Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Martina Hingis tips rise of more Swiss greats

Martina Hingis expects great things from the next generation of Swiss superstars.

Martina Hingis might be heading into retirement, marking it with a big farewell party - but she predicts great things from the next generation of Swiss tennis stars.

In an interview with Swiss newspaper Blick, the Co-World No.1 in doubles praised compatriots Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka for their performances at the top of the men's game, and added: "We are very spoilt. But there are still some to come: Timea [Bacsinszky] and Belinda [Bencic] are great."

Federer had paid generous tribute to Hingis when she announced her intention to retire, calling her an inspiration, and she responded: "I was very happy, it was a nice compliment. But it was also the truth. In certain ways I was a pioneer, winning a Grand Slam as a young Swiss. That makes it easier for the next ones."

The 37-year-old expressed her grief about the death of her former doubles partner Jana Novotna, who passed away in November at the age of 49.

"We saw each other in February, I also invited her to my farewell. I'm very sad."

Hingis is now looking forward to the future and fresh opportunities in her life after tennis.

"I'm really looking forward to the next stage of my life," she said. "A lot of people tell me the best is coming now. I'm certainly not bored."

Friday, November 24, 2017

Doctor Roger Federer ready to serve

Roger Federer has earned many honourifics over the years, from maestro to magician. Now, he can add doctor to that list.

The University of Basel awarded seven honourary doctorates on Friday, and Federer was one of the recipients.

Federer’s recognition came from the Faculty of Medicine, which bestowed the honour on the 36-year-old for his efforts to boost his home city and nation’s reputation. The Swiss was also lauded for his charitable efforts.

The Roger Federer Foundation is spreading sustainability in Southern Africa, where it helps children through support for a variety of educational projects for the disadvantaged. The foundation has reached more than 850,000 children in nearly 14 years.

A University of Basel press release states that Federer “claimed that the honourary doctorate makes him just as happy as a Grand Slam title”.

The doctorate adds yet another honour to the recognition Federer has received this month, as the No. 2-ranked player in the Emirates ATP Rankings received three awards in the 2017 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Mo√ęt & Chandon ( Fans’ Favourite, Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award and Comeback Player of the Year).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Grand Slam Board of Tennis to enforce new rules at 2018 Australian Open

The Grand Slam Board’s vote to amend several rules pertaining to Grand Slam play has got our team discussing the merits of each. What works, and what doesn’t?

The Grand Slam Board has met, with rule amendments high on its agenda.

And it was decided:

1) to support 2018 Australian Open’s application to the ITF for a waiver of the 20 seconds between points required by the Rules of Tennis, in order to allow for enforcement of a strict 25 seconds utilising a “serve/shot clock” system in line with that trialed at the 2017 US Open.

2) the timing of the pre-match warm-up will be strictly enforced (1 minute after walk-on to be ready for the pre-match meeting, followed by the 5 minute warm-up, then 1 minute to be ready to start the match). Violation of this timing may subject a player to a fine up to $20,000.

3) any main-draw singles player who is unfit to play and who withdraws on-site after 12pm on Thursday before the start of the main draw will now receive 50 per cent of the first-round prize money in 2018. The replacement “lucky loser” will receive the remaining 50 per cent plus any additional prize money earned thereafter.

4) any player who competes in the first-round main draw singles and retires or performs below professional standards, may now be subject to a fine up to first-round prize money in 2018.

5) the 2018 Grand Slam tournaments will continue with 32 seeds in singles and intend to revert to 16 seeds in 2019.

Love the shot clock rule, (I'm looking at you Nadal and Djokovic) and all the ones to do with money and penalties. 

Not sure what shortening the warm up will do.  Never found that a problem to begin with.  Shortening it down to 16 seeds in 2019 could make things interesting though.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Roger Federer: "It's Been an Amazing Year"

It might not be the finish that he had hoped for, but Roger Federer is taking nothing for granted in his historic comeback season.

Federer’s 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss to David Goffin in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals might have come as a surprise, but not given the level of play that the seventh-seeded Belgian managed to produce after dropping the first set.

Maneuvering Federer around the court with his signature brand of pinpoint counterpunching tennis, Goffin claimed one of the biggest wins of his career just days after defeating World No.1 Rafael Nadal, becoming the sixth player in history to defeat both Federer and Nadal at the same tournament.

“I think it was a tough game to get broken at 1-0 for him in the second [set]. I had I think multiple game chances to get out of the game and go 1-1, keep the pressure up,” said Federer. “I think things really turned around for him at that moment. He started to feel better from the return, from the baseline. He wasn't missing as much anymore. He was returning also much better off the second serve after that.

“I just think the better returner won over the better server today.”

Despite failing to reach the final of the prestigious season-ending event for just the fifth time in 15 appearances, Federer punctuates a season of surprises with optimism for 2018.

“It’s been an amazing year for me. I’ve been so happy that I was playing at this level from the beginning till basically the end, till today. So it's been great. Really enjoyed myself in the process,” said the Swiss.

“Looking ahead, look, clearly the buildup is not going to be six months like it was last time around,” added the 36 year old. “It's not going to be six weeks of tennis. It's just going to be two, three weeks. It's going to be short. But I did that 15 years previously, so I know how to handle the buildup.”

After an injury-filled 2016 that saw him pull the plug on his season early in July that year, 2017 has been a roaring success. Bagging seven titles including two Grand Slams and three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies, Federer’s body held up throughout taxing periods of play that afforded him a high level of consistency throughout the year.

“I'm actually very relieved that I was able to finish strong ... It shows that things are in the past now. It's good to know that I can bounce back, you know, and get my confidence back.

“So considering how last year went, this year was perfect.”

Yet, what of next year? Although stalwarts Federer and Nadal remained consistent forces throughout the season, chief rivals such as Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka shut down their campaigns early to recover from their own damages – and if there is anyone who can relate, it’s Federer.

“We all had to take time off. I didn't choose to take the time off last year. You make me look like a genius sometimes. You take time off, you come back, you're good again. That's not how it goes.

“I expect obviously from the likes who have been extremely high up in the rankings, who have won slams, like Stan, Andy and Novak, of course I expect greatness from them,” added Federer. “I wouldn't be surprised if it worked out for them as well like it worked out for me and Rafa.”

With a huge cast of returning players, current Top 10 stars, and a handful of #NextGenATP talent rising up through the Emirates ATP Rankings, Federer anticipates a sizzling start to 2018 in Australia.

“I hope also Kei [Nishikori], Tomas [Berdych] and Milos [Raonic] all find their way back on tour and prefer to be in Australia because that would make it a quite epic comeback for all the guys. Then you mix them together with the new guys from the [Nitto ATP Finals] here who have just come off a great year... I think it could be a very cool start to the year, which I'm really looking forward to.”

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Roger Federer reveals plans for holiday break after loss to Goffin at ATP World Tour Finals

Federer was playing in his 14th semi-final at the season-ending tournament but lost for just the fourth time, Goffin triumphing 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The Swiss dismissed claims that he was carrying an injury into the match but did admit he would be taking time away from the game after a long season.

“I’ll probably take two weeks off, two weeks' vacation,” Federer said.

“I feel like it's what we always need at the end of the season, not just myself, but my wife as well, and my kids, too.

“We all need to spend some family time together. We love that.

“Most important time of our lives, to spend the time together like that.”

Federer, father of four, took the second half of 2016 off to deal with knee and back injuries, returning to win two more Grand Slams this year.

He will end the year as world No 2, the oldest man ever to do so at 36, but the plans for his return in 2018 are already set with January’s Australian Open the first major target.

“I’ll start the beginning of December my training again,” Federer added.

“Maybe on vacation, obviously I'll start moving around a little bit so the comeback into training is not so hard, you know.

“Then I leave at the end of the year for the Hopman Cup to get ready.

“I think I'm playing on the 30th [of December], my first match. That's the plan there.”

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Roger Federer ends season early at ATP World Tour Finals with defeat to David Goffin in semis

Well, this was unexpected. Awkward, even, for the legions of fans who had bought tickets for this afternoon’s final in the hope of seeing Roger Federer. But David Goffin, the Belgian who had looked so short of energy in midweek, rewrote the script yesterday by overcoming Federer in one of the O2’s biggest upsets.
Bear in mind that Goffin had never come close to challenging Federer before, in six previous meetings. On Friday, he had sounded nonplussed at the prospect of this semi-final, saying “I’ve never found a key to beat Roger. Honestly, I don’t know what to do tomorrow.”
His low expectations were born out in the first set. Goffin was reduced to the role of a spectator as Federer toyed with him, tossing in cheeky drop-shots and scorching passing shots. But the worm turned early in the second set, when Goffin scored his first break of serve. Suddenly he was the man feeling the ball more cleanly on his racket.
Federer was a step slow around the court now, perhaps tiring at the end of a season that had already brought him seven titles. He couldn’t find a way to recover his early fluency. And although Goffin has had trouble closing against big names in the past – he struggled to finish off a hobbled Rafael Nadal here in his opening match on Monday – his serve helped him over the finish line when it came to the crunch. Two aces in the first two points of the decisive game got him off to the perfect start, and within a couple of minutes he had completed his 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.
“Words can’t describe how I am feeling,” Goffin told the on-court interviewer Annabel Croft. “So much joy, so much happiness, such a special moment.”
It was hard to reconcile this triumphant figure with the hag-ridden one who had lost 6-0, 6-2 to Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday night. At that point, we wondered whether Goffin was carrying a significant problem in his knee, which he always tapes up, and there were real concerns that he might withdraw to prioritise his part in the Davis Cup final, which will pit Belgium against France in Lille next weekend. Yet if Goffin had no answers to “Baby Fed” – as Dimitrov is widely known, thanks to the visual similarities between the two men’s games – then he was ready to take down the senior version yesterday.

As for Federer, he had won all three of his group matches, but admitted yesterday that he had never quite settled into this tournament as he might have hoped. “I'm not that disappointed that I wasn't able to raise it,” he said, when asked about his level of play. “Because I just felt like I was never quite feeling it 100 per cent. I think that's also where maybe the frustration came in the previous matches.
“I still believed that I was going to be able to lift it. Maybe if David hadn’t been able to lift his game, I would have found a way to win today. Then who knows what happens in the finals. I give myself one more opportunity against a different type of playern
“There's no need to dwell over it, especially when it's the last match of the season. I wish I could have played more aggressive today, but just never really felt comfortable taking the ball on. Started with the return, started with the first shot after the serve. There was never like this simple one-two punch: return, first strike. I never got 100 per cent comfortable with it throughout the entire tournament.”

Goffin, by contrast, has such a quick eye on the return that any slightly vulnerable serves end up being driven back for a clean winner. In this, he resembles Andy Murray, although his delicate build and light-footed movement give a very different impression on the court. He also takes the ball extremely early, using his perfect technique and timing to redirect it up the line at will.
Well this was a disappointing end to an outstanding season.  I would have loved for him to win and go out on a high, but I guess this was not his day.  I'm not too sad however because of the aforementioned reason.  
If it means he gets a few days extra vacation where he allows his body to rest more and is good and ready to take on 2018, I'm totally fine with that. Rest up Roger, see you at the end of December.