Monday, December 28, 2015

Kim Clijsters returns to Australian Open to celebrate inspirational women

Former Grand Slam champion Kim Clijsters will return to Melbourne in January and launch an Australian Open initiative to celebrate inspirational women both in and beyond the sport of tennis.

In a Grand Slam first, Clijsters will join a panel including some of Australia’s most inspirational women from fields as diverse as human rights, medicine, the arts, media and sport. The group will be recognised in a special presentation on Thursday 28 January as part of women’s semifinals day.

“The more we can shine the international spotlight on these amazing women, the more it will encourage others to promote equality,” Australian Open Tournament Director Craig Tiley said today.

“Women’s semifinals day at the Australian Open is a fantastic showcase for women’s sport, with four of the world’s best female athletes battling for a place in the year’s first Grand Slam final. What better time to come together and celebrate women’s achievements.”

Australian Fed Cup captain and former world No.8 Alicia Molik said it was important for females to have access to the best possible opportunities both in sport and life.

“We are incredibly lucky in tennis that there are equal opportunities for men and women, and having a young daughter now has made me even more aware,” she said.

“It’s inspiring to see Craig [Tiley] committed to the Male Champions of Change program. He’s been a great supporter of mine in many ways, as a player coming back from serious illness and in making the transition from being a professional athlete to a coach and senior administrator.

“As an ambassador for our junior participation program, ANZ Tennis Hot Shots, I’m encouraged that we have an almost equal split of girls and boys involved in tennis and we continue to develop and improve our programs to keep girls and women engaged in the sport at all levels, including as social players.

“This naturally extends to my role as Fed Cup captain, where I work with both our elite women and talented emerging players.”

Tiley said tennis, as one of the only professional sports offering equal opportunity, exposure and prize money, had a leadership role to play in promoting gender equality. He has committed to the Elite Sports Male Champions of Change program and is passionate about creating more support and opportunity for women.

"Significant and meaningful change on this issue is long overdue. Sport is uniquely placed in our community and has the power to have an impact so deep and wide-ranging that gender equality can cease to be a problem for future generations.”

The Australian Open’s inaugural Celebration of Inspirational Women brunch, presented in association with ANZ, will take place at the Glasshouse, Olympic Park at 10am on Thursday 28 January, with a panel of distinguished guests.

The women’s semifinals commence at Rod Laver Arena at 1.30pm, with a special ceremony taking place on court between matches.

Fast Facts: Women in tennis

Tennis is one of the only professional sports offering equal prize money to men and women at the elite level

Australian Open prize money has risen from $20 million in 2007 to $44 million in 2016

The Australian Open women’s final moved to prime-time TV in 2009, with women’s matches throughout the tournament featuring in prime viewing times and on major courts

Seven of Forbes’ 10 highest-earning female athletes in the world are tennis players – Maria Sharapova, Li Na, Serena Williams, Caroline Wozniacki, Victoria Azarenka, Ana Ivanovic and Agnieszka Radwanska*

Tennis Australia’s ANZ Tennis Hot Shots program for children aged five to 12 has an almost equal split of boys and girls participating across Australia.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Roger Federer to improve his 'SABR' tactic in 2016

Roger Federer has promised to keep honing his chip-and-charge sneak-attack tactic as he prepares for 2016 season.

The 'SABR', short for 'Sneak Attack by Roger', involves rushing towards the net at the moment of a second serve and chipping the ball back, shortening his opponent's response time.

Federer, 34, who was in Singapore for the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL), successfully employed it against Novak Djokovic in the Cincinnati final and against Richard Gasquet in the US Open quarter-final at Flushing Meadows.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

Roger Federer has no plans to retire after Rio Olympics

Roger Federer, the 17-time Grand Slam singles champion, does not intend to retire after next year's Olympics.

The Swiss will turn 35 during the Rio Games, where he will play in the singles and mixed doubles, although he has not decided on the men's doubles.

"I've planned all of 2016, you know all the way through the Rio Olympics and beyond," he said.

"No plans to retire yet. I don't have a definite date even though that would help to make things easier to plan."

Federer, who has been competing in the International Premier Tennis League in India, added: "I'm looking forward to next year.

"The Australian Open is obviously a big goal for me. And after that it's going to be a long, tough year.

"So I'm happy I'm feeling fine physically and in good shape and of course, like I say so many times I hope I'm still on tour for a while."

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Deciphering Roger Federer's 2016 schedule

In a year that will see him play the Rio Olympics — which had long ago been a goal and theoretical retirement point — and have a birthday that will get him closer to 40 than 30 — Roger Federer has released a tentative schedule that makes some concessions to age and seems to maximize his chances in tournaments in which he believes he has a realistic shot of winning.

It’s all standard up until Indian Wells, with Federer adding Rotterdam back to the schedule after an absence last year (he played it in 2012 and 2013 after a seven-year absence). There’s an Aussie Open tuneup, the Grand Slam itself, a trip to the UAE, his “home” town these days, and Indian Wells. He won’t play Miami, which he’ll have skipped three of the past for years.

Then there’s the surprise: There aren’t any French Open tuneups on the schedule. This is important for two reasons:

1. The logical reading of this is that Federer is playing for the Olympics, when he might play three events: singles, doubles and mixed doubles (with Martina Hingis). He hasn’t said whether he’ll drop the doubles, but that’d be odd to dump Stan for Martina, especially when they’re reigning doubles champs. And if he’s not really playing before the French, he’s basically admitting he won’t win there, a necessary concession to age, particularly in a grueling season that basically has five majors.

2. Federer is going to miss three — count ’em, three — Masters 1000 events by skipping the clay season and four straight (without Miami) heading into the French. He’s defending 700 points in Monte Carlo, Madrid and Rome plus another 250 from a win at a small event in Istanbul. It might not be that damaging to his ranking, which is important given Slam seedings. Right now, Federer is 1,400 points ahead of Wawrinka for No. 2, so that dropped 950 points won’t be devastating, especially given that he’s only defending 90 points from his upset third-round loss at the Australian Open. Make the semifinals there (720 points) and the deficit is almost made up and Federer won’t have to worry about slipping out of the top four. (Plus, Federer has 360 QF points at the French. Sure, the lack of tournament prep could see him go out early, as in 2014, but he could also make the quarters in his sleep.)

The rest of the schedule is less eye-raising: Two Wimbledon tuneups and then a normal hard-court schedule that has that “Rio Olympics” oddity right in the middle.

But, as Federer says, the schedule is tentative. If he has a poor showing in Australia and fails to defend a lot of his finals points from Indian Wells, expect some additional events before the French and, no matter what, lots of emoji tweets about it.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Roger Federer on new coach Ljubicic

First-hand experience facing this generation and motivational skill are two reasons why Roger Federer added Ivan Ljubicic to his coaching team.

Former world No. 3 Ljubicic played Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal nine times apiece, winning twice against both Grand Slam champions.

The 36-year-old Croatian previously served as co-coach of Canadian Milos Raonic, knows tactical tendencies of top players and like Federer, plays with a one-handed backhand.

"It's the first time that I've had someone within my team whose actually played on tour against the players that I've played against," Federer told the media in New Delhi in comments published by AFP. "My coaches in the past have all been players from a different generation. I think Ivan can bring something very exciting to my team, (including) motivation."

Federer, who parted company with coach Stefan Edberg earlier this month, said the Hall of Famer had planned to coach him for a year.

"The idea was only to do one year. I couldn't believe it when (Edberg) said yes in the first place," Federer said. "We had a great split in (the) sense that we've known for 10 months that it was going to end at the end of the year."

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Xena Warrior Princess reboot might still be happening after all

A number of months ago, NBC revealed that they were working on developing a reboot of the Xena: Warrior Princess TV series, with Sam Raimi producing alongside original co-creator Rob Tapert. There was no word on whether or not the series’ original star, Lucy Lawless, would be returning or involved in the reboot at all though, and the last we heard from the project was that it was desperately in need of a writer.

Finally, after months and months of silence from the project too, it looks like the reboot has officially begun to move forward in the development process.

The Hollywood Reporter revealed that writer Javier Grillo-Marxuach has been brought on to pen the series’ pilot episode, who worked heavily on Lost and will serve as an executive producer on the series alongside Tapert and Raimi. The report states that the series will follow a new and modern Xena, who combines the charisma and charm of Lawless’ original iteration with the edge of characters like The Hunger Games’ Katniss Everdeen.

Despite fans’ wishes and hopes too, there has been no updates on Lawless’ involvement in the reboot, even though the actress has continued to voice her enthusiasm for a reboot over the years as well. Unfortunately, considering how the original series concluded, it would be difficult to include Lawless’ version of the character, without some kind of explanation that the writers and producers might not be willing to sacrifice time to make.

Part of what made the original Xena series so charming though was the time period it lived during,and while I’m not entirely skeptical that this project can work, I’m also seriously hoping that the new reboot doesn’t try and take the fun out of the property, like so many reimaginings and reboots have done over the past few years. Raimi and Tapert were able to bring back the spirit of Evil Dead completely in tact with Ash vs. Evil Dead, so here’s to hoping they can do the same thing here as well.

The Xena: Warrior Princess reboot is currently in development at NBC.

So conflicted about this. 

I would love this to happen so that the franchise of this awesome show can be revived. 

But on the other hand I would rather only all the originals were involved in it.

Also I would be a lot happier if it was anyone other then NBC. 

NBC hasn't been the same since ER ended, they cancel more shows then they keep. 

Their track record for making good shows has gone downhill since then as well.

As a life long fan of the original, "new and modern" Xena just doesn't appeal to me. 

If they were to drastically change it, I would rather it was left alone altogether. 

The fact that Rob Tapert is supposedly involved does give me a small glimmer of hope though.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Roger Federer supports Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza doubles

New Delhi: The Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer disclosed that he supports the world number one Indo-Swiss pair of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis.

Federer, who was in India recently to lead UAE Royals in the International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) told CNN IBN that he watched the entire Wimbledon (women's doubles) and supported the top ranked women's doubles pair.

“They (Sania-Hingis) went on a run...I support them on the women's tour when they play the doubles. I watched the entire Wimbledon [women's doubles] final. It was thrilling and I couldn't be happier for them,” said Federer.

FedEx seemed too impressed with his compatriot as she went on to say that: “I was very happy for Martina in particular, who I admire since I was 14 years old and I was practicing at the National Tennis Centre.”

17-time grand slam champion also praised Indian tennis queen Sania as he labelled her as 'very sweet girl'. “...Having played with Sania here (India) in the mixed doubles last year I could really see why is she so good. I knew her from before and she is a very sweet girl and it was pleasure teaming up with her."

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Roger Federer working hard to catch Novak Djokovic


Roger Federer has warned Novak Djokovic that he is "working hard" to end his dominance of ATP Tour circuit.

World number one Djokovic enjoyed a stunning 2015 season, claiming three grand slam titles and only being denied a clean sweep by an inspired Stan Wawrinka in the French Open final.

He also won a record six Masters 1000 tournaments and finished the year with a scarcely believable 82-6 win-loss record by beating Federer in last month's World Tour Finals showpiece at London's O2 Arena.

Djokovic was the primary reason the evergreen Federer failed to add to his haul of 17 slams in 2015, with the Serb defeating the Swiss in the finals of both Wimbledon and the US Open.

But Federer - who appointed Ivan Ljubicic as his new coach this week - is determined to beat his rival to tennis' biggest prizes next year.

"Novak was really tough to beat, especially on the big occasions," said Federer, in quotes reported by The National ahead of his Indian Premier Tennis League meeting with Rafael Nadal on Saturday.

"He's got sky-high confidence and we hope that will come down again sooner than later, but we're working hard to try to catch him."

When quizzed on what the secret to Djokovic's success is, Federer replied: "He just became a really, really good player and tough to beat. Especially in recent years, he's taken it to another level.

"That just made it harder for me to dominate him. But still I'm winning my fair share of matches against him, and I'm really enjoying playing against Novak."

Federer versus Nadal was the rivalry that defined men's tennis for much of the previous decade and the 34-year-old says the Spaniard - who holds a 23-11 record over him - has represented "the ultimate challenge" throughout his career.

However, Federer refused to be drawn over who is the superior player - Djokovic or Nadal.

"Totally different players, but Rafa's been tougher for me even though I guess Novak has beaten me as many times as well," he added.

Saturday, December 12, 2015

Roger Federer confirms he will play mixed doubles with Martina Hingis at Rio Olympics

Roger Federer says he'll be teaming up with Martina Hingis for Switzerland in mixed doubles at next year's Rio Olympics.

Federer wrote Friday on Twitter that he is "really excited" about the pairing and posted a photo of the two tennis stars from what he said was 15 years ago.

Federer is 34, Hingis is 35.

Federer owns a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles. He also owns two Olympic medals: silver in singles at London in 2012, and gold in doubles with Stan Wawrinka at Beijing in 2008.

Rollback the years with @mhingis.  Really excited to be playing mixed doubles with you 15yrs later at the Rio games
~ Roger Federer Twitter

Hingis owns 20 major titles -- five in singles, 11 in women's doubles, four in mixed doubles -- and is a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame. She retired from singles but still competes in doubles, winning women's and mixed titles at the U.S. Open in September.
My dream team.  Is it 2016 yet?!.

Friday, December 11, 2015

Serena & Hingis The Only 2 To Do This

Two of the WTA's biggest legends - Serena Williams and Martina Hingis - were both among the WTA Award winners that were announced earlier this week, Williams being voted 2015 WTA Player Of The Year and Hingis part of the 2015 WTA Doubles Team Of The Year, alongside Sania Mirza.

It wasn't their first time winning those specific WTA Awards, but still a fantastic finish to 2015.

But they've both won WTA Player Of The Year before. And WTA Doubles Team Of The Year, WTA Newcomer Of The Year, WTA Most Improved Player Of The Year and WTA Comeback Of The Year.

They're the only two players ever to win each and every one of the five biggest WTA Awards:

Martina Hingis

WTA Player Of The Year - 1997
WTA Doubles Team Of The Year - 1998 (w/Novotna), 1999 (w/Kournikova), 2015 (w/Mirza)

WTA Newcomer Of The Year - 1995
WTA Most Improved Player Of The Year - 1996
WTA Comeback Of The Year - 2006

Serena Williams

WTA Player Of The Year - 2002, 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015
WTA Doubles Team Of The Year - 2000 (w/V.Williams), 2009 (w/V.Williams)
WTA Newcomer Of The Year - 1998
WTA Most Improved Player Of The Year - 1999
WTA Comeback Of The Year - 2004

Another one of this year's winners, Venus Williams, has four of the five - WTA Newcomer Of The Year in 1997, WTA Player Of The Year in 2000, WTA Doubles Team Of The Year in 2000 and 2009, and WTA Comeback Player Of The Year this year. She's missing WTA Most Improved Player Of The Year.

And Hingis' doubles partner, Mirza, picked up the WTA Newcomer Of The Year award back in 2005.

Thursday, December 10, 2015

Roger Federer parts ways with Stefan Edberg, welcomes Ivan Ljubicic to his team

Roger Federer will head into the 2016 ATP World Tour season with a new-look coaching team after announcing that Stefan Edberg would not be traveling with him next year. While countryman Severin Luthi will remain Federer’s head coach, joining the team in 2016 will be Croatian former World No. 3 player Ivan Ljubicic.

Federer revealed Tuesday that Edberg originally signed on to the coaching team for one season only in 2014, but agreed to stay on in 2015.

Federer released a statement on his Facebook page and, saying: “After 2 very successful years, I would like to thank Stefan Edberg, my childhood idol, for agreeing to join my team. It was a dream come true. Although it was supposed to only be for 2014, Stefan was great and agreed to extend the partnership through this year, which I really appreciated.

“He taught me so much and his influence on my game will remain. He will always be a part of my team. Severin Luthi, who I have been working with since 2008, will continue to be my main coach and he will be joined by Ivan Ljubicic. Both Daniel Troxler, my physiotherapist and Pierre Paganini, my longtime fitness trainer, will remain part of my technical team.”

Edberg released a statement to, saying: “Roger and I had a wonderful two years together. When he originally approached me at the end of 2013, I committed to work with him for only a year. It became very clear from the start that this was going to be a special partnership, working with the greatest ambassador tennis has ever seen. It was exciting for me to be back out on tour and to see that the sport has made so much progress.

“The quality of tennis today is stronger than it has ever been. After an amazing 2014, I decided to continue on for another year, but with a clear understanding that it would be my last year given the time commitment. I believe Roger still has a lot left to give to the sport of tennis and is capable of winning the big events. Roger and I will remain close friends and I will always feel part of the Federer team. I hope to try and come watch Roger play some tournaments in 2016.”

Federer will make his 2016 debut at the Brisbane International, which begins January 3. Federer reached 1,000 career match wins in Brisbane last year en route to the title.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza Fan Favourites & WTA Doubles Team of the Year

For Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza, 2015 could hardly have gone any better. After a flawless start to life as a team, in which they won their first three tournaments, Hingis and Mirza hit their first bump in the road during the clay court season, falling early in both Stuttgart and Madrid before being upset by Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova in the French Open quarterfinals.

From then on, though, they were virtually untouchable, winning 34 of their next 37 matches to take home titles at Wimbledon, the US Open, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Beijing and the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

Unsurprisingly, their remarkable feats resulted in them winning the WTA Doubles Team Of The Year award by a landslide. The pair have no intention of resting on their laurels.

"Martina and I have had an incredible year and I feel honored that we have been voted as the WTA Doubles Team Of The Year by the international media. We hope to continue with our dream run in 2016," Mirza said.

Next year, Hingis and Mirza will look to add to their already impressive trophy haul, as they chase down the greats, like former WTA Doubles Team Of The Year winners Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver (1981-88), and Gigi Fernández and Natasha Zvereva (1993-95 and 1997).

"It is a great honor to be recognized as the WTA Doubles Team Of The Year by the international media," Hingis said. "Sania and I have enjoyed every minute of the season and we hope to continue in 2016 in the same fashion. We both appreciate all the support that we have received from the fans, the media, the tournaments and the tour."

Hingis and Mirza were the choice of 98% of the media polled for the WTA Doubles Team Of The Year award. They also won the fan vote with 58%.

Monday, December 07, 2015

Roger Federer to play mixed doubles with Martina Hingis at Rio Olympics

Geneva (AFP) - Roger Federer is expected to play mixed doubles with fellow Swiss national Martina Hingis at the 2016 Olympic games in Rio, Le Matin Dimanche newspaper reported, revealing what the paper called a "Dream Team".

There had been widespread speculation that the two Swiss stars would team up.

Hingis had reportedly made the offer to play with Federer and was waiting for a response from the winner of 17 Grand Slam titles.

"Federer will play with Hingis. It's decided," Le Matin Dimanche said in a report that listed the composition of the Swiss "probable teams" for Rio.

Federer had reportedly promised to declare his openness to the prospective Hingis pairing by the end of the year.

Federer is also set to play men's doubles with Stan Wawrinka, the current world number four, with 11 ATP titles to his name, the paper reported.

Swiss Davis Cup captain Severin Luethi, who will also lead the tennis squad in Rio, was quoted by the paper saying the goal for the 2016 summer games was "to win all the gold medals".

"Why not?... We can always dream," he said.

Hingis will play women's doubles with Belinda Bencic, a rising star who cracked the women's tour in 2011 and has already claimed more than $2 million in career earnings.

Bencic will also play mixed doubles with Wawrinka, according to the report.

Sounds too good to be true. Seems there are a lot of conflicting reports on the subject.  Until I actually hear the words from Roger's mouth I won't believe any of them.

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Martina Hingis: Wimbledon win with Sania Mirza was special

SWISS Miss Martina Hingis has won as many as five Grand Slam doubles titles this season. But due to the sheer intensity of the events that unfolded there, she singled out her women’s doubles win with India’s Sania Mirza at the Wimbledon as the best one. Incidentally, it was first Grand Slam title for an Indian woman in women’s doubles category.

“I love all the five (laughs), But still I suppose the Wimbledon victory with Sania was something special. We came back after a one-set deficit. We were lagging 5-2 in the third set but rallied again to square it at 5-5. Then there was a break...then the roof (of the Centre Court) had to be closed. 

“With the lights on, it looked like a concert hall. It was a different feeling altogether,” recalled Hingis, while talking to reporters here on Thursday. Her team, Hyderabad Aces, would face Nagpur Orangers in their last tie of the Champions Tennis League on Friday.
For the record the Indo-Swiss pair, playing just their second Grand Slam together, prevailed 5–7, 7–6 (7–4) , 7–5 over Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.

In the same breath, Hingis remembered her season opening Australian Open mixed doubles title win with Leander Paes. “Well, it was special too. Another Grand Slam title coming for me after a huge gap of 17 years.”

On the qualities of Mirza and Paes as doubles players, Hingis said, “Both started as singles players and did well too, so to term them only doubles players is not just. Sania has got one of the best forehands in women tennis and if she had remained injury free early in her career, she would have been certainly a good singles players too.

“And Paes is a brilliant player. He is a great athlete and a very good anticipator. The best thing common to both is they enjoy challenges. They are positive players and fight till the last point.”
When asked whether she has plans to open any academy, Hingis said, “My mom is already running an academy. I go there whenever I find time. I love the action part of the sport and would prefer the role of a coach than say working behind the curtains or even doing commentary. Presently, I am enjoying my comeback and want to continue with the doubles for quite some time.”

Hingis was all praise for the CTL. “I am liking it therefore I am back for the second year. Playing at different places and as a team is a new concept in tennis. Vijay (Amritraj, the brain behind the league) is doing a great job by bringing so many top players under one roof. This will help the game immensely in India.”

Having almost perfected the art of playing doubles, Hingis may be seen in action at Rio Olympics. “Yes, I am trying. If everything goes well, you may see me participating at Rio,” she concluded.

Saturday, December 05, 2015

Roger Federer still undecided about Rio Olympics mixed doubles with Martina Hingis

Roger Federer could team up with fellow Swiss tennis star Martina Hingis in the mixed doubles category at the Rio Olympics next year. However, Swiss Davis Cup captain Severin Luthi revealed it will take until the end of the year for the Swiss Maestro to decide whether to play in that category.

Federer has stated his intentions on playing in the 2016 Rio Olympics, most likely in the men’s singles category, but Hingis, who has won five Grand Slam titles in singles category and 11 in playing doubles, is hoping that the world No. 3 could be her partner in the mixed doubles category.

"We know that Martina Hingis is awaiting a reply from Roger Federer to possibly team up in mixed doubles in Rio,” Luthi said, reports Vavel. “But I called Martina to say that Roger gave himself up to the end of the year to decide. Because playing three tables (note: men's singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles) in ten days, it's still a lot.”

Federer could also play mixed doubles with Belinda Becic and Timea Bacinsky, who both have a breakout season this year. Luthi claimed that if all the players are going to be in top form come the Olympic Games, there is a chance that Swiss tennis round up all the gold medals in Rio.

Meanwhile, Federer and world No. 4 Stan Wawrinka are questionable to play in the Davis Cup tie in March next year. Federer and Wawrinka led Switzerland last year over France to win the Davis Cup title. Luthi said, “Fedrinka” will be doubtful for the tournament next year, but the forfeit of both players is still not official.

“The forfeit is still not official, but with Olympics in Rio and busy schedule, it seems difficult for Stan and Roger,” Luthi said, reports Tennis World USA.


Friday, December 04, 2015

Martina Hingis on her mom

It takes four letters to spell “hero,” but just three to spell Martina Hingis’: Mom.

The stars of our sport shared stories about their heroes, both in life and on the court, and how these idols shaped who they are today. For more "My Hero" submissions, click here.

My biggest influence was my mother; she is my life mentor. She guided me through my life, teaching me everything. In sport, I think she's the greatest coach, for not only me but now Belinda Bencic. She always tries to make the most of the moment and the situation, and gave me a chance in life.

I think we all appreciate our parents more as we get older. Our parents are always there for us. Sometimes you don't want to hear it, but then you digest it. I'm almost in touch with her now more than before, about tennis and life.

I still use the lessons she gave me, and it's great that I still have her to talk to about things. She was watching Wimbledon, [when I won the doubles and mixed titles], and I saw her after and we celebrated. She's so experienced. Now I'm smart enough to listen.

Thursday, December 03, 2015

5 Roger Federer records that may never be broken

Roger Federer and records are inseparable! Throughout the 17 years of his professional career, the 17-time Slam champion and former World No. 1 has set several humongous records that underline his exceptional skills on the court. Even at 34 years of age, the Swiss maestro – now ranked No. 3 – is continuously adding to his legacy with new accomplishments.

Federer is all set to mesmerize International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) fans with his fluid game when he dons the UAE Royals jersey in December. (For tickets to the UAE Royals matches, click here).

But before that, let’s have a look at five of his amazing tennis records could stand the test of time, and which are likely never to be broken:

#5 56 consecutive hardcourt wins

One of the most outstanding streaks of Roger Federer on an individual surface is his 56-match winning record on hardcourts that stretched from Rotterdam in February 2005 till Dubai in February 2006. His win over Bohdan Ulihrach in the Rotterdam first round set off the streak and it was the 19-year-old Rafael Nadal who upended Federer in the 2006 Dubai final, thereby halting his run.

This incredible feat remains the longest hardcourt winning streak in the Open Era.

The fact that Federer never lost on hardcourts for a whole year makes it even more unbelievable when you consider that almost 70% of the tour is played on hardcourts these days. This record thoroughly underlines the former World No. 1’s hegemony during his peak years and his versatility on both outdoor and indoor courts.

The World No. 3 is also the holder of the most number of wins on hardcourt – 660 – but it is his invincibility during 2005-2006 that takes centrestage and makes us appreciate what a genius he truly is!

#4 24 straight finals won

Federer’s ability to raise his level in tournament finals is evidenced by the fact that he won as many as 24 consecutive summit clashes from 2003 to 2005.

The run began at the 2003 ATP Vienna final where he overpowered Carlos Moya, and ended at the 2005 Tennis Masters Cup final where he was upstaged by old foe David Nalbandian in five gruelling sets.

This was a new Open Era record set by Federer; he surpassed the previous record of 12 straight final wins shared by the former World No. 1s Bjorn Borg and John McEnroe. Due to this astounding streak, the UAE Royals member also had another unprecedented accomplishment in 2004 when he became the first male player ever to win a minimum of 10 titles in a season without losing a single final!

#3 Ranked No. 1 at three consecutive Olympics

One of the better indicators of Federer’s longevity and his high level of play even after turning 30 is the fact that he was ranked World No. 1 and seeded No. 1 at three consecutive Olympics – 2004 Athens Olympics, 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2012 London Games.

The 17-time major champion was, however, not uninterruptedly at the No. 1 position in the ATP rankings during this eight-year period, as he was usurped by his long-time rivals Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the interim.

But the sheer length of the period during which he was at or near the top of the sport gives a clear picture of Federer’s hunger and desire to compete at the highest level, and his ability to seize the No. 1 spot from rivals far younger than him.

This is a peerless record set by the Basel-born tennis ace and he remains the only player, male or female, in the history of the game to achieve this.

#2 24 consecutive victories vs top 10 opponents

Another of Roger Federer’s unmatched records is his mastery over top 10 opponents during his prime. He prevailed over every player ranked in the top 10 from October 2003 to January 2005.

The mind-boggling 16-month winning streak started at the 2003 Tennis Masters Cup with his win over the then-fifth ranked Andre Agassi, and was snapped by World No. 4 Marat Safin at the 2005 Australian Open semifinals.

Some of his victims during this stretch included Slam champions Lleyton Hewitt, Carlos Moya, Andy Roddick, Gaston Gaudio, Marat Safin and Juan Carlos Ferrero, apart from Agassi multiple times.

This record stands testimony to the UAE Royals player’s grasp over every surface and his ability to counter every kind of game, and the streak doesn’t look likely to ever be repeated.

#1 237 consecutive weeks at No. 1

Proof of Federer’s supremacy and ruthless domination over the rest of the tour during his heyday lies in the number of weeks he consecutively reigned at the World No. 1 position. The period was a staggering 237 weeks that started on February 2, 2004 and ended on August 17, 2008, when his nemesis Rafael Nadal wrested the top ranking from the Swiss maestro.

Federer has helmed the top spot for a total of 302 weeks during different phases of his career, which itself is another record, but the successive weeks’ record is incredibly impressive whichever way you look at it.

Needless to say, since the inception of the computerized ATP Rankings in 1973, such a prolonged stranglehold of the numero uno spot has never happened, and it looks unlikely to be replicated.

Wednesday, December 02, 2015

Martina Hingis beats Heather Watson in in Champions Tennis League singles match

Hyderabad: Hyderabad Aces defeated V Chennai Warriors 25-19 in a Champions Tennis League (CTL) match at the Sports Authority of Telangana State stadium here after the host team won four of the five sets in the match on Monday. (Click here for latest Tennis stories)

In a format where the winner is decided on the basis of total number of points in the five-set match, Hyderabad piled up 25 points against Chennai's 19.

The five sets are Legends Singles, Women's Singles, Mixed Doubles, Men's Doubles and Men's Singles.

Hyderabad had an easy victory in the Legends Singles, the first of the five set game, with the host team's Thomas Johansson trouncing Chennai's Rainer Schuettler 5-3.

The exciting set of the day was the Women's Singles clash between Swiss veteran Martina Hingis of Hyderabad Aces and Chennai's Heather Watson from Great Britain, who is currently ranked 55 in WTA Women's Singles rankings.

The contest provided yet another opportunity for the spectators in Hyderabad to witness the class of Hingis in a singles cotest.

Putting up a determined fight, the Swiss Miss, cheered lustily by her supporters, crushed her 23-year-old opponent to score a 5-2 victory, which set off instant celebrations by the spectators.

The Chennai side comprising Fernando Verdasco and Heather Watson put up a stiff resistance in the next set of Mixed Doubles against Ivo Karlovic and Martina Hingis of Hyderabad.

The match was a long-drawn affair with both sides refusing to let go of any chance to score a point. Heather Watson was agile on the court making quick points with her forehand shots.

The tight match resulted in a tie-breaker with both sides equalling the score at four. The seasoned Hingis and Karlovic, however, prevailed in the end scoring a 5-4 victory.

Continuing its domination into the fourth set, Hyderabad's Ivo Karlovic and Jeevan Nedunchezhiyan thrashed Fernando Verdasco and Vishnu Vardhan 5-4 in the Men's Doubles set.

The Men's Doubles set too was a close call with a tie-breaker thrown up, but the Hyderabad's players had the last laugh.

With Hyderabad having an edge of seven points (20-13) after the Men's Doubles set, the last set of Men's Singles was rendered inconsequential.

In the tight match that too resulted in a tie-breaker, Chennai's Fernando Verdasco beat Hyderabad's ivo Karlovic 5-4 and the score was 24-18.

However, both sides got 1-1 each in a Super game over as the Men's Singles was continued and the final tally stood at 25-19.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Martina Hingis says she taught Roger Federer how to win titles

Even the greatest Grand Slam champions need guidance to win. 

So who taught the young Roger Federer to win championships? 

Martina Hingis—and she doesn't let Federer forget it. 

In an interview with the Times of India, Martina reveals she often reminds Roger that she taught him to win during their run to the 2001 Hopman Cup title. "You could always see the talent. I tell him I was the one who taught him how to win titles," a giggling Hingis told the Times of India. "Before that he played a few finals but didn't win anything. Hopman Cup was his first big title and he has won a few after that, isn't it?" 

In 2001, Hingis was the star attraction and Federer a rising young talent when they joined forces to lead Switzerland to the Hopman Cup championship with a win over Monica Seles and Jan-Michael Gambill in the final. 

Hingis and Federer remain good friends. The Grand Slam king, who once served as a ball boy during a Hingis match, revealed he is the former No. 1's "biggest admirer."

In this International Tennis Hall of Fame video tribute to Hingis, Federer praises his former mixed doubles partner.

"I was always the biggest admirer of her," Federer says. "How, at a young age, she was able to handle the pressure and play so well. And then obviously the whole combination was just incredible."

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Martina Hingis believes Roger Federer's 18th Slam is just around the corner

Former women’s singles World No. 1 Martina Hingis of Switzerland believes compatriot Roger Federer has what it takes to add another Grand Slam title before he ends his career.

“The Hopman Cup was one of his first major successes. He was a late bloomer, but I knew he would achieve big. He is a living legend now. People wrote him off a couple of years ago, but look what has happened. He is no. 2 and pushing Novak Djokovic. I feel his Slam no. 18 is around the corner,” Hingis shared to

Federer and Hingis paired at the 2001 Hopman Cup and won the title for Switzerland beating Americans Monica Seles and Jan-Michael Gambill in the championship round. The title was one of the first for Federer, who has went on to win 88 singles titles including 17 Grand Slam championships.

Like Federer, Hingis was one of the top players during her prime spending 209 weeks as World No. 1 in the women’s singles rankings. Hingis has won five Grand Slam titles, three at the Australian Open (1997, 1998 and 1999) and one each at the Wimbledon Championships (1997) and the US Open (1997). Hingis has shifted to the doubles competition in recent years and is currently ranked World No. 2.

Federer has won six titles in the 2015 ATP season but has come up short in the major tournaments. He was eliminated in the third round of the Australian Open and the quarterfinals of the French Open. Federer made the final of the Wimbledon Championships and the US Open but fell both times to World No. 1 Novak Djokovic,

Federer is considered by many as the greatest tennis player in the history of the sport with 17 Grand Slam titles under his name. Another majors title will confirm his status as the best all-time and Hingis believes Federer has enough to win the 18th crown.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Roger Federer's "beard" rests in the hands of his twin daughters

I kind of want him to grow it out now, just to see how he would look with a full beard :D. Go for it Rog!.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Martina Hingis feels lucky to have Sania Mirza as doubles partner

Veteran Swiss tennis player Martina Hingis heaped praise on her doubles partner Sania Mirza on Sunday, terming the Indian as “extremely professional” and “optimistic” and a partner she is lucky to play with.

The unstoppable duo of Mirza and Hingis came up with yet another stupendous performance recently to win the women’s doubles title at the prestigious season-ending $7 million WTA Finals in Singapore.

It was the pair’s ninth title together this season out of 10 final appearances, having also won in Beijing, Wuhan, Guangzhou, US Open, Wimbledon, Charleston, Miami and Indian Wells. Mirza also won the Sydney International in January with American Bethanie Mattek-Sands to take her doubles trophy count to 10 this year.

“It has been a great year for me with Sania. She is a great player. We have great respect for each other. She is extremely professional and an optimistic player. Our friendship and relationship both on and off the court has led to this success,” Hingis said at a press conference in Mumbai.

“Sania has improved a lot on the nets. We all know she is extremely good at the backhand but she has improved on the nets too. Hoping to continue this good run in days to come. Lucky to have Sania as a partner in the incredible journey,” the 35-year-old said.

Speaking on the her mixed doubles partner Leander Paes, she said, “Paes is a legend in this game. I can rely on Paes as he is a great player in the nets and I can concentrate at the back. He also has great volleys.”

Praising both Mirza and Paes, the Swiss star said the duo might have some weakness in the court but their strengths make them a champion in the game.

“They both have different strengths and weaknesses. They have good qualities and what makes them champion is their strengths,” she said.

Hingis is in the country to play for Hyderabad Aces in the Champions Tennis League starting on Monday which is the mastermind of the legendary Vijay Amritraj. Reigning US Open women’s singles champion Flavia Pennetta will play for Mumbai Masters in the six-team tournament featuring Hyderabad, Mumbai, Chandigarh, Raipur, Nagpur and Chennai.

The current men’s top players who will feature in the league are, Marcos Baghdatis (Punjab Marshalls, Chandigarh), and Spanish professionals Feliciano Lopez (Team Nagpur) and Fernando Verdasco (Chennai).

Among the women players who will play in the six teams alongside Pennetta and Hingis are Serbian Jelena Jankovic (Nagpur), France’s Alize Cornet (Raipur), Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina (Chandigarh) and Heather Watson of Britain (Chennai).

Speaking on the competition, Hingis said, “This is a great tournament to play in. I am looking forward to give my best for my team and do well. Amritraj has brought this up and I wish him all the best for this.”

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Roger Federer wins battle of the Swiss in swift fashion sets up another ATP World Tour Final with Djokovic

The eight-man field at the Barclays ATP World Tour Final has been whittled down to two. No. 3 seed Roger Federer will face World No. 1 Novak Djokovic for the trophy on Sunday, having booked a spot in the title match with a 7-5, 6-3 triumph over countryman Stan Wawrinka at The O2.

Djokovic defeated longtime rival Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-3 earlier on Saturday in the other semi-final. Federer holds a slight 22-21 edge in their FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, having defeated the Serb this week in Group Stan Smith play 7-5, 6-2.

"Same court, same place," said Federer of his re-match with the top-ranked Djokovic. "For me, it's an advantage because I guess it gives me a bit of confidence. For him, it's an advantage because he gets a second chance, and he's in another final. He's played some great tennis since we've played. I still believe his confidence is slightly higher than mine with the amount of success he's had this year."

The last time a player avenged a loss in round-robin play with a victory in the final was back in 2005, when Argentine David Nalbandian fell to Federer 6-3, 2-6, 6-4, then came back to defeat the Swiss for the title 6-7(4), 6-7(11), 6-2, 6-1, 7-6(3).

In a re-match of the 2014 semi-finals, the bearded Federer held his serve at love to open the match, but was broken in the fifth game as Wawrinka moved ahead 3-2. But a loose service game from the 30-year-old Swiss allowed Federer back in the set at 4-all. Another break with his opponent serving at 5-6 would give Federer a one-set lead.

The 34-year-old maintained that momentum in the second set, racing out to 3-0 and never looked back. He would finish with 30 winners to 19 unforced errors in the one-hour and 10-minute win.

Federer now owns a 264-63 record indoors — the best career mark among active players.

By winning all three of his round-robin matches in Group Stan Smith, Federer guaranteed that he will finish as the Swiss No. 1 for the 15th straight season in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

With Andy Murray’s elimination on Friday, Federer can pass the Brit and reclaim the No. 2 ranking by winning his seventh Barclays ATP World Tour Finals title. If he loses Sunday’s final, Murray will be the year-end No. 2 for the first time in his career. Even if Federer wins the title, Murray can still end 2015 as the World No. 2 if he wins two live rubbers in singles during the Davis Cup final Nov. 27-29 (adding 150 ranking points).

Wawrinka closes the 2015 season at a career-best 55-18 and will finish in the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings for the third straight year. He won a career-high four titles, including his second Grand Slam crown at Roland Garros.

"The year was amazing," said Wawrinka. "I didn't expect to play that well, to be here tonight, honestly, being No. 4, winning a Grand Slam, semi-finals here again. I couldn't expect more. I won two titles for the first time in my career — one of them the French Open, beating the No. 1 player. I made the semi-finals at the US Open, Australian Open; quarter-finals at Wimbledon. I was quite consistent at the highest level. I beat so many top guys. The year, it was amazing for me."

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Roger Federer still improving at 34

There was much talk this summer about Roger Federer’s newfangled move, the acronymic SABR (Sneak Attack By Roger), that chip-and-charge offensive the Swiss added to his already considerable arsenal in Cincinnati. But what got lost in all the ballyhoo was that, some 17 years and 17 Grand Slams into his career, the 34-year-old was even willing to tweak his game at all.

As Federer explained, “You can be stubborn and successful or you can give it up a bit and change things around. I think you need to challenge yourself and try out new things, maybe where you practise, how you practise, who you practise with, the advice you receive sometimes, equipment, you name it, maybe a grip, maybe a string, maybe racquet technology. Everything keeps evolving and changing."

The benefits that come along with that openness to change were on display at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals on Tuesday, when after four losses in six matches against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic in 2015, Federer reversed the trend, downing his longtime rival in straight sets 7-5, 6-2.

Djokovic hadn’t lost a match in his previous 23 outings, a dominant stretch that included consecutive titles at the US Open, Beijing, Shanghai and Paris.

“I think a tennis player never stops working on his game,” said Federer after the win. “Unfortunately, we don't have enough time to practise — a lot of match play, a lot of resting, a lot of preparing. In a perfect world, it would be great to have many more months to prepare, because you then could actually come back and be sort of a different player. Of course, it's our decision to take that time, but it's hard to sit on the sidelines for months when other guys are winning tournaments and your ranking is dropping in the process.

“I won't say I regret doing it,” confided Fededer, looking back on his title-filled career on the ATP World Tour, “but I wish I could have taken even more time to train on my game.”

So in between events — he has played 17 in 2015 — he dabbles, he tweaks, he adds to his game, never quite satisfied with the status quo.

“I think in the last couple years since I changed my racquet, that gave me a totally different approach on how I can return, how I can serve, what I can do,” he explained. “It was about keeping my forehand and my slice up to a standard which I liked. And naturally the backhand and the serve improved because of the easier power I received from my racquet. Of course, then tactical elements come into play more and more. The experience helps. The experience can also hinder you sometimes because of playing too much percentage tennis. I still feel like I'm young in the mind and I don't shy away from trying new things. That’s what keeps it still interesting for me.”

Federer and Djokovic have now played 43 times, their FedEx ATP Head2Head history tracing all the way back to 2006. For now, it’s the Swiss who holds a slight 22-21 edge. But don’t hold your breath if you’re waiting on some complacency. He knows all too well how dangerous a player Djokovic can be.

“To me, Novak is still the favorite of the tournament,” Federer explained. “He should make his way to the semis somehow. And he'll be the favourite in that probably, too, with the year he's had. He's far from gone. The way I know Novak, he's going to find a way to be tougher to beat from now on.”

Friday, November 20, 2015

Roger Federer "beard" dilemma at ATP World Tour Finals in London

Looking like a bizarro version of himself, the kind who’d trip 12-year-old ballboys just for the fun of it, intentionally speak in the non-native language of wherever the tournament was being played and smoke those long European cigarettes while making fun of Novak Djokovic’s cheap Uniqlo clothes, Roger Federer was seen sporting a light, but still scruffy, beard for his Tuesday round-robin victory over Djokovic at the ATP World Tour Finals.

Doesn’t The Fed still have a deal with Gillette that reportedly pays him millions per year? Or is this part of some Gillette marketing ploy — a razor company struggling in a world of hipsters and the lazy, showing that you can let the ol’ shadow grow for a few days and still get a clean shave with the 14-bladed razor Gillette probably has now? (Oh, it’s only five? C’mon guys. Step it up.)

UPDATE: Federer is no longer with Gillette, according to ESPN. When asked about the “beard” in press, he offered a joke about his hipster, blogger-like look:

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Roger Federer fights past resilient Nishikori, wins all 3 round robins reaches ATP World Tour semis in London

Escaping the “backhand cage” is something Roger Federer has had a lot of practice doing over his illustrious career.

Federer defeated Kei Nishikori 7-5, 4-6, 6-4 at the Barclays World Tour Finals on Thursday afternoon, only winning three more points (96 to 93) over the two-hour and 10-minute battle.

Making Roger Federer hit as many backhands as possible in a row is what the backhand cage strategy focuses on. Federer may make his first couple of backhands, but can he make four or five in a row?

At the start of the match, Federer looked like he had all the time in the world to hit backhands, but Nishikori gradually improved his court position and groundstroke velocity to really target the Federer backhand side.

Nishikori was the first opponent to win a set from Federer this year in London, and also the first opponent to make him hit more backhands than forehands from the back of the court.

Federer hit 54 per cent backhands and 46 per cent forehands from the baseline against Nishikori, committing 13 backhand unforced errors, while hitting eight backhand winners.

Federer hit 55 per cent forehands in defeating Tomas Berdych, and went 50/50 beating Novak Djokovic - both of those in straight sets.

Federer is now totaling 49 per cent forehands and 51 per cent backhands combined over his first three matches at The O2.

Federer’s forehand is a much more potent weapon from the back of the court, and also helps set up countless attacks to the net.

Federer’s average backhand speed against Nishikori was 63 miles per hour (Nishikori 69 mph), with his topspin backhand averaging 71 mph (Nishikori 74 mph).

Nishikori definitely held the edge in backhand-to-backhand exchanges, constantly trying to make Federer hit one more shot in search of one more error, and also playing behind him with great success. Nishikori won 63 baseline points to Federer’s 49, with the backhand cage being the primary pattern.

Overall, Federer hit 72 per cent of his backhands with topspin against his Japanese opponent, mixing in 28 per cent slice to try and keep the ball low, and not give Nishikori any power to work with.

Nishikori hit 80 per cent topspin off his backhand, and 20 per cent slice, looking to hit the ball harder and deeper, leaning on the Federer backhand to commit errors.

Nishikori hit 79 per cent of his backhands cross court in a clear attempt to keep Federer in the dreaded “backhand cage”.

Nishikori also hit his backhand deeper, hitting 85 per cent past the service like, compared to only 76 per cent from Federer.

Nishikori Returning

Federer did not serve well, only making 54 per cent (51/94) of his first serves, but won a very high 84 per cent (43/51) when he did get it in.

Of note was how well Federer performed serving in the Ad court, only losing two points for the entire match. He won 12/13 serving out wide, and 9/10 down the T.

An interesting dynamic was how Federer was constantly kicking the ball up high to his 5'11" opponent’s backhand in the Ad court, with the Japanese star moving forward to stop it climbing out of his strike zone.

Nishikori averaged making contact 1.43 metres (4.7 feet) with his backhand return wide in the Ad court, but only 1.27 metres (4.2 feet) hitting forehand returns out wide in the deuce court.

That 16 centimetre (6.3 inches) difference is all about using spin and height to force a weaker return from Nishikori’s backhand wing.

Key Moments

Federer led 4-1 in the second and lost it 6-4, and also led 4-1 in the third set before Nishikori raced back to level at 4-4. A critical moment for Federer was escaping a 0/40 hole at 1-1 in the third set, winning five straight points to get out of the jam. In the 2015 season, Federer is amazingly holding 37 per cent of the time when trailing 0/40.

Nishikori also contributed an untimely double fault serving at 4-5, 40/30, in the final set, and the match was quickly over two points later.

Nishikori got close with the right strategy, but his good play was too often tied to the scoreboard.

When he was trailing Federer, he played very aggressively with his court position and velocity of shot, but that needed to turn up more when he was ahead in the score.

It was the perfect hit-out for Federer, being pushed to the limit, and relying more on his backhand than his traditional strengths to get over the finish line.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Roger Federer gets the best of Novak Djokovic moves to ATP World Tour Finals semis

Roger Federer Tumblr tag

After four losses in six match-ups with the World No. 1 in 2015, six-time champion Roger Federer defeated Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-2 in round-robin action on Tuesday at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Federer’s straight-sets victory, coupled with Kei Nishikori’s three-set 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 decision over Tomas Berdych, means he has qualified for the Group Stan Smith semi-finals. The Swiss broke their FedEx ATP Head2Head deadlock and moved ahead 22-21 with the victory. Djokovic, who tied the series with a four-set win in the 2015 US Open final, has never had more victories than Federer in their rivalry, which dates back to the ATP Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo in 2006.

Both players looked sharp early on, especially on serve, but Federer seized the momentum, taking the opening set 7-5 in 44 minutes. He would keep rolling in the second set, totaling 19 winners and a like number of unforced errors in closing out the match in one hour and 17 minutes.

"Winning the first set clearly in a match like this gives you the upper hand," said Federer, at 34 the oldest player to qualify for the year-end finale since Andre Agassi (35) in 2005. "It was important to strike again as quick as possible in the second set, and I did."

“You have those days as well when you're not feeling your best — not even close to the best," said Djokovic, the reigning three-time champion. “Credit to Roger for mixing up the pace, giving me always a different ball. He used the slice and spin very wisely. He served very efficiently. I made a lot of unforced errors [22]. Just handed him the win, especially in the second set.

“But, again, that's sport,” Djokovic added. “Sometimes these kind of matches, these kind of days happen. The good thing is that it's a round-robin system, so I still have an opportunity to reach the semis."

"I didn't think I mixed it up that crazy, to be honest," Federer asserted. "I didn't play any insane tactics. It was pretty straightforward, in a way I've played him many times in the past. My game is to mix it up, change up the spins. His game is to press you away. I think we both played our regular game, and it was a good outcome for me tonight."

Federer won 75 per cent (27 of 36) of his first-serve points, and converted four of eight break-point opportunities.

Djokovic had been riding a 23-match win streak since falling to Federer in the Cincinnati final on Aug. 23. He had won 16 straight matches at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, including wins over Federer in 2012, 2013 and 2014 (walkover).

The rivals have met more times (43) than any other two players in the Open Era with the exception of Djokovic and Rafael Nadal (45). The pair’s respective coaches, Hall of Famers Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg, played 35 times.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Roger Federer ATP Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship & Fan Favourie recipient once more

Roger Federer Tumblr tag

Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Bob and Mike Bryan have been honoured in the 2015 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon. While the ATP World Tour No. 1 Doubles Team presented by Emirates Award is still to be decided between four teams, all the other award winners have been announced today.

Djokovic receives the ATP World Tour No. 1 award presented by Emirates for a second straight year and fourth time overall, following an unbroken stint at No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings since 7 July 2014.

Federer has been selected by his peers as winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for an 11th time and by fans as the Fans’ Favourite presented by Moët & Chandon for a 13th straight year. Since 2003, Federer has won a record total of 31 ATP World Tour Awards.

The Bryan twins are the recipients of the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award for their off-court philanthropy with their charitable foundation, Bryan Bros, raising money for dozens of beneficiaries. They also take home the Fans’ Favourite presented by Moët & Chandon for a record 11th time and remain in contention for the ATP World Tour No. 1 Doubles Team presented by Emirates.

The 18-year-old Alexander Zverev wins the ATP Star of Tomorrow Award presented by Emirates for being the youngest player ranked in the Top 100, while players have voted Hyeon Chung as the Most Improved Player of the Year and recognised Benoit Paire as the Comeback Player of the Year.

Players will receive their awards in on-court ceremonies at The O2 throughout the tournament week.

Well-known writer Linda Pearce of The Age (Melbourne, Australia) is the recipient of the Ron Bookman Media Excellence Award while the ATP Tournament of the Year awards will be announced in 2016.

2015 ATP WORLD TOUR AWARDS presented by Moët & Chandon

ATP World Tour No. 1 presented by Emirates

(determined by Emirates ATP Rankings)

Novak Djokovic: The 28-year-old Serbian has become the sixth player to clinch the year-end No. 1 Emirates ATP Rankings on four or more occasions, following in the footsteps of Pete Sampras (six years), Jimmy Connors and Roger Federer (five years), Ivan Lendl and John McEnroe (four years). In 2015, Djokovic reached all four Grand Slams finals (3-1 record), eight ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament finals, winning titles in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo, Rome, Shanghai and Paris. He also lifted the Beijing trophy among 14 finals. He comes to the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals with a 78-5 match record, the sixth time in eight years he’s reached at least 70 wins.

ATP World Tour No. 1 Doubles Team presented by Emirates

(determined by Emirates ATP Doubles Team Rankings)

Bob Bryan & Mike Bryan, Jean-Julien Rojer & Horia Tecau, Ivan Dodig & Marcelo Melo, and Jamie Murray & John Peers will battle to finish as the No. 1 duo in the Emirates ATP Rankings at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The Bryans have won the award 10 times overall (2003, ‘05-07, ‘09-14).

ATP Star of Tomorrow Award presented by Emirates

(determined by Emirates ATP Rankings)

Alexander Zverev: This category in its third year, replacing the player-voted Newcomer of the Year, is awarded to the youngest player in the Top 100 of Emirates ATP Rankings as of 9 November. Zverev, who began the season ranked No. 136, broke into the Top 100 on 18 May and reached a career-high No. 74 on 29 June. The 18-year-old German reached the Bastad semi-finals and the Washington, D.C. quarter-finals. He also won one ATP Challenger Tour title at Heilbronn.

Most Improved Player of the Year

(voted by ATP players)

Hyeon Chung: The 19-year-old Korean climbed more than 120 places from No. 173 in the Emirates ATP Rankings at the start of the year, winning four titles on the ATP Challenger Tour in 2015. He also reached the Shenzhen quarter-finals and is currently at a career-high of No. 51.

Comeback Player of the Year

(voted by ATP players)

Benoit Paire: A knee injury and long months of inactivity in 2014, saw the Frenchman drop out of the Top 150 in the Emirates ATP Rankings but in 2015 he produced a dramatic resurgence. He captured his first ATP World Tour title at Bastad in July to become the first player since Steve Darcis in 2007 to win an ATP World Tour, ATP Challenger Tour and ITF Future title in the same season. He recorded his first Top 5 win over No. 4-ranked Kei Nishikori in the US Open first round and went on to finish runner-up at Tokyo where he beat Nishikori again in the semi-finals. He is currently at a career-high No. 20 in the Emirates ATP Rankings.

Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship

(voted by ATP players)

Roger Federer:
Fellow players voted the Swiss as the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award for the 11th time and fifth year in a row. He also won the award six straight years from 2004-09. Rafael Nadal, David Ferrer and Kevin Anderson were also nominated in this category.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Roger Federer easily wins first round robin ATP World Tour Finals match vs Berdych

Roger Federer sometimes makes the 02 Arena look like his own personal fan convention, attracting as loyal a following as any musical act that performs here.

That was again the case on Sunday night as before his adoring public he dismissed Tomas Berdych 6-4 6-2 to win his opening group match at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

Andy Murray – who starts on Monday afternoon against David Ferrer – knows what it is like to feel almost a stranger in your own country when facing Federer at this event.

So Berdych, forever stuck in the chorus line behind the so-called Big Four, was never likely to be anything other than friendless against the Swiss legend. Federer’s following does not diminish with his advancing years, as demonstrated after the match when he picked up the ATP Fans’ Favourite award for the 13th time.

As for the neutrals, after a match lasting 69 minutes they were left awaiting a proper contest in the singles event with shades of what happened twelve months ago when there were so many lopsided matches in the main event.

As Novak Djokovic walloped Kei Nishikori 6-1 6-1 in just over an hour, by far the best contest was provided by Jamie Murray’s first doubles match.

When Berdych broke Federer right at the start there may have been hopes of a gripping battle about to ensue. Faced with the world number three’s elegant flourishes, the Czech was too inconsistent to trouble the favourite, whose most unusual feature was his lengthy stubble.

Already it must be extremely likely that Federer and Djokovic will be in opposite sides in Saturday’s semi-finals, and their match Tuesday may well be a playoff for who goes through from the group on top.

The 28-year-old Scot plays his opening group match on Monday afternoon, and ought to be tested by the pugnacious Spanish veteran Ferrer.

The world No 7 was comfortably defeated by Murray in the recent Paris semi-final, although form is not always everything for the British player when it comes to this event, where he can be less predictable than normal.

Murray looked very sharp in Paris but ended his tournament here last year by winning just one game against Federer. It is not easy to assess how we will find him this week, especially with the preoccupation of the looming Davis Cup final.

That is his stated priority, but he needs a couple of wins inside the dome to ensure the world number two position is his at the end of the season. Ferrer is the most likely source of one with Murray’s other two group opponents being Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal, who face off on Monday night.

Predictability of performance is quite assured when it comes to Djokovic, who is as much a racing certainty to win this season-end event as Federer was in his heyday during the mid-Noughties.

The competitiveness of his match against Nishikori was not helped by the fact that the Japanese player has been suffering from injuries, including a stomach muscle strain, and he admitted afterwards that he had not been able to practice serving much in recent days.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

ATP World Tour Finals groups set to go in London

Between the two of them they have claimed 10 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. This year Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have been pitted in the same group for the round robin stages of the season-ending finale.

The Serbian No. 1 seed and Swiss No. 3 seed are locked at 21 wins apiece in their FedEx ATP Head2Head record, but Federer will have his work cut out to curb the Serb’s record-breaking run at the final hurdle this year. Djokovic has clinched four of the six matches the pair has played this year including the Wimbledon final and their most recent clash, in the US Open final. Federer, though, split these two defeats with a successful defence of his ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Cincinnati title, where he denied the World No. 1 the chance to claim the only 1000 event missing from his collection.

Before their much-anticipated showdown in the Stan Smith Group, Djokovic will carry a 22-match winning streak into his opening match of the season-ending finale, having won four straight titles leading in. He will open against Japan’s No. 8 seed Kei Nishikori, a player he has beaten four of the six times they have met, including the only time they crossed paths in 2015 in the Rome quarter-finals.

Djokovic will carry an even more impressive 20-2 win-loss record into his group match with No. 6 seedTomas Berdych, with the Czech’s last victory coming in the Rome quarter-finals two years ago. Berdych has, however, pushed the Serb the three times they have met in 2015 – in hard-fought three-set losses in the Dubai semi-finals and Rome final and falling in two tie-break sets in the BNP Paribas Masters quarter-finals only last week. It marked the first time in Djokovic’s career he had won a match without breaking serve.

Federer will open his campaign against Berdych on Sunday night. The Swiss leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head 14-6 and comfortably won their two matches in 2015 – in the Rome and Indian Wells quarter-finals. Berdych last beat the 34 year old in Dubai in 2013.

For either Berdych or Nishikori to favour their chances of progressing to the semi-finals, they will likely have to bank on at least claiming the honours when they square off in the group stage. Nishikori has won three of their four matches, although the pair hasn’t met since Tokyo in 2012.

Turning to Ilie Nastase Group and No. 2 seed Andy Murray will begin his bid to claim a maiden season-ending finale when he takes on Spanish No. 7 seed David Ferrer on Monday. The Scot has been victorious in 11 of their 17 encounters including both times in 2015 – a four-set quarter-final win at Roland Garros and a straight-sets dismissal in the BNP Parisbas Masters semi-finals last week.

Ferrer’s countryman, No. 5 seed Rafael Nadal, will ride an impressive 15-6 record against the Scot and hope to build on a promising late-season lift in form. Murray, though, who reached this week’s BNP Paribas Masters final, won the duo’s only encounter of 2015, a straight-sets triumph to claim the Madrid final.

This year’s Roland Garros champion, Stan Wawrinka, presents Murray’s third hurdle to reaching the semi-finals at The O2 this week. The Scot holds a narrow 8-6 win-loss record over the Swiss, but they have not played since the 2013 US Open, where Wawrinka upset the defending champion in the quarter-finals. Wawrinka has since gone on to claim two Grand Slam titles.

The fourth-seeded Swiss opens his season-ending campaign against Nadal on Monday night. The Spaniard won the first 12 meetings between the pair, but Wawrinka’s upset of Nadal in the Australian Open final in 2014 marked a change in fortunes for the 30 year old. He has now won three of their past four matches, including two of the three times they met in 2015. Wawrinka claimed quarter-final victories in Rome and at last week’s BNP Paribas Masters, while Nadal split the two losses with a win in the Shanghai Rolex Masters quarter-finals.

Against Ferrer, Wawrinka narrowly trails 6-7 in their FedEx Head2Head record, but the Spaniard has not beaten him since Buenos Aires in 2013. The Swiss has secured their past three matches although this will be their first of 2015.

Continuing his enviable Head2Head record against his group-stage opponents, Nadal will ride the confidence of having prevailed in 23 of the 29 times he has taken on his countryman, Ferrer. Nadal ground out a three-set quarter-final win in Monte-Carlo, in the pair’s only clash of 2015. Ferrer’s last win against Nadal came in the quarter-finals at the same event last year.

Saturday, November 14, 2015

Martina Hingis the star attraction in Champions Tennis Legue (CTL)

Hyderabad: Martina Hingis, Flavia Pennetta, Jelena Jankovic, Thomas Johansson and other top tennis players would cross swords when the Champions Tennis League (CTL) 2015 begins on November 23.

After a successful inaugural edition last year, the Vijay Amritraj-promoted tournament would begin in Mumbai and it will see 13 matches being played over a two-week period.

The event would conclude with a grand finale in Hyderabad on December six, Amritraj told reporters today.

CTL features six city-based teams across the country, put into two zones, he said.

"Each zone has three teams, where all teams play each other in a home and away format. The team winning the highest number of games in their respective zone will play each other in the grand finale to win the prize money of Rs one crore. The runner-up would win Rs 50 lakhs," he said.

The six teams include Punjab Marshalls, Mumbai Tennis Masters, Raipur Rangers, Nagpur Orangers, Hyderabad Aces and an yet to be announced sixth team.

"Over the years, I always said that we only had the Chennai Open as the international tennis event in India. Champions Tennis League brings international tennis, world class tennis to different cities across India. We have Indian Davis Cup players who are part of each team to participate alongside great champions.

"And, we will also have two juniors in each team, one boy and one girl, to learn and experience what it is to be alongside these great champions," Amritraj said.

The Hyderabad Aces comprises Hingis, Ivo Karlovic, Thomas Johansson, Jeevan Neduncheziyan and the two juniors Sathwika Sama and Adil Kalyanpur.

Amritraj said the CTL is delighted to have Hingis, who has been having a great run for some time now in the company of India's star player Sania Mirza in the doubles category in international tennis.

"What Sania and Martina have achieved from March this year is finding a complementary partner in each other… I think both of these have combined extremely well to prove as to why they have been outstanding in doubles this year. So, we are delighted to have Martina Hingis back," said Amritraj.

Replying to a query, he said Indian players are doing well in doubles and that things need to improve in others.

"Most of our performance has come in doubles. It is critical for us in men's tennis to make the world group in Davis cup, top 16 teams, that you have to have players in the top 100, hopefully in the top 50, to make the world group. If you do not have players in top 50, top 35, you are going to struggle to make the world group.

"Because everyone there is in the top 20, top 25. So it is difficult unless you do that. Similarly, in the Fed Cup as well amongst women," he said.

Asked about India's medal prospects in the Rio Olympics, he said tennis is a "non-seasonal sport" that is played almost throughout the year and that the players mainly look forward to the next Grand Slam event.

The tennis players would not look forward to the Olympics like their counterparts in athletics would do, he said.

He, however, added that India stands a chance to win medals in tennis in the Olympics in the doubles category.

Friday, November 13, 2015

Roger Federer helps out retiring friend Jarkko Nieminen

In London next week, Roger Federer will play the year-end ATP World Tour Finals, reserved for tennis’s top eight players, for the 14th time in his career.

His preparation this year was a bit different than usual: a two-day trip to rainy Finland, not exactly a tennis mecca, for one of the most extravagant, eccentric retirement parties in the sport’s history.

The man of honor was Jarkko Nieminen, age 34, older than Federer by two weeks and the most accomplished Finnish player ever. Nieminen, a recent father, played his last professional tournament in Stockholm last month. He and Federer have been friends since they first met as 14-year-olds. When Nieminen decided his time on the tour was up, he presented Federer with an idea.

“I thought, ‘OK, what’s the biggest way to finish?’” Nieminen said. “Of course to get the best player ever to come to my home, Finland.”

And so it was that Federer—father of four, winner of a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles and still No. 3 in the world—flew from Paris, where he played last week, to Finland for the first time during a chilly, wet month that the locals love to grumble about.

“People are like, ‘I’m sorry you have to be here in November,’ but it’s fine,” Federer said. “I’ll have to come back with the family.”

Federer has traveled extensively during his career but still loves it, especially when he visits a new place. Earlier this year, he played a tournament in Turkey. He has played exhibitions in South America, India and other parts of Asia. His chief motive, he said, is inspiration.

“To add that twist of fun and magic and freshness to everything besides the serious professional tour—I’ve played for 17 years—for me it seems like a great combination,” Federer said. “This is going to give me energy for the next few days and maybe the right inspiration I need for the World Tour Finals.”

No tennis player attracts as many fans from as many places as Federer (12,500 tickets to Nieminen’s retirement sold out in two hours). Nonetheless, Nieminen didn’t want to take any chances with his big night.

“Tennis is popular in Finland, but it’s not ice hockey,” Nieminen said. “I was a little bit afraid how it would go.” So Nieminen did what any good Finn would do: He invited two retired NHL stars—Finland’s Teemu Selänne and Sweden’s Peter Forsberg, tennis lovers both—to play doubles with the pros. There was a heavy metal band. And giant chocolate bars for the participants. T-Shirts for the event, dubbed “The Final Night,” were on sale for about $27 (profits from the evening benefited the Helsinki tennis academy Nieminen helped to start three years ago). Nieminen himself received a Jura coffee machine that looked like it weighed as much as a Finnish cruise-ship anchor.

“In Finland, we aren’t used to doing things this big,” Selänne said.

The fans, not surprisingly, were quite excited about a visit from Federer. When he was introduced as the greatest player who ever lived, the response in Hartwall Arena, Finland’s largest indoor stadium, was more roar than cheer.

“It’s crazy and it’s cool that it’s that way,” Federer said. “It makes you want to stay on tour, it makes you want to play, it makes you want to practice hard, it makes you want to put on a great show.”

Nieminen won two singles titles in his career and earned almost $8 million in prize money. He once reached No. 13 in the professional rankings, the highest spot in history for a Finn.

“My dream was to go to Wimbledon as a spectator once,” he said.

Nieminen watched in awe as his friend piled up Grand Slam titles. Nieminen lost all 15 of his matches against Federer, winning just one set. Federer, he said, is still like the kid he remembers.

“He’s still the same Roger, still has the same sense of humor, still very down to Earth,” Nieminen said.

Federer, who played in two major finals this year, said his friend’s retirement won’t make him think about his own. “I’m totally relaxed about it,” he said. “The love is still very much there and we’ll see where the journey takes me.”

In the first match of the evening, Nieminen and Selänne beat Federer and Forsberg in a set of doubles. Music followed, and then Federer and Nieminen returned for a fast-paced singles match played on a hard court set on top of wood that covered the arena’s ice. Satu Karhapää-Puhakka, who lives about 270 miles away in Joensuu, came with her husband and two children. They watched from the last row.

“These were the last places with four seats together,” she said. “This is the first time for me to see Federer play. It’s great.”

Federer won the match 7-6(4), 7-6(7), said his thanks and left Nieminen to stand in the spotlight. Nieminen looked up as a montage of his life played on the video screen. A young Nieminen hitting balls. Holding trophies. Wearing the uniform from his compulsory military service. Plucking a blade of grass from Wimbledon’s Centre Court.

Nieminen wiped away a tear but the sadness passed quickly. Then it was time for a beloved Finnish pastime: headbanging.

Nieminen ran a lap of the court, swept his long, blond hair over his face, stepped onto the courtside stage and rocked out to the music of Apocalyptica, a heavy metal band featuring three classically trained cellists.

“That was amazing,” Federer said. “That’s the way to go out.”