Monday, August 13, 2018

Roger Federer ready to go for another Cincinnati Open

Roger Federer is not only beloved by fans around the world; he’s also a favourite among the tennis media. And it was easy to see why on Monday at the Western & Southern Open, when a relaxed and playful Federer engaged the media during a wide-ranging press conference that covered ground stretching from the Swiss Alps to the Bellerive Country Club in St. Louis, Missouri.

Federer, 37, was asked if he saw any similarities between himself and Tiger Woods, who at 42, finished second at last week’s PGA Championships. “I don’t think I can relate [to what he’s gone through] because he’s had multiple surgeries on different parts of his body,” Federer said. “But It was nice to see him do well again for the first time in a while and hopefully that will transform into some victories now. It was exciting from what I heard and the little bit I watched.”

Now in his 20th year on tour and about to play his 1,416th tour-level match, Federer said that smart scheduling was critical to his longevity in the sport. And he said his decision to take the necessary time away from the game following knee surgery in February 2016 was now paying dividends.

“Because of the knee problem and the surgery I had and the six months I took, it’s made it much easier,” Federer said. “It puts everything in perspective and you’re happier to take a week off and stay on tour and be healthy rather than be playing, playing, playing and something pops and you are out for the count, maybe forever. It is hard emotionally because you wish you could play everything, but in return I get a more relaxed schedule, I can plan much better with my family, which is super important to me and I can also plan my practices with my coaches and everybody’s rhythm is known. If I want to play more I can always do that. If I want to play less, I can do that too. So I feel I have passed the hectic part of my life. Because of the rhythm I feel everything is quite comfortable.”

Federer was also asked about his adventure in the Swiss Alps with celebrity survivalist Bear Grylls. The pair teamed up in early 2017 but the episode of the TV show only recently aired on NBC in the United States.

“I’d met Bear many times before I did the show. I know his mum is a huge fan of mine. He said to let him know if I ever wanted to do the show and I asked if we could do it in Switzerland so I could show Switzerland to the world. I grew up hiking and I love going for hikes with my children and this whole survival stuff. I feel very connected to [nature] with the mountains, the lakes, the forests, everything we have. The only problem is that it was snowy and cold, and I don’t like cold.

“After the [2017] Australian Open we made a schedule that worked and I had a great time. I didn’t expect [eating] the fish eye and going down the big [ice] cliff. It was great fun, I really enjoyed it.”

Federer, 29-4 on the year with three titles at the Australian Open, Rotterdam (where he became the oldest World No. 1 in history) and Stuttgart, is playing his first match since a 13-11 fifth-set loss to Kevin Anderson in the Wimbledon quarter-finals. The seven-time Cincinnati champion, who is chasing his 99th career title, will open his campaign with a first-time meeting Tuesday night (not before 7pm ET) against World No. 47 German Peter Gojowczyk.

The father of four has not played a hard-court match since a surprise opening-round loss to Australian 22-year-old Thanasi Kokkinakis at the Miami Open presented by Itau in March. But Federer says that he is confident of a strong showing in Cincinnati.

“I’ve been practising on hard courts, so it’s not like I haven’t played on hard courts for forever. I feel I am really ready to go. Anxious actually. Cincy has been a great tournament for me in the past. It’s great to be back and hopefully I can play a good tournament.”

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Simona Halep victorious at Rogers Cup in Montreal


World No.1 Simona Halep needed over two-and-a-half hours of bruising baseline tennis to overcome No.3 seed Sloane Stephens in the Rogers Cup final and win her third title of the year.

MONTREAL, Canada -- After a bruising baseline battle with numerous twists and turns, World No.1 Simona Halep of Romania claimed her third title of the year at the Rogers Cup on Sunday, outlasting No.3 seed Sloane Stephens of the United States, 7-6(6), 3-6, 6-4.

The rematch of the 2018 Roland Garros final between two of the reigning Grand Slam champions lived up to expectations, as Roland Garros titlist winner Halep fended off four set points to claim the opening set, before emerging victorious over reigning US Open champion Stephens in a tense final set after two hours and 41 minutes of play.

Both players exhibited a stunning combination of outstanding defense and agile attacking from all sections of the court, and they each won over three-quarters of points on their opponent's second serves. But it was Halep who held on down the stretch, garnering a crucial break at 5-2 in the third and withstanding a fiery fightback by Stephens to get over the finish line on her fourth championship point.

Therefore, Halep claimed the Rogers Cup title for the second time -- she won the event the most recent time it was played in Montreal, in 2016 -- and a third singles title of the season after winning at Shenzhen in January and clinching her maiden Grand Slam title in Paris in June.

After a routine hold by Stephens, Halep went on a tear to open the match, cruising through the opening stages due to deep hitting and powerful forehands, many down the line. After breaking Stephens for a 2-1 lead, the World No.1 held for 3-1 from break point down, closing out the game with an ace.

Another impressive game by Halep occurred on the following Stephens service game: a strong forehand forced a netted error by Stephens to bring up break point, which the Romanian converted with a forehand winner down the line. At this point, Halep had picked up four games in a row en route to a 4-1 lead.

But Stephens rediscovered her aggression while the forehand of Halep began to falter. After Halep fired a forehand miscue on a point that would have given her 5-1, the American took one break back for 4-2 with a crosscourt return winner, and leveled the set at 4-4 by swiftly breaking Halep for a second successive time.

The rallies became more grueling as Halep broke Stephens with a crosscourt winner to take a 5-4 lead and serve for the set. But Stephens was unbowed, breaking Halep for a third straight time with a scintillating forehand winner. The American then held two set points on Halep’s serve at 6-5, but a crosscourt backhand saved one, and Stephens netted a return on the second.

hey advanced to the tiebreak, where numerous forehand errors by Halep gave Stephens a commanding 4-0 lead, and the Romanian double faulted to put Stephens up 5-1 at the change of ends. But Stephens fired groundstrokes long on both of her service points at 5-2, putting Halep back on serve in the tiebreak.

Another Halep double fault gave Stephens two more set points at 6-4, but Halep saved the first with a stunning crosscourt angled forehand that barely clipped the sideline, and Stephens pushed a forehand into the net to make it 6-6. On the next point, Halep crushed a backhand down the line to hold her first set point, which she converted to claim an intense opening set.

But Stephens was unbothered by the loss of the first set, and after an exchange of breaks to start the second set, the reigning US Open champion claimed a decisive break lead at 2-1 following a Halep double fault while down break point.

The American staved off two break points at 3-2 behind extravagant hitting from her forehand wing, and held for 4-2 at a pivotal juncture. Halep served to stay in the set at 5-3, often deploying a drop shot to generally favorable results as she erased three set points. But Stephens reached a fourth set point, and broke Halep for the set after a backhand by the Romanian went wide.

Halep came out swinging in the decider, using stellar defense to chase down everything Stephens threw at her, and breaking to start the third set. But Stephens rebounded to break back for 2-2 after a scorching forehand winner.

However, Halep claimed a pivotal game when she erased a 40-0 lead for Stephens to break for 3-2 in the following game, as the American fired five consecutive unforced errors. Halep stayed consistent, keeping the rallies long, and raced to a 5-2, double-break lead, as the Stephens miscues mounted.

The No.3 seed put up a valiant effort to stay in the encounter after Halep squandered her first match point at 5-2 with a double fault. The Romanian fired two errors on the next two points to drop serve, and then could not convert either of two championship points on the Stephens serve, the American saving the final chance with a winning volley en route to a hold for 5-4.

Halep, though, would not be denied, using some of her most powerful serving and hitting at the very end of the match, setting up two more championship points after Stephens returned a strong serve wide. Finally, on her fourth match point, Halep slammed her third ace of the match, and fell to her knees in triumph and exhaustion after a grueling fight.

I still don't know how Simona pulled this one off. One of the best women's matches and finals I've seen in a while while.

There's a great rivalry building between these 2. It would certainly be something if they met again in the final of the U.S. Open in September.

Well done to both ladies for an amazing battle of wills, and to Simona for continuing to prove she is and always will be the consummate fighter on the WTA tour (she somehow managed to win 2 matches in one day after a 3 hour battle for a place int the quarters).

Congrats on your 2nd Rogers Cup Simona, Montreal is definitely your city :).

Monday, July 23, 2018

Roger Federer (unsurprisingly) withdrawals from Rogers Cup

Roger Federer has announced his withdrawal from the Rogers Cup. The Swiss is a two-time champion at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, which alternates between Toronto and Montreal. He reached the final on his last visit to Toronto in 2014 (l. to Tsonga), and was also a runner-up last year in Montreal (l. to Zverev).

"I'm so disappointed not to play at the Rogers Cup this summer,” said Federer. “I had a fantastic time in Montreal last year and always enjoy playing in front of the Canadian fans, but unfortunately with scheduling being the key to my longevity moving forward, I have regrettably decided to withdraw from Toronto this year. I wish the tournament every success and am sorry to miss it."

Federer, whose 37th birthday falls during the Rogers Cup, has won three titles from seven tournament appearances this season. Two weeks ago at Wimbledon, he bowed out in the quarter-finals, falling to Kevin Anderson in a 13-11 fifth set.

The World No. 2 is next scheduled to play at the Western & Southern Open, a Masters 1000 event in Cincinnati, where he has won a tournament-record seven titles. Federer missed the tournament last year due to a back injury.

World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – winners of a combined 10 titles in Canada – will feature in a Rogers Cup field that includes 19 of the Top 20 players in the ATP Rankings. German Alexander Zverev, 21, will attempt to successfully defend his title, while Milos Raonic and #NextGenATP star Denis Shapovalov lead the Canadian charge.

“We are excited to have nine of the Top 10 on the ATP World Tour at the Rogers Cup, but it’s unfortunate that we won’t have Roger in Toronto this summer,” said Tournament Director Karl Hale. “With current World No. 1 Rafael Nadal, Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic plus Toronto’s hometown heroes in Milos and Denis legitimate title threats, this year’s entry list is one of the most exciting in recent memory. With the improvements we have made around the site and the festival of events we have planned, fans are in for a real treat.”

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Martina Hingis gets married!

The Swiss Miss is now the Swiss Mrs.

Former World No.1 and 25-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis (37) was married to Harald Leeman (38), sports physician and team doctor for the Swiss Fed Cup team, this weekend.

The pair originally met in 2016.

“Sending greetings from our wedding from Grand Resort Bad Ragaz,” Hingis posted on Twitter. “Grateful to have our family and friends join us on this wonderful day!"

In March, Hingis was named the brand ambassador for the Grand Resort Bad Ragaz, a place where she trained during her youth.

So happy things are finally going well for her in her personal life.  Congrats :).

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Roger Federer loses another heart-breaker in 5 sets at Wimbledon Quarters

Wimbledone :( :( :( 

After falling in five sets to Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals at Wimbledon, Roger Federer admitted that he lost the ability to surprise his opponent, who came from two sets down for the third time in his career, to score a stunning upset on No. 1 Court.

“The first set felt great,” said Federer. “[I was] reading the serve. He wasn't getting many aces. When I was on, I was making him play. From the baseline I felt like I could mix it up and play aggressive. There was a lot going on.

“As the match went on, I couldn't surprise him any more. That's a bad feeling to have. It's not like it hasn't happened before. I've been in many, many matches like this... I couldn't come up with enough good stuff for him to miss more. I think that was the key at the end.”

The 36-year-old, who entered the match having won 81 consecutive service games at The All England Club, looked in full control of the quarter-final clash as he closed in on a record 35th consecutive set at SW19 to clinch a straight-sets victory. But Federer slowly lost his grip on the encounter after failing to convert match point at 5-4 Ad Out in the third set, while Anderson began to find the lines following an increase in aggression.

”Today, when I needed it, I couldn't get [my level] up... I didn't see it coming,” admitted Federer. “From that standpoint, I felt great in practice, good in the warm up. I am feeling the ball well. Even now, losing, I still feel like the feeling is there. It just happened to be that today wasn't the day.”

Federer, who was bidding to reach his 13th Wimbledon quarter-final, discussed how he struggled to find his best level after racing to a one-set lead in under half an hour.

”[It was] just a bad day from my side, except the first set,” said Federer. “After that, I never really felt exactly 100 per cent. That has nothing to do with my opponent. It was just one of those days where you hope to get by somehow. I could have. I should have."

The top seed had played four hours and three minutes less than Anderson coming into the last-eight meeting and appeared mentally and physically fresh throughout the four-hour, 14-minute duel. Federer also entered the fifth set with far greater experience, having played 50 deciding fifth sets compared to Anderson’s 20.

“I felt good actually. Sure, it's disappointing losing the next two sets after winning the first two and having match point. I've been there before. I know what kind of energy I need to bring to the fifth. I was able to bring that,” said Federer.

“To be honest, I didn't feel mental fatigue. Now I feel horribly fatigued and just awful. It's just terrible. But that's how it goes, you know. Credit to him.”

At the conclusion of his 20th consecutive Wimbledon campaign, Federer owns a 95-12 record at The All England Club and holds a record eight Gentlemen’s Singles titles. The 98-time tour-level titlist took a moment to reflect on his love for the grass-court Grand Slam championship.

“I just love being around [Wimbledon],” said Federer. “It's a good vibe. We have a good time as a family. I have great memories from here. My heroes all won here. Every time I come back here, I try to be like them, so it's nice to be here.”

But Federer, who was bidding to win consecutive Wimbledon titles for the first time in since 2007, added that he is not sure how long it may take to get over the surprise loss.

“I don't know how long it's going to take me. It might take me a while or it might take me half an hour. I have no idea what it's going to be.

“Of course, the goal is to come back here next year. I wouldn't call it unfinished business. I felt like I did some good business here in the past already. So I'm all right. [I am] just disappointed now.”

Federer, who has held the No. 1 ATP Ranking on three occasions this season, drops to 25-4 in 2018. The 36-year-old has won three tour-level titles from five finals this year.

Federer opened his season by winning his 20th Grand Slam crown at the Australian Open, before clinching returns to the top spot after title runs at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam and the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart. Federer also reached championship matches at the BNP Paribas Open in March and the Gerry Weber Open in June.

I honestly still don't have words to describe how I'm feeling about this one. I think whenever he loses in this fashion, it's his fans that suffer and feel the loss even more.  

The irrational part of me really wants to blame the organizers for putting Roger on court 1 instead of Center. 

Not having Roger Federer at Wimbledon is unfathomable. 

I no longer feel any joy for the remainder of the tournament.  

I don't want to watch, nor do I care to find out who wins it on Sunday.  

Especially since I was actually rooting for Del Potro to beat Nadal (my respect for both went up more than a few notches after their nearly 5 hour 5 set marathon epic). 

But I'm still so shell shocked and gutted, and I can't find it in myself to be happy for whoever the eventual winner turns out to be.  

I plan on watching the ladies final, but only if Kerber is competing.  

If she's not in, I am done with Wimbledon for 2018.

Monday, July 09, 2018

Roger Federer reaches his 16th quarter final on Manic Monday at Wimbledon

Roger Federer Tumblr

Roger Federer sent a warning to his title rivals at The Championships on Monday when he reached the Wimbledon quarter-finals for the 16th time. The eighth-time champion competed with great fluency and was a continual threat to French No. 22 seed Adrian Mannarino in a 6-0, 7-5, 6-4 victory on Centre Court.

Federer has now won 32 consecutive sets at Wimbledon — only two sets shy of his record 34 sets won between 2005-06 — and held serve 81 times in a row. He will next prepare to challenge eighth-seeded South African Kevin Anderson, who defeated Gael Monfils of France 7-6(4), 7-6(2), 5-7, 7-6(4). He leads Anderson 4-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, but the pair has not met since August 2015 at the Western & Southern Open.

“If you give yourself [the] maximum [number of] chances, you're playing well, you have super focus, then these streaks are kind of possible,” said Federer. “In practice at the moment, I'm not working on anything specific. It's really about being just solid. The goal is to win matches and not to be too creative right now. That's going to happen naturally if I play well. I'm really just focused on that.”

Prior to The Championships this year, Federer captured the 98th trophy of his career at the MercedesCup (d. Raonic) and finished runner-up at the Gerry Weber Open (l. to Coric). He has a 28-3 record on the season, which also includes his 20th major crown at the Australian Open (d. Cilic) and his third at the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament (d. Dimitrov).

Mannarino was unable to find his rhythm in the first set, unsure of his ball striking, movement and positioning with Federer winning 25 of the 30 points in the 16-minute passage of play. Errors by Mannarino on two backhands and one forehand handed Federer a 5-0 lead, with the Swiss sealing the set when Mannarino hit a lob long. Federer, who had not faced a break point in three previous matches in the first week, saved one break point opportunity for Mannarino at 5-0, 30/40 with an ace.

“I was also surprised it was that fast, that first set, especially 16 minutes,” said Federer. “That was too fast. [It] shouldn't really happen, but thankfully they do for me. I probably won't have another 6-0 set this week, so I'll enjoy this one.”

It came as a relief to both Mannarino and the capacity Centre Court crowd, when the Frenchmen saved three break points and held serve in the opening game of the second set. It wasn’t until Mannarino’s eighth service game that Federer did not create a break point chance, and slowly the 30-year-old grew in confidence — striking one backhand winner at 80 miles per hour in the 10th game. Nerves played their part at 5-5, when Mannarino became hesitant on his forehand and Federer took advantage.

Mannarino came within one point of taking a 5-3 lead – on three occasions – in the third set, but a forehand winner from Federer, then two backhand errors gave the Swiss a reprieve. It sparked the top seed into life as he broke Mannarino in the next game en route to his 95th match win at the All England Club (95-11) over one hour and 45 minutes.

“I was just trying to do as well as I could, but he was too good,” said Mannarino, who was playing on Centre Court for the fourth time. “Against Federer you have to play really well from the beginning. The last time we played each other [in the 2017 Swiss Indoors Basel quarter-finals], I won the first set.

“The thing with Roger is that he is making you work all the time. He's not giving you any points. He's returning all the time unless if you're really, really serving well, but he pushes you to serve the best you can do. You have to play well from the start of the match.”

The 30-year-old Mannarino is now 18-18 on the year, which includes his second straight final appearance at the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya (l. to Dzumhur), two days prior to the start of Wimbledon.

Friday, July 06, 2018

Roger Federer comfortably through to 2nd week at Wimbledon

Roger Federer Tumblr

Fifteen years to the day after his first title at the All England Club, Roger Federer looked very much like the champion he first became in 2003 as he clinched his spot in the second week of The Championships on Friday.

The top seed stretched his Wimbledon consecutive sets won streak to 29, beating German Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3, 7-5, 6-2 in 94 minutes. Six more flawless sets and Federer will snap his own record of 34 consecutive Wimbledon sets, which he achieved between the third round in 2005 and the 2006 final. Today's victory, his 175th on grass, also saw Federer break a tie with Jimmy Connors for the most match wins on the surface. (Learn More)

“I'm happy I found a way today. Some moments where it can be frustrating because you're not finding any rhythm, at times you're more reacting than playing active tennis. But it's okay. I knew that going in. I'm just very pleased that I found a way in that first set, then also stayed calm in the second set,” Federer said.

The eight-time champion was at his best from the start against Struff, breaking the aggressive German with a backhand pass for a 4-2 lead. Struff threw almost everything at Federer, serving and volleying and charging the net 31 times (16/31).

But Federer handled it all and had his own tricks, including a successful third-set appearance by his trademark SABR – Sneak Attack By Roger – for the 28-year-old right-hander. The Swiss tossed in his slice well, forcing the 6'5” German to lumber and bend down for skidding balls.

Struff didn't fade, though, playing his best in the second set to get to 5-5. But Federer broke in the 11th game with a backhand slice return that Struff could only watch float past him.

The German had come back from two sets down in both of his earlier matches, against 32nd seed Leonardo Mayer of Argentina and Ivo Karlovic of Croatia. But not against Federer, who broke in the third and seventh games and never faced a break point.

“I'm happy I did it. I'm happy it worked,” Federer said of his SABR attempt. “After that I feel like I got, how do you say, there is a buzz for me. 'Okay, shall I do it again, no? What shall I do now this next time?' I think it just helps me with keeping it exciting.

“I already always have the option of slicing or coming over. Then with the SABR, I think it makes it more fun for me. That's always the idea for me in practice or matches, keep it entertaining, keep things going. I always look for new ways to win the point.”

Federer has yet to be broken at SW19, and it's the fourth time he's reached the Round of 16 without dropping serve (2004, won title; 2014, finalist; 2015, finalist).

The top seed will next meet France's Adrian Mannarino, who booked his third trip to the Wimbledonfourth round with a 6-4, 6-3, 4-6, 5-7, 6-3 win against Russian Daniil Medvedev. The 22nd-seeded Mannarino will try to make his first Grand Slam quarter-final and pick up his maiden victory against Federer, who leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 5-0.