Friday, September 13, 2019

Simona Halep & coach Darren Cahill to reunite in 2020

Simona Halep will team up with coach Darren Cahill once again for the 2020 season, the former WTA World No.1 announced via her social channels.

The Australian announced a split with his long-time pupil during November 2018, expressing that he wished “to be home more for support as our children enter important stages of their lives”.

It brought to an end a successful three-year collaboration, which saw Halep become WTA World No.1 for the first time in 2017 and pick up a maiden Grand Slam title at the 2018 French Open.

Although Halep won Wimbledon this year, defeating Serena Williams in the final, she has struggled to match the consistency she managed in 2018 and has slipped to WTA World No.6.

However, she will be reunited with Cahill for the coming year.

“I have some exciting news to share with you,” Halep told her social media followers. “After a year without him on my team, I’m happy to announce that Darren will be back by my side next season."

Jokingly, she added: “So, D, last time I killed you, and I’m playing to kill you again. I can’t wait to finish what we started. See you soon!”

Halep, who had a trial spell with coach Thierry Van Cleemput earlier this year, is currently recuperating from an ankle injury that forced her out of Zhengzhou.

And the good news keeps on coming!. 

Seriously, can we fast forward to next season already?! ♥ 

I have no doubt that with Darren, Simona will be back to the consistent player she's been over the years and I'm looking forward to watching it. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Kim Clijsters plans to return to professional tennis circuit in 2020!

ST PETERSBURG, FL, USA – The WTA today welcomed news that former World No.1 Kim Clijsters, winner of 41 career singles titles including four Grand Slams and three season-ending WTA Finals, is in training with plans to compete on the professional tennis tour in 2020.

Clijsters, who played the first professional matches of her career on the ITF Circuit in 1997 and made her WTA debut age 15 at Antwerp in 1999, was 29 years old when she played her last competitive matches at the US Open in 2012. Now 36, the Belgian eyes her return to the tennis circuit as a mother of three – daughter Jada was born in February 2008, followed by sons Jack (2013) and Blake (2016). She is also a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, having been inducted in the Class of 2017.

“Kim Clijsters ranks among the greats of the game and her return to the Tour is exciting news for the WTA family and tennis fans around the world,” said Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO. “Driven by her love for the sport, this wonderful champion continues to inspire women and men in all walks of life – and she only adds to the compelling wealth of talent in women’s tennis. I wish Kim all the best in this next chapter of her playing career.”

Clijsters’ ‘first career’ was highlighted by two victories at the WTA Finals (2002-03), 19 non-consecutive weeks as World No.1 on the WTA Rankings (first attained on August 11, 2003 for 10 weeks), and a maiden Grand Slam title at the 2005 US Open. That triumph at Flushing Meadows came after four runner-up finishes at Slams: Roland Garros in 2001 and 2003, the US Open in 2003 and the Australian Open in 2004.

She stepped away from tennis in May 2007, marrying Brian Lynch shortly after and giving birth to a daughter, Jada, the following year. But in July 2009, after 26 months away from the tour, she launched a famous comeback that began with a run to the quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. Then, in just her third tournament back, Clijsters won the US Open to become the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon in 1980. She defended the Flushing Meadows crown in 2010, before going on to capture a third WTA Finals title at Doha and win the 2011 Australian Open. Her victory in Melbourne helped Clijsters return to No.1 for a 20th career week in February 2011 – the only mother to hold the top spot since computer rankings began in November 1975.

Her last singles match was against Laura Robson in the second round at the 2012 US Open, which she lost in two tie-break sets. This was followed by a first round doubles exit partnering with fellow Belgian Kirsten Flipkens and finally, a second round appearance with Bob Bryan in the mixed doubles.

With 41 singles titles (41-19 record in finals), Clijsters still places third among active players, behind Serena Williams (72 titles) and Venus Williams (49) – and 14th on the Open Era list. She reached at least the semifinals on 16 of her 35 Grand Slam appearances and also shone in doubles, winning 2003 Roland Garros and Wimbledon (both with Ai Sugiyama) among 11 titles and spending 4 weeks at No.1. She remains one of just six women to simultaneously hold the top spot in both singles and doubles.

In addition to being a fan favorite, Clijsters won the WTA’s Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award in 2010 and the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award a record eight times – both accolades decided by peer vote. She was named Most Impressive Newcomer by international media in 1999; Comeback Player of the Year in 2005 and 2009; and Player of the Year in 2005 and 2010. In recent years she served as a Legend Ambassador for the WTA Finals in Singapore.

As a former World No.1, Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wild cards at WTA tournaments. She will need play three tournaments or earn 10 ranking points to re-establish a ranking.

OMG this qualifies as the best news I've read in a while (I do admit I did double check the date of the article to make sure it wasn't a joke). 

I say why not?. 

How many times did Martina Hingis come back from retirement? 2, 3 4? I've lost count. 

And she won many more doubles titles. Including Grand Slams.

It'll be interesting to see if Kim plans to focus mainly on singles, or do a little bit of everything. With so many players nowadays playing well into their late 30's Kim could definitely still make a go of it.

It's funny I was just recently comparing Kim to Bianca Andreescu in terms of her ability to do the splits, and now Kim is actually returning to do them herself.

I am so excited, bring it on 2020!.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Canada finally has their first Grand Slam Tennis Champion @ U.S. Open!

NEW YORK, NY, USA - Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu capped off her breakthrough 2019 season with Grand Slam glory at the US Open, playing indomitable tennis to survive 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, 6-3, 7-5 to win her first major title.

Andreescu hasn't lost a completed match since February, and the Rogers Cup champion withstood a late hiccup to extend her winning streak to 13 straight and become the first Canadian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era, winning after one hour and 39 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Williams, who broke Stefanie Graf's Open Era record of Grand Slam singles titles at the 2017 Australian Open, was making her fourth attempt to tie Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 after finishing runner-up at the last two Wimbledon Championships and 2018 US Open final.
Bianca Andreescu became the first Canadian in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam singles title, shocking 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in straight sets.

Dropping just one set en route to the final, Williams, who spent 14 months away from the sport to marry and give birth to daughter Alexis Olympia, looked to begin with a strong service hold.

The BNP Paribas Open champion, undaunted in the face of the biggest match of her career, flipped a 40-15 deficit to break off a double fault from the American.

The American initially remained within one break and aimed to pump herself up after saving a whopping five break points in the seventh game. Down break point on her own serve, the No.15 seed gamely saved it and broke once more in the next game to capture the opening set.

With a quick break to start the second, Andreescu shook off losing a long service game of her own to reclaim the initiative and race out to a 5-1 lead, holding her first championship point on serve.

Williams saved it and put on a brave last stand, winning 16 of 20 points to level the set as nerves set in for the teenager. With her back against the wall, Andreescu stopped the run of games to again put herself within four points of victory.

Striking a forehand winner for 15-30, Andreescu earned two more championship points when Williams ended a long rally with a backhand error. Saving a second match point off an ace, the American couldn't save a third as Andreescu batted a way a forehand winner to clinch victory.

In all, it was a clean match from Andreescu, who struck 18 winners to 17 unforced errors, converting five of 12 break point opportunities while winning a solid 64% of first serve points.

Already set to make her Top 10 debut regardless of result, Andreescu is tentatively set to move up to No.5 on Monday's rankings.

I haven't been talking about Bianca Andreescu much this year when I really should have because the rest of the world certainly has!. 

She has been on a remarkable run this year, that seemingly came out of nowhere. 

And she topped it off with the first ever Grand Slam title for Canada, against none other than Serena Williams. 

It doesn't get better than that. 

Her poise and composure reminds me so much of a teenage Martina Hingis it's uncanny. 

Granted Hingis never had the same type of power on her shots, but the way she's able to out play and out smart opponents with variety is so similar. 

I would even go as far as saying she's like a cross between Martina Hingis and Simona Helap. 

Her slides on hard court remind me a lot of Kim Clijsters. They're so fun to watch. 

That relentless fighting spirit against opponents in the top ten is just remarkable. 

When she lost the 5-1 lead in the second set after having won the first and Serena got back to 5-all I thought, oh no now Serena will make the comeback in the 3rd and that will be the end of that. 

But Bianca held her nerve and broke Serena again to win it in straights. That is mental resilience of the highest order. The kind you need to win all the big titles. 

It'll be interesting to see how she handles it all now. There's going to be so much attention on her, and with so much success eventually you get a target on your back.

I'll be very curious to see how the rest of this season ends for her after this. 

But for the moment I'm just going to bask in the happiness of the first ever Canadian Grand Slam Champ, courtesy of a 19 year old from my hometown. 

Take a bow Bianca. Outstanding ♥

Thursday, September 05, 2019

Roger Federer: 'Got To Take The Losses. They're Part Of The Game'

After more than two decades on Tour, Roger Federer has learned to treat losses as the individual moments they are.

The third-seeded Swiss bowed out of the US Open on Tuesday after his five-set defeat to Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov. Federer didn’t hide his disappointment at a missed opportunity for a sixth US Opencrown and his first since 2008, but was quickly able to put the loss in perspective.

“Just disappointed it's over because I did feel like I was actually playing really well after a couple of rocky starts. It's just a missed opportunity to some extent that you're in the lead, you can get through, you have two days off after. It was looking good,” Federer said. “But got to take the losses. They're part of the game. Looking forward to family time and all that stuff, so... Life's all right.”

Occasional losses don't overshadow Federer's highlight-filled year. The 38-year-old clinched his 100th ATP Tour singles title this March at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Tsitsipas), then followed it up with fourth Miami Open presented by Itau crown (d. Isner) and a 10th title at the NOVENTI OPEN (d. Goffin). Federer also held two championship points before falling in the Wimbledon final (l. to Djokovic), reached the Roland Garros semi-finals in his first trip to that event since 2015 and finished runner-up at the BNP Paribas Open (l. to Thiem).

Federer’s efforts led have to him qualifying for the Nitto ATP Finals, held at the O2 in London from 10-18 November, for a record-extending 17th time. He’ll build up for the season-ending championships with a packed schedule of events, including next week’s Laver Cup before heading to Asia for the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

The Swiss may need a day or two to shake off his loss to Dimitrov, but is optimistic that he can finish this season on a high note.

“I think it's still been a positive season,” Federer said. “Disappointing now, but I'll get back up, I'll be all right.”

Wednesday, September 04, 2019

Roger Federer's U.S. Open curse continues as he falls short in the quarter-finals

Roger Federer has lost another 5 setter in a Grand Slam where he had a real shot to go all the way. But instead of the usual heartbreak, all I felt at first was overwhelming concern.

I knew the match was pretty much over the moment he called the physio on to court in the 4th set (because that's basically something that happens once in a blue moon).

As the night went on and I found out post match that his back was going to be a ok, my mind once again started lamenting another huge lost opportunity.

An opportunity which I honestly thought would be a long shot with Roger only having won a few matches on the hard courts of Cincinnati before heading to the U.S. Open. And things were not looking great through his first 2 night matches where he lost the opening sets.

But he started to make a believer out of me when he dealt with his next 2 opponents (during a day matches) with the standard ease that he produces at Grand Slams. So I and the rest of the world were pretty confident coming into the quarters, but none of us could have foreseen the turn of events that transpired. Events that even as I write this I'm still trying to get my head around.

The few reasons I've come up with is maybe he started thinking about it too much (with Djokovic out due to shoulder injury) and having a good H2H with all of his remaining opponents (including Nadal). Hell I'll admit I was guilty of thinking too far ahead as well, too excited for the prospect of a possible first time meeting between Fed and Rafa at the U.S. Open.

Perhaps that knowledge on some subconscious level made him tighten up in key moments. Whereas his opponent, just loosened up after losing the first set and went for broke seeing his opponent wasn't as sharp as he started off.

Maybe it was playing a night match, which seemed to be an achillies heel for him this tournament and he could not produce his best throughout. In his career night matches is what he lived for and dominated especially in New York, it was always day matches where he struggled more.

But this year it has been the complete reverse. He said the court felt slower at night and he really had trouble adjusting to that. So maybe that's a bit of a factor as well. But the deciding factor turned out to be that he tweaked something in his back, which when it has happened has always been debilitating.

Last time he had a back issue, he did not play well for a year and everyone started writing him off stating his age as usual. Which I have no doubt will get plenty of mentions this time around as well. It was very clear by the way he lost that 5th set that things were not right. So perhaps it was a combination of all of it, that contributed to this loss. But I guess we'll never really know for sure.

I would also just like to point out that Roger despite the fact he knew he had no shot of winning the 5th set (due to his body not co-operating) that unlike Djokovic, Federer did not retire and finished the match.

That ladies and gentleman is what we call class.

Unlike all his other 5 set losses this year (Wimbledon will stay with me for a long time to come) I came away from this one more able to look at the positives. Maybe it's because this was just a quarter final so it hurts a little less, but also because it seems like the injury is not serious which means the rest of the year can still end on a high.

And although Grand Slams have seen nothing but heartbreak for Roger in 2019 the year has not been a total loss. He did win titles in Dubai, Halle, and Miami. Reaching the mile stone of 102 career titles. The silver lining here is that as long as he stays healthy there's no reason why he won't be able to create the same opportunities for more Grand Slams in 2020.

With both Djokovic and now Federer out it's hard not to see this title belonging to anyone other than Rafa Nadal.

Just like Wimbledon it's the women's draw that's proving even more exciting and unpredictable. Of course everyone is hoping and expecting Serena to finally win her 24th, but I wouldn't be so sure. All the players left could definitely give her a challenge, and that's worth watching.

The Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu is having an amazing season, having won Indian Wells and Roger's Cup in Toronto and now battling for a spot in the semis of U.S. Open tonight.

Belinda Bencic continues to flourish as well. She beat Donna Vekic today to become the first Swiss woman since Martina Hingis in 2001 to reach the semis.

If Andreescu wins tonight that will make for a mouth watering women's semi-final.

On the other side of the draw you have Elina Svitolina who'll be playing Serena Williams.

Serena leads their H2H but Svitolina does have one win. All the ladies remaining have a win over Serena in fact so whoever makes it to the final it promises to be a good one. 

Monday, September 02, 2019

Roger Federer thrashes Goffin eases into U.S. Open quarters

Roger Federer played just two hard-court matches leading into this year’s US Open. But after dropping the opening set in each of his first two matches at Flushing Meadows, the five-time champion has found his rhythm in New York.

Third-seeded Federer defeated No. 15 seed David Goffin 6-2, 6-2, 6-0 after one hour and 19 minutes on Sunday to reach his 13th US Open quarter-final, tying former World No. 1 Andre Agassi for the second most in the Open Era. It is also his record-extending 56th trip to the last eight of a Grand Slam.

"Sometimes these scores just happen. You catch a good day, the opponent doesn't, then things happen very quickly. Maybe he struggled a bit early on," Federer said. "But I found my groove after a while and was able to roll, really. Never looked back."
Most US Open Quarter-finals (Open Era)
 Jimmy Connors 17
 Andre Agassi 13
 Roger Federer 13
 Ivan Lendl 12
 Novak Djokovic 11*
*to play Sunday evening

No player has won the US Open after losing the first set in each of his first two rounds. But Federer has steadily improved his level as he continues chasing a 21st Grand Slam trophy. Against Goffin, the 102-time tour-level titlist crushed 35 winners and made only 17 unforced errors.

"David wasn't nearly as good as I expected him to be. He was struggling a little bit today," Federer said. "I was able to take advantage of it, and I think that's the key. In a fourth round like this, if you can keep it nice, short, simple, you have to take them. I'm very happy."

In the opening stages of the match, it seemed Goffin — who reached his first ATP Masters 1000 final at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati — may challenge for his second FedEx ATP Head2Head victory against Federer after breaking for a 2-1 lead in the opening set. The Belgian had defeated the Swiss on a big stage before, doing so at the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.

But Federer responded in a major way, immediately breaking back and during one stretch winning 18 of 20 points. It proved too difficult for Goffin to hold his serve throughout the match. The rallies were clearly on Federer's racquet, breaking on nine of his 10 opportunities and winning 60 per cent of his first-serve return points.

When Federer came to net, he was in strong position to do so, winning 19 of 23 points when he ventured to net. Goffin on the other hands did not able to enjoy the success, emerging victorious on just four of 11 trips forward. The 28-year-old also uncharacteristically made more than double the number of unforced errors (17) as he hit winners (8).

Federer lost six games in the first set of each of his first two matches this US Open. In the third round, he dropped five total games against Daniel Evans and against Goffin, the Swiss lost only four total games.

Federer will next face 2017 Nitto ATP Finals champion Grigor Dimitrov or #NextGenATP Aussie Alex de Minaur, who is trying to reach his maiden major quarter-final.

Did You Know?

Federer's past two matches have been the fastest completed matches in the men's singles draw at this year's US Open. The Swiss beat Evans in one hour and 20 minutes before ousting Goffin in one hour and 19 minutes.

At the time I write this Novak Djokovic retired against Stan Wawrinka with a shoulder injury down 2 sets and a break. 

Which means there will be no Federer/Djokovic semi. Instead it might be Wawrinka/Medvedev. Nobody saw this coming. 

And now Roger is going to play Grigor Dimitrov in the quarters (who's finding some form this U.S. Open).

Friday, August 30, 2019

Roger Federer rights the ship and wins in straights to reach U.S. Open 4th round

There was no slow start for Roger Federer on Friday, as the Swiss soared into the Round of 16 at the US Open.

After conceding the opening set in both his first and second round victories, Federer ensured those initial struggles were an anomaly. He ousted Daniel Evans 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 to open Day 5 on Arthur AsheStadium.

"Sometimes you just have to trust your team and your warm-up, everything you've done for so long," Federer told Brad Gilbert of ESPN. "Maybe also Danny wasn't feeling it today. He played yesterday so maybe that was a competitive advantage for me. But I was able to play beautiful tennis today under a beautiful sky.

"I definitely think this is playing much faster than at night and even indoors. That's the key to winning here and staying around, to adjust to wind, heat and humidity. It makes the ball travel differently and I was able to manage it well."

Federer was the stronger player from the baseline, with his forehand ripping through the court in perfect, sunny conditions. He triumphed after a mere one hour and 19 minutes, launching 48 winners, including 10 aces. Moreover, Federer won 80 per cent of first serve points and 70 per cent on his second delivery.

“I had spoken to the team and we just said… We’re not going to overplay in the beginning. Take care of your serves. If he can smash winners, that's too good,” Federer said in his post-match press conference. “Over time, I got very comfortable and very confident. It's a good feeling to have after the last couple of matches.”

The five-time champion (2004-08) is into the Round of 16 for the 18th consecutive year. He has not missed the second week of the US Open since his debut appearance in 2000. Federer improved to 88-13 overall at Flushing Meadows.

"I think what matters the most for me is that I am in the [fourth] round, after those two slow starts. Give myself another opportunity to do better, and I did,” Federer said. “You almost tend to forget what happened and you move forward.”

Evans admitted that was outgunned and outclassed. "Obviously I didn't play my best today, but he got on top of me early and it was difficult. I guess he has every shot, so it's not ideal to have an opponent that has every shot.

"I think he won 92%, I saw on the board, of his first serves, and that's not good for me. So I just couldn't get in his games, and getting up on the serve, he returned well when I got my serve in. But no free points was tough, as well."

Federer was on the front foot from the start, breaking for 4-2 behind a sublime drop volley winner and a blasted backhand pass. Showtime Federer was in full flow, leaping for a spinning overhead smash in the next game. And he would streak to an early lead in the second set, breaking to love in the fourth game.

It was a clinical performance from the Basel native. A wayward approach from Evans gave Federer a break to open the third set, and while the Brit would draw level in the next game, it wasn't enough. The 38-year-old did not allow his opponent to establish any rhythm, eventually crossing the finish line with a service winner.

Federer, who qualified for a 17th Nitto ATP Finals with a first-round victory over Sumit Nagal, also prevailed in four sets in a second-round win over Damir Dzumhur. Against Evans, he improved to 3-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head, defeating the Brit at three of the four Grand Slams. He also triumphed at Wimbledon in 2016 and earlier this year at the Australian Open.

The World No. 3 will next face 15th seed David Goffin, who beat 2017 semi-finalist Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain 7-6(5), 7-6(9), 7-5. The Belgian hit 52 winners and won 76 per cent (19/25) of his trips to the net.

Goffin trails Federer 1-8 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. Goffin recorded his lone victory two years ago during the semi-finals of the 2017 Nitto ATP Finals.