2014/11/22

France Evens Tie Against Switzerland in Davis Cup Final

(November 21, 2014) France leveled the Davis Cup final against Switzerland at 1-1 at the end of day one in Lille, France when Gael Monfils dispatched Roger Federer 6-1, 6-4, 6-3 on Friday. I was Monfils’ first win over the world No. 2 on clay. Monfils hit 44 winners in the less than two hour match.

Federer pulled out of the final of the ATP year-end event in London on Sunday due to a back injury, decided to play despite a back injury that forced him to pull out of the title match at the ATP Finals last Sunday.

Stan Wawrinka gave Switzerland a 1-0 advantage after the opening rubber defeating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Wawrinka was dominant at the net winning 25 points there. He hit 61 winners during the match.

The crowd of 27,432 has set a new record for an officially-sanctioned tennis match, more than the previous record, Spain versus United States Davis Cup Final at the Estadio Olympico de Sevilla in 2004 at 27,200.
 

More to follow.

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Draw Set for Davis Cup Final – France Versus Switzerland

davis cup 2014

(November 20, 2014) The draw has been set for the Davis Cup final between France and Switzerland this weekend in Lille, France on a clay court.

After speculation about Roger Federer, who pulled out of the final ATP World Tour Finals with a back injury, the 17-time major champion will participate in Davis Cup this weekend.

Roger Federer will face off against Gael Monfils in the second match on Friday. Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka will open the series against Jo-Wilfired Tsonga.

France has a rich Davis Cup and is looking for a 10th title, while Switzerland seeking its first crown in the team competition. France leads Switzerland 10-2 in head-to-head competition in the ITF event.

 

 

DAVIS CUP BY BNP PARIBAS FINAL

FRANCE v SWITZERLAND

Venue: Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille (clay – indoors)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v Stan Wawrinka (SUI)

Gael Monfils (FRA) v Roger Federer (SUI)

Julien Benneteau/Richard Gasquet (FRA) v Marco Chiudinelli/Michael Lammer (SUI)
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA) v Roger Federer (SUI)

Gael Monfils (FRA) v Stan Wawrinka (SUI)

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USTA Nominates Katrina Adams as Chairman of the Board, CEO and President

 

From the USTA: WHITE PLAINS, NY, November 17, 2014 – The USTA Nominating Committee has announced the nomination of Katrina M. Adams as USTA Chairman of the Board, CEO and President to serve a two-year term beginning January 1, 2015.  Adams has served on the USTA Board of Directors for 10 years and is currently completing a two-year term as First Vice President.  In her new role, Adams will become the first African-American and first former professional tennis player to serve as the association’s Chairman of the Board, CEO and President.

 

Adams began serving a two-year term as First Vice President of the USTA in January 2013. Previously, she served one term as Vice President, 2011-12, and three consecutive two-year terms as a Director at Large, 2005-10. In the current term, Adams serves on the USTA’s Budget Committee, International Committee, Executive Committee and Compensation Committee. She also serves on the board of directors of the USTA Foundation and the International Tennis Hall of Fame. Adams also is a member of the Grand Slam Board and the ITF Davis Cup Committee.

 

Adams previously served as board liaison to the USTA’s 17 sections as well as the USTA Foundation and the USPTA. Prior to that, she was the board liaison to the Professional Tennis Council, and she also has served on the USTA Player Development Committee and the USTA Grievance Committee. She also has served on the ITF Rules of Tennis Committee.

 

In addition to her role as First Vice President, Adams is a contributor on CBS Sports Network’s first all-female sports show, “We Need to Talk,” and serves as a television analyst for Tennis Channel. She also is a contributor to Tennis Magazine and tennis.com, providing instruction articles and videos, and serves as the executive director of the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program in New York City.

 

Adams played for 12 years on the WTA tour, and was ranked as high as No. 67 in singles and No. 8 in doubles. She captured 20 career doubles titles. While a player, Adams served on the board of directors of the WTA as a player representative for four one-year terms and on the WTA’s Players Association for five two-year terms. She was honored with the WTA’s Player Service Award in 1996 and 1997.

 

Adams attended Northwestern University as an undergraduate, majoring in communications, and helped the Wildcats to a Big Ten championship in 1986. She was an NCAA All-American in 1986 and 1987, and in 1987 became the first African-American NCAA doubles champion.

 

A Chicago native, Adams has been inducted into the Northwestern Hall of Fame. She also was inducted into the USTA Midwest Section Hall of Fame in 2005, the Chicago District Tennis Hall of Fame in 2008 and the Black Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012. Adams currently lives in White Plains, N.Y., and Lakewood Ranch, Fla. She is a member of the USTA Eastern Section.

 

In addition to Adams’ nomination, the following individuals have been nominated as the slate of new Officers and Directors of the USTA Board:

 

Alexander Boyd (Andy) Andrews IV, of the USTA Southern Section, living in Raleigh North Carolina, currently a Director at Large on the USTA Board of Directors and is nominated to serve as First Vice President.  Andrews has served multiple terms on the Board of Directors for the USTA Southern Section, the USTA Southern Section Patrons Foundation, the USTA North Carolina Tennis Foundation, and the Raleigh Racquet Club, to name a few.  He has chaired a successful campaign that raised more than $1.6 million for the North Carolina Tennis Association to build its office complex and a Hall of Fame facility and raise $1.7 million for the North Carolina State J.W. Isenhour Tennis Center.   Andrews is presently CEO of Dominion Realty Partners, a real estate development company that has been involved in more than $2.5 Billion Dollars of development in North Carolina, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. He is a former standout junior, collegiate & professional tennis player, having won 19 professional titles while on the men’s pro tour in singles and doubles and was all ACC and a two-time All American at North Carolina State University.

 

Thomas S. Ho, of the USTA Texas Section, is nominated to serve a second consecutive term as Vice President. He also serves on the Budget Committee and the Compensation Committee.  Ho previously served on the USTA Board as an elite Athlete 2009-2010. At 15, Ho was the youngest male to play in the US Open main draw, and he ultimately achieved a career-high ranking of No.85 in singles and No.13 in doubles. He earned a B.A. in economics in 2001 from Rice University, where he was Phi Beta Kappa and served as a volunteer assistant with the tennis team. After graduation, Ho worked within the financial services industry with Goldman Sachs and UBS. He is currently a Principal with Heidrick and Struggles, a worldwide executive search firm, where he is a member of the Global Industrial and Financial Officers practice. Ho is a current member of the Texas Section Management Committee, and served on the Houston Tennis Association Gala benefit committee.

 

Donald L. Tisdel, of the USTA Pacific Northwest Section, is nominated to serve a second consecutive term as Vice President.  He previously served three consecutive terms as Secretary-Treasurer on the USTA Board of Directors and a term as Director at Large from 2004-2006.  Tisdel has served as Chair of the Budget Committee and is a member of the Audit, Compensation, and Investment Committees.   He also is a member of the USTA Foundation Board of Directors. He currently serves as the Senior Operating Partner of Northwest Capital Appreciation, Inc., a private equity firm he co-founded. Under Tisdel’s direction, Northwest Capital formed two private equity partnerships that control four diverse companies with aggregate revenues exceeding $5 billion and a work force of approximately 2,300 employees. Tisdel has been involved in tennis in the Pacific Northwest section since 1967 including co-founding two indoor tennis clubs.

 

Patrick J. Galbraith, of the USTA Pacific Northwest Section, is nominated to serve a second consecutive term as Secretary- Treasurer and previously served three terms as an Elite Athlete and a Director at Large on the USTA Board of Directors. He has served as Chair of the Budget Committee and as Vice Chair of the Investment Committee. A professional tennis player from 1989 until 2000, Galbraith is a two-time winner of the US Open Mixed Doubles Championship. He ended 1993 as part of the No.1- ranked men’s doubles team with partner Grant Connell, and went on to win the World Doubles Championship in 1995. Galbraith, a member of the 1996 Davis Cup team, finished his career with 36 doubles titles. He is a Certified Financial planner (CFP) and is currently Vice President-Wealth Management for UBS Financial Service, Inc.

 

David A. Haggerty, of the USTA Middle States Section, will serve as Immediate Past President on the USTA Board of Directors.   He served on the USTA Board of Directors from 2007 to the present, currently as the Chairman, CEO and President. Prior to his national board service, Haggerty served on the USTA Middle States Board of Directors from 2001-2006. Haggerty also serves the International Tennis Federation as a Vice President. He had an extensive tennis industry career including CEO and President of Head USA and Penn Racquet Sports from 1998 until his retirement in 2010. Haggerty currently is an external Board Director of Kepner Tregoa, a global management firm specializing in rational process management. He is Co-Chair of Friends of Cadwalader Park, which has raised more than $800,000 to build a new tennis center in Trenton, New Jersey.

 

Fabrizio Alcobe-Fierro, of the USTA Florida Section, is nominated for his first term as Director at Large on the USTA Board of Directors. A lifelong tennis player, parent of competitive junior players and enthusiast, Alcobe-Fierro is Senior Vice President of the Univision Networks at Univision Communications Inc., the premier media company serving Hispanic America. He is responsible for overseeing the administration, human resources, on-air talent, Teleton USA, Education Week and the transformation of Univision Communications’ television linear networks and digital content groups. Fabrizio brings more than 16 years of extensive experience in media communications, organizational management, and global leadership. He joined Univision from Interpublic Group (IPG), where he was senior vice president of Global Compensation. During his tenure at IPG, Fabrizio made many contributions and provided leadership in all matters related to global human resources management as well as played an active role in the company’s diversity and inclusion efforts. Prior to joining IPG, he held various senior executive roles at Euro RSCG, WPP and Towers Watson. He holds a Masters in Public Administration from Columbia University and Industrial Engineer title from Universidad Iberoamericana.

 

Joan E. Baker, of the USTA Northern Section, is nominated to serve a second consecutive term as Director at Large on the USTA Board of Directors.  Baker has a rich history of USTA organizational knowledge at both the sectional and national levels. She began serving USTA Northern as junior endorser in 1995 and served continually, ultimately serving as President and Sectional Delegate from 2005-2006. Since then she has served on the USTA Nominating Committee from 2007-2010, chairing the Committee from 2009-2010. In her first term as a USTA Board member, Baker served as Chair of the Audit Committee and a member of the Budget Committee. Baker is a lifelong tennis player, passionate about the health benefits of playing the sport.  She is a three-time recipient of the prestigious USTA Northern President’s Award and was inducted into the USTA Northern Hall of Fame in 2009. She is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) and was the Founder and President of Advantage Benefits, Inc., an employee benefits company that helped owners maximize benefits to valued employees while containing costs.

 

Mark D. Ein, of USTA Mid-Atlantic Section, is nominated for his second consecutive term as Director at Large of the USTA Board of Directors. Ein is an investor, entrepreneur and philanthropist, who has successfully built a series of growth companies across a diverse set of industries. Ein is the Co-Chairman and Principal Shareholder of Kastle Systems, LLC, a provider of commercial office building managed security systems. In addition, he is the Chairman and CEO of Capitol Acquisition Corp (NASDAQ:CLAC) and the Vice-Chairman of Two Harbors Investment Corporation, a NYSE-listed (TWO) residential mortgage REIT. Mr. Ein is also the founder and owner of the Washington Kastles, a World Team Tennis (WTT) franchise. Ein has received several honors for his contributions to tennis and the community, including induction into the USTA Mid-Atlantic Tennis Hall of Fame in 2013.

 

Michael J. McNulty III, of the USTA Southern Section, is nominated for his first term as Director at Large on the USTA Board of Directors.  He is the founder and Officer of the Lake Area Community Tennis Association.  McNulty is the former President of USTA Louisiana and the USTA Southern Section.  He currently serves as Delegate representing the USTA Southern Section. McNulty also currently serves as Council Chair to the USTA Rules Council and is a member of the ITF Constitutional Committee.  He  is  the  former  Tournament  Chairman  and  current  member  of  the  Tournament  Steering Committee for the BB&T Atlanta Open, the tournament that annually kicks off  the Emirates Airline U.S. Open Series.  McNulty is a partner in the law firm of Plauche Smith & Niest, and is considered one of America’s top attorneys in the area of insurance defense, specializing in the areas of construction, products and premise liability.

 

Andrew A. Valdez, of the USTA Intermountain Section, is nominated for his third consecutive term as Director at Large on the USTA Board of Directors. He is a former member of the USTA Intermountain Section Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Valdez is the founder and current board member of The Village Project Mentoring Program that teaches tennis to youth under the Juvenile Court, emphasizing life skills and values, and he is a co-founder of Tennis and Tutoring Program (2009-present), which was developed as an after-school program in cooperation with Utah Tennis Association. Valdez obtained his law degree from the University of Utah, College of Law. He served as Utah State Juvenile Court Judge for 20 years after working as a Trial Lawyer of the Salt Lake Legal Defenders Association and as a Trial Lawyer of the US Army Judge Advocate General Corps in Nuremberg, Germany. Valdez recently attained Senior Judge Status.  Valdez also authored No One Makes It Alone, a memoir that chronicles how the sport of tennis and acts of kindness enabled him to overcome the poverty and struggles of his childhood.

 

Kathleen J. Wu, of the USTA Texas Section, is nominated for her first term as Director at Large on the USTA Board of Directors. Wu currently serves as the 2013-2014 USTA Chair to the Diversity & Inclusion Committee.  She currently is also a member of the Executive Committee and Management Committee of the USTA Texas Section. Since 2007, Wu has also served as USTA Texas’s Vice President of Recreational Tennis and Vice President of Administration, and is currently its General Counsel.  In addition, she has served on the Board of Directors for the Dallas Tennis Association as well as on several other charitable and civic boards.  Wu is an influential and longtime partner at Andrews Kurth, where she serves as Co-Chair of the Business Transactions department. She has been repeatedly recognized by her colleagues and the media as one of the country’s leading lawyers specializing in real estate and finance transactions, and is a leading speaker and author on issues affecting women and minorities in the legal profession.

 

Lauren Barnikow, of the USTA Northern California Section, is nominated to serve her first term as a Director at Large on the USTA Board of Directors. Lauren will be one of three elite athletes on the board.She has been an Account Executive at Google from 2006 to the present. Barnikow’s expertise in the ever-changing technology industry includes brand marketing and digital media strategy for Fortune 1000 companies. She was a nationally and internationally ranked junior tennis player with extensive experience with USTA Player Development. Lauren played professionally from 2004 to 2006, winning 1 singles title and 3 doubles titles on the USTA and ITF Pro Circuits and reached a career high doubles ranking of No. 200 in the world. Barnikow has captained a Women’s Open Team for Northern California every year since 2010.  She was a starting member of three NCAA championship teams at Stanford University, where she graduated with a B.A. in International Relations in 2004.

 

Todd C. Martin, of the USTA Florida Section, who was appointed to fill an Elite Athlete vacancy on the USTA Board of Directors during the 2011-2012 term, was subsequently nominated to serve a full term 2013-2014, and is nominated again for the 2015-2016 term as an Elite Athlete and Director at Large. Martin has served as the Board Liaison to the Pro Tennis Council and as a member of the USTA Davis Cup, Fed Cup, Olympic and Paralympic Committees. A former professional player, Martin achieved a career-best No. 4 in the world and reached the final of the 1999 US Open and the 1994 Australian Open. In his career, Martin won eight singles titles and five doubles titles, and was President of the ATP Players Council for 8 of the 14 years he played professionally. Martin also was a mainstay of the U.S. Davis Cup team and helped the team win the Davis Cup championship in 1995. He also represented the U.S. at the Olympic Games in Sydney, Australia, in 2000. As of September 6, 2014, Martin serves as the Chief Executive Officer of the International Tennis Hall of Fame & Museum in Newport, Rhode Island.  In 1994, Martin founded the Todd Martin Development Fund (TMDF), which provides tennis, education, and leadership programs for at-risk youth of mid-Michigan and currently operates as both a National Junior Tennis League and a USTA First Serve chapter.

 

Chanda R. Rubin, of the USTA Southern Section, is nominated to serve a third consecutive term on the USTA Board of Directors as an Elite Athlete and Director at Large. She serves as Board Liaison to the Professional Tennis Council.   Rubin, a former world No.6 player, has represented the U.S. as a member of the 1996 and 2004 Olympic Teams, as well as the US Fed Cup team from 1995-1997 and 1999-2004.  She was inducted into the Southern Tennis Hall of Fame in 2009, the Louisiana Tennis Hall of Fame in 2012, and the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 2013.  Rubin completed her undergraduate degree in Economics with a minor in Finance from Harvard Extension School in 2013. She is active in philanthropic causes, including the Children’s Museum, the American Heart Association, the Women’s Sports Foundation, the Breast Cancer Association, and the United Negro College Fund.  She has established the Chanda Rubin Tennis and Scholarship Foundation, which provides funding for youth playing opportunities and scholarships.

 

Mary Carillo, L. Ali and Katrina Adams

Mary Carillo, L. Ali and Katrina Adams

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Federer Withdraws from Year-End Final with Back Injury

Federer on changeover

Chalkdust Chronicles – Sad end to a low-key tournament

 

(November 16, 2014) LONDON – After semi-finals that finally set the tournament alight, there was an audible gasp from the crowds who had gathered for the Finals as Roger Federer wandered out in a cardigan and trousers to announce that he was pulling out of the ATP World Tour Finals with World No. 1 and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic.

 

The rumors had already been circulating when he had not shown up for practice, having opted for one of the courts in the public area and not on the main court.

 

As the announcement was made to media to take to the court for the announcement, it seemed a fitting end to one of the strangest tournaments, with the only shining lights being the semi-finals.

 

“Unfortunately I’m not match fit,” Federer said to the crowd at the O2 Arena. “I tried everything I could last night, also today: painkillers, treatment, rest, so forth, warm-up, until the very end. But I just can’t compete at this level with Novak. It would be too risky at my age to do this right now and I hope you understand.”

In a muted on-court presentation, for his third consecutive title, Djokovic said:

“I feel really sorry for Roger. If he could have come out and played, he would have done.”

 

People who had paid good money for the tickets over the entire week have been disappointed over the week with heavy one-sided matches in the singles until the semi-finals.

 

However the gasping audience were partially mollified with the news that Djokovic would be playing Andy Murray in a pro-set followed by another exhibition match pitting Murray with John McEnroe against Tim Henman and Pat Cash.

 

Meanwhile Swiss thoughts must turn to how they mentally and physically prepare for the Davis Cup on French clay, as that had to have been part of Federer’s decision to pull out.

 

A further complication arises as John McEnroe hinted at a fall out with the Swiss team that went on well into the night. During the match Wawrinka had seemed to have an angry altercation with someone in Federer’s box, and with them being the mainstays of the Swiss team, could spell a mental triumph for the French team before they all even step on court.

 

The World Tour Finals of 2014 will not be known as one of the classics, and if next year should be its last year in London, hopefully it will go out with a bang, and not the whimper of this year.

 

 

Federer’s message on his Facebook page:

fedpullout

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Tournament thriller to set up World 1 Djokovic versus No. 2 Federer in the ATP World Tour Finals

Chalkdust Chronicles – Tournament thriller to set up World 1 Djokovic versus No. 2 Federer in the ATP World Tour Finals

 

(November 15, 2014) LONDON – After a week of sometimes lackluster performances at the ATP World Tour Finals, finally the crowds had something to shout about as Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka battled through an intense three-setter, with Wawrinka just being edged out by the most heartbreaking of margins 4-6, 7-5, 7-6(6), unable to take advantage of any of the four match points he held.

 

That Federer won is no surprise, but to come from a set down after being left standing as Wawrinka built up a double break was not in the script. Maybe nerves caught up with him the first time he tried to serve out the first set as the always dangerous Federer clawed back one of the breaks, and Wawrinka did the deed on the second time of asking.

 

The quality certainly did not diminish in the second set as Federer still failed to capitalize on his opportunities to push into a decider sooner rather than later.

 

Soon it would be Wawrinka’s turn to send a match-point begging, and beating each other up into the deciding set tie-break, Federer got the predictably more confident start. By the time Wawrinka got himself in the lead again, he was starting to feel the effects of the match, cramping up. With Davis Cup around the corner, Federer opted to go for the attack, finally saving four match-points and taking one of his own with a cutting drop volley to set up the final the organizers were longing for.

 

“For sure that game at the end I was nervous,” Wawrinka said in regard to failing to serve out the match. “You make some choice, especially when you’re tired, when you’re nervous. Just wanted to go for it and not wait for mistake.”

 

“I got lucky tonight,” admitted Federer. “Stan played better from the baseline and that usually does the job on this court. But I kept fighting. It’s tough but I’m thrilled to be in another final in London. Novak is playing great tennis. It usually brings the best out of me.”

 

Federer will face off against world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. Federer is seeking his seventh year-end title, while Djokovic is looking for his third in sucession.

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Djokovic endures stormy weather to down Nishikori in three sets

Chalkdust Chronicles – Djokovic ensures stormy weather to down Nishikori in three sets

(November 15, 2014) LONDON – Two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic showed the first cracks to his super-human armor when he took three sets to halt Kei Nishikori’s bid to reach the title match of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals – winning 6-1, 3-6, 6-0.

 

At first it could not have looked more routine. The tournament has been almost plagued by one-sided matches, and after breaking the Japanese player in his second service game, Djokovic piled on the pressure as Nishikori seemed to struggle to get any purpose on his shots.

 

Nishikori has been struggling with a wrist injury all week, and with constant returns by the trainer to treat and tape the wrist, it looked as though this would all be over very quickly when Djokovic started the second set with an immediate break.

 

The semi-final crowds wanted to see a good contest and threw their support firmly behind Nishikori, gamely cheering on a Djokovic double-fault which earned Nishikori a break, and in return they were rewarded with a less than appreciated hand clap from Djokovic.

 

The immediate break back seemed to give Nishikori a new lease of life as Djokovic’s lapses in concentration and shot selection opened the door, and Nishikori wasted no time in leveling the match.

 

With two break points up on Djokovic at the start of the deciding set, the Serb dug deep and clawed back to register a vital hold and from there, Nishikori’s resolve left him as Djokovic raced through the set, leaving the final blow for Nishikori to deliver himself, with a double-fault on match point.

 

After the match, he believed he had the chances in the final set, despite the apparent one-sidedness of it all

 

Nishikori said: “The first set he played really good, too good for me. But second set I start playing well. He got little bit tight. I took some risk. Everything worked well in the second. I was playing well. Even first couple points in third set, I thought I had it. I think I start thinking too much about he’s No. 1 player, Novak. I think I risked too much. I think I did too many unforced errors first couple games. Then he start playing better.”

 

He continued: “You know, it’s very disappointing because I think if I little bit change I could be I think little more closer in the third set. But it was good one week.”

 

It has been an outstanding run for the Japanese player who has made history this year, reaching a Grand Slam final, reaching the highest rank for an Asian player and now reaching the World Tour finals for the first time, and making the semi-finals on his debut.

 

But it has been a long season and has been beset with injuries – so his plans for the new season have to take into account the pressure it will take to stay at the top of the game.

 

He explained: “Maybe mentally little bit tired because I had to fight couple tight moment, especially in Paris. I had to win couple matches to get in here. US Open was first experience to go final and play seven matches, five sets. But I think physically I show that I could, you know, play seven matches, play two times five sets. I think physically I’m getting strong.

 

“I think it’s going to be very important I do well this December, a lot of train, good practice, try to prepare for next year.”

 

It was a strangely subdued Djokovic who faced the press, cryptically refusing to answer why he opted to sign the camera with just a full-stop instead of his usual message, and why he reacted to the crowd cheering the double-fault break-point.

 

“Honestly, today I found it a little bit difficult mentally to stay concentrated throughout the whole match. After emotional three matches I had, especially yesterday when I achieved the goal to finish as No. 1 of the world, knowing that, I felt a little bit, I would say, flat emotionally today. I needed a little bit more time to kind of give myself a boost.

 

“I was fortunate because in the beginning of the third set, he had breakpoints. If he broke me, the match could have gone either way. I managed to find that little bit of strength and get a win today. “

 

There is a real sense that the end of the season cannot com quick enough, especially for the World No. 1 who was also low key in his press conference yesterday after reclaiming the World No. 1 spot.

 

“Tomorrow is the last match of the season. Of course, it’s one of the biggest tournaments in the world, aside of the Grand Slams. This is already the biggest possible motivation. I will try to give everything I have.”

 

Djokovic will face either Roger Federer or Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s final.

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Wawrinka pushed after early qualification

Stan Wawrinka

Stan Wawrinka

Chalkdust Chronicles: Wawrinka pushed after early qualification

 

(November 14, 2014) LONDON – Stan Wawrinka qualified for the finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, but then had to battle past Marin Cilic in three sets.

 

For many it was maybe a foregone conclusion that there would be an all-Swiss semi-final as Roger Federer qualified at the top of his group on Thursday. But the US Open champion also had an agenda to try and finish his season strongly, as he leveled the match and even kept the momentum at the start of the second going up a break.

 

Maybe Wawrinka’s experience shone through, as he fought back to reclaim the deficit before going on to seal the victory 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. Cilic, who had not really shown the style and consistency he proved he was capable of can feel happier with a win on his debut in London.

 

“I was eager to play better. That’s what I was focused on, to finish the season with a good matches, a good match. So it happened like that. So happy with my performance today.”

 

More importantly, it sets up Cilic for the forthcoming season, now just a few weeks away.

 

“To finish the year over here, it’s I think extremely important for me for next year, too. I am extremely satisfied, of course, where my game has developed. I feel that for next year it’s going to be also a bit easier considering the draws I’m going to be getting with the status of being seeded.”

 

Wawrinka faces an uphill task when he faces Federer on Saturday. He has beaten his Davis Cup team-mate just twice, both times on clay in Monte Carlo. Although he has more recently taken Federer to three sets on hard courts, playing him indoors is another matter entirely.

 

“It’s going to be a tough match for me, for sure. But I will have to play my best game if I have a chance to beat him. I know I can do it. I know it’s going to be very difficult.

 

“I have seen him play the first three match. It’s always the same. Indoor, if you don’t stay with him at the beginning, then it start to be really tough. He goes quick, putting so much pressure, serving well. The beginning of the match will be really important for me.”

 

Federer and Wawrinka will play in the night session on Saturday, as the crowds hope that the tournament is about to really catch light.

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Djokovic delivers killer blow to clinch the year-end No. 1 ranking

DjokovicYENo120142

Chalkdust Chronicles: Djokovic delivers killer blow to clinch the year-end No. 1

 

(November 14, 2014) LONDON – Novak Djokovic dispatched Tomas Berdych in short order 6-2, 6-2 to regain with year-end No. 1 spot on Friday, as he went 3-0 in the round-robin stage of the Barclays ATP World Tour Final.

 

Although Berdych has the slimmest of chances (Wawrinka has to only win three games to advance) but in a week where the scores have been bizarrely low to say the lest, Berdych seems intent on packing, answering a definitive “no” when asked if there was still a possibility he could win.

 

Djokovic was in devastating form right from the start of the match, breaking immediately to race out to a 3-0 lead in both sets. It was all that Berdych could do to get more than one game on the board, as Djokovic sealed his place in the semi-finals with the first set, before clinching the year-end No. 1 spot with his win, as well as finishing on top of the group.

 

Berdych, who was straight into press, praised Djokovic’s achievement.

 

“Well, definitely he deserves to win. There was no question about it. He just secure his spot for the No. 1 player in the world. I think it just show how great he is, how well he played during the whole season.”

 

He continued: “I find the court very tricky, very challenging. It doesn’t allow you for any mistakes. In my word, I think it’s very slow. You know, for us who wants to hit the serve and try to play aggressive, it’s very difficult. So that’s why we kind of struggle with that.”

 

For someone who had just regained the No. 1 spot, Djokovic was in contemplative move, with a job still to do as he bids for his fourth season-ending title.

 

He said; “It’s difficult to say what is more important. But both these goals are always my goals in the beginning of the season. So I’m glad I managed to achieve both. To win a Grand Slam in one season and be No. 1.”

 

Djokovic will face Kei Nishikori who qualified out of Group B in second place, and although they split their head to head, Djokovic lost to him in the US Open semi-final, before beating him handily in Paris.

 

He surmised: “It’s obvious that he’s experiencing the best season of his life. He’s top 5 of the world. He’s playing some great tennis. He’s one of the quickest players around. Deservedly he’s in semifinals only on his debut.”

 

Djokovic added: “I expect a tougher match than it was in Paris, that’s for sure. But, again, the conditions indoor and outdoor, where I lost to him in US Open, are quite different. I’m feeling pretty confident playing now, as well as he. So it’s going to be a good, high‑class tennis.”

Djokovic and Nishikori will play in the day session on Saturday.

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James Blake Hosts Foundation Event at Brooks Brothers; Discusses His Own Tennis Future

James Blake and Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio Del Vecchio

James Blake and Brooks Brothers CEO Claudio Del Vecchio

(November 13, 2014) NEW YORK, NY – Former top American tennis player and world No. 4 James Blake played host to a kick-off “Serving for a Cure” shopping event at the Brooks Brothers flagship store on Madison Avenue in New York City on Thursday night to benefit his foundation.

Blake’s foundation raises funds for the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, specifically the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Research Fund, which supports early detection cancer research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center.

Blake began “Serving for a Cure” in 2005 a year after he lost his father Thomas to cancer. The fund is named after his father.

Blake talked about the beginning of his foundation: “I wanted to do something one time as a memorial for him, and it turned out that the support I had that first year made me feel that I couldn’t stop at one. It’s been going strong ever since and now it feels like it’s never going to stop which is a really good thing and I’m proud of it. We passed the million dollar donation mark to Memorial Sloane Kettering.

“My father unfortunately was detected so late, but once he was a patient at Memorial Sloan-Kettering, he said it was like night and day. The treatment there was great, the research was unbelievable. They tried everything they could and we just want to give everyone a fighting chance. That’s why our research for early detection, we want give people a chance to beat the disease.”

In addition to his own philanthropic endeavors, the current Westport, Connecticut resident, commented on how dedicated players on the ATP Tour are to charity.

James Blake

“It’s kind of like the spirit of community,” said Blake. “We’re all in the same locker room together. We’re all not really part of the same team, like in team sports but it feels like it. We see what the others are doing and we see the example set at the top especially. Some of the older guys when I was growing up. -I saw (Andre) Agassi, I saw (Pete) Sampras, a lot of guys who were doing right by the rest of the world. It made me think that I’d want to do the same.

“Once something so personal hit my family, it made me realize I can make a difference in a positive way, because most of our lives as a tennis player are selfish. We’re playing tennis and doing it for ourselves.”

“I hope the young guys – the Sam Querrey’s , the John Isner’s, the Jack Sock’s, the Donald Young’s, they want to make difference too whatever way they can,” Blake continued.

Since Blake’s retirement from the tennis tour in 2013, he still is active in tennis in one form or another.

“Well I helped Jack sock a little bit,” he said. “I also have stayed close with the USTA and with Katrina Adams becoming the new president. I’m proud of her and hopefully I’ll be able to be part of the staff soon if that comes to be we’ll see. But right now I’m mainly focusing on my family, being at home and spending a lot of time with two little girls, that definitely keeps me pretty busy.”

Blake admitted that he likes coaching but there are some drawbacks.

“I like it but I don’t like to travel, I don’t like being on the road 30 weeks out of the year like I was when I was playing,” he said.

“So in terms of Jack (Sock) I just helped him with some of the bigger picture stuff- to be able to talk to him on the phone and helping keep his mind set the right way, because he’s got a full time coach, I don’t want to interfere with that, I’m not dealing with the X’s and O’s, strokes and stuff. I’m more of a mentor and a friend, someone that’s going to be a sounding board for him.

“He’s going through a lot of stuff I was going through at his age, so I just want to be that resource that can help him. If I can do that for others, that would be something in the future that I’d be proud to be a part of. I went through it all and hopefully have others have that knowledge as well.”

Blake who was a member of the 2007 Davis Cup championship team told Tennis Panorama News that down the line he’d like to be the U. S. Davis Cup Captain. “I thought about it the first time I played Davis Cup,” he said. “I would love to have that opportunity and it’s something that’s such an honor. Jim’s (Courier) doing a great job. I know it won’t be for a long time to get a chance because I know Jim’s got a pretty good handle on it. There would be no reason to make a change anytime soon. Hopefully I have plenty more years to have that opportunity and if it ever comes my way, I won’t pass it up, that’s for sure.”

Blake had the opportunity to be in the broadcast booth for Tennis Channel as an analyst in February 2013 when the U. S. played a first round Davis Cup tie against Brazil in Jacksonville, Florida.

“I thought it was going to be much more natural than it was,” said of the transition to working on television.

“I worked with Brett Haber, who is a true professional ad he really helped me. I got better through the weekend.”

“The biggest thing was when to talk and when not to talk, because I felt like I needed to say more and he said it was ok to let the tennis do the talking, that actually made it easy for me to get better and just let the players do the talking on the court. I was getting better. It still feels there is a lot more work for me to get to anyone’s level like Bret Haber, John McEnroe and the people who have been doing it for years, but it’s something that’s fun and I think it helps me that I played again most of the guys I’m commentating on, so I don’t need to do as much work on the scouting reports I’ve already done that.”

 

Blake entertains doing more television work in the future. “It’s something that was fun the first few times I did it. I think it would be great to stay close to the sport. It may give me an opportunity to stay involved as it gets closer to a time if I have the opportunity to be Davis cup captain butt it is a good way to stay involved. It may be tough for me to stay objective. I maybe have a few favorites especially with the Americans. I like to see them doing well but I have to do my best to stay objective, just commentate on the facts.”

 

Brooks Brothers is a new sponsor for “Serving for a Cure.” “I’m really happy to be affiliated with a company with such a great tradition as Brooks Brothers. You see them at a lot of classic events, I know tennis and golf are known for that kind of classic feel and Brooks Brothers really brings that to the table.”

“When we met with James we were quite impressed with all that he’s accomplished,” said Claudio Del Vecchio, Chairman & CEO of Brooks Brothers. “It’s the same passion and dedication he shows on court that he brings to a cause that is so near to his heart.  Together we are helping to make a difference in the fight against cancer.”
Click here for more information on the James Blake Foundation.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News

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Federer and Nishikori reign supreme in Group B at ATP World Tour Finals

Roger Federer photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Roger Federer photo by Christopher Levy @tennis_shots

Chalkdust Chronicles: Federer and Nishikori reign supreme in Group B at ATP World Tour Finals

(November 13, 2014) LONDON – Roger Federer and Kei Nishikori qualified from Group B to advance to the knockout stages of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

 

The Japanese player had to wait for his confirmation, but his win over alternate David Ferrer pushed Federer into the semi-finals. Nishikori was scheduled to face Milos Raonic, who was 0-2 already in the competition, but despite practicing earlier, he pulled out with a quad injury a couple of hours before the match was due to start.

The Canadian explained: “It was just something I sustained during my last match. Through extensive sort of research with the doctor’s team here, we found that I have a slight tear on the vastus medialis on my quad.”

 

On medical advice he was told that taking to the court could mean putting himself out of action for a considerable amount of time.

 

“Losing six to eight weeks of solely rehab sort of means you lose 12 weeks of getting back into shape and everything, those are definitely significant factors in my decision. At some points I didn’t want to accept it and listen to it. But it is what it is. I, alongside my team, all the staff with the ATP, made the best decision I believe.”

 

So it was left to David Ferrer to step in with the scenarios changing, and for the first time the crowd were treated to a three-set match as the Spaniard took advantage of a lapse in Nishikori’s level to edge the first set, but an early break at the start of the second sent the momentum back Nishikori’s way, as he ran away with it in the third set claiming th amtch 4-6, 6-4, 6-1.

 

“It’s never easy playing against David because he’s very consistent from the baseline,” said Nishikori. “If I want to win, I have to do something to break his tennis. From the second set, I was more aggressive. The final set was almost perfect.”

The final match alas did not live up to its promise, as Roger Federer blasted Andy Murray off the court 6-0, 6-1. After holding his first game, Federer went on a tear to win 10 games in a row before the battered Brit finally got a game on the board, only for Federer to wrap up the set in less than an hour.

 

After the match Federer said: “I think if there’s a slight difference of the level from the baseline, hard to get out of it. We’ve seen it all week. The serve doesn’t have that much impact. I didn’t even necessarily serve so well. But you got to play the right way here, use the court to your advantage as much as you can.

 

He continued: “But I had the upper hand from the baseline, which hasn’t always happened against him. But I definitely was able to play on my terms. For me, things went very well. I was able to put Andy under pressure very often, and I think the match couldn’t have gone any better for me really.”

 

 

Coming straight into his post-match news conference Murray admitted: “He played exceptionally well. I can say I’m disappointed with my level tonight. But if I played well, he probably still would have won anyway. He was striking the ball very, very clean. Made very few mistakes. Was hitting the ball off the middle of the racquet on serve, returns.”

 

Murray is on best-man duty for best friend Ross Hutchins next week and has just 14 days before the start of the International Premier Tennis League, where he will be playing in a series of exhibition events, before playing in the Mubadala World Tennis Championships and the Hopman Cup ahead of the start of the season.

 

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

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