Friday, August 31, 2012

Roger Federer eases into 3rd round at Flushing Meadows

NEW YORK — His opponent was pretty sure he had put the lob out of Roger Federer’s reach.

Not quite.

Federer extended his body, reached up to his backhand side and angled it off for a winner.

That was one of 32 shots Federer won from the net Thursday night in what, at times, looked like a practice match for the 17-time Grand Slam champion — a 6-2, 6-3, 6-2 victory over No. 83 Bjorn Phau of Germany, a player who beat Federer the first time they met, what seems like a lifetime ago, back in 1999.

“I don’t think it was a matter of him going more to the net or not,” Phau said. “The way he played today, he was really focused, really playing well, actually.”

Top-seeded Federer needed only 90 minutes to close out the match. He finished with 44 winners to 16 for his overmatched opponent and also with 15 aces, many of them not so much of the overpowering sort, but acutely angled shots Phau simply couldn’t reach. None of this was too unusual considering it was only the second round and Federer is rarely tested before the second week at Flushing Meadows.

But in a different twist, he won nine more points from the net than from the baseline — in part because Phau, with his array of tricky slice and drop shots, was pulling him to the net, and in part because Federer was forcing the issue and trying to end points early.

“I like coming forward when I am up,” Federer said. “Just try maintaining that. And if things don’t work out that way, you can always play it safe again.”

Like everything else at Flushing Meadows on this day, Federer’s win was overshadowed by Andy Roddick, who announced he’d be retiring after the tournament. Roddick, who dropped the surprise on his 30th birthday, said it was getting harder and harder to keep the tank full at that age — a reality the 31-year-old Federer said “is not an easy one to face.”

“I guess you’ve got to have that balance between fire and being relaxed and knowing where you are in your life,” Federer said.

He has a much better handle on that than in the late-90s, when he was a struggling teenager and Phau was one of his contemporaries.

“I never believed at that moment that I was going to become such a great player,” Federer said. “I was so weak back then. It was just different times.”

No need to remind Phau, who said there was no way to realistically analyze the way he played on a packed night in Arthur Ashe Stadium.

“It’s tough to say because those guys always play on courts like this,” Phau said. “For him, it’s normal. For me, it’s something special.”

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kim Clijsters fairy-tale run cut short in the second round of U.S. Open

I'm really gonna miss seeing her do these splits, wow!

NEW YORK (AP) — Preparing for what she knew would be her last professional tennis tournament, Kim Clijsters — four-time Grand Slam title winner; mother of 4-year-old Jada — devoted her effort and energy to the U.S. Open.

Family time needed to wait a tad longer.

"She was like, 'Why don't you come with us to go out, go for a walk?' I'm like, 'Mama's almost done,'" Clijsters said Wednesday after her singles career ended where she wanted it to, just not the way she hoped. "So, yeah, I think she's going to be excited to kind of have her mom around more, on a more regular kind of basis."

Little Jada's gain is the tennis tour's loss.

Clijsters lost 7-6 (4), 7-6 (5) to 18-year-old Laura Robson of Britain in the second round of the U.S. Open, and will head into retirement after she finishes playing doubles at Flushing Meadows.

"It's been an incredible journey, and a lot of dreams for me have come true because of tennis. As a little girl, I got Christmas rackets under the tree and outfits of Steffi Graf and Monica Seles, and I would want to wear them to bed, I was so excited," Clijsters said. "So for me to have been able to have been a part of women's tennis, and on top of women's tennis for so many years — you don't think about it when you're in it; you're kind of on automatic pilot. ... Now that I think about it, it's been a crazy rollercoaster at times, as well."

She walked away from the sport once before, in May 2007, then returned after a hiatus of two-plus years. Now 29, the Belgian insisted this season that she means it this time, and decided the U.S. Open — and its hard courts that she conquered on the way to three championships — would be her final tournament.

"It's the place that has inspired me so much to do well and to do great things. It's hard to explain sometimes why," Clijsters said in an on-court interview, her face flushed and her eyes welling with tears.

"This completely feels like the perfect place to retire," Clijsters told the spectators at Arthur Ashe Stadium, many of whom rose to shower her with a standing ovation. "I just wish it wasn't today."

The loss Wednesday ended Clijsters' 22-match winning streak in New York, encompassing titles in 2005, 2009 and 2010, plus Monday's first-round victory.

She missed the hard-court major in 2004, 2006-08 and last year, thanks to a combination of injuries and the time she took off while starting a family. Clijsters was married in 2007, and Jada was born in February 2008. By August 2009, Clijsters was back on tour; unseeded and unranked, because she only played in two previous tournaments during her comeback, she won that year's U.S. Open.

"Since I retired the first time, it's been a great adventure for my team and my family," said Clijsters, who was 28-0 against players ranked outside the top 10 at the U.S. Open before Wednesday. "It's all been worth it. But I do look forward to the next part of my life coming up."

Her previous defeat at Flushing Meadows came against Belgian rival Justine Henin on Sept. 6, 2003, in the tournament final. Robson was 9 at the time.

This did have the feel, in some ways, of a changing of the guard.

Clijsters finished with a career singles record of 523-127 (a winning percentage of .805) and 41 titles, including her last major trophy at the 2011 Australian Open. She spent a total of 20 weeks ranked No. 1, as recently as February 2011.

"I hate to lose. My husband and I, we play ping pong in our garage, and I don't even want to give him a point," Clijsters said, rubbing her palms together.

Ranked 89th, and with only one prior victory over a woman ranked in the top 25, Robson has been viewed — particularly back home in Britain — as an up-and-coming player whose smooth left-handed strokes would carry her far.

But she had never produced the kind of grit and court-covering athleticism that carried her past the 23rd-seeded Clijsters. And until now, Robson never had won more than one match in a Grand Slam tournament; her claim to fame had been teaming for a silver medal in mixed doubles at the London Olympics with Andy Murray, who reached the U.S. Open's third round by beating 118th-ranked Ivan Dodig of Croatia 6-2, 6-1, 6-3 in the last match Wednesday night.

Robson knows how much Clijsters means to the game, not only as a superb player but as someone who by all accounts is universally liked — by fans, tennis officials and even opponents.

"She's always been someone that I've looked up to since I started on the tour. She's always been incredibly nice to be around," Robson said. "I think we're all going to miss her."

When the contest ended with Clijsters sailing a backhand return long, allowing Robson to convert her third match point, they met at the net. Clijsters began to extend her arm for the customary handshake, and Robson pulled her in for a hug.

"I want to thank Kim," Robson told the crowd, "for being such a great role model to me for so many years."

Less than an hour later, Clijsters was hanging out in the players' garden alongside the stadium. She shared a laugh with some friends, hugs from others, and paused to pose for a photograph alongside 14-time major champion Serena Williams, who was headed out after partnering sister Venus for a first-round victory in doubles.

Clijsters was the only woman of real significance who lost on Day 3, when the winners included No. 1 Victoria Azarenka, four-time major champion Maria Sharapova, defending champion Sam Stosur, 2011 Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova and 2011 French Open champion Li Na.

"The whole tour is certainly going to miss having her around. She's been a great player and a great person," Stosur said about Clijsters. "I guess she's ready to do other things. She's definitely one of those people that you can look up to and really admire with what she's been able to achieve."

There were no such shenanigans during Clijsters vs. Robson, simply plenty of terrific play.

With her husband — Brian Lynch, an American who used to play professional basketball in Belgium — fidgeting from his front-row seat in the stands, Clijsters wound up getting the worse of lengthy exchanges. As big a forehand as Clijsters owns, Robson was out-hitting her, compiling a 16-11 edge in winners off that wing.

Clijsters went up a break in the second set, helped by a pair of double-faults by a slightly shaky Robson — nerves that were understandable, given the setting and the significance of this match. But Robson got right back in it, playing gutsy, go-for-the-lines tennis, repeatedly pounding the ball hard as can be, and seeing shots land right where she aimed.

"I really enjoyed myself out there," said Robson, who found herself singing along to the pop songs that blare over loudspeakers during changeovers.

As you might expect from a teen, the youngest player ranked in the WTA's top 100.

Try as she might, Clijsters could not quite gain the upper hand, no matter how many times she yelled "Come on!" and raised a clenched fist after winning points.

On one well-disguised drop shot by Robson, Clijsters raced forward and did her trademark splits through the doubles alley, stretching to get her racket on the ball. But her response landed in the net.

"I just wasn't good enough at the end of the match," Clijsters acknowledged.

And now? What does she look forward to the most?

The answer came quickly: "Being home."

I'm still processing all of my sad emotions at the moment. I honestly thought Kim didn't play badly it truly was a case of the other player being better and outplaying her.

But like the true champion she is she fought to the last point and even managed to save 2 match points.  I think that's one of the things I'll remember about her most, her incredible fighting nature.  As well as her friendly personality and down to earth humbleness.

I think the thing that made it more sad for me was that the match started in late afternoon and went on into the evening (due to the men's matches going on forever as per usual).

Because of that there weren't that many people left in the stands (there were more photographers then anything) I think the public was sure Kim would go through so that made me feel like Kim was cheated out of a proper send off.

I think had she played in prime-time the stadium would have been filled and she would have received a huge standing ovation.  But that's the way things go sometimes in this sport I guess.

I am really going to miss Kim's positive attitude, and the way she handled herself with the media and on and off the court.

So many players nowadays can be so prima donna-ish and Kim has never been like that she's always been fair in her assessment of her own game when she was playing well and when she wasn't and always give full credit to the other player (unlike Serena Williams who seems incapable of humbleness and graciousness).

I will never forget her win in 2009 when she brought her daughter Jada out into the stadium after winning the championship shortly after coming back from a 2 year retirement.  It was such a sweet and historic win.  I'll also always remember her finally winning in Australia and truly earning the title of "Aussie Kim".

Goodbye Kim thanks for all the wonderful memories and all you've done for the sport, good luck in doubles and mixed doubles and in all your future endeavours.  All your fans are really going to miss you.  Tennis is not going to be the same without you.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Kim Clijsters moves into 2nd round at last U.S. Open

THREE-TIME US Open champion Kim Clijsters is ready to give up the globe-trotting tennis star life at the age of 29 in order to spend more time as a wife and mother.
But first, she's going to give winning another grand slam title one last try.

The Belgian star began the final tournament of her WTA career by defeating American teen Victoria Duval 6-3 6-1 on the same Arthur Ashe Stadium court where she captured US Open crowns in 2005, 2009 and 2010.

"It's going in the upward direction,'' Clijsters said of her game, citing her comfort with New York and the courts as well as a strong week of practice.

"I was playing a lot better in the second set."

Clijsters, whose grand slam title haul also includes last year's Australian Open, stretched her US Open win streak to 22 matches. She has not lost at the US Open since falling to compatriot Justine Henin in the 2003 final.

But she also has missed five of the past eight Flushing Meadows tournaments due to injury or retirement breaks.

Clijsters gave birth to daughter Jada, 4, in 2008 and has brought the child along with her in her global tennis travels.

But Clijsters, who spent 20 weeks as world No.1 in her career, said she knows the time is right to depart the sport now even though older players are still winning grand slams.

"You feel it when it's right," Clijsters said. "It's a feeling you need to have inside if you still want to keep going and you want more of those adrenaline rushes. I just know for me the time is right."

Good match a little shaky in the first set, but impressive serving.  If she continues in the same fashion and cuts down some on the unforced errors she might just have a shot.  

Although things will get very tough 3rd round onward (Li Na will certainly not be a piece of cake, neither will last year's champ Sam Stosur).  

Tough draw that's for sure, but like I said if she continues serving well she might just have a shot

Roger Federer cruises into 2nd round of U.S. Open

Roger Federer lived up to his billing as No. 1 seed with a confident win over Donald Young in the first round of the US Open.

Respected figures in the game had predicted a mauling, given the shocking form Young has been in of late. The American was not left seeing stars, as he showed flashes of quality, but Federer eased through without doing anything more than he had to.

It was a confident display, with Federer rock solid on serve and picking his moments to force the play. Young had no answers at the crucial moments as Federer went on to claim a 6-3 6-2 6-4 win.

Federer was made to work hard early in the contest and he needed two big first serves at 3-3 in the first set. Having come through a minor scare, the world No. 1 stepped up the pace and broke Young to love in the eighth game. He audaciously sealed the break by stepping inside the baseline to receive serve and disdainfully swatted the ball away for a clean winner.

After racing through the first set, he broke at the start of the second to suggest a total demolition was on the cards. But Young stopped that thought it its tracks by breaking back.

That seemed to sting Federer into action as he broke back, setting it up in audacious fashion with a stunning smash from the baseline. 

Young threw up a fine defensive lob, but Federer chose to slam the ball down the line. The stunning nature of the shot appeared to jolt Young who promptly surrendered his next two service games as Federer opened up a two-set lead.

Federer took to serving and volleying in the third, such was his confidence, and he pulled off a string of top-class shots as raced through the set after claiming an early break.


Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Kim Clijsters to wear Fila limited edition "trophy collection" outfits at last U.S. Open

Sparks, MD (PRWEB) August 21, 2012

Fila announced that US Open and Australian Open champion Kim Clijsters will debut the final styles in a special apparel and accessory collection at the 2012 US Open. First worn by Kim during her matches at The Championships Wimbledon, the Trophy Collection was designed by the brand to honor her illustrious career in tennis. 

As Clijsters retires for a second and final time at the conclusion of the her last grand slam at the US Open, Fila collaborated with the tennis star to design the last style group of the collection as an homage to her adopted home (USA) with a red, white and navy color palette.

"The US Open is tournament where I have had my greatest triumphs and is therefore very special to me,” said Kim Clijsters. “While it is bittersweet to retire from my professional career, the collection that Fila designed reminds me of all of my wonderful tennis experiences and memories that will last a lifetime.”

Clijsters has long been one of the most recognizable, well-liked and respected players on the WTA Tour, and she inspired legions of fans with her unbelievable comeback to tennis in 2009 when she became the first unseeded player and wildcard to win the US Open. Even more inspiring was that Kim was the first mother to win a Grand Slam in the Open era since Evonne Goolagong-Cawley (1980).

“Kim has had a remarkable career in tennis and has been inspirational to many tennis fans around the world who have enjoyed her extraordinary talent,” said Gene Yoon, Chairman of Global Fila. “Her grace, passion, and humility have made her a champion on and off the court. We wish Kim the best as she begins a new chapter in her life.”

The final group to be worn at the US Open by Clijsters features a unique take on the American flag with a red stripes and star pattern on the top and skort, a tribute to her family and love of the tri-state area. The pattern features hundreds of smaller stars and, at Clijsters’ suggestion, eleven large stars to represent the years that she has been a member of the Fila family. Within four of those large stars, there is an outline of a tennis ball to symbolize her four Grand Slam titles.

The star pattern can be seen on the side panels and back of the v-neck cap sleeve top, one of Clijsters’ favorite silhouettes. The cap sleeve top features contrast binding at the neck and diagonal red stripes across the upper chest between the seams of the sleeve. Thin red taping on the front side panels denotes the start of the star pattern. 

The red taping continues down the front of the a-line skort while diagonal red stripes start from mid-thigh and wrap around the back of the skirt to the waistband. As an added element of whimsy, the ball short features the star print pattern. Both the cap sleeve top and skort are available two colorways: white with navy and red accents as well as navy with white and red.

Clijsters will wear a navy jacket and pant with her on-court look. The full zip navy jacket has a distinct vintage tennis inspiration with white color-blocking on the side panels and under the arms and red athletic taping above the elbow. Red accents continue on the front full zipper and front pockets. 

The matching pant has white vertical taping down the side of the leg with two red horizontal stripes at the ankle. A complement to the on-court look, the matching accessory collection includes a navy quilted duffle with red piping and handle as well as white, navy and red wristbands and visor. All items in the collection have a traditional F-box Fila logo detail.

The limited edition collection retails from $30 to $250 will be available exclusively on Follow Kim's matches and comment on the star collection on twitter @TennisFilaUSA.

Read more:

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Kim Clijsters on saying goodbye to the U.S. Open for good

When Kim Clijsters first retired from tennis in 2007 in order to have her first child, she left as one of the best players in the women’s game. She had reached No. 1, , and had won 34 career singles titles—but only one of those was a Grand Slam title—the 2005 US Open..

But since coming back to the sport in 2009, her “second’ tennis career has been even more impressive, and as Clijsters prepares to walk away from the sport for good following this year’s US Open—a tournament where she had great success and many sweet memories—the 29-year-old Belgian has cemented her status as one of the best women’s players of all time, with credentials that should earn her a place in the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

Clijsters has been one of the WTA Tour’s genuine power players, especially at her peak, reaching world No. 1 for the first time in 2003. She used a combination of strength, fitness and speed to rise to the top of the game, and became especially famous for her splits, which she often fell into as she chased down balls with her sparkling defense. She still has the talent to compete with the best, but when she announced this year that the US Open would officially be her last tournament, she cited the physical toll of the type of game she plays and her desire to have more children as reasons to end her brilliant career.

“(I am) too old to play the game that I want to play physically,” Clijsters said. “I've put my body through enough strain and everything. The whole lifestyle, that's what I'm dealing with now, the lifestyle I've had for the last 15, 20 years.

Clijsters has been known throughout the years as much for her friendly, off-court personality towards everyone as for her on-court domination. She was affectionately nicknamed ‘Miss Congeniality’ for the way she carries herself. She says she has not thought about what kind of legacy she leaves on the game, but she is happy she was always able to stay the same person through the fame and demands on her time.

“I think for me the most important thing is I've always followed my heart. I've always done what I felt was right. I've always stayed true to who I am,” she said. “Players change. There's so many other things involved than just tennis and practicing. I think you see players kind of losing the true sense of life, and of the sport. “

Clijsters always has had a love for the sport, and that was what brought her back to tennis after her first “retirement.” It was after training for an exhibition at Wimbledon in 2009 that Clijsters began feeling the itch to compete again. She had walked away from the game ranked No. 4 in May 2007, married American basketball player Brian Lynch shortly thereafter and gave birth to her first daughter, Jada, in February 2008.

Her comeback to the tour could hardly have gone any better. She defeated Caroline Wozniacki to win the 2009 US Open, becoming the first mother since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980 to win a Grand Slam singles title. She had a memorable on-court celebration with her daughter (Jada still refers to pictures of the US Open celebration as “mommy winning that trophy’.) 

Though Jada was too young to understand what was going on, it was a memorable family moment for Clijsters and all who witnessed the moment, and another celebration for the determination and success of Clijsters, who was also an inspiration and model for many working mothers across the country.

Here was a woman who already had it all – she had been one of the best athletes in the world, one of the nicest people, a close family – and managed to balance it all with her return to training, her family accompanying her to tournaments and then immediately found success again in her professional life.

“I didn't expect obviously when I started back after having Jada, I never expected that things would be going so well so soon,” she said. “It's been an incredible adventure these last three, four years. I feel like I've been able to kind of finish that chapter of my tennis year on a good note.”

Clijsters repeated as US Open champion in 2010, this time defeating Vera Zvonareva in the final. She was No. 3 by the end of 2010 and continued her run through the first part of 2011, winning the Australian Open for her first Grand Slam title outside New York, and returned to No. 1 in February. She stayed there for just a week but it was a significant feat; she became the first mother to ever be ranked No. 1.

Injuries began to mount for Clijsters in 2011; she injured her ankle at her cousin’s wedding, after stepping on someone’s foot in high heels, and then missed most of the clay-court season due to shoulder and wrist injuries. She was able to play the French Open but missed Wimbledon with a foot injury and then an abdominal injury caused her to miss a chance to three-peat at the US Open. She did not play again the rest of 2011.

This year, the injury bug hit her again, but she has been effective when she has been on court, going 19-6, reached the semifinals in Australia, fourth round at Wimbledon and the quarterfinals at the Olympics—her first career Olympic appearance. But a hip injury and ankle injury have also plagued her, as well as the abdominal muscle she pulled last year.

She said she stopped counting down to her retirement last year, and knows it will be different coming to play at the US Open for the final time here, but is happy that she is going out leaving nothing behind.

“I have no regrets. I know I always gave myself 100 percent,” she said. “The US Open will be a special occasion for me to be playing there and to end my career there. I'm sure it will be emotional.”

Monday, August 20, 2012

Roger Federer 5-time Cincinnati Open Champion! :)

Make it five for Federer. Emphatically.

Top-ranked Roger Federer won a record fifth Cincinnati title Sunday, dominating second-ranked Novak Djokovic at the outset of a 6-0, 7-6 (7) win for the Western & Southern Open championship.

It was the first time in the tournament's history that the top two played for the title. From the start, it was no match.

Federer improved to 5-0 in Cincinnati finals and tied Rafael Nadal for the most Masters titles with 21. Nadal dropped out of the tournament with a sore knee that has sidelined him indefinitely.

"A record break — always something special when that happens," Federer said.

Djokovic won the Rogers Cup in Toronto last Sunday and was trying for his first win in Cincinnati, where he reached the finals last year but had to quit the title match against Andy Murray because of a sore shoulder. He seemed to be running on fumes in his second final in two weeks.

"I had a fantastic week in Toronto," Djokovic said. "I came in here and didn't really expect to get this far, get all the way to the title."

By contrast, the 31-year-old Swiss star skipped the Rogers Cup, leaving him fresher Sunday.

Federer and Djokovic rarely have such lopsided days together. The Swiss star won the first set in only 20 minutes, allowing Djokovic just 10 points. It was the first time in their 28 career matches that one of them took a set 6-0.

The Serb never fully recovered, snapping his streak of 15 straight wins on hard courts.

"I made a lot of double-faults," Djokovic said. "I was just trying to win that first game and get things moving."

It was the seventh time that they'd played for a tournament title. They split the previous six, with Federer winning the only Grand Slam championship match among them — the U.S. Open in 2007.

Their rivalry took an interesting turn last year. Djokovic beat Federer in a five-set semifinal at the U.S. Open, then beat him again in the semis at Rome and the French Open this year. Federer regained the upper hand by defeating the Serb — in the semifinals again — at Wimbledon last month.

Both reached the final in a dominating style — neither lost their serve or a set during the week. Federer held his 38 service games, facing only three break points. Djokovic held serve for 31 games, overcoming 10 break points.

Federer put an end to that right away.

Helped by a double-fault, Federer broke Djokovic's serve to start the match. Then, helped by two more double-faults, he broke him again to go up 3-0. Djokovic went to his chair at the break and grabbed a different racket, hoping to change the flow of the match.

Made no difference whatsoever. Federer went back on court and served back-to-back aces that Djokovic couldn't touch with that new racket. It was domination all around — Djokovic had 10 unforced errors in the opening set, the same number of points he won. The Serb had four double-faults, each one setting up a break point or ending a game.

The fans gave Djokovic a loud ovation when he held serve to open the second set. The Serb looked up at the crowd and smiled while sipping water.

Djokovic showed more energy in the second set but never put much pressure on Federer, who didn't face a break point. After a forehand sailed way long, Djokovic raised his arms, reared back and screamed. Now fully engaged in the match, he took the second set to a tiebreaker.

Djokovic survived one match point and got one point away from taking the tiebreaker. Federer ran off the last three points, closing it out with a forehand.


The man is on a roll! (and there ain't no stopping him now :).  Is it time for U.S. Open yet?! :)

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Roger Federer moves past countryman Wawrinka reaches final in Cincinnati

MASON, Ohio — No medal involved this time. Little drama, either. Novak Djokovic simply ground his way to another tournament title match.

And Roger Federer will be waiting for him.

Djokovic reached the finals of the Western & Southern Open for the second straight year Saturday, beating Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-2 in a reprise of their Olympics match. Del Potro defeated Djokovic for the bronze medal on Wimbledon’s lush grass two weeks ago.

The sequel on a hard court? Not even close.

The final will match the world’s top two players, the first time that’s happened in Cincinnati. If Federer wins, it’ll give him a record five titles in the tournament.

“It’s a nice bonus, really,” Federer said. “When I was a kid I wasn’t thinking of winning five Cincinnatis, but then again here I am in this great situation being able to do it, the first man ever. So I’m obviously excited. Very often when I do now reach a finals there is something on the line. Here we go — there is something there.”

The top-ranked Federer beat Swiss countryman Stanislas Wawrinka 7-6 (4), 6-3 in the other semi-final. It’ll be the seventh time that Federer and Djokovic have played for a tournament title, the last time in 2011 at Dubai. Federer beat Djokovic for the Cincinnati title in 2009.

Federer leads their career series 15-12, but it’s taken a few interesting turns lately. Djokovic beat him in the semi-finals at the U.S. Open last year, then again in the semis at Rome and the French Open. Federer got the upper hand again in the semi-finals at Wimbledon.

“I hope I’m fresher than him tomorrow,” Federer said. “We’ll see how it goes.”

Djokovic also reached the Cincinnati finals last year but had to quit in the second set because of a sore shoulder, giving the title to Andy Murray.

This week is going much better for him.

He won the Rogers Cup in Toronto last Sunday night, leaving him a little tired, but he managed to get some rest at the suburban Cincinnati tournament. He was on court for only a half-hour Thursday night, when Nikolay Davydenko had to quit their match because of a sore shoulder.

The Serb had played only three sets the last two days, leaving plenty of energy for his second semi-final in eight days.

He used it in the long rallies.

Djokovic and del Potro exchanged a lot of shots from the baseline in the first set, with both players wasting chances to take control early. Djokovic got to the semi-final by holding serve in all 22 games during the tournament, facing only four break points. He faced that many in the third game of the match.

The Serb saved one of those break points with a 30-shot rally that ended with del Potro dumping a backhand into the net, then dropping his head.

“We played long rallies,” Djokovic said. “It could have easily gone the other way. I managed to hang in there and play my best when I needed it.”

One of del Potro’s biggest concerns is his left wrist, which has nagged him for some time. The right-hander will have it checked before the U.S. Open by the same doctor who operated on his right wrist in 2010, when he missed most of the season while recovering.

During the first set, del Potro looked at his left wrist and shook it after a tough backhand shot, an indication those long rallies were stinging.

“Yeah, it’s bothering me all the time and I don’t want to risk too much,” del Potro said. “I have experience in wrist problems, and I would like to take time to fix this little problem.”

Djokovic broke him to go up 4-2 and served it out. He broke him again for a 2-1 lead in the second set, when del Potro seemed to lose his edge.

At one point, he thought about quitting because of the painful wrist.

“I’m playing well, even this match,” he said. “And the crowd here is very nice. It (centre court) was full today, and I didn’t retire because Djokovic is my friend and I have a lot respect of him and I want to finish the match.”

The men’s draw in Cincinnati took a hit this year when Rafael Nadal had to withdraw because of a sore knee. Nadal hasn’t played since Wimbledon and has already pulled out of the U.S. Open because of the injury.

Federer’s semi-final win set up a memorable finish.

He skipped the Rogers Cup, resting up after the Olympics. He hasn’t lost a set all week, making quick work of his opponents — until Saturday.

By every measure, Wawrinka was overmatched. He came in 1-10 in his career against Federer, including 0-7 on hard courts. He’d lost his last eight matches against the Swiss star, dropping 19 of 20 sets.

More bad history: Wawrinka came into the match 0-9 against players currently No. 1, losing all 19 sets against Federer, Nadal and Djokovic when they were at the top of the rankings.

He nearly had a breakthrough Saturday, fighting off five set points to take the opener to a tiebreaker. Federer pulled it out, taking advantage of a couple of backhand shots into the net by Wawrinka. The first set lasted 58 minutes.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Fish no contest for Roger Federer who moves to Cincinnati semis

World No. 1 Roger Federer defeated 10th seed Mardy Fish 6-3, 7-6(4) on Friday evening at the Western & Southern Open to set a semi-final clash with countryman Stanislas Wawrinka.

The top seed won 88 per cent of his first serve points and did not face a break point en route to beating the American for the eighth time in nine meetings. He has now reached the semi-finals or better at 12 of the 13 tournaments he’s played this season.

“It was a great atmosphere. I think it was sellout crowd,” said Federer. “That always makes it exciting. Playing an American here in America, it's always special. It was pretty straightforward. Whoever was going to be more aggressive, serve more consistent, and then play maybe a tiny bit better from the baseline was probably going to win. I'm happy I was that guy tonight.”

Federer is seeking his fifth trophy at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. He was victorious in 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010. The 31 year old is bidding to win a record-equalling 21st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown this week. He holds a 10-1 record against Wawrinka, having won their past eight meetings.

“I have a tough matchup with him. It's going to be a difficult one,” Federer said. “It seems like he's playing really well. I'm just excited for him and for me [that] two Swiss guys can make it to the semis here in Cincinnati. It's great.”

Wawrinka advanced to the semi-finals when he overcame 19th-ranked Milos Raonic 2-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 in two hours and 21 minutes.

“This week I'm playing great tennis,” said Wawrinka. “I had a tough last two months. It was not easy, especially after the French Open. I played a great French Open, but then I lost [in the] first round at Wimbledon, Gstaad [and the] Olympics.

“It was not easy, but I'm really happy to be back on the hard courts. Since the beginning of the tournament, I'm focussed on what I'm doing and I'm happy to be in the semi-final here.”

Meeting for the first time, Wawrinka trailed 2-4 in the second set tie-break before rallying to even the match. After converting his lone break point opportunity early in the third set, Wawrinka saved two break points at 4-3 before closing out the hard-fought encounter in his next service game.

Wawrinka is through to the semi-finals of an ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event for the first time since 2009, when he reached the last four at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters (l. to Djokovic). The Swiss is seeking his first trophy of the season, with his latest triumph coming in Chennai last year.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Roger Federer through to the quarters in Cincinnati

FOUR-time champion Roger Federer has defeated Australia's Bernard Tomic to earn a spot in the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Masters.

Federer was barely troubled by Tomic as he cruised to a 6-2 6-4 third round win to move into the last eight on a day when Olympic champion Andy Murray was sent crashing out of the tournament.

“Overall I'm happy, but it's hard to judge my game in these quick conditions,'' said the Olympic silver medallist.

“I'm especially happy with my ball-striking, though my serve was a bit off. Overall it was a good performance, I'm playing as well as I want to right now.''

Short and sweet but, Mardy Fish next gonna be tricky!.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Roger Federer continues winning in Cincinnati

World No. 1 Roger Federer began his campaign for a fifth Western & Southern Open title by cruising past Alex Bogomolov Jr. 6-3, 6-2 in his second-round match on Wednesday evening in Cincinnati.

Federer wrapped up the victory in exactly one hour, hitting 31 winners and breaking Bogomolov three times from four opportunities. He saved Bogomolov’s lone break point chance with an ace in the final game of the match.

The Swiss, who celebrated his 31st birthday last week, is making his 12th appearance at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament and won titles here in 2005, ’07, and ’09-10. He next faces Australian Bernard Tomic, the youngest player in the singles draw at 19 years of age, whom he has defeated in their two previous meetings.

Federer is looking to win his 21st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title this week, which would tie Rafael Nadal’s record mark.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

DWTS All-Star partners announced

Two-time champion Cheryl Burke had the biggest conflict going into the upcoming All-Stars season of Dancing With the Stars. 

Among the crop of returning competitors, she has three former partners -- two of them winners. So when ABC announced the new duos on Monday's Good Morning America, her assignment might have surprised a few.

Burke is reuniting with retired NFL star and season three winner Emmitt Smith. That leaves Burke's first partner and first win, Drew Lachey, with Anna Trebunskaya. Burke's other previous partner, Gilles Marini, joins reigning champ Peta Murgatroyd.

Other reunited couples are Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani, Joey Fatone and Kym Johnson and the inevitable return of Kirstie Alley with her season 12 partner in crime Maksim Chmerkovskiy.

Mark Ballas, who danced with both Bristol Palin and season eight winner Shawn Johnson, is back with Palin. Johnson's consolation prize isn't so bad, though. She'll dance with the series' winningest pro, Derek Hough.

Hough's sister Julianne, a two-time winner, has been off the series for quite some time. Her returning partners, Helio Castroneves and Apolo Anton Ohno, will both vie for their second mirrorballs with Chelsie Hightower and Karina Smirnoff, respectively.

Pamela Anderson and original Dancing With the Stars winner Kelly Monaco also return to the series with their original partners (Damian Whitewood and Alec Mazo) long out of the picture. Anderson is now teaming up with Tristan McManus, while Monaco will dance with Val Chmerkovskiy.

There's still room for one more reunion, though. ABC will announce the final "fan favorite" competitor on Aug. 27. 

Of the eligible trio -- Kyle Massey, Sabrina Bryan, Carson Kressley -- only Massey can still return with his former pro, the currently unbooked Lacey Schwimmer.

Dancing With the Stars returns Sept. 24.

Hough and Johnson?.  Love it! Peta and Gilles Marini interesting.  Helio and Chelsea odd but could get interesting as well.

Definitely tuning in for this!. Might even be compelled to blog about it this time.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Roger Federer vs Novak Djokovic battle for #1

Novak Djokovic will challenge Roger Federer for the No. 1 South African Airways ATP Ranking this week at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. If Federer reaches the final, he will retain the No. 1 spot regardless, but anything less, and he will find himself under pressure from the No. 2-ranked Djokovic.

Federer retook No. 1 from Djokovic after winning his 17th major title at The Championships, Wimbledon. A week later, he broke Pete Sampras’ record for most weeks at No. 1 with 287 weeks. However, the Swiss was forced to withdraw from the Rogers Cup last week and, following Djokovic’s success over Richard Gasquet in the Toronto final, Federer now finds himself just 75 points ahead of the Serb.

Nevertheless, with Djokovic dropping 600 points this week, having reached the Cincinnati final last year (l. to Murray), Federer does still hold the advantage. After bowing out in the quarter-finals last year (l. to Berdych), the Basel native is only dropping 180 points from his total.

If Djokovic is to re-ascend to No. 1, he must reach the final and hope four-time former champion Federer loses before the quarter-finals. If Federer were to reach the quarter or semi-finals, Djokovic could overtake the Swiss by winning the title.

Federer and Djokovic are the Top 2 seeds at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 hard-court tournament in Cincinnati. Djokovic finds himself in the same half of the draw as defending champion Andy Murray, Juan Martin del Potro and Janko Tipsarevic, while Federer could come up against David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych or Mardy Fish on his route to the final. Both players have first-round byes.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

Kim Clijsters ready for retirement

Inside the large rectangle there are five others. It’s the same on the other side of the net. Clay, grass, or hard court, it’s 36 feet wide and 78 feet long — all sure, sharp corners and 2-inch-wide straight lines.

We have watched what happens inside those boxes. We know whoever stays inside the lines the best can do big things. We know what’s possible because we’ve seen it done.

For fans of the sport, it’s hard not to view the pros who frequent the tennis court in that frame. It’s even harder not to see success as a matter of never straying from the boxes. The challenge, then, at the end of a career, isn’t watching one of your favorites stay inside the lines — it’s what happens when they choose to make those boxes disappear.

In the case of Kim Clijsters, we’ve experienced it before.

It was 2007, a month before she turned 24. Kim had been saying all along she was going to retire at the end of the year, pushed by injuries and a desire to start a family. The first Belgian tennis player to reach No. 1 in the world — at the age of 20 — and the winner of the 2005 US Open said she was permanently erasing the boxes that had given us context since she turned pro at age 14.

Three Grand Slams later, at 29, mother of a 4-year-old named Jada, you can see the boxes fading again. Only this time, after the 2012 US Open — the site of some of her career’s greatest accomplishments — those lines around Kim Clijsters will disappear. And this time, they aren’t coming back.

You can’t blame Kim for walking away in 2007.

She started playing tennis at 5 with her cousins while her soccer player father and supportive mother — a former national gymnastics champion herself — traveled to matches around Europe. Kim fell in love with the sport and was very passionate about practicing and trying to improve.

There’s a video somewhere of Kim — 7 or 8 years old — talking about her dreams as a tennis player. All she wanted to do was be No. 1 someday and stand across the net from Steffi Graf, her favorite player.

With her dad, Leo — a defender on the Belgian national soccer team — giving her a good example of how to be a professional athlete, she eventually achieved those dreams. In 1999, at Wimbledon, she lost to Graf. Four years later, Kim topped the world rankings.

So what happens when you’ve achieved your dreams?

You move on to new ones, those that exist outside the tennis rectangle. Kim married an American basketball player who was plying his trade professionally in Belgium. Then in February 2008, Jada was born. Kim was away from the court for 27 months.

You can’t blame her for coming back in 2009, either.

The love for her sport never died. Kim wasn’t able to totally erase the lines of the tennis court from her life. But she said the time away from the game made her more of a complete person. It may have made her a better player, too.

In her third tournament back from retirement, an unseeded Kim won her second US Open singles title. At center court she held two prized possessions — the trophy for her second singles Grand Slam and her 18-month-old daughter. Kim became the first mother to win a Grand Slam event since Evonne Goolagong Cawley won at Wimbledon in 1980.

The comeback didn’t end there. Kim earned her second-straight US Open singles title in 2010 and finished the year ranked No. 3 in the world. She started 2011 by winning her first Australian Open — a tournament where she’d made four trips to the semifinals and earned a spot in the championship match in 2004. All this winning while being a mom, too.

What you don’t see at a tournament is what’s waiting back at the house or hotel. Jada and homemade dinner and a story.

They take a nanny with them when they go to tournaments, but Kim still likes to make Jada a meal, hear about her daughter’s day, and read her a story before bed. Win or lose, she’s still Mom.

“What I’ve learned is that tennis is a sport that I love, but it’s not the absolute most important thing in my life,” she said. “Obviously my family, and the health of my family, is the most important thing.”

That means trips to the organic grocery store when she’s home, and time spent making healthy meals in the kitchen and on the road. Eating well is very important to Kim. They only buy organic food at home, only drink water at the table, and try to keep Jada’s sugar intake really low. Eating good food and staying healthy is something she learned from her parents, and it’s something she wants to pass down as well. It’s little wonder that Kim has embraced health by becoming one of the USANA brand ambassadors from the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA).

This is the year of lasts for Kim. Twenty-twelve is her last season, her last Wimbledon, her last shot at the Summer Games, her last visit to the spot where she’s won three times — the US Open, which will be her final professional tournament.

After making it to the semifinals at the Australian Open, Kim’s 2012 has been marred with ankle and hip injuries. For the first time in more than a decade, Kim went into the All England Club, site of Wimbledon — where she won her only doubles Grand Slam in 2003 as an unseeded player. This time, her final match at the tournament was a fourth-round loss in straight sets to Germany’s Angelique Kerber.

It wasn’t the the last time Kim set foot on the hallowed grounds of the All England Club, though. She played for her country and made her Summer Games debut in London. The 2012 Games were her goal from the start of her comeback in 2009. Kim made it to the quarterfinals, falling to Maria Sharapova 6-2, 7-5.

No matter what happens, after she crosses the lines at the US Open for the last time, she’ll be spending the rest of her life beyond the frame of tennis. She will have made the boxes disappear, leaving room for the next few years to be all about expansion.

There’s the family. Kim and her husband would like to have another child. But that’s not all. Kim bought the tennis club in Belgium where she trains, and plans to expand it. 

There will be renovations and additions — a yoga studio, a healthy restaurant, a staff dietician, massage, and acupuncture. It will be a place for professional athletes and others to get everything they need under one roof. 

The club will service the complete person — the one inside the thick white lines of the tennis court, and the one who exists outside the box, as well.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Roger Federer retains #1 ranking despite not winning Olympic gold

KARACHI: Swiss tennis player Roger Federer and Belarus’s Victoria Azarenka hold their top position in World tennis rankings released on Monday.

Federer who lost the Olympic gold from the Wimbledon runner-up Andy Murray, retain his top position in world ranking while Murray remained on fourth position.

Second place at the London Olympics for Russia’s Maria Sharapova allowed her to retain the second spot dropping Agnieszka Radwanska down to third.

The Olympic women gold medallist Serena William stayed at fourth position even after crushing Maria Sharapova in Olympics finals.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Roger Federer starts hard court season prep in Cincinnati

Swiss Roger Federer should be among the freshest of the seeds as the Olympic silver medallist begins play at top men's seed at next week's ATP-WTA Cincinnati Masters.

The 17-time grand slam champion who turned 31 on August 8 only three days after losing to Andy Murray in the London Olympic final, took a few days off at his family chalet to recharge before hitting the practise courts in the USA last in the week.

The four-time champion won the Masters 1000 titles in 2005, 2007, and 2009-10 but suffered a quarter-final loss last year to Tomas Berdych.

Federer will start after a bye against the winner from Finn Jarkko Nieminen and Russian Alex Bogomolov.
The tournament has been plagued by injury pullouts, many a result of a jammed-up schedule made ever more demanding by the Olympics.

Among the men's absentees at combined event: Spaniard Rafael Nadal, Fernando Verdasco and Nicolas Almagro, along with the French pair of Gael Monfils and Olympic doubles silver medallist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who crashed into a Toronto fire hydrant this week and needed seven stitches in his knee.

Despite going nonstop since the Games where he exited without a medal, second seed Djokovic is carrying on for another week as the US open's August 27 start draws near.

Murray takes the third seeding despite the Scot having some doubt concerning his fitness after complaining of knee pain and pulling out after his first match in Toronto.

Murray is defending 1,000 ranking points as 2011 holder in Cincinnati. Spain's David Ferrer returns to post-Games action as fourth seed, ahead of Berdych, who will be trying to end a three-match loss streak dating to Wimbledon in June.

American Andy Roddick is back on tour and takes the 16th seeding as the 2003 and 2006 winner tries to rescue his 20th ranking on the eve of his 30th birthday.

The women's draw, headed by Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska with double 2012 Olympic champion Serena Williams on second, has suffered as well from the Games hangover.

Missing is Maria Sharapova, the silver medallist who has been suffering for a week with a stomach virus. She was joined as an absentee by WTA number one Victoria Azarenka, who withdrew from Montreal this week to rest a knee which she says has been troubling her.

Both will go into the Open with no hardcourt matches.
Czech Petra Kvitova is seeded fourth ahead of German Angelique Kerber.

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