Monday, May 30, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza's 'Santina Slam' hopes cut short in the 3rd round at French Open

Those expressions pretty much say it all :(.

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World number 1 and top seeds Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis made a shock third round exit from the French Open on Sunday.

The Indo-Swiss pair lost to the unseeded Czech duo of Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 3-6, 2-6 ending their hopes of winning a fourth Grand Slam on the trot.

“We played bad and they played good. It’s as simple as that,” Mirza said. “You have to come up with your ‘A’ game. ... We obviously didn’t play anywhere close to our best.”

Hingis complained about a couple officiating decisions and said: “Everything kind of went against us today.”

Sania and Hingis were rusty from the start and could not hold their serve five times in the match, including four in the second set.

Giving away a breakpoint in the opener, they lost the first set 3-6. The start of the second was no different as they failed to hold their first two serves to trail 0-4.

The top seeds however fought back at that stage and broke their opponents to finally get on the board in the second at 4-1. However, they then conceded their own serve in the next game and the scoreline read 5-1.

The Czech pair served for the match but Sania and Hingis were yet to throw in the towel and broke their opponents’ serve to make it 2-5. But there was not be any further fightback from them as they yet again failed to hold serve in the crucial eighth and with it lost the match as well.

6-3, 6-2 to Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

It was just not their day, too bad. 

Hopefully they can try again next year. 

At least both Martina and Sania are still in the mixed doubles. 

But being on opposite sides of the net means that only one of them can win it. 

And it's no secret who I'm rooting for ;).

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Martina Hingis & Leander Paes fight to reach mixed doubles quarters at French Open

India’s Leander Paes and his Swiss partner Martina Hingis moved a step closer to their first French Open crown together as they breezed into the mixed doubles quarterfinals after dispatching fourth seeds Yaroslav Shvedova and Florin Mergea, in Paris on Saturday.

Unseeded Paes and Hingis, who won three Grand Slams together in 2015, erased a one-set deficit to eke out a 2-6 7-5 10-6 win over a formidable combination in the rain-hit second round contest.

After losing their serve twice and breaking their rivals once, Paes and Hingis were trailing 2-3 when skies opened up, halting the match.

After play resumed, Paes and Hingis could not win a single game, losing three games in a row to surrender the opening set.

The Indo-Swiss had its share of chances but converted only one of the four break chances.

They almost dropped serve in the third game but managed to hold.

It was a tight contest from thereon with two pairs locked 5-5.

Shvedova and Mergea were serving to force a tie-breaker but Paes and Hingis capitalised on the second break point to drag it to a Super Tie-breaker.

They led 4-1 and then 8-4 before clinching the issue on their third match point.

They now await winners of the second round match between top seeds Hao-Ching Chan and Jamie Murray and Daria Gavrilova and John Peers.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza stay on track at French Open

PARIS, France - Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza moved one step closer to the Roland Garros title with a quick-fire second-round win over Nao Hibino and Eri Hozumi.

Bidding to become the first team to hold all four majors simultaneously since Serena and Venus Williams in 2010, Hingis and Mirza are showing no signs of nerves, continuing their serene progress with a 6-2, 6-0 victory.

Hibino and Hozumi occupied the top seeds for just 54 minutes, and on current form it will take something special to stop them. Next in the firing line are Czech duo Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova.

Looming beyond that are No.6 seeds Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, their projected quarterfinal opponents.

Five years ago, Hlavackova and Hradecka went all the way in Paris, and they are building up a head of steam this time, too. On Friday they put Ukrainian twins Nadiia and Lyudmyla Kichenok to the sword, winning 6-1, 6-3.

In the bottom half there was success for another team to have lifted the trophy, Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, who eventually saw off Gabriela Dabrowski and María José Martínez Sánchez, 6-2, 7-6(5).

The 2013 champions, seeded No.7 this time, will next face big-serving Julia Goerges and Karolina Pliskova. Also advancing were the in-form Kiki Bertens and Johanna Larsson.

Fresh from lifting the title in Nürnberg, Bertens and Larsson sent shockwaves through the draw on Thursday afternoon when they knocked out defending champions Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova in straight sets. They followed this up with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 win over María Irigoyen and Paula Kania to set up a potential third-round date with the Williams sisters.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Martina Hingis & Leander Paes make winning start at French Open mixed doubles

Indian tennis stars Leander Paes and Sania Mirza cruised into the mixed doubles pre-quarterfinals of the French Open along with their respective partners. 

While Paes and his Swiss Partner Martina Hingis, winners of three Grand Slam titles last season, beat German Colombian pair of Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Robert Farah 6-4 6-4 in the opening round, second seeded Sania and Ivan Dodig of Croatia eased past French duo of Mathilde Johansson and Tristan Lamasine 6-4 6-3 in their opener later in the day.

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza kick off French Open bid

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PARIS, France - Co-No.1s Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza are just five matches away from a Non-Calendar Year "Santina" Slam, and the top seeds opened with a statement first round win at the French Open, defeating Daria Kasatkina and Alexandra Panova, 7-6(4), 6-2.

Kasatkina was one half of the team who ended Santina's 41-match winning streak at the Qatar Total Open, edging past the reigning Wimbledon, US Open, and Australian Open champions alongside Elena Vesnina in a match tie-break, but fresh off of their first career red clay court title at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, Hingis and Mirza were all business to start, racing out to a 5-0 lead in the opening set.

The Russians clawed their way back to level and saved two set points in the 12th game to force a tie-break. On serve through the first six points, Santina broke away from there, winning four of the last five points to all but extinguish any hope of an upset.

Clinching victory in just over 90 minutes, Hingis and Mirza booked a second round meeting with either Karin Knapp and Mandy Minella, or Japanese duo Nao Hibino and Eri Hozumi.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Roland Garros ladies doubles draw: Santina

Santina vs. History: Co-No.1s Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza lead the field in the Roland Garros women's doubles draw, which was released on Sunday. The reigning Wimbledon, US Open, and Australian Open champions arrive in Paris hoping to become the first team to clinch a Non-Calendar Year Grand Slam since the Williams Sisters at this very tournament in 2010. Riding a 41-match winning streak through the Qatar Total Open, Hingis and Mirza suffered a minor slump at Indian Wells and Miami, and broke their three-month title drought at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia. Defeating Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina in a match tie-break, the pair captured their first trophy on red clay, after finishing second to French Connection Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic at the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and the Mutua Madrid Open.

Santina wouldn't have to play the French stars - or the recently reunited Williamses - until the final, with No.3 seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Chan Yung-Jan, No.6 seeds and Australian Open finalists Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka, and No.7 seeds Makarova and Vesnina falling into their half of the draw. Opening against Daria Kasatkina - one half of the team that ended their winning streak in Doha - and Alexandra Panova, Hingis and Mirza will likely be relieved by their draw, one that gives them time to play into form in time for a projected Melbourne rematch against Hlavackova and Hradecka in the last eight.

The Swiss Miss already won a Calendar Year Grand Slam in doubles, back in 1998 with Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and Jana Novotna; if she and Mirza can maintain the kind of consistency that took them through the clay court season, the team to beat will be heavy favorites to cement their legendary status in Paris.

Not an easy draw, but not the toughest. I highly doubt the Williams sisters are gonna make it to the finals, but the rest of the field could be tricky.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Roland Garros Contenders: "Santina"

Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza love a good winning streak.

They christened their partnership last spring with 14 straight victories through Indian Wells, Miami, and Charleston. They ended the season undefeated from the US Open through the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, bringing that streak into 2016 before the run ended at the Qatar Total Open - with an impressive haul that included nine titles and two Grand Slam trophies.

Co-No.1s since January, they head into the French Open in search of a "Santina Slam" with two active streaks in their arsenal: one at major tournaments (18 straight since Wimbledon), and the four matches in a row to win their most recent title - and first on red clay - at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

For all of their winning, red clay was the final frontier for a team who arrived in Rome after finishing second in both Stuttgart and Madrid - losing to the then-streaking French Connection of Caroline Garciaand Kristina Mladenovic each time.

Recovering from a second set hiccup on Sunday, Santina dispatched Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, who they beat to kick off their Grand Slam streak at last year's Wimbledon final, 6-1, 6-7(5), 10-3.

The French Open bears extra significance for two women who've experienced bitter disappointment on the terre battue. Mirza was one half of another team to beat back in 2011, when she and Vesnina reached the final at Roland Garros. Her bid to win her first major women's doubles title came to an unexpected halt at the hands of an unseeded Czech duo, Silent H's Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka.

Hingis' struggles to peak in Paris are well-documented, and the French Open is the only major tournament where she lacks a box set of singles, doubles, and mixed titles.

None of that may matter a fortnight from now, as Santina seem to have weathered a spring hardcourt slump to rebound on a surface where they've traditionally enjoyed the least success. Earning wins over nearly all of the teams likely to pair up next week, Hingis and Mirza's French nemeses will have the added pressure of playing at home, while defending champions Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova lost the only match they've played on red clay since winning the Miami Open.

Victory would cement their already legendary partnership with a Non-Calendar Year "Santina Slam." The last team to win four majors in a row was Venus and Serena Williams, whose campaign also started at Wimbledon and ended at the French Open in 2010.

Victory would also mean that the streak goes on. Along with Pam Shriver and Martina Navratilova, Hingis is one of only three women to complete the Calendar Year Grand Slam in women's doubles - albeit with two different partners - in 1998, winning the Australian Open with Mirjana Lucic-Baroni and the final three legs with Jana Novotna. Who would believe that, 18 years later, the Swiss Miss could be in contention for a Golden Slam?

Well before such lofty goals appeared possible, Mirza was quick to pump the breaks and add perspective.

"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 back in January after she and Hingis had captured the Brisbane International. "If it happened, it would be amazing, but it's not something we're focusing on, to be honest.

"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, May 20, 2016

Roger Federer withdrawals from Roland Garros, hopes to be fit for grass season in June

World No.3 Roger Federer has withdrawn from Roland-Garros 2016, the first time the 17-time Grand Slam champion will be missing from the main draw in Paris since making his major debut here in 1999.

The 34-year-old, who completed his career Grand Slam with victory at Roland-Garros in 2009, has been dealing with a series of injuries in 2016, including recovery from knee surgery following the Australian Open and a back injury in recent weeks.

Federer took to Philippe-Chatrier Court for a short practice session on Wednesday in the hope that he had made a return to full fitness in time for his 68th Grand Slam.

But the Swiss took to Facebook on Thursday to announce his decision to retire, ending his record run of consecutive Grand Slam appearances at 65.

"I regret to announce that I have made the decision not to play in this year’s French Open," Federer wrote.

"I have been making steady progress with my overall fitness, but I am still not 100% and feel I might be taking an unnecessary risk by playing in this event before I am really ready.

"This decision was not easy to make, but I took it to ensure I could play the remainder of the season and help to extend the rest of my career.

"I remain as motivated and excited as ever and my plan is to achieve the highest level of fitness before returning to the ATP World Tour for the upcoming grass court season.

"I am sorry for my fans in Paris but I very much look forward to returning to Roland-Garros in 2017."

Roland-Garros 2016 begins on Sunday 22 May. The draw ceremony will take place on Friday 20 May at 11.15am.

Well this was inevitable, sad that his Grand Slam appearance streak had to end in such a way. 

But I would rather he be 100 % for Wimbledon, the Olympics and the U.S. Open in Sept. than having these continuous starts and stops throughout the rest of the season.  

It will be strange not having him in the draw at all at a Grand Slam for the first time in so many years. 

At least Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza are still going to play in hopes of capturing their "Santinaa Slam". 

So that's something to look forward to.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Roger Federer Flashback: winning his maiden French Open title 2009

Ah, the memories. Still brings a smile to my face every time I watch it. His one and only French Open.  ♥♥♥

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Roger Federer out on the practice courts of Roland Garros

After several days of waiting as the rumours swirled around the health of his back, Roger Federer turned up on Wednesday for a practice session on No.1 Court at Roland Garros.

A mid-day appearance by his coach Ivan Ljubicic in the players’ lounge at Philippe Chatrier Court had people talking. And a few hours later, Federer confirmed the whispers himself: he was at Roland-Garros.

In the afternoon, the “Maestro” hit balls back and forth for about 20 minutes on No.1 Court with “Ljubi” and under the watchful eye of his entire team.

The aim of the session was for Federer to ease himself into this year's campaign in Paris and - perhaps most importantly - to test out his back. After an injury forced him to withdraw from the Madrid Masters, he needs to know whether his back will allow him to be competitive here.

However, as can happen in Paris, the rain began to fall and practice was cut short, perhaps leaving the question unresolved.

At 34 years old, the Swiss will take no chances when it comes to his physical condition. He decided to call it a day when the court became too slippery.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza capture 1st clay title at Italian Open!

ROME, Italy - Co-No.1s Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza find themselves in pole position to complete the Santina Slam at the French Open with a 6-1, 6-7(5), 10-3 win over Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina to capture the Internazionali BNL d'Italia title - their first title since February and their first ever on red clay.

Hingis and Mirza were in their third straight final since the start of the clay court swing, falling both times to the streaking Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic in both the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix and Mutua Madrid Open. Across the net on Sunday were familiar foes in Makarova and Vesnina, who were playing just their second tournament together since last summer, having briefly split as the former healed a leg injury.

Winners of the last three major titles - and the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global - Santina exploited that ostensible rust early on, roaring through the opening set and carving out a 5-3 lead in the second.

But the Russians had nearly won their most recent encounter at last year's Wimbledon final, and wouldn't accept defeat so easily, quickly leveling the set and later the match in a tie-break.

Hingis and Mirza shook off the hiccup to beat back their opponents and a gloomy forecast to capture their 14th title as a pair, and their fifth of 2016.

Heading into the French Open on a four-match winning streak, Santina next look to complete a box set of Grand Slam titles - a Santina Slam - that began at Wimbledon over Makarova and Vesnina, and took them through victories at the US Open and Australian Open in January.

Just the confidence booster they need before the French Open next Sunday. Go for the Santina Slam ladies!. :).

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza reach 3rd consecutive clay final with win at Italian Open in Rome

Saturday turned out to be a day of mixed fortunes for the Indian players in action at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome as Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis reached the women’s doubles final with a 6-3, 6-4 win while Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea lost their men’s doubles semi-final.

This is the third consecutive claycourt final for Hingis and Mirza this season. They earlier lost in the Stuttgart and the Madrid summit clashes to the French combine of Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia, whose winning run ended in the quarter-finals of Rome this week.

This is also the second straight final at the Italian capital for the Indo-Swiss duo after ending up as the runner-up last year.

Hingis-Mirza survived a break-fest

It wasn’t an easy outing by any means for the top seeds against the unseeded Romanian pair of Irina-Camelia Begu and Monica Niculescu. Hingis and Mirza combined for a total of six doubles faults and were broken five times.

But they were sharp on their returns which helped them immensely. They broke their opponents seven times for the win in 1 hour 18 minutes.

In Sunday’s final, they will meet familiar rivals Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina, whom they famously defeated at the 2015 Wimbledon final in a stunning comeback.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza roll into Italian Open semis

Rome: Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis have booked their place in the semi-finals of the Italian Open after securing a straight sets win in the women’s doubles event here on Friday.

The top-ranked pair outclassed American duo of Raquel Atawo Abigail Spears 6-4, 6-2 in the thrilling quarter-final contest that lasted for one hour and six minutes.

Sania and Hingis, the Australian Open champions, are eyeing their 14th women’s doubles title together.

Since their 41-match winning streak ended in Doha, the Indo-Romanian pair have stumbled in their recent tournaments, going down in the Madrid Masters and Stuttgart Open finals, while making a second-round exits at the Miami Masters as well as at the Indian Wells.(ANI)

Friday, May 13, 2016

Roger Federer staying positive despite early loss at Italian Open

Roger Federer is confident that he will be fit to play at Roland Garros, despite his third-round loss to Dominic Thiem on Thursday at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

Federer, who has been struggling to overcome a back injury in recent weeks, admitted, "I'm happy I was able to play and still feel about the same, like yesterday [versus Alexander Zverev], not worse. That was most important. The next 10, 12 days are really going to be important for me to recover, and then make a plan.

"I'm confident and hopeful at the same time. I have only played five matches in the last four months now, so clearly I don't want to get too overly excited about what's ahead, but at the same time I'm a positive thinker and I believe that I'm going to recover.

"Hopefully, the next 10 days are going to be easier and I can practise really well, sort of starting next week. That's the hope I have and then we'll see the rest, how it's going to come."

Federer, who had practised on clay in Miami and for 10 days in the build-up to last month's Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, is not concerned that he lacks matches. "I [have] never had better clay-court preparation, to be honest," said Federer. "I have a lot of hours on the clay already this year. Maybe not on match courts but on practice courts.

"I actually thought I could really do a good result in Paris. Now the past couple of weeks it's been more difficult. I see my chances as not great to have the most unbelievable run, but if maybe in three, four days I can practise 100 per cent for the next week, then I believe that something is possible again.

"Clearly, the way I'm playing right now is never going to be enough for any good run in Paris, and then I also wouldn't play this way. I'm still confident I will be fine somehow."

Federer will enter the second Grand Slam championship of the year, which begins on 22 May, with an 11-4 record on the season. Federer remains two match wins (1,070) away from moving past Ivan Lendl to No. 2 in the Open Era list for most victories. Jimmy Connors leads with 1,256 match wins.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza ease into Italian Open quarters

Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis made their way into the quarterfinals of the Italian Open after a comfortable 6-3, 6-3 win over Su-Wei Hsieh and Oksana Kalashnikova in a little over an hour.

They next face the pairing of either Raquel Atawo / Abigail Spears or Julia Goerges / Karolina Pliskova.

Mirza-Hingis broke the serve of the Taipei-Georgia pairing five times out of 11 to capitalise on their chances and wrap things up with ease.

The Indo-Swiss team had their serve broken twice as well but they did not let that affect their chances in the short match.

Unseeded Hsieh and Kalashnikova were broken three times in the first set and twice in the second. On the other hand, Mirza and Hingis were broken only in the first set and didn’t face any break points in the second set.

The World No 1 pairing have lost two straight finals in the past fortnight at Stuttgart and Madrid while working towards lifting their fourth straight Grand Slam at the French Open which begins on May 22.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Roger Federer wins opener in Rome

Roger Federer got the better of one of the ATP's Next Generation on Wednesday when the four-time finalist beat Alexander Zverev 6-3, 7-5 at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia.

Federer is now two match wins (1,070) away from No. 2 in the Open Era match wins list, passing Ivan Lendl's mark of 1,071 victories.

The third seed broke 19-year-old Zverev for a 4-2 lead in the first set, then closed out the 29-minute opener on his third set point opportunity. Federer broke once more for a 2-1 lead, but Zverev responded immediately in a nine-point game. Federer converted his fourth break point chance in the 11th game and went on to complete victory in 87 minutes.

"[I was] cautious, but extremely happy," said Federer. "I was expecting to lose in straight sets today. That was the mindset going in, so to win in straights is actually a really big surprise to me. I played cautious, and I only decided after the warm-up that I was actually going to play. So for me it was a big match on many levels."

Federer, who was playing his first match since losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga on 15 April at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, finished as the runner-up in Rome in 2003 (l. to Mantilla), 2006 and 2013 (l. to Nadal), and 2015 (l. to Djokovic). He is 32-15 overall at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

"This was something [that] I feel like I needed to do to get a sense of where I'm at," said Federer. "It would have been easy not to play and then just be unsure how I was going to feel in Paris. So at some point you have to go out there and see how it feels, and I'm happy I was able to play a full match without any setbacks."

The Swiss superstar will now take on No. 13 seed Dominic Thiem, who was a 6-3, 6-2 winner over Joao Sousa. Thiem is now 5-1 lifetime against the Portuguese, who reached his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final last week at the Mutua Madrid Open (l. to Nadal).

Good to have you back Rog!. :)

Saturday, May 07, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza lose to Stuttgart doubles champions in Madrid final

MADRID, Spain - The No.5 seeded team of Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic struck once again in their burgeoning rivalry with World No.1 doubles team Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis. The Frenchwomen defeated Hingis and Mirza 6-4, 6-4 to claim the doubles title at the Mutua Madrid Open.

Watch highlights, interviews and more video from Madrid right here on!

Despite the French team being seeded No.5 in Madrid, they've emerged as a force to be reckoned with in 2016, reaching five finals in the eight tournaments they've played together. They're also developing a fierce rivalry with Hingis and Mirza: the pairs have met twice before - both times in finals - and split their head to head record.

"It's definitely great period for us," Garcia said in the post-match press conference. "Three finals, three titles, and two times against No.1 in the world, Martina and Sania, and once against Bethanie and Lucie. So it's only great matches every single time.

"Very, very happy with what we produced on the court today."

Playing in their third final against each other, both teams came to the Caja Magica looking primed and ready, winning every match en route to the final in straight sets.

Hingis and Mirza found themselves down a double break straight out of the gate as the Frenchwomen surged ahead 3-0. The world's leading pair - who own the third-best unbeaten run in WTA history at 41 matches - found a way to stem the tide and level the score at 3-3. But another late break from the French team put them ahead again and they took the set 6-4.

Another early break put Hingis and Mirza in trouble once again in the second set. Despite creating five chances to break the French team and get back on even ground, Garcia and Mladenovic saved every one. They took the second set 6-4 and claimed their third title of their doubles partnership.

Any plans for a celebration were cut short by the realities of a tennis player's hectic schedule:

"We basically have 12 more minutes before catching our car to get to the airport," Mladenovic said.

But still, they were able to treat themselves before heading off to Rome.

"The biggest reward was the first dessert of the week," she added. "Here at buffet it's amazing, and we are very proud - [we didn't] touch any sweet things, which is very, very good."

"But we did now," Garcia grinned.

The French women are clearly having a fantastic clay season, making them very difficult to beat at the moment. 

Wonder if they'll be able to continue that same form once we switch to grass in June and hard court for the rest of the season. We'll see. 

Hopefully Martina and Sania can go one step further and capture the title in Rome before the start of the French Open at the end of the month.

Friday, May 06, 2016

Rome Preview: Nadal, Djokovic in same quarter, Federer in the mix with a tough draw

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal are on a quarter-final collision course at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, set to begin on Sunday in Rome.

Between them, Djokovic and Nadal have won the past 11 editions of this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, held at the Foro Italico. Since 2005, Nadal has lifted the trophy seven times, with Djokovic winning the trophy the past two years to add to his successes in 2008 and 2011

In what is arguably the toughest quarter of the draw, the 28-year-old Djokovic will open his campaign against a qualifier and in the third round could face 14th seed Gael Monfils, who has made a career-best start to the season. Nadal is set to meet either Munich champion Philipp Kohlschreiber or a qualifier in his first match and then could come up against 10th seed Milos Raonic or Nick Kyrgios.

Third seed Roger Federer is also slated in the top half of the draw as the Swiss looks to make a successful return to action after being forced out of Madrid with a back injury. The 34-year-old Federer is looking to claim the elusive Rome crown, having finished runner-up four times, most recently last year against Djokovic.

Federer faces a tough opening test against either Grigor Dimitrov or Next Generation star Alexander Zverev. Possible third-round opponents for Federer include Dominic Thiem, winner of 29 matches thus far in 2016, or Joao Sousa, who gave Nadal a stern test in the Madrid quarter-finals on Friday.

Sixth seed Kei Nishikori rounds out the top half of the draw. The Japanese, who is through to the Madrid semi-finals this weekend, is set to face Teymuraz Gabashvili or Viktor Troicki in the second round before a potential clash with 11th seed Richard Gasquet.

Second seed Andy Murray headlines the bottom half of the draw. The Scot is still in contention in Madrid, where he faces Nadal in the semi-finals on Saturday in the hopes of winning his first title of the season this week. Murray defeated Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals on Friday and is again pitted in the same quarter as the Czech in Rome.

But first, Murray will open against either Next Generation star Borna Coric or a qualifier, before the possibility of Roberto Bautista Agut in the third round. Berdych begins against Albert Ramos-Vinolas or Sam Querrey and could meet Jack Sock or David Goffin in the third round.

Reigning Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka is looking to find his form after early exits in Monte-Carlo and Madrid. The fourth-seeded Swiss, who reached the Rome final in 2008 (l. to Djokovic), facesBenoit Paire or Bernard Tomic after a first-round bye and is seeded to meet No. 16 Kevin Anderson in the third round, though the South African opens against Feliciano Lopez.

No. 7 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and No. 9 David Ferrer are potential quarter-final opponents for Wawrinka.

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza through to Madrid Open Final

Top seeds Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis reached the Madrid Open doubles final with a crushing 6-2, 6-0 win over Vania King and Alla Kudryavtseva in the lop-sided semifinal on Friday.

It will be second consecutive final for the Indo-Swiss team after ending runners-up in Stuttgart.

After their incredible run, that included nine title victories on the trot, Sania and Martina have lost to only four teams and Vania and Alla are one of them. Sania and Martina had lost to the American-Russian combine in the second round of Indian Wells but did not give them any chance on Friday, trampling them over in just 50 minutes.

The top seeds did not allow their opponents to hold their serve even once in the opening set. If the unseeded pair got to the board, it was because the top seeds dropped serve twice.

In the second set, Sania and Martina cruised to a 4-0 lead after breaking Vania and Alla in the second and fourth games respectively.

They will now challenge fifth seeds Caroline Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic for the title. Carolina and Kristina ousted eighth seeds Elena Vesnina and Ekaterina Makarova 6-2, 6-3 in the other semifinal.

Sania and Martina have already won titles in Sydeny, Brisbane, Australian Open and St Petersburg this season.

It's a rematch of the Stuttgart final. Hopefully with a happy result this time.

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza into last four at Madrid Open

MADRID, Spain - Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza continued their serene progress at the Mutua Madrid Open, dispatching quarterfinal foes Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka in little over an hour.

Since seeing their 41-match winning streak ended in Doha, Hingis and Mirza have endured a relative barren patch, going four tournaments without silverware. However, inside the Caja Mágica they are casting a spell once more over their opponents, mastering No.6 seeds Hlavackova and Hradecka, 6-3, 6-2.

This masterclass sets up a semifinal clash with a resurgent Vania King and Alla Kudryavtseva, winners of a far closer encounter in the preceding match on court. Taking on No.4 seeds Chan Hao-Ching and Chan Yung-Jan, King and Kudryavtseva recovered from a slow start to prevail, 2-6, 6-4, 11-9.

On the other side of the draw, Carolina Garcia and Kristina Mladenovic continued their fine clay court campaign with victory over No.3 seeds Timea Babos and Yaroslava Shvedova.

Garcia and Mladenovic arrived in the Spanish capital having won their opening two clay court events, in Charleston and Stuttgart, and their 6-4, 6-3 victory over Babos and Shvedova extends their unbeaten streak on the surface to 11 matches.

Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina are the next team tasked with ending this run. French Open champions in 2013, Makarova and Vesnina advanced without striking a ball after Svetlana Kuznetsova and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova withdrew after the latter failed to recover sufficiently from an adductor

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza storm into Madrid quarters

Madrid: Indian tennis ace Sania Mirza and her Swiss partner Martina Hingis produced a superior performance as they progressed through to the quarterfinals of the Madrid Masters in the women's doubles event here on Tuesday.

The top-seeded pair recorded a 6-0, 6-4 win over Taiwan-Croatian pair of Chia-Jung Chuang and Darija Jurak in a second round contest that lasted 53 minutes.

Sania and Hingis, who have won Australian Open title earlier this year, are eyeing their 14th title together.

They have stumbled in their recent tournaments, going down in the Stuttgart Open final, while making a second-round exit at the Miami Masters as well as at the Indian Wells.

Monday, May 02, 2016

Roger Federer out of Mutua Madrid Open due to back injury, hopes to play Rome

Just a few days after world no. 3 Federer confirmed he would be playing the Mutua Madrid Open, also known as the Madrid Masters, he announced in a press conference on Monday that due to a back injury he was withdrawing from the event.

The back injury was reportedly sustained during a practice session on Saturday and Federer said it was not as serious as the problem he had with his back before the Davis Cup final in 2014, which caused him to pull out of the World Tour Finals before the final against Novak Djokovic.

Federer described the back injury as ‘[n]ormal back things I've had in past’ and said: ‘I'm okay with it, at least I know what it is.’

Federer has played just three events in 2016 so far due to a series of blows to his physical fitness. After reaching the final of the Brisbane International and the semifinals of the Australian Open in January, Federer pulled out of scheduled February tournaments in Rotterdam and Dubai due to a torn meniscus, a knee injury incurred while running a bath for his daughters.

Federer underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in early February and although the surgery was successful and he initially planned to return to competition at the Indian Wells Masters in March, he postponed his return to give himself more time to rehab the knee.

Planning to play the Miami Masters instead, Federer then withdrew from that event due to illness.

Although his original tentative schedule for 2016 indicated that he wouldn’t play any clay-court events, or very few, in the lead-up to the French Open, Federer entered the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters where he reached the quarterfinals before losing to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and was pleased with how well his knee held up.

Federer then confirmed a few days ago that he would be playing the Mutua Madrid Open, which he won in 2006, 2009 and 2012. But he postponed a scheduled press conference on Sunday and did not show up for practices on Sunday and Monday before announcing his withdrawal on Monday afternoon.

‘I’d rather play it safe and get ready for Rome,’ Federer said. ‘If I can’t play Rome it’s not the end of the world, but hopefully I’ll get to play.’

The Rome Masters, also known as the Internazionali BNL d’Italia, begins on Sunday 8 May.

‘I was always going to wait for Madrid's result to decide about Rome but now Rome is a goal. Let's see how my body reacts,’ Federer said.

Federer, who was due to play either Nicolas Mahut or Joao Sousa in the second round in Madrid after a first-round bye, was projected to meet Rafael Nadal in the quarterfinals. Dominic Thiem, Benoit Paire and David Goffin are also in that section of the draw. Federer will be replaced with a lucky loser.

Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, defending champion Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka are all playing the Madrid Masters this week and have yet to play their first matches. 

Mr. Federer is having a run of bad luck at the moment :(.  Get well soon Roger!.

Sunday, May 01, 2016

Roger Federer could face Rafael Nadal in Madrid Open quarter-finals

Roger Federer could meet Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open as the Swiss star continues his return to the ATP World Tour. Nadal also will have a bigger task on his mind in Madrid: Fighting off World No. 1 Novak Djokovic to become the outright ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title leader with 29 championships.

Main-draw pairings were announced on Saturday in Madrid, and the storylines abound: How will Federer do in his second tournament back? Can Nadal continue his title run on clay? How will Djokovic bounce back from Monte-Carlo? And how will Andy Murray, the Madrid defending champion, fare?

All of the Big Four, though, could have their hands full in the early stages of the fourth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 of the season. Djokovic, who will be playing for the first time since losing in the second round at the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters, receives a first-round bye but could face #NextGen star Borna Coric or Spaniard Nicolas Almagro in the second round. Coric, No. 40 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, reached the Grand Prix Hassan II final on clay and fell in the quarter-finals on Friday at the Millennium Estoril Open. Almagro, former World No. 9, was the runner-up on clay in Buenos Aires and plays Nick Kyrgios on Saturday to advance to the final in Estoril.

The first seeded player Djokovic could face is No. 15 Roberto Bautista Agut, who reached the third round in Monte-Carlo before falling to Federer. In the quarter-finals, a potential match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga could await Djokovic. Tsonga, the No. 7 seed, could have to get past No. 11 seed Milos Raonic, though, before meeting Djokovic.

If the Serb and the Frenchman play, it would be their 22nd meeting. Djokovic leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 15-6, which includes a 2014 win at Roland Garros, the last time they played on clay. In the semi-finals, Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka, the No. 4 seed, could meet for the 24th time, with Djokovic leading their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 19-4. Wawrinka won their most recent meeting on clay at last year's Roland Garros final.

In the bottom half of the draw, Nadal, the No. 5 seed, will try to keep his 10-match win streak alive against Serb Viktor Troicki or Russian Andrey Kuznetsov in the second round. (Nadal receives a first-round bye.) In the third round, the four-time Madrid champion could face No. 12 seed David Goffin of Belgium. The 25 year old, who's reached a career-high Emirates ATP Ranking of No. 13, made the semi-finals at two Masters 1000 events, Indian Wells and Miami, but has yet to replicate that success on clay. Goffin lost in the third round in Monte-Carlo to Spaniard Marcel Granollers and fell on Friday to #NextGen star Alexander Zverev at the BMW Open by FWU AG.

Should Nadal, who's going for his third consecutive clay-court title, meet Federer, the No. 3 seed, in the quarter-finals, it'd mark the 35th meeting in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry. Nadal holds a 23-11 edge, including a straight-set win the last time they played on clay (Rome 2013).

But Federer hardly has early walkovers. After a first-round bye, the Swiss could meet Portugal's Joao Sousa or France's Nicolas Mahut. In the third round, the three-time Madrid champ could meet No. 14 seed Dominic Thiem, who's already won a clay-court title this year (Buenos Aires) and advanced to the Munich final on Saturday to improve to 13-2 on the red dirt this year. Thiem faces Juan Martin del Potro in the first round.

Murray, who beat Nadal last year to win his first Masters 1000 title on clay in Madrid, could face Canada's Vasek Pospisil in the second round. If the seeds play out, Murray will then meet No. 16 seed Gilles Simon. In the quarter-finals, Murray, who's going for his first title of 2016, could meet No. 8 seed Tomas Berdych. Murray, No. 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, and Berdych have played 13 times, with Murray leading their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 7-6. The last time they played on clay, however, Berdych won in straight sets (Madrid 2013).