2014/07/30

Qualifier Cuevas Wins Umag

 

(July 27, 2014) Pablo Cuevas won his second ATP World Tour title in three weeks, taking the Umag title as a qualifier with a 6-3, 6-4 over second seed Tommy Robredo. Cuevas claimed his singles title in Bastad earlier in the month.

Cuvas had to play the semis and the finals in the same day. In the semifinals, he defeated top seed Fabio Fognini 6-3, 6-4.

“I’m really happy,” said the Uruguayan. “I never expected to win two tournaments in a row. This week was more difficult because I had to play [qualifying] and I played against very good players. During the two years I was out, I thought I would never be able to play again and especially at that level.”

“I had a great tournament, but today Pablo was better than me,” Robredo said. “I would like to congratulate Pablo. He [played] a great match and he didn’t miss a lot of balls. It’s good to have him back to that level.”

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Lamine Ouahab Wins Futures Title in Umag

Ceremony ITF Umag

By Floria Heer

(March 30, 2014) In Sunday’s final at the US-$ 10.000 ITF Futures in Umag, Simone Vagnozzi faced Lamine Ouahab for the first time on European soil. Both previous meetings between the two players took place in Africa, the last encounter on the Futures circuit in Morocco in 2010. The matches have always seen Ouahab as the winner, but were hard fought and always went the distance. In front of about twenty spectators on Grandstand it looked like it was to be a quick affair on Sunday. The 29-year-old Moroccan capitalized on his first break point in the second game and was in total control of the match, hitting a couple of clean winners, whereas on the other hand Vagnozzi produced a lot of unforced errors. Ouahab bageled the Italian after only 25 minutes to take the opening set.

It took 42 minutes for Vagnozzi to get on the scoreboard by breaking the Moroccan’s service in the third game of the second set. From then on the final actually started and became the close match that was expected between the two good friends. The 30-year-old Italian had to save two match points in the twelfth game and the set went into a tiebreak, in which he capitalized on his only set point to take the match the distance.

Ouahab again had the better start by gaining an early break in the opening game. The fourth seed was the more solid player on Sunday and in the end maybe also a bit fresher than his opponent, who had to play a three-hour match on Saturday. Ouahab finally converted his fifth match point to gain his 21st ITF Futures career title winning 6-0, 6-7, 6-3 after two hours and 25 minutes.

“Physically I was ok, maybe I was just tired mentally,” Vagnozzi stated afterwards. “After eight games I found my rhythm into this match, I started to fight and it became better for me. I was lucky to win the second set and in the third I got a little injury on my finger. I tried to do my best but Lamine is a great player and he deserved to win the title here. It’s ok,” the Italian was a fair loser.

Ouhab was obviously satisfied with his week in Umag. “It’s always great to win tournaments. Then you know that you couldn’t have done better,” the Moroccan said. “It was a hard match today but I’m happy that it worked out for me. One of the hardest things is to stay focused, even when you know that you already had match points. Nonetheless I kept on fighting,” Ouahab told and is already excited about the coming weekend. “It will be my first time to play Davis Cup for Morocco. This is a dream come true, as this is also my favourite competition. This will be an unbelievable experience and for sure it’s going to be one thing to tell my kids about it,” the world number 257 said and is looking forward to the next weeks in Casablanca.

 

The ITF Junior Circuit also made a stop in Umag this week for the 30th edition of the Perin Memorial, a tournament of Grade 1 category. In the girl’s final second-seeded Slovakian Kristina Schmiedlova defeated Katarina Jokic from Serbia winning 7-6, 3-6, 6-2.

The boy’s final was an all – Spanish affair between the two sixteen-year-olds, Pedro Martinez Portero and Jaume Antoni Munar Clar, unfortunately with an unlucky ending. Portero was forced to retire at 1-6 1-2 and his friend took the title.

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Semifinals Day at ITF Umag

By Florian Heer

(March 30, 2014) Semifinals in Umag took place in perfect weather conditions with a lot of sunshine and pleasant temperatures. It was also less windy compared to Friday and the players seemed to feel comfortable on court, as the matches took their time.

In the opening semi-final Lamine Ouahab took on Uladzimir Ignatik for the very first time on the tour. The fourth-seeded Moroccan hit solid baseline shots with good length and annoyed his opponent with a lot of drop shots. This and a couple of mind games, which were going on throughout the match, led to some discussions between the two players and the umpire as well. Nonetheless the battle ended after one hour and 45 minutes with a handshake at the net and Ouahab advanced into his first final of the season winning 6-4, 7-6.

The Moroccan No. 1 will meet Simone Vagnozzi on Sunday. The fifth-seeded Italian overcame Kristijan Mesaros in another intense match. The top-seeded Croat, who reached this stage of the tournament without dropping a set, had the better start and gained the opening set in the tenth game. This even contest contained more breaks than service holds and Vagnozzi came back to take the second set in the tie-break. Mesaros was moaning, complaining, talking to his coach and swearing almost uninterrupted. Eventually it was the mental strength and experience from the 30-year-old Italian to finally seal victory winning 4-6, 7-6, 6-3 after almost three hours. Symbolically the match ended through a double fault by the Croat, who still has to wait for reaching his first final of the season.

“I didn’t start well today and I was lucky to break him in the ninth game of the second set,” Vagnozzi told afterwards. “I think in the third set, he was more tired than me. I also remained pretty calm throughout the match, which I think was the key to success today,” the Italian added. “It might be a bit of advantage for Lamine tomorrow that I had to stay that long on court today as I also feel very tired now,” Vagnozzi said in prospect of the final tomorrow.

The doubles title was won by Egor Gerasimov and Dzmitry Zhyrmont, who defeated Dino Marcan and Antonio Sancic 6-4, 4-6, 10-6. For the Belarusians it was their first victory as a team and so they were understandably happy afterwards. “We lost a couple of finals before, so we are really satisfied that it worked out for us today,” Zhyrmont said. “We came here with couple of Belarusian players to practice on clay court as we have to play Davis Cup next week in Moldova,” he added and therewith explained the gathering of so many of his compatriots here in Umag.

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ITF Futures Umag

By Florian Heer

(March 28, 2014) The ITF Futures Circuit has come to Istria, one of the leading regions for tourists in Croatia thanks to its geographical position and closeness to many of the most important European tourist markets. The peninsula is located at the head of the Adriatic Sea between the Gulf of Trieste and the Bay of Kvarner. It is shared by three countries – Croatia, Slovenia and Italy. Istria offers its visitors mild climate, a lot of beaches, natural beauties and a long tradition in tourism.

Umag is a scenic town with about 7.000 inhabitants, situated on the North-Western Istrian coast, and holds unmatched beauty and distinction. Due to its location, Umag is considered as the gateway to Istria from the northern European parts and for tennis fans, the city is known for hosting the Croatia Open, an ATP 250 World Tour event held in July at the eye-catching stadium with a capacity of more than 4.000 seats within the Stella Maris Resort right next to the sea.

In the same complex the ITF Future Circuit has now made a stop for this week and Umag is the third out of five tournaments played in Istria this March and April. Of course the ATP Stadium is not in use for this smaller event but with start of the quarterfinals the Grandstand is supposed to function as the main court.

In the first match of the day Uladzimir Ignatik, one of five Belarusians in the main draw, faced wild card Mate Delic. The Croat is playing his first tournament since the ATP Challenger in Bergamo at the beginning of February but knocked out second-seeded Gerard Granollers-Pujol in a stunning three-set encounter yesterday. In today’s match, Ignatik had the better start and took the first set in just under thirty minutes. The seventh-seed from Minsk didn’t suffer a break but lost his rhythm in the tie-break of the second set, which went in favour of Delic. In the final frame, it was Ignatik again who took command of a great clay court encounter with a lot of exciting rallies to finally take the match winning 6-2, 6-7, 6-3.

In Saturday’s semi-finals the Belarusian will face Lamine Ouahab. The Moroccan defeated Juan Lizariturry in three sets. The 22-year-old Spaniard, who reached the stage of the final four in Porec last week, bageled his opponent in an extraordinary first set. Ouahab already took a medical time-out after the second game and received treatment at his left shoulder. He also became pretty angry with some of the umpire’s decisions in the early stage of the match. “I felt some pain when I was serving,” Ouahab told us afterwards. “There was also one ball, which I thought it was in, but it was called out. I got maybe a bit too much upset about this decision,” the fourth-seed said in a very calm way. Nonetheless, it seemed that Ouahab, who was born in Algeria and received the Moroccan citizenship in January this year, found the right way to push the reset button. The 29-year-old broke serve in the first game of the second set and a totally new match started. Two more breaks and Ouahab took the frame in the seventh game. Lizariturry tried hard from the baseline but the Moroccan number one just had the better shot selection and all of his experience finally helped him to advance into the semis winning 0-6, 6-1, 6-1.

Juan played a pretty good match today right from the beginning but from the second set on, I tried to start a new match. It was much closer today than the scoreboard might say,” the Moroccan stated. “I know the Spanish guys very well as I have been living in Barcelona for thirteen years,” Ouahab explained his emotional expressions on court in Spanish. The former world number 114 has already won twenty ITF Future career titles, the last ten on home soil. “There are a lot of expenses traveling the Tennis Tour. You have to pay for everything at these types of tournaments. So normally I just play at home or in Spain. This is the beginning of the year and I had some help to come here. It’s unusual for me playing Futures outside of Morocco so I hope that I gain some points to get back to the bigger tournaments,” Ouahab told us about his goals for the season.

In the other two quarterfinal matches of day Simone Vagnozzi, who already took one ITF Future title in Palermo earlier this year defeated Croatian wild card, Antonio Sancic in straight sets winning 6-3, 6-1. Fun fact of the match occurred at Sancic’s very first serve of the match, when his string broke and he had to change his racket afterwards.

The Italian will meet the tournament’s top-seed, Kristijan Mesaros. The 25-year- old Croat beat Tak Khum Wang from Paris 6-1, 6-3 and hopes to advance into his first final of the season tomorrow after he had played two semis before in Murcia and Vrsar.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Futures Circuit.  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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A Day of “Firsts” for Flavia Pennetta and Novak Djokovic at the BNP Paribas Open

Novak Djokovic

By Kevin Ware

INDIAN WELLS – It was a day of “firsts” on finals Sunday at the BNP Paribas Open. Flavia Pennetta won her first WTA Premier Mandatory title by defeating a hobbled Agnieszka Radwanska, and Novak Djokovic won his first title of 2014 by outlasting Roger Federer in a dramatic 3-set final. The respective paths to their titles couldn’t have been more different.

In an unexpected turn, Pennetta overwhelmed an injured Radwanska 6-2, 6-1 for the biggest title of her career. “After so many years and so much work and everything, this is the moment I was waiting for,” Pennetta said. “And it comes when you least expect it.”

Her surprise is understandable given the struggles she endured in 2013. Pennetta lost to countrywoman Francesca Schiavone in the first round of last year’s tournament: one of many bad losses she suffered after her return to the tour from wrist surgery in 2012. Thoughts of retirement crossed her mind.

“The day after I was in the garden running and talking with my physio, Max, almost crying because the feeling and everything was so bad. And now, after one year, we have the trophy.”

Pennetta played solid tennis, but never needed to do more considering the condition of her opponent. Radwanska’s knee has been hurting the past few days, but she hoped that she might still be able to compete.

“This is the sport that you’re always playing with some pain or injury or sore muscles,” Radwanska said.  “But when the pain is so big that nothing is working, no painkillers, no tape. That means it is bad. Today nothing was working.”

“Unfortunately, it was too much pain.  I tried because this is the final, and I thought, you know, maybe in one game was going to be better and I would just keep going, but that didn’t really happen.”

Disappointment at not being able to compete at her best level weighed heavily on Radwanska, her voice breaking as she wiped away tears during the trophy presentation. She apologized for not being able to run as much as needed to in order to compete. Judging by the supportive crowd response, no apology was necessary.

This is Pennetta’s 10th WTA title, and her first since 2010. With this win, Pennetta moves to No. 12 in the rankings. Radwanska remains in the No. 3 position behind Serena Williams and Li Na.

In the men’s final, Novak Djokovic had to fight tooth and nail to defeat a resurgent Roger Federer 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(3) for his first title of the year. It was a high-quality match that fittingly came down to a third-set tiebreaker to decide the winner.

Federer won the first set with skillful serving and masterful ball-striking on his forehand side. His first serve percentage was 74%, and he won 75% of his first serves and 71% of his second serves. Anytime you’re over 70%, odds are good for a victory. Federer also hit 12 winners to only 9 unforced errors. His defense was solid, and he craftily mixed backhand slices to keep Djokovic successfully out of any rhythm.

By comparison, Djokovic served at 59%, and won only 36% of his second serves. He also only hit 5 winners to 6 unforced errors. He was tentative, and mistimed many shots badly. Djokovic readily acknowledged his slow start.

“Yeah, it wasn’t a great start for me.  First service game that I had I made a few double faults and unforced errors and allowed him a break.  That was enough for the first set.”

“Roger is probably best in the world when he’s up.  When he’s a break up, he wins his service games so comfortably and so fast that sometimes it’s very difficult to keep up.  But I managed to stay composed and stay confident.”

The second set saw an obvious drop in Federer’s game, both in serve and unforced error count, as Djokovic found his footing. An early break in hand, it wasn’t long before Djokovic served out the set at 6-3 to take the match to a deciding set.

Federer’s level continued to fluctuate badly, and he gave up an early break in the third. But to his credit, he fought hard and stayed close enough to Djokovic to take advantage if any break opportunity presented itself.

The opportunity came at 5-4 with Djokovic serving for the championship. Federer pounced and immediately put him under pressure. A few minutes later with the break under his belt, Federer held serve at love.

Unfortunately for Federer, the third-set tiebreak was all one-way traffic for Djokovic. After over two hours of shot-making drama, he netted a backhand on match point to hand Djokovic the win.

This is Djokovic’s third Indian Wells title. It’s also his 42nd title overall, moving him ahead of Stephan Edberg, and his 17th Masters Series title. In a year where he’s failed to win a title – or make a final – until three months in, his relief afterward was palpable.

“I’m just very happy and thrilled to be able to win the first title in this season.  It was the first final that I played this year.  It was necessary for my confidence, and hopefully I can carry that into Miami and the rest of the season.”

Federer leaves the desert with confidence in his game, and an appreciation for his continued fitness. “I’m just happy I’m playing consistent tennis and I’m going deep in tournaments and I’m giving myself chances to win.  So clearly would have been amazing to win here and win back to back tournaments with Dubai.”

“But I got very, very close, so it’s encouraging for Miami and for the rest of the season, no doubt.”

Kevin Ware was in Indian Wells covering the BNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Federer and Djokovic Set The Stage for Indian Wells Final

Federer DSC_31670463feder practice thursday

Roger Federer

By Kevin Ware

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic Set The Stage for a Mouthwatering Indian Wells Final

 [7] Roger Federer d [28] Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 6-1

Roger Federer completely overwhelmed Alexandr Dolgopolov in the first men’s semifinal to book his spot in Sunday’s final. Dolgopolov is one of the ATP’s brightest, and most exciting, young prospects: capable of incredible shot-making from anywhere on the court. Against Federer, Dolgopolov missed wildly, and was never able to sink his teeth into the match enough to put Federer under any credible pressure.

Federer was taken to deuce only once in the match, in the seventh game, but snuffed out any hopes for a break with an ace and a service winner. From that point on, it was an uphill battle for his Ukrainian opponent.

“I was ready physically, mentally.  I wasn’t nervous, but I wasn’t sharp enough.  My concentration was going away for maybe one, two points every game. You can’t afford to have that in these matches.”

One of the key problems in his match against Federer was his erratic serve. Against Milos Raonic in the quarterfinals, Dolgopolov struggled with his first serve (54%) but still managed to win 90% of those points. Against Federer, his first serve dropped to 39% with a winning percentage of only 67%. And his 12 winners were thoroughly offset by 25 unforced errors.

He struggled at serve, struggled with his ground game, and struggled in his net play. Dolgopolov put it succinctly when he said, “From the start of the match I was just not good enough to compete with him today.”

Federer, on the other hand, continues to play some of the most relaxed and free-swinging tennis he’s played in years; primarily due to the continued pain-free status of his back.

“Yeah, I think I’m just playing more freely overall and with more confidence because I can get to more balls without thinking.  I can wake up in the morning without feeling sore.  I can go to bed not feeling like, I hope I feel better tomorrow.”

Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

[2] Novak Djokovic d [12] John Isner 7-5, 6-7(2), 6-1

For Novak Djokovic, the road to the final was a much tougher affair. After taking a tight first set against Isner, he served for the match twice in the second set: once at 5-4, and again at 6-5. Both times he was broken by combination of nerves, loss of focus, and the aggressive Isner return game.

Once in the second set tiebreak, it was one-way traffic for Isner, who won the tiebreaker with big serving and an equally big ground game to take the match into a deciding set.

However, once Isner was broken in the fourth game of the deciding set – the fourth break of his serve in the match – one got the sense that it was one free gift too many for Djokovic. Unlike his miscues at the end of the second set, Djokovic kept his focus and fought through three deuces to consolidate the break.

To Isner’s credit, he continued to push Djokovic even as his knee bend began to get hampered by slight pain. By no means a “gimme”, Isner made Djokovic produce his best tennis to get through.

A second break of Isner’s serve in the sixth game put the final nail in the coffin for any hope of a comeback. Djokovic served out the match at love.

Isner was understandably disappointed after fighting so hard to get back into the match only to let it slip away in the third. “Yeah, you know, it’s always disappointing when you lose, no matter the situation.  You lose first round, it’s disappointing; end of the tournament, it’s still disappointing.”

In spite of the loss, he was heartened by his great week after a sustained post-Aussie injury layoff. “I didn’t hit a ball for a full month after Australia, so, you know, it’s encouraging in that I played well this week.  I certainly did.”

Novak was clearly relieved to get by an opponent with a serve that can take much of the game out of his hands.

“Yeah, it’s never easy to play John who is if not “the” best, but definitely the top three best servers in the game.  He’s the tallest guy next to Karlovic we have in sport.  He has a great technique.”

“Twice I had chance to finish it out (the second set) and I played two bad games and he played an incredible tiebreaker.  And, you know, when you get to the tiebreaker with John Isner, whoever you are, you’re not a favorite (smiling).”

In Federer, he faces a familiar foe for Sunday’s final, and realizes that it will be a tough match; especially after a February loss to Roger in the Dubai semifinals.

“Whenever we play each other it’s always a huge challenge for both of us, and very few points can decide the winner. I do not expect anything less tomorrow.  I just hope for myself that I will be able to perform on a high level, because I’m going to need to do that in order to get a chance to win against him.”

Men’s Final
Roger Federer v Novak Djokovic
H2H: Federer leads 17-15
Last match: Federer d Djokovic 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 (Dubai)

Women’s Final
Aga Radwanska v Flavia Pennetta
H2H: Radwanska leads 4-2
Last match: Pennetta d Radwanska 6-4, 611 (Dubai)

 

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Li Na to Meet Flavia Pennetta in Indian Wells Semis

(March 13, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – In a rematch of the Australian Open final, top seed Li Na defeated Dominika Cibulkova 6-3, 4-6, 6-3, while Flavia Pennetta battled past Sloane Stephens 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 and will face off in the semifinals of the BNP Paribas Open

The match which lasted 2 hours and 36 minutes improved Li’s record to 17-1 on the year. The woman from China lost just her first set during the tournament.

This is Li’s first WTA Premier event where she’s the top seed.

Everything for me is new, top seed, first time on the big tournament,” Li said

“Of course, you know, everyone looking different.  Not like before if I come here, maybe like No. 6 or No. 7 seed.

“But I think I am handling very well, so just continue.”

With being the top seed and a two-time major winner Li is feeling special at Indian Wells.

“No, I feel like I’m much friendlier,” she said with a smile. “No, joke.”

“Even like practicing the fans were watching.  But I think I find more fans supporting my husband, not for me.  Even we are practicing, working out, if he hit a winner, everyone was like so happy.

“It was a pretty tough match today,” said Cibulkova.  “I’m just disappointed a little bit that I didn’t win, because I had my chances today.”

“I think the biggest difference that I lost today was because her serve was better than mine.”

Flavia Pennetta had to endure a topsy-turvy two—hour and 26 minute match against Sloane Stephens. The Italian served for the match in both the second and third sets. She had to endure a dust storm with high winds and right herself after losing six straight games from the end of the second set to 0-3 in the third. Then she won six of the last seven games to seal the win on her fifth match point.

“I mean, we didn’t have a lot of fun today,” said the 32-year-old veteran.  “We didn’t play our best tennis.

“Maybe in the beginning we play much better, and in the second set one, but the third was a disaster for both of us.  I mean, I won.  I’m happy because I get through this match, but I don’t have a good feeling right now.  I mean, it’s normal.  Outside it’s crazy now.  It’s coming the wind from nowhere.

“But in the other part I’m really happy because I was down 3‑Love in the third, and I fight until the last point and the match was for me today.”

“I wasn’t playing my best at the beginning,” said Stephens.  “It was a bit up and down, but I just tried to battle and stay in there.  Second set was playing better and better.  Then the wind came, which was pretty unfortunate.

“I just tried to do my best and fight and battle for every point.  It was unfortunate that I lost.”

Pennetta

“It was a disaster,” the American said of the third set, agreeing with Pennetta who used those words during her post–match news conference  “It wasn’t super fun, super frustrating, but that happens sometimes.  You play tennis, so it is what it is.

“It really came out of nowhere.  Like I don’t even know what happened.  We just started the third set, and all of a sudden it was like ‑‑ it was like a windstorm.  I don’t know.  It was weird.”

Pennetta said her opponent has a bright future: “I think she’s already ‑‑ she’s 20, but she’s a good player.  She have a lot of matches, important matches.  She was in the semifinal already in a Grand Slam, so you are already a big champion for me.

“I mean, she’s one of the best players, of course.  In the future, I think she will be one of the best, top 10, for sure.

“She has everything:  unbelievable forehand; backhand; she improve a lot with the backhand in the last year; she’s powerful.”

“She play more or less like me, but she’s more powerful than me,” Pennetta said of her semifinal opponent Li Na.  “I have to be real aggressive tomorrow to try to take the situation, but is not going to be easy.”

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Kevin Anderson Upsets Aussie Champ Stan Wawrinka At The BNP Paribas Open

anderson-wawrinka-shake-water

By Kevin Ware

(March 12, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – With a strong first-round win over Ivo Karlovic, and the loss of just two games to Andreas Seppi, it was a foregone conclusion that Australian Open champion Stanislas Wawrinka would stretch his win streak to 14 matches for a spot in the BNP Paribas Open quarterfinals.

His opponent, Kevin Anderson of South Africa, had other plans; knocking out the World No. 3 in three sets 7-6(1), 3-6, 6-1. Anderson had previously lost to Wawrinka in their three previous meetings, but felt good about his chances in today’s R16 match because they were all closely-contested. This was particularly true of their last meeting at the 2013 Shanghai Masters.

Wawrinka won that tough three-setter by the slimmest of margins in a third-set tiebreak, 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(5).  One of the lessons that Anderson learned from that match was the need to be more aggressive. This was evident from the start with an early break of the Wawrinka serve.

“That was my game plan coming out.  I had played Stan a few times before, most recently in Shanghai last year, and just being quite aggressive and not giving him too much rhythm from the back.”

That aggressive play was almost his undoing as his error count rose in the second set. It didn’t help that Wawrinka, appearing injured and on the brink of retirement at the end of the first set, came back from the brink to win the second set.

An awkward lunge at a backhand initially led to some tense moments as Wawrinka armed serves and swatted at backhands with limited range of movement. Wawrinka said, “It’s just tightness. And I was a little bit nervous and tight and tired.”

When asked if he’d thought of retiring, he brushed aside the injury talk. “No, never.  As I said, the injury was not big problem at all.  Not at all.  Because I won the second set after.”

“I think I was negative all the match.  I was complaining a lot about my serve, about the way I was playing, and with that, I don’t deserve to win matches. I think I should have been more positive with myself, just trying to find solution, because it was still a close match.”

Anderson got back on track in the third set, but can’t be happy with the stats sheet. He served 11 aces against 8 double faults, and a whopping 40 unforced errors against 34 winners. Still, he continues a run of good form that has seen him play some of the best tennis of his career.

Anderson struggled mightily with injury issues (and surgeries) just a few years ago. Now that the worst is behind him, he attributes much of his current success to having a few relatively healthy years to work on his game. “I have really put as much emphasis as I can on giving myself the right amount of breaks and, really fortunately, being in the position where I can pick and choose my tournaments has helped a lot.”

“Staying healthy is such an important thing.  It sounds obvious, but if you’re not at 100% it’s really tough to compete. ”

Anderson will have his hands full with his next opponent, Roger Federer. But he feels more than up to the challenge.

“I have to come out and focus on my game and just do what I have been doing.  I feel like I have been playing good tennis, and I’m going to definitely continue that tomorrow.”

Kevin Ware is in Indian Wells covering theBNP Paribas Open for Tennis Panorama News. Follow his live updates on twitter @TennisNewsTPN.  Follow his personal twitter @SFTennisFreak.

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Novak Djokovic and Jelena Jankovic Advance at BNP Paribas Open

Djokovic thumbs up to fans while leaving

(March 11, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Novak Djokovic was tested in the middle set against Colombian Alejandro Gonzalez, but the Serbian pulled out a 6-1, 3-6, 6-1 win to move into the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday.

Other men advancing were 24th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, who defeated 16th-seeded Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6-3; 30th-seeded Fernando Verdasco  who beat No. 8 seed Richard Gasquet, 7-6 (5), 6-1 24th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia, who beat 16th-seeded Tommy Robredo 6-4, 6- and Roberto Bautista Agut stopped  Jarkko Nieminen, 6-2, 4-6, 7-6 (6).

On the women’s side. 2010 champion Jelena Jankovic defeated 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1 in the battle of former No. 1s. Also Advancing on the women’s side were No. 6 seed Simona Halep who stopped Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 1-6, 6-4; Casey Dellacqua of Australia moved on due to Lauren Davis pulling out of the tournament due to gastrointestinal illness and Maria Sharapova conqueror Camilia Giorgi was dismissed by her Italian countrywoman Flavia Pennetta in 56 minutes 6-2, 6-1 to reach the quarterfinals.

Two-time Indian Wells champion Djokovic had 28 winners in the match against Gonzalez. The Colombian before this week had never won an ATP Tour level match until Indian Wells.

“I honestly haven’t seen him play ever before that,” Djokovic said of his opponent.  “I got information from some other players, and my coach did preparations also for the match.  You know, asked also a few players what his weaknesses and strengths are in the game.

“It took me a little bit to get used to it, you know, but I thought I played really well from the start.  6‑1, and then his opening few games, service games, I had break points, and then suddenly I just had a big loss of concentration and allowed him to win the second set for no reason.

“Bounced back better in the third, but I obviously cannot allow myself to have these particular concentration lapses in the match at this level ‑ especially in the next match when I’m playing Cilic, you know, a guy who is in really good form and I think has gotten better in last couple of months working with Ivanisevic.

“So I’m going to have to be on top of my game throughout the whole match in order to win it.”

Djokovic plays Mari Cilic next.

“I’ve played him (Cilic) several times on different surfaces,” Djokovic said.  “We haven’t played each other for quite a long time.

“He started working with Goran, and as I said before, you can feel and you can notice the improvement in his game.  He’s more aggressive.  He comes to the net.  He’s a big guy, and that’s what you expect from him is to serve big and to come to the net.

“He’s using his serve as a big advantage nowadays, and also I feel like he’s moving better on the court.  He did before ‑‑ obviously he had this injury and then was absent from the tour for several months, but since he came back he’s a stronger player.

“I have been watching him playing some big matches.  He won against Murray in Rotterdam in straight sets.  He can definitely can play.  And not just play, I mean, he can win against top players.  That’s why I do not even for a second underestimate him.

“I’m coming into the match knowing that I’m going to have to be playing on top of my game in order to win that match.  I’m going to get myself ready for it.”

Jankovic fh volley

Djokovic’s countrywoman Jelena Jankovic routed Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1. Depending on how other players perform, Wozniacki’s ranking could fall to No. 15 in the world.

“I lost to her the last I don’t know how many times, but I think right now I am playing some pretty good tennis,” Jankovic said of finally ending a five-match losing streak against the Dane.  “I went on court, you know, trying to wait for my chances.

“Against her, if you go sometimes for too much you just make so many errors and you beat yourself.  A lot of times it happened in the past.

“So I try to play solid and aggressive at the same time, wait for the right shots, and then execute.  I did that pretty well.  3‑1 I kind of found my way, found my rhythm, and I was striking the ball very well out there and took control of the points.

“You know, I just did not let her play what she plays.  That was very important.  So I was pretty pleased with the way I played and how composed I stayed throughout the whole match.

“I kind of surprised myself, especially because of my back.  Two nights ago I hurt my back, and yesterday did not hit at all.  Had a lot of treatment.  Could not put my shoes on and all these kind of things.

“So I went on court today not knowing how I was going to feel.  You know, if I was going to be limited with my movement or if I was going to play my game.

“But I did, and I was surprised.  I was so happy and pleased with how everything went.”

Jankovic will play second-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska in the quarterfinals.

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Rafael Nadal Upset by Alexandr Dolgopolov in Third Round of BNP Paribas Open

Alexandr Dolgopolov

Alexandr Dolgopolov

(March 10, 2014) INDIAN WELLS – Defending champion Rafael Nadal fell to Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (5) in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Monday.  It proved to be a bad day for defending champions as Maria Sharapova was upset on Stadium 1 in the match before Nadal.

It was just last month in Rio that the Spaniard beat the 27th seed for the title in straight sets. Coming into Monday’s match, Dolgopolov had never even taken a set off of the world No. 1.

“I feel great, I mean, as after every win, of course,” said the winner.  “This one was bigger and I beat the defending champion, No. 1 in the world.

“I guess I just need to enjoy this evening and forget about it tomorrow and try to compete the rest of the tournament.  I’m still in.  That’s great, and I’m really happy I could manage to win today.

After splitting the first two sets, Dolgopolov took a 5-2 lead in the third.

Nadal rallied, taking the next three games. Both men held to take the match to a tiebreak.

Nadal grabbed a 4-2 lead in the tiebreak, Dolgopolov won the next three points for a 5-4 lead. Nadal evened it at 5-5, but then hit a ball long to give Dolgopolov the only match point he would need.

“I knew I’m playing well enough to win,” said the Ukrainian.  “The point was just not to get too nervous.  I knew he’s going to make me play that game and not miss much, and I just gave it away.  That was all on me.  I didn’t serve, didn’t play well, and I just tried to forget about that and come back.

“I think I did quite well service game at 5‑All, and the tiebreak was really good at the end for me.”

Nadal

“I played bad,” Nadal said.  “That’s all.  Disappointed with the way I played.  But that happens sometimes.  Can happen, and it happens.

“I did all what I had to do to be in good shape.  I worked very hard for the last week, week and week and a half.  After Rio I had a few days off, three days off, to recover the back.  Then I think I worked great.  I think worked great and with good feeling.

“But since I started the competition here I didn’t find the right feelings.  It’s true that I played against two opponents that probably didn’t help me to get the rhythm in the tournament.  But that’s it.  I was there.  I saved tough situation the first day.  Today I was close to save another one.

“But at the end, when you are on the limit, this thing happen.  You can lose.  I lost today.  Congratulate him.  He played I think better than me.  That’s it.  Life continues.

“Gonna keep working hard to try to be ready for Miami.”

“When I have two breaks in one set, normally I don’t lose the set,” Nadal explained.  “He played great.  He’s playing well, much better today.  Had good tournaments in Rio, in Acapulco, so great what the things that he is doing.

“But today.  At the end I have to analyze my part and opponent.  I cannot talk about the opponent because what the opponent does is not in my hands.  I can talk about what is in my hands, and what is in my hands I didn’t play enough solid today.

“I had enough breaks to win the match, but I didn’t play enough well from the baseline then to be solid with my serve.  Is not a problem with my serve.  Was more problem with my baseline shots.  I didn’t go for the points.  I played with too many mistakes.

“It’s a moment for the people to be proud a little bit for someone from their country,” Dolgopolov said, in reference to the political unrest going on between Ukraine and Russia.

“That’s good.  As I said a lot of times, it’s good to make some results and make the people forget a little bit and have some happy moments in the news except the politics and all the bad stuff happening.”

“It’s good to make some results and make the people forget a little bit and have some happy moments in the news.”

Despite losing the match, Nadal let in total points – 95 to 88 and Dolgopolov had more errors 49 to 36.

The Ukrainian will play Fabio Fognini for a place in the quarterfinals.

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