Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Martina Hingis talks changing women's doubles game

Many top players are turning their back on doubles – and world No.1 Martina Hingis tells Tennismash.com she can understand why.

Are the days of singles stars also excelling in doubles over?

This week’s WTA Finals certainly highlight it is an increasing trend in today’s game.

The prestigious season-ending championships are rich in history. Martina Navratilova, Jana Novotna, Lindsay Davenport and Martina Hingis are among the champions to win the event in both singles and doubles. But with no players qualifying for both disciplines this year, it emphasises how many top singles players now neglect the tandem form of the game.

This year’s top eight singles performers played a combined 59 doubles matches during 2017. Jelena Ostapenko, currently the highest-ranked doubles player of the group at No.42, played more than half.

2017 matches            Singles Doubles

Simona Halep                59           7
Garbine Muguruza        65           2
Karolina Pliskova         67            5
Elina Svitolina              64            5
Venus Williams             47            0
Caroline Wozniacki      76             0
Jelena Ostapenko          65            32
Caroline Garcia             66            8

Two years ago, that number was 101 with Garbine Muguruza and Lucie Safarova competing in both WTA Finals singles and doubles events.

This is not just a circumstantial trend either – as three of this year’s WTA Finals singles contenders highlight.

Muguruza has played only four doubles events since a WTA Finals doubles runner-up finish in 2015.

Karolina Pliskova reached a career-high doubles ranking of No.11 last year. She qualified in both singles and doubles for the 2016 WTA Finals, but only played five doubles matches in 2017.

Caroline Garcia was verging on the world No.1 ranking when she made last year’s WTA Finals doubles semifinals. She entered only three doubles tournaments this season.

The emphasis is on only in each of these examples, as reducing their doubles schedule was their own choice.

Doubles tournaments 2015 2016 2017

Garbine Muguruza        14      3        1
Karolina Pliskova          16     15       4
Caroline Garcia             19     18       3

So if you’re one of the best doubles players in the world, why would you stop playing?

If anyone understands a changing women’s doubles game, it is Hingis. The Swiss champion returned to world No.1 recently, 19 years after she first rose to the coveted position.

Hingis, who achieved the rare feat of being ranked No.1 in both disciplines during the 1998 season, believes there are a number of factors.

“It’s very demanding to do both well week in, week out,” Hingis told Tennismash.com.

“Plus the (singles) prize money has tripled. So I think if you do well in singles, that’s enough motivation.”

TWENTY QUESTIONS: With Martina Hingis

Prize money disparity between singles and doubles is not new. However, as the rewards for the top singles players get richer, that difference is becoming more pronounced than ever.

A look at the WTA Tour’s biggest earners this season emphasises this. The 37-year-old Hingis is one of only three doubles-only players in the tour’s top 100 earners, and one of only seven players to earn more than USD $500,000 in doubles. Contrastingly, there are 54 singles players that have exceeded that mark.

Pliskova has earnt over USD $2.9 million in singles prize money this season. Garcia more than USD $2.8 million. Muguruza has netted a tour-leading USD $4.7 million. Their decisions to reduce their doubles schedules has clearly not hurt them financially.

Hingis also believes heavier schedules are another deterrent.

“Things were easier,” Hingis said, comparing eras to when she was playing both singles and doubles regularly.

“The draws were smaller and you didn’t have to play as many matches.

“The doubles have shortened it out now playing two sets and a super tiebreak, so that definitely helps the (top singles) players when they get up there, but it’s still very demanding.”

DID YOU SEE? Hingis coy on 2018 plans

WTA Finals doubles contenders Elena Vesnina and Ashleigh Barty do buck the trend, both currently ranked inside the top 20 in singles and doubles.

Yet 10 of the 16 doubles players who qualified for the WTA Finals this year are currently ranked outside the world’s top 250 in singles. Six of them have no singles ranking at all.

WTA Finals 2017 field       Singles rank Doubles rank

Martina Hingis                       Unranked            No.1
Yung-Jan Chan                       Unranked            No.1
Elena Vesnina                         No.17                 No.4
Ekaterina Makarova               No.33                 No.4
Casey Dellacqua                    Unranked            No.10
Ashleigh Barty                       No.20                 No.13
Andrea Hlavackova               No.468                No.6
Timea Babos                          No.57                  No.12
Kveta Peschke                       Unranked            No.20
Anna-Lena Groenefeld          Unranked            No.20
Yifan Xu                                 No.657               No.17
Gabriela Dabrowski               No.271                No.18
Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez No.627               No.23
Andreja Klepac                       Unranked           No.23
Kiki Bertens                            No.31                 No.25
Johanna Larsson                      No.80                No.28

A marketing nightmare? There’s undeniably a lack of star power compared to previous years.

To the WTA’s credit, their recent move to live-stream doubles matches on their social media platforms suggests they are dedicated to boosting the profile of doubles. But unfortunately that is a long-term solution, one that isn’t going to stop some fans from scanning the WTA Finals doubles draw this week and asking ‘who?’

Monday, October 30, 2017

Roger Federer beat Del Potro in 3 sets for 8th Basel title!

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Roger Federer missed a year at his hometown tournament, the Swiss Indoors Basel, but he certainly did not miss a step.

The Swiss superstar won his eighth Basel title on Sunday, battling back to defeat the surging Juan Martin del Potro, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3 to clinch his ATP World Tour-leading seventh title of the year.

"I think we're both tired from a long season. Plus he's been playing four straight weeks now, very successful, so we tried to give it all we had," Federer said. "The crowd really enjoyed themselves and at the end there is always going to be a winner unfortunately in tennis. But I think we both can be very happy with the week today."

It appeared that the Swiss may fall short in his 13th Basel final when del Potro broke immediately in the third set to snuff Federer’s momentum and gain the lead in the decider. But the now 95-time tour-level titlist broke the Argentine twice in a row to turn the match around. Serving for the tournament, Federer missed out on his first championship point with a forehand error, but hit a crisp serve wide in the deuce court that del Potro couldn’t handle, sending his hometown crowd into a frenzy as he threw both arms in the air.

"You've been playing great tennis this year. You are in fantastic shape, it's unbelievable," del Potro said to Federer after the match. "I would love to be at your age in the same form, but I don't think so."

Federer moved ahead of Ivan Lendl into standalone second place on the Open Era titles list, only trailing Jimmy Connors, who owns 109 trophies. He now owns eight or more trophies at three different events: Halle (9), Wimbledon (8) and Basel (8).

The Basel victory continues Federer's astonishing renaissance, rising from No. 16 in the rankings at the beginning of the year into contention for the top spot with two tournaments remaining in the season. He extended his record against the Top 10 this season to a tour-best 11-1 this week in the semi-finals against David Goffin. That 6-1, 6-2 victory was his most dominant against a Top 10 opponent since the 2014 Nitto ATP Finals, when Federer beat Andy Murray, 6-0, 6-1.

For del Potro, Sunday’s loss was disappointing, but he has continued to play excellent tennis since sitting in 47th in the Emirates ATP Race To London before the US Open. The Argentine has used semi-final results in Flushing Meadows and Shanghai, last week’s title in Stockholm and his run to the Basel final to pull to within 190 points of Pablo Carreno Busta, who occupies the final London qualifying spot with one week remaining.

"You've been on a great run since the US Open and before so I'm very happy to see you playing so well again and being able to play every week. That's something I would like to be able to do again," Federer said to del Potro. "All the best for Paris and then I'll hopefully maybe see you in London, too."

Regardless of whether del Potro does in fact qualify for the year-end finale, he has set himself up for a strong 2018. The Argentine rose to No. 19 in the rankings on 16 October, his highest mark since 6 October 2014.

While del Potro will move up to No. 17 when the new rankings are released on Monday, he was close to soaring all the way to No. 12, which he would have reached if he closed out Federer in Basel. The Argentine did not win one point on his second serve in the third set (0/6) and did not capitalise on his chances on Federer's serve. He reached 30/30 when the Swiss served at 3-1 and 4-2, but could not earn a break point.

Federer extended his lead in the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry to 18-6, capturing his fifth win in their past six matches. After the final Federer announced he would withdraw from the Rolex Paris Masters. His final event of the year will be the Nitto ATP Finals 12-19 November in London, where he will chase a seventh title at the season finale.

"It was an emotional match," Federer said of his victory. "But a good one, I think, for the fans."

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Ruthless Roger Federer rolls on to 13th Swiss Indoors final in Basel


Pace, precision and poise. Roger Federer was at his ruthless best on Saturday at the Swiss Indoors Basel, turning in a vintage performance to reach the final once again on home soil.

The Swiss exhibited a display of stunning aggression against third seed David Goffin, barely putting a wrong foot throughout their 60-minute semi-final encounter. He would blitz the Belgian 6-1, 6-2, firing 20 winners in total, including 12 on his forehand wing and will face Juan Martin del Potro in the final.

"I'm ready for a difficult match and a fully fit del Potro," said Federer. "He played a great match against me in Shanghai and went on to win Stockholm and won that. Now he's here in the final again. I think he's ok. He might be tired, but he doesn't have issues that would keep him away from the court."

Federer stood tall on the baseline and refused to allow Goffin to find any rhythm, firing his forehand with alacrity and using his first serve to send a message under the lights at the St. Jakobshalle.

The Swiss would take the opener 6-1 - the third time he has done so this week - with a winner off a forehand approach, and he immediately pounced as the second set got underway. A hyper-aggressive Federer forced a forehand error from Goffin, stealing a break in the first game. He would claim an insurance break with an overhead smash for 5-2 and closed out the victory a game later.

Federer captured 91 per cent (21 of 23) of points on his first serve during the one-hour affair, improving to 11-1 against fellow Top 10 opponents this year. In dropping just three games, it marks his most dominant victory over a Top 10 player since defeating Andy Murray 6-0, 6-1 at the 2014 Nitto ATP Finals.

Seeking an unprecedented eighth Basel crown, Federer will next face longtime rival del Potro on Sunday. He leads the FedEx ATP Head2Head series 17-6, with their two most recent meetings lighting up the highlight reel. Del Potro prevailed in four sets in the US Open quarter-finals, with Federer exacting revenge earlier this month at the Shanghai Rolex Masters.

Federer will feature in his seventh final of the season, looking to extend a 6-1 record. He is riding a nine-match win streak since falling to del Potro in New York, coming off a second title run in Shanghai.

The World No. 2 is still in contention for the year-end No. 1 position. He trails Rafael Nadal by 1,660 points in the Emirates ATP Race To London and would need to win the title in Basel and also lift the trophy at both the Rolex Paris Masters and Nitto ATP Finals.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Martina Hingis reflects on career after bid for WTA Finals in Singapore comes to end in the semis

SINGAPORE - Martina Hingis' career came to its (presumably) final end at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global on Saturday following a 6-4, 7-6(5) defeat alongside WTA Doubles Co-No.1 Chan Yung-Jan to Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova.

"It's disappointing to finish a tournament like this," she explained to the press this afternoon. "I'm sure we both wished for a better ending and, you know, like winning the trophy. They were just too good today.

"We tried to really give it a great fight. We tried to come back. We had our chances. I feel like in the second set when I had that break point, I hit the tape and it would slow down instead, and maybe we'd end up being up 3-1.

"We had a lot of matches like that that went for us, and today it didn't," she continued with a smile. "That's what happens. This is life. This is tennis. This is the game."

Hingis had previously announced that 2017 would be her final season after her opening round win over Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke, but didn't feel much pressure ahead of what ended up being her last career match, nor were there tears after.

The Swiss Miss would leave the game as she'd arrived, smiling through decades of highs, lows, and major shifts in a game she dominated across all disciplines.

"There was probably more in the first match, because you feel like you step on the court and you don't know. Once you're there, you don't think about it anymore. You just try to find a solution to the game. I think we tried everything that we could, but it just didn't work.

"We can't be too disappointed about it. We still had an awesome year. Winning nine titles, going all the way, coming here, qualifying for the Championships, I think we can be still very proud."

"It's not really good-bye. I hope I'll still be part of the game. We already made plans. I mean, if [Latisha] needs me, I can come and be a hitting girl or whatever at some point!"

Pairing up with Chan at the start of the Middle East Swing, the duo won three of the four Premier Mandatory events in 2017, their first and only Grand Slam title at the US Open, and rode a 19-match winning streak from the Western & Southern Open into Saturday's semifinal.

"I have a great partner. We felt really good, and we found a way to win and a way to cover each other. Sometimes she'd play better; sometimes I'd play better. But we found a way to win. It's not like we were steam rolling all the time. We'd win 10-8, 11-9, match points down, and sometimes easier matches."

Her triumphant farewell tour hit its peak in Flushing Meadows, where she also partnered Jamie Murray to win a second straight mixed doubles Grand Slam, capping off her major haul at 25 and locking up the Year-End No.1 ranking during the Asian Swing.

"The whole journey, it's been incredible," Chan added, having joined Hingis atop the WTA rankings on Monday. "Today it wasn't the way that we wanted, but still, we had a great year.

"She was my idol since I was eight, and to be able to play with her and then have this incredible run, it's unforgettable. Hopefully I can continue the performance at this level, and then also use the things I learned from her."

Hingis had slowly returned to the doubles circuit in 2013, playing the US Open with Daniela Hantuchova and later pairing with coaching protogées Sabine Lisicki and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova.

The comeback kicked into high gear when she won Indian Wells and Miami with Sania Mirza, forming an unfortgettable partnership where "Santina" won 41 straight matches and three straight Grand Slam titles at Wimbledon, the US Open, and Australian Open.

"I will be forever grateful to have had these partnerships, because without Sania, I wouldn't have come back and had that feeling again. When we won Wimbledon, it was pure joy, and getting back to No.1 was another one of those things. I couldn't have done it alone. You know, those times as a team were incredible.

"Every single partner I had on the way, whether it was now Latisha [Chan] and Jamie, as well, it's been amazing time to be on court."

Relieved to be done with the tour's daily grind, Hingis plans a well-deserved trip home, content with her career trilogy and eager to move on to her next phase in life.

"I think I shouldn't have any regrets, because like I said, there is lot of matches you play, a lot of things on and off the court that happen. They happen for a reason, and if they are positive, great. If not, you learn from them.

"Of course there are matches I'd like to play over, but some of them, I imagine I also got lucky to get away with, whether it was in singles, doubles, any time. I think overall I'm very proud of my career, and I wouldn't change with anybody for anything."

Roger Federer fights of Mannarino to reach 15th quarter final at Swiss Indoors Basel

Roger Federer Tumblr

Roger Federer proved in his 15th quarter-final at the Swiss Indoors Basel, his hometown tournament, that he still has plenty of magic left.

The top seed rode the momentum of a tremendous backhand half-volley winner from the baseline down break point in the third set to oust Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, 4-6, 6-1, 6-3, in one hour, 43 minutes. Federer will have the opportunity to advance to his 13th final in Basel against the winner of third seed David Goffin and fifth seed Jack Sock.

“Today was a battle. I had to somehow dig and fight and sometimes these wins are more rewarding than just leading from the get-go and dominating throughout and bringing it home,” said Federer. “These are better matches to win sometimes, actually. I just had a tough time really getting into it and he was rock solid, so he deserved that first set, but the reaction from me was really important.”

Federer, who is into his eighth ATP World Tour semi-final of the season, seeks to earn his eighth title in Basel.

And judging by his 4-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against Mannarino heading into Friday's match, which included all 10 sets going in the Swiss’ favor, it was hard to imagine the Frenchman spoiling Federer’s hometown party. But after Federer did not face a break point in his first two wins, both by 6-1, 6-3 scorelines, the tricky left-hander tested the 36-year-old.

Mannarino broke to love at 4-4 in the opening set before winning his first-ever set against Federer without a problem. The seven-time Basel champion, intense as ever at an event for which he was once a ballboy, quickly won five games in a row to turn the momentum around.

Yet after failing to break Mannarino with two opportunities in the first game of the deciding set, it was Federer who was in trouble. He faced two break points at 2-3, and the Frenchman did well with his second opportunity, lacing a forehand return on the baseline, a shot that most players would scramble to simply put back into play.

But somehow, Federer flicked his one-handed backhand for a winner down the line and never looked back from there, winning the final four games of the match to advance to the semi-finals.

Federer explained his thought process on that crucial break point save. “Before, I hope that I don’t have to hit a shot like this. During, I hope that it’s going to go in and he can’t reach it. And after, it’s thank God I made it.... And then obviously it’s so, so important at deuce to somehow win the game. It doesn’t matter how you do it… you can’t allow yourself to lose a game after saving two break points the way you did, and I held my nerves, held the game, and was able to [get] through it.”

Federer holds a combined 8-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Goffin and Sock.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Martina Hingis & Chan Yung Jan ease into semis at WTA Finals in Singapore

SINGAPORE - Top seeds Chan Yung-Jan and Martina Hingis claimed their 19th consecutive match victory to make their way into the semifinals of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

Playing against Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke for the seventh time in 2017, Chan and Hingis extended their record to 5-2 against the German-Czech duo, winning comfortably 6-3, 6-2 in an hour and 15 minutes.

“Our teamwork has paid off over the season for me and Latisha,” Hingis said in her on-court interview. “And we definitely knew our opponents really well since we played like a million times this year. We’ve had a couple of losses to them too so we knew we had to be ready.

“The thing is today we kind of switched it up; I played okay from the baseline and she was a warrior at the net! Usually we do it the opposite!”

Though it is far from Chan and Hingis’ first match at the WTA Finals, it is the first time the pair are on the same side of the net. Last year, Hingis paired up with Sania Mirza and defeated Chan and sister Chan Hao-Ching on their way to the semifinals.

But Chan and Hingis have seen even more success together; in 2017 they have won nine titles - including the US Open - and are coming into Singapore on the back of a red hot Asian Swing, which saw them claim titles in Wuhan and Beijing, racking up a 19-match win streak.

“It’s been an amazing run even to get into Singapore and to be the No.1 team and player along with Martina,” Chan said. “To win our first round here is a bonus!

“Being in Asia and becoming World No.1 is amazing, I hope I can keep inspiring the young generation and keep doing well.”

Up next, the pair will take on Timea Babos and Andrea Hlavackova in the semifinals. The Hungarian-Czech duo knocked out Andreja Klepac and María José Martínez Sánchez in straight sets earlier in the day.

Roger Federer cruises into quarter finals at Swiss Indoors in Basel

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Benoit Paire had never won a set against Roger Federer prior to their second-round encounter at the Swiss Indoors Basel on Thursday. That did not come close to changing.

Federer swept the Frenchman, 6-1, 6-3, in 57 minutes to continue his pursuit of an eighth title at his hometown event. It is the 15th time he has advanced to at least the quarter-finals in Basel.

After a 10-point service game to open the match, Federer never faltered. He broke Paire for a 2-0 lead in the first set and did not look back, facing no break points while breaking his opponent four times. Federer clinched the matchup with a crosscourt forehand approach shot for a winner.

The Swiss extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead over Paire to 5-0. Out of the 11 sets they have now played, Federer has won eight of the sets by a margin of 6-3 or greater. Thursday’s win was by the same scoreline as the 36 year old’s last victory against Paire, at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships earlier this year. He also defeated Frances Tiafoe by that scoreline in his Basel opener.

The Swiss will play the winner of seventh seed Adrian Mannarino and #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov. The 18-year-old defeated the Frenchman in the quarter-finals of his breakout run at the Coupe Rogers in Montreal this summer.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Martina Hingis officially retiring for the 3rd and final time after the WTA Finals in Singapore

WTA Doubles No.1 Martina Hingis revealed that she will play her final tournament at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, where she reached the semifinals with Chan Yung-Jan on Thursday.

SINGAPORE -25-time Grand Slam champion Martina Hingis announced she will end her career after playing the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

The current WTA doubles No.1 alongside Chan Yung-Jan advanced into the semifinals of Singapore on Thursday, defeating Anna-Lena Groenefeld and Kveta Peschke, 6-3, 6-2, on Thursday evening.

Photo gallery: Martina Hingis: A glorious career in photos

"People probably think, 'After a year like this, after a season like this...' but I think it's also perfect timing," Hingis said in a press conference following the match. "You know, you want to stop on top and not when you're already going backwards.

"I couldn't ask for a better finish like that."

Hingis, 37, regained the No.1 ranking in doubles during the Asian Swing after winning the US Open in doubles with Chan and mixed with Jamie Murray.

"My partners already knew it and the rumor was out there. I'm actually really surprised that they kept it secret that long, but the players have been really good and supportive.

"I think the decision has been done already. Like I told Latisha from the start, 'Hey, this will probably be my last year.' So some people knew it; some didn't."

With Chan, the Swiss Miss has won a whopping nine titles in 2017, including three of the four Premier Mandatory titles at the BNP Paribas Open, the Mutua Madrid Open, and China Open, and is currently on a 19-match winning streak with just two wins standing between her and a fourth WTA Finals doubles crown.

"I think we are the ones to beat right now. We had good practices, so there was nothing to be worried about. I felt really good in my hit earlier just before the match.

"I'm happy with the performance tonight, but definitely there was some tingling sensations in the start!"

Hingis left the game in 2002 citing persistent foot injuries and returned to tennis four years later in a successful singles comeback, peaking at World No.6.

In 2013, she made a tentative return in doubles with Daniela Hantuchova, later pairing with Flavia Pennetta to reach the 2014 US Open final before beginning a star-studded collaboration with Sania Mirza, winning 14 titles in 18 months and winning 41 straight matches between August 2015 and February 2016.

"In the past, I always had things in back of my head, where I might be able to return. First it was with singles, then it was the doubles. When you see other players who are my age and they are still playing and performing at that level, I was hoping I could do the same.

"I will be grateful also to my coaching period, because that showed me with Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, with Sabine Lisicki, that I still had the capability. I mean, singles is a different story. But the doubles, I always considered myself as a pretty decent doubles player, even in my first career. I had been winning slams, and I was hoping that I could do it."


Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Martina Hingis & Chan Yung Jan celebrate being co-number 1s in doubles

Martina Hingis Facebook

Co-World No.1s and doubles partners Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan smiled for the camera as they commemorated their rise to the top of the rankings.

They are the 12th pair to jointly hold the top spot.

Chan joined her partner as World No.1 this week as she became the second woman from Chinese Taipei to achieve the milestone.

Chan won her maiden Grand Slam title this year with Hingis at the US Open, and the team are competing at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

Hingis returned to No.1 at the start of October having previously held the top doubles ranking for 66 non-consecutive weeks. She was the youngest-ever doubles No.1 at the age of 17, on June 8, 1998.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Roger Federer dominates back on home soil at Swiss Indoors in Basel

Even after a year away from the Swiss Indoors Basel due to injury, it looks as if top seed Roger Federer did not miss a beat.

The 36-year-old top seed began his campaign for an eighth title in his hometown, defeating #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe for the third time this season, 6-1, 6-3 in 61 minutes.

Federer, who was a ballboy at the indoor event for two years and first played in the tournament as a 16-year-old in qualifying, advanced to 10 consecutive finals from 2006 to 2015, and at one point won five of six championships. His 12 total finals appearances in Basel are the most of any event he has competed in. If he can triumph again, he will capture an ATP World Tour-leading sixth title on the season.

The Swiss was tested by Tiafoe in the opening round of the recent US Open, needing five sets to eliminate the 19-year-old. But on Tuesday he had no such difficulty, breaking four times while not facing a break point himself. He won all of his first-service points to eliminate the teenager.

Federer will next face Frenchman Benoit Paire, who moved past American Steve Johnson, 6-3, 7-6(4) in one hour, 50 minutes. The Swiss has won all four of their Fed Ex ATP Head2Head matchups without dropping a set. The pair’s last meeting came at this year’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, where Federer won 6-1, 6-3.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Race to London heats up as Roger Federer returns to Swiss Indoors in Basel

It will be a sprint to the end of the 2017 Emirates ATP Race To London. Two weeks remain in the Race, and half of the Nitto ATP Finals qualification spots are still available.

Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Alexander Zverev and Dominic Thiem have already qualified for the prestigious event, to be held 12-19 November at The O2 in London.

But four other places remain, with Grigor Dimitrov, Pablo Carreno Busta, Sam Querrey and Kevin Anderson looking to boost their chances at the Erste Bank Open 500 in Vienna. Marin Cilic, David Goffinand Juan Martin del Potro will hope to do the same at the Swiss Indoors Basel.

Dimitrov might not have to wait until the new tournaments start on Monday; he could clinch his London debut on Sunday. The Bulgarian faces del Potro in the Intrum Stockholm Open final. With his second Stockholm title, the 26-year-old Dimitrov will book his place in London.

Delpo can't qualify on Sunday, but the Argentine has an outside chance of returning to the season-ending tournament (also 2008, 2009, 2012, 2013). If he repeats as Stockholm champion on Sunday, del Potro will be 470 points behind Carreno Busta, who currently holds the final qualification spot.

The Spaniard is looking to also book his first appearance at The O2. Carreno Busta is the fourth seed in Vienna, but has a tough draw. After facing a qualifier in the first round, Carreno Busta could face Fabio Fognini of Italy or Argentine Diego Schwartzman, who will try to win his second ATP World Tour title on Sunday at the European Open in Antwerp.

Cilic, the defending champion in Basel, needs to reach the semi-finals to officially start planning his third trip in the past four years to the Nitto ATP Finals. The second seed faces Stockholm semi-finalist Fernando Verdasco of Spain in the first round and could meet #NextGenATP countryman Borna Coric in round two. Eighth seed Mischa Zverev of Germany is the seeded favourite to meet Cilic in the quarter-finals.

Goffin, who was an alternate at the Nitto ATP Finals last year, is the third seed in Basel and might face Italian veteran Paolo Lorenzi in the second round and fifth seed Jack Sock in the quarter-finals. Anderson, the seventh seed, and Querrey, the eighth seed, will also try to make headway in Vienna.

Federer qualified for his 15th appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals months ago, and the Swiss will look to stay sharp in his hometown tournament, where he is a seven-time champion and making his first appearance since 2015.

The 36-year-old opens against #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe, who's looking to qualify for the inaugural Next Gen ATP Finals, to be held 7-11 November in Milan. Federer could then meet American Steve Johnson. A quarter-final with #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov would be must-see tennis, but seventh seed Adrian Mannarino might prevent that. Goffin and Sock are the favourites to face Federer in the semi-finals.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Martina Hingis & Chan Yung Jan are the doubles team of the year

Martina Hingis and Chan Yung-Jan first paired up in Doha, and a dominant season has seen this dynamic duo ascend to the top two spots in the doubles rankings and be the first of two teams to qualify for the WTA Finals.

1. Captured nine titles this season - including their first Grand Slam as a duo. The pair have enjoyed a trophy-laden season, capped off by claiming the US Open crown - their first Grand Slam as a duo.

They’ve also won the BNP Paribas Open, Mutua Madrid Open, Internazionali BNL d'Italia, Mallorca Open, Aegon International Eastbourne, Western & Southern Open, the Dongfeng Motor Wuhan Open and China Open.

2. Double and double and double and double the fun. Chan and Hingis have been dominant all season long, and it’s shown in how many times they’ve won back-to-back titles.

They’ve claimed four “doubles” so far this season: in Madrid-Rome, Mallorca-Eastbourne, Cincinnati-US Open and Wuhan-Beijing.

3. They’re undefeated in finals in 2017. The pair’s win-loss record for the year might be remarkable - they’ve only lost six matches together - but their record in finals is even more impressive. They’re undefeated in finals to date, recording a flawless 9-0.

In fact, Chan and Hingis have advanced to at least the quarterfinal stage or better in every single tournament they’ve competed in.

4. Their dominant season has seen them rise to the top of the rankings. After their triumph in Wuhan, Hingis shot to the top of the WTA doubles rankings, returning to World No.1 The Swiss star has previously held the top doubles ranking for 66 non-consecutive weeks, having first climbed to the top of the ladder on June 8, 1998 at 17-years-old to become the youngest-ever doubles No.1.

But partner Chan, who is sitting at a career-high World No.2, is hot on her heels...

5. They’re going back to Singapore - this time together. Chan and Hingis were at opposite sides of the net at last year’s BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, but now they’ll be teaming up together.

Chan will be making her fourth appearance and Hingis will be making her eighth doubles appearance at the WTA Finals, where she has won the doubles title on three occasions in 1999-2000 (with Anna Kournikova) and 2015 (with Sania Mirza).

“It is a great honor to be the first team to qualify for the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore,” Hingis said. “Yung-Jan and I teamed up for the first time earlier this year and we have had great success.”

“This will be my fourth time competing at the WTA Finals in Singapore, and I’m really looking forward to it,” Chan added. “The last two years have been with my sister, and we have played against Martina many times, so it will be a fun new experience to play in Singapore with her on my side of the net.”

Monday, October 16, 2017

Roger Federer says goodbye to scars and shanks

When it comes to playing Rafael Nadal, things haven’t always been easy for Roger Federer.

Although their 38th meeting ended in a 6-4, 6-3 win, his fifth in a row against his Spanish southpaw rival, Federer still trails Nadal 15 to 23 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head. The Nadal playbook has always been simple, but historically effective against Federer: use heavy topspin forehands to pound away at the weaker Federer one-handed backhand and attack the open court at the first opportunity.

But in 2017, the Swiss has managed to flip the script.

“I think I'm maybe serving consistently better. I get easier power ever since I switched to the bigger racquet, the RF97. I feel I'm connecting better on the backhand and I'm serving good, and that consistently,” said Federer, who at one point in Sunday’s final won a service game in 52 seconds with four straight aces.

“Before I had to slice more just because the racquet was good for the slice, and it was good for the coming over, but I would always shank too many balls,” he added.

Aggressive backhand play has been a characteristic of the 36 year old’s renaissance this season, allowing him yet another dimension in his fluid, attacking style of tennis. Although his one-hander hasn’t always been a weapon, 11 of Federer’s 28 winners in the Shanghai final came off that wing.

“I think it was hard for me to consistently just keep on attacking with the backhand,” Federer said. “Today it seems almost not a problem anymore to do it."

In what has been one of tennis’s most storied rivalries, Nadal has often come out on top, particularly on his beloved clay courts, upon which he owns a 13-2 record against the Swiss legend – Federer admits that those matches took their toll on him in previous seasons.

“I just think I'm not so scarred like maybe I have been in the past, not that I was horribly scarred in any way, but I did lose against him sometimes, a lot of the times especially on the clay courts. I do believe I still lost that Wimbledon final in '08 because of the French Open beatdown he gave me. It just affected my first two sets when I played him at Wimbledon.

“But, yeah, I think I have also played him well. Clearly avoiding him – not playing him on clay has helped,” added Federer. “So I'm able to stay on the hard courts or on faster courts against him, but I have been playing very well when I have faced off against him."

Federer’s Shanghai crown this week keeps him in contention for the year-end No.1 spot in the Emirates ATP Rankings, which would have been all but sealed for Nadal had he emerged victorious in the final. With strong results at the upcoming tournaments in Basel and Paris, Federer has the opportunity to set up a dramatic climax to the season: a fight for No.1 at the Nitto ATP Finals for the second straight year (Murray d. Djokovic in 2016 to claim the top spot.)

Despite closing the gap with Nadal on both the No.1 ranking and in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series this season, Federer insists that they aren’t targets for him – especially in the latter metric, where the Spaniard still leads by eight wins.

“It's not going to happen,” said Federer bluntly on overtaking Nadal in their rivalry. “We don't have enough years left on the tour, and we're ranked too good that we play each other only in finals at the moment. It looks like that's going to stay like this for a few months more. So can't win them all against Rafa, to be honest. He's too good of a player.

“I'm just excited I'm on a good stretch right now. Head-to-heads? Yeah, sure, I would like it to be different, but I have utmost respect for Rafa. It's been a tough matchup for me, and I tried my best. I have played him a lot on clay in the beginning of my career. No problem. I tried. I was close on many occasions, but he's better on clay. I try to win the other ones that I can, and this year has been great so I'm happy about it.”

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Roger Federer dominates Rafael Nadal to win 2nd Shanghai title!

 Really wish you would have shaved Roger

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Roger Federer was at his ruthless best on Sunday, streaking to the Shanghai Rolex Masters title with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal. It was a vintage Federer performance, as the Swiss secured the 71-minute win with a dominant display, clinching a second Shanghai crown (2014) and 27th at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level.

With the win, Federer notched his 700th match victory on hard courts and improved to 10-1 against the Top 10 this year. It was the 94th title in his storied career, which pulls him level with Ivan Lendl for second on the Open Era list. Only Jimmy Connors owns more trophies (109).

Federer's 2017 campaign continues to set the bar, as the 36 year old added a sixth title and third at the Masters 1000 stage. Having also prevailed in Indian Wells and Miami, it marks the fifth time in his career in which he has captured at least three such championships. Moreover, with the win, Federer draws to within 1,960 points of Nadal for the top spot in the Emirates ATP Race To London, with year-end No. 1 still very much in play. Both will be competing at the Swiss Indoors Basel, followed by the Rolex Paris Masters and Nitto ATP Finals.

"I had no nerves really before the match, which was nice," said Federer. "I was pretty clear about how I wanted to play the match. And then I came out and started off very well. Felt relaxed from then on. I always know that Rafa can come back at any moment if he connects well, picks the right sides, and does the right things.

"I even felt that way being up 0/40, you know, going for the double break, but, I had a clear game plan and felt I was playing well all week. I think that settled my nerves, because I was returning well from the first match here I played against Schwartzman. The serve only got better. I guess I saved the best for last. I played some good matches now against del Potro and also now these two sets.

"In a way, it's not surprising, because I did feel good all week, and it does pay off to arrive early to an event. You can't do it all the time, but I was here since Thursday late night and that's five, six days to prepare for a Wednesday match. So I was ready."

Open Era Title Leaders





Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 23-15, but Federer is doing his best to narrow the margin, having won their past five match-ups. The trend continued in Sunday's final, with the Basel native capitalising on the fast conditions under the lights on Stadium Court.

With torrential rain drenching the Qi Zhong Tennis Center, the roof was closed for the blockbuster clash of titans. Federer was in control from the first ball, looking to break down Nadal's defence with an assault of forehands and backhands. The attacking Swiss made an immediate statement with a break in the opening game, carving a cross-court slice approach that caught Nadal out of position, followed by a boisterous backhand winner down the line.

In each of Federer's three previous victories over Nadal this season - at the Australian Open and ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami - the Swiss won more than 75 per cent of first serve points. His delivery was on song once again in Sunday's final, claiming 83 per cent of total service points in closing out a 6-4 first set.

The second set featured more vintage Federer, as the second seed struck a stunning drop volley winner and forced Nadal to misfire on a forehand to claim the break for 3-2. Federer executed his gameplan to perfection throughout the 71-minute affair, sealing the win on his second match point when a Nadal forehand found the net.

Federer has now won five consecutive encounters in their FedEx ATP Head2Head and is 4-0 this year. It marked the third time they have met on Chinese soil, with the Swiss scoring a pair of wins at the 2006 & '07 Nitto ATP Finals, when the season finale was held in Shanghai.

Nadal, meanwhile, was bidding for a record 31st ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title. The 31-year-old Spaniard suffered his first defeat since returning to No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings in August, seeing his win streak snapped at 16 straight. He was appearing in the Shanghai final for the second time, having finished runner-up to Nikolay Davydenko in the tournament's inaugural edition in 2009.

"It was a very difficult match for me," said Nadal. "He played very fast and he played well. I don't know how many unforced errors he made. I could have done some things better, but that's it. He just played too good. That's my point of view. So congrats to him.

"I played a fantastic tournament, having very good wins. Very pleased the way I played the whole Asian tour for me. Beijing and Shanghai have been a very positive two weeks for me. A lot of points, a lot of victories against great opponents. I come back with very good personal satisfaction the way that I played."


I said to a friend that I hoped he'd beat Nadal in straight sets, but I honestly didn't think it would happen given how Nadal had been playing and having won Beijing the previous week.  I thought for sure Roger would have to battle it out in 3.  

But clearly Roger had other plans, because he just came out storming right out of the gate and everything was working. 

His returns, his forehand, his backhand and his serve were all on point throughout.  It was simply virtuosic performance. 

So this makes it the 4th time in a row this year Roger has beaten Nadal (5th overall). Who would have thought.  

No wonder Rafa's answer during the U.S. Open was that he hoped he didn't have to play Roger.  2017 is Roger's best year in some time.  It's a pleasure to watch. 

Next up Basel and the Paris masters with a shot at possibly taking back the #1 ranking at the season ending championships.  

Time to start dreaming big again.  And why not, feels like anything is possible this year with the maestro in god mode. 

Saturday, October 14, 2017

Roger Federer avenges Juan Martin Del Potro U.S. Open loss sets up Fedal final in Shanghai

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Roger Federer will face longtime rival Rafael Nadal for the fourth time this season after coming from a set down to defeat Juan Martin del Potro, 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 at the Shanghai Rolex Masters. The 2014 champion advances to his third final at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event.

Federer’s 350th win at the Masters 1000 level set a crucial showdown with Nadal in the battle for year-end World No. 1. Should Nadal win on Sunday he will stretch his lead over Federer in the Emirates ATP Race To London to 2,760 points and effectively put the issue beyond doubt. However, should Federer win his fifth consecutive match over Nadal, he would pull to within 1,960 points. That’s still a lot of ground to make up to finish atop the year-end standings for the first time since 2009, but within the realm of possibility if Federer finishes the year as strongly as he started it.

"It's nice at this late stage of the career that we still have these matches going on," Federer said. "There is only going to be a few chances for either player, and sometimes it's just who blinks at the wrong time."

After failing to capitalise on four consecutive break points while down a set and up 3-2 in the second set, it appeared that Federer might be denied a meeting with World No. 1 Nadal for the second time in as many months by the Argentine, who defeated him in the quarter-finals at the US Open. But when del Potro missed a forehand wide on the fifth consecutive break point he faced, the 29 year old gave the Swiss all the momentum he needed to turn the match around.

"Clearly getting the break and then holding, it's always key in tennis," Federer said. "I'm happy I was able to do it, especially with all the twists and turns and, blink at the wrong time, he might hold the game and then you don't know what's going to happen next."

The 36 year old did not face a break point in the final two sets, and broke twice in the decider to advance in one hour and 58 minutes.

It was unclear just how fit del Potro would be for the match after he fell on his surgically-repaired left wrist in the third set of his quarter-final victory against Viktor Troicki on Friday. His communications manager, Jorge Viale, tweeted that the 2013 Shanghai finalist suffered a contusion, and was in a splint Friday evening. But you would not have known it by watching the right-hander compete against the World No. 2.

Early on, he answered virtually every aggressive shot by Federer with an even bigger forehand of his own, and even stepped into a number of two-handed backhands down the line to gain control of points. The Swiss consistently attacked his opponent's weaker backhand before changing directions to finish points to del Potro's forehand, but the Argentine's rocket of a forehand proved too tough to handle more often than not. On Federer's first break point in the sixth game of the second set, he chose to approach to del Potro's forehand, which came back like a laser from meters behind the baseline, a passing shot that forced a backhand volley error.

But once Federer finally broke through in the 19-point game in the second set, del Potro appeared frustrated, especially with the pro-Federer crowd in Shanghai, which the chair umpire had to ask to quiet down.

"He took the confidence after that game. He broke me and he started to play more aggressive. He served much better after that game,” del Potro said. "I was a little upset with something. Nothing about tennis. And you cannot give any advantage against these guys."

Federer began to use his slice to throw off del Potro's rhythm and extract more errors, and using his openings to be more aggressive himself. The strategy worked, and the 26-time Masters 1000 winner won 37 per cent of points on his opponent's serve in the final set, consistently threatening to break.

Federer will meet Nadal for the third time in a final in 2017, after winning the titles against him in Melbourne and Miami. The Swiss also beat his rival in their other meeting, which came in the Round of 16 at Indian Wells, and will look to close a 14-23 deficit in the pair’s FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.

The Spaniard carries a 16-match winning streak into the final, and will look to extend his tour lead to seven titles this season. Federer will attempt to tie Nadal by claiming his sixth trophy of the year.

38th Fedal meeting. Here we go!.  Go Rog!.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Roger Federer sets up semi-final rematch with Del Potro in Shanghai

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Roger Federer moved another step closer to earning his second Shanghai Rolex Masters title on Friday with a 7-5, 6-4 win over Richard Gasquet to advance to the semi-finals, where he will play No. 16 seed Juan Martin del Potro.

"I thought it was a really good match. Some big points, important shots at the right time for both guys sometimes to stay even, and we both created chances," Federer said. "I thought we were able to keep up the level from the beginning till the very end...I enjoyed it because it was slices and topspins and angles and power and finesse. I think the match had a bit of everything."

Considering the Swiss entered the match having won the past 15 sets against the Frenchman, all by margins of 6-4 or greater, it looked like the fans in Shanghai might be in for a surprise when Gasquet held a break point while up 3-2 in the opening set.

But Federer held him off and would break at 5-5 to give him the edge that allowed him to win the opening set. He’d break in Gasquet’s next service game as well to jump to an early lead in the second set, but the 31 year old refused to lose touch, getting back on serve immediately.

However, when Federer broke for the third time in the match at 3-3, he would not relinquish the advantage again, and would close out the quarter-final in one hour and 18 minutes.

Federer said during his press conference that he saw del Potro fall and hurt his left wrist during the Argentine's quarter-final victory against Viktor Troicki, and a reporter informed the Swiss that del Potro went to the hospital to get an MRI.

"I hope for him that it's nothing serious. Of course it's on the wrist, as well, that he's had problems in the past, so this is where he's worried, rightfully so. For me, at the end of the day, nothing changes. I'm ready to come out here tomorrow and see the match like it's a revenge chance for the US Open, where it was tight and I couldn't win. So I see that more than his injury," Federer said. "But I hope for now that Juan Martin can recover and we can play a normal match."

Federer owns a 16-6 lead in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with del Potro, including wins in three of their past four matches. But in September, del Potro prevented the first Federer-Rafael Nadal match at the US Open when he eliminated the Swiss in four sets in the quarter-finals.

The No. 2 seed has not dropped a set this week in his pursuit of a third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title this season (Indian Wells, Miami), while del Potro has been pushed to a decider in three of his four matches. If Federer gets through what should be a tough battle against del Potro, it will not get easier with World No. 1 Rafael Nadal taking on fourth seed Marin Cilic in the other semi-final.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Roger Federer eases into the quarters at Shanghai Rolex Masters

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Roger Federer continued his pursuit of a second Shanghai Rolex Masters title with a straightforward 6-4, 6-2 win on Thursday evening against the lone qualifier to advance to the third round, Alexandr Dolgopolov.

"I felt good in the first match, I must tell you," said Federer of his opening victory over Diego Schwartzmanin which he broke on two of eight opportunities. "So I felt, I think, the same. I think maybe the matchup was maybe a bit easier and I took my chances more. Had a better ratio of winning on the break points that I didn't quite have against Schwartzman. That's maybe the biggest difference of both matches, so I'm happy I was able to do better today on the break points."

He took three of seven break opportunities against Dolgopolov, and the Swiss was never significantly challenged in the match, facing just one break point, as he served for the first set. But when the Ukrainian made an error down break point at 2-2 in the second set, the finish line came into sight, and Federer then broke again in a 19-point game at 4-2 to allow him to serve for the match, which he did without a hitch.

Federer advances to his fourth quarter-final in six appearances in Shanghai. Each time he has made it that far at the event, he has continued to at least the semi-finals.

The No. 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, who has already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, is seeking his sixth title of the season, which would tie Rafael Nadal for the ATP World Tour lead.

The 36 year old will next play Richard Gasquet, against whom he has a 15-2 lead in their FedEx ATP Head2Head. Federer has not lost to the Frenchman since 2011 in Rome, with the other defeat coming in 2005 (Monte Carlo).

"I like playing Gasquet on fast courts," Federer said. "I hope I can again put in a similar performance like today."

Gasquet advanced to the quarter-final with a back-and-forth 7-5, 6-7(5), 6-3 victory over compatriot Gilles Simon in two hours and 40 minutes.

It appeared that the 31 year old would quickly extend his FedEx ATP Head2Head over Simon to 7-0 when he broke to lead 3-1 in the second set, but his 32-year-old opponent fought back to force a decider. While Simon broke immediately in the third set to gain the advantage, Gasquet then broke twice in a row and held on to earn a spot in his first Shanghai quarter-final.