2014/10/02

Final Push to London Starts in Asia

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

By Abigail Hinto

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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

 

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Doubles for Singles, Nadal Returns to the Court After Wrist Injury

By Abigail Hinto

(September 29, 2014) BEIJING – Rafael Nadal was back on the court on Monday for the first time since injuring his right wrist in July to play a doubles match at the China Open. He partnered with Spanish compatriot Pablo Andujar in his return.

 

The ever enthusiastic crowd of Chinese fans greeted all four singles players, Rafael Nadal and Pablo Andujar versus Tomas Berdych and John Isner, playing their first matches here at the China Open as doubles players with their usual zeal and passion.  Along with the return of Rafael Nadal to competition after being out for 3 months with a wrist injury, a first round doubles match brought out a full and noisy crowd to the Moon Court of the Beijing National Tennis Center with numerous Spanish flags swaying with the cool breeze under a hot sun.

 

Meanwhile, who cares for a team uniform for these singles players when no one bothered to coordinate with their teammates. Andujar, Berdych and Isner were all in white shirts with varying designs with Berdych sporting printed grey and orange shorts.  Nadal, on the other hand was the standout in an aquamarine/teal shirt with orange highlights and grey shorts.

 

As for the match, both the first and second sets were close with only one break each deciding the winner of the sets.  Andujar was broken in the first set serving 5-6 down, deuce, when Nadal, eager to win the point for his team crossed for a volley, cut it too close and netted the ball.  The second set break came on against Isner’s serve thanks to Andujar’s returning.  No wonder Andujar was chosen by the team to receive Isner’s serve when the first game reached the deciding point. Another good return from Andujar and the break was the Spaniards’.  Nadal then served out the set for 6-4 but not before facing 2 break back points.  A poor return by Berdych off a second serve from Nadal, then another error netting a volley while approaching the net, saw Nadal hold to take the second set.

 

The match was then decided in a match tiebreak which Berdych and Isner ran away with after being down 1-3 with great plays from both players winning 8 consecutive points until eventually winning the match tiebreak 10-4. Final score: 7-5, 4-6, 10-4.

 

A fun, competitive atmosphere for these single players who probably played doubles for match practice but definitely went out there to win.

Nadal begins his quest for the singles title Tuesday, when he faces Richard Gasquet in the opening round.

 

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

 

Photos by Natalie Ho.

 

 

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Marin Cilic Reaches First US Open Semi with Victory over Tomas Berdych

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

(September 4, 2014) Last year Marin Cilic missed the US Open because he was suspended from the tour after testing positive for a banned stimulant. He said that took the unintentionally from a glucose tablet he purchased from a pharmacy. He tested positive for nikethamide after a match in Munich in May of 2013.

This year the Croatian Cilic who is the 14th seed, is back on tour and has reached his first US Open semifinal by defeated sixth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

“It was a great performance today,” Cilic said. “Was very tricky with the conditions. Very gusty. I mean, for both of us. We are big guys. Not easy to deal with the wind and with, I mean, the ball moving in the air. I felt that I was using the wind a bit better today. Just considering the conditions and the opening of the match went in my side, that sort of relaxed me a bit more. I felt that I’m in a good driving seat and that Tomas was all the time catching me and I was serving good in the right moments. So, yeah, it feels great to be in the semis first time after three tries in quarterfinals. Lost both times to eventual winners. Just feels great to be here.”

Cilic’s serve was the key to victory, hitting 19 aces. The Croatian hit 46 winners to Berdych’s 21.

“I start pretty terribly,” Berdych said. “It was not the way to start the match like that. Then obviously was really tough to catch up. And really my serve was off. Basically, you know, when you have a game built on a serve, then it’s really tough and difficult to reschedule it and do it a bit differently. Yeah, today was not, definitely not the day I want to have. Yeah, that’s it. That’s tennis. Just need to carry over and go forward.”

Cilic is now the first Croatian to make the semifinals of the US Open since his coach, former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic did it in 1996.

“The only matches I watched on TV was Goran’s Wimbledon matches,” Cilic said of his tennis memories as a child. “That’s the only memory, you know, from tennis at very young age. And then later I started to play with him when I was 14 few times. He was out due to his shoulder injury. He played with me and one other kid from Croatia my age, and that was, for me, huge at age of 14 to play with my idol. Was amazing. Then I think he helped me a lot with pointing me in a good direction with my coach, long-time coach, Bob Brett. I think that was a very crucial part of my career.”

“You know Goran, so Goran is everything but not boring. Yeah, I feel that it’s very entertaining. We work a lot, but we still — I mean, even some days we are preparing, you know, we would have sessions of three, three-and-a-half hours or whatever, and we always have good time. I think that’s most important. It’s, I would say, can’t be better.”

Cilic will face the winner of the Roger Federer–Gael Monfils quarterfinal in his semifinal on Saturday.

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Around the Grounds at the Rogers Cup Toronto

 

(August 3, 2014) TORONTO, CANADA – Photographer Nida Alibhai snapped photos all around the grounds of the Rogers Cup on Sunday, August 3, 2014.

Photos include: Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Bernard Tomic,Tomas Berdych, Feliciano Lopez and others.

Follow Nida Alibhai’s photo coverage of the tournament on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

 

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Tennis Stars Venus Williams, Tomas Berdych Pose for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue

Venus Williams photo by Williams+Hirakawa for ESPN The Magazine

Venus Williams photo by Williams+Hirakawa for ESPN The Magazine

 

(June 23, 2014) Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams and 2010 Wimbledon finalist, No 6 Tomas Berdych, will be featured in this year’s The Body Issue by ESPN The Magazine.

 

In addition to posing nude for the issue, Williams exposes harrowing new details about her ongoing battle with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder. “At my worst point, I wasn’t able to play tennis at all,” says Williams. “Just the whole quality of my life was compromised. You are so tired it hurts. You have to accept that you’re never going to be 100%.”

 

Williams, who was forced to stop playing for just over six months because of the illness, reveals how she was able to work her way back up the rankings. “Because of Sjogren’s syndrome, I have to be careful,” says Williams. “If I train too hard then I won’t be able to do anything the next day. There would be times when I’d park my car at home, and I fell asleep behind the wheel because I was so tired! It’s a balance between pushing myself as much as I can and being reasonable about what I can achieve and what my body will tolerate.”

IG_BWW_TomasBerdych

Berdych photo by Max Vadukul for ESPN The Magazine

 

Berdych becomes only the second ATP player to pose for The Body Issue, following in John Isner’s footsteps last year. Looking towards Wimbledon, the 6-foot-5 ace opens up about how this body reacts to the move from clay to grass. “The grass is a very big challenge for me,” Berdych told ESPN The Magazine reporter Morty Ain. “There are these low bounces and different movements, which is very difficult especially for my height and weight. I start to feel it in the lower back and the lower hamstring.” Regardless, Berdych is optimistic about his prospects. “My first Grand Slam final was at Wimbledon,” he says, “so I have no complaints about the grass.”

 

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Novak Djokovic to Play Ernests Gulbis in the Semis of Paris

 

Djokovic on court 321-001

(June 3, 2014) Novak Djokovic will play Ernests Gulbis for a place in the French Open. Both men had straight set wins on Tuesday to advance to the semis.

No. 2 Djokovic stopped No. 8 Milos Raonic 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-4. Djokovic stands two winning matches away from claiming his first French Open title completing a career grand slam and returning to the No. 1 spot.

Ernests Gulbis broke the “curse” with his win over Tomas Berdych – the last eight players to beat Roger Federer at a major tournament lost the very next match. The 25-year-old Latvian reaches his first major semifinal and extends his current winning streak to 13.

“It’s very special,” Gulbis said in an on-court after the match. “Today was the best match of the tournament. I did everything well.”

 

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“Kimye” and Mrs. Doubtfire in Notes and Quotes for Day 1 of the French Open

 

(May 25, 2014) Taking a quick look at some of the off-beat stories on Day 1 at Roland Garros.

Serena – Friend of Kimye

Serena Williams, a friend of reality television celebrity Kim Kardashian and recording artist Kanye West participated in in the pre-wedding celebration of the newly married couple.

Serena said, “went to a few of the festivities” in France including “dinner in Versailles and stuff,” which led up to the “Kimye” wedding.

“Always fun with Kim,” Serena said about the festivities.

The nuptials took place in a fortress in Florence, Italy on Saturday.

 

 

Tomas Berdych and his Hawaiian Shirt

World No. 6 Tomas Berdych is sporting an H&M floral shirt this fortnight in Paris. It rather resembles a Hawaiian shirt. When asked about it in press, Berdych said, “Everyone wears the same and everyone looks the same. So this is something different, which I like.”

Agnieszka Radwanska and Mrs. Doubtfire Separated-at-birth?

Radwanka won the first match at Roland Garros on Sunday, but her outfit garnered mixed reviews. Her floral dress drew comparisons to an outfit worn by Robin Williams in the movie ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’.

 

Hat tip to Matt Fitzgerald.  

“Selfie” of the Day

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Tomas Berdych Pulls Out of Miami, Rafael Nadal Advances to Final Aganist Novak Djokovic

Tomas Berdych

(March 28, 2014) Seventh  seed Tomas Berdych has been forced to withdraw from the Sony Open due to gastroenteritis.  Rafael Nadal will advance to the final with a walkover. He will play Novak Djokovic for the Miami Masters title on Sunday. This will mark their 40th head-to-head meeting.

Earlier in the day Kei Nishikori withdrew from his semifinal against Djokovic with a left groin injury.

Novak Djokovic Moves into Sony Open Final After Kei Nishikori Withdraws with Left Groin Injury

“I just woke up with a pain in my stomach, just went for toilet, and got really strong diarrhea,” Berdych said.  “And since then, it starts to go on and on.  More time, diarrhea, and then also throwing up and stuff like that.

“So I lost so much of the liquid and all the possible energy I could have.

“Came here.  Tried to do as much as I could, you know, see the doctors, receiving the IV, and basically not with good results that I can basically go and try.”

“It’s not what we wish for,” Adam Barrett, the Sony Open tournament director said.  “First, I just want to thank Tomas that he did ‑‑ that he got out to the site.  We all know when you’re not feeling well, especially with the stomach bug of some sort, flu, virus, even a bad cold, you know, most of us don’t go to work.

“Yet to try to come out and prepare for a three‑set match against the No. 1 player in the world, it took a lot of effort for him to do that.  As I said, most of us would have been in bed watching TV all day.

“So I really appreciate that he gave it a shot.  Appreciate all the work that the doctors did trying to get him ready.  But unfortunately we have been unlucky today.  It’s never happened before.”

“It’s very unlucky, very unusual for something that can happen,” Rafael Nadal said.  “Sorry for Kei, sorry for Tomas, and sorry for the tournament, especially sorry for the fans.”

This weekend’s finals will both feature match-ups of the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players in the world. Saturday’s women’s final at 1 pm will see No. 1 Serena Williams taking on No. 2 Li Na. The men’s final at 2:30 pm on Sunday will see No. 1 Nadal battling No. 2 Djokovic.

 

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Seeds Tomas Berdych, Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Sara Errani Fall

Bautista Agut

Bautista Agut

(March 9, 2014) No. 4 seed Tomas Berdych fell to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

“It is tough opponent, but, you know, first of all I need to say that he really handled the tough situation today really well,” the Czech said.

“But secondly, more important to me that anything I touched today was basically bad and was wrong.  So really, you know, just to recap it, definitely my worst match that I had this year.  That’s it, you know.

Berdych

Berdych

“That’s another experience.  That’s another way of the tennis, also.  It’s not only about winning.  So, yeah, just learned I need to learn from those mistakes that I did and just keep going.

Tsonga

Tsonga

Ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also fell to French countryman Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-4.

Bouchard

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard put out No. 10 seed Sara Errani 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the fourth round of a WTA Premier event for the first time in her career.

The 20-year-old outhit her top ten opponent 36 to 10 in total winners. She’ll face will next face Romania’s Simona Halep, the world No. 7.

“She’s definitely improved a lot,” Bouchard said of her next opponent.  “I think she’s a really good, solid player.  I’m excited to play her.  I’m looking forward to playing against her game and seeing what it’s like and, you know, still focusing on my game and doing what I need to do.”

 

Isner interviewed

The lone American man left standing John Isner beat Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko 7-6 (5), 6-3.

“It was a very good start.  I was happy with how I played.

“You know, I felt my intentions were good out there.  I played well.  I created a lot of opportunities for myself on return, and that’s really all I can ask for.

“So as far as that goes, very happy.  Could have been a little bit cleaner, but all in all, I thought I played well.  I served extremely well.  You know, stayed aggressive for the most part.

“Happy to be through.  These conditions are very good for me.”

As to being the only US male left in the singles draw, the 6 foot 10 Isner said he does not feel any additional pressure: “No, I don’t.  I guess yesterday wasn’t a great day for our American men.  But, you know, selfishly I’m just worried about myself, really.  I certainly want all those guys to do well.

“But at the same time, it’s not my concern at all.  My concern is myself and just trying to keep moving forward and keep getting better and get back to where I want to be.”

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Roger Federer Rallies to Win Sixth Dubai Title

Federer wins with arms raised

By Florian Heer

(March 1, 2014) DUBAI – Roger Federer won his sixth crown in the desert at the Duty Free Tennis Championships beating last year’s finalist Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, coming back from being down a set and a break. The Swiss led their head-to-head series 11-6 before the match but it was the Czech, who emerged victorious the last two times the pair met at the US Open in 2012 as well as here in Dubai last year.

 

In front of fully packed stands, it was Federer, who gained first blood by taking the opportunity and broke a shaky third service game from the Czech. Berdych recovered quickly and broke back to even score at 2-2 when the 32-year-old former world No. 1 started to produce a couple of unforced errors with his forehand. In the following the third-seed remained aggressive, in particular on Federer’s second serve, of which the Swiss could only win 30% percent of the points. Consequently Berdych gained another break in the sixth game.

 

The Czech served out taking a not very exciting first set in 33 minutes. Berdych also made the stronger start into the second set getting a break in the fifth game. Federer, who was clearly favored and backed by the crowd was able to find the right answer by gaining the immediate break back. The Swiss now playing with an aggressive style, came to the net more often, snatched the momentum and gained another break on set point in the tenth game to take the match the distance.

In the final set, Berdych’s first serve and forehand seemed to desert him. The Czech lost his service in the fourth game and Federer confirmed impressively in the following through a nice drop shot. The Swiss eventually served out the match after one hour and 58 minutes beating Berdych 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 for the first time since Madrid Masters in 2012. Federer ended the Czech’s eleven matches winning streak by lifting his sixth Dubai crown as well as his 78th career title but will remain the world’s No. 8 in the ATP Rankings.

“It’s like one of the things you just kind of hope it turns for the better,” Federer said afterwards about coming back from a set and a break down. “At that point you’re just telling yourself to serve well to give you maybe a few good opening points on Tomas’ serve. If he serves well, it’s difficult or the margins are extremely slim at that point. So once you do get back, it’s important not to relax then and think that the hardest part is done. It’s only about to beginning actually,” the Swiss explained.

“So I was happy I was able to use the momentum, win the second set and then it was a tough third one wasting the 0-40 game on Tomas’ first service game. Then I even had to save breakpoints by myself. I mean, anything could have happened there but things definitely went my way tonight,” the champion was happy. “It was a switch I wanted to do for a long time,” Federer said about the role of his new racket. “I like the chances Wilson was able to come up with. I’m happy that the results are paying off, especially in quick succession. I have only just switched and I made it into the final in Brisbane, the semis at the Australian Open, won my Davis Cup match and now I’m here with my trophy,” he added. Federer himself, however, is not sure if he can be dominating world tennis again. “Who knows? I’m just happy that I’m healthy again and that I can focus on tactics and not focus on me,” the Swiss concluded.

“Many things went wrong today,” said a disappointed Berdych afterwards. “The match was starting pretty well. I had really many chances, and then I basically just gave him the game and that’s it. I’m disappointed how I handled the situation. I was in better shape, played really well and made my chances. Unfortunately I didn’t execute until the end,” the Czech stated.

The Swiss has won at least one ATP World Tour title every year since 2000 and Saturday’s victory saw him pass the $80m mark in career earnings. Federer now has a 42-5 event record in Dubai, previously lifting the trophy in 2003-05, 2007 and 2012.

Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi

Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi

Earlier in the afternoon, the tournament’s two top-seeded-pairs faced each other when the combination of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic took on Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi. It was only the Serb losing his service game during the match. In the opening set Zimonjic was broken in the tenth game and in the second frame it happened in the fourth game. Qureshi finally served for the title winning 6-4, 6-3 in 68 minutes. The “IndoPak Express” took their first title as a team since the ATP Masters 1000 in Paris in 2011. It was theit fifth ATP World Tour team title and first since reuniting at the start of 2014.

“We started off well this season playing a good final in Sydney but lost it to Nestor and Zimonjic. I’m happy to get a little sweet revenge back,” Bopanna said afterwards.

“Today we took our chance, which was key I think. On the big points, especially the no add points, Rohan returned remarkably well. I also think that we served really well and smartly,” Qureshi added. “Even though we have a different style of play, we both play really aggressively. In a way it does complement each other and also the fact that we always keep us motivated even after hitting bad shots. It’s just working as a team,” Bopanna told about their good partnership. “We also have Scott Davidoff traveling with us now. He’s been on the tour for many year and has a lot of experience. I think he’s brought in so much more to our game as well,” the Indian added.

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

See all of the photos from the past two weeks of Dubai tennis coverage on the Tennis Panorama Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/OOUwHw

 

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