Saturday, October 25, 2014

Roger Federer through to Swiss Indoors semis in Basel

One year after they faced off for the first time, Roger Federer once again got the better of Grigor Dimitrov in the Swiss Indoors Basel quarter-finals. The Swiss defeated the Bulgarian 7-6(4), 6-2 to keep alive his hopes for a sixth home town title.

The World No. 2 edged the first set in a tie-break after 54 minutes, and converted on his fifth break point opportunity of the match to go up 2-0 in the second. He broke Dimitrov for a second time and claimed victory after one hour and 29 minutes. Federer saved all four break points faced, hit 29 winners to Dimitrov's 25, and won 20 of 31 points at the net.

“I thought the level was high throughout for both of us,” said Federer. “I think Grigor served very well in the first, he didn’t give me very many opportunities. It was a tough end to the set, with me saving set points and then the tie-break stayed close at the end, but I’m very pleased to come through there. I think overall it was a very good performance and I played my best tennis of the week so far.”

Federer has a chance of finishing as the year-end World No. 1, and can close the gap between him and Novak Djokovic in the Emirates ATP Race To London to less than 500 points by winning the Basel title this week. Dimitrov, currently No. 11 in the Race standings, was looking to boost his qualifying bid for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

The 33-year-old Federer will take an 11-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head record into his next match against 35-year-old Ivo Karlovic, including a victory in the 2007 Basel semi-finals. The 6’11” Croat advanced with a 6-4, 6-4 win over German Benjamin Becker.

The eighth seed struck 19 aces and won 86 per cent of his first-serve points to advance in 76 minutes. “It’s great to be here again in the semi-finals,” said Karlovic. “I was holding my serve well against Benjamin. All in all it was a great match.”

Friday, October 24, 2014

Roger Federer had to go the distance to book a spot in Swiss Indoors quarters

Roger Federer found himself a set down to Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin for the second consecutive year at the Swiss Indoors Basel, and for a second time Federer worked his way out of trouble to advance to the quarterfinals on home soil.

Federer’s 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 victory marks the Swiss maestro’s sixth victory in six career battles with the world No. 55, but for the second consecutive time, he was forced to go the distance.

Istomin broke through in the opener, claiming a 4-2 lead on his third break point of the game when he knocked a backhand crosscourt winner at a devilish angle that Federer could not reach. He would save a break point in the next game and ride the momentum to clinch the set. Federer, who is looking to gain much-needed points on world No. 1 Novak Djokovic in Basel and can only do so with a title, fought back in the second set, claiming a break in the sixth game when his net approach forced Istomin to sail a backhand well long. 

Things would tighten considerably in the third, with an edgy Federer apparently feeling the pressure of playing in front of his adoring hometown fans. 

He failed to convert on four break points in Istomin’s first service game, and failed on the first three of the Uzbek’s next, but finally Federer hit his mark when he rifled a backhand down-the-line winner to claim the break. 

With Federer leading 3-2, Istomin’s one opportunity to level would go begging when Federer followed up a pinpoint serve with a forehand drive volley winner. It would be Istomin’s final chance to break. Federer would hold the rest of the way, hammering an ace down the T to close the match in one hour and 47 minutes.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Martina Hingis will stick around as long as she keeps winning, says tennis world

Tennis - There have been several times in Martina Hingis' career when the Swiss Miss has walked away from the game when the chips fell against her. In 2002, Hingis walked away from the game for the first time at the age of 22 just as she found that she had no answers for the power hitting of the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport.

She returned to the game in 2006 and while she quickly re-established herself as a Top 10 player, she found out that she was not really a contender for the major titles. A positive test for cocaine in 2007 caused Hingis to walk away from the game for a second time. Even as she maintained her innocence, Hingis said she did not have the energy to fight a long-drawn court case and a result, she was handed a two-year doping suspension.

In 2013, a 32-year-old Hingis decided to return to the tour once again but this time only for doubles. She partnered with Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova but the pair failed to click as a team, winning only 3 matches in 5 events during the American summer hardcourt stretch. While Hingis may not have expected immediate success on her return, the early losses were certainly something she as not ready to deal with. Once again, Hingis packed up for the season and announced that she would think about her plans for the 2015 season.

Hingis failed to enter any of the tournaments during the Australian circuit in January, leading people to wonder if the poor results had caused her to walk away from the game once again. But she did return to the courts in March at the Indian Wells event, only if it was to motivate and encourage Sabine Lisicki - who she had agreed to coach now. While the duo did lose in the first round of Indian Wells, they went on to win the Sony Open in Miami with wins over three top teams.

While the Hingis-Lisicki partnership did not survive when it came to coaching or doubles, perhaps the taste of her first victory in seven years caused Hingis to stick around on the doubles tour. She partnered with Italian Flavia Pennetta and the two reached the finals in Eastbourne.

After a first-round loss at Wimbledon with Vera Zvonareva, Hingis got back with Pennetta and after a couple of early losses, the duo went all the way to the US Open finals.

Hingis seems to have found the right chemistry with Pennetta and the duo claimed titles in Wuhan and Moscow, narrowly missing out on a berth at the WTA Tour Finals in Singapore (they finished ninth just a handful of points behind the eighth placed team). But the recent wins has ensured that Hingis is back in the Top 10 doubles rankings this week as she climbed four spots to No. 9 in the latest WTA rankings.

This is the first time since 2000 that Hingis will finish in the Top 10 of the world doubles rankings. Now 34, the Swiss Miss has already confirmed that she will be back in 2015, albeit for a limited schedule. Tennis fans can be assured of Hingis continuing to play as long as she is able to keep the titles coming. When the wins dry up, Hingis will walk away from the game once again. And this time, it will most likely be forever.

A large part of me wants to disagree, but there's probably some truth in that. 

I'll just have to enjoy every last moment of however long she decides to play.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Roger Federer wins Swiss Indoors opener in Basel

Roger Federer continued his push for the year-end ATP World Tour No. 1 spot on Wednesday when he began his bid for a sixth title at the Swiss Indoors Basel.

Top seed Federer improved to 5-0 lifetime against Gilles Muller in a 6-2, 6-1 victory over just 47 minutes on Wednesday evening.

Federer hit 12 winners, including five aces in the 24-minute opener and did not lose any of his service points in the second set.

The Swiss superstar is now 52-9 lifetime at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament, where he has reached 10 finals (5-5 record).

He adds 45 points to his Emirates ATP Race To London tally and now stands 945 points behind No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic, who welcomed the arrival of his first child, Stefan, yesterday.

Federer will next meet Denis Istomin in the second round on Thursday.

"He really imposes his game, with a big forehand, backhand and serve," said Federer of Istomin. "He can be dangerous on return too. I have to be sharp on my own service games, which was a problem here against him last year."

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Novak Djokovic & wife welcome a baby boy named Stefan

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and wife Jelena Ristic welcomed a healthy baby boy on Tuesday in Nice. The Serb tweeted the news to his followers on Wednesday morning, announcing the baby is called Stefan.

Djokovic is the third father in the Top 5 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, joining Switzerland's Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka. His official website posted a statement to confirm the Belgrade native will spend the following few days at home with his family, before travelling to Paris for the BNP Paribas Masters, beginning Monday, 27 October.

Stefan, our baby angel was born! I am so proud of my beautiful wife Jelena! Thank you so much for your love and support. We love you all!!!
~Novak via twitter

The 27-year-old Serbian had announced the pregnancy through social media in April, posting on Facebook, “My dear friends, You've been with me through many tough and good times in my career. I've been blessed to travel the world, play the most beautiful sport that brings me a lot of excitement and joy; I am happy, loved and healthy. Jelena and I are truly blessed to soon become parents! My love is pregnant!”

The two were married in July, four days after Djokovic won his second Wimbledon title.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Roger Federer chance to get closer to year-end #1 at Swiss Indoors in Basel

Home hero Roger Federer and ailing Rafael Nadal will be working to completely different agendas when the Swiss Indoors begins on Monday.

The event, which Basel-born Federer has won five times, marks the penultimate week of the points race to the ATP World Tour Finals in London, beginning in just over three weeks.

The 33-year-old Federer is among those already qualified, along with Novak Djokovic, Nadal, Australian Open winner Stan Wawrinka and US Open champion Marin Cilic.

Federer, who has played the last eight finals at the St Jakobshalle – he stands 37-3 at home – looks to close in on the year-end No 1 ranking held by Djokovic.

Nadal, meanwhile, will be desperately seeking some reassurance.

The nine-time French Open winner has not played in Federer’s backyard for a decade and missed last year with fatigue after signing a three-year appearance fee contract in 2012 which he has yet to start honouring.

Even with an appendix which will require surgery in the coming weeks, the 28-year-old Spaniard looks determined to at least make an attempt at an appearance for Swiss fans as he searches for his first win in the city after losses in 2003 and 2004.

Nadal’s camp says they will decide with doctors after Basel whether or not the world No 3 should play the Paris Masters or go for surgery on his painful appendix which he has been treating with antibiotics.

Basel will be crucial in shaking out the race for the remaining places in the field at the eight-man World Tour Finals showpiece.

Federer begins in the first round against Luxembourg veteran Gilles Muller while Nadal takes on a qualifier.

Third seed Wawrinka starts against Mikhail Kukushkin of Kazakhstan who was a semi-finalist in Moscow on Saturday.

Milos Raonic takes the fourth seeding with the Canadian hoping to have recovered from illness which compromised his last two events, in Shanghai and Moscow. He plays American Steve Johnson.

Fellow year-end contender Grigor Dimitrov is seeded fifth ahead of Ernests Gulbis, number seven David Goffin and eighth seed Ivo Karlovic.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Martina Hingis & Flavia Pennetta win Kremlin Cup doubles title in Moscow!

(AGI) Moscow, Oct 18 - Flavia Pennetta and Martina Hingis won the women's doubles at the Kremlin Cup, a WTA Premier tournament with 710,000 dollars in prize money under way on the hard courts of Moscow's Olympic Stadium. 

The Italian-Swiss doubles champions, number two in the seeding, defeated by 6-3 7-5 the pair made up by France's Caroline Garcia and Spain's Arantxa Parra Santonja, number four in the seeding. 

This is the season's second title for Pennetta and Hingis after their win in Wuhan, although they failed to qualify for the speciality for the Masters tournament by a hair's breadth. . .

40 titles and number 9 in doubles, again not bad for 34! :). Congrats ladies!.