Thursday, December 11, 2014

Roger Federer, Pete Sampras talk to NDTV in India

NEW DELHI: In an exclusive interview to, two of the world's greatest-ever tennis players, Roger Federer and Pete Sampras, talk to Prannoy Roy about competition, inspiration, and ambition. Indian icon Amitabh Bachchan shares his career secrets, and questioners include tennis great Boris Becker and actress Deepika Padukone.

Here are the highlights from this all-star interview:

Roger Federer:
For me, Pete is the greatest. He is my hero. Stefan Edbergh, Boris and Pete. He was my inspiration. Without Pete, I wouldn't have tried to chase his record. For me, he is the greatest ever

Pete Sampras:
If you look at the numbers, Roger has been so dominant over the years, it's hard to compare anyone to Roger. We're both very nice and very humble!

Pete Sampras:
I saw him (Mr Bachchan) at court today and he was making quite a showing

Roger Federer:
You have to react against Pete, because he would serve very well -almost unbreakable. You have to not make any mistakes when it counts the most.

Pete Sampras
: Roger was a very tough match for me. He moved great. When I played him, I knew he was special. I would do my best to impose my will...but he does everything great. There's not many holes in his game. He moves great, he serves well. He's the most dominant player I think I've ever seen. I was certainly the player of my time, but I wasn't as dominant as Roger I stopped at 31...he's 33...he almost became No 1 again. The hardest thing to do in sports is to get to No. 1 and stay at No. 1 and he has done it better than anybody else.

Pete Sampras:
I was emotionally done, I was finished emotionally. I was cooked (on retiring).

Amitabh Bachchan: there are not many people who would leave their profession for emotional reasons.

Roger Federer
: His (Sampras) end -it would be the dream for any player- to end on top (winning the US Open)

Roger Federer: At 16, I won Junior Wimbledon.

Pete Sampras: Honestly, I wasn't that good young. I was good, but I wasn't great. I didn't win many junior tournaments. I got better as I got older- 16,17,18 I really started to figure it out. I went to school, practiced every day, was very focused. It has to be your life.

Roger Federer (on advice to young players): In tennis, it's very imp that you get supports from your parents and get decent coaching and you have to love what you do, parents have to let go eventually and trust the coach. You have to train hard and believe that you can be a champion one day. Dream big, but also be realistic.

Pete Sampras (on advice to young players): It's more about improving than winning., developing your game. Parents put so much pressure on kids to win, win, win It's not about winning, it's about learning...learning how to lose...getting good techniques...getting good coaching. You need good parents.

Amitabh Bachchan: The generation of today has many more opportunities. In our time, it was very tough to get into the movies. Once you get in, you have to prove you have talent -that you can act. There has to be some kind of internal strength that motivates you to keep going on. And a lot of luck.

Roger Federer: When I fist-pump, it's not to the other guy. It's for me, my team, the fans It shows you are happy and you are willing and wanting to fight and to win. I do it for myself.

Pete Sampras: I was never fazed. McEnroe was always trying to pull some sort of shenanigans. He would towel off, slow down the game. I like him, he is a friend of mine. But we all know he could lose his shit! He was tricky to play. He looked mean. I was intimidated a little by him when I was a kid. As I got older, I knew what I was doing.

Pete Sampras: It's very tough to have friends on the tour. It's a very intimate tour. It's hard to have dinner after that match! You are playing for No 1 ranking. You respect each other, you get along, but there's always a tension, a distance. It's hard to let your guard down.

Roger Federer: It may be a bit easier to have best friends that are not your super-rival. Those are the ones you respect a lot because they get the best out of you. The entourages have gotten big, everyone lives their own life. It is cool seeing each other. You may be closer to the guys ranked lower, because those may be the ones you practice with.

Amitabh Bachchan (on competition with colleagues): unlike them, our ratings come from the audience. When you do well, you rise up in status...that determines whether your rival or colleague is on the same plane. As you grow older, you have a very healthy relationship because you are not in the same reckoning as the younger generation.

Deepika Padukone
(question to Federer): How do you manage to stay fit throughout the year given that you have very little downtime?

Roger Federer
: That's why I can only be here for a few days. I have to stay healthy, fit. If I play too many matches, muscle memory goes away a little. The good thing is I can decide myself how much I want to play. This year I played a lot, next year, will slow down a little and spend more time at the gym.

Boris Becker (question): How would you rate history of tennis- the like of Lever in 60s and Bjorg in it fair to compare generations?

Pete Sampras: It's very tough to compare decades. You look at Lever who won 12 majors...he had six years where he didn't play a he could have won over 20 majors if he was able to play. But I believe each decade has its guy. To say which generation is the best, I'd probably have to say this generation or my generation. It's hard to say. Technology has changed, there are more players playing today. Roger's generation is probably the deepest. This generation is special, we have to sit back and appreciate Roger and everything he's done.

Boris Becker: It's very difficult to compare generations but you have to give credit where credit is due. Winning 17 majors- it doesn't happen overnight. I think everyone in this room agrees that the greatest of all time is sitting up there (on the stage) next to the second-greatest.

Roger Federer: India is absolutely fascinating story...colorful, vibrant. In one word- friendly. I feel very welcome. Namaste. Thank you.

Pete Sampras: India is a country with a lot of history. The people are very friendly. A lot of selfies! I have done more selfies in the last two days here than I have in 10 years! Happy to be here. 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Agnieszka Radwanska hires Martina Navratilova as coach

KRAKOW, Poland - There's been a trend in tennis lately, particularly on the men's side, for top players to hire "supercoaches" - former top players, usually legendary players - to help push them to the next level. In many cases it's worked, for example Andy Murray's breakthroughs with Ivan Lendl.

On Monday night, the supercoach trend made its way to the women's side through a single tweet:

So happy to announce @Martina as the newest member of my coaching team!

Last week, Agnieszka Radwanska told the Polish press she would be hiring a supercoach - she didn't name names, but she did say they were a former Grand Slam winner with coaching experience.

It would hard to top Martina Navratilova as a supercoach. Navratilova won 59 Grand Slam titles - 18 in singles, 31 in doubles and 10 in mixed doubles. She also reached World No.1 in both disciplines, spending 332 weeks as World No.1 in singles and a record 237 weeks as World No.1 in doubles.

This is Navratilova's first major coaching role and she will join forces with Tomasz Wiktorowski to become part of Radwanska's coaching team. They will begin working together after Christmas.

"I did not sleep very well last night, thinking about getting back into match mode and the competitions," Navratilova said of the new partnership with Radwanska. "I am really excited about this opportunity to join Agnieszka's team and work with Tomasz and it is going to be a fun challenge. I was delighted when Agnieszka asked me if I would collaborate with Tomasz and I can't wait to get started."

"I am absolutely delighted that Martina has agreed to help me and my team next season," Radwanska said. "She is my idol in tennis and I am honored we will be working together. Her achievements speak for themselves and I hope that I can learn from all her experience. My goal is to win a Grand Slam, so to have someone with Martina's accomplishments in my corner is going to be hugely advantageous and give me a big boost. We are originally from a similar part of the world so we share an understanding about tennis and life, which I'm sure will translate into a successful relationship."

Radwanska's current coach, Wiktorowski, echoed the excitement. "I have been discussing this idea with Aga for a couple of months now and Martina is absolutely the perfect person to add to the camp. We can all learn a lot from her and we are hopeful that she can help us take that next step."

Am very excited to be working with @ARadwanska and her team:), should be a fun ride!!!

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Sabine Lisicki raise over 1 million for Mylan WTT Smash Hits Tennis

Credit Getty Images & Martin Hingis Official Facebook

LONDON, England - WTA stars Martina Hingis, Kim Clijsters, Sabine Lisicki, Heather Watson and, of course, WTA legend and founder Billie Jean King, were all a part of a magical night at Royal Albert Hall on Sunday night, helping Mylan WTT Smash Hits raise more than $1 million for the Elton John AIDS Foundation - just the second time in the event's history that they crossed the $1 million mark.

It was the 22nd edition of Mylan WTT Smash Hits and Team Elton went in with an 11-10 head-to-head lead. But Team Billie Jean came out with the victory this time, evening that head-to-head up, 11-11.

The night featured five matches, starting with Hingis and Watson beating Clijsters and Lisicki in women's doubles, 5-4, followed by Tim Henman and Jamie Murray beating John McEnroe and Andy Roddick in men's doubles, 5-0. Lisicki then beat Watson in women's singles, 5-3, followed by Hingis and McEnroe beating Clijsters and Murray in mixed doubles, 5-3. The on-court action wrapped up with a 5-3 victory for Henman over Roddick in men's singles. Team Billie Jean beat Team Elton, 22-16.

But the big picture was the more than $1 million raised, which brings the 22-year event total to over $13 million to support HIV and AIDS prevention and awareness. The live auction before the on-court action brought in over $247,000 of that amount, the top-selling items being US Open ticket packages, a Wimbledon package featuring a visit with McEnroe, and an autographed Elton John piano bench.

"This is a wonderful evening," Elton John said to the capacity crowd. "Without Mylan, we couldn't possibly do this. They've made drugs for HIV positive people and we're an HIV positive AIDS foundation, so the two of us fit hand and glove very well and it's a wonderful relationship. It would be wrong of me not to acknowledge the extent of the generosity Mylan has given us, which is immense."

Click here to see more pictures from Sunday night's event, and check out the below videos for a glimpse into just what makes Billie Jean King and Elton John such a perfect mixed doubles team...

Monday, December 08, 2014

Roger Federer having fun with International Premier Tennis League in India

Modern-day maestros of the men’s game and wondrous talents of the women’s join forces with legends of yesteryear in the glitzy International Premier Tennis League, live on Sky Sports.

The showbiz event, comparable to cricket’s IPL, takes place between four teams in four Asian cities and showcases the world’s greatest tennis players of not one, but two, generations in a never-before-seen format.

The IPTL kicks off on Sky Sports on Friday with every game shown live, presenting tennis in a exciting new way – but who is competing? And what are the rules?

The Teams

Indian Aces

Based in the largest indoor stadium in India holding 15,000 fans, the Delhi outfit are headlined by the presence of the mercurial Roger Federer. If you thought his recent Davis Cup win was the missing piece in the jigsaw of his trophy cabinet, think again! Federer is joined by fellow record-breaker and trophy hoarder Pete Sampras in a combination only previously possible in tennis folklore.

The Aces also boast world number 18 Gael Monfils and world number five Ana Ivanovic. Indian pair Rohan Bopanna and Sania Mirza sign up and Fabrice Santoro comes out of retirement as player-coach.

Manila Mavericks

Andy Murray is tasked with providing another ‘Thrilla’ in the Filipino city aiming to repeat their one historical sports event – it will be the first chance to see him under his currently unnamed back-room staff. Murray is joined by fellow Grand Slam contenders Maria Sharapova and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga while former world number one Carlos Moya returns from retirement.

The Mavericks are completed by Kirsten Flipkens and doubles supremo Daniel Nestor and Philippines representative Treat Huey, who will be player-coach.

Singapore Slammers

American heavyweight pair Serena Williams and Andre Agassi are the main attractions for the Slammers who will compete at the regular WTA Finals stadium in Singapore. If the prospect of legendary duo Williams and Agassi wasn’t star-studded enough, they are joined by Australian great Pat Rafter.

Fellow Aussies – ex-world number one Lleyton Hewitt and teenage sensation Nick Krygios – join the Slammers, as does Tomas Berdych, Daniela Hantuchova and Bruno Soares.

UAE Royals

Novak Djokovic can continue his dominant 2014 with the Dubai-based Royals. But he won’t be short of help – Goran Ivanisevic comes out of retirement, and Caroline Wozniacki is a top-class inclusion.

US Open winner Marin Cilic joins the team, as does doubles expert Nenad Zimonjic, up-and-comer Kristina Mladenovic and Malek Jaziri.
The Format

The four teams will visit each other (although individuals might not compete in every match, for example Murray only plans to play in Manila). Matches will be five sets – one set each in men's singles, women's singles, men's doubles, mixed doubles and men's legends singles. But the winners are the team that won the most games within five sets – not the team who won the most sets.

The winning team receives four league points, the losing team receives two league points if they win 20 games, one point if they win 10-19 games and no points for less than 19 games. The winning team pockets US$1 million.

Anthing else?

Rather than a tie-break when the score is 5-5 a special four-minute game will decide the set winner.

A shot clock will ensure a maximum of 20 seconds between each point and a maximum of three minutes between each set. Organisers want every match finished within three hours.

There is no advantage – next point wins if it’s deuce.

A ‘Power Point’ is available once to each team in each set and can be claimed only when receiving – it means the following point is worth double. For example, if called in at 30-30, the ‘Power Point’ team win the game by winning the next point.

The ‘Super Shoot-Out’ will create drama. If a team wins the fifth set but is behind on total games, they can continue the match but must draw level in games before the other side wins a single game. This forces a ‘Super Shoot-Out’ which is a seven-minute game to crown the eventual winner.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Martina Hingis to play mixed doubles at Australian Open

After already retiring twice from tennis, Martina Hingis remains a strong player in her chosen sport. The 34-year-old professional player from Switzerland was tagged by Leander Paes to play for a mixed event at the upcoming Australia Open.

In a statement that Paes released during the Premier Tennis League (PTL) media interaction in June, the 14-time Grand Slam champion said that he wanted his partner to exhibit both his strengths and weaknesses to make for a compelling game. For his next men’s doubles game, Paes chose South African Raven Klaasen to compete with him, making Klaasen the 99th person to compete side by side with the Indian ace.

Meanwhile, Paes can only hope that Hingis will aid him in receiving yet another Grand Slam title. Paes was reportedly having a hard time this year after only receiving one title, no Masters Series final, and no Grand Slam final. “Tennis still remains a priority. I’m an eternal optimist,” he said in an interview with NDTV sports. “I feel very motivated as I look ahead. I will be strong.”

Hingis could be Paes’ ticket to winning the Australian Open. The nine-time Grand Slam women’s title holder made a bold comeback July of last year when she came out of retirement to play with Daniela Hantuhchová. Although the Czech tennis star retired from playing singles, she has found great success in playing doubles with fellow women. Sabine Lisicki and Flavia Pennetta were just some of the professional players who recently tagged Hingis as their partner for doubles.

When she was only 17, Hingis won the Wimbledon league making her the youngest champion ever. During her downtime from tennis, Hingis coached young hopefuls and shaped them into great players. Lisicki was one of Hingis’ students and they showed the power of their tandem when they won the Sony Open in Miami earlier this year.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Roger Federer's new villa in the Swiss Alps fit for a G.O.A.T.

Roger Federer is arguably the greatest tennis player of all time, having won 17 Grand Slam singles titles and a tour-leading 68 wins this season at the age of 33.

Success on the tennis court also means that Federer earns more than £19m annually from endorsements alone. He holds the record for most career prize money earnt at £44 million.

And it's those lucrative sponsorship deals with the likes of Nike, Gillette, National Suisse, Rolex, Lindt, Mercedes Benz, Wilson and Moet-Chandon which have enabled him to build a new £6.5m house in his native Switzerland.

After construction delays, the Federer family are now about to finally move into their new villa in the Swiss Alps, reports Swiss newspaper Schweiz am Sonntag.

The villa is 500 square metres, has three floors, a swimming pool, a glass dome around the dining room and views of lake Zurich.

Swiss media reports claim that the villa will be split into two separate luxury chalets, one for Roger, his wife Mirka and their two sets of twins, and the other for his parents Robert and Lynette.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Martina Hingis says horse riding and chocolate is her secret to success

DESPITE dominating the world of women’s tennis in her teens, Martina Hingis surprised even herself by how successful her return as a doubles player has been

“I wasn’t prepared for it at all and was a bit scared of how it would turn out,” laughs Martina, who won Wimbledon aged 17. She had already retired twice though had come back in recent years in various singles and doubles tournaments.

Then German player Sabine Lisicki, whom she was coaching, asked her to team up to play doubles.

“We went on to win the Sony Open in Miami this year and it was a big relief to win because I felt I’d proved myself all over again. I could still win the big tournaments and who doesn’t like winning?”

She says her secret was maintaining the fitness she’d built up from childhood and having a healthy lifestyle which meant she could pick up maybe not quite where she left off but still considerably higher up the ladder than many of her competitors.

Tennis had always been her destiny. Her parents Melanie Molitorová and Karol Hingis were top players in the former Czechoslovakia and she was named after the other famous Martina (Navratilova). She entered her first tournament at four and in 1993 when she was 12 became the youngest player to win a Grand Slam junior title.

Martina went on to win five Grand Slam titles before she was 19 and is still the youngest champion at Wimbledon at 17.

“I’d always been incredibly active and I’d always played sport,” says Martina, who is based near Zurich, Switzerland.

“It’s all I’ve known all my life so I wasn’t out of shape and I didn’t have to start training from scratch.

In the intervening years I’ve been coaching tennis players but I’ve also done a lot of skiing and riding my horses. I like being active. If I spend too much time in one place I get itchy feet.”

Sporting injuries are often the price that professionals have to pay for their success and it was problems with her ankle that eventually forced Martina, who emigrated to Switzerland when she was seven with her mother, to retire for the first time at the age of 22.

She returned to tennis in 2005 before retiring a second time in 2007. EVERYTHING in moderation is her mantra when it comes to diet.

“I have a healthy lifestyle. My body is my most important tool and my number one priority so I take care of it. I eat as healthily as possible but I do like to have a little bit of everything and being Swiss I love my chocolate," she said.

"I eat fish, meat, pasta, vegetables and salads. “I love Japanese food, a good curry or a steak. I try to have red meat once or twice a week. I also like chocolate fudge cake with a good vanilla ice cream.”

Since entering her 30s Martina has adapted her diet and while she still enjoys bread and pasta, she reveals: “I now have a rule of not eating carbohydrates after 2pm. I’ve never needed to diet because I’m so active. “I weigh myself. If I’m a little bit more than 58kgs (around 9st) I just cut back on desserts for a day or two and go for a half-hour run.

That usually helps me to burn off a pound or two. I’m 5ft 7in tall so I can afford to eat. I think about my health a lot more now. I want to look good when I look in the mirror. “I didn’t give it any thought at all when I was 17 and when I look back at the photos of when I won Wimbledon I laugh at my baby fat.”

As well as daily chocolate Martina enjoys a glass of wine or champagne now and then. However she confesses that she drinks only water when she is training and sparkling water with dinner. “I have such a sweet tooth,” she admits. “I love iced tea and sweet drinks.”

When feeling tired or stressed Martina escapes to the stables for a couple of hours. “Being around my horses, especially my favourite Ragana, calms me down.

“They give me a feeling of balance. I love getting out into the countryside on a horse and being at one with nature. That’s what calms me down.

“My other trick when I’m stressed is to go for a fast walk or slow jog on the beach or in the forest. That’s often when I get my best ideas.” When she’s competing Martina enjoys massages and physiotherapy.

“I also look after my legs and feet.

I’ve discovered Nelsons Arnicare products. Arnica cooling gel is lovely after a workout. My feet get such a pounding and the gel makes them feel good. “When I travel I love a hotel with a spa. Sauna, steam and Jacuzzi are my favourite things. I find them so relaxing and I sleep so well afterwards.”

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Despite rumors Roger Federer & Stan Wawrinka are still BFF's

A week after Mirkagate struck fear into the hearts of Swiss tennis fans, it has now been confirmed that Roger Federer has nothing but love for Stan Wawrinka and Stan Wawrinka has nothing but love for Roger Federer. 

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Roger Federer to play Lleyton Hewitt in Australian exhibition next year with new format

Roger Federer will help launch an Australian-developed fast format of tennis when he plays an exhibition match against Lleyton Hewitt in Sydney in January.

The format features four rule variations from the traditional game, with no advantage scoring, no lets, a tiebreaker at three games-all, and the winner of a set being the first to reach four games.

"The new format is a game changer and is set to revolutionise the game of tennis, particularly at club and social levels," Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley said.

"Time today is precious and this new fast format is perfect for any player who wants to fit their tennis matches into a busy lifestyle."

The exhibition, which will help launch the format around clubs in Australia, will follow Federer's warmup for the Australian Open at the Brisbane International earlier in January.

"I can't wait to come to the beautiful city of Sydney for this very special match against my old friend and rival, Lleyton Hewitt," Federer said in a statement on Tennis Australia's website ( about the Jan. 12 exhibition.

"We've had some amazing battles over the years and I think we still bring out the best in each other every time we play."

Great friends off the court, Federer and Hewitt have one of the most enduring rivalries in tennis. The pair, both aged 33, have faced each other 27 times since 1999, with Federer winning 18 of them.

Their last four matches have been split, with Hewitt winning their most recent encounter at the Brisbane International final in January.

"Playing Roger in this new format will be an exciting challenge for both of us and a lot of fun," said Hewitt.

"It's a fantastic innovation for tennis, and one that I hope will take off."

Another new format makes its debut this week in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), a team event with one-set matches, a shot-clock and a timed shoot-out at 5-5.

Federer, Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams are among the big names playing the made-for-TV competition, which starts in Manila and will also visit Singapore, New Delhi and Dubai.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Martina Hingis still regrets not winning the French Open

Martina Hingis has conquered tennis courts the world over but missing out on clay at the French Open still rankles. “I have played tennis for a very long time to have some regrets and some really special moments.

But the one that’s right up there is not winning the French Open,” the five-time Grand Slam women’s singles champion told this newspaper in an exclusive interview.

“In the final of 1999 when I played Steffi Graf, I thought I had a fair chance to win the title. There were some decisions that should have been in my favour. Back then there were no referral system and the match referee was a little sluggish. The replays showed the ball was in and so did the ball mark (referring to the third game of the second set when Graf went 30-0 up). I should have won that final,” Hingis recalled.

Asked if Rafael Nadal nine-time French Open men’s singles winner would have helped her with some of his expertise, she candidly said, “what Nadal does is something really unbelievable. He plays with such power and is blessed with a strong physique. I am more of a Roger Federer kind of a player. It’s more of class and elegance than power. I don’t have a physique that would have helped me play his style of tennis.”

A lesser-known fact about the Swiss star is that she was born in Czechoslovakia and she had to move to Switzerland after her parents had separated. It was difficult for her to adapt to a new country at age seven. “When we moved, it was difficult as a kid. Had to leave my friends behind, make new ones and adjust to the situation. It was not easy but I had to move on. In a way it helped me grow stronger,” she said.

Speaking about the 209 weeks she spent as the no.1 ranked women’s singles player, Hingis said: “When you are in it, you don’t have the time to look back and think if it was a dream or reality. You just have to look ahead and ask yourself what’s next. But now that I have retired (from international singles) I have the time to think about it and say, ‘wow’ that was something. I am really proud of it.”

If not winning the elusive French Open was something that Martina regrets, her three back-to-back Australian Open titles in 1997, 1998 and 1999 are something she cherishes.

“The Australian Open has been my favorite hunting ground. The tournament began at the start of the year and I was always up for it.

“I have always enjoyed playing there and the surface is so similar to the one we built back home which helped in preparing for the event,” she said.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Roger Federer & Stan Wawrinka win Davis Cup for Switzerland!

Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, France (Indoor, Clay)

Roger Federer added to his legacy Sunday by helping Switzerland clinch its first Davis Cup trophy, one of the few tennis jewels to have eluded him, against nine-time former champion France.

The World No. 2 was in sparkling form against Richard Gasquet, casting aside any fears about his back injury, in a 6-4, 6-2, 6-2 victory in the first reverse singles rubber of the final at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille. Switzerland is the 14th nation to capture the Davis Cup crown.

France’s captain Arnaud Clement opted for Gasquet over his original selection,Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, but Federer proved to be too strong a force and recorded his 73rd singles match win in 85 matches this season, which included five individual titles from 11 finals. The 33-year-old Swiss ends his 2014 campaign as the oldest year-end No. 2 in Emirates ATP Rankings history (since 1973).

Federer lost to Gael Monfils on Friday, but teamed up with Stan Wawrinka in Saturday’s doubles to give Switzerland a 2-1 advantage. World No. 4 Wawrinka, who beat Tsonga in the first rubber of the final, had been due to meet Monfils in the fifth rubber.

Federer was noticeably nervous in the early exchanges against Gasquet, who put into place a game plan of targeting the Swiss' backhand and striking approach shots to Federer's forehand. Federer quickly picked up on this, stepping into the court to gain a foothold in baseline rallies. He broke Gasquet to advantage for a 2-1 lead, with a forehand winner down the line, and then fought back from a 0/30 deficit to settle his nerves.

With better movement, Federer's confidence grew. Gasquet saved one break point at 2-4, 30/40 with two exquisite backhand volleys to hang in the opener. Federer kept the pressure on Gasquet, who saved three sets points at 3-5, 15/40 and Ad Out. In contrast, Federer won three love service games in a row. He won 21 of his 25 service points in the 45-minute first set.

Federer raised his level of play in the second set, despite Gasquet's attempts to bring the French crowd into the rubber. Federer broke serve twice, in the first and seventh games.

Gasquet kept fighting in the third set, but Federer was relentless in finding holes in the Frenchman's game. Federer came into the net on every short ball as Gasquet played three metres behind the baseline. In breaking Gasquet for a 3-2 lead, Swiss spectators started celebrating Federer's performance and the role of Wawrinka in bringing the nation its biggest trophy. Federer completed the one-hour and 52-minute victory with a backhand drop shot winner.

Federer first competed for Switzerland in the international men's team competition in 1999. Prior to this year, he had helped the nation reach the 2003 semi-finals (l. to Australia). He has a 38-12 singles record for Switzerland (51-16 overall).

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Federer & Wawrinka give Switzerland advantage over France in Davis Cup final

Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, France (Indoor, Clay)

Switzerland is on the brink of capturing the Davis Cup trophy for the first time after Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka combined to give the 1992 runner-up a 2-1 lead against nine-time former champion France.

Federer and Wawrinka broke a four-match losing streak as a doubles team in Davis Cup rubbers by beating France's Julien Benneteau and Richard Gasquet 6-3, 7-5, 6-4 on Saturday. It was Federer and Wawrinka's first doubles team win on a clay court.

"I am really happy with the way we were playing today," said Wawrinka. "We were really aggressive, we knew what we had to do. I think we did a good job."

Federer and Wawrinka, who clinched the 2008 Beijing Olympics doubles gold medal, hit 67 winners, including seven aces, and won 40 of their 53 points at the net for victory in two hours and 12 minutes at the Stade Pierre Mauroy in Lille.

World No. 2 Federer will look to give Switzerland an unassailable 3-1 lead on Sunday when he meets Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the first reverse singles rubber. Should Federer lose, Wawrinka is scheduled to face Gael Monfils in the fifth rubber.

Wawrinka, buoyed with the confidence of beating Tsonga on Friday, stepped into the court to fire two winners to help break Benneteau’s serve for a 4-2 lead in the first set. Almost unplayable on serve, Wawrinka set up Federer for routine putaways at the net. The Swiss pair lost just five of their service points against Benneteau and Gasquet, who won the 2012 London Olympics bronze medal, in the 28-minute first set. They hit 17 winners.

Benneteau, who normally plays in the deuce court with his regular partner Edouard Roger-Vasselin, and Gasquet failed to convert any of their five point opportunities in the second set. Gasquet faltered on his serve at 5-5, leaving Benneteau open to a barrage of powerful groundstrokes. Federer hit a break-clinching backhand return at 15/40, as Benneteau crossed anticipating a poach. Federer closed out to 15, as the Swiss proved to be tactically adept when the set got tight.

One break of serve, in the fifth game of the third set, proved to be enough for Federer and Wawrinka, who sealed victory with an angled volley winner. First-time pairing Benneteau and Gasquet won only 19 of their 87 service return points.

Switzerland's captain Severin Luthi had originally selected Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer for the doubles rubber.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Roger Federer loses to Monfils in Davis Cup final

Stade Pierre Mauroy, Lille, France (Indoor, Clay)

Gael Monfils held his nerve on Friday to record one of the biggest wins of his career and get nine-time former champion France back on level terms at 1-1 against Switzerland in the Davis Cup final.

Monfils was at his aggressive best to beat World No. 2 Roger Federer of Switzerland for the first time in 14 months, 6-1, 6-4, 6-3, in the second singles rubber of the tie.

Earlier in the day, Stan Wawrinka beat France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 6-2 to give Switzerland a 1-0 lead.

"That definitely [is] one of the top three matches in my life," Monfils said. "To be honest, I was very nervous in the beginning. For sure when Jo lost, it's extra pressure because we need to get back on the road to win the title.

"Then, I think I like that atmosphere, the big court. The crowd was very good. They helped me a lot, gave me a lot of energy. At the end [it] helped me a lot because I went for my shots, which made me serve big [and hit] big forehands."

There was to be no repeat of September’s US Open quarter-final, when Federer bounced back from losing the first two sets to defeat Monfils 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2.

Federer, who had won 18 of his past 19 matches since the US Open, was largely powerless against Monfils, who hit 44 winners, including 10 aces for his 36th match win of the season. The pair’s 11th meeting lasted one hour and 46 minutes and it was Monfils’ first victory over Federer since the 2013 Shanghai Rolex Masters.

France's captain Arnaud Clement has selected Julien Benneateau and Richard Gasquet for Saturday's doubles rubber against Swiss Marco Chiudinelli and Michael Lammer. But Clement and Switzerland's captain Severin Luthi could ring the changes for what would be the pivotol match.

"I'll definitely make myself available if I feel that I can play proper tennis," said Federer. "I started to feel better as the match went on. That's very encouraging, I must say. I would think that I'm going to get better as the weekend goes on. I hope I’ll be fine tonight and tomorrow morning to give maximum possibilities for Severin and back up Stan and the rest of the team."

The 28-year-old Monfils was rock solid on serve – winning 17 of his 17 first service points in the first set, 16 of his 16 second service points in the second set and 11 of his 12 first service points in the third set. The Frenchman denied Federer two break points en route to recording his 10th Davis Cup match win in 12 singles rubbers.

Federer, who has an ATP World Tour-best 72-12 match record on the season including a 5-6 record in finals, committed 29 unforced errors in the end. He is now 37-8 in singles ties for Switzerland, having suffered his first singles defeat in the competition since losing to American John Isner in February 2012.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Roger Federer's wife Mirka sparks tension after hackling Wawrinka at ATP World Tour Finals

The details of the bust-up between Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Saturday night became clearer yesterday as well-placed sources attested that the two men found themselves “thrashing out their differences” in the O₂ Arena’s gym after their semi-final.

Furthermore, the common thread in the accounts of a hot-tempered match concerns the role of Federer’s wife, Mirka. Telegraph Sport understands that Mirka’s intense and even provocative support for her husband – which peaked just before Wawrinka served for the match at 5-4 in the third set – caused Wawrinka to complain about her behaviour.

In those late stages, Mirka is understood to have challenged Wawrinka directly, accusing him of whingeing. Wawrinka failed to convert four match points – three of them in that critical service game at 5-4 – before Federer finally came through 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 .

When he came into the interview room Wawrinka was asked: “At some point late in the third you seemed upset with someone speaking before points. Can you explain what happened?” His response was cryptic: “Not much. Nothing special. Tense match. It’s never easy.”

Information has now come to light about the aftermath of the match, when Federer and Wawrinka were encouraged by senior tennis figures to put the issue to bed at once. The two men conducted a heated 10‑minute debate in the O₂ Arena’s gym, in which Federer was understood to be the more assertive party.

The tension was not fully resolved but they have agreed to concentrate on their shared goal of defeating France in the Davis Cup final, which starts in Lille on Friday. Some even believe that Wawrinka may be inspired by his lingering frustration.

“The Swiss guys might have a little more steam when they are playing doubles, a little more fire,” one well-known former player said.

At the same time, though, the Swiss captain, Severin Lüthi, must be wondering what has hit him after a potentially crippling weekend for team unity. There is also a question over whether the fallout contributed to Federer’s back trouble, which he says developed in the third set tiebreak and eventually led him to make a dramatic and unprecedented withdrawal from the final on Sunday at the 11th hour. At the very least, the gym summit held him up from attending to the injury with physiotherapy at the earliest opportunity.

John McEnroe, commentating on ESPN , alluded to the issue when he said: “There was a long talk between the players that extended late into the night. And the stress of that, I can’t confirm all of this, but a lot of this went on and that caused  . . .  I don’t think that helped the situation.”

This is not the first time that excessive support – or even coaching – from the players’ boxes has caused ill-feeling. Federer told Novak Djokovic’s parents to “be quiet” during a match in Monte Carlo in 2008, and also complained about Rafael Nadal’s uncle, Toni, making coaching signals at Wimbledon in 2010.

It is the first time, however, that the issue has cropped up in Federer’s camp. Mirka is often described as the power behind the throne, yet she has never previously become involved in the on-court narrative in this way.

Wawrinka and Federer have long had a genuinely close relationship, though it must be said that Wawrinka was never a threat to Federer’s primacy in Switzerland until this year.

Both men are due to speak today in Lille, ahead of what looks like being a fascinating weekend. They travelled separately yesterday, Wawrinka on Eurostar and Federer by air.

Although Federer’s back trouble has caused concerns that he might pull out of the final, it was noticeable how he played it down in his on-court apology on Sunday, saying that he was not “match-fit”. He opted not to face the wider media, speaking only in a carefully controlled environment to the ATP’s own camera crew. There, he referred to a “back spasm, whatever it might be”, and added: “It’s just not a fun thing to have during the day, but I’m positive and I’m hopeful that it’s going to go away very soon.”

Knowing the importance that Federer attaches to the Davis Cup – the one big title he lacks – he will take every step necessary to put himself in the best shape for the matches on Friday in front of 27,000 in Lille’s Stade Pierre Mauroy. It will be the biggest crowd he has played to, and potentially the most partisan. It could be one of the greatest occasions of a legendary career.

I honestly don't know what to think of this or who to believe.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Roger Federer looking forward to 2015 despite injury

World No. 2 Roger Federer remained positive about his resurgence this year, despite not being fit enough to compete against Novak Djokovic on Sunday in the title match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

“I'm definitely looking forward to 2015,” said Federer. “It's been a great year for me this year. I played some wonderful tennis, very consistent [and] very physical as well.

“I was able to play very aggressive tennis, which was actually a lot of fun to do. It was not just an idea I had. It was something I tried to pull through with, and I was able to do that on faster and slower courts. I feel like it's going to give me extra opportunities next year again.”

His decision to pull out ahead of the title match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, represented only the third time he had given an opponent a walkover (each time he withdrew due to a back injury.) He has played 1,221 singles matches (995-226) during his career.

“I was feeling great until yesterday's [third set] tie-break [versus Stan Wawrinka]. I felt all of a sudden the back was feeling funny. I tried to have treatment on it, medication on it, just tried to turn around as quick as possible really. But [I] didn't really feel that much of an improvement overnight. Probably, in a few days, it's going to be better, but right now it's not good enough.”

Federer, who joined forces with Stefan Edberg 12 months ago, has a 72-11 match record on the season, including five titles from 10 finals. The Swiss superstar congratulated Djokovic on clinching the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the third time and also for a fine week at The O2 in London.

“I think he's played overall very consistent,” said Federer, who is a five-time former year-end No. 1. “I think he had to battle hard in the beginning of the season, not defending his Australian Open title. I think the big win for him came at Indian Wells, backing that up with Miami. That's when he was back in the race for World No. 1 and actually really attacked it. I think Wimbledon was huge, also for me.

He won those big matches really.

“I think he was most consistent overall. Being most consistent, winning the biggest titles, that's what he's done this season. He played great. He deserves to be where he is now.”

Federer will now attempt to regain full fitness in time for next week's Davis Cup final in Lille, when Switzerland attempts to capture its first trophy against France.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Martina Hingis looking forward to playing in India

Bengaluru: In her days at the top, she didn’t care much for common convention and spoke from the heart, just like the way she played on court. In an era of hard hitters, her looping top spins and slices were a treat to watch, but after many ‘youngest-ever’ triumphs and five Grand Slam singles in a career riddled by injuries, she bid adieu to the sport.

A champion of many comebacks, Martina Hingis returns to singles play again, at the Vijay Amritraj-backed Champions Tennis League when she turns out for the Hyderabad Aces. Hitting the doubles circuit again and having done reasonably well in the second half of the year, Hingis is looking forward to her second visit to India after 2006 for the Sunfeast Open that culminated in her winning the title.Currently based in Spain and looking forward to another memorable trip to India, in an interview, the 34-year-old Swiss Miss opened up on her life on court.


On playing in India

I was in Kolkata in 2006 and I won. I got the confidence to play tournaments. Now to travel to other cities and to see more of India, I’m really looking forward to that experience. Hyderabad, Bengaluru, Pune, I have never been to these cities before. I have heard so much about these cities especially about Bengaluru from Rohan (Bopanna) and Mahesh who always tell me their city is the best. I’m also very interested in historic places like the Taj Mahal.

On what appeals about India

I really like historic places. I like peaceful places and India is known for meditation and yoga.

On her doubles career

I think the second half of the year after Wimbledon was great. I mean winning in Miami (partnering Sabine Lisicki) gave me a lot of hope and to be able to win a big tournament like that again. It was a wow moment because that was what I was dreaming about. And it actually happened.

On current doubles partner Flavia Pennetta

Partnering Flavia was really cool. We played a tournament before Wimbledon, but she already had a partner at Wimbledon. I’m looking forward to the next season, with the way we finished this season, hopefully we can start on that when we begin in Brisbane.

On returning to singles

No never, it is already tough enough playing doubles, I’m already 34. I would have to train a lot harder but I don’t think my body will be able to take it. I tried in 2006-07, but it was always iffy.

On playing Venus Williams in the CTL opener 

I hope I can perform. When I saw the draw I was like, Holy cow! I have to play Venus first. I’m looking forward to it. She is such a good player, I have nothing to lose.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Roger Federer withdraws from Barclay's ATP World Tour Final with back injury :(

Roger Federer has pulled out ahead of the championship match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals due to a back injury. The six-time former season finale champion made the announcement to fans on Sunday at The O2 in London following the doubles trophy ceremony.

Novak Djokovic, his opponent in Sunday’s final at The O2 in London, will play a pro set (first to eight) against Andy Murray. The Briton will then team up with John McEnroe in a doubles exhibition match against Tim Henman and Pat Cash.

"Unfortunately, I'm not match fit to play the match tonight," said Federer on court. "Clearly I wish it wasn't so. I tried all year to be ready for the [Barclays] ATP World Tour Finals, and I didn't want it to end this way. I tried everything I could last night, also today – painkillers, treatment, rest, so forth, warm-up, until the very end – but I just can't compete at this level with Novak. It would be too risky at my age to do this right now and I hope you understand.

"I wanted to come out personally and excuse myself. It's been a great week for me. I played some great tennis and I love coming to The O2 and to London, and there's been so many great memories for me here. Congrats of course to Novak, who’s played an amazing season, and an amazing tournament here as well. I hope we can play some more great matches, hopefully next year.

"Thanks to all you guys for making it special to come out and play tennis all around the world. I know you guys travel, as well, and spend a lot of money on tickets and so forth. We really, really appreciate it – me in particular. It keeps me going, it makes me tick, especially at this age. Hopefully, I can come back next year and get another chance to compete for the title here. So thank you very much and I'll see you soon. I appreciate it."

It is only the third time in Federer’s career that he has been forced to withdraw, each time due to a back injury – also walkovers at 2008-Paris QFs vs. Blake and 2012 Doha SFs vs. Tsonga.

The last walkover in an ATP World Tour final was on 2 February 2008 in Vina del Mar, when Fernando Gonzalez won the title over Juan Monaco, who withdrew due to a left ankle injury. The last walkover in a season finale match was at the 1981 Masters in New York when Ivan Lendl got a walkover versus Jose-Luis Clerc in round robin play. This is the first walkover in a final in the tournament’s 45-year history.

Djokovic is the first player to win three straight season finale titles since Lendl from 1985-87. The only other player to win three straight year-end titles was Ilie Nastase from 1971-73.

I am sorry to announce that I cannot play the finals tonight vs. Novak. I hurt my back late in the match yesterday against Stan. I am very disappointed and I hope to be feeling better soon.

It’s been an extremely difficult decision because I love playing in London and the ATP World Tour Finals have been an absolute highlight of my career. Unfortunately, my back problem does not allow me to play right now. I hope all tennis fans and those involved in the event will understand.

via Roger Federer's Facebook

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Roger Federer survives battle of the Swiss at ATP World Tour Finals semis

Roger Federer saved four match points before winning a thrilling all-Swiss semi-final against Stan Wawrinka at the ATP World Tour Finals.

The six-time champion wrestled control from his compatriot and came through 4-6 7-5 7-6 (8-6) in London.

Second seed Federer will take on world number one Novak Djokovic in Sunday's final - live on BBC Two at 18:00 GMT.

Wawrinka and Federer will team up next week as Switzerland try to win the Davis Cup in France.

It looked as though the 17-time Grand Slam champion would be heading to Lille first when his friend and team-mate moved within one point of victory four times.

Wawrinka, 29, served for victory at 5-4 in the decider but might regret choosing to serve-volley on three match points, missing a makeable backhand volley on the second.

The Australian Open champion earned a fourth match point in the decisive tie-break but could not return a good serve, and Federer made him pay with a nerveless drop volley on his first match point.

"I got lucky," said a clearly relieved Federer. "Stan played better from the baseline and that usually does the job on this court. But I kept fighting.

"It's tough [on Stan] but I'm thrilled to be in another final in London."

Federer's deft winner brought an end to the longest, and by far the most entertaining, match of the week at two hours and 48 minutes, which kept the 17,000 spectators at the O2 Arena gripped throughout.

There was brilliant ball-striking from both men and controversy, as Federer argued with umpire Cedric Mourier after an over-rule in the third set which looked as if it had derailed his hopes.

Wawrinka began in spectacular fashion, breaking twice in the first set and holding off a resurgent Federer for 11 games in the second.

With a tie-break in sight, the pressure finally told and Federer broke to love thanks in part to a woeful Wawrinka smash that betrayed his nerves.

Federer appeared to be on the charge, only to be knocked off course by a dispute with umpire Mourier.

A Wawrinka backhand flew wide - later confirmed by Hawkeye - on the opening point of the final set, but Federer apparently did not hear Mourier over-rule his line judge.

It was only two points later, when Mourier announced the score was 0-40 and not 15-30, that Federer realised the situation and approached the chair.

There was nothing that could be done, however, and a flustered Federer hammered a forehand over the baseline to lose the game.

Wawrinka still faced a considerable task to keep hold of his advantage all the way to the finish line but got within a point four times, only to fall agonisingly short of only a third win over his illustrious compatriot in 17 attempts.

I can't remember the last time my palms sweat so much while watching a tennis match (2008 Wimbledon maybe). My god was this match the definition of roller-coaster!. So much back and forth.  
I was literally screaming at my tv. And to top it off, my tv signal went out in the crucial moment at 6-all in the tie-break thank god for twitter!. 
So many times in this match I thought it was all over for Federer but somehow with some luck (and major nerves from Wawrinka) he survived to come back one more time. 
Although he's going to have to play a hell of a lot better tomorrow against Djokovic!. I just don't know if my nerves will be able to handle it.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Roger Federer thrashes Andy Murray to reach ATP World Tour semis in London

In a week of yawn-inspiring beatdowns at the World Tour Finals, Roger Federer tossed in the piece de resistance on Thursday evening, powering past a flummoxed Andy Murray with a regal and ruthless performance, 6-0, 6-1

The 56-minute thrashing secures Federer’s place in the semifinals as Group B’s top seed, while Murray’s defeat allows Kei Nishikori in as the second qualifier.

Though surprisingly one-sided, the packed house at the 02 Arena did experience some drama as it watched Federer hang Murray out to dry so decidedly that the 33-year-old found himself two points away from a rare double-bagel victory with Murray serving at 0-6, 0-5, 15-30.

The crowd let out its biggest applause of the day when Murray’s second serve went for an ace down the T on that point, and the Scot took the next two games to more applause, saving some face in what was his one of his most dismal professional shellackings. 

Applause would heighten after Federer closed the match out in the next game, marking the Swiss maestro’s 250th career indoor win and tour-leading 71st of 2014. 

Federer improves his lifetime career record to 12-11 over Murray, and keeps alive his push for obtaining the ATP’s year-end No. 1 ranking in the process. 

He did not drop a point on first serve, and won 18 of 23 forays to the net. Murray, meanwhile, hit seven winners against 21 unforced errors, ending an up and down season on the lowest of notes.

Murray finished the season with 59 wins, but went 0-9 vs Federer, Nadal and Djokovic combined. According to stats guru Chris Skelton, it was just the second time that Murray has only won one game in 632 ATP matches (Djokovic, Miami, 2007). 

Federer has reached the semifinals at the ATP World Tour Finals in 12 of 13 career appearances at the event now. Federer is the oldest player in 35 years to reach the 70-win mark. Even if he doesn’t finish the season No. 1, Federer will become the oldest player to finish a campaign in the ATP’s top two.

For the first time ever I actually felt sorry for Andy (just a little). 

At least he managed the one game to come out of the match with a little less embarrassment (though not by much). 

Federer was on fire for all of those 56 minutes.  Pure pleasure for any Fed fan really. And to think his first serve percentage was at 40%. 

Tells you how bad of a day Andy was having. He's gonna have to play like he did today and serve at least 70% if he wants to get passed Djokovic. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

"Uncharted" movie still struggling to find the right team

The Uncharted series is one of my favorite video game franchises of all time, and I’ve been very interested in Sony’s attempts to bring the story of Nathan Drake to the big screen.

The games tell a tale that seems tailor made for the movies, but it feels that way largely because the game itself has so many blockbuster movie influences (Indiana Jones, mainly). As with any video game movie, it’s going to be a tough nut to crack because you’re jumping from a medium in which a player has active control of the character to one in which the player becomes a passive viewer.

For those who don’t know, the game charts the journey of the wise-cracking protagonist Nathan Drake, a supposed descendant of the explorer Sir Francis Drake, who is on a quest to uncover the lost treasure of El Dorado. He’s joined by journalist Elena Fisher and his mentor, Victor Sullivan, and the gang eventually discovers a long-kept secret that threatens to upend everything they hold dear.

THR reports that Oscar-winning screenwriter Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) is the latest writer to board this film, which already has a release date scheduled for June 10, 2016. The King of Kong helmer Seth Gordon is directing, but the movie still hasn’t found a leading man – word is that the studio made an offer to Chris Pratt, but he passed. 

(Which I think is a wise choice – he likely doesn’t want to get pigeonholed as the sarcastic action movie guy, and he may already be a little too close to that with his work in Guardians of the Galaxy and the upcoming Jurassic World.) 

Mark Wahlberg was once attached when David O. Russell was going to write and direct, but both of those guys eventually moved on to other things.

Boal joins a long line of writers who have taken a crack at this project, including Thomas Dean Donnelly and Joshua Oppenheimer (Doctor Strange), David Guggenheim (Safe House), and Cormac and Marianne Wibberley (National Treasure).

He’s reportedly a big fan of the game, so perhaps he’ll be the guy who can get this script in shape before filming begins. We’ll keep you posted as things progress, but in the meantime, let us know if you’re looking forward to the Unchartedmovie in the comments below. Who should play Nathan Drake?.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Roger Federer one step closer to ATP World Tour Finals semis with win over Nishikori

Roger Federer remains on course to qualify for the semi-finals at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals after he recorded his second straight Group B win on Tuesday afternoon.

The second seed and six-time champion at the season finale defeated fourth seed Kei Nishikori 6-3, 6-2 for his 70th match win of the year, which includes fifth trophies. He is also attempting to become year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the sixth time.

"I think with my game, I have the capability of really making him feel uncomfortable, mixing it up," said Federer following the match. "But it's not always possible. He's shown in the past when he gets the upper hand against any player from the baseline, he's very difficult to beat. Today for some reason he couldn't get it done. Maybe I was playing too well defence and offense, mixing up my serve good enough... It was really important to take advantage of the fact that I was feeling really good, and then maybe he was struggling a little bit today.

"There's so much still at stake for me, wanting to beat a fellow rival and wanting to win the points that are at stake, go in with a clean sheet into the semis. I'm happy after two matches I'm standing here with two wins. It's very positive."

The 33-year-old Federer will qualify for the semi-finals if Milos Raonic beats Murray in Tuesday’s evening match. The Swiss could also qualify if Murray defeats Raonic in three sets.

The Swiss hit 11 winners, including four aces, in the 35-minute first set against Nishikori, who had strapping applied to his right wrist at the changeover at 4-1. Federer saved two break points in a 14-point third game, prior to breaking Nishikori to 30. He then broke Nishikori in the third and seventh games of the second set.

Federer has never lost his second round robin match (13-0) at the season finale. If he were to qualify for his 12th semi-final, it would tie the record of Ivan Lendl. He would also be the oldest player to advance to the last four since 2003 runner-up Andre Agassi.

“He didn't give me a chance to come back,” said Nishikori. “I didn't play really bad.”

When asked about Federer’s performance, Nishikori added, “I never feel that he's 33 right now. He still looks young and plays amazing tennis.”

Nishikori, the first Asian player to qualify for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, has a 1-1 record in round-robin play. He will now face Milos Raonic in his final group match on Thursday, having dropped to 53-13 on a career-best season.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Roger Federer gets revenge on Raonic at ATP World Tour Finals

World number two Roger Federer began his bid for a seventh end-of-season title with victory over Canada's Milos Raonic in London.

The Swiss won 6-1 7-6 (7-0) to gain some measure of revenge for his defeat by Raonic in Paris nine days ago.

Federer joins Kei Nishikori at the top of the Group B table after the Japanese player earlier beat Andy Murray.

The second round of matches on Tuesday will see Federer take on Nishikori with Murray up against Canadian Raonic.

Federer remains in the hunt for the end-of-year number one ranking and will be keen to wrap up qualification for the semi-finals as quickly as possible.

He made an impressive start, dismantling the huge Raonic serve in the first set before edging a more competitive second to win in one hour and 28 minutes.

"I was very happy with how I performed and thanks for the ovation when I entered the building," Federer told the crowd afterwards.

"The second set was much tougher, it was an important set to win. I don't think he played a great breaker but it was a great one to win.

"It's a small relief, but we have a tough group here so it's always going to be hard advancing, but it brings me a step closer. I'm looking forward to playing Nishikori now."

The gulf in experience was vast, with the 23-year-old Raonic playing in the elite tournament for the first time up against a man making his 13th consecutive appearance.

Indeed, the first ever Canadian to qualify for the ATP Finals was just 11 years old when Federer made his debut in Shanghai in 2002.

Federer received the kind of raucous reception he experiences wherever he plays and went on to deliver the result most of the 17,000 spectators at the O2 Arena wanted.

Raonic, clearly keen to try and make his mark early, rushed the net at every opportunity in his opening service game and Federer picked him off to break.

The Canadian has hit more that 1,100 aces this year, and dropping serve so early was a heavy blow that he would not recover from in an opening set that raced by in 25 minutes.

A swift defeat was surely averted when Raonic saved a break point early in the second set with a smash, and Federer's progress was at least slowed.

The situation became potentially serious for the 17-time Grand Slam champion when he twice let 40-0 leads slip, and after saving break points at 2-2 and 3-3 he then had to fend off a set point in game 12.

It proved to be Raonic's last chance, however, as the tie-break went rapidly against him.

He clipped the tape with a forehand that flew out to lose the opening point on serve and Federer pressed home the advantage.

A double fault and a forehand error from Raonic left the Canadian 5-0 down, and moments later his challenge was over as another ball sailed over the baseline.

The 2nd set was a hot mess, but at least he redeemed himself in the tie-break. Hope he's sharper next round it only gets tougher from here.

Sunday, November 09, 2014

Roger Federer shares secrets behind his success and credits coach Stefan Edberg

Were the BBC’s International Sports Personality title decided by public vote, the betting for 2014 would surely have closed by now. Already as popular as Santa Claus, Roger Federer is now benefiting from the extra wave of emotion that rewards great athletes in their final act.

What an act it has already been, and how much more it promises to deliver. When Federer arrived in London last November it seemed that the end was nigh. Now, as he goes into this weekend's ATP World Tour Finals with an outside chance of regaining the No 1 ranking, many good judges feel he could play until 2018.

How, then, does he do it? In his exclusive interview with Telegraph Sport, Federer highlights three key areas that have already carried him to five ATP titles and a tour-leading 68 wins this season. And the first insight, passed on to him by his new coach Stefan Edberg, turns out to be highly counterintuitive.

“Stefan wanted me more to play more matches and play tournaments more consistently,” said Federer, who is squeezing 17 events into 2014 – not to mention next month’s Davis Cup final – where the reigning No 1 Novak Djokovic settled for 15.

“I used to go in spells, but he doesn’t believe in taking too long of a break. He says it’s fine to do that when you’re younger, but when you’re older, maybe it’s easier for your body to keep on playing.

“We took a similar approach in training. Stefan reminded me to keep on playing points, whereas before I would only do that when the next tournament was close. I think it actually helped me to remain in a good rhythm. When you take a direction like that, you’ve got to stick with it and see if it works out. For me it did, because I’ve had no recurring issues any more with my back.”

Federer's 2014 has been full of action and incident, including the arrival of his twin boys in May, yet it has flown by in comparison to his "long and gruelling" 2013. Last year, he was suffering from chronic spinal pain yet still managed to maintain his 15-year unbroken run at the grand slams. He is not one to call trainers to the court, nor to grab parts of his body after he misses a shot, so the outside world reckoned he was completely fit – just a legendary tennis player whose powers were waning in accordance with the laws of nature.

“Midway through last year, I was like Andy [Murray] maybe at the beginning of this year,” Federer says now. “You know you’re not 100 per cent but you can’t really say anything about it, because you don’t know whether you’re going to be able to play significantly better in the future. Happily, it turned out that we were both far from our best.”

There was one important difference, however: only one of these men needed an operation to cure their troublesome backs. When ex-players rave about Federer’s glorious career, they envy his ability to stay away from the surgeon’s knife almost as much as his flashing forehand.

Here we come to the second point. At 33, Federer is still lithe and lissom – “a better mover than most 20-year-olds”, in the words of Greg Rusedski – because he has never bought into the baseline attrition that characterises so much modern tennis. He wants to win points quickly, even if it means losing other points just as quickly. Admittedly, he did once spend 4hr 48min on a tennis court against Rafael Nadal, but we can forgive him that one lapse in the Wimbledon final of 2008, universally acknowledged as the greatest match ever played.

“I do believe that when you’re playing offensive you have to do less reacting,” says Federer. “Whereas if you’re always reacting to what your opponent gives, it’s very hard. Eventually throughout the week or throughout the year or throughout your career, if you’re always compensating and running after the ball, it’s going to catch up with you.

“But you can work on everything and the best players can play offensive and defensive. I guess Rafa [Nadal] and Andy have more the defensive DNA: they really don’t want to miss but today they’re great attacking players, some of the best in the game. And the same for me and Novak, we’re more attacking players but we’ve also gotten very good at defence.”

Federer’s physical state of grace just seems to be innate. It has prompted a thousand flights of fancy from envious and/or ecstatic writers, including this memorable passage from the late novelist David Foster Wallace: “Roger Federer is one of those rare, preternatural athletes who appear to be exempt, at least in part, from certain physical laws … a creature whose body is both flesh and, somehow, light.”

Foster Wallace was enjoying the show too much to go searching for explanations. But is there a case for linking Federer’s ethereal physical presence with his serene mental state? His biographer, the Swiss journalist René Stauffer, met him for the first time when he was 15 and was struck by this comment above all: “One should just be able to play a perfect game.” As Stauffer explains in the book, “That’s what motivated him … He did not consider his opponents as rivals who wanted to rob the butter from his bread [but] companions on a common path.”

Federer is an anomaly in this respect, for while so many tennis players need a grievance to work with, forever focusing on the pebble in their shoe or the knife in their back, he retains his lightness of being. When he loses, he just sucks it up and moves on. And this is surely the third factor in his enduring relevance.

“I’ve always said that criticism can be used as fuel," he explains. "Whatever works for you, you need to do it. But I’m not like that. For me, just being on the court is enough. And let's say I lose in the finals, I still get together with my team and my friends and I’m like ‘It was a good week.’

“It’s true that the generation of Djokovic, Murray and Nadal has made me a better player, in particular Rafa has challenged me on many fronts, because the way he plays he is so unlike anyone else. But I wouldn’t say I needed that generation to keep me going; I am just here because I love playing the game, I love competing in a stadium against great players. I would have been totally cool just playing with the previous generation that I came up with: Hewitt and Roddick and Ferrero and Safin. Or playing with Raonic and all those guys.”

Federer was holding court from a suite at the Berkeley Hotel in Knightsbridge, a £450-a-night establishment that hides its grandeur behind a modest exterior. (Ring any bells?) A tightly scheduled day closed with a meet-and-greet on behalf of his sponsors Moët & Chandon, after an earlier visit to the Tower of London with his five-year-old twin daughters. “You should go to the poppy display,” he enthuses. “It’s sad what it is, but it looked absolutely incredible.”

Myla and Charlene now have baby brothers to play with, in Leo and Lenny, yet Federer seems typically unfazed by a juggling act that most people would deem unworkable. His wife Mirka brought all four children to the three most recent grand slams, as well as to Paris for last week’s indoor Masters event – although Shanghai was a few time zones too far. “Obviously we’ve had tougher nights and easier nights, no doubt about it, but I must say things are very smooth. I think we’re more relaxed second time around, whereas the first time you don’t know the hotel set-up, you don’t know how the travelling is going to be, and that can make you panicky. I haven’t seen them much lately, but we’ll all be together for the rest of the year other than when I go to India for two days [to play in Mahesh Bhupathi’s embryonic exhibition series, the International Tennis Premier League].”

His family's absence from China meant that Federer had to make do with vicarious excitement on behalf of Djokovic, the newest member of the tennis dads' club. As reported in these pages last week, the world No 1 and No 2 have had their differences over the years, yet they seem to have bonded over this one universal experience – something that even millionaire sportsmen can get excited about.

“You could see how eager he was to talk about it,” said Federer. “And I’m very happy to take time. The thing is that we sometimes don’t very often run into each other where we have time. The next thing you know we’re talking for 20 minutes about my experiences. When you’re a father-to-be, there are a lot of open questions. I sensed that he wanted to be as prepared as possible which was I think very cute. I didn’t have much chance to speak to him in Paris [after the birth of baby Stefan on Oct 22], I only saw him briefly for like two minutes and all I could do was just congratulate him. But hopefully he will have time to give me more details that he maybe wouldn’t share with the press.”

Asking Federer for advice about anything can be a little daunting, for the answer is usually the same: “it was great”, “it went really well”, “we had a good time”. He isn’t bluffing: he just has a unique ability to ride out anything that life throws his way, whether it be a second double buggy or a six-month back problem.

Our interview on Thursday ended with a story he told from his teenage years, when he was called into Switzerland’s Davis Cup squad as a training partner for Marc Rosset and the rest. Aged 16, Federer was a vegetarian – on taste grounds rather than ethics – and tried to order rice in a steakhouse. “Marc said ‘Are you crazy or what? No, no, no we’re trying all the meats,'" Federer recalled. "So he got the guy over and we were trying eight different pieces of meat, all very small, and he was like ‘Which one do you like?’ So that’s how I got into eating everything, which makes your life a lot easier when you’re invited somewhere.”

Adaptability, optimism and a curious lack of anxiety: those are as much Federer’s defining characteristics as his movement and strokeplay. His hairline might be receding fractionally at the temples, but he remains the youngest 33-year-old that this intensely ageing sport has ever seen.