Friday, October 19, 2018

Wimbledon to introduce final set tie-break at next year's championships

LONDON, UK: The All England Lawn Tennis Club has announced the introduction of a final set tiebreak as from next year's Wimbledon Championships.

Informed by a thorough review of match data from the past 20 Championships, and upon consultation with players and officials, the tiebreak will be played when the score reaches 12-12 in the final set.

This rule, which will be processed with respect for the Rules of Tennis governed by the ITF, will apply to all events at The Championships. The match winner(s) will be the first player(s) to win seven points with an advantage of two or more points. There will be no change to the current format of the Wheelchair and Quad Wheelchair events, which are the best of three tiebreak sets.

AELTC Chairman Philip Brook commented: “In reaching this decision, the AELTC Committee sought the feedback of both players and officials, analysed two decades of match data, and considered other factors including scheduling complexities and spectator experience.

“Our view was that the time had come to introduce a tiebreak method for matches that had not reached their natural conclusion at a reasonable point during the deciding set. While we know the instances of matches extending deep into the final set are rare, we feel that a tiebreak at 12-12 strikes an equitable balance between allowing players ample opportunity to complete the match to advantage, while also providing certainty that the match will reach a conclusion in an acceptable timeframe.

“As a next step, we look forward to sharing further details with our Grand Slam, ITF, WTA and ATP colleagues when we meet in Singapore.”

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Roger Federer is happy with his level of play despite semis loss to Coric in Shanghai

Roger Federer fell short of reaching his fourth Rolex Shanghai Masters final on Saturday, losing in straight sets to the ever-improving Borna Coric. And while the loss is disappointing, the top seed is taking positives from his first event since the US Open.

“I must say I felt overall actually pretty good. So I'm happy about that,” Federer said. “It's definitely something I can build on now for Basel and then for London and maybe Paris. I'm happy how the body has felt this week.”

Federer, who is next scheduled to play at the Swiss Indoors Basel (begins 22 October), a tournament he has won eight times, will drop to No. 3 in the ATP Rankings on Monday, with Novak Djokovic ascending to the No. 2 spot. But the Swiss did well to battle through two tough three-setters against Daniil Medvedev and Roberto Bautista Agut in Shanghai before showing some of his best form in ousting red-hot Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals.

“I'm actually happy. I feel like I'm explosive out there, returning well. Serving, I think, it's okay, could be even a little bit better. I don't think I played a match where I didn't get broken, so that's something a bit more unusual for me,” said Federer, who has already guaranteed his spot at the Nitto ATP Finals. “But regardless, I think the court allowed for great ball striking. I felt like I got some great rhythm, whereas in Cincinnati I came out of the tournament, I was, like, ‘I don't know where my game is. It's the finals. Not bad. But I couldn't tell you if I'm hitting the ball well or not'.”

Federer is referring to this year’s Western & Southern Open where he lost to Djokovic in the final as the Serbian completed his Career Golden Masters by lifting the only ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy he was missing. Perhaps the one thing the Swiss will focus on moving forward is holding serve.

The 37-year-old began the week fifth all-time in service games won at 88.8 per cent, according to Infosys ATP Scores & Stats. This week, he was victorious in 41 of 50 service games, a rate of 82 per cent. Coric broke Federer twice in the semi-finals.

“He didn't give me many chances on his serve, and for me to stay with him, I should have maybe done a better job on my own serve,” Federer said. “But then again, it wasn't bad either. And then in the rallies, I thought he had more punch than me. Maybe it's a lot of tennis this week, but quite honestly, I'm happy how I'm playing… This was a good week again. I'm happy about my reaction after the US Open.”

As simple as it sounds, Coric was simply the better player on Saturday evening. For Federer, there’s no big secret about it.

“I thought he was better. I think he had more punch on the ball. He served better,” Federer said. “I think that's it.”

It's good that you're happy Roger, but your fans are once again left disappointed.  

It's been a disappointing 2nd of 2018 in that regard. 

I had a feeling Coric might be tough, I was hoping Roger would be able to put up a bit more of a fight. 

But I guess sometimes there's not much even Roger can do when someone is better on a given day. 

Onward to Basel, and maybe Paris?.  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Roger Federer confidently overcomes Nishikori to reach semis in Shanghai

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Two-time champion Roger Federer put together his best performance at the Rolex Shanghai Masters yet on Friday to beat Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-6(4) over one hour and 52 minutes and reach the semi-finals.

Federer was his usual aggressive best, smashing returns at Nishikori's feet and touching the lines with second-serve returns in their eighth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (Federer leads 6-2). The Swiss broke serve three times and recovered from 1/4 down in the second set tie-break to record his 39th match win of the season.

“It was a tough match. Obviously Kei hogs the baseline much more than [Daniil] Medvedev did or also what [Roberto Bautista Agut] did. I think it was a different type of match,” Federer said, comparing the quarter-final to his first two matches in Shanghai. “I was very happy with the beginning of the match, to be quite honest. I played quite great there. Then the second set was key moments who was going to play a little bit better. Kei really tried to step it up one more time. I somehow got it done, so I was very pleased.”

The defending champion Federer will next meet Croatia's Borna Coric in a rematch of their BNP Paribas Open semi-final, which Federer won in three sets. Coric reached his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final of the season by sweeping Aussie Matthew Ebden 7-5, 6-4. Coric beat Federer in the Gerry Weber Open final in June.

“He's also really improved his game, stepping up in the court and hitting through the shots more than what he used to,” Federer said. “I think it's going to be tough. He's good in defence. He has a transition game now too, and he's got a solid serve. He's had a good tournament here again. I have always played him when he's playing well.”

The 37-year-old Federer is going for his third Shanghai title (2014, 2017) and looking to stay No. 2 in the ATP Rankings. He'll secure the latter if he wins the title and Novak Djokovic, who's also into the semi-finals, does not reach the final.

Nishikori could do little to slow down the two-time Shanghai champion as Federer raced to a 4-1 lead in the opener behind two breaks. Nishikori broke back but Federer served out the set to love.

The Swiss jumped on top in the second set with an immediate break, although he was broken in the fifth game when he lifted a backhand long. Nishikori, buoyed by Japanese support in the Qi Zhong Stadium, worked his way back from 0/30 when serving at 5-5. Nishikori capitalised on short balls early in the tie-break, but Federer won six straight points for a memorable win.

“Second set I think we both played good tennis. But sad to lose like that... maybe next time,” Nishikori said.

Federer, a winner of 98 tour-level titles including 27 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns, is now 39-6 on the year, which includes the Australian Open (d. Cilic), the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Dimitrov) and the MercedesCup in Stuttgart (d. Raonic).

“I think I can be very happy with the level of play this week... There was some good ball striking going on from both of us today. I hope I can keep it up for tomorrow,” Federer said.

Nishikori, who last week lost to Medvedev in the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018 final, is currently in ninth position in the ATP Race To London. With three of eight singles spots left at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November, the Japanese star is 535 points behind eighth-placed Dominic Thiem (3,535).

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Roger Federer made to battle once again to reach Shanghai quarters

Two-time former champion Roger Federer was once again forced to dig deep for victory at the Rolex Shanghai Masters on Thursday. Having edged past Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday, it was the turn of 2016 runner-up Roberto Bautista Agut, who made Federer sweat over one hour and 52 minutes. But the top-seeded Swiss triumphed 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Federer broke Bautista Agut’s serve in the first game of the second set, but the Spaniard’s forehand began to fire. Federer, a winner of 98 tour-level titles, trusted his game and continued to attack, winning 11 of 12 net points in the decider, which saw him break Bautista Agut in the ninth game.

“I'm actually quite happy,” said Federer. “I thought that Bautista really had to raise his level of play in that second set to stay with me. I mean, he really caught fire, I thought. I served, I think, 80 per cent in that second set and got broken twice… At the end he got tight. I'm happy that, because of my match yesterday, I was able to stay maybe calmer, even this time around, and come up with a really good game to break at 4-4 and then serve it out was great. I was very happy.”

The Swiss superstar, who is one of four players — also Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro — that are battling to finish 2018 at year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, will next challenge eighth-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori in Friday’s quarter-finals. Federer leads Nitto ATP Finalscontender Nishikori 5-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

“As we know with Kei's game, once he finds his range and his rhythm, he's very tough to play,” said Federer. “[I’m] not sure if fast courts suit him better or not, because I feel like he actually plays well on clay, grass, hard. He can do it all… [But] I think it's going to be a tough match tomorrow. I hope it's going to help me that I played against Medvedev and also Bautista Agut, two really good baseliners, to be honest.”

World No. 2 Federer, who earlier this year became the oldest No. 1 in the 45-year history of the ATP Rankings aged 36 on 19 February, is bidding to lift his 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title this week.

Federer broke serve in the fourth game of the first set and completed the 30-minute opener with a backhand volley winner on the first of his three set point chances. Having won Bautista Agut’s serve in the first game of the second set, Federer looked in complete control.

But 2016 finalist Bautista Agut had other ideas and won four straight games for a 4-1 advantage. The Spaniard’s forehand did the damage as Federer came forward to the net, but Bautista Agut finished the second set with a backhand return. Federer had won all 16 sets in their previous seven meetings.

But it was Federer who tightened his game at the right opportunity to break Bautista Agut’s serve in the eighth game, with a superb forehand, prior to closing out his 37th match win of the season.

Earlier in the day, Nishikori withstood the power of Sam Querrey, the big-serving American, to record a 7-6(7), 6-4 victory over one hour and 33 minutes.

The eighth-seeded Japanese star saved one set point at 5/6 in the first-set tie-break with a deep backhand return that caught Querrey off guard. Terrific speed around the court helped Nishikori break Querrey in the final game of the pair’s 10th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (Nishikori now leads 6-4).

Straight off a runner-up finish at last week’s Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018, Nishikori is now 36-16 on the season (20-9 on hard courts). He is currently in 10th position in the ATP Race To London for one of the four remaining spots at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November.

I'm not sure how I feel about Roger having to play back to back 3 setters, he is playing pretty well but he's really gonna have to bring it against Nishikori next. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Roger Federer fights off Medvedev in Shanghai opener

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Defending champion Roger Federer survived an opening scare at the Rolex Shanghai Masters on Wednesday, fighting past Russian Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

The Swiss extended his Shanghai win streak to seven against the 22-year-old, who was fresh off the biggest title of his career in Tokyo (d. Nishikori). Medvedev forced the two-time Shanghai champion to fight before Federer eventually broke in the ninth game of the decider and served out the match.

“In the third set I really started to figure it out, as well, how aggressive or how tactical I wanted to make the match, and by trying everything, I found a solution at the end, which was a great feeling to have, so I was very happy,” Federer said.

The top seed was keen on taking advantage of the quick conditions in Shanghai, serving and volleying, chip and charging and forcing Medvedev into the corners with his backhand slice. Federer won almost 70 per cent of his 42 trips to net (29/42).

But as the match progressed, he was struggling to put away points against Medvedev, who often made the Swiss volley from his shoelaces and passed him with looping forehands. “It was just tougher to get into his service games,” Federer said.

The 22-year-old said it had been a dream to play Federer, having narrowly missed out on prior chances. And the three-time ATP World Tour champion wasn't awed by the moment.

But he stumbled while serving at 4-4 in the third. Medvedev shanked a forehand on double break point, and Federer served out the match, celebrating with a “Come on!” and a stare to his box.

The top seed is going for his 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title this week and is looking to stay No. 2 in the ATP Rankings. He'll guarantee the latter if he can win his third Shanghai title (also 2014), and second seed Novak Djokovic does not reach the final.

Federer will next meet Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat American Mackenzie McDonald 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Bautista Agut beat Djokovic in the 2016 semi-finals before falling to Andy Murray in the Masters 1000 final.

“I have a lot of respect for him. He's just a tough guy, you know. So you have to bring it. Could be similar like today. A lot of long rallies potentially,” Federer said.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Roger Federer: "I Like This Part of the Season"

Defending champion and two-time titlist Roger Federer, who returns to competition this week at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, says that he is looking forward to the final weeks of the 2018 ATP World Tour season. The Swiss superstar has won 24 of his 98 career crowns on indoor courts.

“I like this part of the season,” said Federer. “It's always been a good [swing] for me. Maybe [the] conditions get faster, I'm not sure… It's helpful I have a home tournament [the Swiss Indoors Basel, on the surface] and the [Nitto] ATP Finals. I have been very successful, so clearly I hope for something similar again this year.”

The 37-year-old Federer, who lost to Australia’s John Millman on 4 September in the US Open fourth round, has already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for a record 16th time. He will join Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro, who have also booked their places at The O2 in London from 11-18 November.

“[I] have also had some rest after the US Open,” said Federer. “I feel like I'm where I want to be… There is still, obviously, some goals left for the season.”

Reflecting on 2017, he added, “Last year was a fairy-tale from start to finish, basically. It was just a small disappointment at the end, at the [Nitto] ATP Finals, not maybe giving myself the chance to be in the final, losing to Goffin. I was a bit disappointed with my play there. That was probably the first time in the whole season that I felt that way. But he (Goffin) also came out and played a great match.

“This year, for me again, honestly, it's been a great season: winning the Australian Open, getting back to World No. 1 in Rotterdam [the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament], playing a good final in Indian Wells [the BNP Paribas Open] and playing a decent grass court season… I didn't play great in Cincinnati [the Western & Southern Open], but made the final there.

“I'm just really happy. I'm healthy. I have won another [Grand] Slam again this year. I always say when you win a Slam in any season, it's actually a very good season already. So, I feel like there is still a lot more to play for.”

Federer, who has a 36-6 match record in 2018, opens his campaign for a third Shanghai crown (2014, 2017) against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, who captured last week’s Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018 trophy (d. Nishikori) in the second round.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Roger Federer gets tough draw at Shanghai Rolex Masters

Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro have been drawn in the same half of the Rolex Shanghai Masters, raising the prospect of a rematch of their gripping semi-final battle one year ago at the Qizhong Tennis Centre.

Federer last year rallied from a set down to beat the Argentine in the semis before taking out Rafael Nadal in the final to claim his 27th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.

The Federer-Del Potro rivalry has been overshadowed over the years by the triangular battles between Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic. But their 25-match FedEx ATP Head2Head series – which Federer leads 18-7 - has produced some epic contests.

In 12 meetings since 2012 Roland Garros, 10 have gone the distance and only one has been decided in straight sets. Federer backed up his Shanghai semi-final win last year with a three-set win over the Tower of Tandil just weeks later in the Basel final. But Delpo took out Federer 7-6 in the third in the BNP Paribas Open final in March this year in their most recent meeting.

Federer and Del Potro, along with Nadal and Djokovic, are the players to have so far qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held in London 11-18 November. Federer is a six-time champion; Del Potro is chasing his first title and will be making his first appearance since 2013.

In Shanghai, two-time tournament champion Federer will begin his title defense against the winner of Russian Daniil Medvedev and China’s Ze Zhang. The Swiss is seeded to meet Canadian Milos Raonic in the third round, Kei Nishikori or Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals and Del Potro in the semis.

In his most recent appearance at the Masters 1000 level, Federer lost in the Cincinnati final to Djokovic. He has not played a tour-level match since a shock fourth-round loss to Australian John Millman at the US Open.

Del Potro opens against the winner of Argentine Leonardo Mayer and in-form Frenchman Richard Gasquet before a tough third-round match against one of Nick Kyrgios, a qualifier, Stan Wawrinka, or 13th seed Borna Coric.

Del Potro is seeded to meet No. 6 seed Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals.

In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Novak Djokovic will put his 13-match winning streak on the line in his opener against the winner of German Maximilian Marterer and French veteran Jeremy Chardy. He could get his chance to avenge his shock Roland Garros quarter-final loss to Italian Marco Cecchinato in the third round. He is seeded to meet his vanquished Wimbledon final opponent Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic owns a tournament-record three titles in Shanghai, winning crowns in 2012-13 and in 2015, when he dropped just 25 games en route to the title, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-4 in the final.

Djokovic is returning to tour-level play for the first time since winning his 14th major at the US Open. Earlier in the US summer the Serb became the first man to win a ninth different Masters 1000 singles title at Cincinnati to complete the Career Golden Masters.

Three-time Masters 1000 champion Alexander Zverev, who is next in line to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, will open against the winner of Canadian Denis Shapovalov and Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, who find themselves in respective semi-finals in Tokyo and Beijing Saturday. Fifth seed Marin Cilic may await in the quarter-finals.

Play begins Sunday.