Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Roger Federer breezes into 3rd round under the roof at Wimbledon

The improbable run of British qualifier Marcus Willis through the draw at Wimbledon has drawn parallels to the rom-com movie bearing the tournament's name, but Roger Federer ensured Willis' Centre Court debut didn’t have a Hollywood ending on Wednesday. The No. 3 seed didn’t give the pro-Willis crowd a chance to get fully involved as he convincingly prevailed, 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.

"I thought Marcus brought some unbelievable energy to the match with the crowd and his play. It was very refreshing to play someone like this,” said Federer. “I knew it was going to be a different match than anything I’d ever played before at Wimbledon. It was a pleasure for me to play against him.”

Federer quickly picked up on Willis’ vintage grass-court game that included plenty of slices and timely trips to the net, shutting out his opponent in the first set. Serving at 0-1 in the second set, Willis got on the board with a forehand winner and wryly raised his arms in celebration as the crowd gave him a standing ovation.

Although Willis began to impose himself more in the baseline rallies, Federer grabbed the lone break of the set to lead 4-2 and eventually took a commanding two-sets lead. The seven-time champion broke Willis to love at 4-4 in the third set and wrapped up the match in the next game after one hour and 24 minutes of play.

Federer was nearly flawless throughout the match, hitting nine aces and no double faults, while also striking 37 winners to 14 errors. He also enjoyed great success with his volleys, converting on 29 of 40 net points.

Despite the loss, Willis is projected to move from No. 772 to around No. 425 in the Emirates ATP Rankings when the newest standings are released. His £50,000 pay day for reaching the second round will also go a long way towards bringing him back to the tour on a full-time basis.

Federer moves into the third round at Wimbledon for the 14th time. Next up for him is the winner of the match between No. 30 seed Alexandr Dologopolov of Ukraine and Daniel Evans of Great Britain. Federer hasn't played Evans before, leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Dologpolov 3-0, including a straight-sets victory in the second round of this year’s Australian Open.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Roger Federer passes 1st round test at Wimbledon

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It was like an annual family outing: Roger Federer, his wife Mirka and assorted friends and relatives were all crammed into the players’ box to watch the greatest player of all time get his Wimbledon campaign underway. Other families go to Blackpool for their summer hols; the Federers come to SW19.

And, as expected, Federer did what he was supposed to do and moved into the second round with a 7-6(5), 7-6(3), 6-3 win over Guido Pella of Argentina.

His twin daughters, Myla and Charlene, were there, laughing and giggling as they waited for Dad to come to work. Federer always said that he wanted to keep playing at least until his children were old enough to come and watch him play and understand a little of what he did. His two boys, Lennie and Leo, may be a little young still but the girls are now old hands at Wimbledon. Now six years old, their first taste of Dad making history was when Federer beat Andy Murray back in 2012.

For the girls, Dad winning first round matches at major championships was just what happens in the Federer household these days. The seven-time Wimbledon champion has not lost in the opening match at a Grand Slam since 2003. But that was at the French Open just a few weeks before he became the Roger Federer, the mighty Roger Federer, the Roger Federer who won his first grand slam title in SW19 that summer and has gone on to win a further 16 Grand Slam titles since. That Roger Federer does not lose on the opening day of big events any more.

That said, he usually comes to the All England Club in perfect working order and moves through his first few matches like a finely tuned car (a Rolls Royce or a Bentley, obviously). Easing through the gears, he has normally hit top speed by the time he gets to the open road of the second week but this year has not been like any other for the suave Swiss.

In January, he arrived in Australia with a nasty dose of the flu which hampered his preparations for the Australian Open and then having losing in the semi-finals there, he hurt his knee while running a bath for Charlene and Myla the very next day. He turned, something went ‘click’ and when he went home to Switzerland to have it checked out, he discovered he had a torn meniscus. Clearly, bathing children can be a hazardous business.

That cost him a good couple of months of the season and then when he came back for the clay court season, his back started playing up and he had to miss the French Open. The Federer engine, then, has been misfiring of late.

“I’m so happy,” Federer said once Pella had been dispatched. “I was walking out thinking to myself ‘it’s so nice to be out here’. I’ve worked so hard since February to be here fully fit. I didn’t want to have miss Wimbledon. We’ll see how fit I am – nobody knows, not even myself. But I’m just happy to be here.”

But if Federer is a Rolls Royce in need of a tune-up, Pella is, on grass, more your sensibly priced, small hatchback. He may be ranked No.52 in the world and he may have been a professional for the past decade but he came to Wimbledon without a single career grass court win of any description. Not one. To be fair, he had only played three matches on the green stuff in his life and none of them ended well. Grass is not really his thing.

No matter, Pella got to work swiftly. Strong, left-handed and with nothing to lose, went for the simple option: make Federer run. He was never going to beat the living legend with a traditional grass court game (as we have already established, he has never mastered that particular art) but if he could make Federer move, he might stand a chance. After all, the grass is always slicker on the opening day, Federer has a suspect back and has had a dodgy knee. And, dare we mention it, he is 34 years old. So that is that is what Pella did: rally, drop shot; rally, lob. And he served. He served big.

It was enough to keep Federer scampering around for two hours and five minutes but it was not enough to worry him. As they inched towards the tie-break in the first two sets, the contest looked relatively even and then Federer took control of both deciders and that was that. From two sets up, the man chasing his eighth Wimbledon crown looked relatively secure.

This may not have been Federer at his best but there were still those moments of magic: the shot conjured up out of nothing, the ridiculous angles he could create from seemingly impossible positions and that sublimely good forehand. Two of them gave him a look at a chance to break in the third set – 0-30 – another brought up break point and a fourth got the job done. Federer had broken – he was 5-3 and serving for the match. Two last aces got the job done and the Great One was through to play Britain’s Marcus Willis on Wednesday.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Roger Federer Looks To Wimbledon 'To Turn Around Season'

Seven titles, 79 match wins, quarter-finals or better in 12 of the past 13 years - Roger Federer's success at Wimbledon is unparalleled.

The Swiss returns to the All England Club for a record-tying 18th straight year, with an unprecedented eighth crown once again hanging in the balance, but he explains that while his attitude and expectations are much different this time, his passion for the tournament hasn't wavered.

"I think this is a huge boost for me after pulling out of Paris, that I'm back here at my favourite tournament," Federer said to the assembled media on Saturday. "With all the success I've had here, this is the motivation I need right now to get back on the big courts, play good matches and enjoy Wimbledon.

"I love this tournament more than anything. It's a huge opportunity for me to turn around the season and just play some nice tennis, enjoy myself here."

In the midst of an up-and-down 2016 campaign, which has seen him undergo surgery for the first time in his career following a knee injury suffered in February, Federer enters Wimbledon without at least one ATP World Tour title for the first time since 2000. Still in search of his rhythm on the court, the World No. 3 stresses that it has been a difficult process, but semi-final results in Stuttgart and Halle and a return to his happy hunting ground at SW19 give him renewed confidence.

"I was very, very sad, just because I thought I was going to be lucky not having to do surgery in my career," Federer added. "One stupid move and the season's been completely different than what I expected it to be. So when I heard that I had to do surgery, I took it, accepted it. But then going into surgery was difficult. That's when it hit me. It was a meniscus tear in the knee. It was a simple operation. My recovery actually was very quick and very good.

"Getting some confidence and some knowledge of where I was going to be in those seven matches in 10 days in Stuttgart and Halle [was important]. I think that was crucial for me going into Wimbledon knowing I passed that test and that the body can take that amount of tennis.

"It's really, really important for your mind to know you can manage the five‑setters. If you get a day off and all that stuff, it's not a problem. All of a sudden you're coming into Wimbledon with more confidence, more understanding where you're at. Now we'll see."

New faces will stand opposite the third seed as he begins his Wimbledon quest, having never faced first-round opponent and World No. 51 Guido Pella or potential second-round opponents Ricardas Berankis and Marcus Willis. Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic and two-time defending champion Novak Djokovic loom large in his half of the draw, but Federer's focus is on the immediate task at hand.

"Clearly I'm not thinking of the title right away. It's too far ahead. Regardless, Novak or Andy are the big favourites in my opinion. They've had such a great last six months, last few years. To me they are the ones to beat.

"I need to focus on myself, getting myself into those positions, the second week and growing momentum. The whole thing starts rolling then hopefully. Getting the job done in the first week is clearly important."

Federer will open his Wimbledon campaign against Pella on Monday.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Martina Hingis Joins Forces With Alex Benlo

Alex Benlo is a family-run Hong Kong based watch brand, founded by Eric Loth who is ably supported by his children Alexandra and Benjamin. The brand creates unique timepieces utilising materials not usually found in other watches. 

As a relatively young brand, getting a sporting superstar such as Martina Hingis to wear their pieces is a major coup. After all, when you think of global Swiss personalities in the modern era, it’s hard to look past Mr Federer and of course Ms Hingis. The other big attraction is Martina Hingis is of Swiss heritage and having a person linked to a brand from the home of fine-watchmaking can be nothing but positive.

According to the brand, Ms Hingis and Alex Benlo have values in common making her an ideal ambassador for the brand. These shared values include a family tradition of entrepreneurship, creativity and philanthropy. 

Martina Hingis is one of those sporting champions that seems to have been with us for ages, however, it might come as a surprise for some to know that she is still only 35 years old. She first retired from the sport in 2003 winning 40 singles titles and 36 doubles events. It was a further two years before she decided to make a return to the sport and although she was unable to replicate her previous successes, it was obvious that her passion for the sport hadn’t waned in the slightest. 

Fast forward to 2013 when Martina made her current return to the sport and this time she left no one in any doubt that she was worthy of her position as one of the all-time female tennis greats by reaching multiple finals and winning tournaments once again. 

In 2016 she won the French Open mixed doubles partnering Indian doubles specialist, Leander Paes. It is her first mixed doubles title at Roland Garros, and with this win, she completed the mixed doubles Career Grand Slam. Martina Hingis has a fighting spirit and exceptional temperament found only within the greatest of champions. From the tennis courts of Wimbledon, where her brilliant performance earned her global attention for the first time at the tender age of 16, to her recent success at Roland Garros, she always radiates determination, presence and spontaneity.

Natural, elegant, passionate and very down-to-earth, Martina Hingis perfectly embodies the modern woman. She has triumphed in her field, and has asserted herself and flourished as a woman thanks to her family ties, as shown by her close bond with her mother, who is also her coach out on the court. With a close affinity to nature, her other passion of horse riding enables her to escape, recover and find the strength to surpass herself.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Roger Federer in Djokovic half of the draw at Wimbledon

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic finds himself in the same half of the draw as seven-time champion Roger Federer as he looks to win his third successive Wimbledon crown and fourth overall at The Championships.

Djokovic and Federer have met in the final the past two years at the All England Club.

Meanwhile, second seed and 2013 champion Andy Murray is on a semi-final collision course with fourth seed Stan Wawrinka.

Federer headlines the second quarter of the draw. The 34-year-old Swiss was forced to miss Roland Garros, ending his Open Era-record streak of 65 straight Grand Slam appearances, but returned on the grass in Stuttgart and Halle with two semi-final showings. Federer, who lifted his seventh Wimbledon trophy in 2012 (d. Murray), opens his campaign against Guido Pella.

The first seed Federer could face is No. 30 Alexander Dolgopolov, with two Frenchmen – No. 16 Gilles Simon and No. 17 Gael Monfils – leading the charge to face the Swiss in the fourth round, though former semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov also features in that section.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza fall in Eastourne quarters

The top-seeded pair of Sania Mirza and Martina Hingis lost 3-6, 3-6 to Darija Jurak and Anastasia Rodionova in the quarterfinals of the women's doubles at the Aegon International in Eastbourne on Wednesday.

Jurak (Croatia) and Rodionova (Australia) won the match in just under an hour.

Earlier in the day, Mirza and Hingis had beaten Lucie Safarova (Czechoslovakia) and Samantha Stosur (Australia) 6-1, 2-6, 10-4 in the first round.

Not the grass preparation either were hoping for a week before Wimbledon, but I think having to play 3 sets and comeback to play later the same day is the reason for their loss. 

Hopefully they can bounce back and defend their title at Wimbledon next week. Good luck ladies!. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Roger Federer: Novak Not Unbeatable, Rafa is Greatest Rival

Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer in the last two Wimbledon finals and arrives at SW19 this month as only the third man to hold all four Grand Slam titles simultaneously.

Djokovic's dominance has not diminished Federer's belief that the world No. 1 is beatable.

“Is Djokovic now the man to beat? Absolutely," Federer told The Guardian in a new interview. "Does he deserve to be where he is? 100 per cent. But is he beatable? Yes, of course he is. I beat him last year three times.”

Read Federer's entire wide-ranging interview with The Guardian's Simon Hattenstone here.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion calls Rafael Nadal his greatest rival though he says that could change if he plays more major finals against Djokovic.

“For me, (Nadal) has been (my greatest rival)," Federer tells the Guardian. "It could still change if I play Novak another few times in bigger matches. Novak and I have obviously had really big matches, but somehow the match-up with Rafa will always stay unique – because of the Wimbledon final in 2008.”

Federer, who defeated Robin Soderling in the 2009 Roland Garros final to complete the career Grand Slam, said there's a reason he never beat Nadal in Paris: He wasn't good enough.

"Sometimes I was outplayed, sometimes I was close, but never quite good enough to beat him at the French," Federer said. "But I never lost hope or faith that it could happen.”

Though fans of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal sometimes spar on social media over their allegiances, the former No. 1 cites Nadal and Stan Wawrinka as two of his long-time friends on tour along with two prominent rivals.

“Andy Murray is very funny. I like chatting with him," Federer said. "Gael Monfils is good fun, he’s always chilled out. There’s not one guy I don’t get along with, which makes the tour so much more enjoyable. At the start of your career, yes, you can be tough, focused, a warrior on the court, but we get away from it and have a nice time."

Federer believes good relations among top players could contribute to career longevity.

"That’s why I think we see players hanging around longer," Federer said. "Before, everyone was so serious and like, ‘I hate that guy.’ Is it nice when 50 players don’t like you? I think they needed it to get jacked up.”

The 34-year-old Swiss hasn't won a Grand Slam title since the 2012 Wimbledon, but says his love for the game has deepened.

“I don’t want to say I’m enjoying it more, but it’s different. I have a deeper love for the game today," Federer said. "Before it was chasing the dream. Today it is living the dream and appreciating I can still do it. It’s a wonderful feeling.”

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Martina Hingis & Sania Mirza qualify for season ending championship in Singapore 2nd year in a row

SINGAPORE - Doubles co-No.1s Martina Hingis and Sania Mirza have become the first players to qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, the WTA's crown jewel event where the world's Top 8 teams will battle for a $7-million prize purse.

"Qualifying for the WTA Finals for the second year in a row with Sania is very exciting," said Hingis, three-time WTA Finals doubles champion. "We enjoyed every moment in Singapore last year and hope to defend our title amongst the best doubles teams in the world."

Mirza added, "Being able to achieve such great success together has been a dream come true. Having won the WTA Finals in Singapore last year as well as multiple tournaments in such a short period of time has been an unbelievable experience. I'm very much looking forward to competing in Singapore once again to try to make it three titles in a row."

The collaboration between Hingis and Mirza began at the 2015 BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, where they achieved instant success by taking the title and eight more by the end of the year, including the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global. This year, Hingis and Mirza have already claimed five titles - Brisbane International, Apia International Sydney, Australian Open, St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy and the Internazionali BNL d'Italia - Rome. As a result, the Swiss-Indian duo, known as "SanTina" to their fans, will attempt to defend their title in Singapore in their second appearance as a team.

Here is the current doubles Road to Singapore Leaderboard:

1. Martina Hingis (SUI) / Sania Mirza (IND)
2. Caroline Garcia (FRA) / Kristina Mladenovic (FRA)
3. Andrea Hlavackova (CZE) / Lucie Hradecka (CZE)
4. Chan Hao-Ching (TPE) / Chan Yung-Jan (TPE)
5. Xu Yifan (CHN) / Zheng Saisai (CHN)
6. Ekaterina Makarova (RUS) / Elena Vesnina (RUS)
7. Anabel Medina Garrigues (ESP) / Arantxa Parra Santonja (ESP)
8. Julia Goerges (GER) / Karolina Pliskova (CZE)
9. Vania King (USA) / Alla Kudryavtseva (RUS)
10. Timea Babos (HUN) / Yaroslava Shvedova (KAZ)

The doubles competition will begin in Singapore on October 27 and is a single elimination contest between the Top 8 doubles teams of the 2016 season, all vying to hold the Martina Navratilova Doubles Trophy. Total prize money for doubles stands at $1.4 million with the champion team taking home up to $500,000.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Roger Federer feeling positive for Wimbledon despite not reaching the final in Halle

The king of the Gerry Weber Open was dethroned on Saturday.

When 19-year-old Alexander Zverev upset top seed Roger Federer 7-6(4), 5-7, 6-3 in the Halle semi-finals, it marked the first time the Swiss failed to contest the final in 11 straight appearances. Still in search of his first tour-level crown in 2016, Federer says he is not lamenting his missed opportunity for an unprecedented ninth Halle title. Following an extended absence due to back and knee ailments, his return has been full of positives.

"Looking back on how I felt three, four weeks ago, this is pretty good," Federer said to assembled media following the match. "Talking to me after a loss clearly is always tougher to step back and just to reassess how great everything is, but I must say it’s gotten better and better.

"I think there are little things that just have to fall into place and then you play better and feel better. I hope it’s sooner than later and I know what I need to work on in the next 10 days. Clearly, I also need to rest now. It’s been a lot of tennis. This has been seven matches in nine or ten days now. It’s been intense and it’s been busy and it’s exactly what I needed. At least I have a clear picture now where my game is at, what I need to do and without Stuttgart and Halle I wouldn’t have that. I have more clarity now."

After reaching the last four at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart (l. to Thiem), Federer moved to his happy hunting ground in Halle in search of match play and rhythm on the grass. At 34, the Swiss admits he is taking it one step at a time. Progress is there.

"The only thing missing is a better baseline game. I guess that comes through movement and through just playing enough again. I feel the serve has come back around now, the returns have gotten better also throughout the match today.

"I think if the movement gets better and then the baseline game improves a little bit, I’ll be better on the big points, on the return and also in less trouble on my own service games. But I’m okay and I’m pleased on how I played, how I’m feeling and now we’ve got enough time before Wimbledon to get ready for that."

Federer will next head to SW19 for the Wimbledon Championships, looking for a record eighth title. Always a threat on the lawns of the All England Club, the World No. 3 is not tempering expectations but stresses that patience is essential.

"I definitely need a rest first and once I get back to practice and by the time the press conferences get rolling in Wimbledon, I can probably tell you a whole lot more."

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Roger Federer & Martina Hingis lead Switzerland Olympic Tennis Team

Roger Federer was selected to play singles, doubles and mixed doubles at the Rio Olympics by the Swiss tennis federation, which announced its full six-player roster Thursday.

Also selected were Martina Hingis, Stan Wawrinka, Belinda Bencic, Timea Bacsinszky and doubles specialist Xenia Knoll, whose place is dependent on International Tennis Federation approval.

Federer, a 17-time Grand Slam singles champion without an Olympic singles title, has long been expected to play singles and mixed doubles with Hingis in Rio.

The Swiss federation selecting Federer for men’s doubles, too, leaves open the possibility that he and Wawrinka could pair together for a third straight Games. They won gold at Beijing 2008 and were upset in the second round at London 2012.

However, Federer did not play mixed doubles when it returned to the Olympic program in 2012. Federer has expressed doubt that he could play all three of singles, doubles and mixed doubles at the Olympics, given the crowded schedule.

Hingis, 35, returns to the Games for the first time since her Olympic debut in 1996. As expected, she is listed in doubles and mixed doubles but not singles.

Friday, June 17, 2016

Roger Federer looking better and better as he heads into Halle semis

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Top seed and eight-time champion Roger Federer is one match away from reaching the Gerry Weber Open final for the 11th time after he defeated fifth seed David Goffin 6-1, 7-6(10) in 81 minutes on Friday. The Swiss broke back with Goffin serving for the second set and secured the win on his fifth match point.

“I thought it was my best match thus far,” Federer said. “It is a good win for me and I’m clearly very happy to be in the semis."

The Swiss will compete against Alexander Zverev in Saturday's semi-finals. The #NextGen star saw off Marcos Baghdatis 7-6(9), 6-3.

“I thought Zverev played well. He played a crucial huge first set," Federer said. "Marcos should have won that but ended up losing it, the momentum goes Zverev’s way, one break and the match is over. So, credit to Zverev for getting the job done. He’s got a big serve, he’s got a nice backhand, he’s improving his forehand and he’s moving forward. He’s going to be a tough player in the future, no doubt about it.”

Federer won their lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting 6-3, 7-5 at last month's Internazionali BNL d'Italia. The World No. 3 had only played 18 matches in 2016 heading into Halle due to knee and back injuries and is looking for his first title of the year. He lost in the final of Brisbane to Milos Raonic in his first event of the season and was a semi-finalist at the Australian Open (l. to Djokovic) and at Stuttgart last week (l. to Thiem), losing to the eventual champion on both occasions.

Federer took a 3-0 lead against Goffin in the 21-minute first set, which included five breaks of serve. The pair exchanged service breaks midway through the second set, prior to Goffin breaking Federer to 15 for a 5-4 lead. Goffin failed to convert one set point when serving at 5-4, 40/30 and four more in the second-set tie-break. It was Federer's 29th straight win against Belgian opponents.

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Roger Federer into 14th straight quater-final in Halle

Top seed and eight-time champion Roger Federer advanced to the Gerry Weber Open quarter-finals for the 14th successive time on Thursday by beating Malek Jaziri 6-3, 7-5 in 69 minutes.

“I thought he was reading my serve throughout the first set. So, I started to serve a little bit different in the second set. I was having more success that way,” Federer said. “I was happy to come through a tough match because I thought he’s tough to play against. I struggled to read his technique, the way he gets into the ball I can’t really tell where he goes and I remember that from the last time I played him in Dubai, I remembered there was something but not until I got on the court. So, it was tough. I think he’s a good player.

“I wish I could have played maybe a bit better at times but I must put it down to my opponent keeping me off balance as well. He was doing a really nice job of making me feel uncomfortable for a while.”

Federer broke Jaziri for a 5-3 lead in the 29-minute first set and then recovered from a 0-3 deficit in the second set for his 53rd match win at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament.

Federer goes on to face fifth seed David Goffin, who booked his spot in the last eight when qualifier Sergiy Stakhovsky retired due to a back injury early in the deciding set. Goffin had saved 12 of 14 break points to lead 4-6, 7-5, 2-0 after one hour and 47 minutes of play.

The Swiss superstar leads Goffin 4-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head, including a 6-2, 6-1, 6-4 win in this year's Australian Open fourth round.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Roger Federer wins Halle Opener

Eight-time champion Roger Federer recorded his 52nd win at the Gerry Weber Open with a 6-4, 7-6(3) win over German wild card Jan-Lennard Struff.

Top seed Federer is now looking to reach his 14th quarter-final in as many appearances in the German city. Federer next will face Tunisian Malek Jaziri. The World No. 3 won their prior FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting in three sets at the 2013 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The Swiss defended well early against the unintimidated 26 year old aiming for an upset. Federer also converted just enough break points – one – and held serve throughout the match to move into the second round.

“It was hard to find a rhythm against Struff today. He took the ball early, went for a lot on the forehand, backhand. He has a big serve, especially the first one,” Federer said. “So then you go back to basics, you focus on your own serve. I thought I did that very well. He never really had chances on my own serve, so that was comforting.”

The first-round contest was just Federer's 19th match of the season as he's struggled with a back injury and endured knee surgery in February. But the Swiss star's movement looked unhampered. He darted from side to side and approached the net against Struff, who entered the match with a 3-9 record on grass, compared to Federer's 144-21.

Federer broke in the match's seventh game and later served out the first set. The two exchanged service holds in the second until Federer pulled away in the tie-break.

“I feel after the first round, after having played last week [in Stuttgart], actually maybe something is really possible here. I don’t want to get too carried away but I feel like if I serve the way I did today and I’m able to step it up just a little bit on the return from the baseline, all of a sudden I’m dangerous for anybody,” Federer said. “We’ll see how it goes. But I take one match at a time and I hope just to keep on playing a bit better match by match.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Roger Federer remains optimistic in Halle

Hoping to reignite his injury-hampered season on the grass, the Swiss maestro returned to the tour at the Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart, reaching the semi-finals.

A back complaint had ruled the 17-time Grand Slam champion out of the running at Roland Garros, but Federer feels the matches he got under his belt last week have managed to scrape away the “rust” from his game.

“I’m very happy to be back here, in a tournament where I’ve been coming for so, so long, seeing the progress over the years,” said the eight-time champion.

“I’m hoping that I can keep up the good level I reached at Stuttgart, I felt like I got better as the tournament progressed. It was unfortunate that I couldn’t win against Thiem but after all it went well.”

The top seed, searching for a fourth consecutive Halle title, managed to prevail in a three sets against rising star Taylor Fritz, and dispatched Florian Mayer before the in-form Austrian Dominic Thiem sent the 34-year-old packing in another turbulent three-set contest.

“I think I’m quite fortunate to have an extra week on grass. It comes definitely at the right time for me. It has given me a chance to feel a bit better, to shake off some of the rust,” revealed Federer.

“Having played so little over the past four months I’ve felt awfully rusty. So it’s going to take time, I feel better but clearly don’t feel as good as coming off from semis, a final, a win in Paris to come here with a lot of confidence in my game. I am lacking matches, lacking practice, lacking confidence in my movement, I haven’t played big points as such,” added the world No.3 “So there is clearly a completely different approach this year but one I don’t mind, it’s nice to experience change and hopefully I can make the most of it.”

Federer opens his title defence on Wednesday against German wildcard Jan-Lennard Struff, while Stuttgart champion Thiem will also have Tuesday off due to his rain delayed showdown with Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Targeting another Wimbledon crown to add to his current haul of seven, Federer is adamant that grass is the ideal surface for him to accelerate towards top form.

“I would think that everything comes more naturally on the grass. It was important in Stuttgart to play breakers and set points and match points, to get my body ready for that.

"Practice doesn’t go there, only matches can prepare you for that, with the nerves ahead of matches, rain delays, I had it all last week. It was a really good week. I’m more optimistic now than if I hadn’t played Stuttgart and come here without any matches or wins. So we’ll see now where it takes me.”

Monday, June 13, 2016

Roger Federer talks Halle, his 2nd grass court tournament of the season

Roger Federer hopes to enjoy a long stay in Halle this week at the Gerry Weber Open, his second grass-court event in as many weeks. But the World No. 3 also thinks some up-and-coming players could make a deep run on the grass.

Monday's Stuttgart champion Dominic Thiem and NextGen players Taylor Fritz and Alexander Zverev all have the potential to surprise some people at the ATP World Tour 500 event, Federer said.

“Regarding Thiem, it depends on how tired he is. He really fought his way through last week plus Paris before. That was a huge task last week,” Federer said of the 22-year-old Austrian, who beat Federer in the semi-finals in Stuttgart and reached the semi-finals at Roland Garros. “[Eighteen-year-old] Fritz surely has potential, he loves playing on grass. I played him last week. I think he will have a great career.”

Federer also thinks the 19-year-old Zverev, who faces Viktor Troicki in the first round, could make a run in his home country. “Troicki will not be easy but if he gets through that match and gets into a rhythm he might make it to the semis or finals, that’s absolutely realistic,” he said. “I like Alex’s game. Therefore, I am curious what he will achieve over the coming years.”

Federer also called Frenchman Lucas Pouille, who fell in three sets on Monday to World No. 6 Kei Nishikori, “a huge talent”.

The eight-time Halle champion also talked about himself. He said his back continues to feel better, and he's glad to have another week of grass-court tennis ahead of him.

“It's much better. I served normally last week, served a lot of aces and also quite a few into the net because I haven’t found my rhythm yet. But at the end it was quite good. I was happy,” Federer said of his back. “Every day that goes by is a step forward, and every match is a step forward.”

Federer won two matches at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart, beating Fritz in three sets and sweeping German veteran Florian Mayer in two sets before losing to Thiem. Federer, though, held a match point against the Austrian.

“I’m just hoping I can keep up a good level from Stuttgart. It got better as the tournament progressed. It was unfortunate that I couldn’t win against Thiem but after all I felt improvement throughout,” Federer said.

The top-seeded Federer will play German wild card Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Roger Federer reacts after loss to Dominic Thiem at Mercedes Open in Stuttgart

“Any match you lose is disappointing. But to lose when you have match point means it was a close one,” said Roger Federer in the wake of his three-set loss to Dominic Thiem in the semi-finals of the Mercedes Cup on Saturday. “We both had our chances throughout. After coming back from 0-5 in the second, it was tough to lose the tie-break.”

Federer won the first set 6-3 and mounted a furious comeback in the second set to force a tie-break. After Thiem saved a match point serving at 5/6, Federer had the match on his racquet at 7/6.

“At 7/6 in the tie-break, I’ve got an 80 per cent chance of winning the point on my first serve and a 50 per cent chance on my second serve, so things were all good for me at that point,” the Swiss noted. Thiem regained the momentum after Federer missed a volley, and went on to close out the match with a break of serve in the deciding set.

“It was a tough match for both of us,” Federer said. “I could have played better at some of the bigger moments. At the same time, Thiem came up with some really good shots when he needed them. It’s just unfortunate. It’s just a matter of working hard and maybe things will go my way next time.”

Federer also underlined the importance of additional match practice. He was making a return to play after missing Roland Garros due to a back injury. It was the Swiss’ second layoff of the year after undergoing knee surgery in January.

“Things went surprisingly well this week. Conditions were very fast, so that’s why you saw a lot of tie-breaks, lots of close matches,” Federer said. “I probably didn’t serve my very best and I need to cut down on some mistakes in my game, but that comes down to not playing a lot.

“I want to be in a position to talk more about my matches, rather than the way that I am training coming back from injury. I’m happy that it is in the past, and I am looking forward to the second half of the season.”

Federer is slated to take part in the Gerry Weber Open, which begins on Monday. He is an eight-time champion at the event and will face Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Roger Federer moves into semis at Mercedes Open in Stuttgart plays Thiem next

Roger Federer moved to second place in the Open Era match wins list on Friday when he booked a spot in the Mercedes Cup semi-finals. The Swiss passed Ivan Lendl for 1,072 match wins with a 7-6(2), 7-6(1) victory over qualifier Florian Mayer in Stuttgart. Only Jimmy Connors (1,256) has won more career matches.

"I think it was a good match really, with long rallies," said Federer. "I thought that I played much better. I'm not sure if the stats showed it, but I felt [that] I served better. I'm really pleased how I felt this morning, my shoulder is a little sore having served a lot against [Taylor] Fritz. But that's exactly the kind of thing I need to feel having gotten back onto the match courts."

Federer improved to 7-0 lifetime against Mayer, who saved one set point at 5-6, 30/40 in the first set. Federer also recovered from 15/40 and saved three set points at 5-6 in the second set.

Top seed Federer will play the newest member in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, No. 7-ranked Dominic Thiem, in Saturday's semi-finals. "I'm now really excited about the semi-final against Thiem, who has had a great run this year," said Federer. "It will be a tough match, but I hope my experience will help me."

Third seed Thiem improved to 43-11 on the year, which includes three ATP World Tour titles, after he defeated 2002 champion Mikhail Youzhny 3-6, 6-4, 7-5 in one hour and 51 minutes.

"It was my best match on grass so far, against a very good and experienced player on this surface," said Thiem. "It was a very close match and it would have gone in any direction. [Looking ahead] it's tough to play Roger on any surface, but especially on grass."

Thursday, June 09, 2016

Roger Federer makes winning return on grass at Mercedes Open in Stuttgart

Wearing the outfit he didn't get to wear at Roland Garros :)

Roger Federer Tumblr

Top seed Roger Federer got off to a winning start on his Mercedes Cup debut when he defeated 18-year-old Next Generation star Taylor Fritz 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 for a quarter-final clash against Florian Mayer.

"It wasn't easy," said Federer. "I thought Fritz had some good moments there. He gained control of the baseline, he had a little bit of an upper-hand at times. He served well and I was a little bit cautious, unsure of how to move and questioning my defence. These are the things I will need to iron out.

"I can take a lot of confidence out of this match. I need to improve a few things, but I served big and I was able to handle three sets over two days, and find some energy at the end of the match. I know I have an extra gear. My next goal is to stretch leads - once I get a lead, I need to know that I can protect it then take the next step."

The match resumed on Thursday with Federer leading Fritz 4-3 in the first set, following a rain suspension overnight. Fritz, who had previously played two Top 10 players, converted his fourth set point opportunity in the 12th game of the second set.

"It's always disappointing to take a loss, when you've come close and you've definitely had chances in the match," said Fritz. "I played great and if you'd told me before that I would have taken a set off Federer, I would have been happy."

Federer, who is playing his first match since an Internazionali BNL d'Italia third-round exit to Dominic Thiem on 12 May, has now drawn level with Ivan Lendl on 1,071 victories, for the second-most match wins in the Open Era (since May 1968). Jimmy Connors is the overall leader with 1,256 victories.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Maria Sharapova receives 2 year ban from International Tennis Federation

Maria Sharapova was suspended two years by the International Tennis Federation on Wednesday for doping, a ban she called “unfairly harsh” and which she plans to appeal.

The 28-year-old Sharapova announced in March she tested positive for meldonium, which she said she has been taking for 10 years to treat numerous health issues. Meldonium became a banned substance this year under the WADA code, and Sharapova claims she didn’t notice its addition to the banned list.

Sharapova immediately went on the offensive Wednesday, releasing a statement on Facebook that questioned the validity of the ITF’s suspension. She says the ITF wanted to ban her for four years, but it was reduced to two years by a three-person Tennis Anti-Doping Program tribunal because the ITF had not found evidence that Sharapova’s doping was intentional.

“While the tribunal concluded correctly that I did not intentionally violate the anti-doping rules, I cannot accept an unfairly harsh two-year suspension,” Sharapova said. “The tribunal, whose members were selected by the ITF, agreed that I did not do anything intentionally wrong, yet they seek to keep me from playing tennis for two years. I will immediately appeal the suspension portion of this ruling to CAS, the Court of Arbitration for Sport.”

However, the tribunal’s report said various elements of Sharapova’s case “inevitably lead to the conclusion” that she took the substance “for the purpose of enhancing her performance,” and revealed that her meldonium usage was concealed from everyone in her entourage except her father and agent. The tribunal called Sharapova “the sole author of her own misfortune.”

Sharapova has been blasted by numerous tour pros for giving the sport a black eye, while others have used the opportunity to call her out as one of the coldest players on the WTA Tour.

“I have missed playing tennis and I have missed my amazing fans, who are the best and most loyal fans in the world. I have read your letters,” wrote Sharapova, who ended the letter: “Love, Maria.”

If her suspension withstands an appeal and runs through Jan. 25, 2018, the 29-year-old Russian will wind up missing this year’s Rio de Janeiro Olympics and a total of eight Grand Slam tournaments during what might have been prime competitive years. It certainly throws into doubt the on-court future of the former world No. 1.

“I have read your social media posts and your love and support has gotten me through these tough days,” Sharapova wrote. “I intend to stand for what I believe is right and that’s why I will fight to be back on the tennis court as soon as possible.”

Sharapova said she tested positive at the Australian Open, where she lost to Serena Williams in the quarterfinals on Jan. 26.

She received the same sentence as Martina Hingis (albeit for a completely different reason). 

And I hate to say it but I agree with ITF it was her own fault. 

She could have avoided this if she had just paid attention and not tried to hide it. 

2 years is a long time, and if she's not successful in reducing the sentence it'll be interesting to see if she can come back. 

If anyone can after something like this it would be Sharapova. Whether it's actually a successful comeback will be the biggest question.

It could have been worse she could have received 4 years given it is a performance enhancing drug. 

Unlike Martina Hingis who I still think was targeted (thus the cocaine accusation).

Tuesday, June 07, 2016

Healthy Roger Federer ready for grass in Stuttgart

Roger Federer didn't watch much of the tennis from Roland Garros, including the final between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray

The Swiss star was too busy spending time with family and getting ready to make a run of his own at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart, which kicks off the grass-court season on Monday.

Federer, who pulled out of Roland Garros because of a back injury, was rehabbing and making sure he'd be healthy for a strong grass-court campaign. On Sunday, he said withdrawing from the Grand Slam was the right move.

“I feel much better again. It's been a good last three weeks. No setbacks,” Federer said in Stuttgart while the Roland Garros final was taking place. “My back's good again. I feel much stronger. I was pretty fragile three weeks ago.”

Federer, 34, had played at Roland Garros every year since 1998. Missing the tournament was emotional at first, he said, but he knew that skipping it this year would be the right move for the long run.

“It was much better for me to look forward to the rest of the season, rest of my life, really. I didn't want to have setback after setback and injure myself maybe further,” Federer said. “In hindsight, that was definitely the right decision.”

At the MercedesCup in Germany, Federer will join other Top 20 players, including Marin Cilic, Dominic Thiem and Gilles Simon. The World No. 3 is eager to finally play in a tournament again. 

Federer has played in only four tournaments this year, including two since the Australian Open. He underwent knee surgery in February and has had to withdraw from other events because of a stomach virus and his aching back.

“It's been a tough year,” Federer said. “I'm super excited about playing another tournament."

One of the all-time best grass-court players should feel at home in Stuttgart. The tournament switched from clay to grass last year. Federer will be playing in the event for the first time.

“They've done a really nice job here. I think it's a huge step for them to go from clay to grass,” he said. “I hope it's something good for the future for this event, and I can't wait to play in it.”

Federer receives a first-round bye and is scheduled to play #NextGen star Taylor Fritz or a qualifier in the second round.

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Roger Federer scheduled to play first grass tournament in Stuttgart next week

STUTTGART, Germany -- Organizers say Roger Federer will return from a back injury to play at the grass-court tournament in Stuttgart next week.

Federer was forced to skip the French Open because of a lingering back injury.

Stuttgart tournament director Edwin Weindorfer says Federer is scheduled to practice on Sunday.

The former No. 1 had signed up for the inaugural grass-court edition of the tournament that used to be played on clay. Now, it is a warm-up for Wimbledon.

Federer is a seven-time Wimbledon champion. After Stuttgart, he's scheduled to play in Halle, another grass-court event he's won a record eight times.

Friday, June 03, 2016

Martina Hingis & Leander Paes French Open Mixed Doubles Champions & Career Grand Slam Winners!

World Team Tennis Twitter

Paris: Veteran Indian tennis star Leander Paes completed a 'Career Slam' in mixed doubles with Swiss partner Martina Hingis with a hard-fought win over compatriot Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig at Roland Garros on Friday.

The unseeded Indo-Swiss pair eked out a 4-6, 6-4, 10-8 win over the second seeds in the summit clash that lasted one hour and 28 minutes.

42-year-old Paes had won Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open titles in 2015 with Hingis.

It was 18th Grand Slam title for Paes and 10th in the mixed doubles. For 35-year-old Hingis, it was Grand Slam title number 22nd and fifth trophy in the mixed doubles.

Despite being the oldest player on the court, Paes' alertness and presence of mind made a good difference to the outcome of the match. Whenever he saw little openings he converted those into points.

Playing with lot of passion, he put away volleys from ferocious returns of both Sania and Dodig and has staked claim to be in India's mixed doubles team at the upcoming Rio Olympics.

Dodig was excellent with his service games in the opening and hardly lost points. His powerful returns combined with Sania's powerful game made it very tough for Paes and Sania.

The opening set was on serve till the ninth game. Paes was serving to stay in the set and was broken. The chance came the second seeds' way when Hingis failed to put a ball back on court on return of Dodig. On the deciding decuce point, Sania hit a forehand winner past Hingis to seal the set.

Paes created a chance on Sania's serve in the third game of the second set. He pounced on a volley and hammered the ball hard beyond return. Sania and Dodig saved two break chances but the Croat buried the ball on the deciding point to hand the rivals an early break.

Hingis held her serve in the next to create a 3-1 cushion. In the sixth game, Paes double faulted at 30-15 and followed that with two backhand errors to drop his serve. It was back on serve and released the pressure on Sania and Dodig.

However, Hingis and Paes broke Sania immediately with Paes hitting a volley winner on Sania's return on the second breakpoint.

Hingis struggled with her first serve but managed to hold for team's 5-3 lead.

Dodig, who was serving extremely well, suddenly faced a breakpoint in the next game but absorbed the pressure with ease and saved two set points, closing the game with an ace.

It was now Paes serving for the set and he served extremely well to take the set and force a match tie-breaker.

Paes and Sania lost a point each on their serves and the two pairs were locked 4-4 but the Indo-Swiss pair zoomed to 8-6 lead with Paes winning two hard-fought points. But soon it was 8-all. Hingis smashed a backhand cross court winner to earn first match point and they sealed it when Dodig's forehand met the net.

The winners split 116000 Euros as prize money while Sania and Dodig got 58000 Euros as a team.

Wednesday, June 01, 2016

Martna Hingis & Sania Mirza to face each other in French Open Mixed Doubles Final

Paris: Indo-Croatian second seeds Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig have set up a mouthwatering clash against Leander Paes and Martina Hingis in the mixed doubles final of the French Open in Paris.

Mirza and Dodig had to dig deep before they ousted local third seeds Kristina Mladenovic and Pierre-Hugues Herbert 4-6, 6-3, 12-10 in the semi-final which was played on Suzanne-Lenglen Court.

While on Philippe-Chatrier court, the unseeded pair of Leander Paes and Martina Hingis defeated French-Czech sixth seeds Edouard Roger-Vasselin and Andrea Hlavackova 6-3, 3-6, 10-7.

She may have lost in women's doubles, but now she's got a chance to complete a Grand Slam in mixed. Way to go Swiss Miss!.