Sunday, January 29, 2017

Roger Federer topples Nadal in 5 sets to win #18 at Aussie Open!

He’s been a man on a mission in Melbourne the past two weeks and the dream came true for Roger Federer on Sunday evening as he toppled his great rival, Rafael Nadal, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the Australian Open final to win his 18th Grand Slam championship.

“I’m out of words,” said Federer, after receiving the trophy from Rod Laver. “I'd like to congratulate Rafa on an amazing comeback. There are no draws in tennis, but I would have been very happy to accept one and share it with Rafa tonight. The comeback had been perfect as it was,” said the Swiss, who was playing his first tour-level event after a six-month injury lay-off.

All out aggression from Federer proved decisive as he defeated Nadal in a Grand Slam final for just the third time in nine contests. He had lost all three previous battles with the Spaniard at Melbourne Park – including a heartbreaker in the 2009 final – and had not beaten Nadal in a major since 2007. But Federer righted those wrongs with a sublime display on Rod Laver Arena Sunday night, marking his 100th match at the Australian Open in style.

It was an iconic contest and it deserved five sets as Federer prevailed in three hours and 37 minutes in an electric atmosphere on Rod Laver Arena, rallying from a break down in the fifth set to win the last five games. The tears of joy flowed freely for Federer as the electronic review ruled his forehand winner on match point to have caught the line.

It is Federer’s first major title in almost five years, since defeating Andy Murray in the 2012 Wimbledon final. Since then, the Swiss has been forced to watch Novak Djokovic largely dominate the Grand Slams, losing to the Serbian in the 2014 Wimbledon title match and in 2015 in the Wimbledon and US Open finals.

It was remarkable feat for Federer and Nadal to meet across the net in another Grand Slam final – and their 35th battle overall. After their semi-final wins – five-setters against Stan Wawrinka and Grigor Dimitrov respectively – they both told the story of being too hobbled to play an exhibition match at the opening of Nadal’s academy in Manacor in October, making do instead with sponge balls against junior players.

But sheer will and hard work saw them both find their best level and rise to the occasion in Melbourne, taking advantage of shock week one defeats for Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray – to Denis Istomin and Mischa Zverev – to bring about a nostalgic final for tennis enthusiasts.

Indeed, it was only the fifth occasion in the Open Era that a Grand Slam final has been contested by a pair of 30-somethings. The last time it happened was at the 2002 US Open, when 31-year-old Pete Sampras defeated 32-year-old Andre Agassi to win the title in what would be his final ever match.

At 35 years and 174 days, Federer is the oldest Grand Slam champion since Ken Rosewall, who won three major titles in 1970 and ’71 after celebrating his 35th birthday. But it must have seemed a long way off for the Basel native last July, when he was forced to announce that he would be missing the remainder of the 2016 season in order to fully repair his body after undergoing arthroscopic left knee surgery in February.

With wins over Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori and Wawrinka to reach the final, Federer is the second player - after Mats Wilander at 1982 Roland Garros - to win four Top 10 matches en route to a Grand Slam title in the Emirates ATP Rankings Era (since 1973). He is also the first player to win three five-setters en route to a Grand Slam title since Gaston Gaudio at Roland Garros 2004.

He is the third man in history to win five Australian Open titles, adding to his victories in 2004 (d. Safin), 2006 (d. Baghdatis), 2007 (d. Gonzalez) and 2010 (d. Murray). At No. 17 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, he is the lowest ranked Australian Open champion since No. 18 Thomas Johansson won the title in 2002.

But the Swiss right-hander, who spent 302 weeks atop the rankings, is now set to return to the Top 10 at No. 10 on Monday.

For Nadal, he has come a long way from crying in the car on the way back to the hotel after injury forced him out of Roland Garros before he could step on court for his third-round match. He would later call on his 2016 campaign after a second-round defeat in Shanghai in October, not able to continue any more with his wrist the way it was.

The Spanish left-hander is now set to rise to No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Rankings after returning to his best to reach his 21st Grand Slam final (14-7 record).

So this actually happened right?.  I'm not dreaming?. 

Excuse me, I have something in my eye.

I believe I said this a few posts back, lucky #17.  Or is that lucky #18?.  :) 

Who would have thunk it, the underdog no one even considered, turned this Aussie Open into a fairytale for the ages.

Most believed he would never get there, but his fans never lost the hope (we may have felt discouraged but we still believed). 

Today he played like the champion he is, slugging it out with Nadal and hitting that backhand and forehand with perfect precision. 

Not only that, but he played with a will I haven't seen for quite some time.  When he went down a break in the 5th I really thought it was pretty much over. 

Because that's what has been happening the past 5 Grand Slam finals he's been in.  He would play well in the beginning then shank a bunch of forehands, or make a bunch of unforced errors in the important points (just as he fought back to get ahead).  

He would play well for a couple of sets, and then lose concentration and fade away in the end And that exact thing started happening today, in the forth and 5th set. 

But today there was also more determination in his eyes, and a willingness to battle as long as it took.  Thus he held his nerve, and just kept on fighting, outlasting Nadal in some amazing rallies. 

It was beautiful to watch, vintage Federer as the commentators like to call it.  It was a clear reminder of why I love this man, and the sport.

After 5 long years he finally reached that illusive number, and he did it by beating Nadal.  His greatest rival.  In a 5 setter of a Grand Slam.  Victory doesn't get sweeter then that.  

All this coming off a 6 month injury lay-off. If this doesn't cement him as the G.O.A.T. I don't know what will.  

This one will undoubtedly go down into the history books as one of the best finals of the sport.  One not only his fans, but tennis fans around the world won't soon forget. 

Thank you Roger, for the privilege of watching you weave your magic once again.  And for reminding me that age really is just a number.

I've been waiting a long time for this, welcome to the 18 club Roger Federer!.  

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Roger Federer lets his hair down

Martina Hingis & Leander Paes fall in mixed doubles quarter-finals at Aussie Open

India's Leander Paes and his Swiss partner Martina Hingis lost their mixed doubles quarterfinal at the Australian Open on Thursday, missing out on a semifinal clash against Sania Mirza and Ivan Dodig.

Paes and Hingis lost to Australia's Samantha Stosur and Sam Groth 3-6, 2-6 in 55 minutes.

The first set proceeded on serve for the first four games. In the fifth game, the Indo-Swiss duo went down 0-30 on Paes' serve, following which a backhand sent long by the Indian after a net cord gave double break point to the Australians, who converted on the first opportunity with a forced backhand volley error from Hingis/Paes.

Three consecutive service holds followed before Paes served to stay in the set at 3-5. A netted volley by Hingis at 40-30 set up deciding point, which was also a set point for the Australians. Paes got in a good serve but chose to leave Groth's backhand return, which dropped just inside the baseline to seal the set for the Australians. Stosur/Groth converted both their break points and won 27 points in the set to 22 for Hingis/Paes, who couldn't convert the only break point they had.

Stosur and Groth broke Hingis' serve in the fourth game of the second set, a down-the-line forehand winner from Stosur at 15-30 giving the Australians two break points, the first of which was converted with a volley winner from Stosur for a 3-1 lead.

Groth, the owner of the world's fastest recorded serve, threw down three aces to consolidate the break for 4-1. Two straight holds later, Hingis was serving to keep her team in the match. However, a couple of errors from Hingis/Paes set up three match points for Stosur/Groth. The Indo-Swiss team forced a volley error to save the first, but a forehand winner from the Australians on the next match point sealed their win. Stosur and Groth dominated the second set, winning 29 points to 15 for Hingis/Paes, and converting two out of five break points while not facing a single break point on their serve.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Roger Federer survives battle of the Swiss in 5 sets to reach first Aussie Open final since 2010

Roger Federer Tumblr

Roger Federer will attempt to win his 18th Grand Slam championship crown against his old foe Rafael Nadal or Grigor Dimitrov on Sunday after a battling performance in the Australian Open semi-finals.

The 35-year-old Swiss superstar, who recently returned to top-level tennis after a six-month injury lay-off, booked a spot in his 28th Grand Slam final with a 7-5, 6-3, 1-6, 4-6, 6-3 victory over his compatriot Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 titlist and fourth seed. Federer will now compete for his fifth crown in his sixth Australian Open final on Sunday night, when he will attempt to become the first No. 17 seed to win a major since Pete Sampras won the final professional match of his career at the 2002 US Open.

Federer, who is now 86-13 at the Australian Open, would take a 5-0 advantage over No. 15 seed Dimitrov into his 28th Grand Slam championship final (17-8 record). But he trails 14-time major winner and 2009 champion Nadal 11-23 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. Dimitrov and Nadal contest their semi-final on Friday night.

“I know I will have a chance to win on Sunday now,” said Federer. “That's a great position to be in. Regardless of who it's going to be against, I think it's going to be special either way. One is going to go for his first Slam or it's the epic battle with Rafa. All I care about is that I can win on Sunday. It doesn't matter who's across the net. But I understand the magnitude of the match against Nadal, no doubt about it.”

Federer will re-enter the Top 10 in the Emirates ATP Rankings at No. 10 should he lift the trophy on Sunday. He is looking to become the second oldest player in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam crown after Australian’s Ken Rosewall, who won 3 Grand Slam titles after turning 35. Rosewall won the 1970 US Open (aged 35 years, 315 days) and the Australian Open in 1971 (36 years, 73 days) and 1972 (37 years, 62 days). Federer has not reached a major final since September 2015 at the US Open (l. to Djokovic) and not won a major title since July 2012 at Wimbledon (d. Murray).

Wawrinka said, “I'm proud of myself, of the fight I gave tonight and all the tournament. I think there is a lot of positives from this tournament, from Brisbane, from the month [of January] already. I'm really sad and disappointed with a loss like this… I had a great battle against Roger. He's a great fighter. He's always been amazing in Grand Slams, in five-set matches.”

Federer applied early pressure, forcing Wawrinka to recover from 0/40 on serve at 1-2 - Infosys ATP Scores & Stats indicates Wawrinka did so on nine of 26 occasions in 2016. Although Federer came through his own test, from 15/40 in the next game, he did do a good job of keeping Wawrinka off-balance by varying the direction of his groundstrokes. Federer survived a break point at 5-5, 30/40 and was soon gifted two straight errors from Wawrinka to take the 50-minute opener.

In the second set, Wawrinka went into meltdown at 2-3 when two errors saw his serve get broken – as well as a racquet – to give Federer full control of their 22nd meeting. Although Wawrinka continued to battle, he left the court close to tears at the end of the second set. The 31 year old would now need to come back from an 0-2 sets deficit for the seventh time in his career.

With strapping just below his right knee, following an off-court medical time-out, Wawrinka took his first tentative steps. Initially slow to move off his right leg, he grew in confidence and broke Federer’s serve with a forehand winner for a 3-1 advantage. Federer’s intensity dropped and two more breaks soon followed for Wawrinka. In a run of six games, Wawrinka led 1-0 in the fourth set.

Although Federer broke back immediately for 1-1, fast forward to 4-4 and he was in big trouble at 0/40. Federer saved two break points with well-directed serves, but terrific movement from Wawrinka at 30/40 enabled him to flick a forehand crosscourt winner to break. The capacity crowd, including Rod Laver, were left stunned as the match went to a fifth and deciding set. Federer took the time to leave the court for treatment.

“I felt tightness [in my leg] throughout the match, and I felt like it slowed me down,” said Federer. “I just hoped that maybe having the physio work on it, that it would make me feel better. But it didn't. It's not something I'm necessarily really worried about in any way. So that's a good thing.”

Wawrinka narrowly missed a forehand down the line at 1-1, 30/40, with Federer in a perilous position at the net. Wawrinka then recovered from 0/30 in the next game, before missing another break point at 2-2. When Wawrinka struck a mid-court backhand long at 2-3, 15/30, the match turned in Federer’s favour. Federer was not to be denied and, having closed out the match to love, he will now play his 100th match at the Australian Open against Nadal or Dimitrov in Sunday's final.

“No, I didn't feel more pressure,” said Wawrinka, when asked about the sixth game of the fifth set. “The game was really quick. New balls. He made two good returns to be 15/30. Then he put me under pressure. I made a bad choice [a backhand, then] a double-fault, and you're down a break in the fifth.

“[My injury has] been for sure an issue since the beginning of the tournament. Then again, it's not an excuse at all. I always try to fight on the court, to find a solution. I made the semi-finals. I had the chance to win tonight [and] I had some opportunities in the fifth set… I gave everything.”

Federer, who is now 19-3 lifetime against Wawrinka (and a winner in all of their hard-court meetings), hit 47 winners, including 11 aces. He also converted four of his nine break point opportunities for victory in three hours and four minutes. Wawrinka, who saw his 12-match winning streak at Grand Slams come to an end, went 4/12 on break points, but went 56/86 on first serve points in comparison to 62/86 for Federer.

I went into this tournament just being so happy to watch this man play competitively on court again, and if someone had told me that he would reach the final after a 6 month lay off I probably would have laughed. 

I'm still in a bit of a shock that he's in a final to be honest. But surprised shock feels so great, we've had too much of the other kind of shock in recent Grand Slams.  

You'd think after all these years I would learn to never underestimate Roger Federer's ability to defy expectations, or father time himself at 35.  

I'm fairly certain that's why he has so many fans worldwide, because he's able to come back time and time again, just when everyone thinks he's ready to hang up his raquet. It's definitely one of the reasons I admire him, and can't get enough of watching him play.  

This match didn't lack for drama though did it, it had everything, frustration, breaking raquets and a medical time out by both players (which had me a bit worried, since Roger hardly ever takes those but hopefully with an extra day in between Roger will recover).  The medical time out seemed to have helped both recover mentally.     

It started off better then I expected with Fed eventually going up 2 sets to none. When he lost that 3rd set I had flashbacks to all other 5 setters in semis he's lost in recent years (which I believe has been at least 5). I chose not to watch this live though, (given it would have been on around 4am) so I knew the result before watching.  And unlike the other semis I did breathe a little easier knowing he was 2 sets up.

But I still couldn't believe this went 5 sets it should have been over in 3 or 4. I think this win came down to hard work, and a little bit of luck, as well as Stan's level of play going way down in the last set.  But as they say in sport, a win is a win. And this one will certainly be remembered as another classic I'm sure.

Whoever ends up being his opponent and lets's face it it'll probably be Rafael Nadal, because I just don't see Dimitrov pulling that big of an upset (even though a big part of me is hoping he can do just that).  The practical side of me is pretty much betting on a re-match of the 2009 final.  

Which all Fed fans will remember as a 5 set heart-breaker (with a very tearful Roger).  It still breaks my heart just thinking back on it.  

Whatever happens it was a hell of a ride regardless.  One his fans and Roger Federer himself did not expect, or predict so I'm gonna enjoy the hell out of it now and on Sunday.  And at the same time I'm gonna dare to hope for #18.  Go Fed!.  You ageless miracle.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Martina Hingis & Leander Paes on court interview (2R) at Aussie Open

Martina Hingis and Leander Paes roll into mixed doubles quarters at Aussie Open

It is only the mixed doubles.

It is only a second-round match.

Why exactly then are we on the most iconic court at Melbourne Park -- the Rod Laver Arena?

Martina Hingis first won the singles title here as a 17-year old back in 1997. She won again in 1998. And in 1999. Oh, she's also won the women's doubles title here five times. And the mixed doubles on a couple of occasions as well. Of the 22 Grand Slam titles Hingis has won over her remarkable career, nearly half have come at the Australian Open.

One of those -- the mixed doubles in 2015 -- came in the company of her partner today. Leander Paes and Hingis have been the blue riband mixed doubles team over the last couple of years. They won three of the four slams in 2015 and another one in 2016 at the French Open. Paes doesn't have as many Grand slam trophies in his cabinet as Hingis, but with 18, he isn't that far behind. Between them, the pair have a small matter of 40 majors.

"I am playing with an icon, a legend over here," Paes gushes later in an interview with ESPN. "There's a reason why her pictures are all over the corridor. I love playing with her, not only is she one of my best friends, she is one of the greatest champions of the game of tennis so whenever I get to step on the court with her, its a real treat."

We now know why this second round mixed doubles match is on Rod Laver arena.

Over the years, these two have endeared themselves to Australian crowds. As they walk on at the conclusion of the fourth round encounter between David Goffin and Dominic Thiem, a sparse but robust crowd welcomes them onto court. As bonus, for the second match running, they are pitted against an all-Australian pairing in Casey Dellacqua & Matt Reid. Dellacqua has been in six major women's doubles finals over her career, winning the mixed doubles at the French Open in 2011. Reid is a journeyman. A muscular Aussie with a rumbustious, pummeling game that isn't given to much subtlety.

A lone voice in the crowd attempts to create some partisanship in the arena.

"Aussie, Aussie, Aussie," it goes.

"Oi, Oi, Oi," a couple respond.

You can tell though, their heart isn't in it.

Hingis and Paes are figures of adoration here and if they were to beat the local pairing this afternoon, it wouldn't make anyone in the stadium too sad. Soon enough, the sparkle in their play starts to light up the arena. Hingis' playing style is neat and tidy. On receiving serve, she is firm on her feet, both hands clasping the racquet firmly, body perched over slightly, gaze fixated firmly on the path of the incoming ball. While serving, the ball toss out front with the body positioning itself perfectly beneath to uncoil on impact. Paes reckons that Hingis is serving better than ever, an ace down the tee, then a slider past Reid's outstretched racquet to throw him off and another version with additional spin.

Hingis has a bone to pick with Dellacqua. In the first round of the women's doubles, Hingis and partner Coco Vandeweghe, seeded fifth, are shocked by Dellacqua and fellow Aussie Ashleigh Barty. She wants Paes to help her get revenge and it is clear that they have identified Dellacqua's leftie serve as the weak link in their opponents' arsenal. In the fourth game, Hingis measures the pace on a lob to generate an uncertain riposte and smothers a backhand down the line to make the incision. 3-1. Paes holds to love 4-1. Minutes later, Dellacqua is broken again, and in less than half an hour on court, Paes and Hingis have the set 6-2. Hingis would say later that she was pleased with how they played "strategically smart."

"This morning, in practice, my returns weren't working very well and Martina gave me one tip and that really helped me out on the match court," Paes says when they reflect on the contest. "We love finding different ways to win a match. There's not one way to peel an apple and to play with this little champ, she teaches me so many magical things about the technique of tennis because I am not very sound technically. My athleticism makes up for it. So when she gives me tips, we make it tough for the opponents."

"We learn from each other and also from watching," Hingis adds. "We are both very visual people. You see somebody doing this and that and you are like, 'Oh I'd like to do that too.' We are not stubborn about it, we are trying to learn and that's why we get better throughout the week and the tournament as it goes on. The toughest round is the first one, we get moving and we get into the groove every day."

Doubles combinations often talk about getting into the "groove" as a team. Hingis and Paes produce a demonstration of exactly what that is in the second set. Paes has lightning quick hands and Hingis works at creating angles from the back court for him to poach and kill. Their crossovers are precisely timed, so as Paes hustles across the court and moves forward menacingly, Hingis skips smartly sideways on the baseline to create an impression that they are everywhere at the same time. It flummoxes Dellacqua & Reid.

The Aussies are scrambling to stay afloat as Paes unveils the full range of his control of the racquet in the seventh game. He boomerangs a full throttle forehand, delectably drops a drop volley across net and angles his racquet acutely to change direction on a rapacious Reid forehand. They are cruising now and Paes chuckles as they head to the changeover, naughtily flicking Hingis' ponytail on their way.

4-3 up and the Dellacqua serve is in their sights again. The sun is sharper than it has been over the course of the encounter and Hingis wants to get off court. A neatly constructed move allows Paes an easy kill and at 15-40, it is the only invitation they need for the all important break. In the final game, a mishit from Reid sails over their heads and Paes hollers for it to land out of court. The ball obeys and it generates a communal chuckle in an arena relishing the show being put up for them. Paes pats his heart, beams ear to ear, and goes on to seal the deal.

Leander Paes & Martina Hingis have wowed Rod Laver Arena again.

Two matches and four sets in, they are doing what they do. He is 43. She is 37. Their partnership though, he insists, will be "18 till we die."

"We are very respectful to each other and the game of tennis," says Paes. "It kind of shows, people love coming out to watch us play, they cheer us; they scream, 'We love you Martina, we love you Lee', and that kind of keeps us going."

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Roger Federer brushes aside Murray conqueror reaches 13th Aussie Open semi for an all Swiss affair

Four-time former champion Roger Federer set up a blockbuster semi-final at the Australian Open against 2014 titlist and fellow Swiss Stan Wawrinka on Tuesday night.

Federer, the No. 17 seed, ended the dream run of Andy Murray’s conqueror, Mischa Zverev, 6-1, 7-5, 6-2 at Melbourne Park for a place in his 41st Grand Slam championship semi-final (and his 13th at the Australian Open).

“I'm pleased with the way I started the match,” said Federer. “Right away, again, I got off to a great start against him, as I did against him a few years ago. After that, naturally everything's easier. The second set was definitely a key to shut it down for him. It was good that I was able to break back after he played a good game there. Then in the third set, I think, I was rolling. It was a nice match. I think I played great. Mischa had a wonderful tournament, so well done to him.”

The 35-year-old Federer leads Wawrinka, the fourth seed, 18-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. Pete Sampras, who won the final match of his career in the 2002 US Open final, was the last No. 17 seed to capture a major title.

"If someone would have told me I'd play in the semis against Stan, never would I have called that," said Federer, who returned from a six-month injury lay-off at the start of 2017. "For Stan, yes, but not for me. I honestly didn't even know a few days ago that he was in my section of the draw or I'm in his section. I figured it out eventually that he was playing on my days, but I never really looked in that quarter of the draw because that was just too unrealistic for me.”

Federer took advantage of early nerves for 29-year-old Zverev by winning the first five games – and losing seven points. The first set lasted 20 minutes.

World No. 50 Zverev regrouped and covered the net to keep Federer on the back foot, but, ultimately, was left to rue a missed volley that could have edged him closer to a 4-1 lead. The doubts started to set in and Federer sensed his opportunity, fighting back to break to love for a 6-5 lead.

Zverev kept battling, but his resistance faltered in the fifth game and a 26-point seventh game of the third set. Federer hit 65 winners overall, committing just 13 unforced errors in the one-hour and 32-minute encounter.

“I think he did not really let me play,” said Zverev. “It's more like his shots were a little bit different than Andy's (Murray). It was definitely hard to read where he was going, where he's returning. He just has so many more options. How he can, like, outplay me or pass me. It was different, definitely different.”

Federer is the oldest player to reach a Grand Slam semi-final since Jimmy Connors (39 years, six days) reached the last four at the 1991 US Open. Federer is now 85-13 at the Australian Open – the most match wins he has amassed at any of the four majors.

Wawrinka beat French No. 12 seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in straight sets earlier in the day.

Monday, January 23, 2017

On a day of upsets Roger Federer surives a 5 set thriller to reach his 13th quarter final at Aussie Open

You think he still wants to win? :D

Roger Federer dug in his heels to stop Kei Nishikori on Sunday at the Australian Open, rallying past the fifth seed 6-7(4), 6-4, 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 in three hours and 23 minutes. Federer secured a milestone 200th win over a Top 10 opponent, becoming the first active player to achieve the feat.

"He played his heart out and I thought he played a great match, I'm happy to be a part of it," said Federer. "He was hanging tough and playing really well on the big points. I was telling myself to stay calm and this is what I trained for in the offseason. This is a big moment for me in my career."

The four-time champion exhibited great resolve in fighting back for his 25th career five-set victory. He will feature in the quarter-finals at Melbourne Park for the 13th time in the last 14 years, with a date against Mischa Zverev awaiting on Tuesday. Federer won their previous two FedEx ATP Head2Head encounters, most recently on the grass of Halle in 2013.

Federer fired a staggering 83 winners, including 24 aces, while converting seven of 18 break chances. But it wasn't all smooth sailing for the 17th seed. Striking the ball with conviction and peppering the Federer backhand early and often, Nishikori burst out of the gates, breaking twice in a row for a 5-1 first-set lead. The Japanese was more aggressive in the initial stages, jumping on Federer's second serve and crashing the net frequently.

But the Swiss stayed the course, slowly chipping away at Nishikori's lead and eventually drawing level at 5-all. Nishikori would take the opener in a tie-break, but momentum had swung firmly in his opponent's corner. Federer streaked to a two-sets-to-one lead and later snatched a quick break for 2-0 in the decider, after Nishikori sent the match the distance. He would emerge victorious on his first match point with an emphatic overhead smash.

"I didn't expect him to play this well from the start and that put me on the back foot for the remainder of the match to some extent," added Federer. "But I was able to wrestle it back in my favour. I got myself into the match and started to play the good sets that I knew I could. The question was could I hang with Kei until the very end. I was able to do that, so I'm super happy.

"You have a game plan and he's got a game plan. Sometimes it doesn't match up the right way for you. He was quick out of the blocks. I was accepting it and moving on with it, trying to at least find some sort of a rhythm going into the second set... I was still upbeat about my chances after that first set. I think it gave me something coming back into that set actually."

But the Swiss stayed the course, slowly chipping away at Nishikori's lead and eventually drawing level at 5-all. Nishikori would take the opener in a tie-break, but momentum had swung firmly in his opponent's corner. Federer streaked to a two-sets-to-one lead and later snatched a quick break for 2-0 in the decider, after Nishikori sent the match the distance. He would emerge victorious on his first match point with an emphatic overhead smash.

Federer improved to 5-2 against Nishikori in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, meeting for the first time since the Swiss prevailed in their group stage match at the 2015 ATP Finals. The Japanese saw his three-match win streak in five-setters snapped, falling to 14-6 in his career. According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, his impressive 100-31 (.763) career record in deciding-set matches remains tops among all players in the Open Era. Learn More

"I'm really disappointed to lose like this, especially after I started really well," said Nishikori, who exited in the Aussie Open fourth round for the third time in five years. "I missed some chances from 5-2 in the first set and I think I let him come back. He was playing good tennis especially in the middle, the second and third sets. I maybe had some chances in fifth set to come back in the match, but he was way too strong."

Lucky #17 am I right?.  He was also playing on day 7 :).

This was such a huge test and Roger passed with flying colours (yeah ok it would have been even better if he won it in 4). 

But the key here is he won. I told myself I'll be happy if he gets past the 3rd round & Berdych after a 6 month lay off.  

But now that he's done this I am greedy and I want him to take the whole thing. 

I'm not even thinking about the next round yet. I'm just going to bask in the immeasurable joy that was this match.  

Which I will have the pleasure of watching an encore of this afternoon. 

 I did have hope in this match when Roger came back from a 1-5 deficit to take the first set to a tie-break despite the fact he lost it.  

After so many heartbreaking loses in 5-setters (the last time Federer won a 5 setter was 2013 Aussie Open against Tsonga) this just felt so good as a fan. I admit to getting a little teary as Rgoer served it out. 

Just pure unbridled happiness.  

What a way to wake up :).

Go for it Fed!.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Roger Federer is happy being the underdog at Aussie Open

Meticulous with his trade, articulate with his words; in a game of numbers, Roger Federer is selective in filtering which figures carry much – if any – bearing.

And he has to be. The Swiss great, making his return to the tour after a six-month layoff to heal his weary body, is a player whose name and legacy is awash with more numbers than any other.

Take the $67.8 million he netted last year in winnings and endorsements, despite missing more than half the season through injury. And the No.1 spot he occupies as the world’s most marketable sportsperson in 2016.

Take the 6000-strong throng of fans in Perth, which flocked just to watch a Hopman Cup practice session leading in to AO 2017.

While only reinforcing his influence on the sport, they are figures which matter little to the 35-year-old as he looks to build on a tally of a record 17 Grand Slam singles titles.

His seeding of No.17 – while afforded the caution it deserved had it pitted him against the likes of top seed Andy Murray or six-time champion Novak Djokovic as early as the third round – likewise carried scant weight.

It is the first time since Roland Garros 2001 he enters without a top-16 seeding next to his name at a major. But after a knee injury ended his streak of 65 straight appearances in Slams ahead of his Paris campaign last year – and subsequently ruled him out for the second half of the season – Federer sees it as a number which means nothing once the first ball is hit.

It is a long time since he has carried such an underdog status.

“Yeah, why not for a change? I mean, I prefer to be the favourite. Underdog is OK,” Federer said.

“As long as I'm healthy and I feel like I can go four, five sets, I can go many matches in a row, then I think it's going to be fun. If I feel like I'm in pain in the matches, then obviously it's no fun. Then it doesn't matter what your seeding or ranking is, it's always the same.

“But, no, it's a great draw because I'm in the draw. So for me I'm super pleased that I made it here, that I have an opportunity to win matches. How many remains to be seen. I'm cautious myself. So, yeah, clearly an underdog this time around.”

The Swiss will open against a qualifier at Rod Laver Arena on Monday night with another qualifier guaranteed of standing across the net from him in the second round, should he win.

From there, the task of claiming an unexpected fifth Australian Open crown, becomes profoundly more difficult. Should seedings carry true to form, he would have to upset four top-10 opponents in succession to do so.

In the third round, it would be 10th seed Tomas Berdych, followed by fifth seed Kei Nishikori, top seed Murray, fourth seed Stan Wawrinka and finally, second seed and six-time champion Djokovic.

“I went through a year where I didn't play any five-setters, an entire year. You could think that's a good thing for longevity, but it's not a good thing because you don't know how it feels to play a five-setter anymore,” Federer said when putting his draw in perspective.

“There's always new faces coming up every season. The guys, a lot of them, who played futures or challengers a year ago may be 300, next thing you know they're in the top 100.”

They’re numbers again that will vanish the moment he is welcomed back on to RLA. It is the longest stint on the sidelines he has endured.

“You miss the feeling of winning, walking onto a stadium, seeing the guys,” he said. “It's like an extended family to some extent anyway.

“You see faces you haven't seen in a while. It's just nice to see everybody again.”

It is a welcoming reception Federer will find difficult to quantify.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Coco Vandeweghe talks partnering with Martina Hingis in post 3rd round interview

Awww, the Aussie's clearly still love Hingis ♥. "You're in pretty safe hands with that girl on your side of the net" . Indeed. ♥♥

Martina Hingis & Coco Vandeweghe into 2nd round at Aussie Open

MELBOURNE, Australia - No.5 seeds Martina Hingis and CoCo Vandeweghe fought past Jelena Jankovic and Yanina Wickmayer in straight sets to ease into the second round of doubles at the Australian Open, 6-3, 6-4.

Playing in her second Grand Slam with Vandeweghe following the pair's run to last year's US Open semifinals, Hingis struggled with her opening service game and they had to bat away two break points. They struck late in the set, pouncing on Jankovic to grab the lone break to love.

Hingis and Vandeweghe kept up the momentum in the second, with Vandeweghe's powerful serves and booming groundstrokes complementing Hingis' fine net play perfectly. They raced ahead to a double break lead.

Jankovic and Wickmayer tried to hold on, breaking back to climb out of a 5-1 deficit and get up to 5-4, but it wasn't enough against the No.5 seeds who comfortably served out the match for a spot in the second round.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Roger Federer on court interview (3R) Australian Open

I like my treats and chocolate to Roger, but I certainly don't have your physique at 35. 

I'm with Jim Courier on this one, get out of here Roger Federer. :D.

Vintage Roger Federer rolls past Thomas Berdych to reach 4th round at Aussie Open

Roger Federer, the four-time former champion, hit top form on Rod Laver Arena on Friday night as the Swiss superstar received a standing ovation from the capacity crowd in booking his spot in the Australian Open fourth round.

In just his third tour-level match since mid-July 2016, the former World No. 1 blasted past No. 10 seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in just 90 minutes. It was their seventh meeting at a major championship (Federer leads 5-2).

“I didn't expect this as such, to be honest, especially not this kind of a scoreline," said Federer. "Especially not having to save any break points, just always rolling on the serve. That was a big surprise to me. I think it was a great mental test for me to see if I could stay in the match – point for point. I was able to do that. That's where I'm just really happy that I was able to deliver that… It's wonderful. I'm really happy of course.”

Federer produced a masterclass in front of fellow all-time great Rod Laver, applying the pressure and keeping Berdych deep behind the baseline and unable to get into the match. After a third break of Berdych’s serve at the start of the second set, Federer seized control. Berdych was powerless in light of Federer’s backhand, first serve (won 39 of 41 points) and net (20 of 23 points) dominance.

Earlier in the day, fifth seed Kei Nishikori lost just eight of his first service points to beat qualifier and World No. 121 Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 in two hours and 11 minutes. The Japanese star has not lost to a player outside of the Top 100 in the Emirates ATP Ranking since the 2013 US Open, when he lost to then No. 179-ranked Daniel Evans in the first round.

“After 5-2 [in the second set] I think he stepped up a little more,” said Nishikori. “He was more attacking my ball [and] playing very solid. But I tried to stay focus. I still had two breaks up. I was serving really well today. I just play with confidence.

“For sure it's not going to be easy [facing Federer]. He was playing great tennis today. I watched only a few points. But it's always great to play Roger. It's a big challenge for me. I'm just happy to play him because I think we needed him on the tour. I’m happy to see him back 100 per cent.”

Federer leads Nishikori, his fourth-round opponent, 4-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. He has won four titles at Melbourne Park - in 2004 (d. Marat Safin), 2006 (d. Marcos Baghdatis), 2007 (d. Fernando Gonzalez) and 2010 (d. Andy Murray) and has an 83-13 mark at the championship.

”I'm a big fan of (Kei’s) game," admitted Federer. "He's got one of the best backhands out there. I love how he can crush it down the line or crosscourt. He's got wonderful second serve returns. He's fast on his legs. Strong in his mind. I know how tough he is as the match goes along. He finds his range and his rhythm, he's tough to stop.”

I was really worried about this match, so this is so nice to see, especially considering his next opponent.  It only gets tougher from here, but great win for Fed. 

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Roger Federer fights past qualifier faces Berdych next in Aussie Open 3rd round

Roger Federer has booked his place in the third round of Australian Open 2017 with a 7-5 6-3 7-6(3) win over American Noah Rubin.

Federer, playing in his 18th Australian Open main draw, was the heavy favourite going in to the match, but Rubin pushed the four-time winner all the way in an engrossing tussle.

Aggressive from the off, Federer attempted to unsettle the 20-year-old qualifier. However, Rubin stood his ground, saving numerous break points in an entertaining first set. It looked as though the pair were heading for a tiebreak when Federer got the break he needed to take the opening set 7-5.

The second set followed a now-familiar pattern, with Federer attacking the Rubin serve. This time the American succumbed early, broken in the sixth game of the match to surrender the set.

The third was a much tighter affair.

Rubin broke at the start, and looked to be taking the match to a fourth set. However, Federer turned up the pressure while trailing 3-5 and managed to force the break.

With the set headed to a tiebreak, the momentum swung in the Swiss maestro’s favour, and he secured the set, and the match.

"He's a great fighter ... he's aggressive on the ball and I think he had the upper hand on the baseline," Federer said after the match. "I think my serving kept me in the match today ... I'm happy I got through somehow.

"I wasn't feeling as good (late) as in the beginning. I definitely got a little lucky in that third set ... so it was good to fight through."

In a re-match of the 2016 quarterfinal, Federer will face 10th seed Tomas Berdych in the third round.