Thursday, February 28, 2013

Roger Federer into the quarters at Dubai Open

Dubai:  Defending champion Roger Federer eased into the quarterfinals of the Dubai Championships on Wednesday with a 6-3, 6-4 victory over Marcel Granollers of Spain.

The second-ranked Federer was joined by Juan Martin del Potro and Tomas Berdych who also won in straight sets. Berdych saved 12 of 14 break points to beat Tobias Kamke of Germany 7-5, 6-1, and Del Potro defeated Somdev Devvarman of India 6-4, 6-4 before hitting a few balls with Argentina football great Diego Maradona.

Federer looked much more confident than he did in his opening, three-set victory over Tunisian wild card Malek Jaziri. His serve was almost untouchable — he won 84 percent of first serve points — and he was much more aggressive, winning several key points at the net.

The 17-time Grand Slam winner broke the 34th-ranked Spaniard to go up 4-2 on the way to winning the first set. Federer broke a second time to make it 3-2 in the second and closed It out with a dominant serving game — including an ace and a final serve that Granollers returned wide.

"The last four sets have been pretty good, you know, so I'm happy I bounced back after a rough opening first set here in the first round," Federer said. "I think I was sharper today. I had a more, clear plan. I knew what I could and couldn't do."

Federer will next face Nikolay Davydenko of Russia, who beat Victor Hanescu of Romania 6-4, 7-6 (2). Federer has an 18-2 record against the Russian and hasn't lost to him since 2010 in Qatar. But the Swiss star said he still had to be ready for a player who once was ranked third before sustaining a series of injuries.

"I'll never disrespect a guy like Nikolay. He's done too much in the game," he said. "That's why I know it's a dangerous round next match... I know what he can do on his absolute best day because I was one of the guys that got crushed by him as well during that time."

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Roger Federer taking a 2 month family vacation after Indian Wells

Roger Federer will not play for two months after the Indian Wells event in March to spend time with his family and prepare for the clay-court season.
The Swiss, 31, returns to action in Dubai this week and will then head to Indian Wells, which ends on 17 March.
Federer, a father of two, then plans a holiday with his family before practising on clay in Switzerland and returning to action in Madrid in May.
"I can't play a year like I did last year every single season," he said.

"That isn't the point I'm at in my career. I'm not 22 where I have to play 25-30 tournaments a year. Plus, I believe I'll be really ready for the tournaments I've entered."
Indian Wells is followed by another high-profile hard-court tournament in Miami, but Federer is allowed to skip the usually mandatory Masters 1000 events as he meets the ATP's three criteria of being aged 31, having played more than 600 matches and competed for over 12 years.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion's leading rivals, Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray and Rafael Nadal, are all scheduled to compete in the American events, although Nadal's presence is far from certain as he carefully manages his return from a knee injury.
"I'm trying to be smart with my scheduling because I'm in a totally different situation than they are - they are right in their prime," said Federer, the world number two.
"For me, it's very challenging and why I need to make the right decisions with personal life and my family. None of the guys have that, so I have many more things to worry about than they do."
Federer married long-term partner Mirka in 2009 and later that year the couple became parents to twin daughters Myla Rose and Charlene Riva.
In 2012, he played 83 matches across 17 ATP and Grand Slam tournaments, as well as two Davis Cup ties.
"The last few years have been really tricky in terms of my practice schedule, especially through an Olympic year (in 2012)," he said. "This year is totally different. Family is very important, so I also want to spend quality time with them."
Asked whether he felt he could one day return to the top of the rankings, Federer said it was "absolutely realistic", and added: "Eventually, it will be clear that it is time to stop but the time is definitely not now.
"But then again, things change very quickly. You have to be ready for it and open to it. I'm not naive that I can play for 15 more years but I would like to give myself a chance to play for many more years to come. I'm happy with where my body is at.''

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Making of Roger Federer Credit Suisse commercial

I think I'm starting to like Swiss-German :).

Roger Federer survives first round scare at Dubai Open

ROGER Federer has motored through a few opening-match stutters to produce a turnaround 5-7 6-0 6-2 victory over Tunisian wildcard Malek Jaziri at the Dubai Open.
The Swiss second seed, playing for his sixth trophy at the Aviation club, was caught out by the national number one, who surprised the 17-time Grand Slam winner by winning the first set after Federer had missed on three break point chances.
But the fairytale evaporated after the 41-minute set, with Federer settling into his game and running out the winning with ten aces and five breaks of serve from 11 chances.
"The margins are small," said Federer, who is defending his title from 2012.
"He played a great first set. I struggled with the wind; it was also a first round.
"I'm happy I made the turnaround. It's a big relief for me. I'm glad to get another chance to move ahead."
Federer improved to 8-2 on the season after beating his number 128 opponent, who lost in Dubai qualifying a year ago.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Kim Clijsters & husband Brian Lynch expecting baby #2!

Former World No. 1 Kim Clijsters has announced that she is pregnant with her second child.

The Belgian retired from the sport at the US Open last September for the second and what she called the final time. Clijsters had also retired in 2007 and then came backin 2009 after the birth of her daughter Jada.

Clijsters won four singles grand slams during her career - three of which she won as a mother.

Her last season on tour - 2012 - was marred by a number of injuries.

Clijsters took to Twitter to announce the news to her fans and was immediately flooded with a number of congratulatory messages from fellow tennis pros and fans.

Yay! awesome news congrats to them both! :)

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Weekend with Kim Clijsters

This is an oldie obviously given Kim retired last year, but I don't recall ever posting this so I'm sharing it now.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Roger Federer South Africa Q&A

GOVHU, South Africa (Reuters) - Roger Federer was back in South Africa for the first time in eight years and it was not long before he was surrounded by a swarm of three-year-old toddlers tugging at his shirt and hankering to play a game of tennis.
Unlike many of the fans the 17-times grand slam champion usually encounters, these children hold a special place in the Swiss champion's heart as his charitable foundation is helping to educate them.
Federer showed the children how to play tennis, joined them in a game of hopscotch and read out stories to a captive audience before sitting down with Reuters to chat about the pressures faced by top athletes, being in his South African mother's homeland, and what he hopes to achieve during the 10th anniversary of the Roger Federer Foundation.
REUTERS: Your trip here has coincided with the bail hearing of paralympian Oscar Pistorius. Pistorius's story has put a particular spotlight on sporting heroes. Do you think there's a lot of pressure put on professional athletes?
FEDERER: Everybody handles it (pressure and stress) differently. My success came gradually, which was helpful, even though I was always considered a great talent, someone who could become world number one. So it wasn't a huge surprise that I made it to world number one and won Wimbledon, but for me it was.
To handle that stardom, the red carpets, the photo shoots, people all of a sudden recognizing you and following you in everyday life, it's a bit weird. It's strange and it can have funny effects on you in terms of do you like it or don't you like it. Some people run away from it, some people embrace it, I found a good middle ground.
It's tricky, especially (because) people love fairytale stories; take you down, put you back up, put you down. And obviously the more famous you become, the more great everything seems when things goes well, and the worse they seem when things don't go so well.
I realized that when I was world number one, I would play an average match and people would say ‘you played so well, it's unbelievable'. And when I would play incredibly they would say ‘oh my god, we've never seen this tennis before in my life'. So it's always an exaggeration, the whole thing, and that's what we live in, unfortunately.
REUTERS: So are we paying undue attention to Pistorius because of who he is?
FEDERER: This is now a particular story, it's very difficult. You can't compare this one to any other....
REUTERS: How important is it to take time out?
FEDERER: For me vacation and family time is as important as training. So I try to take to take at least 10 days if not two weeks of holiday. After the Australian (Open in January) I took two weeks of vacation, all I did was spend time with my family.
I couldn't handle this daily stress of people recognizing me, signing autographs, doing press, playing matches, the pressure, people always in my face.
I need to get away from it all. So that when I do come back to the game, I'm hungry, and I'm in the mood to sign autographs, I'm in the mood to do interviews. Not that it becomes a drain and it becomes a burden, because when it's that, the fun goes away then you stop, it's just as simple as that.
REUTERS: It's been a decade since you set up the Roger Federer Foundation which funds pre-school and primary education in Africa and Switzerland. What are you doing to mark the anniversary?
FEDERER: We were thinking of doing different things. Most important was that I definitely do the trip this year, that has been my number one priority. I went to Ethiopia a few years ago but I really wanted to come back to South Africa.
My heart is in South Africa, through my mum. My mum being from here, me spending a lot of time here as well, I feel most connected to this part of the world.
Obviously I would like to see other ones (projects in the five other African countries) as well, but coming here, being able to do something in South Africa and also visiting my family was important.
The 10 years are important to us. I still feel we're in the beginning of everything. Ten years sounds like a long time but it's changed a lot in terms of the kids we're able to reach and the money we're able to put out there to help.
In this regard I was thinking of doing another 'Match for Africa' again which I did two or three years ago with (Rafa)Nadal when I was able to raise up to $3 million. I don't know if this year will be the year to do it but I hope to.
REUTERS: Is it important for people in your kind of position to 'give back'?
FEDERER: Sometimes it's not always about the money. If people were willing to give time, to talk, to inspire, to help; because at the end of the day it comes down to the people who help the kids get smarter and get better at the end of the day.
Of course you need money to be able to do that sometimes, not everywhere in the world, but here particularly you do, its clear, its visible.
REUTERS: Is it important to do it?
FEDERER: I think you have to do what you feel is right to do. I don't think there's a certain obligation, but it would be a missed opportunity if you didn't because, let's not forget how incredibly lucky... I can only speak for myself; how incredibly lucky I feel that I made my hobby my job and my dream at the end of the day.
Sometimes with little effort I can raise so much awareness or raise so much money in one event, that other people would take a long long time to raise - I feel I would be selfish if I were to not share that with other people.
REUTERS: Your twin daughters are almost four years old now. Does having a family make you better or slow you down?
FEDERER: I thought it would maybe slow me down a bit just because everybody says so. I'm happy that again I was able to prove that its possible to have a family and play well. Not only do I have a family but I have twin girls, so it was super intense in the first years, it's still very intense now. But I made it work. I have an incredible wife who is so supportive and is willing to travel.
At (the) Rotterdam (tournament last week) I was by myself, and I didn't feel the same. Maybe that's one of the reasons I didn't play well, who knows? I miss them much.
I'm happy that I'm able to combine both at the same time. Nine, 10 years ago I never thought of me being a dad, playing tennis, winning the big titles.
In the dream or vision, you always see yourself with the trophy, but you never see yourself with the trophy looking at your kids like what happened at Wimbledon last year. I'm happy I had the opportunity to live through that, those memories will be with me for a lifetime.
NB: The Roger Federer Foundation supports 40 pre-schools in Limpopo province and spends over $3 million a year on educational projects in South Africa, Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Ethiopia and Federer's home country Switzerland.
Over 50,000 children benefited from the foundation's efforts in 2012 to improve quality education in pre-schools and primary schools.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Roger Federer wants biological passports as anti-doping method

Roger Federer believes biological passports should be the norm on the ATP—a notion that makes plenty of sense in this day and age where cheating in pro sports is prevalent. 
Federer stated the following, according to the Guardian's Kevin Mitchell:
"A blood passport will be necessary [...] as some substances can't be discovered right now but might in the future, and that risk of discovery can chase cheaters away. But there also should be more blood tests and out-of-competition controls in tennis. I didn't get tested on blood after the Australian Open and I told the responsible people over there that it was a big surprise for me."
The 2012 Summer Olympics was the first summer games to utilize this comprehensive anti-doping measure, which is a "long term history of an athlete's physiology based on key markers in the blood," (h/t BBC's Matt McGrath).
World Anti-Doping Agency president John Fahey talked about the process and what it is supposed to do before the London Games, according to Sports Network, via the Los Angeles Times:
If someone thinks they're home free in 15 days time from some form of cheating here in London, they should hold their breath for at least eight years because the odds are they can be picked up at a later point in time.

While doping may not seem prevalent in the world of professional tennis, the suspicion is certainly there. Just this year, on Feb. 14, Czech tennis player Barbora Zahlavova Strycova was suspended for six months after she tested positive for sibutramine, a stimulant (h/t Bloomberg's Christopher Elser).
Pro athletes are under a tremendous amount of stress to win, and many of them will go to extreme lengths to get a leg up on their competition. 
According to Mitchell's report in the Guardian, the current system in place on the ATP is nothing more than "window dressing," and the minimal amount of players getting busted over the course of the past 27 years bears this out as a true statement.
American James Blake came out in the summer of 2012 in an interview with USA Today's Douglas Robson, saying:
"In tennis I'm sure there are guys who are doing it, getting away with it, and getting ahead of the testers." Blake says he wants to believe it's a level playing field, "but I also am realistic with this much money involved, $1.9 million for the winner of the U.S. Open, people will try to find a way to get ahead."

Athletes in today's world have access to cutting-edge treatments—both legal and illegal. We've seen Lance Armstrong get exposed after exhaustive and expensive investigations have uncovered the truth of his wrongdoing.
According to Mitchell's report, the ATP only spends $1.3 million per year in drug testing—a paltry amount of money, considering the wealth the sport generates.
Utilizing biological passports would certainly deter athletes from doping, but more importantly, it would be a way of leveling the playing field and assuring fans that the players are clean. 
If every athlete were under the same scrutiny, being tested in exactly the same way, the sport would certainly benefit.
It's time for tennis to catch up to the times. It's time for the sport to utilize the best technology available to clamp down on those athletes who are cheating. 
Roger Federer isn't the first man to raise concerns about this subject. Andy Murray has been calling for changes since last year. 
Perhaps now that Federer has championed the cause, those with the authority to make a positive change will move to fix an ailing system.
There isn't a good excuse not to make the best efforts possible to put an end to doping in tennis, and there isn't a better time to make the change than right now. 

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Roger Federer stunned by Benneteau in Rotterdam

Rotterdam, Netherlands:

Frenchman Julien Benneteau sent defending champion Roger Federer crashing out of the Rotterdam World Tennis tournament on Friday with a stunning 6-3, 7-5 quarter-final upset.

Federer, who lifted the trophy in his last two appearances in 2005 and 2012, last suffered defeat in the event against Tim Henman in 2004.

"I'm very disappointed, I have some regrets about this match," said Federer, who came back from two sets to love down to beat Benneteau in the third round of Wimbledon last year.

"He played great and created more chances than I did. He deserved to win. It was a tough loss, but they do happen. Being broken so many times (five) indoors won't get the job done. My game was up and down overall.

"He made it difficult and generated pressure. That made you try to serve harder. When I had some chances I didn't take them. I was maybe a point or two away from taking it into a third set and then the clock resets."

Benneteau, the world 39, will play a Saturday a semi-final against fifth-seeded compatriot Gilles Simon who was 3-0 ahead in the final set against Martin Klizan when the Slovak player quit with an injury.

"This was a dream match, and I played like a dream," said Benneteau after his second career win over the world number two.

"This is for sure my biggest win. He was the favourite, but maybe he played a bit tight. I've been playing well all week, improving with each match.

"I've had a great week here so far and I hope it's not finished."

Federer was clearly off the boil from the start, beginning with an ace but losing the first game.

He was broken three times in the first set in a shocking display from the top seed and heavy crowd favourite at the Ahoy stadium.

The French challenger wrapped up the opening set and went up a break at 3-1 in the second as Federer's game continued to suffer.

But the Swiss stirred to life as he broke back to love for 3-4.

Federer then levelled at four games apiece before Benneteau saved three break points to hold for 6-5.

A game later, it was done, with Federer donating a double-fault for a match point and then missing the far corner with a backhand which was confirmed by electronic line calling.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Roger Federer reaches quarters at Rotterdam

ROTTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- Defending champion Roger Federer gave up just one break point as he swept aside Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-4 Thursday to reach the quarterfinals of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion was never seriously troubled in front of the 123rd-ranked Dutchman's home crowd at Ahoy arena.

Federer set the tone early when he broke De Bakker to love in the fourth game. 

His only minor glitch was serving back-to-back double faults to squander two set points in the ninth game, but he hit back with two big serves to take the set.

He followed it up by breaking De Bakker again in the next game, the Dutchman hitting an easy chance into the net to drop his serve.

"I'm happy. Things are obviously pretty quick indoors," Federer said after winning in just over an hour. "Thiemo can serve well and he is very talented, so it is a good victory for me."

Federer now faces Frenchman Julien Benneteau in the quarterfinals.
Juan Martin del Potro hit a dozen aces past Ernests Gulbis of Latvia in winning 7-6 (5), 6-3 to reach his first quarterfinal of the year.

The second-seeded Argentine set up a clash against Jarkko Nieminen, who beat Matthias Bachinger of Germany 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

Marcos Baghdatis beat fourth-seeded Richard Gasquet 6-4, 6-4 to also reach the last eight. The unseeded Cypriot saved three break points and broke Gasquet once to take the first set, and had few problems in the second set as he moved into a quarterfinal against Grigor Dimitrov of Bulgaria.

Read More:

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Roger Federer breezes into Rotterdam 2nd round

ROGER Federer started the defence of his Rotterdam World Tennis title by crushing Slovenia's Grega Zemlja 6-3 6-1 in just 57 minutes.
Federer advanced effortlessly into the second round over last year's Vienna finalist and next faces Dutchman Thiemo de Bakker.
The Swiss top seed, and world No. 2, improved to 22-5 in Rotterdam as he plays the event for the eighth time, never losing before the quarter-finals.
Zemlja slipped to 1-9 against top 10 opposition after beating No. 9 Janko Tipsarevic in the Vienna semi-finals before losing to Juan Martin del Potro.
Federer raced through the opening set in 29 minutes with a break in the final game and rolled on in the second, taking a 3-1 led before closing out with a break in the penultimate game and a love game to finish with a service winner.
"I've been here and preparing for a few days, but matches are always different than training," Federer said. "The ball flies a bit and you have to be prepared.
"I'll have to be careful against De Bakker. I played him in the Davis Cup (2012). The local players always get up for home matches. I'll have to approach him carefully and not underestimate him."