year.  I look forward to it.  I want to start well.  I want to start strong.  I want to go deep in the tournament, and, you know, there is a lot of tournaments coming up.  Obviously Roland Garros, Olympics, Wimbledon, they are top of the priority list, but still, I want to perform well on all the others.”

 

Djokovic reflected on 2011 season after asked to compare this season to last year.  “Well, look, you know, the season was incredible, especially the opening five, six months of the year.”

“Every year is different.  So I’m coming in in this year with a Grand Slam win and now a Miami win, couple of semifinals.  I think I’m playing equally well as I did 12 months ago.

“But again, it’s different.  It’s a different approach.  I still want to fight for every title, as everybody else, have this positive mindset, not really defending or calculating how many points I can lose and things like that.  So every tournament for me is equally important.

“Um, well, I feel that, you know, being No. 1 and having the best year of my career in 2011 is ‑‑ you know, I’m playing at the peak of my form and I’m playing the best tennis that I have played.

“So I have to use that as much as I can, you know, coming into every tournament that I play.  The competition is getting stronger, I believe.  Everybody is so professional nowadays.

“You have the top players playing in all the top events, you know.  That wasn’t the case maybe five, ten years ago.

“So that makes it even tougher for anybody to win a title.  But I’m ready for it, you know.

“We all, you know, give each other, especially the top players, give each other a reason to improve always and look forward to, you know, to win as many titles as we can.”

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Radwanska Captures Sony Ericsson Open Title

 

Agnieszska Radwanska won her ninth career title and is now ranked at a career best No. 4 in the world by capturing the Sony Ericsson Open topping Russian Maria Sharapova 7-5, 6-4.

“I really played well today, from the beginning till the end,” Radwanska said. “I was really focusing on my serve, and I’m very happy I didn’t lose my serve. It was actually I think the key on this match.

“I think I was just playing very good today. Everything was working. I couldn’t complain about anything.

“So, you know, I was just  I went on court, you know, I’m playing against a really good player, top player, second in the world right now.  Pretty much nothing to lose.

“But, you know, it’s just a great feeling, you know, to beat those kind of players, especially, you know, in the final and, you know, playing great tennis.”

 

Maria Sharapova had very strong service games until the final game in each set, where she was broken. Sharapova was hurt the most in this first set was the fact that she was trying to be aggressive on her return of serve but made too many unforced errors.

Radwanska was not an easy opponent to play because every ball comes back and Sharapova has to be the aggressor and go for her shots.

“I thought she played extremely well today,” Sharapova said, “ was very consistent, got that extra ball back and I made that extra mistake.  She didn’t give me many errors.  When I had my chances at break point, I didn’t take them.  When she had them, she did.

“I definitely didn’t return well.  I wasn’t aggressive on that shot.  When I did have second‑serve opportunities, you know, she’s serving at 70 miles per hour and I’m not winning those points, there’s something wrong with that.

“You know, I for sure should have won a lot of those secondserve points.  I just didn’t.

“You want to put pressure on her to go for a little bit more maybe when she’s, you know, moving, but she moved extremely well.

“She hit a lot of good balls on the run and they were deep.  She didn’t just bring them back; she had something on them.

“Then the few errors on important points that I made I thought were  you know, maybe I shouldn’t have gone for the line so much, you know, aimed a little bit closer to the middle.”

Sharapova committed 45 unforced errors and fell to 0-4 in Miami finals.

One can’t forget the fitness part of the game, it’s never easy playing Radwanska. She makes opponents run all over the place, and uses drop shots and lobs to win the point. The Pole has great hands and incredible court placement, with a superb awareness of where the opponent is in the court.

“I think my tennis, it’s just, you know, trying to mix it up, everything,” Radwanska said.

“I was just, I think, born with that.  Of course my father is coaching me almost all my life, 18 years already.  It’s pretty long.

“But, you know, when we are practicing, we always try to improve, you know, everything.  You know, there’s always something to improve.  So it’s never been one shot, you know, one thing.  It’s just when we practice, we practice everything.  So that’s what we were doing all my life pretty much.

“It’s a great feeling to win tournament like this here in Miami. It’s the biggest tournament after Grand Slams, especially like with all the top players, you know.

“You know, you have to play now six very good matches to win this tournament.  So I’m just extremely happy that, you know, I could win almost the second tournament in a row after Beijing.”

Radwanska is 26-4 for 2012, 0-4 in 2012 against No. 1 Victoria Azarenka and 26-0 against the rest of the WTA Tour.

 

Videos from earlier in the tournament

From Tennis Channel

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Nadal News Conference After his Miami Withdrawal

Rafael Nadal withdrew from the Sony Ericsson Open with a left knee injury on Friday. Courtesy of the Sony Ericsson Open and ASAPsports Here is the official transcript from his news conference:

March 30, 2012

An interview with:

RAFAEL NADAL

THE MODERATOR:  Questions, please.

Q.  Perhaps you could just take us through the situation you’re faced with.  We assume it’s your knee.  Could you tell us the story of the last couple of days?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Oh, I started the    since the beginning of the tournament I have problems, but the real thing is growing worse every day.
So after the last match, I saw that the situation were going to be complicated to play today.  But, as always, I always believe that the things can improve.
So I waited until today in the morning.  I did a lot of treatment yesterday, waiting, that we can recover a little bit for today.
But I am not ready to compete today.  I am very sorry for the fans.  I’m very sorry for the tournament.  I’m very sorry for everybody who were ready to watch the match on the television, for television, for everybody.  But I don’t have pleasure.  I cannot do it another thing.
I am not ready to compete, and I cannot go on court and lie to everybody.  That’s the thing today.

Q.  Can you describe the problem exactly for us?  Do you know what it is precisely?
RAFAEL NADAL:  I have problems on the left knee.  I cannot    I have to go to doctor, but looks like is nothing really, really different that happen a few times in the past.
Just go to the doctor hopefully tomorrow, and hopefully in a few days, with a few days off and with the right treatment, I will be in the right conditions to start to practice on the clay.

Q.  Because obviously you want to protect as best you can for the clay court season coming up?  You say just going out there and running around on the hard court is not going to do you any good in the long run?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Yes, but not.  Yes, I want to arrive to the clay court with the right conditions, but I want to arrive here with the right conditions.  That’s why I rest all February.
So I am not thinking    I am not going on court today not because I have the clay court season.  I am not going on court today because I cannot go on court today.
No, no.  Nothing about clay court season.  Clay court season is there in two weeks, but this tournament is very important for me, and I feel very sad to have to go out before a beautiful match for me, semifinals against Andy.

Q.  What is your clay court schedule?  What are the chances that that may change now?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Nothing change.  Even if it’s sad to finish these two tournaments like this, playing two semifinals is a good result for me.
First three tournaments of the year I played final and two semifinals in very difficult tournaments, so that’s the positive thing that stays on my mind, playing good tennis.  It’s true the last day I did not play good tennis, but my knee is not ready to play good tennis.
So in general, I am very happy almost about everything.  My schedule gonna be the same.  Monte Carlo, Barcelona, first two tournaments.

Q.  How worrying is it to have the same thing happen again with your knee when you thought it was fixed?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Less than if I have a new thing, because something that happened in the past, I know what to do to get better quick, and that’s what we’re gonna try.

Q.  So where are you going now?  Where are you going from here?  Are you going back to Mallorca?
RAFAEL NADAL:  I don’t know yet.  I gonna    I have to check a few things.  I want to go to visit the doctor, and I don’t know if I will be able to do it    I will try to do it as fast as possible, to try to come back on court as quick as possible, too.

Q.  Did you have any problems coming out of your training in February?  When you went to Indian Wells, everything was good?
RAFAEL NADAL:  I start to feel a little bit in Mallorca.  But, no, everybody has    almost everybody has pain when you are playing in this high level of competition, no?
The true is in Indian Wells I had    I start to have problems on the knee before Indian Wells, and Indian Wells I have my problems on the knee.  But that problem, no, are not limiting me to play at 100%.
So I played in Indian Wells with the normal conditions, playing in good shape physically and everything.  Here is different.

Q.  Is it described as tendinitis or something else?
RAFAEL NADAL:  Yeah.  But seriously the tendons are much better today than three years ago.  The treatments worked fantastic.
Even if today a really bad knee and last couple of days were tough for me, but positive thing the tendon improve a lot the last couple of years.
I am more health with both tendons than now.  So the treatments are working well.  In 2009 I really compete but compete in very bad conditions a lot of times.  For the last couple of years, 2010, 2011, I was able to compete with perfect conditions for almost all the year.
So that’s always fantastic when that’s happening.  This year I started well with no problems.  Today is bad news, but that’s the sport.  We cannot expect playing as much as we play, be perfect every day of our life.
Today is my turn.  Everybody have problems, and I will be working hard to be back quick on court and to play my best in Monte Carlo.

Q.  You always play with a lot of injuries.  Are you more cautious now?  Because you always play with    I remember US Open when you have the other thing.  Are you more cautious now?
RAFAEL NADAL:  No, no, I always try my best.  But today I feel that I am not ready to compete, no?  I always start hard.  I tried in the US Open like the example in 2009, but I have big broke of the abdominal at the end of the US Open.
Then after US Open I had to stop for one month and a half with no competition.  So I cannot repeat mistakes from the past, but that doesn’t mean that I am more afraid about playing with pains or not.
I try my best in every moment with pain, without pain, but when I see the situation is done and I cannot, I cannot.  That’s it.

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Nadal withdraws from Sony Ericsson Open with Left Knee Injury

 

By Lucia Hoffman

KEY BISCAYNE, Florida – Rafael Nadal withdrew from his scheduled semifinal contest against Andy Murray with a left knee injury at the Sony Ericsson Open.

There had been some speculations that Nadal was in pain during his quarter final match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. He didn’t practice yesterday and was not in the practice schedule for Friday.

Rafa Nadal was very apologetic.  Nadal doesn’t know the severity of his injury yet and will see a doctor soon. “I have problems on the left knee, Nadal said. “I cannot  I have to go to doctor, but looks like is nothing really, really different that happen a few times in the past.

“Just go to the doctor hopefully tomorrow, and hopefully in a few days, with a few days off and with the right treatment, I will be in the right conditions to start to practice on the clay.”

Nadal repeated himself many times apologizing to fans, to the tournament , to television, “to everybody”. “I can not play today… I want to play here with the right condition… This tournament is very important to me. I feel sad.”

 

Lucia Hoffman is in Miami covering the Sony Ericsson Open for Tennis Panorama.

 

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Video Interview with Nick Bollettieri at the Sony Ericsson Open

 

 

KEY BISCAYNE, Floridia – Lucia Hoffman caught up with tennis coach  Nick Bollettieri at the Sony Ericsson Open. He founded the IMG Bollettieri Tennis Academy in  Bradenton, Florida. He’s helped to develop and coach many players over the years including Andre Agassi and Monica Seles.

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Radwanska in Miami Final

Agnieszka Radwanska has made it to her first Sony Ericsson Open final on Thursday night, getting past an injured Marion Bartoli 6-4, 6-2.

“I’m just very happy that [I've played] my best tennis since the beginning of the year and [have won] a lot of great matches against top players,” said Radwanska. “I’m still going to work hard and step by step, [try] to go even higher.”

“It’s always hard to play against her if she’s in good shape. It’s really tough, She’s really hitting the ball very hard and going for it since the beginning. I’m just going to try to also play aggressive and pretty much mix everything. We’ll see what is going to work.”

Radwanska of Poland will play Maria Sharapova for the Sony Ericsson title on Saturday. She is 1-7 against the Russian.

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Djokovic Moves into Semis of Sony Ericsson Open

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic has moved into the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open with a 6-2, 7-6(1) victory over David Ferrer on Thursday night.

 

The Spaniard Ferrer made the Serb run around for most of the match..  He’s like a wall on the court, Djokovic said.”Gets a lot of balls back.  Always makes you play an extra shot.

 

“So that’s something that I was expecting.  He was more than impressive, especially in his last match against Del Potro.

“I needed to play well and aggressive and step into the court from the first point.  That’s what I did.

“I had a fantastic first set, break up in the second twice, serving for the match, and then in some moments, you know, I allowed him to take control in the rallies and, you know, just waiting for him to make an unforced error, which, you know, he used it wisely and he got back to the match.

Luckily for me, it was decided in tiebreak.”

Djokovic spoke to media about the current state of the game: “Well, it’s beautiful about tennis.  It’s individual sport.  It always makes you improve and get better on the court.

 

“The competition is bigger nowadays.  I believe there is more players than maybe five, six years ago who are at the top and able to win major events.  You could sense that in a way.

“It became so professional, you know, and so intensive.  Everybody is taking care of what they eat, what they do off the court, on the court, the way they practice, how many hours they sleep.

“You know, it becomes very, very professional.  You could always expect results and improvements from all the players on the tour.”

Djokovic is changing his schedule this year to include Monte Carlo. “For most of the years, there was a week between Miami and Monte‑Carlo, which was not enough, obviously, if you go all the way in Miami,” noted Djokovic.  Last year I made that decision to skip the Monte‑Carlo tournament, which turned out to be a right decision.

 

“But this year I have a week more.  I’m not playing Davis Cup.  You know, I’ll be there.  I live there.  I’m looking forward to that event.”

Djokovic spoke about his 2012 so far: “Well, I’m very happy.  I couldn’t ask for a better start in Australia.  Had some time off after that.  Had a very, very decent tournament in Dubai.

 

“Indian Wells I played well.  You know, I just had a better opponent that day who was serving tremendous.

“Then coming into Miami, I was confident.  You know, that’s how I feel.  I feel that I am playing better and better as the tournament goes on.

I can comfortably say that this has been tonight the best match that I’ve played in last couple weeks in States.”

Djokovic next takes on Juan Monaco for a place in the final. Djokovic is looking for back-to-back Sony Ericsson Open titles.

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Birthday Boy Monaco Earns Miami Semis Berth over Fish

Juan Monaco celebrated his 28th birthday on Thursday with a quarterfinal victory at the Sony Ericsson Open over world No. 8 Mardy Fish 6-1, 6-3 in just 82 minutes. The Argentine has now reached his second Masters Series semifinal. His first was the Shanghai Masters in 2010.

“It was unbelievable,” Monaco said.  “I think the way to celebrate my birthday, playing like this like I did today, feel proud and very happy for be here on my birthday and talking to you.  Very happy now.”

“I meant every shot that I played, I did. It was a perfect match for me”

Monaco kept the American in check with his serve.

“He did a lot of things well today,” Fish said of his Argentine opponent.  “I think more than anything else, he shrunk the court extremely well with his movement, and that’s why I think you saw a ton of errors from me.

“You know, I was pressing a lot just because he wasn’t giving me anything.  He wasn’t giving me any errors.  He made one error in the first set and served 98%.

“That’s tough to beat, you know, especially with someone who moves as well as he does in a place where, you know, the surface is slow and the balls are even slower to get by him.  So, you know, a lot of combination of things, but that’s the first thing that jumps out.

“You know, I competed hard, tried to get back into it obviously in the second set.  That 3-All game was, you know, obviously the biggest game of the match.

“I played three good points that game, and, you know, I came in ‑ I don’t know if you remember; I remember it,  but I came in on two of his kind of defensive slices and I lost both of those points.  He had an unbelievable lob on that last point that I wasn’t sure was going to go in or not but probably was, and it was just  it was his day.”

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Sharapova Survives Wozniacki to Reach Fourth Miami Final

The overrule of the chair umpire on the final point of the match saw Maria Sharapova rally to put down Caroline Wozniacki 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to gain the final of Sony Ericsson Open.

In the final game of the match at 40-30, Sharapova hit a second serve that the linesman called out which would have been a doublefault. The umpire Kader Nouni overruled the call and had the point replayed with Sharapova getting two serves. Wozniacki could not challenge the call as she had used all of her challenges. Sharapova won the match on the next point with an overhead smash.

TV replays demonstrated that the umpire was correct in his overrule.

Wozniacki was asked if she felt better that the replay showed that Sharapova’s serve at the end actually was on the line.

“No, Wozniacki said, “because I think when the ball is so close that I think he should give her a chance to challenge at least when I don’t have any challenges.

“She was gonna challenge it, anyways.  So if it shows it’s good, it’s good.  If it shows it’s out, it’s out.  The ball was so close that it might as well have been out.”

Sharapova was happy survive a tough match: “I’m really pleased that after losing that first one, being up and playing really well and then backing off and her stepping up, you know, I think I could have easily after losing a few straight games, just concentration went down  I could have easily just went down in the second set.

“But I really, you know, I stepped it up again.  I went out there and started being aggressive.  I didn’t let  I didn’t stop, you know, after I put myself in a good position.

“But, yeah, I’m extremely pleased that I pulled it out today.”

Sharapova will play either Marion Bartoli or Agniezska Radwanska in Saturday’s Sony Ericsson Open. The Russian is 0-3 for Miami finals.

“I haven’t faced Bartoli in a while.  You know, she’s been playing really good.  She’s also an aggressive player.  Stays down, goes for her shots, stays really low and hits the ball pretty flat.  Quite different to, you know, my opponent today.

“Radwanska is someone who is extremely solid, very again, gets many balls back, anticipates really well.

“But, yeah.  I mean, either one, I mean, it’s the final, so I think it’s more about really performing on your end than really worrying about what’s on the other side of the court.”

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Nadal Escapes Tsonga to Reach Semis in Miami

 

By Lucia Hoffman

KEY BISCAYNE, Florida – Rafael Nadal was pushed to the limit  by France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before finally getting a a 6-2 5-7 6-4 win to moved into the semifinals of the Sony Ericsson Open on Wednesday night, almost into Thursday morning.

It was a very lackluster Tsonga in the first set whom Nadal easily dismissed 6-2. Nadal dominated the second set and served for the match at 5-4 when Tsonga ran off three games in a row to even the contest at a set apiece. In third set the Spaniard found himself serving for the match again at 5-4 and staved off break points to give him the match.

“It wasn’t one of my best matches, Nadal said.  “That’s the real thing.

“I didn’t play very well tonight.  I think I started match playing really well, but later when I had the break at the second, after the break of the second, I don’t know which game I had the break of the second, but after that I started to play more defensive, no?  To close the match, I played very bad.  That’s my feeling.

“Before, no.  Before, I believe Jo had much more mistakes than usual.  That’s makes the match  make the match less complicated for me at the beginning.

“But, you know, when he started to play a little bit better and I have advantage in the score in the second set with the break, I started to play more defensive.  Finally, I played a really bad game serving for the match at 5-4, and then he started to play better.  That’s the true.  And I happy about my third set.”

Tsonga said “he didn’t play well tonight.”

“It’s like a double work.  I have to watch the ball and the line and everything, and I have to play.

“I mean, then, you know, it come in your head and you focus on it and you don’t have to.  Then, you know, I lose my concentration, you know, sometimes because of that, because, I mean  you know, there is sometimes, you know, many reasons, you know.

“He played like three times on the court.  I played  I didn’t play on the court.  I played  I mean, it’s like this.”

 

One wonders if Rafael Nadal was getting worried at the end of the third set, serving for the match again, with the same score as when he was serving for the match in the second set. Tsonga once more, was trying to deny the Spaniard the game, and the match. Tsonga looked stronger as the match progressed hitting some spectacular shots from his forehand side and delighting the crowd with his play at the net.

Clearly both players were not holding back, and being aggressive was crucial at that stage of the game and sadly for Tsonga, he was the one who missed the last shot.

Videos by Lucia Hoffman who is covering the Sony Ericsson Open or Tennis Panorama.

 

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