Thursday, August 25, 2016

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal to team up in doubles for inaugural Laver Cup next year

NEW YORK (AP) Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have faced each other in eight major finals, plan to team up as doubles partners next year during the inaugural Laver Cup.

With a combined 31 Grand Slam titles, Federer and Nadal have committed to the team event, which attempts to create a tennis version of golf's Ryder Cup.

Named for Australian great Rod Laver, the competition pitting a squad of European men's players against a group from the rest of the world was first announced in January. On Wednesday, organizers said the first edition would be held in Prague on Sept. 22-24, 2017, indoors at the O2 Arena.

Former rivals Bjorn Borg of Sweden (Europe) and John McEnroe of the U.S. (World team) will serve as captains for the first three years.

Laver, Borg, McEnroe, Federer and Nadal - accounting for 60 major singles titles - gathered at a Manhattan hotel Wednesday for the announcements.

The plan is for the Laver Cup to be held annually, except during Olympic years, two weeks after the U.S. Open, with the location rotating. There will be six men on each team: four based on the rankings after Wimbledon, and two captain's picks announced after the U.S. Open.

There will be 12 matches played over three days (nine singles and three doubles), with the number of points awarded for victories increasing each day. Each player will take the court once or twice for singles, with at least four of the six taking part in doubles.

All the matches will be best-of-three, but if the first two sets are split, they will go to a 10-point tiebreaker.

Borg hopes that the other half of the ''Big Four'' - the current top two men in the rankings, Serbia's Novak Djokovic and Britain's Andy Murray - will join Switzerland's Federer and Spain's Nadal on the Europe team. McEnroe acknowledged that for now at least, his World squad would be the heavy underdog, though a lot can happen in just over a year.

Beyond the Big Four, Europe boasts 13 of the current top 15 players in the men's rankings. And active European players have combined for 49 Grand Slam titles; for the rest of the world, it's just one, by Argentina's Juan Martin del Potro.

Federer's management company, TEAM8; Brazilian businessman Jorge Paulo Lemann, a former Davis Cup player; and Tennis Australia partnered to create the Laver Cup.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Roger Federer hoping to be back for Aussie Open in January 2017

Roger Federer, who is sidelined for the rest of the year, has said he plans to return to competition in Australia in January at the Hopman Cup and the Australian Open.

The record 17-times grand slam singles winner announced last month that he would be missing the Rio Olympics, the US Open and the remainder of the 2016 schedule in order to properly recover after having knee surgery earlier this year.

The Swiss world No4 said he was taking a positive outlook. “I don’t see it as the end of something. I see it as a beginning to something I’m working for, and when I come back to the Hopman Cup and then to the Australian Open ... that’s what I’m working for now,” said the 35-year-old.

Federer was speaking at a news conference where it was announced that he and Rafa Nadal were committing to play for Team Europe in the inaugural Laver Cup matches next year against a rest of the world team in Prague on 22-24 September.

“I’m doing well and I’ve been training as much as I possibly could to restrengthen my quad and my body to keep it in shape,” said Federer, who had surgery on his left knee in February.

“So when I head back into the gym for full on fitness in the next couple of months, then I’m ready for it. I just hope to be super strong when I come back in January.”

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Roger Federer considered playing Olympics, while skipping U.S.Open and vice versa

NEW YORK (AP) Maybe Roger Federer could play the Olympics and skip the U.S. Open. Or sit out the Rio Games and make it to New York.

The 17-time major champion contemplated both scenarios, holding out hope as long as he could that he'd find a way to enter at least one of the big events in August.

In the end, his balky left knee wouldn't allow him to do either.

At a meeting with doctors and trainers, Federer recalled, ''Everybody said, `You need a break - right now.'''

So the Swiss great announced in late July that he'd miss the rest of the season, by far the longest layoff of a remarkably healthy career.

Federer, who turned 35 this month, was in Manhattan on Wednesday to talk about playing tennis next year at the new Laver Cup team event. But for the first time since 1999, he's not preparing for the U.S. Open.

He underwent an arthroscopic procedure in February to repair torn cartilage - the first surgery of his career. Federer hasn't played since his Wimbledon loss to Milos Raonic, in which he fell awkwardly and called the trainer to check on what had become a nagging knee problem.

''I never really had pain, funny enough,'' Federer said Wednesday. ''It just felt unstable.''

Then there was the swelling.

''When it's swollen, you can't compete at the best level,'' he added.

An MRI didn't show anything distinctly different from before. For all his upbeat talk Wednesday about his future, Federer let some doubts seep in when he discussed the mystery of what's going on in the knee.

''That's why, I think, it's been to some extent frustrating,'' he said. ''At least if I had a lot of pain, or if the scan shows you thoroughly what exactly the problem is, then I think it's easier to take a decision.

''I really hope I'm not being misled by the knee that it doesn't feel painful. But it's just not 100 percent. That's why I just think the beating that I got in Wimbledon and the clay court season was just so complicated.''

Federer, who also skipped the French Open because of a bad back, didn't play tennis for five or six weeks and just now is starting to do a few things on the court. He's focused on exercises to strengthen his left quadriceps, such as squats, so he'll be physically ready once he ramps back up to his full workouts to prepare for January's Australian Open.

It might have been possible to return for a couple of tournaments late in 2016, Federer said, but there was no point once he knew he would miss the bulk of the fall schedule.

He reflected back to this past January, when the Laver Cup concept was unveiled at the Australian Open, and marveled: ''My God, I never thought I was going to have a year the way I had it.''

He hurt his knee while preparing a bath for his twin daughters, then later saw his record 65-appearance streak at major tournaments end. Federer won't win a title in a season for the first time since 2000. And now that he missed the Rio Games, his career could end without an Olympic singles gold medal.

He insisted he hasn't missed competition yet, though maybe that will change when the U.S. Open starts next week. The quiet away from the spotlight has been nice, he said - even if he quickly amended that to: ''I've got four kids - it's a different quiet.''

Back in New York, site of five of his titles, Federer said he watched a lot of volleyball during the Olympics and spoke to Andy Murray after the Brit won gold. Despite Murray's recent run, Federer still believes Novak Djokovic is the favorite at the U.S. Open.

No matter that the world's top-ranked player has struggled by his standards since completing the career Grand Slam at Roland Garros - Djokovic is just too good on the hard courts and too successful against Murray, Federer said.

If the Serb does win to move within four major titles of Federer's record, the man he's chasing will be forced to watch from afar.

''In a way it's painful, just because I love this place,'' Federer said, ''and it's hard watching the Olympics - I would have loved to have competed there as well. ... Would have loved to win a medal.''

Monday, August 22, 2016

Martina Hingis' former doubles partner Sania Mirza holds on to her #1 ranking dropping Hingis to 2

For so long the standard bearer for tennis on the subcontinent, Sania Mirza is no stranger to flying solo. A strange sensation for one of her generation's outstanding doubles players, but one that has fostered an inner steel crucial to her longevity at the top of the sport.

Following the premature conclusion of her singles career in 2012 owing to a serious wrist injury, Mirza quickly established herself as a doubles specialist to be reckoned with. Already a serial title winner, a sequence of increasingly fruitful partnerships elevated her game - and ranking - to new levels.

Alongside Bethanie Mattek-Sands, and in particular the evergreen Cara Black, Mirza lifted silverware at many of tennis' flagship events; with Black by her side, this culminated in the Indian qualifying for then winning the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

When Black left the tour to focus on family life, it left Mirza as one of the most sought-after partners on tour. And it was not long before another serial major winner came calling: Martina Hingis.

Success was immediate, the duo winning their first 14 matches and three tournaments together. The last victory in this sequence, in Charleston, brought Mirza to another major milestone: the No.1 ranking.

So impressive were the pair's results - they won three consecutive majors, going unbeaten for 41 straight matches between August 2015 and February 2016 - Mirza was soon joined by Hingis atop the rankings. It was an honor they held until this Monday, when Mirza reassumed the mantle of outright No.1 following victory alongside new partner Barbora Strycova in the final of the Western & Southern Open.

Their opponents in the final were none other than Hingis and CoCo Vandeweghe, the ownership of the No.1 ranking adding an additional layer of intrigue to an already tense occasion.

"We played each other in the final, which is of course the best time to play each other," Mirza told ESPN. "It was not the easiest situation, it is a bit weird. There are nerves but at the end of the day we are tennis players and we have to try and win and do our best and we both tried to do the same thing.

"We had a great partnership but it was time to move on and we have moved on. We've both had a great tournament. I have to look forward and I have to focus all my energy on this partnership which is obviously doing great."

Defeat for Mirza would have seen her surrender sole possession of top spot to Hingis, and she was full of praise for her new partner's competitive instinct following a rollercoaster final, in which they trailed 1-5, 15-40 in the first set before storming back to clinch the title.

"We are really happy, it was a new partnership and we are obviously very happy and excited to have started this way and winning one of the big tournaments of the year," she said. "We had a really tough draw. We have beaten some big teams and for us it has been an amazing week.

"As professional athletes you have to first see whether you match each other on the court, which is what I thought which is why I approached her to play when that split had happened. Obviously I was right because our playing styles complement each other. We are similar personalities and we will get to know each other better in the course of time. We fight for every point."

The 38th doubles title of the 29-year-old's career extends her spell at No.1 to 72 weeks, a number bettered by only 10 players in history. The ranking will again be on the line when Hingis, Mirza and their new teammates head to New York for the year's final major, the US Open.

"Consistent performances matter, it's not a flash in the pan of one odd tournament. I have won six tournaments this year and played a bunch of finals which is huge already for this year. The hardcourts are my favorite surface. I am looking forward to the next few weeks. I am not going to put any added pressure on myself that this what I need to do or should do."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Martina Hingis falls to former partner Sania Mirza in Cincinnati doubles final

Western Southern Open Facebook

Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis parted ways after Rogers Cup only to end up standing opposite each other at the Cincinnati Masters finals. Sania, paired with Barbora Strycova from the Czech Republic, defeated Martina, who has teamed up with Coco Vandeweghe of the United States of America, 7-5, 6-4.

With the win, Sania retained her number one status on the women's doubles ranking as Hingis slipped to the second spot.

The win comes as a soother to Olympics defeats for Sania Mirza who won her sixth title of the season and 38th in the doubles tally.

The Indo-Czech pair were down 1-5 in the first set, but finding the rhythm, the duo bounced back to take charge of the match with a 7-5 win.

There was a shaky start to the second set as well as Mirza-Strycova failed to convert a break point. They soon found success with a 3-1 lead and Mirza's forehand ensured a 6-4 win over the Swiss-American pair.

When asked about facing Hingis on the court, Sania said, "I am not going to lie. It's a very difficult situation. It's not easy because we are still good friends, so it's never easy. It's the first tournament since we split and we come and we have to play each other. Of course, there is no better match to play than the final, so it was difficult, I think. for both of us.

"But having said that we are professional tennis players. We have to come out and we have to give our best and we have to try and win. That's all we can do, and we both tried to do that," reports WTAtennis.

Sania is not bothered about the ranking and thinks that it is just a number. All she wanted to do was play to win and that's what she did.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza to face each other in Cincinnati Open doubles final post split

Just a week after formally announcing their split, Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis will be back on the same court, albeit on different sides. Mirza and her new partner Barbora Strycova beat Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan 6-2, 7-5 to set up a final duel against Hingis and Coco Vandeweghe.

After failing to produce consistent performances in the last few months, World No.1s Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis had decided to go their separate ways last week. Mirza and Hingis, who won a tournament back in May, are now just a win away from clinching the Cincinnati Masters title, but only one will end the day with a trophy in their hands.

Sania and her Czech Republic partner Barbora Strycova set up the cinematic finale after defeating Chan Hao-ching and Chan Yung-jan 6-2, 7-5 in the semi-final yesterday. They had earlier beaten USA's Christina McHale and Maria Sanchez 6-4, 6-4 in the Round of 16, before going past Timea Babos of Hungary and Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan 7-6, 6-1 in the quarterfinal.

The Indo-Czech pair are yet to drop a set in the tournament, and will face Martina Hingis and her partner from the USA, Coco Vandeweghe, who are on a similar run to the final. Hingis and Vandeweghe got a walkover in the Round of 16 and in the quarter-final, before defeating Julia Görges and Karolina Pliskova 6-1, 6-4 in the other semi-final.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Martina Hingis & new partner Coco Vandeweghe through to Cincinnati semis without playing a point

In an unusual scenario, Martina Hingis and Coco Vandeweghe   progressed to the semi-finals of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati without stepping on to the court.

This comes after the Swiss-American combination received a bye in the first round before their quarter-finals opponents Sara Errani and Carla Suarez Navarro conceded a walkover, sending the fourth seeds straight into the last-four stage.

This implies that the duo have earned 350 ranking points and $36,670 by entering the semi-finals, where they will be taking the court for the first time against fifth seeds Julia Georges and Karolina Pliskova on Saturday.

Hingis and Vandeweghe are unbeaten together, having won all their eight matches since teaming up earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Hingis’ former partner and fellow world number one Sania Mirza (along with partner Barbora Strycova) had to play two matches in a day en route the semi-finals. Should all go well, Hingis and Mirza could clash in the Sunday’s title-clash.