Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Roger Federer's "beard" rests in the hands of his twin daughters

I kind of want him to grow it out now, just to see how he would look with a full beard :D. Go for it Rog!.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Martina Hingis feels lucky to have Sania Mirza as doubles partner

Veteran Swiss tennis player Martina Hingis heaped praise on her doubles partner Sania Mirza on Sunday, terming the Indian as “extremely professional” and “optimistic” and a partner she is lucky to play with.

The unstoppable duo of Mirza and Hingis came up with yet another stupendous performance recently to win the women’s doubles title at the prestigious season-ending $7 million WTA Finals in Singapore.

It was the pair’s ninth title together this season out of 10 final appearances, having also won in Beijing, Wuhan, Guangzhou, US Open, Wimbledon, Charleston, Miami and Indian Wells. Mirza also won the Sydney International in January with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands to take her doubles trophy count to 10 this year.

“It has been a great year for me with Sania. She is a great player. We have great respect for each other. She is extremely professional and an optimistic player. Our friendship and relationship both on and off the court has led to this success,” Hingis said at a press conference in Mumbai.

“Sania has improved a lot on the nets. We all know she is extremely good at the backhand but she has improved on the nets too. Hoping to continue this good run in days to come. Lucky to have Sania as a partner in the incredible journey,” the 35-year-old said.

Speaking on the her mixed doubles partner Leander Paes, she said, “Paes is a legend in this game. I can rely on Paes as he is a great player in the nets and I can concentrate at the back. He also has great volleys.”

Praising both Mirza and Paes, the Swiss star said the duo might have some weakness in the court but their strengths make them a champion in the game.

“They both have different strengths and weaknesses. They have good qualities and what makes them champion is their strengths,” she said.

Hingis is in the country to play for Hyderabad Aces in the Champions Tennis League starting on Monday which is the mastermind of the legendary Vijay Amritraj. Reigning US Open women’s singles champion Flavia Pennetta will play for Mumbai Masters in the six-team tournament featuring Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Raipur, Nagpur and Chennai.

The current men’s top players who will feature in the league are, Marcos Baghdatis (Punjab Marshalls, Chandigarh), and Spanish professionals Feliciano Lopez (Team Nagpur) and Fernando Verdasco (Chennai).

Among the women players who will play in the six teams alongside Pennetta and Hingis are Serbian Jelena Jankovic (Nagpur), France’s Alize Cornet (Raipur), Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina (Chandigarh) and Heather Watson of Britain (Chennai).

Speaking on the competition, Hingis said, “This is a great tournament to play in. I am looking forward to give my best for my team and do well. Amritraj has brought this up and I wish him all the best for this.”

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Roger Federer wins battle of the Swiss in swift fashion sets up another ATP World Tour Final with Djokovic

The eight-man field at the Barclays ATP World Tour Final has been whittled down to two. No. 3 seed Roger Federer will face World No. 1 Novak Djokovic for the trophy on Sunday, having booked a spot in the title match with a 7-5, 6-3 triumph over countryman Stan Wawrinka at The O2.

Djokovic defeated longtime rival Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-3 earlier on Saturday in the other semi-final. Federer holds a slight 22-21 edge in their FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, having defeated the Serb this week in Group Stan Smith play 7-5, 6-2.

"Same court, same place," said Federer of his re-match with the top-ranked Djokovic. "For me, it's an advantage because I guess it gives me a bit of confidence. For him, it's an advantage because he gets a second chance, and he's in another final. He's played some great tennis since we've played. I still believe his confidence is slightly higher than mine with the amount of success he's had this year."

The last time a player avenged a loss in round-robin play with a victory in the final was back in 2005, when Argentine David Nalbandian fell to Federer 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, then came back to defeat the Swiss for the title 6-7(4), 6-7(11), 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(3).

In a re-match of the 2014 semi-finals, the bearded Federer held his serve at love to open the match, but was broken in the fifth game as Wawrinka moved ahead 3-2. But a loose service game from the 30-year-old Swiss allowed Federer back in the set at 4-all. Another break with his opponent serving at 5-6 would give Federer a one-set lead.

The 34-year-old maintained that momentum in the second set, racing out to 3-0 and never looked back. He would finish with 30 winners to 19 unforced errors in the one-hour and 10-minute win.

Federer now owns a 264-63 record indoors — the best career mark among active players.

By winning all three of his round-robin matches in Group Stan Smith, Federer guaranteed that he will finish as the Swiss No. 1 for the 15th straight season in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

With Andy Murray’s elimination on Friday, Federer can pass the Brit and reclaim the No. 2 ranking by winning his seventh Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title. If he loses Sunday’s final, Murray will be the year-end No. 2 for the first time in his career. Even if Federer wins the title, Murray can still end 2015 as the World No. 2 if he wins two live rubbers in singles during the Davis Cup final Nov. 27-29 (adding 150 ranking points).

Wawrinka closes the 2015 season at a career-best 55-18 and will finish in the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the third straight year. He won a career-high four titles, including his second Grand Slam crown at Roland Garros.

"The year was amazing," said Wawrinka. "I didn't expect to play that well, to be here tonight, honestly, being No. 4, winning a Grand Slam, semi-finals here again. I couldn't expect more. I won two titles for the first time in my career — one of them the French Open, beating the No. 1 player. I made the semi-finals at the US Open, Australian Open; quarter-finals at Wimbledon. I was quite consistent at the highest level. I beat so many top guys. The year, it was amazing for me."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Roger Federer still improving at 34

There was much talk this summer about Roger Federer’s newfangled move, the acronymic SABR (Sneak Attack By Roger), that chip-and-charge offensive the Swiss added to his already considerable arsenal in Cincinnati. But what got lost in all the ballyhoo was that, some 17 years and 17 Grand Slams into his career, the 34-year-old was even willing to tweak his game at all.

As Federer explained, “You can be stubborn and successful or you can give it up a bit and change things around. I think you need to challenge yourself and try out new things, maybe where you practise, how you practise, who you practise with, the advice you receive sometimes, equipment, you name it, maybe a grip, maybe a string, maybe racquet technology. Everything keeps evolving and changing."

The benefits that come along with that openness to change were on display at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Tuesday, when after four losses in six matches against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in 2015, Federer reversed the trend, downing his longtime rival in straight sets 7-5, 6-2.

Djokovic hadn’t lost a match in his previous 23 outings, a dominant stretch that included consecutive titles at the US Open, Beijing, Shanghai and Paris.

“I think a tennis player never stops working on his game,” said Federer after the win. “Unfortunately, we don't have enough time to practise — a lot of match play, a lot of resting, a lot of preparing. In a perfect world, it would be great to have many more months to prepare, because you then could actually come back and be sort of a different player. Of course, it's our decision to take that time, but it's hard to sit on the sidelines for months when other guys are winning tournaments and your ranking is dropping in the process.

“I won't say I regret doing it,” confided Fededer, looking back on his title-filled career on the ATP World Tour, “but I wish I could have taken even more time to train on my game.”

So in between events — he has played 17 in 2015 — he dabbles, he tweaks, he adds to his game, never quite satisfied with the status quo.

“I think in the last couple years since I changed my racquet, that gave me a totally different approach on how I can return, how I can serve, what I can do,” he explained. “It was about keeping my forehand and my slice up to a standard which I liked. And naturally the backhand and the serve improved because of the easier power I received from my racquet. Of course, then tactical elements come into play more and more. The experience helps. The experience can also hinder you sometimes because of playing too much percentage tennis. I still feel like I'm young in the mind and I don't shy away from trying new things. That’s what keeps it still interesting for me.”

Federer and Djokovic have now played 43 times, their FedEx ATP Head2Head history tracing all the way back to 2006. For now, it’s the Swiss who holds a slight 22-21 edge. But don’t hold your breath if you’re waiting on some complacency. He knows all too well how dangerous a player Djokovic can be.

“To me, Novak is still the favorite of the tournament,” Federer explained. “He should make his way to the semis somehow. And he'll be the favourite in that probably, too, with the year he's had. He's far from gone. The way I know Novak, he's going to find a way to be tougher to beat from now on.”

Friday, November 20, 2015

Roger Federer "beard" dilemma at ATP World Tour Finals in London

Looking like a bizarro version of himself, the kind who’d trip 12-year-old ballboys just for the fun of it, intentionally speak in the non-native language of wherever the tournament was being played and smoke those long European cigarettes while making fun of Novak Djokovic’s cheap Uniqlo clothes, Roger Federer was seen sporting a light, but still scruffy, beard for his Tuesday round-robin victory over Djokovic at the ATP World Tour Finals.

Doesn’t The Fed still have a deal with Gillette that reportedly pays him millions per year? Or is this part of some Gillette marketing ploy — a razor company struggling in a world of hipsters and the lazy, showing that you can let the ol’ shadow grow for a few days and still get a clean shave with the 14-bladed razor Gillette probably has now? (Oh, it’s only five? C’mon guys. Step it up.)

UPDATE: Federer is no longer with Gillette, according to ESPN. When asked about the “beard” in press, he offered a joke about his hipster, blogger-like look:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Roger Federer fights past resilient Nishikori, wins all 3 round robins reaches ATP World Tour semis in London

Escaping the “backhand cage” is something Roger Federer has had a lot of practice doing over his illustrious career.

Federer defeated Kei Nishikori 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 at the Barclays World Tour Finals on Thursday afternoon, only winning three more points (96 to 93) over the two-hour and 10-minute battle.

Making Roger Federer hit as many backhands as possible in a row is what the backhand cage strategy focuses on. Federer may make his first couple of backhands, but can he make four or five in a row?

At the start of the match, Federer looked like he had all the time in the world to hit backhands, but Nishikori gradually improved his court position and groundstroke velocity to really target the Federer backhand side.

Nishikori was the first opponent to win a set from Federer this year in London, and also the first opponent to make him hit more backhands than forehands from the back of the court.

Federer hit 54 per cent backhands and 46 per cent forehands from the baseline against Nishikori, committing 13 backhand unforced errors, while hitting eight backhand winners.

Federer hit 55 per cent forehands in defeating Tomas Berdych, and went 50/50 beating Novak Djokovic - both of those in straight sets.

Federer is now totaling 49 per cent forehands and 51 per cent backhands combined over his first three matches at The O2.

Federer’s forehand is a much more potent weapon from the back of the court, and also helps set up countless attacks to the net.

Federer’s average backhand speed against Nishikori was 63 miles per hour (Nishikori 69 mph), with his topspin backhand averaging 71 mph (Nishikori 74 mph).

Nishikori definitely held the edge in backhand-to-backhand exchanges, constantly trying to make Federer hit one more shot in search of one more error, and also playing behind him with great success. Nishikori won 63 baseline points to Federer’s 49, with the backhand cage being the primary pattern.

Overall, Federer hit 72 per cent of his backhands with topspin against his Japanese opponent, mixing in 28 per cent slice to try and keep the ball low, and not give Nishikori any power to work with.

Nishikori hit 80 per cent topspin off his backhand, and 20 per cent slice, looking to hit the ball harder and deeper, leaning on the Federer backhand to commit errors.

Nishikori hit 79 per cent of his backhands cross court in a clear attempt to keep Federer in the dreaded “backhand cage”.

Nishikori also hit his backhand deeper, hitting 85 per cent past the service like, compared to only 76 per cent from Federer.

Nishikori Returning

Federer did not serve well, only making 54 per cent (51/94) of his first serves, but won a very high 84 per cent (43/51) when he did get it in.

Of note was how well Federer performed serving in the Ad court, only losing two points for the entire match. He won 12/13 serving out wide, and 9/10 down the T.

An interesting dynamic was how Federer was constantly kicking the ball up high to his 5'11" opponent’s backhand in the Ad court, with the Japanese star moving forward to stop it climbing out of his strike zone.

Nishikori averaged making contact 1.43 metres (4.7 feet) with his backhand return wide in the Ad court, but only 1.27 metres (4.2 feet) hitting forehand returns out wide in the deuce court.

That 16 centimetre (6.3 inches) difference is all about using spin and height to force a weaker return from Nishikori’s backhand wing.

Key Moments

Federer led 4-1 in the second and lost it 6-4, and also led 4-1 in the third set before Nishikori raced back to level at 4-4. A critical moment for Federer was escaping a 0/40 hole at 1-1 in the third set, winning five straight points to get out of the jam. In the 2015 season, Federer is amazingly holding 37 per cent of the time when trailing 0/40.

Nishikori also contributed an untimely double fault serving at 4-5, 40/30, in the final set, and the match was quickly over two points later.

Nishikori got close with the right strategy, but his good play was too often tied to the scoreboard.

When he was trailing Federer, he played very aggressively with his court position and velocity of shot, but that needed to turn up more when he was ahead in the score.

It was the perfect hit-out for Federer, being pushed to the limit, and relying more on his backhand than his traditional strengths to get over the finish line.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Roger Federer gets the best of Novak Djokovic moves to ATP World Tour Finals semis

Roger Federer Tumblr tag

After four losses in six match-ups with the World No. 1 in 2015, six-time champion Roger Federer defeated Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-2 in round-robin action on Tuesday at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Federer’s straight-sets victory, coupled with Kei Nishikori’s three-set 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 decision over Tomas Berdych, means he has qualified for the Group Stan Smith semi-finals. The Swiss broke their FedEx ATP Head2Head deadlock and moved ahead 22-21 with the victory. Djokovic, who tied the series with a four-set win in the 2015 US Open final, has never had more victories than Federer in their rivalry, which dates back to the ATP Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo in 2006.

Both players looked sharp early on, especially on serve, but Federer seized the momentum, taking the opening set 7-5 in 44 minutes. He would keep rolling in the second set, totaling 19 winners and a like number of unforced errors in closing out the match in one hour and 17 minutes.

"Winning the first set clearly in a match like this gives you the upper hand," said Federer, at 34 the oldest player to qualify for the year-end finale since Andre Agassi (35) in 2005. "It was important to strike again as quick as possible in the second set, and I did."

“You have those days as well when you're not feeling your best — not even close to the best," said Djokovic, the reigning three-time champion. “Credit to Roger for mixing up the pace, giving me always a different ball. He used the slice and spin very wisely. He served very efficiently. I made a lot of unforced errors [22]. Just handed him the win, especially in the second set.

“But, again, that's sport,” Djokovic added. “Sometimes these kind of matches, these kind of days happen. The good thing is that it's a round-robin system, so I still have an opportunity to reach the semis."

"I didn't think I mixed it up that crazy, to be honest," Federer asserted. "I didn't play any insane tactics. It was pretty straightforward, in a way I've played him many times in the past. My game is to mix it up, change up the spins. His game is to press you away. I think we both played our regular game, and it was a good outcome for me tonight."

Federer won 75 per cent (27 of 36) of his first-serve points, and converted four of eight break-point opportunities.

Djokovic had been riding a 23-match win streak since falling to Federer in the Cincinnati final on Aug. 23. He had won 16 straight matches at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, including wins over Federer in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (walkover).

The rivals have met more times (43) than any other two players in the Open Era with the exception of Djokovic and Rafael Nadal (45). The pair’s respective coaches, Hall of Famers Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg, played 35 times.