2014/11/23

Berdych rekindles his chances he wins his second round robin match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London

Berdych applauds

Chalkdust Chronicles: Berdych rekindles his chances he wins his second round robin match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals in London

 

(November 12, 2014) LONDON – Almost like clockwork, Tomas Berdych put aside his very disappointing performance in the opening round against Stan Wawrinka, with a convincing win over US Open champion Marin Cilic.

 

In all five years he has played here, the tall Czech has always struggled in the opener, only to flourish later in the tournament, as he delivered a beat down on the Croatian in just an hour and a quarter, 6-3, 6-1.

 

Again, we see the uniqueness in the round-robin format perhaps come into play – where those have more experience with handling the second (and third) chance.

 

Berdych said: “I think that’s the beauty of this event. One day you can be swept out from the court like I did, or I’ve been actually, and in two days’ time you can come up and you can play a different tennis.”

 

The Czech is not out of the woods yet, as he tackles two-time defending champion up next, with the night session between Wawrinka and Djokovic to hopefully deliver the first three-setter of the tournament.

 

“I’m going to try to, you know, maybe three, four games,” he joked. “That would be better from the last time (laughter). You know, it’s always a huge challenge to play No. 1 player in the world. The way he’s playing, where are we playing, it’s pretty much all set up for him and for his game. That’s how it is.

 

“So for me it’s going to be great to play a match with him, maybe the last of the season, maybe not. But even if it’s the last one, it’s with the No. 1 player in the world. It’s really, as I said, huge challenge. I’m going to try to bring all I have what is left in me, challenge him.”

 

For Cilic, maybe mentally he had checked out of the tournament, admitting that the season has been long for him, and that he was feeling it a little.

 

“It’s, of course, a little bit disappointing to play like this. I was not expecting it. But sort of I feel a little bit tired, and body feels a little bit tired on the court. It seems that the things that I’m doing that are all basically going in a wrong direction. Especially with these guys at this kind of level, even small mistakes, or if you’re not at your best performances, the outcome is not going to be going in your favour. I haven’t also been playing last few weeks. Also the body, of course, is not at the best possible shape.”

 

He plays Stan Wawrinka in the final round robin, and after the Swiss’ fine return to form against Berdych, Cilic knows he can perhaps swing a little more freely.

 

“It’s going to be I think more pressure on Stan, that he has to win. I mean, we’ll see, I don’t know. But, anyway, I’m going to try to enjoy. I deserve to be here as a matter of having a great season. Of course, try to play well and to perform well on Friday.”

 

Cilic and Wawrinka will play in the last of the Group A round robin matches on Friday.

 

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

 

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Breadstick Day in Notes and Quotes from Day 2 of the ATP World Tour Finals

(November 10, 2014) LONDON – Notes and quotes from the Day 2 news conferences of the ATP World Tour Finals. Monday’s matches included a pair of 6-1, 6-1 victories for Group A players Stan Wawrinka and Novak Djokovic who demolished opponents Tomas Berdych and year-end rookie Marin Cilic respectively.

Stan Wawrinka

“I didn’t expect to win that easy in the score, for sure. But I was ready to play well. I did a great week of preparation. I did work really, really hard since few weeks with Magnus. Even if the result wasn’t there in Basel and Paris, I was feeling the ball really well at the practice court.”

 

“I’m happy with my performance. I’m happy the way I was playing. Serving really well. Returning almost everything. It seems it’s not usual. And, yeah, feeling good on the court.”

 

Q. Do you know the score of the first set was the same as the Federer/Raonic match yesterday?
STAN WAWRINKA: Good start for the Swiss.

Q. Good for the Davis Cup.
STAN WAWRINKA: Exactly. I try to show him that I’m going to be ready for the Final.
Q. You have the best record on tour against the top 10 this year, you’re 7 1. Against everyone else, you win two thirds of the time. You’re winning more against the top 10. Why is that?
STAN WAWRINKA: I had, what, six win against top 10 in the first three months of the year, then I never played them again because I lose early in the tournament, so it was a tough six months after (smiling).

 

 

Tomas Berdych

 

“Unfortunately it was my worst match of the whole season, and I kept it for the start here in the World Tour Finals. So that’s not the best one at the start.

“But, yeah, there are days like that. Now it’s over of that. Really, I mean, it’s just matter of, you know, looking forward, trying to find a way for next few days. Just try to leave this somewhere very far and try to come up with some better tennis.”

 

My game is about hitting the ball nice, clean, then you can create something. But that’s the beginning what I didn’t have today at all. I hit so many frames. You know, just was not there. It’s the thing that I have to sit with my team and find out and make the right things for the future days.

 

How did you find the court surface today? How does it compare to the previous four years you qualified?

TOMAS BERDYCH: Well, honestly, I don’t know if I’m in the right mood, the right feeling just to judge the court. Because today I didn’t really feel anything right.

 

 

Novak Djokovic

“It was a great performance. I was hoping I could play this way. I was preparing myself for this match. I knew already one week ago that I’m going to play Marin at 8 p.m. on Monday.

“My team did a good scouting. We thought about, you know, what’s the game plan. I stepped in and executed really well.”

 

His debut in the World Tour Finals has gotten best out of him in terms of his nerves. You could see that he didn’t feel so comfortable. Tried to use my experience playing on this stage, the stadium, which is pretty different from any other.

 

“How do I feel returning indoors comparing to outdoors. It is different and it’s better for the returner. It’s better for the server, but I feel it’s better for the returner because the ball more or less bounces the same every time, so you can anticipate better.”

 

Which is your most memorable memory with Grigor Dimitrov this year?

” I know what it was last year. When we took off our shirts at the exhibition event in Boodles before Wimbledon. We had a lot of fun there.

“He’s a great guy. A very good player that has the potential definitely to be a Grand Slam winner one day. He’s already working his way through. Played semifinals of Wimbledon. I think that’s our most memorable, let’s say, day of this year, of this season, where we played each other over three hours match, pushed each other to the limit.

“He’s got a lot of talent. He’s good‑looking. He speaks good English. He has Maria Sharapova for a girlfriend. What more can you ask for (laughter)? And he’s Bulgarian.”

 

 

Marin Cilic

 

Well, I mean, from my own side, it’s also first time being here. Also I felt that Novak played really, really solid today. In some matches, the score just keeps running. You are sinking a lot. You are, you know, always trying to find something. But whatever you try, it’s not working.

“That’s what I felt today. I felt a little bit uncomfortable on the court, rusty. In some situations where I felt I was, you know, having a chance to get in the score. Also in the beginning of the second set where I broke back to come back to level the score, you know, played pretty sloppy service game.

“In some situations, you know, the score just goes, and it’s difficult to stop it.”

 

 

“It’s medium‑paced court. It’s difficult to get the ball past the opponent. I mean, especially Novak. I didn’t have too many winners today.

“Also he was able to, you know, dictate the rallies. He was also able to return very well.

“That was a difficult part for my game to get some advantages at the beginning of the points.

“You know, when we are at the rallies, Novak starts to dictate, he’s always in a much better position. So that was, you know, a difficult part for me to get out of.

“Considering the court, it’s, I mean, a solid court, but you have to be able to, you know, keep the ball away from the opponent. If you are hitting the ball well, it’s going to pay off.

“But today I felt that I was not hitting it clean. That’s always difficult, especially against Novak, to get away with a win when you’re not playing so good.”

 

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

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Notes and Quotes from Day 1 of the ATP World Tour Finals

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Photo by www.red-photographic.com

(November 9, 2014) LONDON – Notes and quotes from the Day 1  news conferences of the ATP World Tour Finals, which included Roger Federer, Kei Nishikori, Andy Murray and Milos Raonic.

 

Roger Federer

On the possibility of ending 2014 year with the No. 1 ranking:

“I have a small shot at world No. 1 after winning Shanghai. I mean, I’m happy it’s this way. But I think it’s highly unlikely it’s going to happen. If it does, obviously it’s great.

“But for me personally, it doesn’t really matter if it happened at the end of the year or any other week during the year, as long as you could get back to world No. 1 for one more time. I think that would be very special because I’ve been there and I know how much it would mean, because winning a tournament is a one‑week thing or a two‑week thing, but getting back to world No. 1 is an entirely different animal.

“I’ll try to get there, but obviously Novak is going to dictate as well what’s going to happen here.”

 

Asked about the greater rivalry of his career – Nadal or Djokovic:

“I feel a special connection towards Rafa just because we did, I don’t want to say come up together somewhat on the tour, but we did have a very strong, intense rivalry for many years, starting 2004 maybe. Especially we played each other that many times in finals of slams, which hasn’t been the case with the other players as much.

“I know Novak, the matches and the rivalry is nice. I really enjoy playing against him. It’s very evenly matched, you know. But I played him more often probably in semis than in finals most likely. I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s kind of how it felt like.

“Because me and Rafa were always 1 and 2 or 2 and 1 for so long. Murray and Djokovic always ended up in our semis for so long. So there was actually more opportunities to play those guys than Rafa, quite honestly, because getting to the finals is difficult.

“But then also I always like to look back and see who were my tougher players when I was coming up. In the beginning I struggled against the likes of Henman, Nalbandian, Hewitt, Roddick. So for me those were really interesting players to play against. I was lucky enough that Andre Agassi played as long as he did because I got to play him also, I think almost 15 times.”

 

Evaluating his win over Raonic:

“I think I played really well for probably one and a half sets. It was good to get off to a good start like I did against him at Cincinnati, and Wimbledon, I broke first game and sort of never looked back. I think when I had breakpoint in the second set, he was able to save that. When I was trying to hit a lob and he smashed it home, after that it became complicated. I don’t know why.

“I had a couple of games where I was up 40‑Love, and both times he came back and got into the game, which was probably my mistake. But it made me uncomfortable. I started to play a bit more passive. He started to become a bit more offensive. I actually think he was the better player from that moment on and deserved the set more than I did.

“Thankfully he didn’t play quite so well, like he did in Paris maybe. He gave me a few shots here and there, especially at the beginning of the breaker. I think those were crucial.

“I was happy to bring it home because it was very close at the end of the second.”

 

 

Milos Raonic

 

“But it’s obviously disappointing, very disappointing actually, the way I finished that second set off. “

 

“It took me more a set to find my way into the match because of playing Roger, not because of being here for the first time.”

 

“Every time you play Roger, the crowd’s on his side, even if he’s playing a local favorite. It’s hard for people to cheer against Roger.

“I’ve played him a few times. I’ve played home favorites on big courts also a few times, and in Davis Cup, many different situations. So it wasn’t any type of an issue.”

 

“I get pretty angry when I lose, so…

I’m going to have to learn how to slap myself out of it.”

 

Andy Murray

On his loss to Nishikori:

“I didn’t serve well enough today. I would say that was the biggest difference in the match. And when you’re not serving well, obviously on your own service games you want to be looking to dictate the points. When you’re returning, you kind of dictate when you have the opportunity. You don’t always have the chance if someone’s serving well.

“And, yeah, I didn’t serve well enough. He was able to dictate a lot of points, especially behind my second serve. That was, yeah, statistically the part of the match ‑‑ yeah, I mean, that was the part of the match where he had the upper hand. That was the difference. “

 

“It’s still obviously disappointing to lose the first match. And, yeah, I would have liked to have done better.”

 

“Obviously now I need to win my next two matches more than likely, and win them well if I want to go through. That’s going to be tricky because Milos obviously played fantastic last week in Paris, and Roger always plays well at this event.

 

“So I’m definitely going to have to play better if I want to get through.”

 

On the surface at the O2 Arena: “It’s quite lively, to be honest. It can be hard to control the ball that can bounce pretty high up on the serve, on the kick serve. Yeah, it’s quicker than the other courts.

 

“It’s definitely quicker than Valencia and Paris, I would say that. I don’t know exactly why that is, because the balls are the same and it’s the same court, I believe, manufacturer. I don’t know if it’s to do with just how big the stadium is, and it does get warm in there. I’m not sure. But, yeah, it’s quite lively.”

 

#458693032 / gettyimages.com

 Kei Nishikori

Asked about his confidence in his first–ever win over Murray:

“For sure I was different than these couple matches we played because this year I was, you know, much better player than before and more aggressive, you know, have bigger result this year.

 

“So that’s why I try not to think, you know, I can’t beat these guys, because I’ve been beating those top‑10 guys already. You know, this is even first time for me to play to a Final.

 

“But we’ve been playing a lot these players, and I was a little bit tight in the beginning, but, you know, I start feeling little more confidence in especially second set. I was very, very, you know, solid player.”

 

 

About playing in the O2 Arena:

“The court is same as Paris, so I was little bit used to, you know, playing this surface. But the stadium is huge. You know, I try not to look up too much because there was too many people on the top. Try to stay focus.

“Maybe when I walk into the stadium, I was nervous, but same time I was really excited to play with this crowd.

You know, I was thinking, you know, very honored to be here. You know, first time to be top‑eight player. I was really happy that I played good tennis on this situation.”

 

“There is, you know, still a long way to going to final and to win it. Play one match at a time and hope I can win couple matches here and go to semifinal.”

 

“I see Li Na and Srichaphan, I was looking up to them. I felt a lot of motivation from them.”

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

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Chalkdust Chronicles: Federer rampant over Raonic

 

Chalkdust Chronicles: Federer rampant over Raonic

 

(November 9, 2014) LONDON – World Tour Finals rookie Milos Raonic got a baptism of fire on his debut, as memories of his Paris win and first victory over Roger Federer was all but banished from memory in a 25 minute first set.

 

From the offset, Federer raced out to a 3-0 lead and while Raonic spared his blushes of avoiding a bagel, getting a solitary game on the board, it was not enough to hold back the tide of errors flowing from his racquet.

 

Where in Paris he was serving like a demon, the lack of variety started to harm Raonic as he lacked the court smarts in the first set to try and stay with Federer.

 

It was a more competitive start for the Canadian, but not without some battling still with a big hold to stay in contention at the start of the second before being rewarded with the rarity of break points on the Federer serve, taking the World No. 2 seven minutes to hold as the big serving Canadian was starting to serve a lot better. It was the boost he needed as Federer started to go off the boil.

 

Frustratingly break point chances came again for Raonic in the all important 11th game, and some clutch play from Federer forced a tie-break, and the rhythm and form started to desert him a little as Federer build up a sharp 6-0 lead in the tie-break. He needed just the one match point, as he roasted Raonic 6-1 7-6(0).

 

It was a very satisfied Federer who laid his loss at Paris to rest, as he explained:

 

“I think I played really well for probably one and a half sets. It was good to get off to a good start like I did against him at Cincinnati, and Wimbledon. I had a couple of games where I was up 40‑Love, and both times he came back and got into the game, which was probably my mistake. But it made me uncomfortable. I started to play a bit more passive. He started to become a bit more offensive. I actually think he was the better player from that moment on and deserved the set more than I did.

 

“Thankfully he didn’t play quite so well, like he did in Paris maybe. He gave me a few shots here and there, especially at the beginning of the breaker. I think those were crucial.      I was happy to bring it home because it was very close at the end of the second.”

 

Milos Raonic

Milos Raonic

Raonic, on the other hand knows that he faces a real challenge, and so far has come of worse with one more debutant to go tomorrow, as Marin Cilic takes on Novak Djokovic.

 

“It’s obviously disappointing, very disappointing actually, the way I finished that second set off. He was a lot more consistent on his return games. In Paris, okay, I’d get free points when I hit aces, but today the big difference was when he would get his racquet on the ball, he would make me play all the time. He was giving me some shots in Paris in that sense, some quicker points.

 

“I believe he played better today. I believe I started off not playing nearly as well, but I think I sort of found that Paris level that I had against him come the second set. I think that’s why I was able to create some opportunities for myself.”

 

He will face Andy Murray who was edged out by the third newcomer to London Kei Nishikori.

 

“It’s a completely different match. Things are going to be quite different than the first match. We both, after today, have more so of an idea what we need to do different for the next round. It’s going to be about who necessarily adjusts better, who can play better come Tuesday night.”

 

Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych will play the Monday day session and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic starts his defense in the night session.

 

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

 

 

RESULTS FOR SUNDAY, 9 NOVEMBER 2014

Singles – Group B Round Robin
[2] R Federer (SUI) d [7] M Raonic (CAN) 61 76(0)
[4] K Nishikori (JPN) d [5] A Murray (GBR) 64 64

Doubles – Group B Round Robin
[7] I Dodig (CRO) / M Melo (BRA) d [2] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) 63 75
[6] M Granollers (ESP) / M Lopez (ESP) d [4] J Benneteau (FRA) / E Roger-Vasselin (FRA) 64 64

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Chalkdust Chronicles: Grey Day for Murray as he drops first round to newcomer Nishikori

Chalkdust Chronicles: Grey Day for Murray as he drops first round to newcomer Nishikori

 

(November 9, 2014) LONDON – Any fears that Andy Murray might have had about having to win fins back were answered with rousing cheers as the home-grown champion opened the day’s proceedings at the Barclays ATP world Tour Finals.

 

It looked to be starting so promisingly too. While Kei Nishikori starting nervously and Murray looking to be just that more solid, the poppy-sporting Brit drew first blood with a break to more rapturous cheering. However that was soon muted as Nishikori started generating a lot more pace and hustling Murray more, breaking him to love straight away.

 

It was a wasted opportunity of a battle that saw Murray squander a couple of breakpoints and from there Nishikori seemed to take heart, dealing the final break to seal the first set.

 

Maybe there is something about the day matches that tends to leave the atmosphere a bit flat, but Nishikori stunned them into silence racing into a 3-0 lead.

 

British hopes were roused a little when Murray stemmed the flow winning three games in a row to level at 4-4 in the second set and it looked as though the day crowd were going to get their money’s worth, but almost immediately the same lapse in concentration saw Murray broken, as Nishikori came through his London debut 6-4 6-4.

 

Murray had little choice but to be quite clinical with his review of the match.

 

“I didn’t serve well enough. He was able to dictate a lot of points, especially behind my second serve. Both of us struggled at the beginning of the match. The conditions, when you play with no one in there, it seemed like it was pretty full today. It’s obviously warmer, which then makes it quicker, the ball becomes a bit more lively.

 

“He definitely started playing better at the end of the first set and started feeling a bit more comfortable with those conditions.

 

Of course the benefit of the World Tour finals is that there are still two more round robin matches to go, but in a close group where it is maybe not as clear cut as perhaps the group of three Slam winners, Murray wasted a valuable chance to make life easy on himself.

 

“It’s harder to qualify when you lose your first match. But unlike the other events, you still have a chance to go through,” Murray said. “If this were anywhere else, I would be out of the tournament. You need to try to forget about today, work on some things tomorrow, and hopefully play better on Tuesday.”

 

For Nishikori it is a great start to cap a fantastic year for the record breaking Japanese player, who has battled to stay fit, despite having to call the trainer out briefly at the end of the first set.

 

“The court is same as Paris, so I was little bit used to playing this surface,” Nishikori said. “But the stadium is huge. You know, I try not to look up too much [and] try to stay focus. Maybe when I walk into the stadium, I was nervous, but same time I was really excited to play with this crowd. I was really happy that I played good tennis on this situation.”

 

Nishikori in the past has been almost a fragile little flower, so it has been pleasing to see him weather several weeks of tough competition, and he explained how he had improved in that area.

 

“I’m spending more time on the gym and also on the courts, too, you know, more practice during off‑season. Even when I’m on the tour, I try to do little bit of rehab and little bit of training. Maybe that’s one of the reason. I had couple injuries this year, you know, I had to retire couple matches, important matches. But I’ve been getting really strong, my body. Yeah, in US Open I played five sets. But I can able to finish seven matches first time, so I think I’m very strong physically.”

 

But with that comes the need to become tougher mentally, and given how shaky Nishikori’s first serve at times wandering around the cavern that is the O2, it was a testament to his improved strength of focus that he did not crumble when Murray fought back in the second set.

 

“I was [trying] to stay calm, even he was playing little better, you know, start playing little more consistent.

 

“First time I play Roger, couldn’t play anything ’cause I respect too much. I wasn’t go for win actually. I was just, you know, play tennis against my idol. That was one of the problem I had. But after couple years, I got mentally strong. I have to be strong to beat them. Maybe that’s one of the reason we Asia players has to be really strong. You have to believe yourself.”

 

It will be the turn of Group A to take to the court on Monday, with Group B playing again on Tuesday.

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

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Czech Republic Wins Third Fed Cup in Four Years

(November 9, 2014) The Czech Republic won their third Fed Cup title in the last four years, after victories in 1975, 1983-85, 1988, 2011 and 2012.

Petra Kvitova held off a surging Angelique Kerber of Germany in reverse singles on Sunday 7-6 (5), 4-6, 6-4 to clinch the best-of-five series in Prague’s O2 Arena 3-0.

Kvitova came back from a 4-1 deficit in the final set to secure the Fed cup for the Czech Republic.

“It was an amazing match from both of us,” Kvitova said after the match. “It was a very big fight. I’m just glad that I did it. It was really up and down from the beginning of the match. It was always a big fight about every single point.”

 

FED CUP FINAL

 

CZECH REPUBLIC defeated GERMANY 3-1

Venue: O2 Arena, Prague, CZE (hard – indoors)

 

Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Andrea Petkovic (GER) 62 64

Lucie Safarova (CZE) d. Angelique Kerber (GER) 64 64

Petra Kvitova (CZE) d. Angelique Kerber (GER) 76(5) 46 64

Lucie Safarova (CZE) v Andrea Petkovic (GER) not played

Julia Goerges/Sabine Lisicki (GER) d. Andrea Hlavackova/Lucie Hradecka (CZE) 64 63

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Roger Federer Wins Sixth Basel Title

Roger Federer Pizza party with Bael ball kids

(October 26, 2014) Roger Federer captured his sixth hometown title in Basel within eight years defeating David Goffin for the Swiss Indoors title 6-2, 6-2 in 52 minutes on Sunday.

“I didn’t expect this kind of result but clearly I’ll take it, it’s great,” said the champion. “It’s indoors tennis, sometimes you just blow a guy out of the court and I’m happy it was me today doing that.”

 

“I’m very pleased how well I’m playing,” Federer added “It was a great final, I think I played really well. I’m full of confidence now.

“I was expecting it to be tough and him taking charge at times but I think I was really able to control the match with my serve and then with my variation on the return. I think I did really well, I was fresh today, it was again a fifth day of tennis for me in a row and I’m happy I’m able to keep it up time and time again, week after week.”

His 82nd title moves him less than 500 ranking points within world No. 1 Novak Djokovic. He is now on a 12-match win streak since claiming the Shanghai Masters title.

“It would be very special to reclaim No. 1, the 33-year-old said.

“World No. 1 is what it’s all about in our game. With the year I have had and the amount of finals I have played, the level of tennis I have played, I am pleased to see that I have a shot. But having a shot and being there is two separate things. I am sure that Novak is going to come in very motivated, just after having a baby. I am very happy for him. There are clearly interesting weeks ahead.”

The 23-year-old Goffin, who had won 43 of 45 matches since Wimbledon, including on the ATP Challenger Tour, was seeking his third ATP World Tour title of the year following victories on the clay courts of Kitzbühel and indoor hard courts of Metz.

“It was a tough match, of course,” said the Belgian. “Here in his hometown, he was in great shape and played too good for me today. At the beginning of the match I was a little bit nervous, especially a final against Roger. It’s not easy to return his serve. That’s why it was a nightmare for me today. I made a lot of mistakes and I didn’t serve well, but it has been a good week for me. I will try to do better next time.”
Next stop for the No. 2 player is the BNP Paribas Masters, followed by the ATP World Tour Finals in London. He’ll end the year playing the Davis Cup final as France plays host to Switzerland in Lille.

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Williams and Halep victorious on Day 1 at the WTA Finals

wtafinals

By Stephanie Neppl

(October 20, 2014) SINGAPORE – With the top eight WTA players in the world taking center stage in Singapore at the WTA Finals, there’s no such thing as an easy match. But the tournament certainly started off with a bang as top seed and two-time defending champion Serena Williams took on Ana Ivanovic Monday night.

The debut match of the tournament was greeted by a boisterous, enthusiastic crowd. Following an opening ceremony that featured WTA Finals ambassador Li Na serving the ceremonial first serve of the event (donning high heels no less), the crowd roared as Williams and Ivanovic took to the court.

The Serbian, back in the WTA Finals for the first time since 2008, dealt Williams her first grand-slam blow of 2014 at the Australian Open with a 4th round win. Since then, the two have played three more times, with the American coming out on top but two of the three battles went deep into third sets before Williams prevailed.

Ivanovic has had one of her best seasons on tour this year, and her return to the Top 10 was accompanied by four titles and 56 total wins, the best on tour.

Heading into the match, Williams boasted a 15-match winning streak at this event. With concerns about her left knee hanging overhead, the world No. 1 faced a pair of break points in her opening service game, but saved both with aces. After a tough hold to start, Williams settled in and quickly took a 4-1 lead as Ivanovic struggled with her serve.

But after holding for 2-4, Ivanovic broke Williams at love, and then leveled the match at 4-4. An energetic crowd watched as the Serbian had a break point that would give her a chance to serve for the first set, but Williams held on. Serving to stay in the set, Ivanovic threw in two double faults, including one down set point, and Williams broke for a 6-4 lead.

Ivanovic immediately broke the Williams serve in the second set, partially due to two double faults by Williams, but she was broken straight back. Each player then held serve until 5-4, when Ivanovic served to stay in the match. Just as in the first set, Ivanovic could not withstand the pressure and she was broken to give Williams the 6-4, 6-4 win and her 16th straight WTA Finals match victory.

Ivanovic was plagued by double faults all night, and she tossed in seven during the match and said later she felt she was rushing her serve. “She was putting a lot of pressure on my serve,” Ivanovic said. “She served really well today I thought and created more pressure on my service game. I didn’t feel my rhythm, so I was trying to make more first serves.”

Williams’ serve, on the flip side, was firing. She hit 12 aces overall, giving her 430 for the season, the most of any player on the WTA Tour. “I was pleased with my serve,” Williams said after the match. “Ana is a very aggressive returner, and I went really hard at my second serve.”

The world No. 1 played without her left knee strapped, and she said it felt much better. “Compared to what it was in Beijing, it feels so much better,” Williams said. “I’m getting better, which is great.”

The win helps Williams’ chance of wrapping up the WTA year-end No. 1 spot, and now Sharapova will need to reach the final with a 2-1 record or win the title to have a chance to take away the top spot.

In the second match, Simona Halep won the battle of the WTA Finals newcomers over Genie Bouchard, with a tidy 6-2, 6-3 win. Halep raced out to a 4-0 lead in the first set and even had a point for a 5-0, triple break lead before Bouchard held to get on the board at 1-4. After clinching the first set 6-2, Halep broke early in the second and held on to wrap up the 6-2, 6-3 victory. Bouchard hit 30 errors and 5 double faults in the match.

Tuesday’s schedule features Maria Sharapova versus Caroline Wozniacki, followed by Petra Kvitova against Agnieszka Radwanska.

ORDER OF PLAY – October 21, 2014

Singapore Indoor Stadium – Start 5:30 pm

Rising Stars Final

Rising Stars Final – Monica Puig (Puerto Rico) vs Zheng SaiSai (China)

Not before 7:30 pm

(2) Maria Sharapova (Russia) vs (8) Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark)

(3) Petra Kvitova (Czech Republic) vs (6) Agnieszka Radwanska (Poland)

Stephanie Neppl is in Singapore covering the WTA Finals for Tennis Panorama News. She spends all her spare funds traveling to tennis tournaments and has played since her teen years. Follow her live updates on Twitter at @TennisNewsTPN. Follow her personal Twitter @stephintheus and her blog  http://ihaveatennisaddiction.blogspot.com.

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Serena Williams Responds to Shamil Tarpischev Comments

 

(October 19, 2014) In her pre-tournament news conference at the WTA Finals in Singapore, Serena Williams responded to comments by Shamil Tarpischev, the head of the Russian Tennis Federation, who referred to Serena Williams and her sister Venus as the “Williams brothers.”

“I think the WTA did a great job of taking initiative and taking immediate action to his comments,” Williams said. “I thought they were very insensitive and extremely sexist as well as racist at the same time. I thought they were in a way bullying.

“I’ve done the best that I can do, and that’s all I can say. So I just wasn’t very happy with his comments. I think a lot of people weren’t happy as well.

“But the WTA and the USTA did a wonderful job of making sure that ‑‑ in this day of age, 2014 for someone with his power, it’s really unacceptable to make such bullying remarks.”

 

Maria Sharapova was also asked about Tarpischev’s comments.

“I think they were very disrespectful and uncalled for, and I’m glad that many people have stood up, including the WTA,” said the Russian, world No. 2. “It was very inappropriate, especially in his position and all the responsibilities that he has not just in sport, but being part of the Olympic committee. It was just really irresponsible on his side.”

 

On Friday, the WTA Tour levied a $25,000 dollar fine and a year suspension. They also called for Tarpischev to be removed from his post as Chairman of the Kremlin Cup for a year.

Update: WTA Fines and Suspends Shamil Tarpischev for Williams Sisters Comments

The comments were made on a late night Russian TV talk show.

The 33-year-old world No. 1 Williams begins her quest to “three-peat” at the WTA Finals on Monday when she begins round-robin competition in the Red Group against Ana Ivanovic.

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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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