2014/10/23

“Lucky” Federer Wins Shanghai Masters for Fourth Title of the Year

Federer wins with arms raised

(October 12, 2014) Roger Federer defeated Gilles Simon 7-6 (6), 7-6 (2) to capture his first Shanghai Masters title on Sunday, his fourth tournament win of the season, 81st of his career.

Down five match points in his opening match against Leonardo Mayer just four days ago, who would have thought that Roger Federer would be the champion of the Shanghai Masters.

“I got very, very lucky,” Federer said after the match. “I know what a privilege it is to be here today.”

Federer had his serve broken to begin the match, but brought the match back on serve breaking his French opponent as Simon was serving for the first set at 5-4.

Simon had a set point in the first set tiebreak, which the Swiss fought off with an unreturnable serve.

Forward to the tightly contested second set where Simon had set points on Federer as the 17-time major champion was serving at 5-6 in which he could not take advantage. Federer dominated the tiebreak 7-2 to close the match.

Federer leads the men’s tour this year in match wins with 61, top ten wins with 13 and final appearances with 9.

“It makes me very happy winning here because this tournament means a lot to me,” Federer said. “I’ve always enjoyed coming here. I’ve come close a couple of times, but I’ve always wanted to win it as a Masters 1000.

“I feel unbelievable prestige to win this event. Especially putting my hands on the trophy for the first time is a good feeling, I must say. I’m very happy with the way I’m playing. Overall I’m just extremely happy right now.”

Playing a more aggressive game, Federer won 24 of 35 points at net.

“He still has the same strengths, this fantastic serve and this huge forehand,” Simon said. “He’s always showing you that he is ready to be really aggressive on every shot. So he keeps you under pressure.”

Federer will move past Rafael Nadal into the No. 2 spot in the rankings on Monday. Nadal who lost in Shanghai in his opening round match against Feliciano Lopes, is dealing with appendicitis.

Simon, currently No. 29, will move up to No. 19 in the world.

The Bryan Brothers, who won the doubles title, became the first pair to clinch a career golden Masters – winning all of the Masters Series events at least once. For Bob and Mike it was their 101st career title as a team.

“It’s another great milestone,” said Bob Bryan. “This week was full of them for us. To come and get in the title match, have a shot at winning the tournament that’s eluded us, complete the Golden Masters, is amazing.”

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Riske Wins Tianjin for First WTA Title

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

Alison Riske photo by Steve Fogleman

(October 12, 2014) Sixth seeded Alison Riske defeated third seed Belinda Bencic 6-3, 6-4 in the final of the Tianjin Open on Sunday for her first WTA Tour title.

“It’s a huge accomplishment for me to win my first WTA title, and I was here by myself, which made it even more special, just to know that I was able to do it by myself,” said the American Riske. “I hope I can keep up the momentum and try to compete every week as best as I can. Obviously there was a little momentum change in the second set. But that was because Belinda upped her level at that point. She’s been playing so well this year and has a really bright future ahead of her. I knew coming into the match that it would be a battle and it really was.”
Benic, the 17-year-old Swiss, playing in her first final, was trying to become the youngest woman to win a tournament since 15-year-old Tamira Paszek won the Portoroz title in 2006.

 

Riske is now the fifth American to win a WTA title in 2014, joining  Serena Williams  Venus Williams, Madison Keys and Coco Vandeweghe.

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Stosur Wins Third Japan Open Title

(October 12, 2014) Defending champion Sam Stosur won her third Japan Women’s Open title on Sunday, pushing back Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan 7-6 (9-7), 6-3.

“Zarina played very good match today,” said the 30-year-old Australian Stosur who saved two set points in the first set. “She managed to put me under a lot of pressure and returned serve really well. She gets to a lot of balls and can put you under pressure. You have to be out there and try to attack.”

“It was my first final so I am happy with how I played, said the 20-year-old. “She served very well and it was tough, especially on those set points. But this was a great experience for me.”

“Trying to serve out a set in a final, I don’t know if maybe she was a little nervous but I tried to play a little bit more aggressive or put a bit more on my shots to make her come up with something else, Stosur said.”

It’s Stosur’s sixth career title and half of them have come in Osaka.

Sam Stosur

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Federer Ends Djokovic’s 28-Match Win Streak in China to Reach Shanghai Final

Federer fist pump 2

(October 11, 2014) Roger Federer upset top player Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-4 in the semis of the Shanghai Masters on Saturday to reach the final Federer’s win halts Djokovic’s 28-match win streak in China. Regardless of the outcome of the final between the Swiss and the Frenchman Gilles Simon, who defeated Feliciano Lopez 6-2, 7-6(1),  Federer will move to No. 2 in in the rankings on Monday.

Federer played an aggressive serve-and-volley game against the Serb hitting 35 winners, winning 20 of 35 points at net.

“If you come to net, you have to be agile and explosive,” Federer said in press.

“I had it all today. I’m very happy that I’m feeling so good every single day.”

“He played a perfect match,” Djokovic said. “Definitely one of the best matches he has played against me, that’s for sure.”

“He’s playing as good as ever.”

Federer will be trying to capture his 23rd Masters 1000 events leads 4-2 head-to-head against Simon.

“I’m not going to come into the match and play terrible,” said Federer after his semifinal win. “It just won’t happen – not in the finals, not against Simon. That’s the confidence I have right now.”

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Djokovic and Sharapova Win China Open Titles

Novak Djokovic

(October 5, 2014) Novak Djokovic won his 24th straight match in Bejing to caoture his 5th china Open on Sunday, dismantling Tomas Berdych 6-0, 6-2 in the final.

The Serb was a point away from a “double bagel,” 6-0, 6-0 win over the Czech, who fought off match point and broke Djokovic’s serve.

“This has been, in the circumstances, probably the best performance of any final in my career,” said the world No. 1 who captured his 5th tournament win of the year, 46th in his career. “It was incredible. Incredible. Especially against Tomas, who has a big game and is already an experienced player. It was 6-0, 5-0 in under an hour. Everything I tried worked. To be proud of the performance is the least I can say of how I played tonight.

“I have played some great finals, had some convincing wins, some straight-set wins against top rivals. But with this kind of performance and with this domination result-wise, I mean it’s never happened.”

Berdych was in stunned disbelief: “I met somebody in the final who I’ve never seen before. The way that he performed today was really outstanding. There is really not much I can add to that because, really, I was just swept off the court.

“I just said to my coach now that I probably played over 700 matches in my career, and I met guys like Andre (Agassi), Roger (Federer), all those probably in their best times. But I have never, ever experienced anything like that.”

 

Sharapova

On the women’s side, in a re-match of the 2011 Wimbledon final, Maria Sharapova moved into the No. 2 spot in the rankings when she beat Petra Kvitova 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 to win the China Open.

At this time last year the Russian was off the tour with a shoulder injury.

“It’s definitely great to be a year later in a situation where this is my fourth title of the year, you know, a Grand Slam this year,” she said. “A lot to put in perspective. You look back and think about how you kind of struggled, but you kept going.”

“I knew she’d been on a roll in the last couple of weeks,” Sharapova said. “It’s probably the toughest opponent you can face in a final, that’s had that success, yet you just want to focus on your side, what you do best.

“She became the more aggressive player in the second set. I think I took a few too many steps back and let her play that way. But I was able to lift my game again in the third and come out with a win.”
“Yeah, I was tired,” said the Czech Kvitova bidding to win tournaments in two straight weeks, playing 9 matches in 13 days. “But it was a final, and every time I’m playing a final, I’m giving everything I have inside. What I did today was a great battle. It was small things and small points that made the difference in the end. I had some chances, but Maria just didn’t let them go.”

For Sharapova it was her fourth title of the season, tying her with Ana Ivanovic for second on the year behind No. 1 Serena Williams who has six titles.

The China Open was Sharapova’s 33rd career title, putting her in a tie for 15th place in the Open Era with Conchita Martinez.

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Kei Nishikori Wins Japan Open Crown

Kei Nishikori withdrawal

(October 5, 2014) Japan’s top player, fourth seed Kei Nishikori won his second Japan Open title on Sunday in Tokyo, taking out the third seed, Canadian Milos Raonic 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-4.

For Nishkori, it’s his fourth ATP World Tour title of the year and second in two week. He won last week in Kuala Lumput. for Raonic, it’s his third straight loss in the final of Tokyo.

Nishikori is fifth in the ATP Race to London with five berths up for grabs to compete in the ATP World Tour Finals.

 

“I hope to get to London,” Nishikori said. “I am getting close, but there are two more Masters 1000s and 500s left. These next few weeks will be really important for me.”

“He was serving really well, with a lot of aces. Luckily, I got the first tie-break and that helped my motivation for the match. If I had lost the tie-break, I might have screwed up the whole match. He started aggressively and I think it was one of my toughest games against Milos. I am really happy to win. He had a lot of chances in the third set; he almost broke my serve a couple of times.

“It’s the first time I have won a title two weeks in a row. After the US Open, it was hard to maintain my motivation. I had to stay strong and focused, especially this week when I wasn’t feeling 100 per cent.”

“It is disappointing to lose in my third straight [Tokyo] final,” Raonis said. “To be honest with you, other than the first year [2012] I felt I created my opportunities. Against Kei, he just played better when it came down to the third set [in 2012]. I have felt I have always been in the thick of things the past two years, so I would say two years ago was more disappointing.

“It was a great match. We both played a high level of tennis. At the beginning, the match was passing by really quick, but in the second and third set it was really good. He has been playing with a lot of confidence, he went for his shots and it paid off.”

The 24 year-old, who was US Open finalist, has a 49-10 record on the year.

 

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Nadal Upset by Qualifier Klizan at China Open

Nadal

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

For Klizan, it was the win of his career.

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Serena Williams Pulls Out of China Open with Left Knee Injury, Puts Singapore Participation in Doubt

Serena Williams

(October 3, 2014) BEIJING, CHINA - Serena Williams has pulled out of her quarterfinal match against Sam Stosur at the China Open Friday, with a left knee injury.

 

Williams said she started to feel the pain in her knee this week and almost didn’t take the court Thursday, in her match against Lucie Safarova.  She had her left knee taped but eventually won in three sets, 6-1, 1-6, 6-2.  “Well, it throbs just sitting, standing,” according to Williams.  “I felt it mostly serving because I’m landing on my left knee.  That was really killer for me.”  She feels she probably made it worse playing on but is still to have her knee checked.

 

Williams now plans to go to Europe to see her doctor and have all the tests done there.  Asked whether her participation at the season-ending BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore is in doubt, Serena replied, “I can’t answer that.  If I feel this way for Singapore, I don’t think it’s smart for me to play.  Other than that, I’m just going to see how it goes.”

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

Photos by Natalie Ho.

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Nadal Criticizes Balls in Beijing

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Is not ATP Tour world‑class ball.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

All photos by Natalie Ho.

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The Solidly Mercurial Halep

By Abigail Hinto

 

(October 2, 2014) BEIJING, CHINA – For sports, where it’s about definitive results, where a win is a win, we do manage to talk a lot about beauty.  And tennis is no exception.  Simona Halep, with her fluid strokes plays a more aesthetically pleasing game compared to her opponent Thursday, Andrea Petkovic who has more mechanical looking strokes.  But was it Halep’s beautiful game that beat Petkovic?

 

Halep has steadily risen in the rankings since last year with consistent results week in week out, winning several tournaments along the way and getting deep into grand slams.  To reach the top of the rankings in tennis, where Halep is now as the No. 2 ranked player in the world, playing well consistently is the name of the game.

 

However, Halep’s match against Petkovic was the opposite of consistent.  One game Halep was playing flawlessly, dictating points and hitting winners all over the court, the next game, out of nowhere, she could no longer find the court with any of her strokes.  Flawless game to break, error-strewn game to get broken back.  Meanwhile, Petkovic with her mechanical, steady groundstrokes was the more consistent of the two throughout the match.  Unfortunately for Petkovic, it was in the two crucial tiebreaks where her game fell apart while Halep managed to steady herself to eventually win 7-6 (4), 5-7, 7-6 (1).

 

So how does one reconcile Halep’s erratic game with her consistent results?  The beauty of tennis is the presence of important points.  Those pressure situations where as is often the case, the best comes out on top.   And that’s what both Halep and Petkovic showed in this match.  The better player, the player who ended up winning, was the one who played the two tiebreakers solidly.  And in the end, the mercurial Halep managed to reign in her game in time, in those two pressure situations, to get the win.  Something she has been doing consistently for over a year now.

Unfortunately for both players, Halep has pulled out of the China Open with a hip injury.  Her next opponent, Ana Ivanovic moves on to the semifinals.

“It was a tough match against Andrea today, and I had to fight a lot,” Halep said in a statement. “I’m happy I was able to win and finish the match in the right way, but I have a hip injury and it would be risky for me to play again tomorrow.”

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

Photos by Natalie Ho.

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