Friday, November 29, 2013

Martina Hingis headed to Hobart for an exhibition in January

HOBART International organisers have pulled off another stunning coup, with Swiss Miss Martina Hingis to feature during next year's tournament.

With Australian No.1 Sam Stosur and seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams already locked away in the main draw, the Mercury can reveal former world No.1 Hingis will play a one-off exhibition match at the Domain Tennis Centre.

Tournament director Mark Handley floated the idea of scheduling a men's exhibition clash during the event but has instead managed to secure one of the most prominent players of the modern era.

Before the emergence of Williams and her sister Serena in the late 1990s, Hingis was the most dominant force on the WTA tour having succeeded Steffi Graf.

Hingis, who won five Grand Slam singles titles and is a three-time Australian Open champion, became the youngest Grand Slam winner in the 20th century when she claimed her first Australian Open crown at 16 years, three months and 26 days in 1997.

Three months later she became the youngest No.1 in history at 16 years, six months and one day.

Hingis also holds nine Grand Slam doubles titles and 43 WTA singles titles, and sat in the No.1 ranking for 209 consecutive weeks.

After missing 2003 and 2004 following ankle surgery, Hingis played one event in 2005 before announcing a full-scale comeback in 2006, rising to No.7 in the world by season's end.

In the middle of 2007 she tested positive for traces of cocaine, receiving a two-year ban which led to a second retirement.

The 33-year-old returned to the WTA Tour as a doubles player this year, partnering Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova in five tournaments, including the US Open.

She was also inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport in July.

Hingis has recently scuttled speculation she would make another comeback in singles but is a confirmed starter at Adelaide's World Tennis Challenge in January and the Australian Open Legends event.

Her exhibition match at the Hobart International is likely to be scheduled on the opening day of main draw action, Sunday January 5.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Martina Hingis back in action next year in Australia

FORMER world No. 1 Martina Hingis has ruled out making a comeback in singles but says her immediate plans include a hectic Australian schedule.

Hingis, 33, this year returned to the WTA Tour as a doubles player, was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame at Newport, Rhode Island, and has had the tennis world whispering rumours she could make another comeback.

But Hingis, who will return to Adelaide's World Tennis Challenge in January, was firm in saying there would be no return to the women's circuit in the singles draws.

"I am not looking too far ahead,'' Hingis said.

"I will not be making a singles comeback.

"But I do still enjoy competing and there were a lot of positives from playing doubles in 2013.

"I am in decent shape at the moment and we'll see how I feel after the Auckland, Hobart and the Australian Open Legends (event).''

Hingis joined the Hall of Fame as one of the most prominent players of the modern era. She was the natural bridge between Steffi Graf and the Williams sisters, but also one who defied her time.

Where others charged ahead by increasing power and athleticism, Hingis played with grace and guile, a player whose anachronism was one of her most captivating features.

But there was always more to Hingis than the smiling and talented all-courter with the pretty game.

There were tantrums when she lost, but those could be excused for her youth at the time.

The big bomb shell came in 2007, when she was in the middle of a comeback from retirement and tested positive for traces of cocaine and received a two-year ban from the game.

Rather than contest the charge, Hingis decided to retire again, despite maintaining she had never taken any illicit drugs and reportedly had a hair follicle test that backed her up.

At the end of her two-year suspension, during which she was not even allowed to be a spectator at the majors, Hingis remained indignant.

This year, on the brink of being inducted to the Hall of Fame, there were more uncomfortable headlines when her husband, from whom she is estranged, accused her of both being unfaithful and beating him up.

His version of events has not been proven, nor have charges been laid, but regardless, it suggests Hingis has had to dealt with turbulent times.

For all of that, still strikes the ball crisply, has the smile back in various events around the world and looks fit enough to challenge for another major.

Serena Williams, who still monsters the opposition when she is fit, is just one year her junior.

How would Hingis, at 33, fare against the barnstorming teenager who broke all sorts of youngest-ever records in the late 1990s?

She won her five Grand Slam titles between 1997 and 1999 - including three Australian Open crowns, but was also considered the comeback story of the year when she finished the 2006 season at world No.7 after having been retired for three years.

Hingis had been wracked by injuries leading up to her first retirement, but says she is whole again now.

By and large, she would be the same player. Who would win, young or old?

"Ha! Good question,'' she said.

"I still have the same court sense and I am in decent shape.

"But back then I was more tournament fit so maybe `A Little More Energy' v `A Little Wiser Today'.

"It would be a three-setter."

The more pressing question surrounding Hingis' game is this: would it hold up today?

As much as she recognises the changing face of women's tennis, Hingis believes there's still room for finesse and counterpunch in the game.

"It's the No.1 sport for women,'' she said.

"It's more competitive, the players are stronger and the tour is getting deeper.

"(But) I still think there's room for that (finesse and touch).

"But being powerful or at least being able to cope with power is important.''

Hingis, a childhood prodigy who impressed coaches by the time she was five, finds it difficult to rate each part of her career.

She said the phases - breaking through, dominating the game, and returning from injury - had different joys and hurdles.

"Each time the experience was slightly different,'' she said.

"Coming through the first time is new and exciting.

"Winning a lot feels pretty good, too, and coming back I realised how much I missed it.

"It's tough to say that I liked it more at one time versus another.''

Hingis, like cricket's Shane Warne, appears to use the game as her refuge for a life that has at times been turbulent.

It is part of why she still draws crowds and will have people flock to Memorial Drive this summer. Hingis says she can't wait.

"Australia is a great place for tennis,'' she said.

"I did well here and the fans are really well educated and knowledgeable when it comes to tennis and other sports.''

As the Swiss Miss looks back at the dizzying heights, the crippling injuries and the off-court dramas - which included an episode of a stalker who had to face charges - she reckons she never fell out of love with the game.

"Tennis has always been a huge part of my life,'' Hingis said.

"It has given me so much and I hope to be able to give back to the sport and stay involved.

"I have no regrets, only much to be grateful for.''

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Chris Evert on her love for Roger Federer

24 times Grand Slam champion Chris Evert has declared her love for Mr. Tennis Roger Federer as she claims that the 32 year old winner of seven Wimbledon trophies has been one of the biggest sources of inspiration to her sons.

She said: “Why do I love him? I don’t know, I just love him. There is something about Roger which just tugs at the heartstrings. I don’t know what it is, I can’t say exactly, but he gets to me. Maybe it’s because one of my sons idolizes Roger, and I can see similarities between the two. It’s almost as though Roger could be my son. I’ve been in this game for more than 40 years, and there has never been a player who has made me as emotional as Roger has, not even close. And I’m not the only one. I have sometimes looked around when Roger is on court, and seen that others were affected in the same way. There would be a whole bunch of us getting choked up.”

She added: “I’ve never been as emotional watching a tennis match as I have done after Roger has lost. This may sound strange, but his losses affect me much more than my own defeats. I was watching him play Tommy Robredo in the fourth round of this year’s US Open, and I had to walk away. I could see that Roger was going to lose, and I just couldn’t watch any more. I didn’t want to feel what I was going to feel. And his defeat to Sergiy Stakhovsky, in the second round of this year’s Wimbledon Championships, wasn’t that awful? It’s the defeats at grand slams that affected me the most. Roger is a special breed – some of those defeats just rolled off his back, but I never found them easy to take. And I haven’t really spent that time with the guy. I hardly know him. I’m not a stalker, I promise you.”

Preaching to the choir here Chris, preaching to the choir. :)

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Martina Hingis to play Legends Exhibition match in Adelaide in January

Tennis - Former world no. 1 Martina Hingis will be back to play singles in Adelaide - though only for a exhibition legends match against former Australian pro Nicole Bradtke at the 2014 World Tennis Challenge to be held 7-9 January at Memorial Drive Tennis Centre.

The site holds an ATP event which will include Frenchman Jeremy Chardy, Austrian veteran Jürgen Melzer, Spain's Feliciano Lopez and 17-year-old Aussie teen Thanasi Kokkinakis.

Hingis commented on the announcement, "I am really looking forward to my return to Adelaide. Australians love their sport and Adelaide is a great place for me to come and spend a few days."

The event will also hold a men's legends event which will see Mats Wilander, Yannick Noah, Pat Cash, Henri Leconte and Mansour Bahrami participate.

Friday, November 15, 2013

ITF finds anti-doping policy criticism by Federer & Djokovic unfair

(Reuters) - The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is confident its anti-doping programs are working effectively and labeled recent criticisms of the system by Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic unfair.

"I think that tennis is doing a good job in the programs it has and we've had two fairly high-profile cases recently with Marin Cilic and Viktor Troicki and let's not forget both of those cases resulted in violations for the athletes concerned," the ITF's anti-doping manager Stuart Miller said on Thursday.

"To me that shows that the program is successful in catching the people it is supposed to be catching so I don't think it's necessarily fair criticism," he told Reuters at the World Conference on Doping in Sport.

"Our program includes in-competition and out-of-competition testing, with both urine and bloods samples taken and the recent introduction of the athlete's biological passport, another tool in the fight against doping. We have also been increasing our proportion of out-of-competition testing."

Serbia's world number two Djokovic said he had lost all trust in the sport's anti-doping program following compatriot Troicki's 12-month ban for failing to provide a blood sample at the Monte Carlo Masters in April after complaining of feeling unwell.

Troicki said he believed he could be excused from the test if he provided a reason to the ITF.

Last week, Federer said he felt players were not being tested enough.


"I feel like I used to get tested more, I think I was tested 25 times in 2003, 2004. Ever since, I think it's been clearly going down this season," the 17-times grand slam winner told reporters at the ATP Tour finals in London.

But Miller said there had been no real change in the number of times the ITF had tested the Swiss.

"We've got the exact number of tests on Roger Federer and our information does not match what he says.

"As far as we are concerned, the number of tests completed have remained remarkably constant," added Miller.

"That isn't to say that there aren't other organizations that were testing him to some extent previously and now doing so less and we just don't know about those figures, but as far as we are concerned the number of tests remains pretty constant for 10 years or so."

The ITF is responsible for the enforcement, management and administration of the anti-doping program on behalf of all professional tennis.

"I'm confident the tennis anti-doping program is using all the tools available to it to maximize its efficiency but we must remember, you also need a deterrent effect and prevention effect and education as well," Miller said.

Croatian Marin Cilic recently completed a four-month ban for taking the stimulant nikethamide. Cilic said he had taken the substance inadvertently in glucose tablets.

(Editing by Alison Wildey)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Roger Federer's parents talk secret to their son's success with Credit-Suisse

Lynette Federer spoke about her experiences as the parent of an exceptionally talented player during a Swiss Tennis panel discussion in Lausanne.

While many parents of tennis players have the dubious reputation of using any means available to force their children to succeed and wanting to control every aspect of their development, Lynette and her husband Robert are living proof that there is another way.

Today, they are happy to pass on their knowledge and experiences with the most successful player in the history of tennis.

What role do the parents of promising tennis talents play? This topic is once again a particularly current one in Switzerland, following Belinda Bencic's victories in Paris and Wimbledon this summer, making her the top junior player in the world.

Just like Martina Hingis before her, the 16-year-old has the close support of one parent: As her coach and manager, her father Ivan is always at her side.

The family from Uzwil is taking a very different route than the one Lynette and Robert Federer took with their son Roger in the '90s. Their recipe for success was to trust in him and his coaches coupled with unqualified support, a good dose of control, and knowing when to intervene when necessary.

Support, Discipline, and Control

"I think that we took an approach that was not overly emotional. We didn't have utopian ambitions, and we tried to keep our expectations realistic," says Robert Federer looking back on the early days of his son's tennis career. "Even though many described him as an extraordinary talent, we did not view him as having already reached the top of Mount Everest. Most of all, we wanted to support him. But we were demanding, too, and expected discipline and commitment." They placed a lot of trust in young Roger from the start. In the early days, for example, he rode his bicycle from Münchenstein to Basel to the Old Boys Tennis Club. "We let him live his life," says the father. "Back then, he and his friends were allowed to play squash, basketball, soccer, tennis, table tennis..." But even Roger had rules to follow. It did not go over well with his parents, for instance, if he wanted to skip a tennis training session. They were also not willing to put up with his temper, which got the better of him at times. The father recalls: "Once when he was very young and misbehaving quite badly during training at Ciba, I handed him a two-franc coin and said: 'You know where the tram is. You can find your own way home."

"Children have to put their hearts and souls into it"

At a panel discussion on parents and tennis organized in Lausanne by Swiss Tennis during to the national junior championships in July, Lynette Federer emphasized how important it was that the initiative to play high-performance sports came from the children themselves. "The children have to put their hearts and souls into it. They cannot be forced to do it, not by the mother, the father, the school, or the coach." This was definitely the case for Roger. Barely 14 years old, it was Roger himself who decided to attend the Tennis/Etudes development program in Ecublens. "We had many discussions, of course, and showed him possible paths," says the father. "But Roger grasped early on what it would take to get to the top." Roger's mother recalls that because of homesickness, the initial difficulties with the French language, and the unfamiliar surroundings, the first three months in the training center were "hell on earth" for the 14-year-old boy. "But he saw it through because he knew what he was doing it all for."
A Matter of Trust

The fact that Roger's parents succeeded in striking the right balance between distance, involvement, trust, and control had a lot to do with intuition. "We let him decide and then we stood behind him," says the father. Roger recalls that he had always had close contact with his parents, even though he left Münchenstein at the age of 14."But it was also important for them to give me space and to trust my coaches. Parents need distance from the coaches," the 17-time grand slam winner points out. He is aware that he was able to grow up normally and to get the freedom that he needed. "But my parents still kept an eye on everything." His mother Lynette says that she visited only three times in the two years he spent in Ecublens, "but Robbie stopped by regularly on his business trips, talked to the coaches, and the educational advisors." For the most part, she only saw her son on the weekends or at tournaments. "We never challenged his coaches or discussed much with them," the father confirms. "In contrast to other families, we almost never replaced anyone. The coaches have to be able to work in peace. But we probably were lucky in that Roger always had access to good people."
Learning Sports and Teamwork

Similar to Martina Hingis whose supporting program used to include boxing in addition to riding and in-line skating, Federer's parents considered it important that he grow up playing multiple sports. "Back then, he tried all sports and almost always had a ball with him, even in the sandbox," the mother said. The former field hockey player considers her son's experiences playing soccer – a sport he gave up with a heavy heart at age 12 for tennis – to be especially valuable. "I was very pleased that he played soccer, too. Team sports are extremely important; children learn to work toward a common goal and to learn good sportsmanship. That had a big impact on him." How important team spirit is to him is clear even today in the Davis Cup.
Setting Realistic and Flexible Goals

Although they quickly recognized their son's talent, Federer's parents remained cautious in setting goals – well aware of everything that can go wrong on the way to becoming a high-performance athlete. "When he went to Ecublens, we said that we would give him two years from then," the father recollects. "He was still among the top 5 or top 10 in Europe at age 16. Then we said, come on, just two more years. You can always go back to school at 18 and study something else." When he became the best junior in the world at 17, they realized: "Now we can let him take the leap; it's no longer such a huge risk." 

Walking a Financial Tightrope

Like most tennis parents, the Federers not only had to invest a great deal of their free time in the development of their child's sports skills, but also significant financial resources. "At that time, we spent around 30,000 Swiss francs per year for him ourselves," Robert Federer recalls, although he is aware that the costs have increased considerably since that time. His wife was able to work more at Ciba in order to meet these increased financial needs. However, the financial issue never became a serious problem, since their son quickly became a breakout star, first as the number 1 junior player at age 17, and then ranking among the top 100 in the world at 18, earning more than 200,000 dollars in prize money in that season. Without a doubt – in addition to everything that they did right – the Federers were lucky, too. Because for every player who makes it, there are hundreds, maybe thousands around the world who fall by the wayside somewhere on the path to the same goal.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Roger Federer hosting a special exhibition event before the Australian Open in January

Roger Federer is set to commandeer Rod Laver Arena for a gala charity exhibition match on Wednesday 8 January.

Four-time Australian Open champion and winner of a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles, Federer will take on his friend and foe, world No.10, charismatic Frenchman and Australian Open finalist Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, in what promises to be a once-in-a-lifetime tennis and entertainment event.

“I hope it’s going to be a sell-out night and we will raise awareness and raise a lot of money if possible and just have a good time. That was the idea behind it and it is all coming true. I’m looking forward to the day that I step on to Rod Laver Arena and do it.“It’s going to be called “A night with Roger Federer and Friends”, it’s going to be very entertaining, and it would be great if you could be part of it,” Roger Federer said as he announced the event today.

“Good acts, entertainment, music, light-show, clearly the match – I hope that’s what you’re coming for, to see me play against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. We’ve had some great exhibitions in the past where we really light up the crowd. I know I’m going to be playing good tennis and it’s a great way to kick off the Australian Open.

“I’m celebrating ten years since my first victory in Australia, and I’m celebrating ten years of the Roger Federer Foundation. I spoke with Tennis Australia to see if we could do something a bit fun, a bit different as well, and I hope that’s why people are going to join in the action.

“You can get involved by going to get a ticket … they are on sale this Thursday. I hope there are still some left because they’re very hot and very exclusive,” Federer joked.

Federer is passionate about the work of the Roger Federer Foundation, which will share in the proceeds of this special event.

“The foundation is very personal to me clearly. We are celebrating the tenth year of the Roger Federer Foundation on the 23 December, I can’t believe it’s actually been ten years, but we try to help kids, particularly in Southern Africa to have a quality education and so far we’ve been able to help 50,000 over the course of the last ten years … we have big goals for the future to hopefully help one million kids by 2018 so it’s really something I’m looking forward to, to try and help as many kids as possible have a quality education in the future.

“My Mum’s from South Africa so I was in touch with poverty quite early and I saw also other great athletes, inspirational people, do many great things for other people.

“As I was quite young when I had success on the tennis tour I wanted to start [charity work] early, because I remember a quote, I think it was from Andre Agassi, he always said “I wish I would have started earlier”, so you know what, I said I want to start really early, learn a lot about it, I’m still not done learning, I learn something every single day when it comes to the foundation and even from tennis, but it’s something that’s very important to me, it’s very personal, and it’s hopefully going to follow me for many, many years to come.”

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Roger Federer loses to Nadal in straights at ATP World Tour semis

Rafael Nadal has beaten Roger Federer for the 22nd time to reach the final of the ATP World Tour Finals at London's O2 Arena.

The Spaniard's domination of their rivalry has become almost absolute, and his first indoor win in five attempts against Federer means he has now beaten the 32-year-old on every surface.

Nadal stepped up his intensity at the end of the first set and Federer could find no answer, going down 7-5, 6-3.

World No 1 Nadal, who will meet either Novak Djokovic or Stanislas Wawrinka in the final, is one victory away from collecting the only major trophy in the sport he has not won.

They had met four times before at this tournament, twice when it was held in Singapore and twice in London, and Nadal had managed just one set.

Indeed, the last time they played here in 2011 Federer won 6-3, 6-0, but it was one of only four wins in their last 17 meetings for the Swiss.

Given their respective seasons - Federer's his worst for more than a decade while Nadal has won 10 tournaments and returned to world No 1 - there was no doubt who was the favourite.

Federer's forehand had been shaky early on against Juan Martin del Potro on Saturday but he looked sharp from the start and forced three break points against the Nadal serve in the sixth game.

He could not take any of them, though, and Nadal capitalised on his first chance three games later, a series of brutal forehands leaving him serving for the set.

The large and ever-present contingent of Swiss in the crowd were given plenty to cheer when Federer somewhat unexpectedly broke back.

Nadal was dominating the long rallies but Federer won the point of the match with a forehand winner down the line and then the Spaniard missed a forehand.

However, Federer then dropped his serve for the second game in succession and this time there was no reprieve.

The extra conviction in the Nadal game was clear to see, and when he put pressure on Federer again in the fifth game of the second set the 32-year-old wilted once more.

This time a tame forehand into the net conceded the break, and Nadal took victory on his first match point when a Federer volley drifted long.

The six-time World Tour Finals champion has taken confidence from his results this week, particularly the win over Del Potro, where he dug himself out of several holes.

But his record against Nadal now reads played 32, won 10, with his last victory coming more than a year and a half ago.

Saturday, November 09, 2013

Roger Federer fights off Del Potro again moves into semis at ATP World Tour Finals

Roger Federer clinched a spot in the semi-finals of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Saturday afternoon.

The sixth seed and six-time former champion battled back from a 0-3 deficit in the third set to beat fourth seed and 2009 runner-up Juan Martin del Potro 4-6, 7-6(2), 7-5 to finish in second position in Group B for a clash against top seed and 2010 finalist Rafael Nadal on Sunday.

Nadal leads Federer 21-10 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and has won their past three matches at the BNP Paribas Masters in Indian Wells, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome and the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, all this year.

Federer improved to a 45-16 match record on the season and has now qualified for the semi-finals at the prestigious event in 11 of the past 12 years (except 2008). He has a 4-0 mark against Nadal at the season finale, including two wins each at Shanghai and London.

Del Potro broke Federer in the first and fifth games of the first set, as Federer committed seven forehand errors to trail 1-5. Federer staged a rousing comeback, but despite hitting 15 winners and clinching nine of 10 net points won, del Potro saved two break points to seal the 41-minute opener.

Del Potro seized control of their third FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting in as many weeks (also Basel and Paris) when Federer hit a backhand into the net at 1-1, 15/40. Federer walked to his chair with his head bowed.

It proved to be a temporary blip as Federer broke del Potro to love in the sixth game after a double fault. Without any further chances against serve, a tie-break was inevitable. Federer opened up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break and clinched the 50-minute set with his seventh ace.

With del Potro serving first in the decider, the pressure was on Federer. When he buckled in the second game at 15/40, after he struck his 18th forehand error, del Potro went on to take a 3-0 lead.

"I was probably slightly angry more than thinking it's going to be over soon," said Federer, when asked about how he felt at 0-3 in the third set. "It's one of those moments today, because I kind of fought back the whole match – the first, second set. Here we go again."

But Federer drew on his reserves to fight back to 3-3 for a very tense finale.

At 5-5, 15/40, del Potro mis-timed a forehand to gift Federer the chance to serve for the match. Federer saved a break point in the next game and clinched victory with his 10th ace. The match lasted two hours and 26 minutes.

"I wasn't in many of Juan Martin's service games, so I kind of felt like probably I will get one more chance to break back. It's exactly what happened," said Federer. "Once on even terms, I was able to play a little bit more freely.

"For the first time I was almost feeling like I was kind of in the lead. [It was a] great finish. I was very happy. To get the victory was a great feeling, so I was very happy."

Federer hit 13 of his 39 winners in the third set, when he lost four of his first service points.

"I think I got two chances to win the match," said del Potro. "I broke his serve in the second set and in the third one. But he played great when I was up, and he deserved to come back in both sets. But at the end, when you have to be focus and find the winners, I made the mistakes and he was there really focused to take the chance. I think that was the key of the match."

Six-time Barclays ATP World Tour Finals champion Roger Federer rallied to defeat Juan Martin del Potro 46 76(2) 75 to earn the last semi-final spot. Federer will take on No. 1 Rafael Nadal and No. 2 Novak Djokovic will face No. 7 Stanislas Wawrinka in the semi-finals on Sunday.

This is the 11th time in 12 years (except ’08) the Swiss native has earned a spot in the semi-finals. Ivan Lendl holds the record for most semi-final appearances (12) in the season finale.

The 32-year-old Swiss native is the oldest to reach the semi-finals in the season finale since Andre AgassI (33) in 2003. Agassi lost to Federer in the final

This is also the second time the Big 3 of Nadal, Djokovic and Federer have reached the semi-finals together at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. In 2010, Federer defeated Djokovic and Nadal beat Andy Murray in the semi-finals. Federer defeated Nadal in the final.

This was the third meeting in as many weeks between del Potro and Federer, who has an overall 15-5 head-to-head advantage. Their last seven meetings have come down to a decisive set (third or fifth) with Federer prevailing four times.

On Sunday, Nadal and Federer will square off for the 32nd time (Nadal leads 21-10) and the Spaniard has won the past three meetings this season. They will meet for the fifth time in the season finale and Federer has won the previous four meetings in 2006 (SF), ’07 (SF), ’10 (Final) and ’11 (RR). Federer has won eight of the nine sets.

The Argentine, who reached the final at The O2 in 2009 (l. to Davydenko) and semi-finals last year (l. to Djokovic), finishes the season with a 51-16 match record and four ATP World Tour titles. He will finish No. 5 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time since 2009.

Friday, November 08, 2013

Roger Federer talks tennis, family & 2014 plans

Many have asked why Roger Federer continues to tread the boards when he has played all the great roles. As the owner of 17 grand slam titles, he has already delivered his definitive Hamlet, Macbeth and Henry V. Does he really want to end his career as the second gravedigger, two or three years down the road?

But this question misunderstands Federer’s almost pathological self-belief, as well as his ability to see the upside of every challenge. For this famously serene character is relishing the sense of being the scrapper for once. Everyone knows about his artistry, poise and grace. But now, for the first time, Federer is beginning to show his cussed side.

“I always knew that eventually it’s going to be tougher,” Federer toldTelegraph Sport. “You can’t just keep on playing, and keep on winning. And that’s why it’s been interesting for me myself to see how I would handle it, to take the bird’s view and see myself battling it.

“It’s actually been OK, it’s been a different process. I don’t want to say it’s fun in any way, but it’s refreshing in the sense that I never really had to deal with it to this extent.”

Federer is referring to the travails of a year that has seen him slip down to No 7 in the rankings, the lowest position he has occupied since 2002.

If his millions of fans were concerned about his early-season form, they were downright shocked by high-profile defeats to Sergiy Stakhovsky (the world No 116) and Tommy Robredo (in straight sets).

Yet Federer never lost his unique ability to turn a racket into a scalpel.

What he did mislay for a while was the physical freedom to wield the blade. His back tightened up through the summer months, so that he couldn’t train properly. Then, when it came to match day, he started going for the miracle shot too early in the rally — a bad habit that has taken a while to erase.

“I really felt that I didn’t have enough practice, because I was injured,” Federer said.

“I lost build-ups and that’s something I’m still catching up on. I’m still not 100 per cent playing wise, just because it’s been a rocky year. But even though I’m still not moving as well as I’d like to be and all these things, I’m so close.”

He cites the example of Tuesday night’s match at the O2 Arena, when he was edged out in three finely-balanced sets.

“And that was against Novak [Djokovic] who has won everything recently — Shanghai, Beijing and everything — so that gives me hope that I’m really not far away. If I can have a good build-up block in December, hopefully my 2014 year is going to be a good one.”

Of all the major sports, men’s tennis is arguably the finest generator of plot-lines. 2013 has given us Rafael Nadal’s comeback, Andy Murray’s first Wimbledon title, and Djokovic’s bloody-minded refusal to move aside (a resolution that came to naught when Nadal finally locked down the world No1 spot on Wednesday).

Yet Federer continues to fascinate as much as any of them. Indeed, the question of his alleged decline — some say it is terminal, others a mirage — has become the main talking point of the autumn, despite everything else that is going on. And whether he is winning or losing, he remains the spectators’ darling.

Federer followed Nadal onto court on Wednesday to be presented with three gongs by the ATP, one of them entitled “Fans’ Favourite of 2013”.

“Every year I think ‘OK not this year,’” he said, of an award he has monopolised for the past 11 seasons. “But then I do get it again, and it seems I have incredible fan support, not just in one area, but in most places. The demographic is also from young to old, so that’s where the support is amazing. I try to take the extra picture, sign the extra autograph, just give back as much as I can because without a full stadium it’s not the same.”

Greg Rusedski has questioned whether this appetite for all things tennis can survive the next major change in Federer’s home life, which will come when his twin daughters Charlene Riva and Myla Rose — who turn five next summer — start at school. (In Switzerland, primary education begins at six.)

But Federer insists that he is still following his usual routine of planning 18 months ahead.

“I was talking to Nike the other day, and we were talking about designs for the 2015 US Open. I don’t think in terms of ‘Am I still playing then?’ It’s just part of the process and while I am enjoying myself. I don’t even think of the end. Anyway I think that all the talk about all these things is actually quite boring to be honest.”

So what about his daughters’ forehands? Have they started out on the coaching trail yet? Federer laughed. “When we go on holiday together, we just build sandcastles,” he said. “They don’t need to make it on the tennis tour. Anyway, I don’t want to go back on tour with them. I’ll be the dad who says ‘Alright see you then, come back in four weeks.’

“Of course they have held rackets, but it’s very early. I’m very supportive of them; playing sport is a good education.”

And with that, he is gone, nipping into the locker room to deliver a few words of consolation to his defeated friend and countryman Stan Wawrinka.

Federer must be a good ally to have in your corner, for his undentable optimism, is perhaps as great an asset as his whipcrack of a serve. His life has been one long illustration of Henry Ford’s dictum “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t — you’re right.”

Thursday, November 07, 2013

Roger Federer wins 1st round robin match at Barclay's ATP World Tour Finals

Six-time former champion Roger Federer kept alive his chances of qualifying for the semi-finals at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Thursday when he won his first Group B round robin match (1-1) this week.

Sixth seed Federer won his 43rd match at the season finale (since 2002) with a 6-4, 6-3 win over eighth seed Richard Gasquet in 79 minutes at The O2 in London.

"Richard does a good job of making you feel uncomfortable at the same time as well, because he uses heights [and] spins really well,” said Federer. “He likes extended rallies. I'm trying to force the issue. But I guess those are the kind of matches I need right now – straight sets against a good player."

Only once in his previous 11 years has Federer not advanced out of round robin play in 2008 (1-2).

Federer will close out round robin action on Saturday against Juan Martin del Potro, while Gasquet plays Novak Djokovic.

Federer broke Gasquet’s serve in the third game held to 15 for a 3-1 lead. But Gasquet’s persistence got him back into the set at 4-4, after Federer mis-timed a backhand at 30/40. The Frenchman’s hard work was undone by three groundstroke errors in the next game. Federer broke and calmly held serve to complete the 34-minute opener.

Federer may well have won five straight games to lead 3-0 in the second set – but Gasquet managed to regain his composure in the nick of time at 0-2, 30/40. Gasquet was never comfortable on court. His trusted single-handed backhand failed him on 11 occasions as Federer used the angles to open up space.

Federer was mightily relieved when he converted his sixth match point opportunity in a 16-point ninth game of the set.

"Comparing the 2013 ATP World Tour season to previous trophy-laden campaigns," Federer admitted, “I needed the hard fought wins back then to go on and win the tournament. Now I feel like the hard fought wins are there to get me back to a really good level, a very competitive level.

"I'm not coming back from a serious injury, but I'm coming back from a lot of sort of ups and downs, resetting things, trying out things, making sure I get my confidence back, my movement and so forth. So it's a totally different situation."

Federer committed 17 of his 30 unforced errors on the forehand wing. He struck 29 winners in total and won 16 of his 20 points at the net, having carefully crafted openings from the back of the court.

Federer now has an 11-2 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Gasquet, who also qualified for the season finale in 2007. Gasquet is two match wins shy of 350 career victories (348-206). He won three ATP World Tour 250 titles this year.

"It's disappointing for me to lose two matches in a row, but I tried my best,” said Gasquet. “It's a very nice to play on this court... [and] the atmosphere is great.

"I think I tried to play more aggressive. Sometimes he did it. Sometimes I did it. But I need to play better and more aggressive to win these matches especially indoors."

Monday, November 04, 2013

Roger Federer loses to Novak Djokovic at World Tour Finals in back to back matches

Roger Federer must feel that he is stuck squarely in Novak Djokovic’s rifle sights just now. Tuesday night threw up their second meeting on an indoor court in four days, and Federer’s second defeat.
In between there was the little sly dig where Djokovic told the world’s media that “Roger is moving maybe slower than he used to.”
You might almost say that Federer had a new nemesis to place alongside Rafael Nadal. Three years ago, his head-to-head record against Djokovic stood at 13-6 in his favour. After Tuesday night, he still leads the series, but only by a single match: 16-15.
And here is one potential downside to Federer’s resolute determination to keep pressing on with his playing career, perhaps until the Rio Olympics. Players he used to boss around are beginning to catch up with him. Some might even feel they have a score to settle, having been brushed aside by that magisterial forehand so many times in the past.
The fans, of course, just want Federer to keep playing until his racket arm drops off. They would rather see him win than lose, of course, and there was a sense on Tuesday of 15,000 people trying to blow his weaker shots up and over the net.
But they are happy just to see him at all, especially when he provides more than two hours of entertainment on the way to a 6-4, 6-7, 6-2 defeat.
In the case of some great champions — like Martina Navratilova — popular affection only develops once they start to show signs of mortality. Federer is different: he has been feted from his first grand slam to his last.
Last year, he had the greater share of crowd support against Andy Murray — then freshly returned from his breakthrough grand slam win in New York — when they met here at the O2. But all the support in the world could not help him against Djokovic, the man in black who was quite prepared to play the villain in this partisan arena.
After the match, Federer said he felt that neither man had played their best, because of the short turnaround between Paris and London and the difference in the speed of the two courts.
But there were still plenty of intricate rallies, and some winners that would grace any highlight reel. Federer’s inside-out forehand, the stroke that launched a score of trophies, was back on song.
So was Djokovic’s backhand pass, which tends to leave the net-rushing opponent looking as lost and helpless as though he had been stood up at a bar.
“I was actually feeling much better than I was in Paris overall physically,” said Federer. “But obviously it’s been a tough season overall. So I guess I’m just rattled at times, you know, with my level of play consistently.
“So I regret not having taken my chances better maybe, maybe played it a bit tougher, a little bit more solid overall. But there was some good tennis out there as well at times. There is something I can definitely take away from this match.”
Federer will probably need to defeat both his remaining opponents in the group, Juan Martín del Potro and Richard Gasquet, if he is to sneak into the semi-finals.
Meanwhile the battle to finish the year as No 1 rolls on, after Rafael Nadal beat David Ferrer in the first match on Tuesday.
Today’s action could be decisive, for if Nadal adds a second victory by beating Stan Wawrinka — again in the first match on court — he will move so far ahead that Djokovic could not possibly catch him until February, when he starts defending points again.
Even if he loses — and his record against Wawrinka stands at a spotless 11 wins from 11 attempts — he will have another chance against Tomas Berdych on Friday.
As a contest, Nadal’s match on Tuesday was the least gripping of the four singles encounters we have seen thus far. Ferrer only arrived in London on Sunday night, after falling just short of defending his Paris Masters title, and was visibly short of energy.
Still, this tournament needed a strong showing from Nadal to tee up the potential storylines for the coming weekend, and that is what it got. After a lacklustre week in Paris — by his own high standards — he has upped the ante here in London, as he chases the first World Tour Finals title of his extraordinary career.
Nadal said on Monday that he would prefer to see this tournament rotate around different venues, rather than always be played on an indoor hard court. Yet this is not to say that he dislikes the O2 Arena itself; only that the low bounce and slow speed of the playing surface can neutralise the threat of his famous forehand.
“Is one of the best stadiums that I ever played,” said Nadal. “For some reasons, you have places that the conditions are a little bit worse for you. But every time I am able to play in the World Tour Finals, it has been a special feeling for me.”
Perhaps the court is less hospitable to Nadal than it is to the three big threats lurking in the other half of the draw: Djokovic, Federer and Del Potro.
But then he has defied the odds many times already this season, in what Boris Becker has described as the greatest comeback year in tennis — and arguably in any sport. Who can be sure he will not do it again?

Sunday, November 03, 2013

Roger Federer sweeps more ATP World Tour Awards

Roger Federer receives three honours in the 2013 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon, while Rafael Nadal wins Comeback Player of the Year and can clinch the ATP World Tour No. 1 presented by Emirates award at this week’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.
Federer has been selected by his peers as winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for a ninth time and by fans as the Fans’ Favourite presented by Moët & Chandon for an 11th straight year. In addition, the 32-year-old Swiss has been named the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year for a second time in recognition of his foundation’s support of children in Africa and Switzerland. Since 2003, Federer has won a record total of 27 ATP World Tour Awards.
2013 ATP WORLD TOUR AWARDS presented by Moët & Chandon
ATP World Tour No. 1 presented by Emirates(determined by Emirates ATP Rankings)
Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will battle for the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Ranking at this week’s Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. Both players are two-time winners of ATP World Tour No. 1 presented by Emirates, with Nadal claiming the honours in 2008 and 2010 and Djokovic in 2011-12.
ATP World Tour No. 1 Doubles Team presented by Emirates(determined by Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings)
Bob and Mike Bryan: The Americans will finish as the No. 1 duo in the Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings for a fifth successive year and record ninth time overall (2003, '05-07, '09-13). The 35-year-old twins guaranteed their year-end No. 1 ranking on 19 August, the earliest clinch by a doubles team. The Bryans won their 11th title of the season on Sunday at the BNP Paribas Masters, their fifth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy of 2013. They won the Australian Open, Roland Garros and Wimbledon – making them the first team to hold all four majors and the Olympic gold medal at the same time – and ended up just shy of completing the calendar-year Grand Slam with a loss in the US Open semi-finals.
ATP Star of Tomorrow Award presented by Emirates
(determined by Emirates ATP Rankings)
Jiri Vesely: This new category, replacing the player-voted Newcomer of the Year, is awarded to the youngest player who finished in the Top 100 of Emirates ATP Rankings (as of 28 October). Vesely, who began the season ranked outside the Top 250, broke into the Top 100 on 8 July – two days before his 20th birthday – and reached a career-high No. 78 by August. The Czech made his tour-level main draw debut as a qualifier at Roland Garros and also won three ATP Challenger Tour titles from five finals.
Most Improved Player of the Year
(voted by ATP players)
Pablo Carreno Busta: The Spaniard climbed from a year-end No. 715 Emirates ATP Ranking last season to a career-high No. 66 in 2013, beginning with an impressive effort on the Futures circuit that saw him win 35 straight matches and seven titles from eight finals. As a qualifier on the ATP World Tour, he recorded his first tour-level win in Casablanca, reached the Oeiras semi-finals and made his Grand Slam debut at Roland Garros. The 22 year old also excelled on the ATP Challenger Tour, going 4-0 in finals.
Comeback Player of the Year
(voted by ATP players)
Rafael Nadal: After being sidelined for seven months with a left knee injury, the Spaniard made his return this past February and advanced to nine straight finals to start the season – reaching 13 total from 16 tournament appearances in 2013. Among his 10 titles, Nadal claimed his eighth Roland Garros crown, his second US Open championship, and a record-tying five ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies in a single season. He also went undefeated on hard courts (26-0) through the Beijing final, when he finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic. Despite the loss, Nadal – who began the season at No. 4 in the Emirates ATP Rankings – overtook the Serbian at the top on 7 October.
Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award
(voted by ATP players)
Roger Federer: Fellow players voted the Swiss as the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the ninth time and third year in a row. He also won the award six straight years from 2004-09. Juan Martin del Potro, David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal were also nominated in this category.
Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year
(awarded by ATP)
Roger Federer: The 32 year old becomes just the third person to be named the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian of the Year for a second time, joining Andre Agassi and Aisam-ul-Haq Qureshi. Federer, who previously received the award in 2006, supports children in Zambia, Zimbabwe, Botswana, Malawi, South Africa and Ethiopia and his native Switzerland through the Roger Federer Foundation, established in 2003. This past February, Federer visited the Hlukani and Govhu crèches in the Limpopo Province of South Africa, which have been supported by Foundation partner READ Educational Trust since 2010. Fans' presented by Moët & Chandon (Singles)
(voted by fans)
Roger Federer: The Swiss has been voted Fans’ Favourite presented by Moët & Chandon for a record 11th straight year, receiving 56 per cent of all votes cast. Rafael Nadal finished second, followed by Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Roger Federer loses to Djokovic in the semis at Paris Masters

PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic won his 16th straight match by rallying past Roger Federer 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday in the semifinals of the Paris Masters.
Djokovic next plays top-seeded Rafael Nadal or defending champion David Ferrer.
This was the 30th meeting between Djokovic and Federer but the first this year.
Djokovic struggled with his serve early in the match, making two straight double-faults to hand Federer a break point. Federer then used a backhand volley to convert for a 2-1 lead.
The 17-time Grand Slam champion saved four break points at 5-4 and took the first set when Djokovic hit a backhand return long.
Federer, who won the Paris Masters two years ago, then capitalized on an unforced error from Djokovic to break the Serb in the opening game of the second set.
But Djokovic immediately broke back before taking a 4-2 lead when Federer netted a routine forehand volley.
The second-seeded Serb had 11 winners in the second set, compared to five for Federer. He leveled the match when Federer sent a backhand return into the net.
The Australian Open champion broke Federer twice in the final set and clinched the victory with a forehand winner.
Djokovic still has a slim chance to finish the season ahead of No. 1 Nadal in the rankings.
Federer still leads 16-14 against Djokovic.
The two could meet again soon.
Djokovic, the defending champion, and last year's runner-up Federer have been placed in the same group at next week's ATP finals in London.
Djokovic also won the title in 2008, while Federer has won it a record six times.
The pair will be playing in a tough Group B that also includes in-form Juan Martin del Potro and Richard Gasquet.
Top-ranked Rafael Nadal was placed in Group A in Saturday's draw, alongside fellow Spaniard David Ferrer, Tomas Berdych and Stanislas Wawrinka.
The season-ending tournament has a round robin format, with the eight best players of the season divided into two groups of four. The top two finishers in each group reach the semifinals.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Roger Federer avenges Del Potro loss in Basel with win at Paris Masters for semi-final spot

Best buds ♥

Fifth seed and 2011 champion Roger Federer will face second seed and 2009 titlist Novak Djokovic in a blockbuster semi-final on Saturday at the BNP Paribas Masters in Paris.
Federer will attempt to improve his 16-13 FedEx ATP Head2Head lead against Djokovic, after he recorded a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 victory over fourth seed Juan Martin del Potro in one hour and 44 minutes on Friday evening.
"I think we always play well against each other," said Federer of Djokovic. "When we play, it's very athletic. We will both try to be aggressive and take the initiative. So tomorrow, given the surface and the conditions here, it's also going to be the case. It's interesting. I always liked this rivalry with Novak.

"I prefer playing him now than four months ago. I'm more confident now and I believe again in my chances. But if I had played a few weeks ago or a few months ago, I might have thought that I was not sure. I believe I can win more now. I will try my best against him because he's again having a very good year."
Federer, 32, beat a player ranked in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings for just the second time this year and advanced to his seventh tour-level semi-final of the season, which includes one ATP World Tour title at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle (d. Youzhny). 
"That's definitely good for my confidence, because those are the kind of wins I need right now," said Federer. "It was clearly a huge victory, giving myself a chance to be in the semis here, and playing Novak is clearly very exciting."
Federer lost just two of his 22 service points in the first set, as he set about to avenge Sunday’s loss to del Potro in the Swiss Indoors Basel final. He hit 17 winners and committed just four unforced errors.
In a competitive second set, Federer struck a forehand wide at 4-5, 30/30 to gift del Potro one set point opportunity. Though he saved it, another costly unforced error gave del Potro a second chance. A forehand into the net – his 12th unforced error, handed del Potro the 41-minute set.
Momentum swung in Federer’s favour in the decider. The Swiss broke del Potro to love for a 3-2 lead only to see his opponent immediately bounce back with striking a stunning crosscourt forehand pass. Federer won the third straight game against the server, then calmly took a 5-3 lead. He broke del Potro for a third time in the set to earn his 43rd match win of the season.
"I was very happy with today's match," commented Federer. "I think it was a particularly good first set and a bit of a pity I couldn't break early in the second. I think Juan Martin did well to hang around. 

"I think I did well today to start stronger this time around in the third set. It was something I couldn't quite do in Basel. I think I was just overall hitting a better ball again today and moving well and taking good decisions time and time again, so I was very happy with my level of play today."
Del Potro, a winner of four ATP World Tour 500 tournament titles this year, dropped to 15-2 since his US Open second round loss to Lleyton Hewitt. He will next compete at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, which begins at The O2 in London on Monday, alongside Rafael NadalNovak DjokovicDavid FerrerTomas Berdych, Federer, Stanislas Wawrinka and Richard Gasquet.