Friday, February 23, 2018

Roger Federer confirms he's skipping Dubai

Federer, who is a seven time champion Dubai, was yet to confirm his attendance at the event, which begins on Monday.

The 36-year-old won the Rotterdam Open last week and became world No 1 for the first time since 2012.

But organisers in Dubai were hopeful Federer would play given he has a home in the city but tournament director Salah Tahlak has now confirmed the 20-time Grand Slam will miss the event to spend time with his wife Mirka and four children.

“I have been in touch with his agent and the last time we spoke he informed me that Federer would rather spend some quality time at home with his wife and kids than make the trip to Dubai,” Tahlak told Gulf News.

“He also said that this decision from the world No. 1 has nothing to do with Dubai, but it’s simply because he doesn’t want to take any chances during the build-up to his defence of the two titles in Indian Wells and Miami.

“In fact he has conveyed his willingness to come and play in Dubai next year.”

As alluded by Tahlak, Federer will return to tennis action in March to defend his titles in Indian Wells and Miami.

The field in Dubai will now be headed by world number 5 Grigor Dimitrov.

Lucas Pouille, Roberto Bautista Agut, Damir Dzumhur and Richard Gasquet are also set to feature at the ATP 500 event.

Monday, February 19, 2018

Tennis Magazine names Martina Hingis one of the 50 greatest players of the open era

Tennis has been transformed over the last five decades by TV, money, technology, equipment, fashion and politics. But through all of that, the players have remained at the heart of the game. As part of our golden anniversary celebration of the Open era, presents its list of 50 best players—the Top 25 men and the Top 25 women—of the last 50 years. You'll be able to view the entire list in the March/April issue of TENNIS Magazine.

(Note: Only singles results were considered; any player who won a major title during the Open era had his or her entire career evaluated; all statistics are through the 2018 Australian Open.).


Years played: 1994–2017
Titles: 43
Major titles: 5

How many people can say they’ve started and finished three successful careers by the time they’re 37? Martina Hingis, who retired for the third time in 2017, has been in and out of the pro game since she was 14. Now that she has (presumably) hung up her racquets for good, it’s clear that she did as much with them as anyone in the sport’s history. Between singles, doubles, and mixed, Hingis won 25 major titles, two career Grand Slams, and a calendar-year Slam.

For the purposes of our list, we’re only looking at her singles results, but those were as formidable as they are now under-appreciated. History says that Hingis was a transitional figure, a finesse player who took advantage of the gap between Steffi Graf and Venus and Serena Williams. And that’s true to a degree; Hingis won all five of her Grand Slam titles in a 24-month period from 1996 to 1998.

But she made the most of her relatively brief time at the top. Hingis came within one match of the calendar-year Grand Slam in 1997; her loss to Iva Majoli in the French Open final remains one of the sport’s biggest shocks. But contrary to popular belief, Hingis wasn’t a one-year wonder. She spent 209 weeks at No. 1 and finished three seasons there.

Hingis was born for the court. Her mother, Melanie Molitor, was a player and coach in her native Czechoslovakia who named her daughter after that country’s most famous champion, Navratilova. Baby Martina entered her first tournament at 4, and at 12 became the youngest player to win a junior Grand Slam title, at the French Open. Four years later, as a 16-year-old, she became the youngest Grand Slam champion of the 20th century when she won the Australian Open.

An unimposing 5’7”, Hingis couldn’t win with power, so she won with everything else: Consistency, variety, touch, anticipation, and court sense, as well as a fiery and occasionally self-destructive temper. Hingis had tennis in her DNA, and a sixth sense for where to put the ball. Everything about the game, on every surface, came naturally.

By the time she was 22, Hingis had won 40 titles, but ankle injuries—as well as the ever-more problematic presence of Lindsay Davenport, Jennifer Capriati, and the Williams sisters—forced her off the tour for the first time. In 2013, Hingis was inducted into the tennis Hall of Fame at age 32. Considering that she would go on to win 10 more doubles majors, she may be the first to be inducted twice.

Defining Moment: In the 1997 Wimbledon final, a 16-year-old Hingis lost the first set to her doubles partner, Jana Novotna, before turning the tables to win in three. It made Hingis the youngest Wimbledon winner since 1887; little did we know her singles career had peaked that afternoon.

I would have put her higher on the list, but I'm biased :D.  

Regardless I think all of her accomplishments should have put her in the top 10 instead of top 20. 

Sunday, February 18, 2018

World #1 Roger Federer wins his 97th title in Rotterdam

Roger Federer Tumblr

Roger Federer will surely never forget his week in Rotterdam. Two days after securing a return to the top spot in the ATP Rankings, the Swiss notched his 97th tour-level trophy on the indoor hard courts of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

The newly minted World No. 1 breezed to the title under the lights at the Ahoy Rotterdam, needing just 55 minutes to dismiss Grigor Dimitrov 6-2, 6-2. The Bulgarian was far from his best on Sunday afternoon and Federer refused to relinquish his grip after grabbing an early lead. Putting Dimitrov under heavy pressure throughout the championship clash, he fired 15 winners and converted four of eight break chances.

Federer, who will return to the summit of the ATP Rankings for the first time in more than five years on Monday, added a record third Rotterdam title to his glittering resume. He previously triumphed in 2005, defeating his current coach Ivan Ljubicic, and in 2012 with victory over Juan Martin del Potro.

"It's definitely one of those weeks I will never forget in my life," said Federer. "It's unbelievable to get my 97th title and get back to World No. 1. It's very special.

"I was expecting it to be tough today. Grigor is a great player and a great athlete and he's been playing super well in recent months. I thought that this wasn't going to be the result, but he looked to be struggling a bit and I never looked back. I was able to execute my tennis the way I wanted to. I'm very happy."

Open Era Title Leaders

Player Total Titles

Jimmy Connors 109
Roger Federer 97
Ivan Lendl        94
John McEnroe 77
Rafael Nadal 75

With King Willem-Alexander of the Netherlands in attendance, it was Dimitrov who burst out the gates behind a blistering start. The World No. 4 sent an early message across the net with a stunning backhand winner and running cross-court forehand in the opening game. He would claim seven of the first eight winners and it looked to be a tight affair in the Dutch city.

But a netted backhand drew first blood for Federer in the fifth game and he would not look back. The Swiss did not yield an inch from the baseline and a rattled Dimitrov saw a total of 13 unforced errors come off his racquet in the first set. And an immediate break to open the second would prove decisive. Federer crossed the finish in just under an hour, marking the second straight year he has streaked to a title in less than 60 minutes. He defeated Alexander Zverev in 53 minutes in Halle last year.

"I played a great first match and a great last match," Federer added. "In between it was a battle and nerve-wracking, getting back to World No. 1 and managing my expectations and my nerves as well. I was able to handle the pressure and today I played great from the beginning. I pushed forward and I'm very proud that I could win here in Rotterdam."

Federer has carried the momentum from a dominant finish to 2017 into the new season, opening his campaign with a ruthless 12-0 start. Since falling to Del Potro in the US Open quarter-finals, he has won 25 of 26 matches, with his only blemish coming in the semis of the Nitto ATP Finals (l. to Goffin).

Federer now owns a 7-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head lead over Dimitrov and has claimed encounters in each of the past six years. He has dropped just two sets in total in that span. The Swiss, who is assured of staying at No. 1 going into the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, regardless of Rafael Nadal's result in Acapulco, earns 500 ATP Rankings points. He also takes home €401,580 in prize money.

Despite falling in the championship, Dimitrov celebrates a 15th final appearance on the ATP World Tour. He streaked to the final without dropping a set, earning impressive wins over in-form opponents Yuichi Sugita, Filip Krajinovic and Andrey Rublev. The second seed was eyeing his ninth career crown. He takes home €196,875 in prize money and 300 ATP Rankings points.

"It was a great week, but I just came up short today," said Dimitrov. "Anything can happen, but all credit to Roger. He deserves to win the tournament and played unbelievable tennis the whole week. He raised the bar. I just want to take the positives from the week. My goal was to come out here and play well with each match, but I just came up short today. You do the best you can and play with whatever you have. I was following my game to the capacity I could and that was the result."

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Roger Federer through to Rotterdam final

Roger Federer reached his third ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament final on Saturday after beating Andreas Seppi 6-3, 7-6(3).

The two-time Rotterdam champion moved into the championship match after one hour, 24 minutes and will aim to become the first player in the tournament’s history to win the event on three occasions in Sunday’s final. Federer guaranteed with his quarter-final victory against Robin Haase that he will become the oldest World No. 1 in the history of the ATP Rankings on Monday.

If Federer goes on to win the title, it will be the 15th year in the 36-year-old’s career that he has won multiple tour-level titles. The right-hander is pursuing trophy No. 97.

The Swiss superstar will meet World No. 5 Grigor Dimitrov for the title after fourth seed David Goffin retired from his semi-final against the Bulgarian with an eye injury while trailing 3-6, 1-0. Federer has won all six previous FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings with Dimitrov. If the top seed goes on to win, it will be the 30th time that he defeated a Top 5 opponent in the final to earn a tour-level title.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Roger Federer over takes Andre Agassi as oldest #1 with a spot in the semis at Rotterdam

Australian Open Facebook

Roger Federer guaranteed his return to No. 1 in the ATP Rankings after beating Dutchman Robin Haase 4-6, 6-1, 6-1 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

By overtaking Spaniard Rafael Nadal at No. 1 on Monday, Federer will break a number of ATP Rankings records – the longest period between stints at No. 1, the oldest player to attain top spot and the longest duration between first and last days at the summit of men’s professional tennis.

Richard Krajicek, the Rotterdam Tournament Director, presented Federer with a special award in an on-court ceremony. "What an amazing run it’s been and a journey it’s been for me throughout, so to clinch World No. 1 again this following Monday here in Rotterdam really means a lot to me, so thank you very much, everybody," Federer told the crowd.

"I think reaching No. 1 is one of, if not the ultimate achievement in our sport. So sometimes at the beginning you just all of a sudden get there just because you’re playing so well. Later you sometimes try to fight it back and you wrestle it back from somebody else who deserved to be there and when you’re older you know you feel like you feel like you have to put maybe sometimes double the work in so this one maybe means the most to me throughout my career, getting to No. 1 and enjoying it right here at 36, almost 37 years old, is an absolute dream come true, I can’t believe it."

His third straight victory over Haase means that the Swiss superstar has completed a dramatic return from No. 17 in January 2017, following a six-month lay-off due to a knee injury. Since returning, Federer has compiled a 63-5 match record, including titles at three of the past five Grand Slam championships, three ATP World Tour Masters 1000s and two other tournaments.

Having saved three break points at 1-1, Haase appeared not to have read the script when the World No. 42 broke Federer for a 5-4 lead, then calmly closed out the 35-minute opener. Federer refocused and signaled his aggressive intent by winning four first-serve points in his opening service game of the second set, which lasted just 19 minutes. From a 3-1 lead in the second set, Federer won nine of the next 10 games to wrap up the match in 80 minutes.

Federer has ensured top spot for the first time since 4 November 2012, five years and 106 days ago – the longest period of time between stints at World No. 1. At 36 years of age, Federer is also the oldest player to become No. 1, eclipsing the record held by American Andre Agassi, who last held the top spot aged 33 on 7 September 2003.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Roger Federer battles past a determined Kohlschreiber to reach quarters in Rotterdam

Roger Federer moved to within one victory of overtaking Rafael Nadal at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on Thursday night after securing a place in the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament quarter-finals.

Top seed Federer, the 2005 and 2012 champion, saved two set points in a tense first set tie-break to beat the experienced German Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(8), 7-5 in one hour and 42 minutes. Federer is now a perfect 13-0 against 2016 semi-finalist Kohlschreiber in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, which began in June 2005 at the Gerry Weber Open.

The Swiss superstar must now beat a Dutchman, Robin Haase or wild card Tallon Griekspoor, on Friday at the Rotterdam Ahoy to return to the summit of men’s professional tennis for the first time in more than five years and become the oldest player to rank No. 1.

On the only break point of the first set, a set point for Federer, with Kohlschreiber serving at 5-6, 30/40, the Swiss missed a passing shot. Kohlschreiber grew in confidence taking a 5/2 lead in the tie-break, and held two set point opportunities at 6/4 - including one on his serve. However, Federer regrouped with set point chances at 7/6, 8/7 and 9/8, finally converting his fourth chance with a crosscourt forehand winner.

Kohlschreiber fought off three break points at 1-1, but at 5-5 the German hit the first double fault of the match to hand Federer another break point. Kohlschreiber responded in aggressive fashion, punching away a volley to get back to deuce. But the pressure began to tell. A second double fault gave Federer the crucial break.

Federer captured his 20th Grand Slam championship crown at last month’s Australian Open (d. Cilic) for the 96th tour-level trophy of his career.

Dutch No. 1 Haase plays his compatriot Griekspoor, who beat Stan Wawrinka in the first round for his first ATP World Tour match win, later today.

Well it wasn't easy, he had some real resistance this time. 

And he seemed very irritated compared to how relaxed he was in his first round. 

Maybe he's starting to think about #1 a little more as he's getting closer (not that he'll ever admit it). 

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Roger Federer's Rotterdam campaign off to a flying start

Roger Federer began his quest to return to No.1 in the ATP Rankings for the first time in over five years with a 6-1, 6-2 win over qualifier Ruben Bemelmans at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

Federer, who will overtake Rafael Nadal at the top of the ATP Rankings if he reaches the semi-finals, moved to within just two wins of the achievement after his 47-minute, first-round win over the No. 116.

The top seed raced to a one-set lead in just 18 minutes against his Belgian opponent, dropping just four points on serve as he won clinched set point with a put-away forehand winner. The second set continued in much the same vein as the opener, with Federer immediately breaking and consolidating to love for a 2-0 lead. Federer had two break points for a double-break lead in the next game, but the qualifier held firm to keep the deficit to a single break.

Federer did get the second break in the penultimate game of the match, rifling a backhand passing shot that Bemelmans could only return short before the World No. 2 swatted the ball into the open court. The two-time champion then completed a perfect set on serve, winning 16 out of 16 service points, holding to love for the fourth time in a row to secure his place in the second round.

The 36-year-old has now moved one step closer to becoming the oldest World No. 1 in history, with Andre Agassi currently holding the record. The American last held the top spot on 7 September 2003 at 33. Federer’s is yet to lose a match against his next opponent, Philipp Kohlschreiber. The 20-time Grand Slam champion leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 12-0.