Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Davis Cup not off the table for Roger Federer?

GENEVA -- Roger Federer might play in the Davis Cup again, although the 17-time Grand Slam champion won't represent his country before the U.S. Open in September.

Switzerland captain Severin Luethi told The Associated Press that Federer hasn't written off the team competition, which his country has never won. Federer is skipping the first round series at home this week against defending champion Czech Republic.

"He is for sure not finished with Davis Cup," Luethi said.
Still, by not making his Davis Cup plans clear in recent months, the 31-year-old Swiss star has been the target of some criticism at home.
Federer opted last October to schedule more rest periods and time with his family this season, said Luethi, who is part of the player's entourage on tour.
"He could really plan until, let's say, the U.S. Open more or less," he said. "For him, it's sure that he doesn't play the first two ties."

Switzerland can earn another home series in the quarterfinals in April, against Austria or Kazakhstan, by beating the Czechs on indoor hard courts in Geneva. The semifinals and relegation playoffs follow the season's final Grand Slam at Flushing Meadows.

Federer "didn't take a final decision to say, `I'm not ever playing Davis Cup again.' He just decided for the first half of the year now that he is not playing, then we have to see what he is going to decide," Luethi said.
Federer's two-week break comes after losing a lengthy five-setter to Andy Murray in the Australian Open semifinals last Friday.

"There was maybe a small chance if he had lost in the first or second round or something," that the second-ranked Swiss would reconsider, Luethi said earlier at a news conference. "But otherwise, it was not even a discussion anymore in Australia."

With Federer already expressing enthusiasm about the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Games, one factor luring him back to Davis Cup could be earning Olympics eligibility in accordance with International Tennis Federation rules.
However, one of the game's greats could expect to get a wild-card Olympics entry even without committing to the Davis Cup.

"It's tough to believe that if he would not play Davis Cup, he would not have a chance to play" in Rio, Luethi said.
Federer is scheduled to play in the Netherlands at the Rotterdam indoor event starting Feb. 11.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Australian Open officials working on fixing finals fireworks dilemma

Tennis Australia officials are negotiating with the state government in an attempt to avoid the annual disruption to play caused by the Australia Day fireworks display. This year, the extended break came during the women's final. Next year: the men.

Often, the best-of-three set women's decider is finished by the scheduled fireworks time of 9.40pm, but instead the interruption came after the third game of the third set between Li Na and Victoria Azarenka. Li fell immediately after the resumption, twisting the ankle she had hurt earlier in the match and being assessed for possible concussion after banging her head on the court.

More frequently the fireworks coincide with the Thursday or Friday night men's semi-final and, last year, the moment came with Rafael Nadal leading Roger Federer 5-2 in the second set. Federer dropped 11 straight points after play resumed.

The decision to stop, or not, is left to the players, with the match suspended at either participant's request, and only continuing if both acquiesce. On Saturday night, a mutually-agreed break that typically lasts for nine minutes went for closer to 10.

Australian Open tournament director Craig Tiley said talks had begin with the state government to try to find a solution acceptable to both parties ahead of the 2014 event, with the next men's final scheduled for January 26. He said the interruption was particularly perplexing for the global TV audience, but also had the potential to affect the momentum of a match.

"We are working with the state government to see what possibilities exist," Tiley told Fairfax Media. "We've been talking about what's best, because we do want continuous play, but at the same time we want to recognise and celebrate Australia Day, so it's a bit (caught) between a rock and a hard place.

"If we can make both things work, and have a win-win for both, it would be great. Our preference would be that (the fireworks) don't disrupt the match.

"There's no rush, but we've just got to work through and see what the best options are. Our operations team is talking to the government, because we want Victorians and Australians to have the fireworks, and we want play to be continuous, so what that involves, I don't know."

Another issue to be addressed in the coming months is the lack of space on the men's trophy, the historic Norman Brookes Challenge Cup, for if there is room to add another name below that of 2013 champion Novak Djokovic, it will only be one. First won by Fred Perry in 1943, the cup stands on a 15.5 cm plinth which carries the names of the men's singles winners, each of whom receive a replica of the original.

So, what to do now?

"It's an interesting question. Our engraver tells us we can possibly squeeze in one more name next year, but that would be tight," Tiley said. "We've been expecting for the last few years it would get to this point, but we are in the process of discussing it and talking to a couple of curators as well. There's a number of options out there, but obviously we are committed to not changing the trophy. We've got to find more space, that's the bottom line."

Due to design differences, there is not such a pressing need with the Daphne Akhurst Memorial Trophy awarded t the women's singles champion, but Tiley admitted that "eventually it will run out, there will come a time. But they are both trophies with a lot of heritage and history around them, and we've got to make sure we keep them as they are."
The total attendance for this year's Australian Open was 684,457, just short of the 2012 record of 686,006.

Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/sport/tennis/australian-open-officials-seek-to-solve-the-fireworks-dilemma-20130128-2dgps.html#ixzz2JJMXEGFy

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Song of the Moment: The Lumineers-Ho-Hey

I've been hearing this song so much I fell in love with it.  It just makes you happy.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Roger Federer toughs it out in 5 sets to reach Aussie Open semis

Of the many things Jo-Wilfried Tsonga will be remembered for when stops playing, one will be that he was the man who first defeated Roger Federer from two-sets-to-love down at a Grand Slam.

He did so at Wimbledon in the 2011 quarterfinals, an inconceivable result at the time. It has clearly since served as a source of motivation for the Swiss, who in their five subsequent matches has won four. In their next meeting at a major, Federer trounced Tsonga in straight sets at the US Open in 2011.

It may not have been as clear-cut on Wednesday night, but Federer continued his winning ways against his French foe, advancing to the Australian Open semifinals for the 10th consecutive year and a meeting with No.3 seed Andy Murray after a 7-6(4) 4-6 7-6(4) 3-6 6-3 victory.

“It was a tough match from the start really. A lot of ups and downs on both sides obviously. I mean, more good ones than bad ones, because ups and downs you can see the negative way, too. But I thought we always played well to get back into the match,” he reflected.

“So I'm very happy. It was a good match. I enjoyed it. Could have been four (sets), could have been three. I could have lost it. So at the end, I'm just happy I won in five.”

Let’s be frank – it wasn’t always pretty tennis. There were shanks and flurries of errors as both men felt the pressure heaped on them by the other. But it was nonetheless an absorbing scrap, a dogfight between two top players jostling for supremacy at a venue that has brought each some of their greatest career highlights.

Having comprehensively dismantled all previous opponents at Australian Open 2013, Federer began in much the same manner against Tsonga, unleashing his vast repertoire of shots to immediately break serve.

Yet Tsonga began to find some chinks in the armour. Federer’s serve had not been broken all tournament, but the Frenchman brought up a break point in the fourth game and again in the sixth, converting the second time to level at 3-3 and intensify the contest.

With both men generally assured on serve, the set progressed to a tiebreak. It was here that Tsonga unravelled. With a mini-break safely in hand, Federer didn’t let up, stroking an off-forehand swinging volley winner to bring up set point, and taking the opener thanks to another Tsonga error.

The second set progressed fairly uneventfully until the seventh game – a Federer ball hit the tape and bounced just wide, bringing up a rare break point. Tsonga capitalised, coming out on top of a searching rally when a Federer forehand drifted out.

The match had changed. The Swiss’ level had dipped slightly, while Tsonga was more consistently hitting his spots and doing so more powerfully and cleanly. Suddenly the wild shanks – particularly the cross-court forehand which he had sent metres wide on several occasions – were gone.

The No.7 seed would go on to comfortably serve out the set, but promptly went down a break after an entertaining game that saw Tsonga’s flamboyant shotmaking countered by some exceptional retrieving from Federer. Yet instead of Federer building on this momentum, he handed the break straight back, coughing up four straight forehand errors from 30-0 up.

The set continued in this vein, ebbing and flowing, scintillating winners interspersed with maddening errors. Appropriately, it required another tiebreak to separate the pair, which began dreadfully for the world No.2 when he dumped a swinging volley halfway down the net, drawing groans from the Rod Laver Arena crowd.

Yet he recovered, earning a mini-break with a fabulous hooked forehand passing shot up the line off the back foot, and set points thanks to a backhand winner. Tsonga powered a shot into the ad court on the next point that Federer, incredibly, retrieved at full stretch and dropped low over the net to force a volley error. Two-sets-to-one.

“It's very much become a game of movement today with the slower courts and as quick as we are and all that. It's very important to be able to rely on your defensive skills,” the second seed explained.

“I'm happy with how I felt and how I'm moving, so it's important.”

A Federer victory looked near-certain when he raced to a 0-40 lead in the third game of the fourth, yet Tsonga hit his way out of trouble, crunching a outrageously powerful forehand and an ace shortly after on his way to holding for 2-1.

In Tsonga’s mind, teeing off was key to victory. And he did exactly that, generating some incredible winners to break in the sixth game and move ahead 4-2. The pair then traded breaks before the Frenchman clinched the fourth set with an ace out wide. 

Tsonga blinked first in the decider, erring twice on the backhand side in the fourth game to drop serve. 

When Federer in the next game played two overhead winners followed by an unanswerable drive volley, he’d built a 4-1 lead. It looked dire when Federer played a winning drop shot for 15-40, which clipped the tape and died. Tsonga chased and ended on Federer’s side of the net, feigning a punch in the Swiss’ direction and drawing giggles from both men and the crowd.

The lighter moment appeared to relax Tsonga, who found his game once more and escaped to hold for 2-4. And when Federer had three match points in the eighth game, Tsonga erased them all with some audacious shotmaking. He was proving tough to subdue.

Yet Federer, as is customary, found a way. He brought up a fourth match point with a forcing backhand down the line, and sealed victory in fine style with a winning overhead.

Murray, who hasn’t lost a set in Melbourne in five matches, awaits in Friday night’s semifinal.
“I know what to expect; whereas it would be different if I hadn't played him (recently),” said Federer of his looming battle with Murray.

“He has changed his game around a bit. He's playing more offensive. I'm looking forward to it. Obviously (he’s) a great player … So I'm expecting a tough match, of course.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

Roger Federer dismisses Raonic in straight sets reaches 35th quarter final

The hair of a god :)menstennisforums
Roger Federer reflects on his fourth-round victory over Milos Raonic
Roger Federer defused Milos Raonic's serve before clinically dispatching the Canadian 6-4, 7-6, 6-2 at the Australian Open on Monday to reach a 35th straight grand slam quarter-final.
The rampant Swiss gave up only five points on his first serve and hit 34 winners in the one-sided, two-hour contest against the 13th seed on a cool Rod Laver Arena.
Federer wrapped up the first set when Raonic netted a volley, the second with a brilliant forehand down the line to win the tiebreak 7-4, and the third with another big forehand winner.
The 17-times grand slam champion, who is chasing a fifth title at Melbourne Park, will meet the seventh seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the last eight.
Tsonga famously beat Federer in the Wimbledon quarter-finals in 2011, the first time Federer had ever lost a grand slam match from two sets up.
"He is a good guy with a great game, he is a great shot-maker and a great character for the game," Federer said of Tsonga. "We didn't play each other last year I don't think and the year before we played three times in 10 days."
The first nine games of Monday's match went with serve, but the 13th seed Raonic was the first to blink and a double fault gifted Federer a set point which he gratefully accepted as Raonic netted a backhand volley.
Federer had amazingly made one unforced error throughout the set and although much is often made of Raonic's powerful serve, the 31-year-old was more than holding his own in that department too.
Only nine points were lost on serve in the second set – Federer dropping two – and a tie-break was required to decide the outcome. Raonic produced aces with his first three serves, but Federer was simply waiting patiently for his opportunity and seized it with a backhand winner down the line as Raonic came into the net.
An ace of his own gave Federer three set points and he took the second with a forehand winner. That seemed to break Raonic's spirit and Federer broke serve twice early in the third set on his way to a convincing victory.
Tsonga was too strong for his friend Gasquet. The ninth seed hit back from losing the opening set but was powerless to prevent Tsonga from running away with it by breaking early in the third and fourth to complete a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 win.

Another test passed with flying colors Tsonga next, it only gets tougher from here *bites nails*.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Roger Federer Aussie Open 3rd round post match interview

Best part?.

"Why do you keep beating up on the hometown heroes it's not smart man"

Roger "Yes it's not smart I'm glad to be invited back every year".

Yeah like they're really gonna deny entrance to a 17 time grand slam champ! oh Roger you make me giggle.

Roger Federer schools Tomic to reach 4th round in Aussie Open


World No. 2 and four-time Australian Openchampion Roger Federer claimed his 250th Grand Slam championship win on Saturday night in Melbourne as he ended the hopes of Australian No. 1 Bernard Tomic with a 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-1 victory in the third round.
"I had to be able to bring the whole repertoire to the court today, defence and offence, which I enjoy," said Federer, adding that Tomic had vastly improved.
"I've never seen him play offensive tennis against me in the past," commented Federer, adding that Tomic needs to work on maintaining his level of play for the entire season. "We play 10, 11 months of the year, it's [about bringing] it every single day."
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Tomic came into the clash in confident mood, having won his first ATP World Tour title at the Apia International Sydney (d. Anderson) a week earlier, and looked set to split sets with Federer when he led 4-1 in the second set tie-break.

Seventeen-time Grand Slam champion Federer fought back, though, and won six of the next seven points to take a commanding lead in the match. From there, he broke Tomic twice in the third set to wrap up victory in just under two hours. The Swiss converted only three of his 16 break points, but hit 46 winners, including 11 aces.
"I thought it was a really good match," said Tomic. "The first two sets we played really good tennis. It came down to one point, I think. I was pretty satisfied with my tennis. I was competing out there, trying to hang in there with him. He just came up with good stuff when he really needed it the most."

The 31-year-old Federer is bidding to add to his Australian Open trophies in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010 and goes onto face another upcoming ATP World Tour star, Milos Raonic. The Canadian No. 13 seed, who revealed he had been suffering from a fever the past two days, fired 23 aces to defeat Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-4 in one hour and 52 minutes.
"He's obviously got one of the best serves in the game," Federer said, describing Raonic who has landed 71 aces this week compared to Federer's 23. "You always feel, especially after an off season like the one we've just had, he's maybe improved again a few things," said Federer, who is ready for the unexpected.
The 22-year-old Raonic, who made his breakthrough with a fourth-round showing as a qualifier in Melbourne two years ago (l. to Ferrer), will look to record his first win in four attempts against Federer. Their past two contests, at the Mutua Madrid Open and the Gerry Weber Open in 2012, were settled in third-set tie-breaks.

"I think I played well in the other ones," said Raonic. "I think I got pretty damn close the one time in Madrid. I got pretty close in Halle. I just know how to deal with it. I think I have a higher tolerance within myself and a higher belief within myself stepping up against Roger.

"I think against Roger, one thing that has sort of worked well for me, I try as much as I can not to play on Roger's terms, to play on my own terms."

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Relaxed Roger Federer talks Australian Open

Roger Federer moves into Aussie Open 3rd round

MELBOURNE — Roger Federer and Serena Williams showed there was plenty of life left in their relatively old legs by easing into the third round of the Australian Open on a day when sweltering heat tested the stamina of thirtysomething and teenager alike.

Sunscreen and icepacks were the order of the day on Thursday as temperatures hit 40 degrees Celsius in the late afternoon but 31-year-old Federer was coolness personified in the early evening as he dismissed Nikolay Davydenko 6-3 6-4 6-4.

Federer, chasing an 18th major title here, will next face 20-year-old Bernard Tomic and the Swiss, who needed a fraction under two hours to beat Davydenko, was quick to warn the Australian that he was probably fitter than 10 years ago.
“I’m much more experienced today. I know what I can expect from myself in terms of my level of play early on,” the second seed said.
“I’m much stronger today physically clearly so I can always rely on that as well, extend the rallies, so don’t have to be worried about that.”

Most exciting thing about this match?.  The pink shoes ;D

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Jeremy Chardy praises Martina Hingis's coaching

Jeremy Chardy tells L’Equipe that former No. 1 Martina Hingis was one of the reasons he was able to end 2012 with a career high year-end ranking (of No. 32). Hingis does some coaching for the Patrick Mouratagolu Academy, where Chardy trains.

“Someone who was No. 1 in her profession is necessarily a person who has a different mindset and an ability to understand things,” Chardy said. “I was talking all the time with her tennis. I asked her questions about her training and the doubts we have. Her understanding of the game and strategy is very strong.”


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Roger Federer post-match interview Aussie Open 1st Round

Australian Open 1st round no challenge for Roger Federer

Roger Federer opened his Australian Open challenge – and his season – with a routine straight-sets victory over France's Benoît Paire. The No 2 seed came to Melbourne having played no warm-up tournaments, but he showed no signs of rustiness as he started his bid for a fifth title with a 6-2, 6-4, 6-1 win over the world No 46 in only 83 minutes.
For Paire, who deals more in spurts of inspiration than the sustained brilliance of Federer, it was a painful experience and by the end he looked keen to get off court as quickly as possible.
Federer said: "Benoît's a good player, a good talent. I haven't played a match this season yet. You're not sure [how you're going to play] and that's why you're relieved when you get through the first one."
The world No 2, who won the pair's only previous encounter in straight sets, was immediately into his stride as he broke in game one, then produced a wonderful pick-up at net in his opening service game, going on to save two break points to hold for a 2-0 lead. Paire held twice and matched his opponent in patches, but Federer broke again for 5-2 then served out in style.
Paire was unruffled, though, and opened up set two with back-to-back aces to help take the first game. But normal service was resumed as Federer broke for 2-1 then held to love to take a firm grip on the second set. Paire struggled to make any impact as the set progressed with serve.
Federer produced a textbook serve-volley point for 5-3, but failed to take a set-point chance as Paire held on to make him serve for the set. Predictably, the task presented the former world No1 with few problems as he held to 15 and took the set when Paire pushed a backhand long.
Federer broke to open the third and with all hope lost, Paire came out swinging, but he was missing more than he was hitting and the tactic served only to hasten his demise. Even when Paire did show good touch at the net with an acute backhand, Federer was there to pat the ball into the open court – a point which gave him a 4-0 lead.
Paire finally held for 4-1, then produced the unlikeliest of break points – his first since Federer's opening service game of the match – but could not convert it. Paire's game descended into trick shots as he attempted – unsuccessfully – a volley between his legs as he served to stay in the match. That looked like the very last thing he wanted, though, and Federer closed it out at the second attempt.
Afterwards the Swiss, who will next face either Israel's Dudi Sela or the former world No3 Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, explained his decision to play no warm-up matches. "I've had a few busy years since I had kids," he said. "I just wanted to cool down a bit. It's nice to enjoy the off-season. I hope it's the right decision, we'll see how it goes. I'm confident in my play."

Monday, January 14, 2013

Martina Hingis on Serena, Murray, Robson and coaching

Martina Hingis believes an in-form Serena Williams will prove too strong for everyone at the Australian Open and win a 16th Grand Slam title.
The 32-year-old Swiss played 31-year-old Williams 13 times before retiring for the second and final time in 2007, winning six times.
Hingis, a three-time winner at the Australian Open, was a Grand Slam champion and world number one by the age of 16.
She is in Melbourne as part of her advisory role with the Patrick Mouratoglou Academy after working with Russian player Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the off-season.
Mouratoglou has been coaching Williams since last year and the American played Pavlyuchenkova in the Brisbane final last week, something Hingis described as "a big success for the academy".
Hingis spoke to BBC Radio 5 live about Williams, former Mouratoglou pupil Laura Robson and the influence of Ivan Lendl on Andy Murray.
You can hear more from the interview in Tennis Breakfast from 06:00 GMT and 5 live Sport from 2200-2230 on Monday .

How do you beat Serena Williams?

"It's hard. Stay steady, put as many balls in play as possible and focus on your serve. Serena's serve is very hard to read, she's very strong on the first shots - serve and return - and you've just got to stay out there and fight.
"I was happy not having to be in the boxing ring against Serena but you had the white lines on the court, she still had to put the balls inside the court. But it was a different time and you've got to work with the weapons you have. The girls are bigger, stronger and more physical. To be consistent against a player like Serena, Maria or Victoria is the most important thing.
"To be honest, I can't see anyone beating her if she plays well this fortnight. Ten years ago she won the 'Serena Slam' and was pretty much the person to beat, as she is today. When she's hungry and she really wants it, she's very tough to beat."

Where are the teenage champions?

"The game has got more physical, the technology is different, but also the girls are not allowed to play as many tournaments.
"I totally disagree with this age eligibility rule; I think girls should be free at the age of 16. I was already two years on the tour by then. I had some rules as well but not as strict as they are these days, when the girls are only free to play the full schedule at the age of 18.
"I think they lose two years of time and it's hard to pick it up when you're 18 or 20, when you need that experience. That's why you see champions that are older these days."

How good is Laura Robson?

"She definitely improved last year and had some better results towards the end of the season. She needed those two years to go from a junior player to the WTA Tour.
"You need that experience of playing against those top players. I played against Mary Pierce, Steffi Graf, Conchita Martinez, and in the beginning they were killing me but you have to find a way to beat them. Only with playing against these top players do you find a solution.
"She's been given the chance for the last two years and she's learned. She works hard on her game and it's paying off. Hopefully we'll see a lot more from her. She's got great potential and has the game, being a lefty as well, to go a lot further."

What changed for Andy Murray?

"I think the turning point was hiring Ivan Lendl as his coach, which was a great, great idea. He helped him develop his game and believe in it.
"He's always had the game but he needed someone to really tell him and believe in it and give him that kind of support.
"Tactically, Ivan Lendl was one of the best players ever. He was such a strategist, he played tennis like chess. I think Andy's very lucky to have him on his side."

Is coaching the future?

"It's been a lot of fun to work with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova in the last three or four weeks and you can see the success came right away. She has her coach on the side that travels with her but sometimes a little input can do wonders.
"I've been hitting with her here and I hope she's going to go a long way. She's already been up there, she was the number one junior, and I'd like to see her in the top 10 this year. That's the goal."

Friday, January 11, 2013

Evan Rachel Wood expecting first child with hubby Jamie Bell!

Evan Rachel Wood and her hubbyJamie Bell are expecting their first child together, her rep confirms toJustJared.com.

Evan Rachel Wood and husband Jamie Bell confirmed that they are expecting their first child later this year,” the rep said in a statement. “The couple is thrilled.”

This will be the first child for the 25-year-old actress and 25-year-old actor, who got married in October, 2012 in a super secret wedding!

Congrats to them both! :)

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Martina Hingis taking on 5 guys at once on court that is ;)

This is hilarious!.  Poor Martina! 5 against one way unfair! :D.  (anyone know how recent?).

Monday, January 07, 2013

Maura Tierney to debut on broadway in March

Tom Hanks is one lucky guy.
Maura Tierney -- a.k.a. Dr. Abby Lockhart from NBC’s "ER" -- will make her Broadway debut this spring in Nora Ephron’s final play, "Lucky Guy." Tierney will play the wife of Hanks, who will star in the drama about Pulitzer Prize-winningnewspaper columnist Mike McAlary, the play’s producers said on Monday.  
Tierney, 47, may be new to Broadway, but the Emmy Award-nominated actress has logged many hours acting onstage. She appeared in the Wooster Group’s revival of the satire “North Atlantic” in 2010 (which played at Los Angeles' REDCAT). In 2008, she appeared in Nicky Silver’s “Three Changes” at Playwrights Horizons off-Broadway.
More recently, Tierney starred in the revival of Jon Robin Baitz's play "Three Hotels" in 2011 at the Williamstown Theater Festival in Massachusetts.   
On the small screen, Tierney -- who successfully battledbreast cancer in 2009 -- is known for her roles in  TV shows such as "Newsradio” and "The Good Wife." She’s also appeared in a host of films including 1997’s “Liar Liar” withJim Carrey;  2002’s “Insomnia” opposite Al PacinoRobin Williams and Hilary Swank; and “Baby Mama,” starring Tina Fey and Amy Poehler in 2008.
The cast of “Lucky Guy” also includes Peter Scolari, who costarred with Hanks in "Bosom Buddies," as well as Peter GeretyChristopher McDonald and Michael Gaston.  
“Lucky Guy” will begin previews at the Broadhurst Theater on March 1. Opening night is set for April 1.

Sunday, January 06, 2013

Kim Clijsters farewell exhibition match (in more detail)

For years there's been this joke, in Dutch, that each time Kim entered the Antwerp Sportpaleis the roof is blown off by the audience's cheers. This time as well, when Kim entered the court of the Kim's Thanks You Games with BNP Paribas at about 7.15pm for her last match the crowd went wild.

Many celebrities joined the crowd, as did the heir apparent Prince Philip and his wife, Mathilda. A royal presence for a royal evening.

After warming up Kim and Venus were ready for 3 tie break sets. Kim won the toss and started serving. She reeled in the first points of the match. At 30-0 a first rallye was decided in favour of the Belgian, after which she pressed on and won the first game, 1-0.

When finally halfway into the second point someone cheered Venus, the American was visibly pleased. With a bit of luck Venus's won the second game. The third game already offered the level the audience wanted to see. Both players were well-matched, there were some rallies and drops. Kim won her second serve game, after which DJ Regi took over.

However, in the fourth game there was no holding Venus and the American quickly levelled at 2-2. The fifth game did not take long either and at the next break Kim was leading 3-2. Breaks between games were brief and with pumping beats produced by Regi, the event started going really fast.

At a first break point in the fifth game, which Kim had managed after a near split, Venus equalled. At deuce, Kim opted for Venus in the receiver's choice and broke through Venus's service game, 4-2 after 17 minutes. When at 30 all in the seventh game, Kim reeled in her point, she produced a decided fist, visibly happy with the win. She powered on to 5-2.

In a rather straightforward game, Venus started her way back into the match at 5-3. Regi subsequently got the crowd going. Despite a difficult drop shot, Venus managed to answer the first point, but the ball was out, only just. Kim pressed on to 40-0, after which the audience went loud first, Kim managed another point and won the game and set, 6-3 after 26 minutes. In the aidnece banners of 'Limburg loves Kim' and Belgian flags were waved.

Venus started the second set with a winner on her service game, but her second point went too wide, as did her third. More unforced errors followed, but at 30-40 Kim sent the ball along the sideline just right, which prompted a thumbs up from Venus. Kim eventually won the first game, breaking through Venus service. Hands clapped on the tones of Seven Nation Army.

In Kim's first service game of the second set, Venus started playing more secure and the Belgian soon faced a 15-40 difference. After an unforced error by Kim, Venus equalled, 1-1. With a series of unforced errors, Venus won the third game, 2-1.

At 2-2 and 30-30, 45 minutes into the match, the crowd enjoyed some tense wide and open tennis with lots of volleys. Another such point later the temperature started rising in the Antwerp Sportpaleis, especially among the players. Kim eventually won the fifth game and lead 3-2. The first Mexican waves started going around, with Venus and Kim joining. It became a true farewell wave.

After 55 minutes, Venus albeit easily reeled in her service game. At 4-3, it seemed the second set was about to mimick the first one. At 30-0 on her serve, Kim produced funny noises, nice dropshots - upon which Venus replied with changing success - and timid smiles with part of the the audience. 5-3.

As the set came to a close, more and more photographers joined along the court. Clearly some more competition was left, but not for long. After an unforced errror, Kim won the game, set and match. 6-3 twice after 62 minutes.

In an immediate response after the match Venus reiterated that it was great to be back. I've got so many great memories here. It's an honour to be back. To which Kim replied "Venus, it's been a pleasure to have you here tonight and a real honour to have been playing you in the last 15 years. You've been an inspiration, it's always been a pleasure playing against you."

Kim then received a lifesize tennis racket, talked to the Royal couple, after which the party was about to start. Under loud tones produced by Regi, Kim left the Sportpaleis, her final act as a tennis player on the professional court, near final because she would be back still for a doubles along Amélie Mauresmo, against Venus Williams and Kirsten Flipkens. In the meantime Kim is the main star of a farewell show on television, broadcast live from the Sportpaleis.

At her last press conference as a tennis player, Kim was handed a pieces of artwork. An art box containing small flacons, with in them grass from Wimbledon, clay from her home court and the like.

At her press conference at the Kim's Thank You Games with BNP Paribas Fortis in Antwerp, Kim reminisced for the last time in front of the cameras. 'I've been looking forward to this farewell. It has been very busy, you know, the book, the magazine... It is great to be able to see the final result, but it has been busy.'

'I said goodbye to the world of tennis in New York, but I wanted to have another farewell in Antwerp, before a home audience. I have lived through some of the most impressive moments of my life here, something I sort of expect today too. I'm nervous and excited. But when it will be over tonight, there will be a feeling of relief. I've been receiving tons of emotional messages in the last few weeks, especially the last two days. That kind of fuss about my farewell event created quite some stress. I might even cry at some point during the evening, but not when it will all be over.'

'The first thing l'll be doing after today  is looking after Jada, prepare breakfast for her, the same daily life as before to be honest. Get a Christmas tree in and decorate it. I love to cook, I'll be reading more now, take care of the garden, look after the house.'

Kim might be looking forward to a more quiet life and easy daily routine, but already her drive appears: 'I'm very proud to be seeing kids play at our club and to be having a closer contact with the youngsters. I'll be joining training sessions when I can, some Wednesdays or Saturdays, or when Kirsten (Fkipkens, ed.) will be trianing. I might have been her coach at the Luxemburg tournament, but I don't want to travel the world for 35 weeks on row anymore. It could be I'll help Kirsten out once and a while, but we didn't even talk about any of that.'

Kim continued about herself. 'I don't see myself as a role model at all. I don't think I can assume a role in the Belgian Olympic movement or the WTA (a suggestion made by Jacques Rogge, ed.) right now. I'll continue to run, play squash, ride a mountain bike and the like, but not really in any competition of sorts, even though that drive is still there. It's even easier to maintain a healthy diet than ever before. I do sometimes enjoy a glass of wine when we're out for a dinner.' She continued about the years to come. 'I've realised all the dreams I had when I was a little girl. Become the world's number one, reel in Grand Slams. But things change when you grow older and we would love to have another child.'

Asked whether or not she would have done something differently, the Belgian replied that she 'always followed her heart. Perhaps I should have used my reason a bit more once and a while, but so be it.' Kim then told her last press conference she expected Rafa to win the 2013 Australian Open, or Andy Murray, and Serena Williams. And off she went, preparing for her last match, against Venus Williams.

At the first press conference of Kim's Thank You Games with BNP Paribas Fortis, Venus Williams talked about the good times she had playing against Kim.

The American four time Olympic gold winner has been important to the development of Kim's career, but for the Diamond Games in Antwerp too. 'I havethe best of memories of staying in Antwerp, this brings back so many memories. I was here a few years ago, but I was so much younger. The matches were very competitive too, maybe because of thediamond racket. Living it all again is just very sentimental. Right now, it is such an honour to be here, it represents a time, a golden time in the past ten years."

Looking back on the past years, Venus acknowledged that "it was just a party of good players and competitive matches. Kim and Justine improved so much throughout their career, so everyone had to improve to keep up with them." On the era in which two sisters competed with two Belgians, the latter each from one part of Belgium, she confirmed that she had been thinking about that. "You can't plan that. I first saw her play in 1999 against Serena in the US Open. Kim had her opportunities and made full use of her potential."

One of the most important moments for Kim while playing Venus must have been the 2005 US Open: "I was leading but she still won it. We always had tough matches in the US Open. It was a great story for her to come back and win again."

The oldest Williams sister was very clear about what made Kim the star player she is, was. "She's one of those players who does everything well. Her movement was amazing, she was very consistent and added that aggressive power. Not many people are able to display all three qualities, that made her so powerful." Venus herself no longer does splits, "I used to be able to do the splits, more than ten years ago. The split should have been Kim's logo."

"As a player, you always remember the matches you won, but when you get older, you start to appreciate the memories. I have so many memories on the court with her.
I'll remember her sportsmanship, she always seemed genuinely happy for you, even when she lost, that's pretty rare. She's a genuine person." The seven time Grand Slam winner admitted that she'll miss Kim. "The last year or so, I kept hoping that she did well, I just wanted to see her win. I'll miss her, tennis needs international stars like her, she helps to keep the game grow. Tennis will definitely miss her."

With Justine already retired, Kim about to bow out and the Williams sisters leaving at some point in a not too distant future, there might be lack of personality, but "you can't play forever that's for sure. Hopefully there will be more players that people can connect with." Venus herself wants to continue for a few more years, "focusing on the majors and playing in Rio, because I love the Olympics".

Asked whether she was allowed to win tonight, the oldest Williams answered that she was "a little nervous to be honest. The whole country is watching, but the nerves will be worse for her. But we'll show people the tennis we used to play." 


Once again this exactly why I prefer Venus over Serena, always so much more gracious & so well spoken.