Monday, February 29, 2016

Roger Federer attends Vanity Fair Oscar Party

Roger Federer stepped out onto the red carpet at the 88th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles, on Sunday.

The Swiss later spent time at the Vanity Fair Oscar Party at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, which was attended by Leonardo DiCaprio, winner of the best actor Oscar for his performance in The Revenant, Anne Hathaway, Amy Adams, Eddie Redmayne, fashion designer Tommy Hilfiger and former World No. 1 John McEnroe. Federer wore a tuxedo and shoes made by Louis Vuitton.

On Saturday night, Federer had attended Harvey Weinstein's star-studded pre-Oscars party at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills.

Federer returned to the practice court last week, having undergone arthroscopic surgery on his knee on 3 February in Switzerland. He has entered the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, starting on 10 April.

And if that's not enough. Here's Roger doing some tequila shots on the red carpet :).

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Federer's Focus: Time Is Of The Essence

The finish line rushes hard at you when you are losing. Changing anything from tactics, to a racquet, or even changing ends of the court can all be potential ways to wrestle back precious momentum.

In many ways, losing a set, or a match, simply means you ran out of time to unearth a winning strategy. When adversity strikes, the value of time skyrockets.

The best players in the world intimately know the importance of time, making matches last longer when they are under attack, giving them a few extra ticks on the clock to find an answer to their troubles.

An Infosys ATP Beyond the Numbers analysis of tour-level matches played by the Top 10 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings from the 2015 season up to the 2016 Australian Open shows how the various elite players successfully manage the asset of time. As a general rule, you want to play quicker when things are falling your way, not allowing time for any surprises to appear. It’s the complete opposite when the opponent is dominating.

Time Of Set

Roger Federer’s average time winning a set was the quickest of the Top 10 at 36 minutes. He will often breeze through a service game in barely a minute and some change. Federer also led the Top 10 in stretching out adversity, lengthening the sets he loses on average by 10 minutes, to 46 minutes

Set Av. Winning
Set Time Av. Losing
Set Time Difference
Roger Federer 36 mins 46 mins +10 mins
Novak Djokovic 42 mins 49 mins +7 mins
Andy Murray 44 mins 50 mins +6 mins
Tomas Berdych 41 mins 45 mins +4 mins
David Ferrer 43 mins 47 mins +4 mins
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 41 mins 45 mins +4 mins
Richard Gasquet 40 mins 43 mins +3 mins
Rafael Nadal 46 mins 48 mins +2 mins
Kei Nishikori 42 mins 43 mins +1 min
Stan Wawrinka 42 mins 39 mins -3 mins
AVERAGE 42 mins 46 mins 4 mins

That’s very clever time management. What’s extremely fascinating is that the average time it takes Rafael Nadal to win a set (46 minutes), is exactly the same time it takes Federer to lose one. Different strokes for different folks. Tennis is such an empowering sport that allows a variety of contrasting game styles the ability to be successful.

Where Federer manages to play longer when losing a set, his compatriot Stan Wawrinka, is in stark contrast. Wawrinka averaged 42 minutes winning a set, which was exactly the same as the Top 10 average, but only 39 minutes when losing a set.

He was the only Top 10 player to play shorter when losing. The Top 10 averaged an extra four minutes longer playing sets they lose – prolonging the finish line four more minutes in the hope of somehow turning things around.

Time Of The Match

Federer earns the distinction of averaging the quickest match times when winning (89 minutes), and also the longest match times when losing (143 minutes).

Federer is clearly in a rush when ahead, but stretches time out when behind, exploring all strategic options.

Match Av. Winning
Match Time Av. Losing
Match Time Av. Match Time
Novak Djokovic 112 mins 137 mins 113 mins
Andy Murray 116 mins 131 mins 118 mins
Roger Federer 89 mins 143 mins 96 mins
Stan Wawrinka 114 mins 105 mins 112 mins
Rafael Nadal 112 mins 133 mins 117 mins
Kei Nishikori 104 mins 107 mins 105 mins
Tomas Berdych 101 mins 116 mins 105 mins
David Ferrer 107 mins 115 mins 109 mins
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 118 mins 123 mins 120 mins
Richard Gasquet 105 mins 111 mins 107 mins
Richard Gasquet 108 mins 122 mins 110 mins

What’s interesting is that the average match time (110 minutes) was only two minutes longer (108 minutes) than the winning average. Time is an omnipotent force that you can’t see or touch, but plays a pivotal role in riding out a storm, or storming to the finish line.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Roger Federer withdraws from BNP Paribas Open enters Rolex Masters due to continued recovery from surgery

Four-time champion Roger Federer has withdrawn from the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells next month as he continues to rehab from knee surgery. Federer underwent arthroscopic surgery on his knee February 3 in Switzerland and only returned to the practice court this past Tuesday.

On his Facebook page, Federer wrote: “The rehab for my knee is going really well! I have now had a lot of great practices on the court and in the gym. As it is a long year, I don't want to push it too hard and come back too soon. Thus, I will unfortunately not be able to make it back in time for the great event in Indian Wells but I do plan on playing in the desert next year.

“After consultation with my team, I have decided to enter the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters. Thanks for the support and I will see you back on tour soon.”

Federer finished runner-up to Novak Djokovic the past two years in Indian Wells, where he last won the title in 2012. The Swiss also won three consecutive titles in the Californian desert from 2004-06. Since making his debut in 2001, Federer has made 15 consecutive appearances in Indian Wells, where he boasts a 52-11 record.

Federer suffered a torn meniscus one day after falling to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open in late January.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Roger Federer thanks his fans for support following knee surgery

As Roger Federer’s comeback plans after knee surgery gather momentum, the Swiss great has taken to his website to thank fans for their outpouring of support. The 34 year old earlier this week shared a photo on social media highlighting his first hit-out on the practice courts since undergoing a right knee arthroscopy to repair a torn meniscus three weeks ago.

Federer posted the thank-you note to his website yesterday. “I would like to send out a heartfelt thank you for all your kind words after my injury and the surgery,” he posted.

“It was an amazingly positive boost to receive all your cards, letters, presents and posts on the web. It really means a whole lot to me to feel your support in tough times.”

The injury, which occurred the day after his Australian Open semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic, forced Federer to skip the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai.

“It is fantastic to be moving and working out again,” he added. “We're taking it one step at a time, but I'm already really looking forward to getting back onto the court with full energy. Thank you very much again, see you soon.”

Buoyed by the news, Federer’s fans continued their words of encouragement.

“It is wonderful to see you are able to be so mobile again after your surgery! I am so looking forward to seeing you play again, tennis is just not the same without you. Take care Roger, you mean the world to us,” Wendy_Redrobin of Great Britain posted.

“Dear Roger, thank you very much for your update. It is so good to know you are working out again!” Cecivonne of Ecuador said.

“Dear Roger, come back stronger and fully recuperated. We miss you,” Arevik of Armenia said.

“Thank you Roger for keeping in touch … we are all eager to see you back on court, stronger than ever. Take care,” Chervil of Australia posted.

“So very heartening to hear of your positive progress health wise. Such a relief. Can't even begin to tell you how it feels not having you around but your jumping pics brought a huge smile to my face as does this message from you! Get better by the minute and see you in action soon!” Sigtias of India said.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza winning streak ends at 41 in Qatar Open quarters

DOHA, Qatar - Co-No.1 doubles team Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza had not lost a match since last August at the Western & Southern Open, but their 41-match winning streak came to a sudden halt at the hands of Russian duo Elena Vesnina and Daria Kasatkina, 2-6, 6-4, 10-5.

An accomplished doubles player, Vesnina won her most recent Grand Slam doubles title over Hingis at the 2014 US Open, when the Swiss Miss was still partnered with Flavia Pennetta. That script would flip in dramatic fashion less than a year later at Wimbledon after Hingis paired up with Mirza; the two roared back from a 2-5 final set deficit to beat Vesnina and longtime partner Ekaterina Makarova for their first major title.

"That was an amazing match for us," Vesnina said after the match. We played against them just a week ago, and they're one of the greatest doubles teams we have in women's tennis. I think everything worked today for us to win, and we're just so excited about it.

"We changed our tactics a little bit in the second set, and we saw that it started to work. We stuck to this game plan, and were a little bit lucky on some points, but it's always like this in doubles with deciding points. Dasha played really well on key moments. She just went for her shots and made a lot of good volleys today, so we're really pleased and proud about this win."

"It's unbelievable for me," Kasatkina added, "something huge because it's just my third WTA doubles tournament and we beat Sania and Martina. For me, it's something unbelievable."

Santina's historic streak took began two months later at the US Open, which would be the first of nine straight titles as a team, including the China Open, the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, the Apia International Sydney, a third major title at the Australian Open and, most recently, the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy - where they had beaten Vesnina and Kasatkina in straight sets in the quarterfinals.

"We were surprised that so many people came to watch," Vesnina said. "The court was packed; most of the people were cheering for Martina and Sania, which is normal. It actually worked well for us; we were enjoying this atmosphere on the court. It felt like we were playing a final."

"It was a full house!" Kasatkina said with a laugh.

Had they won a 10th title in Doha, Hingis and Mirza would have tied Jana Novotna and Natalia Zvereva for the longest winning streak since 1990 at 44 match wins, but still had a ways to go before catching Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver, who amassed 109 straight matches between 1983 and 1985.

It was fun while it lasted, an incredible achievement nonetheless. 

Congrats 'Santina' on an amazing run.   

Here's to starting another win streak soon.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza extend winning streak to 41 at Qatar Open

Doha: Indian tennis star Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis survived a scare before pulling off a three-set win over the Chinese pair of Yi-Fan Xu and Saisai Zheng in the WTA Qatar Open to extend their unbeaten streak to 41 matches in Doha on Wednesday.

The top seeded Indo-Swiss pair toiled for one hour and 24 minutes to prevail 6-4 4-6 10-4 over the unseeded Chinese duo to enter the quarterfinals. They got a bye in the first round in the hard court $ 2,818,000 prize money tournament.

Sania and Hingis have together won four titles this year out of an overall trophy count of 13.

They started the year with wins in Brisbane and Sydney before completing a hat-trick of Grand Slam titles at the Australian Open. The duo had won the St Petersburg Ladies title earlier this month.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Roger Federer back on the practice court after knee surgery

Roger Federer has ventured back onto the practice courts for the first time since undergoing right knee surgery just three weeks ago. The Swiss great tweeted the image of an indoor hit-out, stating that he had “rarely felt so happy to be back on a practice court”.

Federer went under the knife in Switzerland for arthroscopic knee surgery on February 3, to repair a torn meniscus that occurred the day after his Australian Open semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic, according to his agent Tony Godsick. He was forced to withdraw from the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships in Dubai.

Federer fans were quick to wish Federer well after he made his social media post.

“Roger, we always feel pure happiness in our hearts seeing you back on any kind of court. Keep practising, champ, we miss you so much,” Veronika Tuckova said.

“Roger not seeing you on a tennis court is like seeing a fish out of water,” Elton Engstrom said.

“Keep on getting stronger, recover fully, king of the tennis court! You don't just play tennis Mr Federer, you are tennis!” Elizabeth Butler said.

“Happy that you are back on the practice court. Keep practising, we just love to see you out there competing and making tennis such an awesome sport to watch,” Rita Gaitskell.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Justine Henin returns to tennis as coach

Svitolina has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings in the last two seasons, earning four Top 10 wins - two over reigning Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber - and making her Top 20 debut last spring, following a run to the quarterfinals of the French Open. Looking to make the next step in her career ascent, Svitolina has been after Henin's expertise since the off-season.

Neither Svitolina nor Henin are the tallest to ever play the game - Svitolina stands at 5'9" to Henin's 5'5" - but the Belgian unleashed a barrage of unbridled aggression combined with an unflappable competitive spirit to finish as the Year-End No.1 three times, win a hat-trick of French Open titles from 2005-2007 (four in total), along with an Olympic Gold Medal in 2004 - recovering from 1-5 in the final set of her semifinal against Anastasia Myskina to dispatch Amélie Mauresmo in the final.

Retiring in 2008, Henin returned to tennis two years later, reaching the Australian Open final in the first major appearance of her comeback, falling to World No.1 Serena Williams in three thrilling sets.

Svitolina already has strong competitive instincts, winning a majority of her three-set matches in 2015, but could certainly benefit from a dose of Henin's aggressive tactics that may encourage her to step into the court and dictate play more often.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza hit 40th consecutive win with St. Petersburg title!

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ST. PETERSBURG, Russia - WTA Doubles Co-No.1s Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza maintained their perfect start to 2016 - and their still-unbroken winning-streak - in the final of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy, winning their 40th straight match over Vera Dushevina and Barbora Krejcikova, 6-3, 6-1.

Dropping just one set through four more victories in Russia, "SanTina" are now within striking distance of surpassing the longest winning streak since 1990, when Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova won 44 in a row; the reigning Wimbledon, US Open, and Australian Open champions still have a way to go to break the ultimate record of 109 - held by Martina Navratilova and Pam Shriver in 1983.

"We're obviously very happy to win another title but now that we're coming closer and closer to the next target of 44, we can't help but think about," Mirza said after the final.

"But it's not something we really want to think about; we're really excited ot be at 40! We didn't think in our wildest dreams that this was going to happen. I think I can speak on behalf of both of us that we're going to play every match on merit and try to get to 44."

Hingis and Mirza were the talk of the pressroom during their week in St. Petersburg, and though they're trying not to look too far ahead, Mirza hopes to be back next year to defend their title.

"I definitely think it's an amazing tournament, and I feel the hospitality made it so comfortable. I also think you should give them especially because it's the first year of the tournament, and to put up such a tournament any year is never easy, so I'd love to come back."

Monday, February 15, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza survive tough battle to keep their winning streak alive in St. Petersburg

New Delhi: Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis' winning streak came under a serious threat in the semi-final of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Saturday.

The number one seeds were pushed to the limit by Spaniards Anabel Medina Garrigez and Arrantxa Parra Santonja.

After a battle that lasted nearly two hours, the Indo-Swiss pair prevailed 7-5, 6-7 and 10-6.

“The match was so long and close because we were facing very tough opponents,” said Sania after the win.

They will face Vera Dushevina and Barbora Krejcikova in the finals.

“We are to clash with an international pair who has a Russian player. But the Russian fans are fair, so we are sure we will get our share of applause” Hingis was quoted as saying by

Sania and Martina have now won 39 matches on the trot and are just 6 away from equaling the all-time record of 44 set by Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova in 1990.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza notch 38th straight match win in St. Petersburg

Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis notched up their 38th straight win to reach the semifinals of the women's doubles event of the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy on Saturday.

The top-seeded pair continued their rampaging form in their 6-4, 6-1 demolition of the unseeded Russian duo of Daria Kasatkina and Elena Vesnina in the quarterfinals.

Sania and Hingis will next face the third-seeded pair of Anabel Medina Garrigues and Arantxa Parra Santonja later in the day to secure a spot in the final.

Earlier this year, the Indo-Swiss duo won their third consecutive women's doubles Grand Slam title by lifting the Australian Open trophy.

Since an upset loss in the French Open quarterfinals, the Indo-Swiss 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.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza extend match winning streak to #37 in St. Petersburg

Top-ranked doubles team and WTA Co-No.1s Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza brought their 36-match winning streak to the St. Petersburg Ladies Tophy, adding to their total with a first round win over Jelena Ostapenko and Evgeniya Rodina, 7-5, 7-5.

"We didn't know how to play them that well in the beginning," Hingis said in their post-match press conference. "We lost an opportunity at 3-2, 40-0 to go up and close out the match, and they came back to play a couple of really good games - especially Ostapenko, who hit some really great shots.

"I think it was great experience for them to play a match like that, and also for us to get into the tournament. I'm definitely happy we didn't have to play a deciding set. It's always nice to close out in straight sets; it makes us that much stronger."

Hingis and Mirza haven't lost a match since last August at the Western & Southern Open, their now-37-match winning streak having taken them to titles at the US Open, BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, and the Australian Open - with only the French Open standing between them and a possible "Santina Slam."

"The streak that we're on is amazing," Mirza said. "To be honest, we knew we could play good, but not this good. We're surprising ourselves as well, and we just want to keep going.

Asked about the media's fascination with their streak, the longest since Jana Novotna and Helena Sukova won 44 straight matches in 1990, the team known as "SanTina" didn't mince words.

"We're counting, also."

"Yes, we are," Hingis added.

For Hingis, the partnership with Mirza marks her second to truly capture the imagination of the tennis world, the first being her late-90s domination with Russia's own Anna Kournikova - still a popular topic in the St. Petersburg press room.

"She was a great player, a team player, and we had great times for those two years," Hingis said, speaking about their two Australian Open victories in 1999 and 2002.

"She kind of was the one who started this Russian Armada - or Russian generation - along with Elena Likhovtseva. She was definitely the one who you could aim for and be like, go around the world and live the 'Russian-American dream.' I loved playing with her.

"We stay in touch, especially during the Miami event; we always try to see each other. I follow what she's doing; she follows me."

Mirza too fondly remembers the "Spice Girls" of the women's doubles circuit.

"At that time I think TV was not as evolved as it is today, combined with the computer, so it was not so easy to get to see matches all the time. But everybody knew Martina Hingis, everybody knew Anna Kournikova, and everybody knew that this partnership was winning a lot, and probably was one of the best doubles teams to play.

"She's not that much older than me," she added with a laugh. "Only five years; it's just that she's been around for such a long time!"

Another partnership Hingis looks forward to exploring involves fellow Swiss Roger Federer, who agreed to play mixed doubles with her at the upcoming Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.

"I waited ten months, and maybe after winning a lot with Sania, and becoming No.1 again and winning three mixed titles, I was hoping that would be persuasion enough to partner up."

SanTina next face an all-Russian pair for a spot in the quarterfinals and Win No.38: rising Russian star Daria Kasatkina and Elena Vesnina, Mirza's former doubles partner.

"We played together for a long time; she's a very good friend of mine, and we've known each other since we were 13 years old.

"I have a feeling that the crowd will be behind them because she's quite popular here, but hopefully there will be some people supporting us."

Asked if they foresaw their partnership transcending to other endeavors, Hingis said they planned to let their racquets do the talking.

"We'll stick to tennis; that's what we do best."

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza visit Russian Museum in St. Petersburg

Saint Petersburg is a city known for its arts and culture, so it's no surprise that doubles co-No.1s Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis made a stop to take it all in at the State Russian Museum.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Martina Hingis Renaissance Woman

“She did all the great volleys and all the doubles stuff,” 18-year-old Belinda Bencic said after helping Switzerland clinch its first-round Fed Cup tie against Germany on Sunday.

The “she” in that sentence was Martina Hingis, Bencic’s teammate, idol, and sometime-coach. Fourteen years after her first retirement from tennis, Hingis is still teaching the kids what this “doubles stuff” is all about.

Before the tie’s fifth and deciding match, momentum had swung hard in Germany’s favor. Annika Beck had knotted the score at 2-2 by beating the higher-ranked Timea Bacsinszky, and the crowd in Leipzig was on its feet and (a little awkwardly) dancing in the aisles. Who could Switzerland call on to put out the fire? The team’s secret weapon, of course: A 35-year-old whose best year—1997, when she won three Grand Slam singles titles—happened to be the same one in which her partner, Bencic, was born.

“I was cheering them on for the first four matches,” Hingis said of her younger teammates, “and then I had to go out there.”

Hingis and Bencic went out there, and a few minutes later the German fans were back in their seats; it was pretty clear that there wouldn’t be any more dancing on this day. The Swiss team cruised past Andrea Petkovic and Anna-Lena Groenefeld, 6-3, 6-2. As Bencic said, it was Hingis who led the way with her returns, net coverage, consistency, creativity, and incomparable court sense. All of the things, in other words, that have already put Hingis in the sport’s Hall of Fame.

“I was just happy I could play with her,” Bencic said. “I’m not a doubles specialist.”

Once upon a time, Hingis wasn’t a doubles specialist, either. Three tennis lifetimes ago, all the way back in the 20th century, Hingis spent 203 weeks at the top of the WTA’s singles rankings, won five major singles titles, and fell one match short of completing a calendar-year Grand Slam. Like Novak Djokovic last year, her only loss at a major in 1997 came in the French Open final, to Iva Majoli. The following year, she did complete a calendar-year Grand Slam, in doubles.

But that was only the start for Hingis. While she looked sure to be the next great women’s player, she ended up instead having a career that was as notable for its plunging lows as it was for its stratospheric highs. As a 16-year-old, she became the youngest player to win a major, at the 1997 Australian Open. Two years later, she became perhaps the youngest player to be booed off center court at the French Open, after throwing a fit in her final-round loss to Steffi Graf. And as a 22-year-old, after ceding the spotlight to Serena and Venus Williams, Hingis became one of the youngest champions to retire.

In 2006, she came back and quickly returned to the Top 10. By the end of 2007, though, she had retired again, after being suspended for two years after testing positive for a metabolite of cocaine. In 2013, she was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I.

Now Hingis is back again, and working on another Slam. She and her partner, Sania Mirza,have won the last three women’s doubles majors, and are currently on a 36-match win streak. Hingis first took over the top spot in the WTA’s doubles rankings in 1998; now she’s done it again in 2016. Has there ever been a longer hiatus between turns at No. 1?

"Who would’ve thought I would have another opportunity to become No. 1 again?" Hingis said in January. "Of course I had my hopes and dreams. Now it’s a reality.”

Hingis may claim that she only had “hopes and dreams” of a third career renaissance, but she doesn’t sound, or act, too surprised about it to me. At 35, she still plays and speaks with the swagger of someone who has always felt she belonged at the top.

“Obviously the first three months, the first three tournaments, we were already, like, amazing,” Hingis says of the early stages of her partnership with Mirza, which began last year.

"It’s something that’s a priority,” Hingis says. “When I was playing singles, singles was [the] priority. I became No. 1 there. Also simultaneously I was No. 1 in both. Now I put 100 percent or 120 percent into this, and I think that’s what makes us this great doubles [team].”

Of course, there’s more to the team's success than that. While Hingis praises Mirza mainly for “setting me up,” it’s the mix of the Indian woman’s power with the Swiss woman’s finesse that makes them such a formidable and complementary duo. Mirza pounds her forehand as hard as many of the WTA’s singles stars, while Hingis, even at 35, places the ball and covers the net like few players today. The fact that each is devoted solely to doubles gives them an advantage, in terms of focus and practice time, over those who also play singles.

“Even playing crosscourt forehands when we practice, we just constantly make each other better,” says Hingis, who says she has improved her serve in her time with Mirza.

Whether she’s playing with Mirza or Bencic, though, it’s Hingis who puts on a clinic in classic doubles tactics and technique. She’s the one who drapes herself over the net, follows the ball instinctively, and cuts it off whenever possible. She’s the one who can create surprising angles on her return and take over the net from a younger server who won’t leave the baseline. She’s the one who doesn’t make the wild, crucial error at the wrong time. And she’s one of the few players who can hit crisp volley winners with two hands on the racquet.

It’s also true that Hingis is the one with the 70-m.p.h. second serve; as she says at virtually every press conference, she has no plans to go back to singles, and there’s a good reason for that. Hingis will forever be a transitional figure in women’s tennis: The last finesse champion before the power-game onslaught; the last champion of the 20th century.

Sixteen years into the 21st century, Hingis is like a former U.S. president who has become a senator later in life. She’s no longer the very best, but she’s still putting her unique skills to good use. She’s the one who still makes all of that “doubles stuff” worth watching.

Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Martina Hingis praises Angelique Kerber

Ahead of their Fed Cup clash, Martina Hingis heaped praise on Angelique Kerber for her sensational win at the Australian Open last month.

The German rallied to upset the indomitable Serena Williams in the final of the Melbourne event. Now, Kerber lines up for Germany opposite Hingis and the Swiss team in this weekend's Fed Cup action.

"It's a nice setting...once it's going to be packed, it's going to be a great atmosphere," said the 34-year-old of the Leipziger Messe court in Germany.

"It's going to be really good tie because Angelique is obviously in great form, winning the Australian Open and No. 2 in the world. She's the leader of the team.

"All the German hopes are with her on the team as a champion who also beat Serena Williams, the No. 1 player. It's a great moment to have it here."

Hingis is coming off a big win in Melbourne herself, picking up her third consecutive grand slam women's doubles title with Sania Mirza.

Switzerland returns to the World Group for the first time since 2004, largely thanks to the efforts of world number 11 Belinda Bencic and 15th ranked Timea Bacsinszky, who are key to Swiss hopes this weekend.

"It's really nice to go back up," continued Hingis, who will sit out the opening round.

"The ladies, Timea and Belinda, have done most of the job to get up here.

"The last tie was really nerve-racking. It came down to the last few points. It was really nice to be part of the team again there and now joining the best of the best is pretty cool."

Monday, February 08, 2016

Martina Hingis & Belinda Bencic help Switzerland reach Fed Cup semis

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LEIPZIG, Germany (AP) Belinda Bencic and Australian Open doubles champion Martina Hingis sent Switzerland to the Fed Cup semifinals with a 3-2 win over Germany on Sunday.

The 18-year-old Bencic and Hingis, who won with Sania Mirza in Melbourne, converted four of their five break points to defeat Andrea Petkovic and Anna-Lena Groenefeld 6-3, 6-2 in the deciding doubles match.

Bencic paid tribute to her 35-year-old doubles partner.

''She did all the great volleys and all the doubles stuff. I was just happy I could play with her. I'm not a doubles specialist,'' said the Swiss No. 1, who upset Australian Open singles champion Angelique Kerber 7-6 (4), 6-3 to give Switzerland a 2-1 lead earlier Sunday.

Bencic, ranked 11th, came from 1-4 down to win the first set tiebreaker and needed just one match point to seal the win in 1 hour, 32 minutes. She had beaten Petkovic 6-3, 6-4 on Saturday, when Kerber topped Timea Bacsinszky 6-1, 6-3.

Annika Beck pulled Germany level at 2-2 and ensured the first-round contest would be decided by the doubles match when she defeated Bacsinszky 7-5, 6-4 in her Fed Cup debut.

No. 2-ranked Kerber appeared out of sorts, perhaps weary just eight days after claiming her first Grand Slam title in a three-set victory over Serena Williams in Melbourne.

''I was a little bit tired, especially at the end of the first set, but I was trying to take all my energy from the crowd and the team. But Belinda played very solid to the end, and well done to her,'' Kerber said. ''Today I gave all I had left.''

Switzerland will face the Czech Republic in the semifinals on Apr. 16 and 17.

''I have no idea where we can go but I'm excited to find out,'' Switzerland captain Heinz Guenthardt said. ''Martina is one of the best doubles players in the world right now and Belinda is very solid. This surface is good for Belinda but we knew she had to play at the top of her game and she did.''

Sunday, February 07, 2016

Roger Federer undergoes knee surgery will be sidelined till March

Roger Federer underwent arthroscopic knee surgery yesterday that will sideline him for at least the rest of this month. Federer suffered a torn meniscus the day after his Australian Open semifinal loss to Novak Djokovic, he announced in a Facebook post today.

Federer returned home to Switzerland where he underwent knee surgery yesterday.

"While this is an unfortunate setback, I am encouraged and grateful that my doctor said the procedure was a success," Federer said in the Facebook post. "I am looking forward to attacking the rehabilitation process this afternoon with my team and working hard to get back out on tour as soon as possible." 

The 17-time Grand Slam champion has withdrawn from next week's Rotterdam tournament as well as Dubai, which begins on February 22nd. A year ago, Federer defeated Djokovic, 6-3, 7-5, to collect his seventh career Dubai title. He thumped his 9,000th career ace in the final joining Goran Ivanisevic, Andy Roddick and Ivo Karlovic as the fourth man to reach 9,000 aces. 

The third-ranked Swiss trails Andy Murray by 150 rankings points for the world No. 2 spot. Murray already announced he is taking the month of February off in order to be with wife Kim, who is expecting the couple's first child. 

The 34-year-old Federer, a two-time former Rotterdam champion, was in prime position to pass Murray and regain the world No. 2 ranking with a solid performance this month. - See more at:

Federer is targeting a return at Indian Wells, which begins March 7th, though it's uncertain if he will fully recover in time. Federer was runner-up to Djokovic in the 2015 Indian Wells final. After Indian Wells, Federer's next scheduled event is Roland Garros. He has not played the Miami Open since 2014. 

Get well soon Roger!.

Saturday, February 06, 2016

'Santina' Slam on the horizon

MELBOURNE, Australia - Less than a year after World No.1 Serena Williams won a second "Serena Slam" at the 2015 Wimbledon Championships, Co-No.1 doubles team Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza are one major win away from a non-calendar year Grand Slam of their own, a "Santina Slam."

Hingis and Mirza first paired up at the BNP Paribas Open last spring, starting a 15-match winning streak that took them to titles in Indian Wells, Miami and Charleston. Now on a 36-match streak - the longest since 1990 - Santina have not lost a match since the 2015 Western & Southern Open, and have won the last three major titles in a row dating back to Wimbledon, where they recovered from a 2-5 final set deficit to defeat Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina for the first Grand Slam title as a pair.

The Indo-Swiss duo followed that up with an efficient run to the US Open title a few months later, and didn't drop a set through six matches. Capping their near-perfect season with the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global title - also without dropping a set, even more impressive at a tournament comprised solely of the Top 8 doubles teams - Hingis and Mirza began 2016 in earnest by winning titles in Brisbane and Sydney before their Australian Open victory.

"Our fairytale continues," Hingis told press after she and Mirza defeated "Silent Hs" Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, 7-6(1), 6-3. "It's amazing since winning Wimbledon. After that we only lost two more matches. It keeps going.

"It's been always great to start the year here in Australia. Like Sania said, it's a very player-friendly environment in Australia. They're very knowledgeable about tennis. They love their players. They support them. It's great to come out here and have this mood, like this tennis mood, the environment gives you, and the setting.

"Whether it's Rod Laver Arena or Margaret Court it's just a cozy atmosphere, and it's so nice to play out there."

All that stands between Santina and a fourth straight Grand Slam title is the French Open, historically each woman's least successful Slam tournament. A 21-time Grand Slam champion, Hingis has only one the French Open twice - in 1998 en route to the last Calendar Year Grand Slam of any kind with Jana Novotna, and 2000 with singles champion Mary Pierce - and remains the only singles and mixed doubles major to elude her. Mirza has only one French Open title to her name, the 2012 mixed doubles crown with compatriot Mahesh Bhupati.

"It's a Grand Slam for a reason, and the reason is that it's so tough to win even one in your lifetime,"Mirza told WTA Insider after she and Hingis won in Brisbane. "If it happened, it would be amazing, but it's not something we're focusing on, to be honest.

"We're just trying to focus on playing well. Every time we step on the court, we have to keep our level because everyone comes out playing great because they have no pressure - especially now that we keep winning, and everyone want to be the team to beat us.

"It's normal because they have nothing to lose. We're privileged to be in this position, really. I don't mean that in a cocky way at all

"We're just trying to take it one match at a time. Every match is tough; we're just going to go there, focus on one match at a time, and hopefully get into the Slam.

"If we win it, great. If we don't, we move on."

Friday, February 05, 2016

The "Laver Cup" - Roger Federer's new event - is set for September 2017 debut

Team8, who represent Roger Federer, are the agency behind a Ryder Cup-style exhibition event – the Laver Cup – that is scheduled to begin in September 2016.

Pitting a team of tennis players from Europe against a 'Rest of the World' team, this Ryder Cup-esque event is named after the great Rod Laver – winner of 11 Grand Slam titles. The tournament will last for three days, and take place every year bar that of the Summer Olympics.

With Rio 2016 just around the corner, the first edition of the Laver Cup will launch in 2017. It is a men's event, offers no ranking points, and will not yet be considered an ATP tournament.

Teams will consist of six players each, with four have qualified through ATP rankings, while the last two are picked by team captains. Singles and doubles matches will be played during the event.

Unlike the off-season's IPTL, which got off the ground by paying top players to participate, there will be no appearance fees paid to the competitors. Prize money, however, will be awarded.

It is planned that once the tournament has debuted on European indoor hard-courts, it will transfer between international and European venues in ensuing years.

This whole idea – based on golf's Ryder Cup, which pits Europe against the USA – was apparently the brainchild of world no. 3 Roger Federer, whose respect for tennis legend Rod Laver is mirrored in the impending tournament's name.

“Rod Laver is always someone I've thought of as very inspiring,” Federer commented.

“I think it's important to leave a legacy for the legends, and Rod Laver to me stands out because of his achievements and his character and everything."

The new Laver Cup is not, however, likely to introduce itself without some commotion. Besides the fact that it has been plunged into a highly busy tennis season, there is the likelihood that it will clash with the Davis Cup – a longstanding tennis team event that has been resurrecting popularity in recent years. Federer, of course, is well aware of this.

“Obviously, everything you add to a schedule, take away from a schedule, always has an impact. That's the craziness of tennis,” the Swiss stated as he addressed the matter. “But that doesn't mean it's negative necessarily.

“I think the Davis Cup with its history is incredible. It's never going to go away. I don't think [the Laver Cup and the Davis Cup] are going to rival each other very much, to be quite honest. One is over four weeks and it carries through the entire year, while this is for only like a weekend. Other than it's a team competition, I don't see any other similarities, really.”

And the tennis great has a high-profile vision for the tournament.

“The prospect should be very exciting in itself. I've never played doubles with Rafa, Novak or Andy, so that could be a first there maybe: Us supporting one another, high-fiving each other. I think it could be very cool.”

Australia's Rod Laver tends to agree.

“It's just a great honour that my name is going to be on this,” the 77-year-old commented on Friday. “I think it will be fair competition and very competitive. It's in golf, and it's been successful any time they've done it with the Ryder Cup and the Presidents Cup. It's a unique concept in tennis.”

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Roger Federer not afraid of facing Djokovic despite another Grand Slam Semi-Final loss

It’s fair to say that Roger Federer hoped for a lot more when he stepped onto Rod Laver Arena on Thursday night to face Novak Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals. It wasn’t to be for the Swiss. Subjected to a staggering display from Djokovic, especially in the first two sets, the racquet was largely taken out of his hands.

But Federer’s self-belief is far from dented after the four-set defeat.

“I have self-confidence as well,” said the Swiss. “That doesn't fade away very quickly. I know it's not easy [facing Djokovic]. I never thought it was easy.

“It doesn't scare me when I go into a big match against any player who's in their prime right now. But of course you need to prove yourself. You need to have all that going. It's disappointing, but at the same time I'm going deep in slams right now. I'm having great runs. I thought I had a tough draw here, so I'm actually pleased where my level's at at the beginning of the season.”

Federer has been beaten by Djokovic in his past three Grand Slam outings, finishing runner-up to the Serb in the finals at Wimbledon and the US Open. He was also defeated by Djokovic in the 2014 Wimbledon final. Indeed, if it weren’t for Djokovic dominating on the ATP World Tour in recent years, Federer could well have added to his Grand Slam haul of 17 trophies.

“Novak right now is a reference for everybody,” said Federer. “He's the only guy that has been able to stop me as of late, and Stan [Wawrinka] when he was on fire when he was in Paris. It's okay. I wish I could have played a bit better [tonight], and who knows what would have happened. Today Novak was very, very good. There's no doubt about it.”

The crowd on Rod Laver Arena were stunned into near-silence by Djokovic’s performance in the first two sets of his 45th meeting with Federer. In his finest performance of the tournament so far, the Serb was worlds away from his fourth-round battle with Gilles Simon, in which he made 100 unforced errors. For the first two sets against Federer, Djokovic committed just six unforced errors and gave the Swiss no break point opportunities.

Once the Serb had the first set, it was always going to be an uphill battle for Federer, who had only once before in 22 wins against Djokovic come from a set down.

“I know how important the first set is against Novak, especially at this time right now when he's World No. 1. When he gets on a roll, it's tough to stop. He's always played very well throughout his career with the lead. Even more so now when his confidence is up.

“Of course I wanted to do well. Of course I had a game plan. Of course I had ideas what I should do. I couldn't quite get it done. Maybe parts of my game, maybe parts of his game just matched up in a tough way and the first set ran away very quickly.”

What Federer can credit himself with is managing to halt Djokovic’s momentum - when he was barely missing a ball - and clawing his way back into the match, much to the delight of the crowd.

“I've seen Novak play this well before,” said Federer. “It's tough when it's from the start because obviously you’ve got to try to stop the bleeding at some point. He returns very well, like Andre Agassi. He can get one or two sets all of a sudden. Those sets run away very quickly.

“Before you can really do something, a lot of tennis is being played and it's tough to get back into it. I found a way. Started to play better myself. Made a bit of a match out of it, which was nice.”

Once again Federer fans are left looking at the bright side,  Federer at 34 is still making the second week of a Grand Slam. 

Yes he may have gotten out played, but he's still the only player (aside from maybe Wawrinka) who's still consistently competing with Djokovic at his level. 

I'm not going to wax poetic about Novak Djokovic, because the media is doing that ad nauseam lately (as with Serena Williams). 

And please stop saying that Novak is ahead in their rivalry. He's one match ahead. I'm sure Mr. Federer will beat him in best of three throughout the rest of this year.

I skipped watching the match to spare myself a lot of frazzled nerves (and the fact the match was on at 3:30 am).  

Despite this loss, the year has just began.  This was only the first Grand Slam.  

Something tells me there'll be a few more if Mr. Federer has anything to say about it. 

Onward to the next tournament!.

Monday, February 01, 2016

Roger Federer & Lleyton Hewitt cartooned at Aussie Open

Ever wondered what it would be like to watch Roger Federer and Lleyton Hewitt in cartoon format? Well now you can. Bringing you two living tennis legends as you've never seen them before:

This is brilliant!. "I'm thinking, OMG, I'm crazy, but he's nuts!" LOL.