Sunday, January 31, 2016

Martina Hingis & Leander Paes out of Aussie Open mixed doubles courtesy of her doubles partner Sania Mirza

Sania Mirza doesn't leave anything to chance. She just goes there and charts her own path. That's exactly what she did when she took her compatriot Leander Paes and Martina Hingis in the mixed doubles quarters of the Australian Open. Teaming up with Croatian Ivan Dodig, she ended the marathon run of Paes and Hingis, who had won the mixed doubles championship last year at Melbourne Park.

Sania and Dodig took exactly one hour and 10 minutes to get the better of Paes and Hingis in a 7-6(1) 6-3 win. The top seeded Indo-Croat pair will next face fifth seeds Elena Vesnina and Bruno Soares for a spot in the summit clash.

The Padma Bhushan award winner and Dodig got off to a sluggish start but fought back brilliantly to take the first set in 44 minutes in a one-sided tie-breaker, where the Indo-Croat pair just blew away their opponents. The second set turned out to be much easier for Sania and Dodig as one break of serve was enough for them to walk away with the set and the match.

For Sania, the prospect of two titles in Australian Open looms large as she along with Hingis takes on Czech seventh seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in the women's doubles final on Friday to earn their eighth title on the trot. Perhaps, Hingis' loss with Paes opens up the chance for her to save her best game for the women's doubles finale, therein increasing Sania's chances of another Grand Slam title.

This will be Sania's first women's doubles final here after her previous best finish in 2012 when she reached the semis with Russian Elena Vesnina.

Game-changers: Who's best at the net?

Like gameshow contestants locked in isolation booths, we asked five members of the digital team to tell us which players have the most dominant strokes in the game today. This time it's the art of the volley, a stroke that two champions used on their rise to No.1...

Paul Moore's pick: Roger Federer

If you were going to come up with a signature shot, you'd want it to be called something cool, right? Something like… SABR (Sneak Attack by Roger). That's what Federer's sneak attack has been dubbed, and at the tail-end of 2015 it sent the tennis world into a frenzy. But while opinion remains divided over SABR, it's anything but about Federer's awesome abilities at the net. It doesn't matter how or when the Great One makes his way to the net, when he does he's nigh on unbeatable.

Matt Trollope's pick: Martina Hingis

No player possesses better hands at the net, or finer reflexes and anticipation to pick off winners when she's there. Hingis' volleying prowess explains her continued doubles success yet was also a feature of her major-winning singles career.

Michael Beattie's pick: Roger Federer

Volleying was thought to be a dead art when spin-happy baseliners began sweeping all before them, but some players have managed to thrive going forward in the singles game – none more so than Federer, whose SABR return is perhaps the best illustration of his commitment to net gains.

Vivenne Christie's pick: Martina Hingis

Hingis' deft touch at the net made her one of the most watchable women in a Grand Slam-winning singles career and now that she's returned as a doubles specialist, it's equally (if not more) impressive. With an uncanny ability for anticipation, Hingis also boasts perfect technique.

Nick McCarvel's pick: Martina Hingis

A lot of people make a living with their hands: masseurs, stenographers, bakers. But Martina Hingis might be the top of them all, from her debut as a major champion at the Australian Open in 1997 to her second – no, third! – "career" she's carved out on the doubles circuit. It's almost as if she knows a tennis court as well as she knows … the back of her hand.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Martina Hingis post Australian Open ladies final interview

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza Australian Open Women's Doubles Champions!


3-Time Grand Slam Champs :)

MELBOURNE, Australia - Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza added another major title to their collection on Friday, defeating Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, 7-6(1), 6-3, in the Australian Open final.

Dubbed 'Santina' by their legion of fans, Hingis and Mirza have been relentless en route to yet another major trophy, dropping a solitary set throughout the fortnight. The co-No.1s are now the holders of three of the four Grand Slams, having triumphed at Wimbledon then the US Open last summer.

They are also in possession of a 36-match winning streak, a run stretching back to August 2015.

Hlavackova and Hradecka were worthy foes in the final, briefly threatening this sequence, particularly during an absorbing first set. Appearing in their fifth major final, Hlavackova and Hradecka broke four times and served for the set at 5-4.

But after being on the back foot for much of opening hour, the top seeds' class shone through when it mattered most. A thumping Mirza forehand winner and a Hingis volley which kissed the outside of the line established an early lead which they never looked like surrendering.

To compound the Czechs' disappointment, they suffered a further setback at the start of the second set, Hlavackova sending a backhand drifting long to hand over an immediate break. A second soon followed, and despite reducing their arrears to 4-2 the No.7 seeds were merely delaying the inevitable.

A delicate lob from Mirza followed by a magnificent angled volley from Hingis brought the finishing line into view. Hlavackova and Hradecka battled valiantly, fending off three championship points before Mirza's faithful forehand breached their defenses for a final time.

"When I saw that ball like floating, going out, I was like very relieved," Hingis said. "We kind of feel like we can dig it out. Even we don't always play the best tennis, we find a way, like especially in the tiebreaker. That's when it really counted.

"Some games were going on, back and forth. She had a down, I had a down. But we're always there for each other. We really trust each other's skills when it really counts. I think that was really the difference today."

Hingis, who has now tasted doubles success at Melbourne Park five times - and with four different partners - was also quick to pay tribute to their opponents.

"We were pushed to the limit today, especially in the first set," Hingis said. "It was break, break, break, break. But you girls have the best returns in women's doubles!"

Mirza - then playing alongside Elena Vesnina - lost out to Hlavackova and Hradecka in the 2011 French Open final and was equally effusive in her praise for their emerging rivals.

"I lost a Grand Slam final to you guys, so I knew it would be tough. I'd like to congratulate you on a great two weeks and I'm sure we will face each other again soon," Mirza said.

Worryingly for the other teams on tour, Hingis and Mirza, who unsurprisingly top the nascent Road To Singapore leaderboard, have no plans to rest on their laurels.

"I think we still have room for improvement. That's what we did. Our relationship also got stronger." Hingis added. "But I think [Sania] definitely sets me up. She's one of the hardest-hitting players out there. Like her groundstrokes, her return is really amazing, and her forehand is, if not the best in the world - okay, maybe Serena can hit it as hard."

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza Australian conqueror's! (Brisbane, Sydney & Melbourne)

That's Grand Slam Doubles title #21 for the Swiss Miss & #5 in Melbourne :). 

Way to go ladies!.  Congrats on another amazing run and title #12!.

Martina Hingis, Sania Mirza a study in harmony

India and Switzerland may seem like worlds apart, but as the home countries of Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza, the pairing proves to be nothing less than a beautiful harmony.

Going into today’s Australian Open women’s doubles final against Czech pair Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, the women have won their past 35 matches, just nine matches away from equalling the all-time record of 44 set by Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova in 1990.

Recognised as the WTA’s ‘Doubles Team of the Year’ last December, the pair began their career together flawlessly, winning the first three tournaments they played early in 2015.

Since an upset loss to Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova in the French Open quarterfinals, the duo has been unstoppable, winning 42 of the next 45 matches to take home titles at Wimbledon, the US Open, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Beijing, the WTA Finals in Singapore, Brisbane and Sydney.

Dubbed ‘Santina’, by the press, the No.1 seeds have been relentless in their final run into Rod Laver Arena, demolishing reputable semifinalists Julia Goerges and Karolina Pliskova 6-1 6-0 in under an hour.

At 35, Hingis is enjoying a remarkable resurgence in her professional tennis career. Temporarily retiring at 22, Hingis already held five Grand Slam singles titles with a swag of ‘youngest ever’ records to complement her trophies.

With a deft touch at the net, Hingis is recognised as one of the greatest volleyers in the history of women’s tennis, an attribute that is greatly valued in the fast-paced nature of the doubles game.

While Mirza’s singles career is worthy of note, reaching a career-high ranking of No. 27 in 2007, she has found her true calling in doubles.

Partnering with Cara Black in 2014 with moderate success, Mirza was searching for a capable net player to complement her strong forehand baseline game. She well and truly found it in Hingis.

The duo strikes the perfect balance between strength and accuracy to combine as a powerhouse of the women’s doubles competition; so much so, it makes you wonder why it took so long for them to find each other in the first place.

Friday, January 29, 2016

ATP World Tour Uncovered: What's Next For Roger Federer?

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza 'Santina' to face off in Aussie Open Mixed Doubles

MELBOURNE, Australia - Co-No.1s Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza played their best match of the Australian Open on Wednesday, dropping just one game to No.13 seeds Julia Goerges and Karolina Pliskova to win a 35th straight match, and reach a third straight major final - having already captured titles at Wimbledon and the US Open.

Before they take on Silent Hs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka for their first Australian Open title as a pair - Hingis' first in women's doubles since 2002 and fourth overall - they will find themselves under the rare circumstance of being on opposite sides of the net, as each hope to add a mixed doubles crown to their ever-growing trophy collection.

Top seed with partner Ivan Dodig, Mirza will play Hingis and Leander Paes, who are unseeded but defending champions at the Australian Open, in the quarterfinals of the mixed event. The pair have not played against one another since last year's Apia International Sydney, when the Indian star partnered Bethanie Mattek-Sands to beat Hingis and former partner Flavia Pennetta en route to the title.

Inseparable since pairing up ahead of the BNP Paribas Open last spring, Santina have played 17 tournaments together, winning 11 times. From their initial three-title breakthrough in Indian Wells, Miami, and Charleston, the two capped their near-perfect season with a win at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, and have picked up where they left off in 2016, winning back-to-back titles in Brisbane and Sydney and losing only one set in Melbourne.

Handicapping their chances in mixed, Hingis has won four major titles to Mirza's three. The Swiss Miss was a French Open title short of a mixed doubles Grand Slam in 2015, partnering Paes - with whom she plays for the Washington Kastles each summer for Mylan World TeamTennis - to win the Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles.

Mirza's most recent mixed doubles victory came in 2014 with Bruno Soares at the US Open, but she is also a former Australian Open mixed champion, pairing Mahesh Bhupati for the title in 2009.

Should Hingis emerge victorious on Thursday afternoon, the 20-time Grand Slam champion would remain in the hunt for non-calendar year Grand Slams in both women's doubles and mixed, having already earned two legs of the box set at Wimbledon at the US Open.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza reach Australian Open Women's Doubles final with 35th win

Martina Hingis Tumblr

MELBOURNE, Australia - Fifty-four minutes was all it took for Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza to brush aside Julia Goerges and Karolina Pliskova and take their place in a third Grand Slam final.

The top seeds, who dropped a rare set in the previous round, were back to their imperious best, triumphing 6-1, 6-0 to stretch their unbeaten streak to 35 matches.

Goerges and Pliskova started brightly enough, holding comfortably then carving out four break points in the third game. However, this was as good as it got for the underdogs, who failed to add to their tally as Hingis and Mirza, the reigning Wimbledon and US Open champions, romped home to move within touching distance of yet another major trophy.

"We get along on the court, we suit each other and we consolidate each other's games," Mirza, the contest's standout player, said after the match.

On the other side of the draw, Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka reached their first Grand Slam final since reuniting with a see-saw victory over Xu Yi-Fan and Zheng Saisai.

During their first stint together, the Czechs reached four major finals, walking away with the silverware at the French Open in 2012 and US Open in 2013.

Having knocked out No.2 seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Chan Hao-Ching in the last eight, Hlavackova and Hradecka were not about to miss the opportunity to return to the game's biggest stage, eventually seeing off Xu and Zheng, 3-6, 6-3, 6-1.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza make it 34 wins, reach semis in Aussie Open

Martina Hingis Official Facebook

MELBOURNE, Australia - Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza were held up for longer than usual en route to the last four of the Australian Open, eventually seeing off the stubborn resistance of Anna-Lena Groenefeld and CoCo Vandeweghe on Tuesday afternoon.

Having romped through their opening three assignments at Melbourne Park, Hingis and Mirza made the perfect start against No.12 seeds Groenefeld and Vandeweghe, pocketing the opening set in a brisk 23 minutes.

Thoughts of another routine victory were soon parked as their opponents capitalized on some uncharacteristically sloppy mistakes to level to contest. There, though, the surprises ended as the top seeds steadied the ship, breaking twice to close out a 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 victory.

The result extends Hingis and Mirza's remarkable winning streak to 34 matches - a run stretching back to the end of last summer and bringing seven titles.

And their path to number eight was made a little simpler with the exit earlier in the day of No.2 seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Chan Hao-Ching.

The sisters were the last team to get the better of Hingis and Mirza, coming out on top in the Cincinnati semifinals, but their hopes of reaching a maiden major final together were dashed by Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, 2-6, 7-5, 6-3.

No stranger to the business end of a Grand Slam - they lifted the French and US Open crowns in their first stint together - Hlavackova and Hradecka will now meet Xu Yi-Fan and Zheng Saisai, 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 winners over home hopes Anastasia and Arina Rodionova in the evening session.

Roger Federer passes Berdych test in straights to reach 12th Australian Open semi-final

Roger Federer Tumblr

No. 3 seed Roger Federer booked a trip to his 12th Australian Open semi-final on Tuesday in Rod Laver Arena, simultaneously extending his record for the most final-four appearances in Melbourne in the Open Era, via a 7-6(4), 6-2, 6-4 win over Tomas Berdych on Australia Day.

“I’m very, very happy. Tomas has caused me a lot of problems over the years,” said Federer, who notched his 80th win at Melbourne Park, making the Australian Open his most successful Grand Slam in terms of matches won. “He’s one of the guys who makes you a better player. He’s beaten me on the biggest courts around the world.”

“He was playing really, really aggressive, without any mistakes, without any unforced errors,” said Berdych. “He was just too good today. I mean, that's it. That's the way that he needed to play this time. He did it, I would say, quite accurately today.”

Federer and Berdych traded breaks in the third and fourth games of the opening set. Berdych saved a set point serving at 4-5, 30/40, but the No. 6 seed couldn’t hold off Federer in the tie-break. The 17-time Slam champ carried the momentum into the second set, converting service breaks in the first and seventh games to further distance himself.

They again swapped breaks in the second and third games of the final set. But with Berdych serving at 4-all, he was broken for the fifth time, giving his opponent a chance to serve out the match in two hours and six minutes. Federer finished with 48 winners to 26 unforced errors. His aggressive attack resulted in 24 of 29 (83%) successful net points.

“I do feel really good at the net since a few years now,” said the Swiss. “It's where it all sort of started for me when I came on tour. I know how it works up there. I still think there's room for improvement. Every player manages to defend or pass it differently. The question is, do you come in off a low ball because you're being dragged in, or are you coming in on your terms? You would assume that these are not stats you can keep up. It's okay. As long as you're coming in on the right plays, it's okay to be beat.”

“I think he's still on a pretty high level, playing great tennis,” Berdych told reporters. “He's just proving how great a player he is, how difficult at this time it is to play him. To face Roger in the quarters, it's quite difficult.”

Tuesday’s quarter-final marked their seventh Grand Slam meeting, and their third at the Australian Open. Federer remains unbeaten against the 6'5'' Czech in Melbourne, including rallying from a two-set deficit in 2009. He now holds a 16-6 advantage overall in FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters.

Federer had lost their past two meetings at a major — in four sets in the quarter-finals at both Wimbledon in 2010 and the US Open in 2012.

Berdych, who was bidding to reach the semis for the third consecutive year, was also aiming for his 550thtour-level win. Just six active players have reached that milestone — Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, David Ferrer, Andy Murray and Tommy Haas. He has now lost 13 of his past 14 matches against Top-3 competition.

Federer, 34, is the oldest man to reach the semi-finals at a Grand Slam since Andre Agassi (35) at the 2005 US Open. He now awaits the winner of the Djokovic vs. Kei Nishikori blockbuster.

Big surprise, it's going to be Novak Djokovic again in their 45th meeting. I'm almost glad the match is on at night because I won't be able to watch it that late, 

I don't think I could sleep after that whatever the result. I'm just going to wake up the next day and hope for a different result.  

Getting so tired of Djokovic honestly (he's what the Williams sisters and Kim Clijster were to Martina Hingis back in the day).  

So, let's go Federer!.  Get yourself #18.

Martina Hingis & Leander Paes reach mixed doubles quarter-finals at Australian Open

Australian Open Facebook

Martina Hingis and Leander Paes continued her winning run at the 2016 Australian Open, defeating the pair of Sloane Stephens and Jean-Julien Rojer in straight sets 6-1 6-2 in the 2nd round on Tuesday.

The opening set saw the Indo-Swiss pair sail through proceedings, winninng 89% of the points on their first serve and 67% on their second serve and converting all 3 break point opportunities that came their way to eventually seal the set 6-1.

The second set was no different as the pair seemed in no mood to relent, as they won 67% of their first serve points and 44% of their second serve points and despite serving more number of unforced errors in the second set (4) to 1 of their opponents, romped home to a 6-2 set win and thereby book their place in the quarterfinals of the competition.

It would be an interesting matchup at that stage of the competition, as Paes and Hingis will play Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig and that certainly promises to be a highly intriguing clash.

Final Scoreline- Martina Hingis/Leander Paes beat Sloane Stephens/Jean-Julien Rojer 6-1 6-2.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Kim Clijsters signs on as channel 7 Australia commentator

TENNIS legend Kim Clijsters has signed on to be a commentator for Channel 7 during the Australian Open tennis.

“I have done some guest spots on several occasions but this will be a different role of analysing,” the former Australian Open champion said.

“Having had so much playing experience on Rod Laver Arena, I can’t wait to give the viewers some of that intimate knowledge and experience.”

“I’ve watched the Channel 7 broadcast since I first came to Australia as a teenager.

“It will certainly be a thrill to work alongside Bruce McAvaney and the team.”

Clijsters, who is incredibly popular in Melbourne, said she was excited to be coming back.

“It’s been four years since my last Australian Open and five years since I won – a lot has happened since then,” she said.

“Australia has been like a second home to me and I have great memories of Melbourne and can’t wait to come back.”

Clijsters believes if Serena Williams is fit, she will be hard to beat.

“The first major of the year is always a tough one to predict as everyone has had a break and sometimes it takes a while to work there way back into form,” she said.

“Barring all the injury scares, if Serena is fully fit she still looks pretty invincible.”

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

It was a good day at office for India's mixed doubles pairs as both Leander Paes and Rohan Bopanna advanced to the second round of the event with their respective partners at the Australian Open on Sunday.

However, Bopanna along with Romanian Florin Mergea crashed out of the men's doubles in the third round.

It was a comfortable opening round outings for Paes and Bopanna in mixed doubles.

While Paes and Martina Hingis of Switzerland posted a 6-3 7-5 win over Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and Dominic Inglot in an hour and nine minutes, third seeded Bopanna and Yung-Jan Chan of Chinese Taipei also hardly broke a sweat before prevailing over the Australian pair of John Millman and Kimberly Birrell, 7-5 6-1 in 48 minutes.

Paes and Hingis will next take on American Sloane Stephens and Jean-Julien Rojer. Bopanna and Chan face Andrea Hlavackova and Lukasz Kubot in round two.

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza extend winning streak to 33 reach Australian Open Quarter-Finals

Martina Hingis Tumblr

Third round women's doubles action came to a close at the Australian Open on Monday, with three of the eight teams featured at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global reaching the quarterfinals. Led by the streaking top seeds and Co-No.1s Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis, the draw features more than a few compelling match-ups and storylines as the first major tournament of the season; which will rise to the top as the tournament heads to what promises to be an exciting conclusion?

33 Straight For Santina: With two titles already under their belt to start the 2016 season, Hingis and Mirza sailed through another straight set win in Melbourne, this time over former No.1 Roberta Vinci and partner, Svetlana Kuznetsova, 6-1, 6-3. Santina conspired to hit an astounding 38 winners and save seven of eight break points faced. With the win streak now up to 33, the top seeds are just 11 wins from tying the longest streak since 1990, when Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova won 44 in a row.

The longest-ever streak belongs to one of the most successful partnerships of all time, Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, who won 109 matches in a row between 1983 and 1985. Hoping to stop the Santina streak are No.12 seeds Coco Vandeweghe and Anna-Lena Groenefeld, a high-octane team who came together last year and reached the semifinals of the US Open - falling to eventual finalists Yaroslava Shvedova and Casey Dellacqua.

Comeback Queens: Vania King won back-to-back majors with Shvedova in 2010, capturing the Wimbledon and US Open crowns en route to a career high ranking of No.3. Out for nearly eight months with a back injury, the American is back and into her first major quarterfinal since the 2012 French Open.

New partner and longtime friend Alla Kudryavtseva vowed to make "Miss King the Comeback Queen" at the start of the season, and the two did just that on Monday, recovering from a set down to take out No.5 seeds Elena Vesnina and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova after racing past No.11 seeds Shvedova and Samantha Stosur in the second round. King and Kudryavtseva next face No.13 seeds Karolina Pliskova and Julia Goerges, who stunned No.3 seeds and French connection Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in straight sets. Might King make her first major semifinal in nearly five years?

Sister, Sister: Arina Rodionova may have gotten married during her attempt to earn an Australian Open singles wildcard, but lord help the mister that comes between she and sister Anastasia this week at the Australian Open. The Aussies are into their first major quarterfinal as a pair (Arina's first, Anastasia's eighth) after roaring past No.8 seeds Lara Arruabarrena and Andreja Klepac to start the week and edging out and defending champion Bethanie Mattek-Sands and new partner Sabine Lisicki in round two.

The Russian-born Rodionovas thrilled the Hisense Arena crowd on Sunday when they defeated Dominika Cibulkova and Kirsten Flipkens in three tight sets, and are set to headline Tuesday's night session on Rod Laver Arena when they face No.15 seeds Xu Yi-Fan and Zheng Saisai for a spot in the semifinals.

Singapore Redux: Silent Hs Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka and Chan sisters Yung-Jan and Hao-Ching were late surges into last year's WTA Finals, but both teams have carried that momentum into 2016, dropping a combined one set to reach the quarterfinals. The two teams met just once in 2015, with the Taiwanese pair narrowing defeating the Czechs in a 10-8 match tie-break at the Rogers Cup.

The Chans were Santina's closest rivals last season, and remain the last team to defeat them at the Western & Southern Open in August. On opposite halves of the draw, the Top 2 seeds look to be heavy favorites to meet in the final and for the first time since Singapore, where the Chans fell in the semifinals in straight sets.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Roger Federer flies into quarter-finals at Australian Open

Four-time former champion and third seed Roger Federer will play sixth seed Tomas Berdych in the Australian Open quarter-finals. Federer has a 15-6 FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against the Czech, who earlier on Sunday defeated No. 24 seed Roberto Bautista Agut.

"I have to play well," said Federer. "I think the court suits him. I think this sort of flatter bounce and faster court is good for his serves, good for his returns. It's a fast court [and] I think for his kind of game it's good."

Federer recorded his 79th match win at Melbourne Park, venue of the Grand Slam championship, with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 victory over No. 15 seed David Goffin, in a match that finished at 12:17 a.m. local time on Monday. He is now through to his 12th Australian Open quarter-final (47th overall).

"It was good [and I was] surprised it went as fast as it did," said Federer. "To win the first two sets within 50 minutes is the best thing that can happen out there, especially with a late start and against a quality player. So I was very happy. It was important to keep the momentum going, keep staying aggressive and trying to get the match done in three. I was able to do that. I was very pleased."

The Swiss required just 21 minutes to clinch the opening set, hitting three aces and losing just three of his service points. He broke in the fourth and eighth games of the opener. Goffin, who had posters of Federer on his bedroom wall growing up, attempted to re-group but he was unable to do so. Federer capitalised on the fast court conditions to maintain his dominance in the second set and two breaks of serve - in the first and fifth games - of the third set extinguished Goffin's hopes.

"It's always tough to play on a court that you've never played [on], like Rod Laver Arena," said Goffin. "It was tough to feel my timing from the baseline. He was playing really good from the beginning. When you start to feel better after two sets, one break down, it's tough to come back."

Federer hit 39 winners, including seven aces for victory in 88 minutes.

At 34 years, 176 days, Federer is the oldest man to reach the Australian Open last eight since Andre Agassi (34 years, 276 days) did so in 2005. Federer recorded his 300th Grand Slam match win on Friday against No. 27 seed Grigor Dimitrov.

Federer improves to 1,066 match wins, five victories shy of equalling Ivan Lendl (1,071) at No. 2 in the Open Era match wins list. Jimmy Connors leads overall with 1,254 match wins.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza storm to 32nd straight win and Aussie Open 3rd round

MELBOURNE, Australia - Top seeds Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza continued to dominate the opposition with a 32nd straight win, this time over twin sisters Nadiia and Lyudmyla Kichenok, 6-2, 6-3.

The World Co-No.1s haven't lost a match since August, and were always in control during the 63 minute win over the Kichenoks, who could only break serve once to Santina's four. Hingis and Mirza hit a combined 18 winners to just 11 unforced errors, and won 72% of their first serve points.

Up next for the top-ranked team is the unseeded but potentially dangerous pair of Svetlana Kuznetsova and former doubles No.1 Roberta Vinci, who eased pass a pair of Aussies in Jessica Moore and Storm Sanders, 6-0, 6-3.

The Indo-Swiss duo has bagged 11 titles so far in their very successful partnership - including the first two tournaments of 2016 in Brisbane and Sydney - and are a mere 12 wins away from tying Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova's 1990 record of 44 wins in a row.

No.2 seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Chan Hao-Ching eased into the third round with a two-set win over Kateryna Bondarenko and Olga Savchuk, while No.3 seeds Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia and No.7 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka also emerged in straight sets.

No.5 seed Elena Vesnina and new partner Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova also had a solid second round outing on Saturday, defeating Ysaline Bonaventure and Raluca Olaru in straight sets, 6-1, 6-2. The pair will next face Pavlyuchenkova's former partner Alla Kudryavtseva, who recently paired with resurgent American Vania King. King and Kudryavtseva were ruthlessly efficient in upsetting No.11 seeds Samantha Stosur and Yaroslava Shvedova - King's former partner, with whom she captured the 2010 Wimbledon and US Open tropies - 6-1, 6-4.

The biggest upset of the day came from giant-killer Barbora Strycova; fresh from upsetting No.3 seed Garbiñe Muguruza in singles, the Czech veteran paired with Mirjana Lucic-Baroni to take out No.6 seeds Raquel Atawo and Abigail Spears, recovering from a set down to win, 6-7(4), 6-2, 6-1.

Mirza is also the top seed oin mixed doubles; she and partner Ivan Dodig cruised past Aussies Ajla Tomljanovic and Nick Kyrgios, 7-5, 6-1. No.2 seed Bethanie Mattek-Sands shook off the disappointment of falling in her second round women's doubles match on Friday by pairing with Bob Bryan to defeat Jessica Moore and Marc Polmans, 6-2, 6-1. The love match between Daria Gavrilova and boyfriend Luke Saville was less successful, falling to Shvedova and Aisam Qureshi, 6-4, 7-6(5).

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Roger Federer avoids last year's early round exit moves to 4th round & reaches mile stone at Aussie Open

Roger Federer climbed into rarefied territory on a rainy Friday at the Australian Open. With a 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 third-round win over 27th seed Grigor Dimitrov in Rod Laver Arena, the No. 3 seed clinched the 300th Grand Slam match win of his storied career, becoming the first man to reach the milestone.

Only Martina Navratilova (306) stands in front of him.

"It's very exciting, I must tell you," said Federer of the milestone. "Like when I reached 1,000 [tour-level wins] last year, it was a big deal for me. Not something I ever aimed for or looked for, but when it happens, it's very special. You look deeper into it, I guess, where it's all happened and how. So it's very nice. I'm very happy."

The 48-minute first set went in Federer’s favour behind a service break at 3-all, the only interruption the opening, then closing, of Rod Laver Arena’s retractable roof due to rain. But the Bulgarian Dimitrov, who after three straight-sets losses took his first set off Federer in the Brisbane quarter-finals earlier this month, would get another to level the match at a set apiece, his aggressive play paying dividends against the 17-time Slam champ.

Federer didn’t wait long to assert himself in the third set, breaks coming in the second and sixth games for a 5-1 advantage. A game later he was ahead two sets to one. A forehand error from Dimitrov at 2-all, 30/40 in the fourth and final set would give Federer a seemingly insurmountable lead, and the Swiss went on to clinch the contest in two hours and 40 minutes. He finished with 47 winners, including 13 aces.

"That was my goal, to react quickly after the second set because I struggled a little bit," said Federer. "But then found my way back, then was able to take charge of the match. It was important. Conditions, again, were very different indoors than they were against Dolgopolov in the second round. Even night session plays different.

"Just got to manage these conditions a bit. I'm pleased. Wasn't easy. I didn't expect it to be against Grigor. It was a tough round, so I'm happy."

It was Dimitrov's seventh straight loss to a Top-10 player.

Federer, at 34 a decade Dimitrov’s senior, is the oldest man to reach the round of 16 at the Australian Open since Andre Agassi played his way into the quarter-finals in 2005. He is looking to become only the third man to win five Australian Open singles titles after Roy Emerson (six) and Novak Djokovic (five), having won the title in 2004, 2006, 2007 and 2010.

Dimitrov was bidding to reach the fourth round for the third consecutive year. His best Australian Open result is a quarter-finals showing in 2014 (l. to Rafael Nadal).

"I felt I could have played better tennis throughout the whole match," said Dimitrov. "After the second set, I was just getting a little flat. I was hoping to have a better result. I'm not going to lie. Losses like that always hurt, but in the same time I just lately haven't played those kind of matches I think.

"Just don't get discouraged at the same time. It's not like I'm losing every match or anything like that. I thought I played good tennis at the beginning of the year, and that's important. Still a lot of tournaments to come ahead. So I'm really going to try to go out there and use all my confidence that I've built so far and, of course, keep trying."

Federer advances to play No. 15 seed David Goffin of Belgium, a 6-1, 3-6, 7-6(2), 7-5 winner over No. 19 seed Dominic Thiem of Austria. The 25-year-old Goffin is through to the fourth round of a major for the third time, having also reached the last 16 at 2012 Roland Garros (as a qualifier) and 2015 Wimbledon. The right-hander will look to overturn a 0-3 FedEx ATP Head2Head record over Federer.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza extend winning steak to 31 at Australian Open

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MELBOURNE, Australia - Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza, the No.1 doubles team and co-World No.1s, extended their streak to 31 consecutive wins by defeating the Colombian-Brazilian team of Mariana Duque-Mariño and Teliana Pereira and advancing into the second round.

It was a straightforward win for Hingis and Mirza, who are going for their third straight Grand Slam at the Australian Open.

The pair dashed ahead in the scoreboard by claiming early breaks in both sets, leaving the South Americans always playing catch-up to stay in the match. They struck 30 winners while Duque-Marino and Pereira served five double faults and had 17 unforced errors to their name. The No.1 seeds never felt like they were in danger and comfortably closed out the match at 6-2, 6-3.

The Indo-Swiss duo has bagged 11 titles so far in their very successful partnership, and with each win they inch closer to Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova's 1990 record of 44 wins in a row.

Also in action on Day 4, a pair of French rising stars, No.3 seeds Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic, defeated the Argentine-Spanish duo of María Irigoyen and María-Teresa Torró-Flor, 6-3 6-2. The Frenchwomen teamed up at the beginning of the year with an eye on a possible spot in the Olympics in Rio. The pair reached the finals in Sydney before falling short to Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza in a third set tiebreak.

Elsewhere, No.6 seeded American veterans Raquel Atawo and Abigail Spears scored their first win of the year over Sara Errani and María José Martínez Sánchez, beating the Italian-Spanish team 6-2, 6-3.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Roger Federer powers through to the 3rd round of Australian Open

Roger Federer had practised with Alexandr Dolgopolov as recently as the off-season in Dubai. So the No. 3 seed knew good and well that the 35th-ranked Ukrainian had the fitness, the speed and the tennis IQ to makes things difficult for him in the second round in Melbourne.

The Swiss kept that all in check on Wednesday in Rod Laver Arena by simply serving his way past his 27-year-old challenger, charting 25 aces and winning 88 per cent (43 of 49) of his first-serve points in a straight-sets 6-3, 7-5, 6-1 win. He could face Grigor Dimitrov next, should the Bulgarian get past Argentine Marco Trungelliti.

The first opening came in the sixth game of the first set, Federer breaking the Ukrainian at love with a clean backhand winner. Serving for the set at 5-3, he fired three aces to take the set in 26 minutes.

The second set remained on serve through 10 games when three straight errors from Dolgopolov handed a break to Federer, who then stepped up to the service stripe to secure a commanding two-sets-to-love lead. Three breaks in the final set were just too much for Dolgopolov to overcome in the 92-minute loss.

Federer is looking to become only the third man in history to win five Australian Open singles titles after Roy Emerson (six) and Novak Djokovic (five).

Dolgopolov’s best Grand Slam result came at the Australian Open in 2011, when he reached the quarter-finals (l. to Andy Murray). He defeated Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Robin Soderling in five sets to become just the second Ukrainian man to reach the last eight at a major.

Federer wasn't the only one turning in a big serving performance on Day 3. No. 6 seed Tomas Berdychlost just two points on his first serve (37 for 39) in dispatching Mirza Basic of Bosnia and Herzegovina 6-4, 6-0, 6-3 in 98 minutes, 15 aces among the Czech's 43 winners. Forty-nine unforced errors proved Spaniard Nicolas Almagro's undoing in a 6-3, 6-1, 6-3 loss to 19th seed Dominic Thiem of Austria. Thiem finished with 28 winners to 14 unforced errors in the one-hour and 40-minute victory.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Could this Australian Open be a breakthrough for Agnieszka Radwanska?

MELBOURNE, Australia - After winning the biggest title of her career at the WTA Finals at the end of the 2015 season, Agnieszka Radwanska made a big declaration - that she would do everything in her power to win a Grand Slam title in 2016 (check out the full interview with CNN Open Court here).

But Radwanska hasn't just been talking the talk of a future Grand Slam champion - she's been walking the walk, big time. Since losing early at the US Open she's been doing a heck of a lot of winning, capturing four of the six tournaments she's played - Tokyo [Pan Pacific], Tianjin, the WTA Finals in Singapore and Shenzhen this past week - and putting together a more than impressive 22-4 record.

And by winning Shenzhen, Radwanska also secured a rise from No.5 to No.4 on the WTA Rankings, meaning she'll have a Top 4 seed at the Australian Open, which, in turn, means she won't have to play Serena Williams until at least the semifinals - a good break given she's 0-8 against the World No.1.

But the question remains: Why could the Australian Open be Radwanska's first Grand Slam title?

Well, there's actually a very good reason Radwanska could make her breakthrough at the Grand Slam of the Asia-Pacific - she's won 10 of her 18 career WTA titles in the Asia-Pacific**:

2016 - Shenzhen
2015 - Tokyo [Pan Pacific], Tianjin, WTA Finals [Singapore]
2014 - Montréal
2013 - Auckland, Sydney, Seoul
2012 - Dubai, Miami, Brussels
2011 - Carlsbad, Tokyo [Pan Pacific], Beijing
2008 - Pattaya City, Istanbul, Eastbourne
2007 - Stockholm

** The general definition for Asia-Pacific is East Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and Oceania

Radwanska was asked why she always does so well in the Asia-Pacific during her week in Shenzhen.

"That's a good question - I'm not sure!" she replied. "I'm always feeling good on the court here, and I'm always playing great tennis. And you can't ignore the results - that's really a lot of tournaments.

"Hopefully there will be even more tournaments to play in the Asia-Pacific in the future!"

Many would pick Wimbledon to be Radwanska's best major - she reached her first Grand Slam final there in 2012, after all - but she's been to the quarterfinals or better at the Australian Open just as many times as at Wimbledon (five). Her best result in Melbourne was the semifinals back in 2014.

Can the World No.4, a former World No.2, go all the way this time? Stay tuned on!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Roger Federer dominant in first match of Australian Open


Roger Federer was in ruthless form on Monday evening in Melbourne as he surged through to the second round of the Australian Open with a 6-2, 6-1, 6-2 victory over Nikoloz Basilashvili in just 72 minutes.

The Basel native rifled 31 winners to just nine from his opponent and converted eight of his 14 break points.

"That was a good match," said Federer. "I'm really pleased how I was able to play. Definitely gives me a bit of a lift in confidence because this year I haven't been able to play properly yet. I had some decent matches in Brisbane, but it was all under a cloud knowing that I wasn't 100 per cent.

"But this was a match where I was able to focus on my game, on tactics, all that stuff. So it was nice to play that way."

The 34-year-old Federer is looking to become the third man in history to win five Australian Open titles, following Roy Emerson (six) and Novak Djokovic (five). The Swiss lifted the trophy at Melbourne Park in 2004 (d. Safin), 2006 (d. Baghdatis), 2007 (d. Gonzalez) and 2010 (d. Murray); he also finished runner-up in 2009 (l. to Nadal).

Federer opened his 2016 campaign in Brisbane, where he battled through the flu to reach his 136th tour-level final, finishing runner-up to Milos Raonic.

American teenager Noah Rubin claimed his first tour-level win in style as he withstood 18 aces to stun 17th seed Benoit Paire 7-6(4), 7-6(6), 7-6(5) in two hours and 31 minutes.

At No. 328 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, the wild card is the first player ranked outside the Top 300 to beat a seed at a Grand Slam since No. 478 Fernando Gonzalez defeated Alexandr Dolgopolov in Wimbledon 2011.

The 19-year-old Rubin, who won the USTA's Australian Open Wild Card Challenge to make his debut in Melbourne, goes on to face French qualifier Pierre-Hugues Herbert, who beat Pablo Andujar 5-7, 6-4, 7-6(5), 6-2.