Thursday, November 30, 2017

Martina Hingis tips rise of more Swiss greats

Martina Hingis expects great things from the next generation of Swiss superstars.

Martina Hingis might be heading into retirement, marking it with a big farewell party - but she predicts great things from the next generation of Swiss tennis stars.

In an interview with Swiss newspaper Blick, the Co-World No.1 in doubles praised compatriots Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka for their performances at the top of the men's game, and added: "We are very spoilt. But there are still some to come: Timea [Bacsinszky] and Belinda [Bencic] are great."

Federer had paid generous tribute to Hingis when she announced her intention to retire, calling her an inspiration, and she responded: "I was very happy, it was a nice compliment. But it was also the truth. In certain ways I was a pioneer, winning a Grand Slam as a young Swiss. That makes it easier for the next ones."

The 37-year-old expressed her grief about the death of her former doubles partner Jana Novotna, who passed away in November at the age of 49.

"We saw each other in February, I also invited her to my farewell. I'm very sad."

Hingis is now looking forward to the future and fresh opportunities in her life after tennis.

"I'm really looking forward to the next stage of my life," she said. "A lot of people tell me the best is coming now. I'm certainly not bored."

Friday, November 24, 2017

Doctor Roger Federer ready to serve

Roger Federer has earned many honourifics over the years, from maestro to magician. Now, he can add doctor to that list.

The University of Basel awarded seven honourary doctorates on Friday, and Federer was one of the recipients.

Federer’s recognition came from the Faculty of Medicine, which bestowed the honour on the 36-year-old for his efforts to boost his home city and nation’s reputation. The Swiss was also lauded for his charitable efforts.

The Roger Federer Foundation is spreading sustainability in Southern Africa, where it helps children through support for a variety of educational projects for the disadvantaged. The foundation has reached more than 850,000 children in nearly 14 years.

A University of Basel press release states that Federer “claimed that the honourary doctorate makes him just as happy as a Grand Slam title”.

The doctorate adds yet another honour to the recognition Federer has received this month, as the No. 2-ranked player in the Emirates ATP Rankings received three awards in the 2017 ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon ( Fans’ Favourite, Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award and Comeback Player of the Year).

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Grand Slam Board of Tennis to enforce new rules at 2018 Australian Open

The Grand Slam Board’s vote to amend several rules pertaining to Grand Slam play has got our team discussing the merits of each. What works, and what doesn’t?

The Grand Slam Board has met, with rule amendments high on its agenda.

And it was decided:

1) to support 2018 Australian Open’s application to the ITF for a waiver of the 20 seconds between points required by the Rules of Tennis, in order to allow for enforcement of a strict 25 seconds utilising a “serve/shot clock” system in line with that trialed at the 2017 US Open.

2) the timing of the pre-match warm-up will be strictly enforced (1 minute after walk-on to be ready for the pre-match meeting, followed by the 5 minute warm-up, then 1 minute to be ready to start the match). Violation of this timing may subject a player to a fine up to $20,000.

3) any main-draw singles player who is unfit to play and who withdraws on-site after 12pm on Thursday before the start of the main draw will now receive 50 per cent of the first-round prize money in 2018. The replacement “lucky loser” will receive the remaining 50 per cent plus any additional prize money earned thereafter.

4) any player who competes in the first-round main draw singles and retires or performs below professional standards, may now be subject to a fine up to first-round prize money in 2018.

5) the 2018 Grand Slam tournaments will continue with 32 seeds in singles and intend to revert to 16 seeds in 2019.

Love the shot clock rule, (I'm looking at you Nadal and Djokovic) and all the ones to do with money and penalties. 

Not sure what shortening the warm up will do.  Never found that a problem to begin with.  Shortening it down to 16 seeds in 2019 could make things interesting though.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Roger Federer: "It's Been an Amazing Year"

It might not be the finish that he had hoped for, but Roger Federer is taking nothing for granted in his historic comeback season.

Federer’s 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 loss to David Goffin in the semi-finals of the Nitto ATP Finals might have come as a surprise, but not given the level of play that the seventh-seeded Belgian managed to produce after dropping the first set.

Maneuvering Federer around the court with his signature brand of pinpoint counterpunching tennis, Goffin claimed one of the biggest wins of his career just days after defeating World No.1 Rafael Nadal, becoming the sixth player in history to defeat both Federer and Nadal at the same tournament.

“I think it was a tough game to get broken at 1-0 for him in the second [set]. I had I think multiple game chances to get out of the game and go 1-1, keep the pressure up,” said Federer. “I think things really turned around for him at that moment. He started to feel better from the return, from the baseline. He wasn't missing as much anymore. He was returning also much better off the second serve after that.

“I just think the better returner won over the better server today.”

Despite failing to reach the final of the prestigious season-ending event for just the fifth time in 15 appearances, Federer punctuates a season of surprises with optimism for 2018.

“It’s been an amazing year for me. I’ve been so happy that I was playing at this level from the beginning till basically the end, till today. So it's been great. Really enjoyed myself in the process,” said the Swiss.

“Looking ahead, look, clearly the buildup is not going to be six months like it was last time around,” added the 36 year old. “It's not going to be six weeks of tennis. It's just going to be two, three weeks. It's going to be short. But I did that 15 years previously, so I know how to handle the buildup.”

After an injury-filled 2016 that saw him pull the plug on his season early in July that year, 2017 has been a roaring success. Bagging seven titles including two Grand Slams and three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophies, Federer’s body held up throughout taxing periods of play that afforded him a high level of consistency throughout the year.

“I'm actually very relieved that I was able to finish strong ... It shows that things are in the past now. It's good to know that I can bounce back, you know, and get my confidence back.

“So considering how last year went, this year was perfect.”

Yet, what of next year? Although stalwarts Federer and Nadal remained consistent forces throughout the season, chief rivals such as Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic and Stan Wawrinka shut down their campaigns early to recover from their own damages – and if there is anyone who can relate, it’s Federer.

“We all had to take time off. I didn't choose to take the time off last year. You make me look like a genius sometimes. You take time off, you come back, you're good again. That's not how it goes.

“I expect obviously from the likes who have been extremely high up in the rankings, who have won slams, like Stan, Andy and Novak, of course I expect greatness from them,” added Federer. “I wouldn't be surprised if it worked out for them as well like it worked out for me and Rafa.”

With a huge cast of returning players, current Top 10 stars, and a handful of #NextGenATP talent rising up through the Emirates ATP Rankings, Federer anticipates a sizzling start to 2018 in Australia.

“I hope also Kei [Nishikori], Tomas [Berdych] and Milos [Raonic] all find their way back on tour and prefer to be in Australia because that would make it a quite epic comeback for all the guys. Then you mix them together with the new guys from the [Nitto ATP Finals] here who have just come off a great year... I think it could be a very cool start to the year, which I'm really looking forward to.”

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Roger Federer reveals plans for holiday break after loss to Goffin at ATP World Tour Finals

Federer was playing in his 14th semi-final at the season-ending tournament but lost for just the fourth time, Goffin triumphing 2-6, 6-3, 6-4.

The Swiss dismissed claims that he was carrying an injury into the match but did admit he would be taking time away from the game after a long season.

“I’ll probably take two weeks off, two weeks' vacation,” Federer said.

“I feel like it's what we always need at the end of the season, not just myself, but my wife as well, and my kids, too.

“We all need to spend some family time together. We love that.

“Most important time of our lives, to spend the time together like that.”

Federer, father of four, took the second half of 2016 off to deal with knee and back injuries, returning to win two more Grand Slams this year.

He will end the year as world No 2, the oldest man ever to do so at 36, but the plans for his return in 2018 are already set with January’s Australian Open the first major target.

“I’ll start the beginning of December my training again,” Federer added.

“Maybe on vacation, obviously I'll start moving around a little bit so the comeback into training is not so hard, you know.

“Then I leave at the end of the year for the Hopman Cup to get ready.

“I think I'm playing on the 30th [of December], my first match. That's the plan there.”

Saturday, November 18, 2017

Roger Federer ends season early at ATP World Tour Finals with defeat to David Goffin in semis

Well, this was unexpected. Awkward, even, for the legions of fans who had bought tickets for this afternoon’s final in the hope of seeing Roger Federer. But David Goffin, the Belgian who had looked so short of energy in midweek, rewrote the script yesterday by overcoming Federer in one of the O2’s biggest upsets.
Bear in mind that Goffin had never come close to challenging Federer before, in six previous meetings. On Friday, he had sounded nonplussed at the prospect of this semi-final, saying “I’ve never found a key to beat Roger. Honestly, I don’t know what to do tomorrow.”
His low expectations were born out in the first set. Goffin was reduced to the role of a spectator as Federer toyed with him, tossing in cheeky drop-shots and scorching passing shots. But the worm turned early in the second set, when Goffin scored his first break of serve. Suddenly he was the man feeling the ball more cleanly on his racket.
Federer was a step slow around the court now, perhaps tiring at the end of a season that had already brought him seven titles. He couldn’t find a way to recover his early fluency. And although Goffin has had trouble closing against big names in the past – he struggled to finish off a hobbled Rafael Nadal here in his opening match on Monday – his serve helped him over the finish line when it came to the crunch. Two aces in the first two points of the decisive game got him off to the perfect start, and within a couple of minutes he had completed his 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 win.
“Words can’t describe how I am feeling,” Goffin told the on-court interviewer Annabel Croft. “So much joy, so much happiness, such a special moment.”
It was hard to reconcile this triumphant figure with the hag-ridden one who had lost 6-0, 6-2 to Grigor Dimitrov on Wednesday night. At that point, we wondered whether Goffin was carrying a significant problem in his knee, which he always tapes up, and there were real concerns that he might withdraw to prioritise his part in the Davis Cup final, which will pit Belgium against France in Lille next weekend. Yet if Goffin had no answers to “Baby Fed” – as Dimitrov is widely known, thanks to the visual similarities between the two men’s games – then he was ready to take down the senior version yesterday.

As for Federer, he had won all three of his group matches, but admitted yesterday that he had never quite settled into this tournament as he might have hoped. “I'm not that disappointed that I wasn't able to raise it,” he said, when asked about his level of play. “Because I just felt like I was never quite feeling it 100 per cent. I think that's also where maybe the frustration came in the previous matches.
“I still believed that I was going to be able to lift it. Maybe if David hadn’t been able to lift his game, I would have found a way to win today. Then who knows what happens in the finals. I give myself one more opportunity against a different type of playern
“There's no need to dwell over it, especially when it's the last match of the season. I wish I could have played more aggressive today, but just never really felt comfortable taking the ball on. Started with the return, started with the first shot after the serve. There was never like this simple one-two punch: return, first strike. I never got 100 per cent comfortable with it throughout the entire tournament.”

Goffin, by contrast, has such a quick eye on the return that any slightly vulnerable serves end up being driven back for a clean winner. In this, he resembles Andy Murray, although his delicate build and light-footed movement give a very different impression on the court. He also takes the ball extremely early, using his perfect technique and timing to redirect it up the line at will.
Well this was a disappointing end to an outstanding season.  I would have loved for him to win and go out on a high, but I guess this was not his day.  I'm not too sad however because of the aforementioned reason.  
If it means he gets a few days extra vacation where he allows his body to rest more and is good and ready to take on 2018, I'm totally fine with that. Rest up Roger, see you at the end of December.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Roger Federer Says No. 1 is ‘Ultimate Achievement, But Not Realistic’

It's no secret that the resurgence of Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer has stolen the headlines on the ATP World Tour this year. Big title after big title was theirs to seize and the duo would be rewarded with the top two spots in the year-end Emirates ATP Rankings.

While Nadal will finish the season ahead of Federer at No. 1, the battle for the top position is far from finished. Should the Swiss lift the trophy at this week's Nitto ATP Finals, the gap between the two legends would be a mere 140 points in the Emirates ATP Rankings, as the calendar flips to 2018. That is, just 140 points that separate Federer from adding to his record 302 weeks at World No. 1.

The top spot is within reach, but while the Swiss admits it would be an incredible achievement, he is staying realistic.

"It is interesting," Federer said following a three-set win over Marin Cilic to close out a perfect run through Group Boris Becker. "It's the ultimate achievement in tennis. It always has been for me. But at this age, it just can't be because I think I'll make mistakes if I start chasing it.

"I'm not sure how much the body allows me to chase goals like this. Maybe if I start thinking about it too often and too much, I think I'm maybe also not playing the way I'm supposed to be playing, maybe I tense up, maybe I'm nervous, maybe that's not good for my back. Who knows what it is.

"I have 2,000 points to defend in Australia, [Nadal] doesn't. So there's the problem already. I know he has a lot of points to defend, too, in Australia, but not as many as me. That's why I always said, look, it's not a realistic goal in some ways. I still need to win this tournament before it's actually really close. The year played out the way it did and Rafa was better. He deserves to be there. I'm really happy for him because he had a rough season as well in '16. It's great for him."

Nadal might have had a better season, as Federer admits, but at age 36, the Swiss has enjoyed a renaissance of his own. The Comeback Player of the Year in the 2017 ATP World Tour Awards Presented By Moët & Chandon, he rebounded brilliantly after concluding his 2016 campaign at No. 16 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, due to injury.

In an effort to minimize fatigue and strain on his body, Federer managed his schedule to perfection. He has suffered just four defeats from 56 matches, two of which came after holding match points. While the Basel native laments those losses to Evgeny Donskoy in Dubai and Tommy Haas in Stuttgart, he says there are no regrets following such a successful campaign.

"Regrets, I don't have any," Federer added. "But maybe losing to Haas and Donskoy ended up haunting me. I had match points in both matches. It's not like I didn't try. If I miss out because of that for World No. 1, then maybe I was unlucky. But I also did win matches in Miami, saving match points against Berdych, other matches throughout the season that could have been gone either way as well. In Australia, it was Nishikori. You name it. Things could have turned very quickly much earlier.

"So I'm just happy I'm playing a great season. I'm so happy that I was able to reach this level of play and still being able to play also at the end of the year. It wasn't just one tournament at the beginning, then nothing after that. So it was throughout that I've had a great year."

Federer reached the 95-title milestone in a season that saw him lift seven trophies, including a pair of Grand Slam victories at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, as well as ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns in Indian Wells, Miami and Shanghai. With an unprecedented seventh title at the Nitto ATP Finals just two wins away, Federer believes there is plenty to be grateful for.

"I totally over-exceeded my expectations. I'm just happy I'm injury-free and healthy right now and still enjoying myself. In Australia, I hope to be fit again, to walk out on Rod Laver Arena and hopefully defend my title. But we're still very far away at this point."

But before Federer turns his attention to 2018, he has one last matter of business to attend to in London. The Swiss will next face the winner of Friday's round-robin clash between Dominic Thiem and David Goffin, with a spot in the final at stake.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Roger Federer undefeated at ATP World Tour Finals

Roger Federer Tumblr

Roger Federer won't finish 2017 as the year-end No. 1 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. But the second seed has put himself in great position to still finish his fairytale comeback season with a perfect ending.

The 36-year-old Swiss won his third consecutive match at the Nitto ATP Finals on Thursday, dismissing fifth seed Marin Cilic 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-1 to finish Group Boris Becker play 3-0. It's the 10th time Federer has ended group play unbeaten, and he'll head to Saturday's semi-final full of belief, not that he has been lacking.

The six-time Nitto ATP Finals champion has reeled off 13 consecutive wins, including eight indoors, dating back to his Swiss Indoors Basel title run. This weekend, he'll be the favourite to win his seventh Nitto ATP Finals title and his eighth crown of the season.

Alexander Zverev and Jack Sock will play for second place in Group Boris Becker on Thursday night. In Group Pete Sampras, first-time semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov has won the group, and David Goffin and Dominic Thiem will play for second place on Friday afternoon.

Federer leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Goffin 6-0, but the Swiss trails Thiem in their rivalry 1-2, although all three matches took place last year.

“I played very well so really happy to be playing at this level right now,” Federer said on court after his 55th Nitto ATP Finals win.

CIlic had lost his first two matches and had no chance of making the semi-finals. But with the pressure off, the Croatian played his best tennis of the week to start the match.

He saved all four break points and didn't wait for Federer to misstep in the first set tie-break. Cilic smashed a forehand winner crosscourt, his 20th winner of the set, to take the opener and snap a six-set losing streak against the Swiss.

The second set had been more of the same as Cilic stepped up to serve at 4-5. But at 15/40, he lobbed an 84 mph second serve to Federer, who ran around it and crushed a 100 mph forehand winner to even the match. Federer rolled from there, breaking Cilic in the second and sixth games to advance.

“It wasn't easy. I mean, look, it's a fast court. It's indoors. We've seen it now: when you miss a few too many opportunities, you can really pay the price at this tournament. So we've seen some swings of momentum in a lot of the matches this week,” Federer said.

“I think in the beginning I was slightly overaggressive in the first set on some crucial points rather than maybe being patient. I was able to turn that around late in the second set. Then just had a much better feeling in the third set.

“Maybe also Marin's level dropped, I'm not sure. But definitely was dangerous there for a while.”

Cilic fell to 1-8 during his three appearances at the Nitto ATP Finals. All three of his matches this week lasted three sets.

“Even though it's three losses, I felt that my tennis wasn't too far off of playing really, really well. Good positives at least in that. Hopefully I'm going to recover good and start a new season on a good level,” he said.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Is Roger Federer really the GOAT? Martina Hingis proves the latest greatness isn't always the best

Tennis obsessives love to debate who the sport's "greatest of all time" is. Rod Laver still has his partisans, but at this point such fans are widely considered sentimentalists. Conventional wisdom now has it that whoever is the dominant player of the moment is the "GOAT." Players from each new generation, goes the thinking, are always bigger, faster and ever-more dedicated to excellence than the last. Tennis aficionado RICHARD WIENER, however, argues that such thinking is all wrong. The greats, he says, would be great in any generation. His example in a guest column here: Martina Hingis. Back at the turn of the century, the injury-prone "Swiss Miss" was believed to be too small to continue in the upper echelons of the game. Hingis ultimately proved such thinking wrong, with successful comebacks in both singles and doubles. Read Wiener's column below. - Douglas Perry

One of the most enduring articles of faith among sports fans is that pro athletes just keep getting better and better. Pete Sampras, the great tennis champion of the 1990s, recently articulated this view for his sport, saying: "Each generation of athletes gets stronger and faster, and the players are adding to their knowledge of the game, and as a result you see the level of tennis going up and up. Everyone keeps on improving - today's players are tremendous athletes and hit the ball incredibly hard." This is a belief that's only reinforced by YouTube videos of tennis matches over the past 50 years - the speed of today's game looks faster than ever, because ... it is!

But despite the ever increasing pace of play, the curious case of Martina Hingis demonstrates it's just a myth that each generation is better than the previous.

Hingis, the current number one ranked women's doubles player, announced her retirement a few weeks ago, saying, "You want to stop on top and not when you're already going backward."

At age 15 Hingis became the youngest woman to win a doubles title at Wimbledon, and at age 37 one of the oldest to win doubles at the U.S. Open. In between these remarkable bookends, she won more than 100 titles in singles and doubles. In the course of a spectacular career, Hingis managed five major singles titles, 13 major doubles titles, and seven Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. She won a calendar year Grand Slam in doubles, and in 1998 simultaneously held the number one ranking in both singles and doubles. Hingis even matched up well against the mighty Serena Williams, with a head-to-head singles record of six wins and seven losses.

Even though Hingis turned pro 23 years ago, she only played on tour for 14 years, making the number of titles she won all the more impressive. As a teenager she rose to the top of women's tennis, and then retired at the age of 22 due to injuries. Four years later Hingis briefly came out of retirement, climbed back to number six in singles, and then retired abruptly a second time after testing positive for cocaine. 

After five additional years off tour, long enough to be elected to the Hall of Fame, Hingis unretired again, but this time as a doubles-only player. Remarkably, in her mid-thirties and after an extended leave from pro tennis, she nonetheless quickly rose to number one and dominated women's doubles. Hingis and her partner Sania Mirza went on a 41-match winning streak, which included titles at Wimbledon and the U.S. and Australian Opens. After splitting with Mirza, Hingis dropped from number one but remained in the top 10. Then she teamed with Latisha Chan and went on another tear, winning nine tournaments in 2017, including the U.S. Open, once again regaining the number-one ranking in doubles, only to retire for a third time.

If athletes are stronger and faster and just keep improving, as Sampras says, how did Hingis manage to "time travel" from the 1990s into the present decade and still remain well above a whole new crop of younger, more powerful, and supposedly better players than the ones she faced two decades ago?

Martina's latest accomplishments are even more striking considering that, unlike on the men's side of the game, the top women's singles players routinely play doubles too. Hingis and Mirza defeated Garbine Muguruza (a two-time singles champion at Grand Slam events) and Carla Suarez Navarro (ranked in the top 10 in singles at her highest) to win the title at the 2015 year-end WTA Finals. Plus, tactics in women's doubles have changed since the 1990s. 

Back then, doubles players served and volleyed. In the current era of power tennis, the return of serve is too strong to follow serve to net. So the one-up, one-back formation, common in recreational tennis, is now the primary formation in the women's pro game. But regardless of style of play, Hingis has proven herself the best doubles player in the world. She can more than hold her own from the baseline against huge hitters like Muguruza and still play a magical finesse game at the net with superb use of angle, spin and placement.

Here's an alternative hypothesis. The game isn't faster because players are better. It's faster because equipment is improving, which allows players to hit harder and look like they've taken the game to a whole new level. Put the latest in racquet and string technology in the hands of a great player from the past, something that usually can't happen, and he or she is still a great player. Hingis is that rare case of a champion from 20 years ago coming out of extended retirement to show what she can still do. 

Lo and behold the radar gun now clocks some of Martina's serves over 100 mph, a speed she almost never attained in the 1990s. Her service motion is unchanged, which suggests it's the racquet not the player responsible for extra pop on the ball. And how does Hingis deal with rockets off the racquets of big hitters? Back at them, no problem. A few dozen more trophies on the shelf and it's time to end the experiment on intergenerational play with Martina still on top!

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Roger Federer passes Zvarev test to reach his 14th ATP World Tour Finals semi

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Big forehands make for great highlights and aces for quick games, but variety might be the key to success on the ATP World Tour, and Roger Federer showed a plethora of it on Tuesday night during his 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-1 win against Alexander Zverev at the Nitto ATP Finals.

Federer moved the 6'6” Zverev around the court with drop shots and slices. But the six-time champion was also happy to flatten out his groundstrokes against the 20-year-old right-hander, who had beaten Federer during their only prior hard-court matchup.

Now, after a 2-0 start in London, the 36-year-old Federer is into the semi-finals for the 14th time in his 15th appearance at the Nitto ATP Finals.

“I'm extremely happy... It's been a tough group so to be there in two matches is great,” Federer said.

His win clears up the Group Boris Becker qualification scenarios as well. Marin Cilic, who lost to Jack Sock on Tuesday to fall to 0-2, is eliminated.

The winner of Thursday's Sock vs. Zverev matchup will join Federer in the semi-finals. Sock and Zverev are tied 1-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry.

Federer has now won 12 consecutive matches, dating back to his title runs at the Shanghai Rolex Masters (d. Nadal) and the Swiss Indoors Basel (d. del Potro). That streak includes seven indoor victories, including his Nitto ATP Finals opener against Sock.

But Tuesday's must-see generational showdown was a toss-up at the start. Federer and Zverev had split their four FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, and Zverev had beaten Federer on the hard courts of Montreal during the Coupe Rogers final. The German became the only player to beat him in a final this season and only the fourth player to beat him at all this year.

The third-seeded Zverev, who's making his Nitto ATP Finals debut this week, started strong as well. He had three break points in Federer's opening service game, but Federer saved all three, reeling off five consecutive points. The Swiss would save 9/11 break points for the match.

They blitzed through the opener from there, with six games held to love or 15, until Zverev had to erase two set points at 5-6. In the tie-break, Federer won eight of the final 10 points to take the first set.

Zverev didn't fade, though. He broke Federer for the second time at 5-6 in the second set and evened the match. But the Swiss right-hander outplayed Zverev in the decider, breaking three times and saving the only break point he faced.

Monday, November 13, 2017

Roger Federer aka "Kilterer" having some fun with Andy Murray for Glasgow charity event

Roger Federer donned a kilt as he beat a tartan-hat wearing Andy Murray during a charity event in Glasgow.

The match was the first time Murray has played in public since suffering a hip injury at Wimbledon.

The pair did not appear to be taking things too seriously with Federer playing one game in a kilt borrowed from a female fan.

Murray then sported a Tam O'Shanter or "see you Jimmy" hat produced by his Swiss opponent.

World number two Federer had earlier spoken of being welcomed to Scotland with shortbread made by "Andy's granny" and a can of Irn Bru.

He tweeted a picture of a biscuit tin and an open can of the famous Scottish fizzy drink and wrote: "Can't get a warmer welcome than this. Thanks @andy-murray ... is this your usual pre-match routine?"

Murray replied: "Yea that's a good start but try a deep fried Mars bar on top of that and you'll be properly ready @rogerfederer."

About 11,000 fans packed the SSE Hydro in Glasgow for the Andy Murray Live exhibition match. The Scot lost 6-3 3-6 10-6.

During an interview after taking the first set, Federer joked: "If anyone brings me a kilt, I will put it on."

A female fan then appeared at the side of the court willing to give him hers.

Later Murray put on a tartan hat Federer presented him with midway through the tie-break.

Speaking about his own tartan attire, the Swiss player said: "What impressed me was how quickly the kilt was organised."

"When I took it off I felt naked because it was nice and snug and heavy."

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Roger Federer records his 50th match win of 2017 at ATP World Tour Finals

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Roger Federer opened his quest for a record seventh title at the Nitto ATP Finals on Sunday by beating season finale debutant Jack Sock at The O2 in London.

Second seed Federer recorded his 50th match win of the year with a 6-4, 7-6(4) victory over eighth seed Sock in one hour and 31 minutes in their Group Boris Becker opener.

Federer capitalised on early nerves by Sock, winner of his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title at the Rolex Paris Masters seven days ago, with a service break in the first game. Sock grew in confidence by using his powerful forehand to pierce holes in Federer’s game, but he was unable to break back.

"I'm happy that I was able to come out today and had actually good energy," Federer said. "This is the best I've felt since the Del Potro final (in Basel). I'm very happy to see that I didn't have to pay the price for taking it easy and resting and recovering. But then turning it up the last few days got me in shape for today. Now I think I'm in the tournament. There's no more turning back. Just full steam ahead every match that comes."

" I think we're all going to start playing better every round that goes by," Federer added. "It's just still early days in the tournament. Can't expect to play your best against the best players in the world in that first match.

"I think, like I explained on the court in the interview, it was more about managing the match rather than actually having a certain way how you play and what you were really thinking about. Sure, I had a tactical plan with my team. But very often in a first match like this, it gets thrown overboard because at the end you're just happy to be serving well. Focus on that first, and then on the return game sort of try your best, try to keep the ball in play and go from there."

At 3-3, 30/40 in the second set, Sock struck a serve that jammed up Federer on a backhand return in a confidence-boosting hold. In the American’s next service game, he recovered from 15/40 — and saved five break points in total.

Federer, in contrast, lost just two of his first-service points through his first six service games of the second set. In the tie-break, as Federer edged closer to his 12th victory over a Top 10 players in the Emirates ATP Rankings this season, he opened up a 4/2 advantage. The encounter ended with Sock striking a backhand return long.

"I thought the intros were pretty sweet," said Sock about the atmosphere in The O2. "The floor was all lit up with pictures. I thought the graphics were really cool. I think it makes for a fun atmosphere. The fans love it. It's fun to walk out to matches like that, of course. I'm looking forward to my next few.

"Not a whole lot to hang my head about today. Obviously, you know, would like to start out with a win instead, especially being right there. It was a couple points. Had some looks to get back on serve in the first. Yeah, he came up with some good shots in the breaker. Other than that, it was a close match."

Federer is now 53-12 at the Nitto ATP Finals, which he first qualified for in 2002 when the tournament was played in Shanghai.

Federer improved to a 4-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head record against Sock, which also includes a win at the BNP Paribas Open in March.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Roger Federer winner of Comeback, Sportsmanship & Fans Favourite at ATP World Tour Awards

Roger Federer Tumblr

Roger Federer’s 2017 season has been recognised with three ATP World Tour Awards presented by Moët & Chandon. The 36-year-old takes his record tally to 36 awards since 2003.

Visit ATP World Tour Awards Section

Federer has been selected by fans as Fans’ Favourite presented by Moët & Chandon for a 15th straight year, and voted by fellow players as the winner of the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award and Comeback Player of the Year.

This marks the 13th time and seventh year in a row that he has been recognised with the Sportsmanship Award – he also won it six straight years from 2004-09 – and the first time he has won the Comeback Award.

Federer started 2017 at No. 17 in the Emirates ATP Rankings, having missed the second half of 2016 to recuperate from knee surgery, and has risen to No. 2 in the Emirates ATP Rankings. He has claimed seven titles during his comeback campaign, including two Grand Slams (Australian Open, Wimbledon), three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 (Indian Wells, Miami, Shanghai) and a pair of ATP World Tour 500s (Halle, Basel).

The Swiss received his trophies during the Awards ceremony at the Nitto ATP Finals Official Launch Party, presented by Moët & Chandon, held Thursday evening at the Tower of London.

Federer has also won the ATP World Tour No. 1 presented by Emirates five times (2004-07, 2009) and the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award twice (2006, 2013).

Even though I think Roger Federer is an exemplary sportsman and the epitome of sportsmanship. 

I actually thought Juan Martin Del Potro deserved the Stefan Edberg Award more this year.  I mean Roger is pretty much a good sportsman 24/7. 

It's nothing new it's just the way he is.  Del Potro really showed some fantastic sportsmanship during many of his matches where his opponents were really hurt (I think he even carried their tennis raquet bag).  

So yeah, love Rog happy for him.  But it should have gone to Delpo.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Martina Hingis leaves with a complicated legacy


Given that it was going to be the third time she retired from tennis, Martina Hingis was probably smart just to spring the news on us rather than announce it in advance. There was no need for a long farewell tour; the sport had already bid her goodbye twice. Still, when Hingis posted a message on her Facebook page last week saying that the WTA finals in Singapore would be her final hurrah, and for real this time, it came as a jolt. She’d had a sensational summer, winning three majors—the mixed doubles crowns at Wimbledon and the US Open with Jamie Murray, and the women’s doubles title at the Open with Chan Yung-Jan. Since coming out of retirement for the second time, in 2013, Hingis had won 10 grand slam doubles titles in total. Given all the recent success she’d enjoyed, the last thing anyone expected was for her to just up and walk away.

Her decision caught me by surprise. I interviewed Hingis twice this year—first at Indian Wells, in March, and then in Florida in August—and she gave no indication that she was contemplating retirement. Over lunch in Florida, I asked how much longer she intended to play. She laughed and said, “I don’t know that, and even if I did, I wouldn’t tell you.” (She is as sassy in her late thirties as she was in her teens.) When we spoke in Indian Wells—in the players’ lounge, over the din of some of retro music (INXS, that sort of stuff) that served to underscore her longevity, she told me she had returned to tennis in 2013 because she loved the game too much to stay away. “I missed being around here,” she said. “I feel kind of safe in this environment.” She was very satisfied with her life now and was still eager to travel and play. “After one month at home,” Hingis said, “I’m ready to go.”

So what changed between then and now? I have no idea. Maybe the Swiss veteran woke up one morning last week and just suddenly realized that she’d had enough. During her previous retirements, she seemed to struggle to find contentment away from the court; perhaps she is hoping that the third time will be the charm and has decided that, at the age of 37, she needs to truly move on. Of course, it is also possible that she will reverse course once again and come out of retirement in the not-too-distant future. In her Facebook post, she left open that possibility, writing, “As history shows, I haven’t been able to stay away from tennis for so long in the past.” Her namesake Martina Navratilova competed until she was nearly 50; given how well Hingis still plays and moves, she could certainly keep going into her forties if she wanted.

But assuming this retirement is permanent, Hingis leaves with a complicated legacy. Writing in The New York Times the other day, Christopher Clarey likened her to Lleyton Hewitt. There is something to the comparison, beyond the fact that both were on the short side and used Yonex rackets. Like Hewitt, Hingis hit her peak at a young age and then just stayed around (in her case, for most of the next two decades). And in the same way that Hewitt was a transitional figure bridging the gap between the Sampras/Agassi epoch and the Federer/Nadal era, Hingis ended up being a transitional figure between the Graf/Seles era and the Williams sisters.

However, there is a critical difference. Even when Hewitt was ranked number one and winning his two majors, it was widely recognized that he was never going to be a dominant player a la Sampras—he just didn’t have quite enough game, and most people figured he would be eclipsed in short order, which he was. The expectations for Hingis were much loftier. She captured three grand slam singles titles and was ranked number one when she was just 16, and given her otherworldly racket skills and court smarts, there was every reason to believe that she was going to rule women’s tennis for years to come and smash all sorts of records. No one knew that the women’s game was about to be transformed by the advent of what Mary Carillo called “Big Babe Tennis” and that Hingis, who was not nearly as big or powerful as players like the Williams sisters and Lindsay Davenport, would be its first victim. That Hewitt ended his career with just two majors was not surprising; that Hingis only won five is still, all these years later, kind of hard to believe.

Of course, those five singles titles are just one facet of her record; Hingis distinguished herself even more as a doubles player, winning 13 grand slam women’s doubles titles and seven grand slam mixed doubles crowns. In an interview last week, Hingis said that she was better at doubles than singles, and her trophy case would suggest as much. Still, for all that she accomplished as a doubles player, her short-circuited singles career—that period in the late 1990s when the game changed on her and she went from emerging superstar to also-ran in a flash—will always be front and center of any discussion about Hingis.

In recent years, that conversation took an interesting turn. It seemed as if being a fan of Hingis’s game became a mark of tennis connoisseurship—sort of like the vinyl fetish among music enthusiasts. She was seen as a practitioner of a lost art—a player who relied on finesse and guile rather than brawn, who won not by outslugging opponents but by outsmarting them. And I think it’s probably the case that some of the belated affection for Hingis, whose last WTA singles match was in 2007, was rooted in dissatisfaction with how the women’s game has evolved—the loss of stylistic variety, the emphasis on power, the fact that a player as gifted and clever as Hingis had been reduced to roadkill because of her compact size.

As great as Hingis was, the question that will always hang in the air is how much more she might have achieved had she played in a different era. With her sudden retirement last week, we are now also left to wonder how much more she might have accomplished had she continued playing into her forties. Of course, she could still answer that question for us if she wanted. Just sayin….

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Roger Federer prioritizes body management over #1

Roger Federer’s decision to skip the Paris Masters following his victory in Basel has effectively seen Rafael Nadal lock up the year-end No.1 ranking.

Roger Federer has all but ensured Rafael Nadal will finish the year at world No.1 after withdrawing from this week’s Paris Masters.

The Swiss had just won his eighth title on home soil at the ATP Swiss Indoors in Basel, before immediately withdrawing from the year’s final Masters event citing a back injury.

The victory came in a three-set final against the surging Juan Martin del Potro, with Federer ultimately prevailing 6-7(5) 6-4 6-3.

Federer was still in with a shot of catching the Spaniard at No.1, with the Basel title closing the gap by 500 points to a still-wide 1,460 points.

Yet by pulling out of Paris, Federer ensures that Nadal will lock up the year-end No.1 ranking; Nadal just needs to win his first match.

After a first-round bye, that match will be against either Mischa Zverev or Hyeon Chung in the second round.

Federer has throughout 2017 played a deliberately light schedule; including Basel, he has contested just 11 tournaments.

He skipped the entire claycourt season to ensure he was fit and fresh for the grasscourt swing – traditionally his most productive portion of the season.

It was a decision vindicated when he won his second Grand Slam title of the year – and 19th overall – at Wimbledon in July.

And he made no secret of the fact Paris was only a proposed tournament on his schedule, explaining that he would choose Basel over Paris if he decided he couldn’t play both, all with the purpose of being 100 per cent ready for a tilt at another ATP Finals trophy.

“I’m hoping to play (in Paris), but there’s also a good possibility that I won’t. It depends on how I feel,” he warned during his winning week in Basel. “We’ll see what happens, health is always more important at this stage of my career.”

Nadal, too, has been listening to his body of late.

Despite playing a heavier schedule than Federer – 16 tournaments, for six titles – Nadal skipped all grasscourt tune-ups before Wimbledon and pulled out of last week’s Basel event to rest his inflamed knees.

He’ll resume duties this week in Paris amid a decimated field.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

Martina Hingis showed me how to be a champion, says Federer

Federer and Hingis in 2001, with the Hopman Cup trophy, alongside Lucy Hopman (Getty)

19-time Grand Slam winner Roger Federer says his success is partly down to compatriot Martina Hingis, who announced her intention to retire this week.

"Martina was partially the one who showed me how it was all done," he said on hearing the news. "It was great for Switzerland to have someone of her calibre. We were very lucky. I loved playing with her at the Hopman Cup, she was always super friendly, I love that about her."

The pair won the 2001 Hopman Cup together - Federer's first professional title.

But he says he is not sad to see her step away from the game.

"I’m not sad to see her retire, she’s been in the game for long enough, she seems at peace with her decision – that’s wonderful. I’ve always been a fan of her and I always will be."

Friday, November 03, 2017

Behind the numbers: Martina Hingis' spectacular career

After Martina Hingis announced her impending retirement on Thursday in Singapore, WTA Insider breaks down the numbers behind the Swiss legend's Hall of Fame career.

SINGAPORE - Martina Hingis has hung up her racquets and retired after reaching the semifinals of the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global.

Hingis officially made her announcement on social media on Friday, after advancing to the last four with partner Chan Yung-Jan at the WTA Finals.

"Now that the cat is out of the bag, here we are for the third, and final time," Hingis wrote on Facebook, referring to previous two retirements. "Looking back now, it's hard to believe that almost exactly 23 years ago I made my professional debut. The years that followed have been some of the most rewarding years of my life, both personally and professionally, but I believe the time has come for me to retire, which I will be doing after my last match here in Singapore.

"This isn't goodbye. As history shows, I haven't been able to stay away from tennis for long in the past, and I am looking forward to seeing what new opportunities lie ahead of me. I believe the best is yet to come and will continue to share my experiences with you!"

Here's a look at the numbers behind the 23-year career of one of the game's most prodigious talents.

2: Age Hingis first learned how to play tennis under the tutelage of her mother, Melanie Molitor.

12: Age Hingis won the junior French Open title in 1993. She won three junior Slam titles in total.

1994: Year Hingis made her WTA debut at the age of 14 at the Zurich Open.

15: Age Hingis won her first Slam title in 1996, winning the doubles at Wimbledon with Helena Sukova to become the youngest major titlist in history.

16: Age Hingis won her first WTA singles title in Filderstadt in 1996.

38: Match win-streak in singles to start the 1997 season.

The age at which Hingis won the 1997 Australian Open singles title, becoming the youngest Australian Open titlist in history.

1997: The year Hingis first ascended to No.1, becoming the youngest WTA No.1 in history at age 16.

7: Grand Slam singles finals Hingis made in her career (Roland Garros: 1997, 1999; Australian Open: 2000, 2001, 2002; US Open: 1998, 1999)

6: Players to hold both the singles and doubles No.1 rankings simultaneously.

29: Weeks Hingis held the singles and doubles No.1 rankings simultaneously. Only Martina Navratilova held both for longer (103 weeks).

2003: Year Hingis retired at the age of 22 due to injuries.

2005: Year Hingis returned to the tour after her first retirement.

: Year Hingis retired for a second time at the age of 27.

Year Hingis was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in her first year of eligibility.

2013: Year Hingis returned to the tour to focus on doubles. She played her first tournament in five years with Daniela Hantuchova in Carlsbad.

209: Total weeks spent at No.1 in singles.

3: Times Hingis finished the year as the year-end No.1 in singles (1997, 1999, 2000).

548: Career singles match wins.

43: Singles titles won, tied for 12th in WTA history.

Career doubles titles, 12th best in WTA history.

13: Slam doubles titles.

19: Years between her first Australian Open doubles title in 1997 and her fifth and final Australian Open title in 2016.

5: Grand Slam singles titles, including three at the Australian Open.

17: Years between her first Miami Open doubles title in 1998 and her last in 2015.

1: Calendar Slam in doubles in 1998.

40: Different doubles partners with which Hingis won her 64 career doubles titles.

31: Tournaments played with Sania Mirza, the most with any single partner.

Doubles titles won with Mirza, the most successful partnership of her career. Their last win came at 2016 Rome.

18: Tournaments played with Anna Kournikova, the second most with any single partner.

Doubles titles won with Kournikova, the second most successful partnerhsip of her career, with the last coming at 2002 Australian Open

: Doubles tournaments played with her current partner, Chan Yung-Jan, including this week as the top seeds at the WTA Finals. They have won nine doubles titles as a team.

9: Different mixed doubles partners.

7: Mixed doubles titles at the Slams. She won her first mixed doubles title in 2006 and her last this year at the US Open, a span of 21 years.

2016: Year Hingis made the French Open mixed doubles final, thus completing her set of having made all 12 major finals in each of the three disciplines (singles, doubles, mixed).

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Martina Hingis' heartfelt thank you, but not goodbye to the sport and her fans on Facebook

Hi Everyone!

Now that the cat is out of the bag, here we are for the third, and final time. Looking back now, it's hard to believe that almost exactly 23 years ago I made my professional debut. The years that followed have been some of the most rewarding years of my life, both personally and professionally, but I believe the time has come for me to retire, which I will be doing after my last match here in Singapore.

I feel very lucky to have been given the opportunity to play this wonderful sport for so many years. Tennis has always been my passion and I am extremely thankful for all the challenges, opportunities, partnerships and friendships it's given me. I am especially grateful for all the support from my mom who has taught me this beautiful game. 

Thanks to all the sponsors, partners, fellow players, and everyone else that helps make our hectic life on tour easier. Thank you to my team, friends and family for continuously motivating and inspiring me. And of course thank you to all my fans - you were there to support and lift me up in hard times and celebrated alongside me in days of triumph. You, and the love for the game, is what kept me coming back all those years!

This isn't a goodbye. As history shows, I haven't been able to stay away from tennis for long in the past, and I am looking forward to seeing what new opportunities and challenges lie ahead of me. I believe the best is yet to come and will continue to share my experiences with you!

With love and appreciation, your Martina

Martina Hingis Official Facebook

It's so hard for me to describe my emotions about this announcement.  I knew this day was coming, but just like with Federer you always think they'll be around forever even though the rational part of your brain knows it's impossible.

 I still remember watching her play for the first time as a 16 year old in 1997 ( I was 15 myself). 

Running around hitting amazing shots at the net, seemingly not intimidated by any of her opponents. 

Thank you for introducing me and making me fall in love with this wonderful sport Martina.  I will be forever grateful to you for that.  

Congrats on an amazing 2017 and on an outstanding career.  Your are a legend.   Tennis won't be the same without you. 

You've been my idol since I was a teenager myself, and you will be greatly missed!.  Good luck on whatever life endeavors you choose to take on next.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

Farewell Martina Hingis, one of the tennis greats

Tennis writer Mark Hodgkinson reflects on the Swiss star's career following her doubles defeat in the last four of the WTA Finals in Singapore, Hingis's final match as a professional.

Of all Martina Hingis' retirements - three times she has supposedly zipped up her racquet bag for good - this latest one is by far the most glorious. And this time you suspect that this is it, that there really will be no more 'un-retiring'.

Every athlete wishes for the Hollywood goodbye, with hopes of leaving the sport when they are at the top of their game. For most, those ambitions are crushed beneath the realities of elite sport, defeated by injury, circumstance or Father Time as much as by their rivals.

And yet, at the age of 37, Hingis is stepping away as the World No.1 in doubles - and at the end of a season in which she has taken three Grand Slam titles, with a couple in mixed doubles and one in women's doubles.

There's every reason to think that, had she wanted to, she could have carried on gathering more majors next season, to add to the 25 she has already (five singles, 13 women's doubles and seven mixed doubles). As a teenager, Hingis was The Swiss Who Can't Miss. Deep into her 30s, and she hasn't been missing much this season either.

Hingis was named after Martina Navratilova, and, like that other grandee, she also split her tennis life into more than one act. For all Hingis' success in her first career - as a 16-year-old, she won three Grand Slam singles titles, and held the No.1 singles ranking - going out while still capable of much more, to complete her third career, could well be up there among her finest accomplishments.

In an age of power-ball tennis, Hingis was never going to be the most explosive or physically intimidating of players - she's 5ft 7in, after all - but she might well have had the greatest tennis brain in the history of the sport. With her touch and timing, her use of angles and spins, and her all-round understanding of every nuance of tennis, Hingis was the smartest of the tennis intelligentsia.

While your body slows over the years, it's possible to add to your tennis brainpower as you age. In most quarters, Hingis will primarily be remembered as the teenager who hijacked the women's game, but being in her mid to late 30s, after transitioning into doubles, might have suited her best of all. As with almost everything else in tennis, and in life, making your exit takes a little practice.

When she quit in 2003, at the age of 22, she cited injuries, and her second career came to end in 2007, when she was 27 years old, after she tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine at that year's Wimbledon. This might be the third time that Hingis has left the sport, but it's actually the first occasion she has had a free choice to retire: "This is the right time for me. It's better to stop at the peak and I can say I had a very good time."

Twenty years after Hingis was the youngest singles World No.1 in the history of the women's game, she is once again at the top of a rankings list, this time in doubles, though there have been a few interruptions and interludes in between - she might not have always been the best in the world at one or other form of the game, or even on the tour, but she has been consistently, unerringly interesting. Tennis' chattering classes might well debate whether Hingis was a better singles player or doubles player. Here's what isn't up for discussion; she was one of the greats.

It's 21 years since she scored her first Grand Slam title when, as a 15-year-old in 1996, she combined with Helena Sukova to win the Wimbledon women's doubles tournament. The next year, she became the dominant force in singles, winning three majors, reaching the final of the other (the French Open), and becoming the WTA World No.1.

Her fourth and fifth Grand Slam singles titles came at the Australian Open, part of her three-year dominance in Melbourne from 1997-1999. And this year, playing a third career that began in 2013, she has once again been a force at the top of the sport, collaborating with Jamie Murray to win mixed doubles titles at Wimbledon and the US Open, while partnering with Chan Yung-Jan for the women's doubles prize in New York City.

So, at her last Grand Slam, she did something remarkable: the doubles double. At the age of 37, Hingis is still in her prime, still capable of so much more. And that's what makes her retirement such a triumph.