Saturday, January 31, 2015

Martina Hingis says tennis needs more characters like Nick Kyrgios

THREE-time Australian Open champion Martina Hingis says tennis needs more characters like Nick Kyrgios.

Hingis, who is playing doubles with Flavia Pennetta, told Confidential: “(Thanasi) Kokkinakis and Kyrgios, they’re two characters. The boys are going to be really exciting to watch for years to come.

“Especially Kyrgios, he’s already made a splash at Wimbledon. I like his character, I know it looks so wild but I think tennis needs faces like him. Any time, in any sport, it’s good to have a little bit of spark.”

Hingis, who has twice retired and dabbled in coaching, said she was loving being back on court.

“I’ve always liked the Australian summer to start the season,’’ she said.

“I know it’s not going to be there forever. When I made a comeback at 25 I thought, ‘Yeah, I still have years to come’.

“But now I know it’s not going to be there forever. Every match and victory is a bonus. I don’t want to think about it, I’ll see how far it’s going to take me. I’m just enjoying the moment.

“In doubles you have to be more reactive. If you’re tired and not fresh it won’t get you anywhere. Singles you have a bigger court and you can defend yourself. In doubles everything happens so fast. I cherish it more, every win is a good one.”

Friday, January 30, 2015

The Last of Us movie has "pretty big changes", but still faithful to the game says Neil Druckmann

The upcoming feature film based on Naughty Dog's post-apocalyptic action game The Last of Us won't follow the 2013 title's story exactly, but it will capture its overall tone, according to Neil Druckmann. He directed the game and is working with Sony to write the upcoming movie.

In an interview with Game Informer, Druckmann was asked how faithful the movie will be to the game. He replied: "Pretty faithful to the game. There are some big changes, but the tone and what the story's trying to say is pretty faithful to the game."

As for how the script itself is shaping up, Druckmann said it's coming along "really well," noting that he's already finished a second draft. He went on to say that the production team has already done a table read with "a bunch of actors," though he didn't say if Maisie Williams was one of them.

The Game of Thrones actress is reportedly a frontrunner for the role of Ellie. It's unclear who will play Joel, or any of the other characters, in the forthcoming film. Additionally, no director has been announced, though Spider-Man veteran Sam Raimi is confirmed to be producing it.

In addition to writing the script for the Last of Us movie, Druckmann is co-directing upcoming PlayStation 4game Uncharted 4: A Thief's End. Asked how he's splitting his time between both projects, his response suggested he hasn't been getting much sleep lately.

"When I'm in the office, it's all Uncharted 4 all the time," he said. "When I should be sleeping, it's the Uncharted movie." The interviewer then corrected him. "Yeah, sorry, The Last of Us movie."

An Uncharted movie is also in the works, but Druckmann made it clear that he's not writing that movie.

The Last of Us was released in June 2013 for PlayStation 3, while a Remastered version of the game later arrived for PS4. The game tells a post-apocalyptic story of a man (Joel) and a young women (Ellie) who are fighting to survive against humans and other deadly creatures.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Agnieszka Radwanska on Navratilova: "Now I really have a great team"

Agnieszka Radwanska says she is benefiting from Martina Navratilova's coaching and now has the team she wants in place.

The No. 6-ranked Radwanska began working with the tennis legend during the off-season, and is bidding to win her first Grand Slam title. She has not dropped a set during her first three matches at the Australian Open.

"I think it's a lot of things, but of course on this level, I think it's just really small details that are very important. Of course everybody can play great tennis, but if you want to win a match or Grand Slam, you really have to do everything right," said Radwanska.

Navratilova is still doing commentary for Tennis Channel while coaching Radwanska. "But, well, I think we could find and plan that everything is working for us both. Of course she's also commentating, but she's always there when I'm practicing or playing match. I think it's easy to do that. We find a plan every day very good," said Radwanska.

Radwanska, a former Wimbledon finalist, was coached by her father for much of her career. She says she is pleased with the arrangement she has now, combining her regular coach with Navratilova during some weeks of the season.

"I just have two coaches, which was my dad and now Tomasz Wiktorowski, wh[o] is still here, and Martina is another coach in the team," she said. "I didn't really have much other coaches in my career. I think now I really have great team. I have everyone that I need and everything is working pretty well. I hope that stay like this for long."

Radwanska plays Venus Willians in the fourth round.

I gotta agree, even despite the loss to Venus I think working with Navratilova might just bring her that first illusive grand slam title.

We might have to wait until the French Open, or more likely Wimbledon.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Martina Hingis to play Fed Cup & qualify for Rio Olympics

Martina Hingis, who won five Grand Slam singles titles in the 1990s but has exclusively played doubles the last two years (and no singles on the WTA Tour since 2007), wants to play Fed Cup later this year for the first time since 1998 at least in part because Fed Cup play is mandatory for Rio Olympic eligibility, according to French reports.

Hingis, 34, played in the Olympics once. She was the second-youngest singles player at the Atlanta 1996 Games, behind Anna Kournikova, according to Hingis, then 15, lost in the second round in singles in Atlanta but hoped to continue farther in doubles with Patty Schnyder so she could watch equestrian events.

“I have seen the dressage, but I would also like to see the jumping so I hope we can stay one more day,” the Slovakian-born Hingis said in 1996, according to the Independent. “If we lose, I go home.”

The next year, she rattled off her first three major victories — the Australian Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open. She skipped the Sydney 2000 Olympics to avoid injury risk.

Hingis is currently ranked No. 9 in the world in doubles, key as the rankings determine the Olympic tennis fields. She and Italian partner Flavia Pennetta lost in the third round of the Australian Open. Of course, Hingis would have to play with a Swiss in doubles at the Olympics.

Which raises the 2011 news that Hingis, then retired from WTA Tour play, had been asked by countrymanRoger Federer‘s team to consider a comeback. She and Federer discussed playing mixed doubles at the London 2012 Olympics but decided against it. Mixed doubles joined the Olympic program in 2012.

Switzerland did not enter a mixed doubles team in London. Federer and Stan Wawrinka lost in the second round of men’s doubles, after winning gold at Beijing 2008. Federer lost to Andy Murray in the singles final, an Olympic singles gold medal still eluding him.

Hingis eventually did come back to WTA Tour doubles play in 2013.

Unlike Hingis, Federer did play at the Sydney 2000 Olympics, losing to Tommy Haas in the semifinals andArnaud Di Pasquale in the bronze-medal match at age 19, three years before winning the first of his 17 Grand Slam singles titles.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Jim Courier blames Roger Federer's game plan, not preparation for early Aussie Open exit

Speaking on set with Brett Haber and Jon Wertheim of Tennis Channel, two-time Australian Open champion Jim Courier expressed his views on what factors might have contributed to Roger Federer’s shock loss to Andreas Seppi on Day 5.

Courier, unlike Martina Navratilova, didn’t believe that Federer’s preparation or possible over playing had anything to do with the loss.

“I don’t think that his preparation was poor at all,” said Courier. “I think he was ready. I just think that overall he had an off day. Everyone is prone to it, maybe as you get older they become a little more pronounced.” 

Additionally, Courier believes that Federer took the wrong approach to the contest with Seppi. “I didn’t like the gameplan," Courier stated. "I’m sorry that’s not a match where he should be attacking as much as he did. He should have been reading the tea leaves. If you’re not having success--when the facts change, you have to change with them and he didn’t do it.” 

Federer clearly had difficulty at net, winning only 29 of 50 forays with the Italian tattooing passing shots that eluded Federer’s racquet on many occasions.

“This is a matchup where [Federer is] so much better than Seppi—we know that, he was 10-0 against him. But Seppi’s a guy who likes a target. Federer, we know he’s been trying to get to the net and shorten points. You give Seppi a target and he can beat you. 

“Federer, I don’t think realized what was happening out there … [he] just didn’t have it physically and I also think he didn’t have it mentally.”

Monday, January 26, 2015

Martina Hingis & Leander Paes into mixed doubles 2nd round at Australian Open

Leander Paes and Martina Hingis entered the mixed doubles second round, while the Indo-Czech combination of Rohan Bopanna and Barbora Zahlavova Strycova faltered in the first round of the Australian Open on Sunday.

The Indo-Swiss pair of Paes and Hingis defeated Australian pair of Masa Jovanovic and Sam Thompson 6-2, 7-6(2), as Bopanna-Strycova lost 2-6, 6-3, 4-10 against the French-Canadian third seeded combination of Kristina Mladenovic and Daniel Nestor at the Melbourne Park.

The Indo-Swiss mixed doubles pair of Paes and Hingis registered an easy win in the first set 6-2. But they were taken to task in the second set but managed to win it 7-6(2).

Paes-Hingis fired 21 winners to get the better of Jovanovic-Thompson, who managed only 15. Paes-Hingis made only nine unforced winners as compared to 21 by their opponents.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Australian Open Spotlight: Agnieszka Radwanska

Agnieszka Radwanska has long threatened to win a breakthrough Grand Slam. Her new partnership with Martina Navratilova might just give her the impetus to get over the line.

Trick-shot trophies are not what drove Agnieszka Radwanska to brave sub-zero temperatures training on rundown indoor courts, during icy Krakow winters, when she was growing up.

Nicknamed the Magician, the Polish world No.6 has won the WTA Shot of the Year in each of the past two seasons – in 2014, for an impressive overhead backhand at the Rogers Cup and in 2013, for a 360-degree full body spin, to hit a winning backhand volley in Miami.

Renowned for her exceptional court nous and intuitive defence, the 1.70m Radwanska joked that her aim was to hit one even better in 2015, and while such titles are a novel honour, the big picture is Grand Slam trophies.

The 25-year-old has come close once before, pushing Serena Williams to three sets in the 2012 Wimbledon decider. And despite finishing 2014 in the top 10 for the sixth time in the past seven years, it was her lowest finish since 2011.

It was time, she felt, to draw on the expertise of an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion – Martina Navratilova – a player also renowned for her court craft and regarded as among the greatest athletes to have played on the women’s tour.

Where Andy Murray ushered in the recent trend of super coaches – first hiring Ivan Lendl, before turning to Amelie Mauresmo – the successful trend did not go unnoticed to Radwanksa.

Novak Djokovic teamed up with Boris Becker and went on to win Wimbledon before finishing the year at No.1, Roger Federer called on Stefan Edberg and returned to the top two, Marin Cilic brought Goran Ivanisevic on board and won his first Grand Slam title, with Kei Nishikori reaching his first final after turning to Michael Chang for advice.

Martina Navratilova and Radwanska only started working together after Christmas and while the former Czech great did not make the trek to Perth, the change reaped rewards sooner than expected as Radwanska teamed up with Jerzy Janowicz to claim the Hopman Cup for Poland.

"The goal, of course, is a Grand Slam," Radwanska said of the appointment. "I didn't make it yet, so I'm trying everything to win those slams. Martina is a person who will be a huge experience with so many titles. With that I think she can help me out a lot.

"All of her numbers and her winnings, I was very impressed like everyone. I am very happy she is a member of the team and I was in Miami before (Perth), so we practise together and she is coming to Sydney and Melbourne, of course. So far, so good, and we will see how it is going to be."

The title run in Perth was made all the more impressive after she thwarted the top-ranked Serena Williams in the final for the first time in nine matches.

Williams had not dropped a set against the Pole since their 2012 Wimbledon decider. "I think wins like this always give confidence, especially before a Grand Slam," she said. "Every year is a different story, but I feel very well this year and I´m healthy and ready to go, I´m ready for it.”

However, the Hopman Cup success took its toll in Sydney where, as the No.1 seed, Radwanska fell in the opening round to Garbine Muguruza.

Where grass has typically been her strongest surface – she also reached the Wimbledon semifinals in 2013 – Australia, for the most part, has been a happy hunting ground.

She won the Sydney International in two years ago and reached the semifinals at last year’s Australian Open, where she downed two-time defending champion Victoria Azarenka in the quarterfinals before losing to Dominika Cibulkova.

Victory at Melbourne Park in 2015 would make Radwanska the first Polish player to land a Grand Slam singles crown.

And while it may be too early to expect such a breakthrough after just one month with Navratilova, given the current run of successful super coach appointments, talk of grand slam trophies – as opposed to trick-shot titles – could well end up being the headline in 2015 for Radwanska.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Martina Navratilova: Lack of off season contributed to Roger Federer's early Australian Open exit

18-time Grand Slam champion Martina Navratilova chimed in on Roger Federer’s shocking Day 5 upset, saying that the Swiss maestro could have used a longer off-season.

Federer, who won his first career Davis Cup in late November before heading for India to take part in the Inaugural IPTL season, started 2015 with six consecutive victories, including the Brisbane title. But he fell on Friday to Italian Andreas Seppi in four sets, snapping his run of eleven consecutive trips to the Australian Open semifinals.

“You have to think that a lack of an off-season had something to do with it,” Navratilova said. “He had to be low on reserves coming into the tournament. As healthy as he was, playing great tennis, the Brisbane match that he beat Raonic in the finals took a lot out of him as well.

“But Davis Cup, and he played the IPTL, traveling all over the place and he had a week of exhibitions in Switzerland, it’s just too much and when you get older it gets hard.”

Navratilova isn’t surprised that Federer is more prone to the occasional off day, but despite the fact that he’ll be 34 by the last major of the year, the Czech legend still--after much unpleasant on-air deliberation--says she thinks he’ll take No. 18 home before he hangs up the stick for good.

“Can he [win a Slam]? Yes. Will he? The problem is when you get older," she said, "it’s not that you’re not consistent enough, it’s when you are a little off you’re more off. You can still win matches like that when you’re 25, 27, but when you’re thirty something, on your bad days you lose. And you can’t afford to have that bad day.”

Then came the aformentioned deliberation, and some good-natured ribbing from her on-air colleagues. Then, finally, the answer we all wanted to hear.

“I still have to say yes he will,” said Navratilova. Then, swiftly and mercifully, the subject changed.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Roger Federer post 3rd round Australian Open Q&A

Q. You didn't look quite comfortable out there today, especially the first two sets. Was something special going on or just a bad day?

ROGER FEDERER: Just a bad day, yeah. I mean, I wish I could have played better, but clearly it was tough losing the first two, you know. Had chances to get back into it. I let it slip, I mean, both times in some ways. I guess I won the wrong points out there today. I knew how important that second set tiebreaker was, so clearly that hurt, losing that one. The end wasn't pretty, you know. It wasn't easy to play with the shadow. But it was the same for both of us. Just a disappointing loss, you know.

Q. Did you have a chance to make a volley on the very final point?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I guess maybe if he hits it normally, maybe yes. But the way he hits it you think, This can't possibly land in. You kind of go and you're there and you're like, No, I'm going to let it go. As you're telling yourself that, you look behind you and you already know it's done, so... Because he was also running into the sun, so I have to cover cross-court just in case. That's where everybody goes. I don't know. Ask him how he felt hitting it. It's clearly a big blow because I actually hit my forehand pretty good.

Q. You never lost a set with him. Was it surprising the way he played? Do you think Seppi played his best ever?

ROGER FEDERER: Against me, you mean?

Q. Yes.

ROGER FEDERER: Possibly so. We had some good matches in the past. He hits a good ball, forehand and backhand, so I knew that on a quicker court where he gets more help on the serve it was potentially going to be more tricky. And I felt for some reason yesterday and this morning it was not going to be very simple today. Even in practice I still felt the same way. I was just hoping it was one of those feelings you sometimes have and it's totally not true and you just come out and you play a routine match. Yeah, it was a mistake. And I know the strength of Seppi, especially after he beat Chardy, who I know can play very well. I was aware of the test and was well-prepared. Just somehow couldn't play my best tennis today. It was definitely partially because of Andreas playing very well.

Q. What was your feeling in practice this morning?

ROGER FEDERER: I don't know, maybe rhythm was missing. But I feel like that very often and then, you know, I come out and play a good match. Sometimes you feel too good and then you play a horrible match. I mean, the practice to me doesn't mean a thing anyways. But I was aware that this could be a tough match, so I wasn't mistaken this time around.

Q. What do you think let you down the most? Was it your serving or missing those breakpoints?

ROGER FEDERER: I guess it was just an overall feeling I had today out on the court that I couldn't, you know, really get the whole game flowing. You know, was it backhand? Was it forehand? Was it serve? It was a bit of everything. At the same time, I think I got broken in the last couple of sets. The second set also I only got broken once. I was hanging in there. Gee, what did I have, 4-1 in the breaker, 3-1 in the breaker? I don't remember what it was. I hit a pretty good serve that I shouldn't -- downwind I should never lose that point. So it wasn't all bad. It's just when it counted the most somehow it just ended up going his way. I think that was because overall I wasn't feeling it quite as well. I had to play it a little bit passively at times when normally I would play aggressive. You know, it was just a tough match for me.

Q. When you come to reflect, do you think you made it back on top after a very grueling, very emotional Davis Cup very late in the year? Maybe this event came in a bit of a rush.

ROGER FEDERER: Not really. I was actually very happy that it was the way it went, because it allowed me to stay within the rhythm and take the break after the Australian Open. I was playing very well in practice. I was playing very well in Brisbane. I was playing great in the practice leading into the tournament. So I don't want to say that I peaked too early, but I definitely was hitting the ball very well. I still believe I'd still be in the tournament, that I'd still have a chance to go very deep. Like I said at the very beginning of the tournament, I truly believe that. But then again, margins are small, and sometimes these things tend to happen. Clearly I'll have a look at it, but I don't think I did anything wrong honestly. I wanted to go to India. I wanted to go back to Switzerland for Christmas. I practiced as hard as I possibly could. Can't do more than that. Sure, the year ended late, but one week later than normal. At the end of the day, honestly I'm confident that what I did was the right thing.

Q. The first set you played versus Bolelli, there was this little sign of alarm. You were pushed by the forehand of Bolelli a lot, and maybe today the whole match instead of just one set or not?
ROGER FEDERER: Maybe. I don't know. I think I gave a lot of explanation. I wish I could have won the first set; then things would have been different. But I definitely wanted to go into the match, play aggressive, play the right way, play on my terms, but it was just hard to do. For some reason I struggled. Like I explained, it had things to do with Andreas' game and with my game as well. You put those things together, all of a sudden you're playing a match you don't want to play. The rallies are going in a way you don't like it. Then when I maybe needed my serve the most, it wasn't quite there, because my baseline game wasn't there either. It went in phases. But at least I was able to iron out things a bit and able to play much more solid at the back end of the match. But it just broke me to lose that second set. And actually the fourth, I should win it, too. Just a brutal couple of sets to lose there.

Q. Were you surprised you were playing in the morning session? Maybe the conditions might be different.

ROGER FEDERER: Who knows. I mean, it's totally no excuse. How many times have I played night session, day session, night session, day session or day session, night session? Who cares. I think he did well. I struggled today and he took advantage of it really. I wish I believed maybe if we played at night I would have been more comfortable, but at this point who cares, right? I mean, like I'm on the plane and he's not, so...

Q. What are you going to do next?

ROGER FEDERER: Rest, then get ready for practice really.

Q. Do you have any tournaments planned for February?

ROGER FEDERER: Dubai is my next one.

Q. Do you feel like you're having these off days, do you feel they're coming more often in the last couple of years?

ROGER FEDERER: Oh, no. This is a feeling I've had for 15 years. To me I don't read anything into that. It's just not the best feeling to have. It's not like I'm playing shocking or I'm feeling shocking. It's like one of those things you look back and maybe, Yeah, I didn't feel so good. But if you win, you never even question it. If I were you, I wouldn't read very much into that.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Roger Federer suffers shock defeat in 3rd round of Australian Open

Out. Third round. Australian Open. Not since 2001 has Roger Federer packed his bags so early in Melbourne, but "just a bad day" and an inspired Andreas Seppi shocked the tennis world on Friday.

For the first time in eight years, the Australian Open semifinals will not feature Roger Federer.

For the first time in 14 years, the Australian Open fourth round will not feature Roger Federer.

The great man was felled on Friday, in the third round of Australian Open 2015, by a display of brilliance, some brawn, and a lot of honest-to-goodness-bottle from Andreas Seppi. The perfect combination of a willing challenger and a challenged champion, ending 6-4 7-6(5) 4-6 7-6(5).

“Just a bad day,” Federer said frankly. “It had things to do with Andreas' game and with my game as well. You put those things together, all of a sudden you're playing a match you don't want to play.”

For Federer, it was rather reminiscent of the US Open in 2013. A resurgent opponent showing no mercy on his backhand, leaving him to mis-time the forehand, and then pick him off in the open space. An opponent, Tommy Robredo, whom he hadn’t lost to in 10 previous meetings.

Seppi had also not beaten Federer in 10 previous meetings before Friday. He had won just one set, in Doha three years ago. He had also beaten just one member of the top 10 on 26 occasions. And yet on Friday at Melbourne Park, he showed up believing he could win.

“You don't play every day on a centre court, in front of a full stadium, against Roger Federer,” Seppi said. “But I was very calm. Is a special moment for me.”

For much of the early exchanges, debate flitted about as to whether Seppi was on or Federer was off. Maybe it was the dayglo yellow that made Federer look a little less serene. But whatever his opponent was doing, Seppi was concentrating on himself. He is a man who has persevered in this sport. Ever since struggling with his backhand as a junior, he has carried around a picture of Yevgeny Kafelnikov hitting a backhand. He did credit to his inspiration today.

At 4-4 in the first set, Seppi broke to love. He faced break-back points from Federer as he tried to serve out, but held his nerve. One set up: Seppi confident, Federer anxious.

The second set went to a tiebreak and Federer stormed ahead, only for Seppi to win six of the last seven points to take it as Federer went for a lunge volley and missed. Two sets up: Seppi buoyant, Federer deflated.

“I guess it was just an overall feeling I had today out on the court that I couldn't, you know, really get the whole game flowing. You know, was it backhand? Was it forehand? Was it serve? It was a bit of everything.

“I was hanging in there. Gee, what did I have, 4-1 in the breaker, 3-1 in the breaker? I don't remember what it was. I hit a pretty good serve that I shouldn't – downwind, I should never lose that point.”

In the third, Federer began to chat to himself. Amp himself up, and in three languages, no less. He broke to lead 2-1 with an ‘allez’, ‘komm jetz’ and a ‘come on’, and then served out the set to love at 6-3. Two sets to one: game on.

But he seemed tired in the fourth, and, as the sun’s shadow cut the court in half, Federer served to stay in the match at 5-4. He served out to love. Again Seppi held, and Federer served again. Clinging on by his neon as the score hovered around deuce, he sent a huge forehand skipping just inside the tramline to gain game point. He fist-pumped quietly. But he looked terrified.

“It went in phases,” Federer explained. “But at least I was able to iron out things a bit and able to play much more solid at the back end of the match. But it just broke me to lose that second set. And actually the fourth, I should win it, too.”

Three points later, an ace down the T sent the set to a tie-break, and again, Federer had the early advantage. Producing a backhand winner for practically the first time all match, he put himself up 5-4. He had two points on serve to add to his 369 tiebreaks won, rather than 189 lost.

But the next backhand was a shank, followed by a scintillating off-forehand into the open space from Seppi. Match point.

On match points, especially upset match points, the challenger is usually a bundle of nerves, tip-toeing around the baseline and desperately waiting for his opponent to muck it up. Not so Seppi. The pair flew forehand to forehand until, with the internet almost paused in anticipation, Federer rushed the net and Seppi passed him. A brilliant, beautiful forehand up-the-line.

“It was a winner, so I didn’t know how I can play a winner,” Seppi said, almost sheepishly. “At the beginning I thought I couldn't even reach the ball. Then, yeah, when I hit it, I didn't saw it going there. I just saw when it bounced in. Was, yeah, for sure one of the important shots of my life.”

“The way he hits it you think, this can't possibly land in,” Federer said. “You kind of go and you're there and you're like, ‘No, I'm going to let it go’. As you're telling yourself that, you look behind you and you already know it's done.”

Three sets to one: game over.

Bizarrely, Federer finished the match with one more point than Seppi – 145 to 144. But not the ones he needed to. And 55 unforced errors didn’t help, even when married with 57 winners.

“It's just when it counted the most somehow it just ended up going his way,” the 17-time Slam champion said. “I had to play it a little bit passively at times when normally I would play aggressive.”

By strange quirk of fate, it’s the second year that Seppi has done for the Brisbane champion, having ousted Lleyton Hewitt last year. But that’s immaterial. What matters here is that he’s beaten Roger Federer. He’s in a Grand Slam fourth round. Someone should send him a photo.

“To have this win in my career, it's for sure something big,” Seppi said. “Now I know that I can handle also some very difficult moments or some big pressure.”

And Federer? He won’t be playing Nick Kyrgios in a dream fourth-round encounter. But he’s not going anywhere just yet.

“It's not like I'm playing shocking or I'm feeling shocking,” he said. “It's like one of those things you look back and maybe, yeah, I didn't feel so good. If I were you, I wouldn't read very much into that.”

It was just a bad day. That’s life.

I don't know if I'm upset, or just really disappointed (in much the same way I was after last year's Wimbledon).

Once again Roger had his chances, but either couldn't capitalize on them, or just squandered them.

And I guess if I'm being honest Roger just wasn't playing anywhere near his best. I honestly cannot recall the last time he had 9 double faults in any one match.

Here's hoping the media doesn't start those retirement rumors again.

Once again I find myself rooting for the women (go Genie Bouchard & Aga Radwanska!). At this moment I just don't have it in me to root for any of the remaining guys.

On a more positive note congratulations to my other favourite Swiss, Martina Hingis and her partner Flavia Pennetta who won their doubles and moved into 3rd round.  Good job ladies!.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Australian Open spotlight: Roger Federer

He may have 1000 wins on his glittering CV, but Roger Federer’s appetite for silverware remains as strong as ever.

Sometime in early June, as he approaches his 34th birthday, Roger Federer will have spent exactly half of his life as a professional tennis player.

As career choices go, it’s worked out pretty well for the world No.2. In Brisbane, he reached 1000 career victories by winning the final against Milos Raonic, a milestone reached by only Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl before him. Switzerland’s maiden Davis Cup title last year leaves just one major target on his hit list: Olympic singles gold.

Then there are those 17 Grand Slam titles, more than any other man to pick up a racquet, and the record 302 weeks as the ATP’s world No.1. Off court, the time has long passed since he might have felt the need to fret about his financial future, if indeed the thought ever entered his mind – and this for a father of four.

Still, the fire burns bright in Federer. With Stefan Edberg in his corner, a new racquet with a larger sweet spot in hand and commitment redoubled to his volley-focused attacking game, the 33-year-old won more matches than any other player on tour in 2014. He claimed five titles in all, including two Masters 1000 crowns, and reached a record ninth Wimbledon final, where he lost to Novak Djokovic over five scintillating sets. He ended the season as world No.2 behind the Serbian having hounded him for the top spot until the year’s final event, the ATP World Tour Finals.

But it’s not just the competition that keeps Federer going – it’s also the roar of the crowd, the privilege of playing to fans worldwide on the grandest stages tennis has to offer. When that ends, he admits, the time will come to consider the ‘R’ word.

"I definitely am fortunate to always be playing on centre court, and very often prime time," Federer said in a BBC radio interview aired on Boxing Day.

"I must say – and this is honest – I don't know if I would still be playing if they would put me on Court 4 every day. That would be difficult for me, having played on all these wonderful courts around the world and now playing in front of a fraction of those people, that would be rough."

There is little threat of Federer plying his trade on the on the outside courts at Melbourne Park any time soon. The four-time former champion has reached the semi-finals or better every year since his maiden victory back in 2004, and even the most mundane of practice sessions draw fans in their droves. His status as a star attraction remains unparalleled; as a contender, unquestioned.

Having debunked the theory that he was a fading force yet again in 2014, Federer heads into 2015 with his sights set no lower than the past, even if the field continues to close the gap on the game’s big three. Last year underlined both Federer’s ability to stay with the best at full fitness and the toll of that success on his back at the end of a lengthy season; the ageing great ishuman after all.

Should Federer fail to win in Melbourne, it would represent his longest run without major to his name since winning the first of those 17 titles, at Wimbledon in 2003. But if two seasons without a Grand Slam title represents an alarming drought, it only serves to illustrate how high a standard both he and we have come to expect of him. Federer remains the benchmark in men’s tennis and an inspiration not only to his fans but also to his fellow professionals, as Andy Murray made clear in the build-up to the Australian Open.

“The thing with Roger is he doesn’t give up,” Murray said in Abu Dhabi. “He had a very tough season [in 2013], and it would have been easy for him to look at things and think: ‘okay, I’ve had a great time, maybe it’s time to call it a day’, but he didn’t. He went away with his team and addressed the issues and came back stronger than ever.

“No matter how old you are or successful you have been, there is always more to learn and always things you can work on to improve yourself, and I think Roger has shown that.”

It is a half-life to be savoured, no doubt.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Roger Federer battles past Boleli in 4 to reach Australian Open 3rd round

World No. 2 Roger Federer overcame a difficult start Wednesday to move into the Australian Open third round with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 win over Simone Bolelli in Melbourne.

Following Maria Sharapova’s near-upset on Rod Laver Arena in the previous match, Federer came out and immediately fell behind 1-4. The 48th-ranked Bolelli took a set off of the Swiss for the first time in four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings as he converted on his third set point opportunity.

Federer was unable to capitalise on his double break point chance at 3-2 in the second set, before finally breaking Bolelli’s defences in the Italian’s next service game. He opened the third set with another break and never looked back, closing out the victory in just over two hours.

"Happy I'm still in the tournament, because there for a while today it wasn't looking very good because Bolelli was playing very well," admitted Federer. "But it's always a good feeling fighting your way out of a match, like now, and winning the last three sets convincingly and actually playing really positive tennis. I served very well.

"[The] important [thing] is that you play the right way early because it's not always that easy. Today I had to do some adjustments because he was doing things very well. By figuring things out, it's a great feeling to have once you've got it. Then you're able to play consistently well, because actually he didn't have many opportunities on my serve. You always expect yourself to create opportunities, which I was finally able to do. Conditions were playing fast, and it's not so easy if you serve well to break."

The four-time Australian Open champion next faces the winner between 29th-seeded Frenchman Jeremy Chardy and Italian Andreas Seppi. Federer is bidding to become the second man in history, following Roy Emerson, to win five Australian Open titles. His last victory at Melbourne Park came in 2010, when he defeated Andy Murray in the final.

The 33-year-old Federer has reached 11 successive Australian Open semi-finals, also winning the title in 2004 (d. Safin), 2006 (d. Baghdatis) and 2007 (d. Gonzalez). Last year, he was beaten in the final four by Rafael Nadal.

Federer has started 2015 with a perfect 6-0 record. In the first week of the season, he became the third man in the Open Era to reach 1,000 match wins as he captured his 83rd tour-level title in Brisbane (d. Raonic).

Monday, January 19, 2015

Roger Federer's mysterious injury, blister or bee sting?

Was Roger Federer stung by a bee Wednesday?

He certainly felt something happened after the first set of his 3-6, 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 second-round victory over Simone Bolelli at the Australian Open.

“I don’t know if it's a blister,” said Federer, who instantly felt pain on the little finger of his right hand. “It's the weirdest thing… I feel it on the tip of my finger.

“I just felt really odd starting after the break, and for three, four games, it was the funniest feeling I have. I feel like it's numb and swollen.

“It felt like a bee stung me. I never had this pain before - it was disturbing me.”

Federer called the physio onto court.

“I knew we couldn't tape it up because then it would be even bigger and more weird. I just said, ‘I hope it doesn't get worse or stay like this?’ Actually it went away, but now I feel [it] again. I don't know what the feeling is.”

Federer was later asked whether the media plays too much emphasis on his age.

The 33-year-old admitted, “I don't feel any different to let's say four years ago. I really don't. You maybe pay attention a bit more and listen to the signs of your body a bit more. By now I know my body even better.

“I think the mind also becomes important. How badly do you want to be out there? How badly do you want to play and win? Why are you still doing it? Are you doing it for the right reasons?

“I think that becomes, in my opinion, more important than the whole body talk that everybody puts emphasis on.”

Federer became the third player in the Open Era to record 1,000 match wins on 11 January, when he captured his 83rd tour-level title at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp (d. Raonic).

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Roger Federer continues winning streak at Australian Open

Roger Federer maintained his record of never having lost in the Australian Open first round Monday as he started his quest to become only the second man in Australian Open history to win five titles. Roy Emerson won his sixth crown in 1967.

The second seed, a winner of 17 Grand Slam championships, defeated Yen-Hsun Lu 6-4, 6-2, 7-5 during the night session on Rod Laver Arena. He will next challenge Simone Bolelli, who was a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 winner over Juan Monaco.

Federer, who has reached the Australian Open semi-finals for 11 straight years, struck 26 forehand winners in the pair's third meeting. Lu, who won his third ATP World Tour doubles title at the Aircel Chennai Open (w/Marray), could not convert any of his four break point opportunities.

The 33-year-old Federer captured his 83rd tour-level title at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp (d. Raonic) for his 1,000th career match win. Federer’s coach, Stefan Edberg, the 1985 and 1987 Australian Open champion, was celebrating his 49th birthday.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Martina Hingis chasing doubles glory in Melbourne

MARTINA Hingis was the child star who became the youngest Grand Slam tennis winner in history. She retired at the age of just 22, with five Grand Slam singles titles to her name. Now 34, and in the third stage of a remarkable career, she heads to Melbourne Park in a bid to add to her nine career Grand Slam doubles titles.

YOU have achieved everything there is in the game. Is your return to the tour as a doubles player purely about the enjoyment of the game?

“I have money problems (laughs). No when I was coaching at the academy just outside Paris, I was hitting a lot against the girls and I felt like I still had game. When I was practising with Sabine (Lisicki) and she asked me if I would play a game with her before her singles.

“I was like, well ok we’ll try and see how it goes and then we won a tournament in Miami and that felt really good. And I played some practise sets and won and I know everyone can be practise champions but I felt like I could still play tennis competitively, so I thought I would give it a go.

“I play team tennis in the US and I thought I’d just play a few more tournaments. I just thought why not, instead of coaching I want to do it myself.”

SO the coaching it never replaced the buzz of playing does it?

“No it doesn’t, and I can always do that later when I really feel I can’t handle the pace anymore against the girls. I enjoyed helping Sabine (Lisicki) and she is playing well and has a chance to win titles and a Grand Slam.”

WHAT has been the most significant change you’ve noticed in the game over the course of your career?

“Ten years ago when I played the Williams sisters were there and there was some other heavy hitters like Mary Pierce. But I think the materials, the game is fast and everyone makes bigger shots because of the change in the racquets. That to me has been the biggest change. I can’t really say when I played that it was slower, I mean the players were pretty fit. When I played against the best players, the big hitters, I just had to say in the game, the longer it went the better for me. These days the girls can all hit winners. I wish we had those racquets before, so I could hit winners.”

YOU were the youngest ever Grand Slam champion and new technology should make girls more competitive at a younger age. But your record is safe because they changed the rules around eligibility for WTA tournaments. Is it a good rule?

“I was never really sure about the new rule because the girls are taking longer to get there, but on the other hand the careers are longer. But I feel it takes them longer to excel, to gain the consistency needed..

WHAT about the pressure. You were a superstar from your early teens and you grew up in the public eye. Did it ever test your love of the game and do you think the fact the girls are starting later can save them from burn-out?

“I can’t really speak for the pressures players face. But I know it’s different if you have success, I guess you love the game when you are winning. I mean I wouldn’t be playing doubles if I was losing either. There are a lot of girls playing and if you are losing in the second round at an event, to keep going, to stay motivated must be a lot harder than if you are almost every week making finals or at least semi-finals and putting yourself in contention for a title every second weekend. I really can’t talk for the players who are between say ten and thirty, who are having up and downs, who can have a big week then some off weeks. I always felt like I had a chance to win a tournament every week.”

WAS there ever an opponent that was always ranked lower than you that you dreaded playing? Was there a bogy opponent?

Yeah I never liked playing Daniella (Hantchukova). She was at that time always the underdog against me and I found her very difficult. I never really liked playing against her and then she moved up to four or five in the world and the other one was Serena, she was a great player. I mean I had to pay attention against everyone but at the end of the day I thought I had the game.

WHAT about the 99 French Open final. It has gone down in history as the greatest women’s match ever. It was full of drama and controversy and you lost to Steffi Graf 6-4, 5-7, 2-6. Now that time has passed are you happy to have been a part of it or does that loss still burn?

“That is the match I wish I could replay. To make the most of it. There was so much emotion in it. Obviously if it had gone 6-4, 6-4 nobody would talk about it. I was able to watch it on You Tube a few years ago and I was like, hey that is pretty good tennis. I felt proud about how well we’d both played.”

IF you were coaching Sam Stosur what would be your advice?

“I think she has done well, I think she has probably made the most of her game. She has won a Grand Slam. I think sometimes things get to her a bit that can put her off her game. I played her
on my comeback, the second set was a tiebreak. If I had lost the tiebreak she would probably have beaten me. I think once you get into rallies you have just got to keep it away from her forehand. Technically I think she could focus on making her backhand better. She seems to be so focussed on her serve and her forehand. But we all have our weapons right?”

YOU were world number one for 209 weeks. What is it like knowing each week that everyone wants to take you down?

“I felt like they all had a similar plan against me. There was (Monica) Seles and (Jennifer) Capriati, the Williams sisters, Mary Pierce, Lindsay Davenport, they all tried to blow me off the court. They would try to make the points as quick as possible. And I just had to try to keep them out there. They were great rivalries, it was good times.”

HERE’S a fantasy question, what would be the one match across any era you’d like to watch or be a part of?

“In my day I played a lot of great players. But I really like watching Rafa (Nadal) and Federer. The rivalry has been great and some of their games have been the highlights of our sport. I can’t recall too much McEnroe and Connors but I have always imagined the past was so exciting. The few points that you see show that that they were fierce battles. The matches looked so exciting because of the volatility of those guys. They would lose it. They would be talking to the ref for five minutes and just get a warning. It was unbelievable.

DOES tennis miss that bit of colour. The rogue characters?

“You just can’t do it anymore. The players just don’t talk that much anymore. These days you say one word and you will get a warning.”

DOES one of the victories or tournaments stand above the rest as your favourite?

“It wasn’t the victory so much but I really enjoyed the Australian Open when I beat Serena and Venus in the same week because they were such tough opponents.”

THAT was 2001 wasn’t it, and you lost the final that year didn’t you?

“Yeah I shouldn’t have, I lost to Jennifer (Capriati) when I was up, I think 4-0, it is probably the other match of my career I wish I could change. It gives me goose bumps again. But beating the two sisters in the same tournament was special It didn’t happen too often. I could usually beat one of them which took a lot and then the other one would be waiting for me.”

YOU have been involved with a couple of athletes, tennis players Magnus Norman and Radek Stepanek and golfer Sergio Garcia and it hasn’t worked. Why is it so hard for two athletes to have successful relationships?

“As athletes we have egos. It is hard to balance your careers and relationship at the same time. You have to make compromises, both of you, and it is hard when to find time when you are in the middle of your career to do that. But there is always time.”

YOU fought hard against your two-year doping suspension in 2007 arguing the miniscule level was likely to have been caused by contamination and not deliberate ingestion. (The 42 nanograms per millilitre of benzoylecgonine would go undetected in many drug testing programs). Do you have any anger still over the way it panned out or are you settled with it?

“Well they changed the rules after that. The upsetting thing for me from the whole thing was that I never took anything. I’ve said that all along. With the whole doping, the changes now somebody else gets three months and I got two years. That is still definitely upsetting. I still feel the whole doping thing, it was too harsh. And there are a lot of people who feel the same. You were treated like criminal.’’

Friday, January 16, 2015

Roger Federer taking in some practice at Rod Laver Arena

I love the way Roger looks in this outfit, makes me wish this was his actual one for the tournament (but it probably won't be).

Just as long as he doesn't wear red again. Pretty sure he wore that almost all of last year.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Roger Federer faces tough opposition in Australian Open draw

Roger Federer could scarcely be in better form as he attempts to land that elusive 18th Grand Slam. But the draw could not have been tougher.

There are a lot of key ingredients that contribute to winning a prestigious Grand Slam title, and the draw is definitely one of them.

The obvious elements of recent form, fitness, health and confidence are the most talked about, but who you play, when you play them, and the physical and mental toll it takes to secure victory are all critical elements in a successful run to the title.

The most in-form player in the men’s draw is Roger Federer, who won a tour-leading 73 matches in 2014. He already has a title in 2015 with a win in Brisbane last week, but the draw did him no favours as he seeks to win a fifth title here in Melbourne.

Federer’s first opponent, Yen-Hsun Lu of Chinese Taipei, reached the quarters in Chennai last week, showing solid form leading into the Australian Open. Lu, ranked 46 in the world, also played Federer in the first round of Wimbledon in 2009, losing 7-5 6-3 6-2. Lu has won his opening round at the Australian Open for the past three years, and caused a huge upset in 2009 by defeating No.11 seed David Nalbandian in five sets. Lu is definitely not to be looked past in the draw by the Swiss maestro.

Federer’s first potential meeting with another seed is against Jeremy Chardy (29) in the third round. Chardy matches up really well against Federer, and all three of their encounters in 2014 went the distance. Chardy lost 6-3 in the third set in Brisbane, saved a match point in Rome in defeating Federer 8-6 in the third set tiebreak, and then lost 6-4 in the third set at the Paris Masters. Chardy believes, which makes him even more lethal.

Federer’s first potential match against a Top 20 seed could come in the next round against Tommy Robredo. The in-form Spaniard defeated Federer in straight sets the last time they played in a Grand Slam – in the round of 16 at the U.S. Open in 2013.

If Federer survives these very dangerous opponents to reach the fourth round, there’s nothing but pain on the horizon for the rest of the journey.

Federer potentially could play either Grigor Dimitrov or Andy Murray in the quarterfinals. Federer defeated Murray in the Australian Open final in 2010, lost to him in five sets in the semis in 2013, and defeated him in four sets in the quarters last year. This heavyweight battle could take a lot out of both players as they seek to reach the semifinals, where nemesis Rafael Nadal could be waiting.

Nadal defeated Federer in straight sets in the Australian Open semis last year, and also in the same round in 2012. They contested a thrilling final Down Under in 2009, which Nadal won in five sets. It’s a tough ask for Federer to climb the Nadal mountain here in Melbourne – an opponent he has never conquered at this tournament.

If Federer somehow does navigate his way to the final, the tournament’s red-hot favorite and No.1 seed, Novak Djokovic, is schedule to be waiting on the other side of the net. Federer beat Djokovic here in straight sets in the round of 16 in 2007, but lost in straight sets in the semis in 2008 and 2011.

The draw has not been kind to Federer, as he has potential road-blocks from start to finish. An 18th Grand Slam title at the age of 33 is certainly possible, but it is going to require a steely nerve and straightforward matches not to sap his energy in week one. Staying fresh for the second week will be crucial as he attempts to rewrite the history books once again.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Agnieszka Radwanska wins Hopman Cup for Poland!

PERTH, Australia - Agnieszka Radwanska led Poland to the Hopman Cup title on Saturday, not just beating Serena Williams in the women's singles match, but also in the mixed doubles match.

Eight countries sent teams to battle it out at the exhibition event in Perth this past week, playing each other in a series of three matches each - a women's singles match, a men's singles match and a mixed doubles match. A slew of WTA stars made the trip as well, including six of the Top 20 players in the world - Williams, Radwanska, Eugenie Bouchard, Flavia Pennetta, Lucie Safarova and Alizé Cornet.

At the end of the week only the USA and Poland were left standing, and Radwanska was the player of the day - she not only beat Williams in the singles match, 6-4, 6-7(3), 6-1, but she partnered Jerzy Janowicz to beat Williams and John Isner in the mixed doubles match, 7-5, 6-3. The final scoreline was 2-1, after Isner topped Janowicz in a tight one in a battle of massive servers, 7-6(10), 6-4.

Williams has beaten Radwanska in all eight of their WTA-level meetings, dropping just one set.

This is the first time in the 27 years of Hopman Cup that Poland came out with the title.

Williams has helped the USA to two titles before, in 2003 and 2008.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Martina Hingis & Sabine Lisicki Brisbane International Champions!

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Pics from Martina Hingis Fanclub on Facebook &

The first week of play for the 2015 season featured scintillating doubles action at three events, including another triumph for star-studded duo Martina Hingis and Sabine Lisicki.

Hingis and Lisicki's previous lone WTA title together was a big one, Miami in 2014. But they had not teamed up since May until this week.

The Swiss-German pairing's reunion at the Brisbane International was quite successful, as they did not drop a set all tournament, including a 6-2, 7-5 defeat of No.4 seeds Caroline Garcia and Katarina Srebotnik in Saturday's final.

"It was a mix between my aggressive game and her making some amazing shots at the net," Lisicki said. "We complement each other very well, and the most important thing is it's so much fun."

This was Hingis' 41st WTA doubles title, tied with Kathy Jordan for 19th-most in the Open Era, and Lisicki's fourth.

"I'm very happy that I contacted her making sure she was available to play in Brisbane," Hingis said. "I couldn't ask for a better outcome.

"It was an amazing week, as was the one in Miami. When Sabine is on, I think we're a great match. I have two great partners with Sabine and Flavia. If the opportunity arises again at some point to play with Sabine, I'll be very happy."

Monday, January 12, 2015

Roger Federer 1000th match winner & Brisbane International Champion!


The girls cheering their daddy on :)

Top seed Roger Federer secured the 1,000th victory of his career as he beat Milos Raonic to win the Brisbane International title.

Swiss Federer, 33, beat the Canadian, 24, 6-4 6-7 (2-7) 6-4 on Pat Rafter Arena to clinch his 83rd career title.

The world number two becomes the third man, after Jimmy Connors and Ivan Lendl, to secure 1,000 ATP wins.

"I've played a lot of tennis over the years so to get to 1,000 wins means a lot to me," said Federer.

It's a special moment, no doubt about that. I will never forget this match."

The 17-time Grand Slam champion, who lost to Lleyton Hewitt in last year's Brisbane final, is the first player since Lendl in 1992 to reach the milestone.

He has now won at least one tournament every year since 2001, an unbroken run spanning 15 seasons.

Federer now heads to Melbourne to begin preparations for the Australian Open, which begins on 19 January and is a Grand Slam he has won four times.

The Swiss has been in fine form in Brisbane, brushing aside Australian qualifier James Duckworth in 39 minutes and then beating Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in 53 minutes to reach the final.

Federer began strongly in final, breaking Raonic's serve in the third game before going on to take the set 6-4.

He broke in the opening game of the second set, but Raonic broke back for 2-2 and then dominated the tie-break, winning seven successive points to seal the set and level the match.

Federer was under pressure early in the third but Raonic failed to capitalise and the Swiss recovered to break in the 10th game and secure victory in two hours and 13 minutes.

Raonic said: "We all know today is a significant milestone for Roger. When we came out and they listed all the things you've won, I thought you must have been playing for 2,000 wins."

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Roger Federer rolls on into the finals at Brisbane International

He's fighting off the stars of the so-called "Millenials" generation but it's Roger Federer who can become tennis's millennium man in Brisbane.

The Swiss great will take on Canadian rising star Milos Raonic on Sunday in the Brisbane International final, knowing with a win in the decider he'll claim the 1000th win of his ATP Tour career.

Only two men, American Jimmy Connors (1253) and Czech great Ivan Lendl (1071), have claimed more than a thousand victories in tour history.

Should Federer maintain the form displayed in victories 998 and 999, it's almost a certainty that the 33-year-old will pass the milestone.

After taking just 41 minutes to demolish Australia's James Duckworth in the quarter-finals, Federer turned it on once more against highly rated Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov on Saturday to claim a 6-2 6-2 semi-final win in just 53 minutes.

Since being surprised by world No.153 John Millman in his opening set of the tournament, Federer has claimed six straight sets to race into the final.

The 17-time grand slam champion, who cited his 2003 Wimbledon final victory over Australia's Mark Philippoussis as the highlight of his 999 wins, said there's no doubt claiming 1000 wins on tour would be a great achievement.

"I hope it's tomorrow, clearly," Federer said.

"It's a really big number, no doubt about it. Love to get it tomorrow, especially in the finals in an ATP event where most of my wins have come.

"If not tomorrow, I hope it happens at the Australian Open ... I don't know if it's a goal, but it would definitely be an incredible milestone to reach."

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Friday, January 09, 2015

Roger Federer flies into the semis in Brisbane

Roger Federer will take on Grigor Dimitrov in the semi-finals of the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp on Saturday, as he edges closer to becoming the third player in the Open Era (since 1968) to record 1,000 career match wins.

Twenty four hours after battling back to beat John Millman, Federer calmly defeated another Australian wild card, James Duckworth, 6-0, 6-1 in 41 minutes.

"I was very happy the way I played," said Federer. "I played aggressive, served well, and then especially on the return I kept the pressure on time and time again. Next thing you know, it was like I was running away with the score."

Federer lost just six points in the 16-minute opener and he had won eight straight games before Duckworth held serve to 15 for 1-2 in the second set. He won 25 of his 30 service points overall.

“[It was a] rough night,” said Duckworth. “We all have days that aren't as good as others. [It was] a bit of a combination of things: me not playing great; didn't probably hit the ball as well as I had the last two matches, and Roger was seeing the ball pretty big… He didn’t do too much wrong tonight.”

Federer is now just two match wins shy of 1,000 career match wins. Should he lift the trophy on Sunday, he would join Jimmy Connors (1,253) and Ivan Lendl (1,071) as the only players to accomplish the feat.

On Thursday night, Federer recovered from a set and 1-3 deficit to beat Millman in just over two hours

"I'm very happy," admitted Federer. "I saved energy and stress and nerves and everything, because yesterday was quite nerve wracking and physically difficult because it was first match of the season. You're always going to be a bit tense in that match."

Federer has beaten Dimitrov in the Swiss Indoors Basel quarter-finals for the past two years.

Australian Open organizers make changes to their extreme heat policy for this year

MELBOURNE, Australia - Australian Open organizers have tweaked the extreme heat policy for 2015 in the wake of complaints from players about dangerous conditions during a heat wave in Melbourne during the last tournament.

Tournament direct Craig Tiley said the decision on implementing the policy will take into account the weather forecast once the temperature exceeds 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit) and the Wet Bulb Global Temperature — a measurement that accounts for humidity, wind direction and the temperature — exceeds a reading of 32.5.

"We believe this update will clarify and streamline the communications process for both players and support staff," Tiley said. "We've consulted the playing group and this is seen as the fairest way to implement the policy by many of the top players."

The tournament referee still has the absolute discretion on whether or not to apply the extreme heat policy, organizers said, although setting the parameters will help players and coaches preparing for matches.

In the other change, matches in progress when the extreme heat policy is invoked will be suspended at the end of an even number of games in that set or at the completion of a tiebreaker.

With the recent opening of the remodeled Margaret Court Arena, the Australian Open has three courts with retractable roofs for 2015. Organizers said that will help weatherproof the tournament.

The temperature topped 40 degrees C (104 degrees F) for four consecutive days during the tournament in January, the longest heat wave in the city in a century, but the extreme heat policy was rarely implemented.

Thursday, January 08, 2015

Roger Federer survives tough battle his first match of the year in Brisbane

Roger Federer appeared rusty in his season-opening match at the Brisbane International as he struggled to beat the Australian wildcard entry John Millman 4-6, 6-4, 6-3.

The weather was reasonably mild for sub-tropical Brisbane, where Federer lost to Lleyton Hewitt in the final last year, but it was the hot reception from the No153-ranked Millman that was to trouble him.

“I’m sweating like crazy,” Federer said afterwards. “Under a lot of pressure. I think I got quite lucky in the second set. He was playing great tennis.”

It was slow start for the 33-year-old Swiss who had a first-round bye. He wasted four break-point chances in an opening game that lasted seven minutes before Millman held.

Federer was broken in the 10th game, saving three set points before hitting a swinging forehand volley too long to surrender the first set to Millman, who was getting raucous support from his hometown crowd.

The top-seeded Federer dropped serve to give Millman a 3-1 lead in the second set. However, he broke back immediately, setting it up with a classic one-handed backhand down the line, and saved three break points in the next game to keep it on serve. That was when things started to go his way.

“First match of the season, you never know quite what to expect,” said Federer, who walked on court with 996 career match wins on the ATP tour, 993 more than Millman. “Credit to him for pushing it.”

Federer will face another Australian wildcard in the next round after James Duckworth beat Jarkko Nieminen 4-6, 7-6, 6-3.

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Roger Federer, Martina Hingis, Milos Raonic enjoy Brisbane International Kid's Day

Tennis stars Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic, Victoria Azarenka, and Martina Hingis played tennis alongside some of the Nickelodeon's popular characters during Kid's Tennis Day at the 2015 Brisbane International. Kid's Tennis Day is one of the events that many tennis enthusiasts look forward because it brings kids and families together to have fun and celebrate the thrill of the Brisbane International tournament.

Nickelodeon favourites' Dora The Explorer, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and Spongebob Squarepants joined Federer, Dimitrov, Raonic, Azarenka, and Hingis on Centre Court on Jan. 4. The crowd at the Pat Rafter Arena was also delighted with a performance by all-male Aussie pop music group Justice Crew at the launch of the 2015 Brisbane International. More pictures from Kid's Tennis Day are accessible on Brisbane International's official Web site.

Federer was also in attendance at the Brisbane International's Summer Night with the Stars held at Brisbane's City Hall later in the evening. Tourism Minister Jann Stuckey presented Federer with the Honorary Queenslander Award. The Summer Night with the Stars was graced by other household names in tennis including Ana Ivanovic, defending champion Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Rafter, and legend Rod Laver.

Federer has claimed five Association of Tennis Professionals, or ATP, titles in the 2014 tennis season and he is on a quest of winning his first title in 2015 at Brisbane. He made his debut in Brisbane International in 2014 and reached the finale, before losing to two-time Aussie Grand Slam champion and former World No. 1 Hewitt.

"I would love to win this event," Federer said via ATP's Web site. "I was close to winning last year, after I had had a good week."

According to the 33-year-old 17-time Grand Slam champion, he always wants to win in tournaments that he has never won yet. He enters the tournament feeling "pumped" and hopeful to begin his season on a good note.

Federer has received a bye in the first round. He will face either wild card John Millman or a qualifier in the second round on Jan. 7 in the seventh edition of the said tennis event held at Queensland Tennis Centre.