Friday, March 31, 2017

Roger Federer sets up 3rd final with Nadal with grueling 3 hour win over Nick Kyrgios in Miami Open semis

In one of the finest matches of 2017 on the ATP World Tour, Roger Federer prevailed over Nick Kyrgios on Friday at the Miami Open presented by Itau after more than three hours of brilliant play 7-6(9), 6-7(9), 7-6(5).

The fourth seed will now play fifth seed Rafael Nadal, a winner earlier in the day over Fabio Fognini, in Sunday's final.

Kyrgios struck first in the match, earning two break point chances at 3-3 with a booming forehand up the line. The 12th seed converted on his second opportunity with an aggressive backhand return down the line and pumped his first in celebration.

The Aussie earned a chance to serve for the set at 5-4, but went down 15/40 after floating a backhand volley wide and received a jeer from the Stadium Court crowd after tossing his racquet to the ground in frustration. The Aussie gambled on a big second serve in the next point and double faulted, handing the break back to Federer.

Enjoying success as he charged the net with greater frequency, Federer began to unravel Kyrgios, who appeared visibly frustrated. However, the 12th seed was able to remain calm when it mattered most, saving a set point with a thunderous ace out wide to ultimately force a tie-break.

Federer earned a set point at 6/5 with a swinging forehand volley winner, but failed to convert after sending a backhand well wide. Another set point chance came and went at 7/6 before Kyrgios earned his first set point at 8/7. He missed the opportunity with a forehand error and Federer erased a second set point down 8/9 with a backhand winner.

Kyrgios rolled the dice once again on a second serve at 9/9 and double faulted. Federer made good on third set point chance, bringing the crowd to their feet after Kyrgios struck a backhand into the doubles alley.

Although Kyrgios was made to save two break points at 3-3, both players traded routine service holds throughout the rest of the second set. Federer was especially dominant on his service games, going on a 19-point run at one stage and dropping just four points en route to yet another tie-break between the pair. However, the set wasn't without its flashy moments including a between-the-legs winner from Kyrgios.

A first serve out wide gave Federer a match point at 6/5, but the Swiss maestro sent a return of serve just long to even the score. Kyrgios earned a set point at 7/6, but Federer responded with a pair of forehand winners to set up a second match point at 8/7. However, the fourth seed dumped an 88 mph second serve into the middle of the net as the crowd groaned in unison.

A forehand on the line from Federer erased a second Kyrgios set point at 9/8, but the Aussie responded with a passing shot winner in the next point. With Kyrgios serving at 10/9, he fired an ace to level the match at one set each.

Neither played faced a break point in the final set, fittingly forcing a tie-break to decide who would prevail in this extraordinary encounter. Federer blinked first, hitting a forehand well wide to gift Kyrgios a 3/1 advantage. But a brilliant challenge from the fourth seed, in which he stopped a rally to question a backhand from Kyrgios deemed inside the line, found that the ball had landed long.

Federer once again rallied from down a mini-break to level the set at 5/5. Kyrgios then shockingly threw in his most costly double fault of the evening to give Federer a third match point. The Swiss maestro made good on his chance, hitting a huge first serve to wrap up the match after three hours and 10 minutes.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Roger Federer Reflects On Berdych Comeback At Miami 2017

Roger Federer saves 2 match points to reach Miami Open semis

Roger Federer held off a streaky Tomas Berdych on Thursday at the Miami Open presented by Itau, saving two match points to reach the semi-finals 6-2, 3-6, 7-6(6).

“I’ve had some tough losses here where I should have won, like against Tomas a few years ago and also against Nishikori, and they stay with you. I’m happy to come have through today,” Federer told ESPN after the match. “I definitely got very lucky at the end, but I think I showed great heart today. I fought and Tomas definitely started to step it up, but it was a great match at the end.”

Federer hadn't saved a match point en route to victory since erasing three in coming back from two sets down to defeat Marin Cilic in the 2016 Wimbledon quarter-finals. The Swiss maestro moves to 17-1 in 2017, his best start to a season since 2006, and has now won seven straight tie-breaks. Federer is through to his seventh semi-final in Miami and first since 2011.

The fifth seed will play the winner of the evening quarter-final between 16th seed Alexander Zverev and 12th seed Nick Kyrgios. Kyrgios leads the FedEx ATPHead2Head with Federer 1-0, prevailing on the clay courts of Madrid in 2015 in a third-set tie-break. Federer is even in his FedEx ATP Head2Head with Zverev at 1-1. Both matches took place last year, with Federer prevailing on clay in Rome and Zverev scoring an upset on grass in Halle.

“Kyrgios and Zverev are very exciting players, two of the most exciting players we have on tour now,” Federer told to the Miami crowd. “You all should tune in if you’re not in the stadium."

Coming into the quarter-finals, Berdych had dropped serve just once in the tournament. But, putting just one of six first serves into play, the Czech was broken in the opening game of the match. In contrast, Federer fought off a break point in the second game. He held serve throughout and broke Berdych again at 4-2 to put the set beyond doubt.

Berdych regrouped in the second set and took advantage of a loose Federer service game to go ahead 5-3 and soon after snapped his streak of 15 lost sets to Federer to take the match to a decider.

Little separated both players in the early stages of the third set, but a pair of forehand errors from Berdych gifted Federer a break to lead 4-2. The fifth seed was shockingly broken at love attempting to serve out the match at 5-3 and couldn't convert on a match point at 5-4 after Berdych erased it with a gutsy 120mph second serve down the T to Federer's forehand.

Federer trailed 4/6 in the third-set tie-break, but Berdych missed his opportunities with a backhand unforced error and a forehand into the net. A double fault from Berdych at 6/7 wrapped up the match after one hour and 57 minutes. Federer improves his FedEx ATP Head2Head against Berdych to 18-6 and has won their past seven matches.

“Don’t mess up, hit a few aces, stay aggressive on the return…those silly things you tell yourself that never work,” joked Federer on what he was telling himself during the tie-break. “But they seem to be working now. I enjoy winning breakers because those are the ones that are going to make you win a tournament sometimes.”

Federer has not tasted success in Miami since 2006, when he completed the Indian Wells-Miami title double for the second consecutive year.

I believe that's called winning by the skin of your teeth. 

No more close calls like this Roger. 

Let's go back to how you played against Del Potro please.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Martina Hingis & new doubles partner get closer to a sunshine doubles double in Miami

MIAMI, FL, USA - Nearly two decades after her first Indian Wells/Miami "Sunshine Double," former World No.1 Martina Hingis is on the precipice of a third with new partner and fellow top doubles star, Chan Yung-Jan.

Hingis' first double came with two different partners back in 1999, winning the BNP Paribas Open with Anna Kournikova and the Miami Open with Jana Novotna; the Swiss Miss followed that up at long last with Sania Mirza in 2015, kickstarting what became the most dominant partnership of the last decade, foreshadowing a 41-match winning streak and a run through three straight major titles at Wimbledon, the US Open, and Australian Open.

The idea to partner with Chan first came about Down Under, when Hingis was still playing with CoCo Vandeweghe and the Taiwanese No.1 was one half of a sister act with Chan Hao-Ching.

"It started at a practice in Melbourne, when we were sharing a court," Chan, who also goes by Latisha, told WTA Insider after their straight-set win over Andreja Klepac and María José Martínez Sánchez. "I was hitting with Angel, my sister. Martina and I stayed on the same side of court and played some points together.

"At one point, she said that if Angel can't play with me because of injuries or some other reason, to give her a call, and she'd be happy to play with me. I was so flattered! But I didn't tell her that."

The sisters split after defending their home title in Chinese Taipei, and she found herself back on the same side as Hingis by the start of the Middle East Swing.

"My sister and I didn't do well at the Australian Open and we started to talk about splitting up, and I think it was great timing.

"We still practice together and watch her matches. It's kind of like three against two because we have Angel behind us against the other teams."

The pair stuck through tough losses at the Qatar Total Open and the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, the former for which Hingis takes full responsibility.

"When we started in Doha, I wasn't quite up to it in the super tie-break, and wasn't much of a help," Hingis said. "Otherwise, I think we could have done better there. But Doha and Dubai helped us get a feel for each other and to trust each other, so we know what to do on the court."

On an eight-match winning streak since winning in Indian Wells, it was clear the duo were already in sync.

"It's not fair for her to say she wasn't playing well at the beginning," Chan immediately disagrees. "I had a similar partner like her, a net player. For me it was easier to adapt, but for her, I might be a little bit different than her previous partners, so she needed more time to understand and get a rhythm."

"It was good to know that there was actually some consistency form somebody," Hingis banters back. "I could trust with her, that she was going to put the ball in!"

Both agreed that the fortnight in the California desert was key for their confidence, winning the title without dropping a set against tough teams like Mirza and Barbora Strycova, and World No.1 Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova.

"In Indian Wells, we got two weeks to practice and be together, having cheesecake and going shopping!" Hingis laughed. "That helped a lot with our communication, and that brought us closer together. That's why we won and that's why we're in the semifinals here."

Standing between them and a second straight final is Mirza and Strycova in a rematch of last week's quarterfinal.

"Playing them, it's one of the best teams out there. We have to take it seriously, and I know they'll probably want to get back at us from Indian Wells..."

"Everyone around here is going to give you a tough match, and they're very strong," Chan finished. "We'll just try to play our best tennis and we'll see how it goes."

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Roger Federer made to battle for a spot in the quarters at Miami Open

Roger Federer stayed perfect at the Miami Open presented by Itau on Tuesday, persevering through a back-and-forth and gritty fourth-round contest against Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6(5), 7-6(4). The Swiss right-hander needed nearly two hours to improve to 6-0 against the Spaniard in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, and afterward likened his recovery to going clubbing.

"I think coming out of a brutal match and then feeling fit like a fiddle in the morning, it's like when you go clubbing," said the 35-year-old Federer. "Same thing. You know, you don't feel the same when you're older. (Laughter.) It's a good example because everybody knows that feeling. Not that I've ever -- you know?"

Federer reaches his second consecutive ATP World Tour Masters 1000 quarter-final, where he'll face 10th seed Tomas Berdych, who dismissed Frenchman Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 7-5 on Tuesday afternoon. Federer leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 17-6, including a straight-sets win earlier this year at the Australian Open.

Nothing came easy for Federer on Tuesday, though. The Swiss was made to labour throughout his sixth meeting with Bautista Agut, who saved eight of 10 break points and broke Federer once during their Round of 16 battle. Federer has now been broken only twice during his three Miami matches.

"I felt good overall. It was a different kind of match," said Federer. "It wasn't the big-serving match where you're only going to see so many looks, so when you miss chances you always feel a bit frustrated sometimes. That's where you got to keep a positive mindset and make the right plays.

"I thought Roberto did a good job of making shots, staying offensive when he could, fending off a lot of good shots that I hit. Then it was tough. The sun was coming from the side in the beginning so it's hard to chase the lines. At the end I'm very happy and pleased that I got it done in straight sets."

The World No. 6 sought to be aggressive from the get-go against Bautista Agut, attacking the net often and trying to jolt the 14th seed out of his comfort zone. Federer started by breezing through his service games, especially dominating with his first serve. The fourth seed would win 89 per cent of his first-serve points for the match.

But Federer struggled to land his first serve at 4-4, and Bautista Agut took advantage. Seeing another second serve, the 28 year old stepped into a backhand up the line and broke for a chance to serve out the set. Nerves would get the best of the Spaniard during the 10th game, though, as Federer broke to love when Bautista Agut double faulted.

Federer struck a forehand pass to escape in the first-set tie-break. To start the second set, it looked as if Federer would start to pull away. He broke in the opening game but Bautista Agut broke right back, and to a second tie-break they headed, where Federer solidified his dominance in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, having won all 14 sets they've played, dating back to the 2014 US Open.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Roger Federer dismisses Del Potro to reach last 16 at Miami Open

Roger Federer Tumblr Tag

Roger Federer added another big win to his nearly invincible 2017 on Monday, fighting off Argentine Juan Martin del Potro 6-3, 6-4 to advance to the fourth round of the Miami Open presented by Itau.

Federer, a two-time Miami champion (2005-06), never lost his serve against the powerful right-hander, who had five break chances but couldn't convert any of them. The win improves Federer to 15-1 on the season and 46-13 for his career at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament.

Federer also extends his FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against del Potro to 16-5. Perhaps more impressive, the Swiss star adds del Potro's name to his list of defeated opponents during his comeback season, a ledger that also includes Top 10 players Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori and Rafael Nadal.

In the round of 16, Federer will try to add 14th seed Roberto Bautista Agut to that list. The Spaniard came back to beat American Sam Querrey 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 in one hour and 55 minutes.

The third-round showdown between Federer and del Potro was their first meeting since the round-robin stage of the 2013 ATP Finals, but they renewed their rivalry with vigor from the start on Monday afternoon. Federer sought to stay away from del Potro's rocket forehand, targetting the backhand wing and seeking to catch del Potro favouring that side. Del Potro looked to crush his best stroke as often as he could.

But it was the 35-year-old Federer, as he has been all season long, who was more on point in front of a packed and boisterous crowd on Stadium Court. After failing to convert two break points at 3-2, Federer seized the occasion in the eighth game, ripping a forehand past del Potro, who left a backhand slice too short to challenge Federer.

Serving at 5-3, the fourth-seeded Swiss erased four break points and finished the set with a backhand drop shot that del Potro could only watch. Federer didn't wait long to break in the second set, taking advantage of his first opportunity to go up 3-2. One break was all he would need as he served out their 20th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting to love.

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Roger Federer opens Miami Open with another win

Roger Federer put on a serving clinic in edging American teen Frances Tiafoe at the Miami Open presented by Itau on Saturday. Making his first appearance in Miami since 2014, Federer reeled off 20 consecutive service points in the first set, claiming 80 per cent overall, to prevail 7-6(2) 6-3.

The two-time champion extended his dominant run in 2017 to 14-1, kicking off his quest for a third title (2005-06) at the Tennis Center at Crandon Park. His 45 match wins in Miami is second only to six-time champion Andre Agassi (61). Less than a week after clinching the Indian Wells crown, he is seeking a third Sunshine Double.

Tiafoe's mettle was tested early and often and the #NextGenATP star responded well, flashing his baseline firepower and trademark charisma. But Federer was undaunted on a windy and overcast late afternoon in South Florida. The first set would proceed to a tie-break and Federer took the immediate mini-break, striking a sharply angled backhand that pulled Tiafoe well off the court.

World No. 101 Tiafoe entertained the home fans with brilliant backhand passes, but the qualifier would be broken for 4-2 in the second set and Federer streaked to the finish line from there. A Tiafoe return winner denied his first match point, but a service winner closed out the win after one hour and 13 minutes.

Keeping points short, Federer won the majority of rallies under five shots (47-35) and fired 23 winners in total, including eight aces. A 21st FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter against Juan Martin del Potro looms large in the third round. Del Potro takes on Robin Haase in Saturday's night session.

“I would love to play against (del Potro). I'm happy for him with his comeback, winning at Davis Cup. I should have played him here last year but I was sick. That was a pity. It's better to play him maybe this time around when we're both better,” said Federer. “We've had some epic matches against each other. I'm sure the crowd would love to see it, but Haase is going to have a say about that, as we know.”

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Roger Federer ready for Miami Open

With age comes perspective and at 35, on the comeback from his longest stint on the sidelines, Roger Federer is playing with a renewed sense of freedom. A stunning run to the Australian Open title and then the BNP Paribas Open crown at the weekend are testament to him chanelling this ‘underdog’ confidence as he prepares a tilt at his first Miami Open title in 11 years.

The Swiss, who started the season at No. 17 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, has soared back to No. 6. A decade ago he was the reigning two-time Miami Open champion.

“At 25 I was winning 90 per cent of my matches and eventually you’re on this train where you keep rolling and expect yourself to win a lot,” Federer said. “You play many more tournaments.

“It was an incredible experience being able to play at such a high level for so long and beating so many of the guys, winning so many finals in a row. It’s definitely different, especially this year, it’s very different to any other that I’ve ever experienced, as was last year with the injury, with the age, with the comeback.

“This is very special for me. I definitely see things different today than I ever have.”

The fourth seed opens against either #NextGenATP player Frances Tiafoe or Russian Konstantin Kravchuk before a likely third-round clash with No. 29 seed Juan Martin del Potro, a player on a comeback trail of his own. Should that showdown eventuate, Federer will carry a 15-5 FedEx ATP Head2Head record, although the last time the pair played was the ATP Finals in 2013.

“I was very happy for him last year,” Federer said of del Potro’s return. “I was supposed to play him here and then I pulled out, which was a pity for both of us.

“The comeback was great for him. He finished top 40, won the Davis Cup, it was a dream come true for him as far as I know. I’m focused on one round earlier though.”

Sixth seed Dominic Thiem is his projected quarter-final opponent and should he live up to his seeding he could set his third clash of the season with compatriot and top seed Stan Wawrinka in the semi-finals.

For now, the lone former champion in the field is relieved to back to full health. A stomach virus ruled him out ahead of his first-round clash with del Potro last year. This is the first time he will have played in Miami since 2014.

“I’m coming in with more confidence, which I prefer, of course,” Federer said. “I’m happy to be healthy this time around. Last year, I postponed the press conference three or four times because I wasn’t feeling well and then at the end it ended up not possible at all so it’s nice to be back here healthy.”

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Roger Federer says winning so quickly was 'not part of the plan'

Only a brave pundit would have pencilled in Roger Federer as an early bolter atop the Emirates ATP Race to London just three months into the Swiss star’s comeback after a six-month lay-off. But after claiming the two biggest titles of the season to date, the 35 year old has already surpassed his own expectations for 2017.

Victory over compatriot Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s BNP Paribas Open final marked his 25th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title – his fifth in the Californian desert – and comes on the back of his shock Australian Open triumph in January. It will require a welcome rethink on goals for the year ahead.

“For me, the dream run continues,” Federer said. “I'm not as surprised as I was in Australia, but still this comes as a big, big surprise to me, nevertheless, to win here again and beating the players that I did and the way I did. I couldn't be more happy.

“It's an absolutely huge start to the year for me. Last year I didn't win any titles. I don't think I was in any finals except Brisbane. The change is dramatic, and it feels great.”

The Swiss will climb back to No. 6 in the Emirates ATP Rankings as he heads to the Miami Open presented by Itau. He stands to make up ground having missed the ATP Masters 1000 event last year and given two of his greatest rivals, World No. 1 Andy Murray and No. 2 Novak Djokovic, have withdrawn citing right elbow injuries.

“In November, December, when I realised things were going well, and we had a meeting about what the goals are for the season in terms of rankings, it's really secondary, but we wanted to set some goals for the season, and the goal was to be Top 8 by after Wimbledon.

“So I'm there much, much faster … It’s great, but you definitely have to reassess your goals and see, where do you go from here? Because this was not part of the plan, to win Australia and Indian Wells, I can tell you that.”

The last time Federer won in Miami he defeated his coach Ivan Ljubicic in the 2006 final to defend his title from the year before. He completed the Indian Wells/Miami double in both years and is well aware the difficulty in achieving the feat, let alone 11 years later.

“I think now it's really important for me to rest up, maximum,” he said. “I hope I can play as late as possible going to Miami. Then I will make the plan for the remainder of the season – especially for the clay – after Miami, and then see also what the goals are, because the goals are clearly changing after this dream start.

“I know how hard it is to win back-to-back Indian Wells and Miami titles. That's why again I sort of go to Miami knowing it's going to be really difficult.”

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Martina Hingis & new doubles partner Chan Yung-Jan win first title together at BNP Paribas Open!

Martina Hingis Official Facebook

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - No.6 seeds Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan powered their way the BNP Paribas Open doubles title with a straight sets win over Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova.

Playing in just their third tournament as a team, Chan and Hingis needed an hour and thirty minutes to seal the victory 7-6(4), 6-2 and claim their first title.

The pair proved more decisive in the big moments, converting each of the seven break point chances they created, and allowing the Czechs just five of their eight.

"A huge thanks to my partner Latisha (Yung-Jan), we're playing in our third tournament together and she helped me in the previous two to just believe in myself again," Hingis acknowledged in the trophy presentation. "I won here a couple of years ago with Sania, so to be back here on this court again and playing the final is amazing."

The unseeded Czech duo Hradecka and Siniakova are also a new pairing in 2017 - they were through to their second final in their third tournament together. Both were making their Indian Wells doubles final debut, while across the net Hingis is a two-time champion (1999 and 2015), and Chan is a former runner-up (2007).

The Czechs got off to a strong start in the opening set, taking advantage of a few slips from the No.6 seeds to open up a double break lead for 3-1 before Chan hit back from the baseline to erase one of the breaks.

Smart poaching at the net from Hradecka put the Czechs in the position to serve for the opening set, but Chan and Hingis broke straight back, holding firm to force a tiebreak. Hingis came away the victor in a lengthy baseline battle against Siniakova, who targeted her with the backhand before Hingis finally drew the error - and the decisive minibreak.

It all went the way of the No.6 seeds in the second set - Chan was broken early in the set but the pair were able to get it back straight away, as well as deal another two breaks of serve to reel off four straight games and serve for the match.

A trio of scrappy rallies went Chan and Hingis' way, bringing the No.6 seeds to championship point before Chan smashed a volley away to give them the victory - and their first doubles title as a pair.

"It felt like we got better each match and start to trust each other and know what to do on big points," Hingis said. "I mean, today, even in the first set we were sometimes back, but we came back because we knew we could come out of difficult situations."

Chan added, "For [our] first two tournaments in Middle East, we were trying. We know each other as opponent. We didn't know how to work together, and we spent a lot of time on court, off court, try to know each other and try to build up the trust between each other.

"I think those two tournaments, even though we didn't win the title or didn't get into the final, but still help us a lot. I think that's actually key. As a partner, you can't expect, once you play together, you can win the titles all the time. You still need time. Those two tournaments help us a lot here."

It's doubles title #56 for Martina Hingis, how about that!. 

Third time proved to be the charm for the pair well done ladies!. 

Monday, March 20, 2017

Roger Federer 5-time BNP Paribas Open Champion!

Roger Federer Tumblr Tag

Roger Federer captured a record-tying fifth BNP Paribas Open title on Sunday, defeating close friend Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 on a sunny afternoon in Indian Wells. Federer extended his overall lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry by a 20-3 margin.

Federer clinched his 90th tour-level crown and 25th in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournaments. He also tied Novak Djokovic for the most titles in the California desert with five. Wawrinka, meanwhile, was looking to lift his second title at the Masters 1000 level following his win over Federer in Monte-Carlo three years ago.

FIRST SET - Federer 6-4 

There are no secrets in this final, as the Swiss compatriots do battle on a glistening Sunday afternoon in the Coachella Valley. Having never lost to Wawrinka in 14 hard-court encounters, Federer knew exactly what was required of him to lift the trophy. Looking to remain aggressive and attack his countryman's second serve from inside the baseline, Federer was on the front foot from the start.

The 35 year old had faced just one break point the entire tournament entering the final and had been just as ruthless on return, converting 11 of 17 opportunities. The trend would continue on Sunday. With the set closing in on the business end, Federer pounced on his opponent's serve, rifling an inside-out forehand winner at 5-4 30/15. He would steal the opener two points later after a pulsating extended rally resulted in a Wawrinka unforced error. Federer claimed all six net points in the first set behind an aggressive, attacking formula. His bid to become the oldest ATP World Tour Masters 1000 champion moved to within one set.

90-Titles Club (Open Era)

Player Tour-Level Titles



SECOND SET - Federer 7-5

When Wawrinka unloads on his world-class one-handed backhand, momentum can turn in an instant. That's exactly what happened to open the second set. The Swiss used his preferred stroke to open the court and he caught his countryman in an uncharacteristic passive stretch, breaking immediately. Two obliterated forehands were followed by a scintillating backhand and Wawrinka took command.

The shot of the match came off Federer's racquet in the third game of the second set, with the former World No. 1 sprinting into a tricky backhand slice volley that died immediately after crossing the net...

With tournament owner Larry Ellison joined by Rod Laver, Bill Gates and actors Jon Hamm and Charlize Theron in The Champions' Box, Federer would not fall behind for long. A scorched forehand down-the-line drew proceedings level at 2-all and Federer would consolidate a game later.

Winners flowed more freely from both players' racquets as the second set progressed. Federer and Wawrinka painted the lines with gripping backhand-to-backhand exchanges. A blasted backhand winner gave Wawrinka a 30/0 lead when serving to stay in the match at 5-4. He would hold, but Federer would not be denied two games later.

The 35-year-old's first championship point came with Wawrinka serving at 6-5 and he would secure the title with a volley winner after one hour and 20 minutes. Federer becomes the oldest player to lift a trophy at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level, continuing his hot start to the 2017 season.

I actually felt a little sorry for Stan.  But there's not a whole lot he could do, he had his chances. It's hard to beat the Fed express when it's on a roll. 

It was a great final nonetheless.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Roger Federer reaches BNP Paribas Open final to make it an all-Swiss affair at Indian Wells

Roger Federer will face Stan Wawrinka in an all-Swiss final at the BNP Paribas Open after defeating Jack Sock 6-1, 7-6(4) in Saturday’s second semi-final in Indian Wells.

The 35-year-old Federer is through to his seventh final at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and is looking to win the title for the fifth time, adding to his victories in 2004 (d. Henman), 2005 (d. Hewitt), 2006 (d. Blake) and 2012 (d. Isner).

Federer will bid to win his 25th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown and 90th tour-level title overall. He takes a 19-3 FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry lead over Wawrinka into the final and has won their past three meetings, including a five-set battle in the Australian Open semi-finals in January.

Federer’s backhand was telling as he raced past long-time rival Rafael Nadal in the fourth round earlier in the week, and Federer dominated from the baseline again against Sock, rolling back the years to claim victory in 74 minutes.

A rifling backhand winner from Federer did lasting damage in the fourth game, as Sock then netted a smash and double faulted to lose serve to love and trail 1-3. A potent forehand winner from Federer gave the Basel native a double break lead at 5-1 as he cruised to a one-set lead.

A bathroom break for Sock at the end of the first set settled the American, and he fended off a break point in the seventh game to stay close on serve with Federer, ultimately forcing a tie-break. Sock sparked hope for his fans as he hit a backhand winner for a 3-1 lead. But Federer immediately pegged him back and went on to win six of the next seven points to triumph for the third time in three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings with Sock.

Federer has yet to lose serve during the tournament, saving the only break point he has faced against Nadal. He was granted a walkover through the quarter-finals, when Nick Kyrgios withdrew on Friday due to illness, and had spent just three hours and 33 minutes on court coming into the semi-finals, compared to Sock’s eight hours and 32 minutes.

Sock saved four match points in a third-round victory over Grigor Dimitrov and was two points from defeat in a tense fourth-round round battle with Malek Jaziri. He advanced to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final by claiming his first Top 5 win over Kei Nishikori in another three-set contest on Friday.

The 35-year-old Federer has returned to the tour in remarkable fashion in 2017, having missed the second half of last season due to injury. He beat Wawrinka and Nadal in back-to-back five-set contests to win his 18th Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open and has stormed through to the final in Indian Wells without dropping a set. The only blemish on his 2017 record was a second-round loss to World No. 116 Evgeny Donskoy in the Dubai second round two weeks ago.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Roger Federer moves into semi-finals at BNP Paribas Open after Nick Kyrgios withdraws due to illness

Nick Kyrgios announced his withdrawal ahead of his quarter-final match against Roger Federer on Friday at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

“Unfortunately I am unable to play today due to sickness,” the 21-year-old Australian shared in a statement. “At this stage we think it’s food poisoning, and I’m praying it’s nothing more. After a restless night of being sick I have nothing left and to play a great champion like Roger, I need to be at my best to have a chance. I don’t take this decision lightly, these are the matches we train for but I’m in no fit state to take to the court.

“I’m sorry to the fans that I’m unable to take to the court but I have to put my health first and I hope you understand. I want to wish Roger the best of luck for the rest of the tournament and thank everyone for their support so far here at the BNP Paribas Open. I will definitely be back. Thank you.”

Kyrgios had ousted defending champion Novak Djokovic in the fourth round, while Federer had dismissed Rafael Nadal in straight sets. Federer, a four-time champion at this ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, awaits the winner between Japan’s Kei Nishikori and American Jack Sock.

“Hope you feel better @NickKyrgios,” Federer tweeted.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Martina Hingis and new doubles partner enter 2nd final together at BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - No.6 seed Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan are becoming one of the new teams to beat in 2017, roaring into their second final in just three events since pairing up in the Middle East, outlasting top seeds Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova, 7-6(7), 7-5 at the BNP Paribas Open.

"This is a big win for us at a huge event," Chan said after the match. "I'm happy we're in the final because it was a really close match against the best team in the tournament. It's good for our confidence to win this match. The key was our ability to put everything together when we had to. We stayed strong together as a team, even in the tie-break and on deciding points."

Hingis and Chan, who often goes by her English name, Latisha, reached their first final at the Qatar Total Open, and have been equally impressive in the California desert, ousting No.4 seed Sania Mirza and Barbora Strycova en route to the final four.

"Lucie and Bethanie are the No.1 team, and not for no reason," Hingis said. "They've had a great couple of years and know each other so well. I played them twice a couple years ago and was unsuccessful, so it was nice to go out there with Latisha and see how we'd end up. It's only our third tournament, so I'm definitely pleased with this win."

Mattek-Sands and Safarova had been forced to a match tie-break against another new team in Kristina Mladenovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova, but the Australian Open champions couldn't find the extra magic on Thursday as their eight-match winning streak came to a close in the searing heat.

"It was hot all week! We tried not to have a dip, but at a set and 4-1, we were in the middle of an emotional mindgame with the nerves. Everything was involved, but it was great for the crowd to see a match like that; it was doubles at a very high level, and even if it had gone the other way, we couldn't have been disappointed losing to one of the best teams out there."

Once rivals, now partners, Hingis and Chan feel they've grown by leaps and bounds since their first tournament together, and are pleasantly surprised with how quickly their bond has grown in the last four weeks.

"At the beginning, we were both excited when we decided to play together, but we didn't know each other that well beyond playing against each other," Chan said. "We had to build the trust between us. After the tournaments in the Middle East, we built up a greater relationship between the two of us."

Standing between them and their first title as a team will be the winner of the second semfinal between Czech stars Lucie Hradecka and Katerina Siniakova and No.2 seeds, Olympic Gold medalists Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina.

"I played Siniakova and Hradecka at the Taiwan Open with [my sister] Angel in the final. We know Lucie very well, and Siniakova is a young gun playing well. Whoever wins, we'll have to step in and be aggressive"

"Vesnina and Makarova are another top team; I've played them a lot as well, and always great matches like the finals of Wimbledon and the Olympics," Hingis added. "These are the matches you look forward to because the last couple matches have shown where women's doubles is at and I'm proud to say I'm part of it.

"Either way we're trying to go for the title!"

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Roger Federer prevails over Rafa Nadal again to reach BNP Paribas quarter-finals in Indian Wells

Channeling the same game plan that reaped the ultimate reward in the Australian Open final in January, Roger Federer has put on a stunning display of aggression to defeat fifth seed Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. The Swiss prevailed 6-2, 6-3 to set a quarter-final showdown with Australian Nick Kyrgios and victory marked the first time he had defeated Nadal three times in a row in 36 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings.

Federer came out of the blocks in a hurry against Nadal on Wednesday. The Swiss ninth seed secured the opener 6-2, consistently finding his mark coming over the backhand to keep the Spaniard on the back foot.

Federer brought up a break point in the opening game, breaking when Nadal shanked a forehand into the stands for 1-0. He survived a break point and steadied to hold with a sublime backhand winner down the line for 2-0.

The Swiss continued to deliver off the backhand wing, his fifth backhand winner of the first set, which was followed by an explosive wrong-footing forehand winner to bring up a break point on the Spaniard’s serve at 3-1. Forced to raise his level, Nadal ripped an angled forehand crosscourt to draw the backhand error from Federer but it was a short reprieve. The Swiss secured the double break off a spectacular backhand return winner for 4-1 after 23 minutes.

Federer closed out the opening set in style, threading back-to-back forehand winners to bring up two set points and sealing it on his first with a serve-volley winner 6-2 after 34 minutes.

Determined to make a statement he would not go quietly, Nadal started the second set with authority, holding to love with a forehand winner and an ace out wide for 1-0. Federer’s aggression continued to gnaw at Nadal, however. His confidence surged further when he broke early for 2-1.

Redlining at 3-1, the Swiss struck a backhand winner down the line to bring up 15-30 but the fifth seed stemmed the flow, holding for 2-3. The pressure remained relentless, however, from the 36-year-old Swiss. He held to love for 4-2 off an ace out wide and drew the error with a looping backhand to change up the quick-fire pace.

Nadal was rarely in control of a point and when serving to stay in the match, a forehand clipped the net and failed to trickle over handing Federer two match points. He took it on his first with a crisp backhand return winner into the corner.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Roger Federer sets up his 36th meeting with Rafa Nadal at BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells

Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer will meet in the BNP Paribas Open fourth round after wins for both on Tuesday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The hotly anticipated clash was on the cards when the draw was made last week, placing them both in the ‘group of death’ in the bottom half of the draw. It will take place not before 5pm on Wednesday on Stadium 1.

It will be the 36th installment of one of tennis’ most celebrated rivalries, just a few weeks on from their five-set battle in the Australian Open final, which saw Federer return from a five-month injury layoff to capture his 18th Grand Slam championship. Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 23-12.

“He has the talent to do very difficult things that look easy. He's able to take the ball very early. Serve and first shot, he creates a lot of winners with that, the two first shots,” Nadal said of Federer.

“And then he's able to take the ball always from inside, and he's very quick going to the net. If you play a short ball, then you know that he’s going to go inside and going to hit a winner, going to play a shot [to your] forehand or backhand, goes to the net, and you are going to be in big trouble.”

Nadal was first to advance Tuesday, defeating Fernando Verdasco 6-3, 7-5. The 30-year-old claimed his 50th win at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden as he defeated Verdasco in one hour and 29 minutes. The Mallorcan has won three of his 28 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns in the desert, lifting the trophy in 2007 (d. Djokovic), 2009 (d. Murray) and 2013 (d. del Potro).

“I played a good match, no? Very aggressive with my serve, serving well, hitting good forehands, good backhands... Very happy. I think I played much better today than the first day,” Nadal said. “So very pleased with my performance.”

Under a hot sun in the Coachella Valley, Nadal improved to a 16-3 mark against Verdasco in their first meeting since he beat the Madrid native at the same stage of the BNP Paribas Open 12 months ago.

Nadal broke Verdasco to love in the eighth game of the opener and drew blood in the early stages of the second set with a break in the third game. Verdasco rallied to level in the fourth game, but Nadal broke through decisively in the 11th game, with the pressure telling on Verdasco. Nadal closed it out with a hold to 15.

Federer had a closer contest with Steve Johnson, edging the American 7-6(3), 7-6(4) in a match where neither man was able to break serve. Federer was denied four break point opportunities, but took his chance in both tie-breaks to claim victory in one hour and 34 minutes, only surrendering six points behind his first serve in the match.

The 35-year-old Federer is bidding to win the Indian Wells crown for the fifth time, following triumphs in 2004 (d. Henman), 2005 (d. Hewitt), 2006 (d. Blake) and 2012 (d. Isner). He also finished runner-up in 2014 and 2015 (l. to Djokovic both times).

He holds high hopes for his second showdown with Nadal of 2017. The last time they met was their five-set epic in the Australian Open final.

“That's why I came here, to play against guys like Rafa. Now we have it,” Federer said. “I'm going to be excited now, I’d better be excited now otherwise I came for the wrong reasons.”

Federer said he would draw some confidence from his run Down Under but was still treating this early part of the season as his comeback. “I try to see it really as another opportunity to build upon something for the rest of the season,” he said.

“So regardless of Australia, winning or losing, I'm going to try to go out there and try to play free again. I think it's really important.

“I'm really happy that I got my energy back, because in Dubai I was actually still quite tired. I feel like tomorrow if I move well I will definitely have a chance against Rafa.”

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Martina Hingis ousts former partner Mirza from BNP Paribas Open reaches semis with help of new doubles partner

YungJan Chan Twitter

INDIAN WELLS, CA, USA - Former doubles No.1 Martina Hingis seems to be hitting her stride with new partner Chan Yung-Jan; together the No.6 seeds ousted Hingis' former partner Sania Mirza and fellow No.4 seed Barbora Strycova, 6-4, 6-4, to reach the semifinals at the BNP Paribas Open.

"It's great," Hingis said after the match. "It's only our third tournament together, and I feel like we're getting better with each match. The confidence and trust between us is growing, and I think that's the most important thing to win matches today and in the future.

"We're going in the right direction."

Hingis paired up with Chan at the start of the Middle East Swing, reaching the semifinals of the Qatar Total Open and the quarterfinals of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Taking on Mirza and Strycova for the first time since switching partners, Hingis overcame tough opposition with the Taiwanese star by her side, ousting their higher-seeded opponents in just over an hour and 20 minutes.

"Definitely today's match wasn't easy," Chan added. "Those two players are great, and they're top players. We kept staying strong and staying together. Even though we're a new team, we were able to make everything work. I think it's been pretty good so far. We're looking forward to our upcoming matches."

Chan formerly served as stiff competition to both Hingis and Mirza when she played with sister Chan Hao-Ching, winning the last match against the team formerly known as Santina before they went on a 41-match winning streak from the end of 2015 to the beginning of 2016, playing quite a few tough matches against the pair in between.

"We know each other from playing against each other, like every single week!" she joked. "We've been practicing and spending a lot of time together, on court and off, using WhatsApp. I think it's working."

Up next for the No.6 seeds will be the winner of an interesting quarterfinal between top seeds and reigning Australian Open champions Bethanie Mattek-Sands and Lucie Safarova and the unseeded and looming pair of Kristina Mladenovic and Svetlana Kuznetsova. Mladenovic is playing her first event with her new partner since splitting with co-French Open champion Caroline Garcia after Dubai.

Mattek-Sands and Safarova could wrest the top spot on the Road to Singapore leaderboard from current No.1s Andrea Hlavackova and Peng Shuai by beating Mladenovic and Kuznetsova. If they don't reach the final, No.2 seed and Olympic Gold medalists Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina could get to No.1 if they win the title.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Roger Federer breezes into 3rd round at BNP Paribas Open Indian Wells

Roger Federer wasted no time in booking his spot in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday evening. In a battle of veteran players on the ATP World Tour, 35-year-old Federer raced past 36-year-old Stephane Robert 6-2, 6-1 in just 51 minutes.

"Very happy. The knee is a thing of the past, which is great. I don't even have to think or talk about it. So I thought the match went really well,” said Federer. “I’m very pleased with how it went. And moving on to the next round, it’s going to be a different matchup, so I’ve got to adjust again.”

Despite the scoreline, Federer was full of praise for Robert playing some of the best tennis of his career at age 36.

“I admire those guys who make the breakthrough later on and find a way and not lose love for the game early,” said Federer. “It’s nice to see him do well now and beginning to play against great players on the big courts. That’s been so motivational for those guys to keep going. All of a sudden, age just becomes a number.”

The Swiss star was in fine form, winning 71 per cent of his service points and converting all five of his break point chances. Victory takes Federer to a 53-11 mark at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where he has lifted the trophy four times, most recently in 2014 (d. Djokovic).

After being sidelined for the second half of the 2016 season, Federer made a remarkable comeback at the start of this year, beating Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal in back-to-back five-set tussles to clinch his 18th Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open.

There was a surprise for Federer last week, though, in his second tour-level tournament of the year in Dubai, where he was upset by Evgeny Donskoy in the second round. The Basel native looks to bounce back this week, but finds himself in the toughest quarter of the draw, alongside Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Federer goes on to face 24th seed Steve Johnson, who edged Kevin Anderson 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4) in two hours and 14 minutes. Federer leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Johnson 1-0, defeating the American in straight-sets last year at Wimbledon.