March 24, 2017

Davis Cup: Home Cookin’ in the Deep South; Sock, Isner Give U.S. 2-0 Lead Over Switzerland In First Round

 

DAVIS CUP: HOME COOKING IN THE DEEP SOUTH

Sock, Isner Give U.S. 2-0 Lead Over Switzerland In First Round

 

By Junior Williams

 

(February 3, 2017) BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – The heavily favored United States team lived up to expectations as Jack Sock and John Isner won their respective singles rubbers against Switzerland, giving the Americans a 2-0 lead in the first round of Davis Cup Cup World Group competition at Legacy Arena at Birmingham-Jefferson Convention Complex.

 

Switzerland is playing this tie without its two top players – world No. 3 Stan Wawrinka and No. 10 Roger Federer who won the Australian Open last week.

 

Isner’s victory over world No. 127 Henri Laaksonen was far from a cakewalk. It took two hours and 44 minutes for the American to win the rubber 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6(1).

 

In the first set, Isner’s powerful service game was blunted by Laaksonen executing solid returns and winning long rallies. Isner saved three break points to knot the set at 4-4, but the Swiss went on to win the set by breaking the world No. 23.

Isner committed 21 unforced errors during the set and backhanded numerous shots into the net.

 

The 31-year old Isner seemed to find his rhythm in the second set after breaking Laaksonen to go up 3-2, helped by a more effective service game — striking seven aces during the set and winning 84-percent of his first serve points. On the flip side, Laaksonen committed three double faults, including one that gave the U.S. a 5-2 advantage. Isner won the next game, closing it out with his 12th ace of the match.

John Isner

The American got off to a fast start in the third set. He broke the Swiss in the first game with a winning forehand passing shot as Laaksonen approached the net. Isner held in the second game, but not before staving off three break points. In this set it was Laaksonen with 21 unforced errors helping Isner cruise through the remainder of the set.

 

The fourth set was a tight affair as both players battled. Isner was visibly frustrated by the 24-year old Laaksonen’s returns and defensive play. But when tiebreak time came around, it was all Isner. After a mini-break on the first point — followed by two service winners — victory came five points later when Laaksonen double faulted. During the on-court post-match interview, Isner admitted to being nervous at times during the match.

 

“I’ll take the film of that first set and just throw it in the fire, delete that one,” Isner said in his post-match news conference. “I think more than anything I was a little bit nervous, and that was affecting my footwork quite a lot. With me being so big and when my footed work is not sharp, it can be ugly. It was in the first set.”

 

Jim stayed on me to stay positive, even though I wasn’t feeling very positive out there. I think that’s actually what tilted the match in my favor a little bit. Certainly could have been cleaner, but Davis Cup you ties throw out rankings and whatnot, it’s tough touch out there in these matches, so I’m happy to get the win.

 

In the first rubber, it took just under two hours for No. 1 American Jack Sock to defeat Marco Chiudinelli — ranked 146 in the world — 6-4, 6-3, 6-1. Things were pretty even until Sock won the first set by breaking Chiudinelli with an overhead lob that was retrieved but hit just wide of the sideline.

 

“There are always few extra nerves I think playing Davis Cup,” Sock said. “When you’re playing for your country, being a part of a team, maybe at a normal event, normal tournament, you come out swinging a little bit more.

“I think I was a little hesitant at the beginning; maybe too conservative playing when obviously my game is to kind of play big and hit big forehands and be aggressive.”

Sock continued to put pressure on the 35-year old Swiss by stepping up his aggressive play, with solid ground strokes and serves with some net play in the mix. For the match, Sock had 29 total winners to Chiudinelli’s eleven. The Nebraska-born 24-year old was never broken in four attempts.

 

The U.S. can clinch the tie by winning Saturday’s doubles match-up — scheduled to be Sam Querrey and Steve Johnson versus Switzerland’s Antoine Bellier and Adrien Bossel. Bellier’s heroics kept the Swiss in the top tier of Davis Cup, courtesy of his 2016 World Group play-off win in the deciding rubber against Uzbekistan back in September.

 

Team USA is not taking anything for granted. They had a 2-0 lead back in July and lost in the quarterfinals to Croatia.

 

Jack Sock

 

“I think as a whole, as a team, like I said, we’re not taking anyone lightly,” Sock noted. “But at the same time, we’re confident in our squad and our four guys in the matchups this weekend.

“We’re going to go one match at time and get one point at time.”

 

A victory would earn the Americans a quarterfinal trip to Australia — a rematch of last year’s first round tie won by the U.S. at Kooyong. Australia clinched their tie against the Czech Republic with a doubles win to give them a 3-0 lead.

 

—–

 

EXTRAS:

 

John Isner notched his 500th Davis Cup ace during the fourth set of his match against Henri Laaksonen.

 

Isner was not aware of this upcoming milestone: “I was wondering, because I heard them say 500. I was wondering what that was. Thank you for clarifying that. I had no idea I was close to that in Davis Cup play.

“You know, I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to play in a lot of singles matches on the Davis Cup team. I guess that’s a pretty cool number to achieve.

“More than anything, I’m just happy I was able to get the win today. I thought the crowd was great, and we’re up 2-0. We’re in a pretty good spot.”

 

“But Davis Cup anything can happen. You see it every year. Every tie almost you see some kind of crazy things happen.”

 

Unusual for a Davis Cup tie in the U.S. to have a serve speed clock deliver results in kilometers per hour instead of miles per hour. Fans in the stands were trying to guess the actual MPH.

 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice, he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the USA home ties. He is in Birmingham, Alabama covering the Davis Cup first round World Group tie between the United States and Switzerland for Tennis Panorama News.

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Sock to Lead Off for USA Against Switzerland in Davis Cup; Courier Reflects on Team USA’s Past and Future

(February 2, 2017) In celebration of Groundhog Day, “Birmingham Bill” of the Birmingham Zoo picked the first match-up of the draw for the U.S. vs. Switzerland Davis Cup World Group First Round tie in Birmingham, Ala. on Thursday.

 

Day one will pit the No. 1 singles of their respective teams versus the No. 2 players on the other team.

American Jack Sock ranked No. 20 in the world will take on Marco Chiudinelli, ranked No. 46, followed by No. 23 John Isner against No. 127-ranked Henri Laaksonen. Sock is 3-2 in Davis Cup Singles play, while his opponent is 6-12. Isner beat Roger Federer when the U.S. shutout Switzerland 5-0 in the cup tie in Fribourg back in 2012.

 

Here is the lineup for the weekend tie:

 

Friday, February 3, 3:00 p.m. Central

Singles A: Jack Sock (USA) vs. Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)

Singles B: John Isner (USA) vs. Henri Laaksonen(SUI)

 

Saturday, February 4, 2:00 p.m. Central

Doubles:

*Sam Querrey/Steve Johnson (USA) vs. Adrien Bossel/Antoine Bellier (SUI)

 

Sunday, February 5, 11:00 a.m., Central

Singles C:Jack Sock (USA) vs. Henri Laaksonen (SUI)

Singles D: John Isner (USA) vs. Marco Chiudinelli (SUI)

 

*Team captains may substitute the doubles team up to one hour before the match.

 

December will mark ten years since the United States won Davis Cup. With the Bryan brothers retiring from Davis Cup play and former star Andy Roddick about to be inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame, the USA Captain reflected about the current team carrying American tennis forward since that group of players won the cup in Portland in 2007.

 

“First of all, we’ve been unbelievably lucky to have a great generation of Davis Cup players in Andy (Roddick) and James (Blake) and Mardy (Fish) and Bob and Mike Bryan that did great things for this country,” Courier said.

 

“They’ve passed that baton now off to these guys. It’s the turn and the privilege of these four players I’m sitting with right now to carry American tennis fans and the American flag for us.

 

“They’re ready for it. These guys are battle-tested, they’re veterans on tour, and they’re ready for this responsibility. It’s a great privilege to go out there and play for the United States. These guys are anxious to do that. They’ve answered the call every time they’ve been asked to play for the U.S. I expect that will continue to be the path.

 

“So it’s an exciting new time for us as a team. There’s no doubt that we’re indebted to the great service of Bob and Mike Bryan. I hope they continue to play great as long as they’re still on tour. We’ll miss them on this team, but I feel confident in the group we have assembled here and their capabilities both in singles and doubles.

 

“We have a lot of options at our disposal now, where you’re a little bit more limited when you go with two doubles players and two singles players from an injury standpoint.

 

“There are pluses and minuses. Fortunately we never got into a position with Bob and Mike where we had an injury issue that impacted us as a team. But we’re looking forward to what this year will bring. 2017, we’re excited to start at home. We need to get off to a good start obviously. We won’t take anything for granted. We’ll be ready to play, as I mentioned. But it’s a new page, a new chapter in the U.S. Davis Cup team. It starts right here, right now.”

 

As to the future of American men’s tennis, Courier sad: “You’re looking at the present and the future of it right here, for starters. The even better news is that we have a cluster of 18, 19 and 20-yearolds that are starting to make their way onto the tour, starting to get through the challengers, move up to tour level.

 

“I was lucky enough to come through a generation that pushed each other. We had a cluster back then. We were able to push each other to great heights.

 

“It can only benefit American tennis if we have this young group here. I know these guys are very proud of their positions that they’ve earned in the sport. They’re not going to let those youngsters come up and take them easily either. That will be fun, I think, to see everyone pushing in the same direction, to try to get a few more names on the sports pages for American tennis. That would be a good thing, for sure.

 

“But there’s a lot of work ahead of those youngsters, too. I’m fortunate enough to get a chance to see a lot of it down in Orlando at the new home of American tennis. A lot of them are training there. Jack has been there, as well, to check it out. We’re in the beginning stages of seeing some nice transition from juniors to professional tennis from a big group of players. That will be very fun to watch.”

 

Team USA holds a  3-1 record against the Swiss in Davis Cup play, with the the two countries’ last meeting in Birmingham, winning 4-1 win for the U.S. in the 2009 World Group First Round at the same venue – Legacy Arena.

 

The winner of this tie moves into the World Group Quarterfinal, April 7-9, and will play either the Czech Republic or Australia. The losing country will compete in the World Group Playoff, Sept. 15-17, to try and stay in the World Group in 2018.

 

Related Articles:

Tennis Channel To Air USA vs. Switzerland Davis Cup Tie; Tennis Channel, Tennis Channel Plus to Cover Six Davis Cup Matchups This Weekend

Nominations Announced for Davis Cup World Group First Round and Zone Group Ties

U.S. Davis Captain Jim Courier on Tie Against Switzerland: “We don’t expect it to be easy”

Borna Coric Beats Jack Sock to Complete Croatia Comeback from 0-2 to Send Team to Davis Cup Semis

Friendly Fribourg; The Swiss City Did Itself Proud As a Davis Cup Host

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Tennis Channel To Air USA vs. Switzerland Davis Cup Tie; Tennis Channel, Tennis Channel Plus to Cover Six Davis Cup Matchups This Weekend

(February 1, 2017) LOS ANGELES –Tennis Channel will provide complete live coverage of the U.S. Davis Cup team’s first-round competition against Switzerland in Birmingham, Ala., this weekend, with the first match underway Friday, Feb. 3, at 4 p.m. ET. Hall of Fame Captain (and Tennis Channel analyst) Jim Courier will lead the four highest-ranked American men’s singles players – John Isner, Jack Sock, Steve Johnson and Sam Querrey – into battle this weekend.

 

The meeting will consist of two singles matches on Friday, followed by the doubles match Saturday, Feb. 4, at 3 p.m. ET. Tennis Channel’s coverage concludes with the remaining singles play Sunday, Feb. 5, at 12 p.m. ET. Each match is worth one point, with three victories enough to secure a trip to the April quarterfinals to play the winner of this weekend’s Australia and Czech Republic competition.

 

The match-up is one of six carried live in their entirety on Tennis Channel and Tennis Channel Plus this weekend. Beginning Thursday, Feb. 2, television and digital subscribers will be able to watch Davis Cup action between: United States-Switzerland (Birmingham) Australia-Czech Republic (Melbourne, Australia), Japan-France (Tokyo), Croatia-Spain (Osijek, Croatia), Serbia-Russia (Nis, Serbia) and Canada-Britain (Ottawa, Canada). The network will offer live look-ins at the Australia-Czech Republic and Croatia-Spain competitions. Viewers can also catch Davis Cup matches on-demand on Tennis Channel Plus, the digital subscription service available to everyone in the United States, regardless of whether they currently subscribe to the television network. Among the stars set to play Davis Cup this weekend are Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, France’s Richard Gasquet, Australia’s Nick Kyrgios and Britain’s Jamie Murray.

The United States holds a 3-1 record against Switzerland. The most recent meeting between the two nations was in 2012, when the United States beat Switzerland 5-0 in Fribourg, Switzerland. The Swiss team’s sole victory over the Americans came in 2001. However, Switzerland will be without newly crowned Australian Open champion and former World No. 1 Roger Federer, who in 2001 led the team to a 3-2 triumph over the Americans in Basel, Switzerland. The United States, which leads all nations in Davis Cup titles, has clinched the trophy on 32 occasions, the most recent in 2007.

 

As a player, U.S. Davis Cup captain Jim Courier was on the 1992 team that beat Switzerland 3-1 to win the Davis Cup championship. For the 2017 edition, Isner holds 10 career singles titles and recently advanced to the finals at the ATP Masters 1000 in Paris in November before falling to World No. 1 Andy Murray. Sock started off the year by winning his second title at the ASB Classic in Auckland, New Zealand, and comes into this weekend after an impressive third-round appearance at the Australian Open. Last year, Johnson captured his first ATP singles title at the Nottingham Open in England, and had his best performance at a Grand Slam in the fourth round at Wimbledon before falling to Federer. Querrey teamed up with Johnson at the Geneva Open in Geneva, Switzerland, to win their first doubles title as a pair in May, and enters this weekend’s match-up after falling to Murray in the third round at this year’s the Australian Open.

 

The Swiss team won the Davis Cup title for the first time in 2014 with the help of Federer and current World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka. This year’s team is captained by retired tennis player Severin Luthi and features Marco Chiudinelli, Henri Laaksonen, Adrien Bossel and Antoine Bellier.

 

Tennis Channel’s live Davis Cup coverage is as follows (all times ET):

Thursday, Feb 2:

7 p.m. – Singles Australia v. Czech Republic

9 p.m. – Singles Japan v. France (Tennis Channel Plus)

 

Friday, Feb. 3:

9 a.m. – Singles Croatia v. Spain/Singles Serbia v. Russia (Tennis Channel Plus)

3 p.m. – Singles Canada v. Britain (Tennis Channel Plus)

4 p.m. – Singles United States v. Switzerland

8 p.m. – Doubles Australia v. Czech Republic

10 p.m. – Doubles Japan v. France (Tennis Channel Plus)

 

Saturday, Feb. 4:

10 a.m. – Doubles Croatia v. Spain/Doubles Serbia v. Russia (Tennis Channel Plus)

1 p.m. – Doubles Canada v. Britain (Tennis Channel Plus)

3 p.m. – Doubles United States v. Switzerland

7 p.m. – Singles Australia v. Czech Republic

9 p.m. – Singles Japan v. France (Tennis Channel Plus)

 

Sunday, Feb. 5:

8 a.m. – Singles Serbia v. Russia (Tennis Channel Plus)

9 a.m. – Singles Croatia v. Spain

12 p.m. – Singles United States v. Switzerland/Singles Canada v. Britain (Tennis Channel Plus)

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Nominations Announced for Fed Cup World Group and World Group II ties

Nominations Announced for Fed Cup World Group and World Group II ties

ITF: (February 1, 2017) The ITF has announced the official team nominations for the 2017 Fed Cup by BNP Paribas World Group and World Group II first round ties taking place on 11-12 February.

Three Zone Group I events are also taking place on 6-11 February: Europe/Africa Zone Group I in Tallinn, Estonia; Americas Zone Group I in Metepec, Mexico; and Asia/Oceania Zone Group I in Astana, Kazakhstan.

 

All nations contesting the Zone Group I events will be bidding to qualify for the Fed Cup World Group II play-offs on 22-23 April, with two teams qualifying from the Europe/Africa Zone, and one team from both the Americas and Asia/Oceania Zones.

 

 

 

 

WORLD GROUP FIRST ROUND

 

CZECH REPUBLIC v SPAIN

Venue: Ostravar Arena, Ostrava, CZE (hard – indoor)

Czech Republic

Karolina Pliskova

Barbora Strycova

Katerina Siniakova

Lucie Safarova

Captain: Petr Pala

Spain

Garbine Muguruza

Lara Arruabarrena

Sara Sorribes Tormo

Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez

Captain: Conchita Martinez

 

USA v GERMANY

Venue: Royal Lahaina Resort, Maui, USA (hard – outdoor)

 

USA

CoCo Vandeweghe

Alison Riske

Shelby Rogers

Bethanie Mattek-Sands

Captain: Kathy Rinaldi

 

Germany

Laura Siegemund

Andrea Petkovic

Julia Goerges

Carina Witthoeft

Captain: Barbara Rittner

 

BELARUS v NETHERLANDS

Venue: Chizhovka-Arena, Minsk, BLR (hard – indoor)

 

Belarus

Aliaksandra Sasnovich

Aryna Sabalenka

Olga Govortsova

Vera Lapko

Captain: Eduard Dubrou

 

Netherlands

Kiki Bertens

Cindy Burger

Arantxa Rus

Michaella Krajicek

Captain: Paul Haarhuis

 

SWITZERLAND v FRANCE

Venue: Palexpo, Geneva, SUI (hard – indoor)

 

Switzerland

Timea Bacsinszky

Viktorija Golubic

Belinda Bencic

Martina Hingis

Captain: Heinz Guenthardt

 

France

Alize Cornet

Kristina Mladenovic

Pauline Parmentier

Captain: Yannick Noah

 

 

WORLD GROUP II FIRST ROUND

 

RUSSIA v CHINESE TAIPEI

Venue: Druzhba Sport Complex, Moscow, RUS (hard – indoor)

 

Russia

Ekaterina Makarova

Natalia Vikhlyantseva

Anna Blinkova

Anna Kalinskaya

Captain: Anastasia Myskina

 

Chinese Taipei

Chang Kai-Chen

Lee Ya-Hsuan

Hsu Ching-Wen

Chan Chin-Wei

Captain: Wang Shi-Ting

 

ROMANIA v BELGIUM

Venue: Sala Polivalenta, Bucharest, ROU (hard – indoor)

 

Romania

Simona Halep

Irina-Camelia Begu

Monica Niculescu

Sorana Cirstea

Captain: Ilie Nastase

 

Belgium

Yanina Wickmayer

Kirsten Flipkens

Elise Mertens

Maryna Zanevska

Captain: Dominique Monami

 

UKRAINE v AUSTRALIA

Venue: Palace of Sports ‘Lokomotiv’, Kharkiv, UKR (hard – indoor)

Ukraine

Elina Svitolina

Lesia Tsurenko

Olga Savchuk

Nadiia Kichenok

Captain: Mikhail Filima

 

Australia

Daria Gavrilova

Ashleigh Barty

Arina Rodionova

Casey Dellacqua

Captain: Alicia Molik

 

ITALY v SLOVAKIA

Venue: PalaGalassi, Forlì, ITA (clay – indoor)

 

Italy

Sara Errani

Francesca Schiavone

Jasmine Paolini

Martina Trevisan

Captain: Tathiana Garbin

 

Slovakia

Jana Cepelova

Rebecca Sramkova

Daniela Hantuchova

Anna Karolina Schmiedlova

Captain: Matej Liptak

 

 

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Roger Federer Defeats Rafael Nadal To Win Australian Open for 18th Major Championship

 

 

(January 29, 2017) No. 17 seed Roger Federer defeated No. 9 seed Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to win his fifth Australian Open title, his 18th major championship.

 

The 35-year-old Swiss rallied from 1-3 down in the final set, winning the last five straight games to close out the match. This was the first time that Federer had ever beaten the Spaniard at the Australian Open, losing three times before.

 

Winning a major as the 17th seed, equals 14-time major winner Pete Sampras, who won his last major as the 17th seed at the 2002 U. S. Open.

Federer also is the first to win a major, beating four Top Ten players along the way since 1982. He beat (10) Tomas Berdych in the third round, (5) Kei Nishikori in the fourth round, (4) Stan Wawrinka in the semifinals and (9) Rafael Nadal in the final.

 

Each of the first four sets swayed with whoever broke serve. Federer took a medical time out, off court after the fourth set. However in the fifth set Nadal took a 3-1 lead and never won another game in the match.

With the victory, Federer will move up to No. 10 in the world and the 30-year-old Nadal will climb to No. 6.

“For me it’s all about the comeback, about an epic match with Rafa again,” Federer said in his news conference. Doing it here in Australia, that I’m so thankful to Peter Carter and Tony Roche, and just people… I guess my popularity here, their support, that I can still do it at my age after not having won a slam for almost five years.

“That’s what I see. The last problem is the slam count. Honestly, it doesn’t matter.”

“I told myself to play free. That’s what we discussed with Ivan and Severin before the matches. You play the ball, you don’t play the opponent. Be free in your head, be free in your shots, go for it. The brave will be rewarded here. I didn’t want to go down just making shots, seeing forehands rain down on me from Rafa. I think it was the right decision at the right time.

“I had opportunities early on in the fifth, as well, to get back on even terms. I could have been left disappointed there and accepted that fact. I kept on fighting. I kept on believing, like I did all match long today, that there was a possibility I could win this match.

“I think that’s what made me play my best tennis at the very end the match, which was actually surprising to me. I went through a little bit of a lull in the fourth and the beginning of the fifth set.
 

“It was a long shot for both men reaching the final as both men were coming back to the tour from injuries. Federer was off the tour for six months to rehabilitate his knee, while Nadal took off the last few months due to a wrist injury.”

“I think have been a great match,” said Nadal. “I enjoy to be part of it. I fight to try to have the trophy with me. I had some chances in the fifth with break up.

“But is true that after I had the break, he played very aggressive, hitting a lot of great shots. So was tough to hold the serve every time, no?

“I had the chance to keep holding the serve. If I hold that one, you never know. You are two games, just two games away. But I didn’t, so…

“Well, that’s it, no? I believe that he played super aggressive during the whole match. Tough chances to play the way I wanted to play. But still like this, I played, I think, with the right attitude, trying to do my things, fighting for every ball.

“Is true that probably remain a little bit of speed today compared to the last day in my legs probably, little bit. But that’s normal after what happened one day and a half ago.

“Like this I think I tried. I didn’t play bad. But is true was difficult to play a lot because he really went for the shots, almost for every shots.”

Federer was asked about his great rivalry with Nadal: “We go furthest back, you know. Novak also has been one of my biggest rivals. So have Roddick and Hewitt. I don’t like to leave anybody out, to be honest. But I’m sure I’ve left a couple out. They know who they are.

“But Rafa definitely has been very particular in my career. I think he made me a better player. Him and a couple more players have done the most to do that to me because the way his game stacks up with me, it’s a tricky one. I’ve said that openly. It remains for me the ultimate challenge to play against him. So it’s definitely very special.

“I said that also before the finals: if I were to win against Rafa, it would be super special and very sweet because I haven’t beaten him in a Grand Slam final for a long, long time now. Last time I guess was 2007 at Wimbledon in a five-setter. Now I was able to do it again.

“We’re both on a comeback. Like I said on the court, it would have been nice for both of us to win, but there’s no draws in tennis. It’s brutal sometimes.

“He should be happy. I would have been happy again to be in the finals, like I said on the court. I think this one will take more time to sink in. When I go back to Switzerland, I’ll think, Wow.

“The magnitude of this match is going to feel different. I can’t compare this one to any other one except for maybe the French Open in ’09. I waited for the French Open, I tried, I fought. I tried again and failed. Eventually I made it. This feels similar”

 

“At the end of the day is another title, ” said Nadal. “There is a winner, there is a loser. In these kind of matches, anyone can”win. Being honest, in these kind of matches, I won a lot of times against him. Today he beat me. Just congratulate him. Is not more than another important title for him, another important two weeks for me. Even if didn’t finish the way that I wanted, have been an important two weeks for me.

“The only thing that I can do is congratulate him and go back home with very positive feelings for me.
Federer last won in Melbourne in 2010. The win sets for biggest gap between claiming Australian Open titles.”

 

 

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Serena Williams Defeats Sister Venus for Australian Open Title for Open Era Record 23rd Major

(January 28, 2017) Serena Williams has won an Open Era record 23rd major title when she defeated her older sister Venus 6-4, 6-4 to win her seventh Australian Open title on Saturday night in Melbourne.

Serena, who just passed Steffi Graf with 22 majors, is just one major behind Margaret Court for the all-time record which is 24.

The win puts Serena back at the top spot in the WTA rankings as of Monday. Venus will move up to No.11.

Serena did not drop a set in the tournament. She now holds the record for the most number Australian Open singles titles for a woman.

This is the 35-year-old Williams’ tenth major title since turning 30. This was the oldest major woman’s final in terms of combined age at 71 years, 11 months between them.

She is now 23-6 in major finals and 7-2 in major finals against her sister. Serena is now 17-11 against Venus overall.

“This was a tough one. I really would like to take this moment to congratulate Venus,” Serena Williams said during the trophy presentation. “She’s an amazing person. There’s no way I’d be at 23 without her. She’s my inspiration and the only reason I’m standing here today. Thanks for inspiring me to be the best player I can be.”

 

The match itself was not an instant classic. The match began with four straight breaks of serve/ Both women committed a total of 48 unforced errors in the 1 hour and 22-minute match.

“I feel like I had opportunities, for sure. Just missed some shots,” Venus said. But it’s not like I missed shots that I wasn’t going for. I went for those shots. It’s a matter of inches.

“So, you know, some errors here or there can mean the difference between a break of serve or a hold.”

“It’s such a great feeling to have 23,” Serena said. “It really feels great. Yeah, I’ve been chasing it for a really long time. It feels like, really long time. When it got on my radar, I knew I had an opportunity to get there, and I’m here. I’m here.

“It’s a great feeling. No better place to do it than Melbourne.”

“My first Grand Slam started here, and getting to 23 here, but playing Venus, it’s stuff that legends are made of. I couldn’t have written a better story.

“I just feel like it was the right moment. Everything kind of happened. It hasn’t quite set in yet, but it’s really good.”

“It was great to have an opportunity to play for the title,” Venus said discussing her rn to the final. “That’s exactly where I want to be standing during these Grand Slams, is on finals day, having an opportunity. That’s the highlight of all this, is to be in that moment.”

“A lot of great performances, you know. I didn’t lose a set until the semifinals. Played against a lot of players who were in form. So it’s a good thing.

“It’s a great start to the year. I’m looking forward to the rest of year. This is like tournament number two and it’s already a lot of work. I’m looking forward to tournament number three and four. It’s going to be awesome.”

For the No. 13 seed Venus this was just her second Australian Open final, the last won coming in 2003, when she lost to her sister.

“I feel motivated to continue, to continue to go out there and hit the ball the way I know I can,” Venus said about her year so far. “There’s only things I can improve on, to be honest, and to build on.

“I feel I played very well this week, pulled a lot of things out of my pocket. I got more stuff in my pocket. Get it out.”

On going after major No. 24, Serena said:”One thing I learned in the past is you have to enjoy it. That’s the beauty of winning Australia, you have a few months to relax. If you win the French, it’s like back-to-back-to-back-to-back. Australia, you have time to enjoy the moment before the next Grand Slam.”

“Well, so far I’ve been celebrating by doing non-stop press. But, you know, it’s fine. I feel good. Just to even talk about it is great. But it’s getting late. I don’t know how I’ll celebrate. I don’t know.

“I’m just still excited. Hopefully I’ll be able to sleep.”

The victory for Serena marks the 30th major title for the Williams family.

“We are just so proud,” said the winner. “We feel so fortunate to have this opportunity to be the ones that can do it, you know. Venus and I work so hard. Still to this day we work side-by-side each other at practice. We motivate each other. Like I said on the court, every time she won her match, I felt obligated to win, I’ve got to win, too.

“The motivation she gives me, it’s really second to nothing. It’s amazing.”

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Rafael Nadal Defeats Grigor Dimitrov in Five Sets to Face Roger Federer in Australian Open Final

(January 27, 2017) Rafael Nadal defeated 15th seed Grigor Dimitrov 6-3, 5-7, 7-6(5), 6-7(4), 6-4 in four hours and 56 minutes to reach his fourth Australian Open final and 21st major final of his career. The ninth-seeded Spaniard will face Roger Federer for the title on Sunday. Nadal will be seeking his second title in Melbourne. He owns a 23-11 career record against Federer and is 6-2 against Federer in major finals. Should Nadal win the final he will join an exclusive club of players winning all four majors at least twice. Only Rod Laver and Roy Emerson have done this.

“Is special play with Roger again in a final of a Grand Slam,” said the 30-year-old Nadal of his 35-year-old rival. “I cannot lie. Is great. Is exciting for me and for both of us that we still there and we still fighting for important events. So that’s important for us, I think. That’s very special.

“After that, you know, is a final. Is a very important match for both of us. I hope to be ready to compete well again. I need to go back to the hotel, to rest well, and to recover from now.”

In the first set the 14-time major winner broke the Bulgarian’s serve in the fourth game to get control of the set. Nadal hit eight winners to only two unforced errors, winning 91 percent of his points on his first serves in the set.

The second set saw Dimitrov break Nadal in the fourth game, with a chance to serve out the set at 5-3. Nadal broke back and staved off four set points against him in the 10th game. The No. 15th seed held and broke Nadal in the 12th game to capture the set 7-5.

Dimitrov broke Nadal’s serve three times in the set, hitting 14 winners to 14 unforced errors.

Nadal went ahead by capturing the third set as both men exchanged breaks in the fifth and sixth games. There was a delay before the eleventh game of the match due to a medical emergency with a spectator. Nadal won the tiebreak 7-5. The Spaniard was a perfect 6 for 6 on points won at the net

Both men stayed even in the fourth set, with no breaks of serve. In the tiebreak, Dimitrov took a 5-2 lead and never looked back, capturing the tiebreak 7-4.

In the opening game of the fifth set Dimitrov fought off three break points to hold serve. Nadal saved a break point in the second game, but held for 1-1. Dimitrov saved a break point in the fifth game to hold for 3-2.

In the eighth game, with Nadal serving at 3-4, the 2009 champion battled back from 15-40 to hold for 4-4.

At 4-4 double fault put Dimitrov in the hole at 0-30. He won the next two points for 30-30, but Nadal broke him at 30 to serve for a place in the final.

Nadal won the match on his third match point.

“I think Grigor played great,” Nadal said in his news conference. “I played great. So was a great quality of tennis tonight. So just for me, is amazing to be through to a final of Grand Slam again here in Australia at the first of the year. Means a lot to me. I feel the love of the people here. They give me a lot of positive energy.

“Just I think I feel very happy to be part of this match, no? Arrive moment in the fifth set that for sure I wanted to win. I say to myself, I am giving my best, I am playing very well. If I lose, that’s it. Grigor deserves, too.

“I think both of us deserve to be in that final. Was a great fight. Finally was me. I feel lucky. I am very happy for that.”

 

More to follow……

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Australian Open Day 12 Schedule of Play for January 27, 2017

Australian Open Day 12 Schedule of Play for January 27 2017

ROD LAVER ARENA 3:00 PM

Mixed Doubles – Semifinals
Samantha Stosur(AUS) /Sam Groth(AUS) vs. Sania Mirza (IND) [2]/Ivan Dodig (CRO) [2]
Not Before: 4:00 PM
Women’s Doubles – Final
Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) [12]/Shuai Peng (CHN) [12] vs. Bethanie Mattek-Sands (USA) [2]/Lucie Safarova (CZE) [2]

Not Before: 7:30 PM
Men’s Singles – Semifinals
Rafael Nadal (ESP) [9] vs. Grigor Dimitrov (BUL) [15]

MARGARET COURT ARENA 3:00 PM

Junior Boys’ Singles – Semifinals
Yibing Wu (CHN) [1] vs. Yshai Oliel (ISR) [4]
Mixed Doubles – Semifinals
Elina Svitolina (UKR)/Chris Guccione (AUS) vs. Abigail Spears (USA)/Juan Sebastian Cabal (COL)

Men’s Legends’ Doubles
Wayne Arthurs (AUS)/Richard Fromberg (AUS) vs. Michael Chang (USA)/Todd Martin (USA)

SHOW COURT 3 3:00 PM

Junior Girls’ Singles – Semifinals
Rebeka Masarova (SUI) [1] vs. Bianca Vanessa Andreescu (CAN) [7]
Junior Boys’ Singles – Semifinals
Corentin Moutet (FRA) [5] vs. Zsombor Piros (HUN) [15]
Junior Boys’ Doubles – Final
Finn Reynolds (NZL)/Duarte Vale (POR) vs. Yu Hsiou Hsu (TPE) [4]/Lingxi Zhao (CHN) [4]

COURT 5 3:00 PM

Junior Girls’ Singles – Semifinals
Marta Kostyuk (UKR) [11] vs. Elena Rybakina (RUS) [16]
Quad Wheelchair Singles
Heath Davidson (AUS) vs. Andy Lapthorne (GBR)
Junior Girls’ Doubles – Final
Bianca Vanessa Andreescu (CAN) [3]/Carson Branstine (USA) [3] vs. Maja Chwalinska (POL)/Iga Swiatek (POL)

COURT 7 3:00 PM

Quad Wheelchair Singles
Dylan Alcott (AUS) [1] vs. David Wagner (USA) [2]
Men’s Wheelchair Doubles – Final
Gustavo Fernandez (ARG)/Alfie Hewett (GBR) vs. Joachim Gerard (BEL) [2]/Gordon Reid (GBR) [2]
Women’s Wheelchair Doubles – Final
Jiske Griffioen (NED) [1]/Aniek Van Koot (NED) [1] vs. Diede De Groot (NED) [2]/Yui Kamiji (JPN) [2]

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Roger Federer Reaches His Sixth Australian Open Final

 

Roger Federer

(January 26, 2017) No. 17 seed Roger Federer defeated fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 to reach his sixth Australian Open final and 28th major final on Thursday.

At 35-years old, the 17-time major winner has become the oldest man to reach a major final since 39-year-old Ken Rosewall did it at the 1974 U.S. Open.

Federer will be going for his 18th major title on Sunday against the winner of the Rafael Nadal – Grigor Dimitrov semifinal which will be played on Friday night.

Federer’s last major championship came when he captured the 2012 Wimbledon title. Since then his countryman, Wawrinka has won three major titles – 2014 Australian Open, 2015 French Open and the 2016 U.S. Open.

Federer injured his knee after last year’s Australian Open, had surgery and returned to the tour. After Federer lost in the semifinals of Wimbledon, he called it quits for the season to rehabilitate his knee. This is his first major since his layoff.

Federer won the first two sets and looked to have the momentum all in his favor.

Warwinka’s frustration showed when in the second set when he broke his racquet over his knee.

At the end of the second set, Wawrinka took a medical time out to get tape under his right knee. After the first couple of games in the third set, the 31-year-old came back with a new determination which saw him dominate the next two sets.

After the fourth set Federer took a medical time out for a leg injury.

 

Stan Wawrinka

Each man saved multiple break points in the early part of the fifth set, but Federer converted in the sixth game and held the rest of the way to close out the match.

 

“I felt like everything happened so quickly,” Federer said after the match. “It feels amazing. I never, ever in my wildest dreams thought I was going to be coming this far here in Australia. It’s beautiful.”

 

“In the fifth, I just knew I had to find my energy again,” Federer said. Play with intensity, play more aggressive, take the ball early, believe in myself, serve good, try not to get in too many tough moments early on, which then I did.

 

“It was an awkward match. Always against Stan, it was always never going to be easy. Especially how the third and fourth set went by, I needed to react really, because he had the upper hand from the baseline.

 

“I thought it was going to be tough in the fifth. I think he gave me a cheap break in the fifth. After that, I never looked back.

 

“I’m happy with my attitude in the fifth. So I’m very pleased, of course.”

 

“I cannot just be happy to win two sets against Roger,” Wawrinka said. “I just lost a five-set match in semifinal of Australian Open.
“I never think about the past or what I did before. I’m proud of myself, of the fight I give tonight and all the tournament. I think there is a lot of positive from this tournament, from Brisbane, from the month already.

 

“For sure I’m really sad and disappointed with a loss like that because to be that close to have won a semifinal, it can be only sad.
“But at the end I know I tried everything on the court. I came from two sets down. I change completely the momentum. I start to be extra aggressive because I had to change few things also physically. So I change my game with that.

 

“At the end I had a great battle against Roger. He’s great fighter. He’s always been amazing in Grand Slam, in five-set match. I’m for sure sad to lose a match like that.

“But, yeah, I know there is a lot of positive.”

Federer on possibly playing Dimitrov in the final: “If going in, he’s easier because I don’t think I’ve ever lost to him. There you have it. But that doesn’t buy me anything. That doesn’t give me the trophy.

“I think he’s playing totally different now to how he was playing 12 months ago when I beat him in Brisbane and here back-to-back. I think he’s got the confidence. Like I said, you never want to play a guy with confidence because he believes he can rip trees out, you feel like Superman for a second. Rightfully so, he worked super hard. He probably believes he’s worked harder than anybody right now.

“I think he has a legit shot against Rafa. If he won that, then clearly also against me. I think he’s doing a nice job with his game right now. He’s cleaned it up nicely. He came from a tough place.

“I’ve given him some advice, too, because he came to me last year at some point. He was having all sorts of issues. We were just having a simple conversation. I’m happy he took some things onboard. He seemed to turn it around somehow. I’m really happy for him.

“Now if the match were to come up, I know I have to play a good match because he does present different things. He brings different things to the table because of the way he plays. Not many guys can do what he can do. He might be similar to me, but I was similar to Pete, too. I always told people, I’m not Pete Sampras. He’s not me. He is his own guy. He’s his own identity. Different character. Just because he played with Nike and Wilson like I did with Sampras doesn’t make us in any way the same. I think you got to give him that, please.”

 

“I just think he’s an incredible tennis player,” Federer said of Nadal. “He’s got shots that no other one has. When you have that, you are unique and special. Plus he’s got the grit. He’s got the mental and physical ability to sustain a super high level of play for years and for hours and for weeks. He’s proven that time and time again. He’s come back from many injuries, you know, time and time again. He made it seem easy, and it’s not.

“I think he’s been tremendous for the game. I have a lot of respect for him on many levels.”

 

“I’m in the finals, I know that. I know I will have a chance to win on Sunday now,” Federer said. “That’s a great position to be in. Regardless of who it’s going to be against, I think it’s going to be special either way. One is going to go for his first slam or it’s the epic battle with Rafa.

 

“All I care about is that I can win on Sunday. Doesn’t matter who’s across the net. But I understand the magnitude of the match against Nadal, no doubt about it.”

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Venus Williams Reaches Australian Open Final, Her First Major Final Since 2009

Venus Williams

(January 26, 2017) Playing in her 21st major semifinal, the seven-time major winner Venus Williams advanced to her first Australian Open final since 2003, when she beat her American countrywoman CoCo Vandeweghe 6-7(3), 6-2, 6-3.

The last major final in which Williams competed was in 2009 at Wimbledon when she lost to her sister Serena.

At 36-years-old, the No. 13 seed will be the oldest female major tournament finalist in the Open Era.

The 25-year-old Vandeweghe, playing in her first major final four, opened the match with a break of serve, which Williams returned the favor in the next game. Both women held on to their serves to reach the tie break in which the younger American Vandeweghe dominated.

Vandeweghe reached the semifinals with back-to-back victories over reigning major tournament winners – in the round of 16 she took down No. 1 seed and Australian Open defending champion Angelique Kerber and in the quarterfinals she stopped French Open winner Garbine Muguruza.

“The way she’s been playing this tournament, it’s like knock-out, not missing, just playing beautifully,” Williams said. “Unless the nerves get to you or you just have a bad day, I had to expect that she was going to be able to execute that once again, and she did.”

CoCo Vandeweghe

“I mean, to be honest, the way she was playing the match, it was like I was just going to have to play defense, try to play offense whenever I had an opportunity,” Williams said.

“I want to dictate, but the way she was playing, it was almost impossible to do so. So it was just about trying to control the point in whichever way that was. If that meant that defensively I controlled the point, or I was able to get a little offense, whatever it was.

“I mean, just be the one winning the point at the end somehow.”

In the second set, Williams broke Vandeweghe to take a 2-1 lead, then broke her again to go up 4-1 when Vandeweghe hit two double-faults in a row.

Vandeweghe then had four break chances in the sixth game but could not convert.

Williams leveled the match winning the second set 6-2.

Williams opened the third set with a break. In her next game, she had to fight off two break points to hold for 2-0. Williams ended the match by breaking her opponents serve in the ninth game.

 

Williams hit 30 winners against 35 errors  with 11 aces. Vandeweghe had 37 winners, 50 errors, 10 aces and 11 double-faults. A key statistic for Vandeweghe was failing to convert on break points – she was 1 for 13.

“Everyone has their moment in the sun,” Venus said in her on-court interview. “Maybe mine has gone on a while. I’d like to keep that going. I’ve got nothing else to do.”

Venus Williams will play her sister Serena, ranked No. 2-ranked in the final.

Venus was asked about possibly playing her sister Serena in the finals: “I would more than anything love to see her across the net from me on Saturday.”

“I think Venus is an unbelievable competitor,” Vandeweghe said. “Putting age aside, age is just a number. For her to be the great champion that she is is a great accomplishment. It doesn’t matter if she’s 36 or 18 or anything like that.

“For me, I appreciate her as an athlete, as a competitor, as well as I would probably be feeling joy and glee if I had won the match today.

“I think it shows kind of the human aspect of sports. I think that’s a very important factor that sometimes gets pushed to the side. We’re all human. We’re not perfect out there. We’re going to have some screw-ups. You’re also kind of watching us have our high moments and low moments, as well.

“I think it’s great for her to make a final. To have an American in the final is a great achievement for American tennis. Hopefully Serena makes it there, as well, so we can have two Americans into the final.”

Venus was asked about her post-match celebration: “I know, that moment was just joy,” she said. “It was a heartfelt match. If the match is 6-2, 6-2, you know, the moment is kind of clear that it’s going to happen. But she played so well. There was never a moment where she wasn’t just hitting the ball amazing and striking the ball with just such precision.

“It’s always very satisfying to be able to get through in such a big match against an opponent who was just on fire.”

Venus talked about how she will play the final: “Honestly, I probably just need to continue playing like I’m playing. I haven’t played badly. I lost a set today. I was not happy about it. But my opponent deserved that set. So what else could I do? Try to get the next two.

“I will try to do the same.”

“At the end of the day, my main goal will be to execute my game. I’ve had to do that in the first round. I had to do it in this round. In the final, too.

“If I can achieve that, that’s more or less what I’ll be thinking of, not necessarily that it’s the final. Of course, you think of that, too. I mean, that’s normal. But if you’re especially mentally strong, you can block that out, too, so I’ll try.”

What would winning the final mean to Venus: “It would be beautiful. It would be beautiful. I have to earn it, so… It’s not a given. I’m going to do what I can to earn it. I’m not thinking about, Oh, what would it be like to win? I’m thinking about, What do I have to do to earn that? That’s my mentality right now.

“I’m so excited after that last match. But my mind changes over quickly into what’s at stake next, so that’s where I am.”

 

Related Articles:

An All-Williams Australian Open Final as Serena Beats Lucic-Baroni

Thirty-Somethings Serena Williams and Mirjana Lucic-Baroni to meet in Australian Open Semifinal

Venus Williams Reaches Australian Open Semifinals

 

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