2014/10/20

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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Petra Kvitova win sets up Third Round Clash with Venus Williams in Beijing

 

By Abigail Hinto

(October 1, 2014) BEIJING, CHINA – A confident and in-form Petra Kvitova raced to an easy 6-4, 6-2 victory on Wednesday at the China Open over China’s new No. 1 player Peng Shuai.

 

Following her title run in Wuhan the last week, the third seed Kvitova acknowledges she’s more confident now after suffering an early loss at the US Open.  Working hard following that US Open defeat and knowing she has to fight for her spot at the season-ending Singapore event Kvitova is back to playing the type of tennis that brought her a second Wimbledon title.  “I feel well on the court.  I know that I can play good tennis because of last week, [in] Wuhan.  I think my confidence is a little bit higher than after US Open,” acknowledged Kvitova.  And now that she has secured her spot, she’s feeling more relaxed on court.

 

And a relaxed and confident Kvitova is trouble for everyone.  How will Venus Williams, Kvitova’s next opponent, who has also been playing well this season, handle Kvitova this time around?  Admittedly one of the best matches of the year was their third round clash at Wimbledon where Kvitova was two points away from losing the match. She went on to win the match and her second Wimbledon title.

Will we see a repeat of that match in another third round meeting here at the China Open?  It’s always been a tight battle between these two players who seemingly match up well against each other.  “I’m looking forward to it,” says Kvitova.  “I think that she’s serving still very well.  She’s moving well, as well.  She’s playing fast.  We’ll see.”

 

“I think that every match what we played with Venus was really great fight until the end. I played her in Doha, 7‑6 in the third. Wimbledon 7‑5 in the third. It’s always great. I’m looking forward for it.”

 

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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Li Na’s Retirement Ceremony in Around the Grounds Beijing Photo Gallery

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING – Photos by Natalie Ho from around the grounds to the main interview room on Tuesday of the China Open including Li Na’s retirement ceremony.

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

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Final Push to London Starts in Asia

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

By Abigail Hinto

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING, CHINA – It’s a tight race to the season-ending World Tour Finals in London with 3 more slots remaining (Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic are almost guaranteed in as grand slam champions and are 4th and 5th in the race respectively) and 6 players with a little over 500 race points separating No. 6 Kei Nishikori to No. 11 Grigor Dimotrov.  This week, with Tokyo and Beijing offering 500 points to the winner, could boost a player’s chances of qualifying to the prestigious season-ending event.  And here at the China Open, three of those players are fighting for their spot.

 

Monday night, Dimitrov started his campaign to qualify for the first time to the World Tour Finals with a 3-set victory over Fernando Verdasco.  He faces Pablo Andujar next, a good draw for him in a very loaded field.

 

Tuesday afternoon, Tomas Berdych took his step to once again be part of the 8-player field in London with a comfortable 6-1, 6-2 win over Feliciano Lopez.  Berdych only needed to be solid and steady against a poorly playing Lopez.  Lopez especially had trouble with his serve throwing in double faults in all service games that he was broken.  Twice he double faulted in games when he was down break point.  Berdych has not been playing well in a while, so a solid win plus a win in doubles too, could help him recover his form from earlier in the season when he reached the semis of the Australian Open and won his ninth title in Rotterdam.

 

Another player finding his form is Andy Murray.  He started his Asian swing a week earlier than the other two winning the inaugural title at the Shenzhen Open, his first after his back surgery, where he managed to get through some tough matches.  Murray would like to continue his winning ways to qualify for the 7th straight year for the World Tour Finals held in his home country.  He eked out another tough match Tuesday night against Jerzy Janowicz winning in 3 sets 6-7(9), 6-4, 6-2 in 2 hours and 28 minutes.

 

So who out of these three will make it to London?

 

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who already has qualified for the year-end championship, demolished Guillermo García-López 6-2, 6-1 in his opening match.

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

 

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Rafael Nadal Returns with a Win in Beijing

 

By Abigail Hinto

(September 30, 2014) BEIJING – What rust?  Rafael Nadal didn’t show any rust in his first singles match back to the competition after being sidelined with a right wrist injury for three months.  In a comfortable 6-4, 6-0 win over Richard Gasquet.

Nadal was playing aggressively off both his forehand and backhand, hitting winners all over the court.  Once Gasquet was pushed off the court with Nadal dictating play, and there was nothing more the Frenchman could do to get back in to the point.  His only other option was to be as aggressive as Nadal, which he managed to do well in the first set earning him a couple of break points but which unfortunately for him, he was unable to convert especially in the crucial tenth game as Nadal saved the break point with an ace while serving for the set.

 

The second set saw Gasquet’s frustration boil over as he started making more errors with overly aggressive play while Nadal was as steady as rock both offensively and defensively.

 

There were no signs of the wrist injury from Nadal, “the wrist is much, much better,” according to Nadal.  “Is almost recovered hundred percent.  I cannot say ‘hundred percent’ because when you have some feelings on it when you warm up at the beginning, it’s not hundred percent.  But let’s say 90 something percent.  The most important thing is the wrist is not limiting me to play my tennis, to hit the normal backhand.”

 

Overall, Rafael Nadal is happy to be back on court playing again.  “I have to be happy the way that I played, no?  Three months without a match, winning against a player who is a good player like Richard, is a very positive comeback for me.”

 

“More important than win, lose, is spend time on court.  And winning, I have another chance to play another match after tomorrow, no?”

 

“That’s the key for me today:  spend time on court, play matches.  At least I going to play two matches minimum here.  That’s a positive thing.  I’m going to try my best to play three.”

 

Next up for Nadal is Peter Gojowczyk who took him to three sets earlier this year in Doha in their only meeting so far.

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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Marin Cilic is Still Getting Used to being a Grand Slam Champion

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

(September 29, 2014) US Open champion Marin Cilic of Croatia opened his quest for the China open in Beijing on Monday with a struggled with a 6-3, 6-4 win over Chinese wild card, world No. 462 Bai Yan.

Cilic who is three weeks removed form capturing his first major title said that he still getting used to being a Grand Slam winner.

“Most of the guys at the top are dealing with that already for few years,” he said. “It’s a bit new thing for me, so I’m learning day to day.

“It’s going to be a process for me, for sure, on all the tournaments to keep my level of the game at the high point where I want it to be.

“I have been dealing little bit with this in the past. I learned couple of lessons. Most important for myself is also not to put too many expectations on my own shoulders from my own side, not to ask too much out of myself. That can be dangerous in a process if things are not working the best I want them to.

“I know it’s always difficult to start tournaments. You know, players are always looking at you much more. I think it’s important for me to keep focusing on improvement of my game and try to, of course, recreate the game I was playing in the US Open.”

Cilic who turned 26 on Sunday and celebrated with four birthday cakes, spoke about returning home to Croatia after Davis Cup weekend, his first trip back since winning Flushing Meadow.

“In Croatia it was extremely special. When I came back after Davis Cup, the country, everybody was very, very happy. You could see whoever I met, they were really happy for me and also proud because Croatia is really small country. In the tennis world, everybody knows everybody. Especially now they follow me already since the beginning of my career. So everybody was just excited about this success.

When I was in my hometown, it was just amazing memory. Huge amount of people. It was, I don’t know, 30,000, 40,000 people on a square. Just was very special.”

China Open Results for ATP
Singles – First Round
[4] M Cilic (CRO) d [WC] Y Bai (CHN) 63 64
[5] G Dimitrov (BUL) d F Verdasco (ESP) 61 36 63
V Pospisil (CAN) d L Rosol (CZE) 64 63
J Sousa (POR) d [Q] T Gabashvili (RUS) 16 76(4) 64
[WC] V Troicki (SRB) d M Youzhny (RUS) 63 64

Doubles – First Round
F Fognini (ITA) / L Mayer (ARG) d [1] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) 36 63 10-6
T Berdych (CZE) / J Isner (USA) d P Andujar (ESP) / R Nadal (ESP) 75 46 10-4

SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 30 SEPTEMBER 2014

NATIONAL TENNIS STADIUM start 12:30
WTA – E Svitolina (UKR) vs [4] M Sharapova (RUS)

Not Before 2:30 pm
ATP – [1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs G Garcia-Lopez (ESP)
ATP – R Gasquet (FRA) vs [2] R Nadal (ESP)

Not Before 7:45 pm
WTA – [1] S Williams (USA) vs [Q] T Pironkova (BUL)

Not Before 9:00 pm
ATP – [7] E Gulbis (LAT) vs F Fognini (ITA)

LOTUS COURT start 12:30
ATP – [WC] F Lopez (ESP) vs [3] T Berdych (CZE)

Not Before 2:30 pm
WTA – [WC] L Zhu (CHN) vs [2] S Halep (ROU)
WTA – C Garcia (FRA) vs [16] V Williams (USA)

Not Before 6:30 pm
ATP – J Janowicz (POL) vs [6] [WC] A Murray (GBR)

MOON COURT start 12:30
WTA – R Vinci (ITA) vs [5] A Radwanska (POL)
WTA – C Chuang (TPE) / O Govortsova (BLR) vs [5] A Hlavackova (CZE) / S Peng (CHN)
WTA – [8] E Bouchard (CAN) vs S Lisicki (GER)
WTA – R Oprandi (SUI) vs [9] A Ivanovic (SRB)

BRAD DREWETT COURT start 12:30
WTA – K Mladenovic (FRA) / A Pavlyuchenkova (RUS) vs Y Xu (CHN) / J Zheng (CHN)
ATP – [8] J Isner (USA) vs S Giraldo (COL)
ATP – T Robredo (ESP) vs A Seppi (ITA)
ATP – [Q] M Klizan (SVK) vs L Mayer (ARG)

COURT 3 start 12:30
WTA – [15] A Petkovic (GER) vs M Keys (USA)
WTA – [7] A Kerber (GER) vs Z Diyas (KAZ)
WTA – [14] F Pennetta (ITA) vs C Suárez Navarro (ESP)

COURT 4 start 12:30
WTA – [3] K Peschke (CZE) / K Srebotnik (SLO) vs J Gajdosova (AUS) / A Tomljanovic (CRO)
WTA – S Kuznetsova (RUS) vs K Nara (JPN)
ATP-After suitable rest – F Lopez (ESP) / M Mirnyi (BLR) vs L Kubot (POL) / R Lindstedt (SWE)
ATP – J Cabal (COL) / R Farah (COL) vs [2] A Peya (AUT) / B Soares (BRA)

COURT 7 start 12:30
WTA – [12] E Makarova (RUS) vs [Q] P Hercog (SLO)
ATP – [Q] J Brunstrom (SWE) / N Monroe (USA) vs M Cilic (CRO) / S Gonzalez (MEX)
ATP – J Benneteau (FRA) vs P Andujar (ESP)
ATP – [Q] M Kukushkin (KAZ) vs P Cuevas (URU)

COURT 8 start 12:30
ATP – I Karlovic (CRO) vs [Q] P Gojowczyk (GER)

Not Before 2:00 pm
ATP – [3] D Marrero (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) vs J Rojer (NED) / H Tecau (ROU)
WTA – [Q] M Barthel (GER) vs [13] L Safarova (CZE)

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