Sunday, January 28, 2018

Roger Federer makes it #20 at Australian Open!

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Roger Federer added another chapter to his phenomenal career on Sunday when the Swiss superstar captured his 20th Grand Slam championship crown to retain his Australian Open title with a thrilling 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 victory over Marin Cilic in the night-time final.

Twelve months on from beating Rafael Nadal in a pulsating five-set final, the 36-year-old once again drew upon his great skill and ingenuity to build upon his legacy as the greatest player in tennis history by winning a record-equalling sixth Australian Open crown (with Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic), coming through a draw that respected observers thought would be problematic.

"I'm so happy, it's unbelievable,” said an emotional Federer, with the Norman Brookes Challenge Cup trophy in his hands once more. "It's been a long time waiting for this final. It's easier in the afternoon, but when it's at night you think about it all day. I'm happy it's over now. It's a dream come true and the fairy-tale continues. After the year I had last year, it's incredible."

Grand Slam Title Leaders

Player  Total Titles Australian Open Titles

Roger Federer 20         6*
Rafael Nadal 16           1
14                                  2
Roy Emerson 12           6*

Novak Djokovic 12      6*
Rod Laver 11                3

Bjorn Borg 11               0

Federer has now won three of the past five major championships and the victory, secured over three hours and four minutes, in his 30th major championship final, ensures that Federer is now just 155 points behind World No. 1 Nadal in the ATP Rankings. With Nadal not expected to compete until the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC in late February, Federer would have the chance to add to his 302 weeks at the pinnacle of men’s professional tennis. He was last No. 1 on 4 November 2012. Read More

Federer has now won 96 tour-level career crowns, with only American Jimmy Connors (109) ahead. His 20 major crowns moves him four ahead of second-placed Nadal (16) in the all-time Grand Slam singles title list.

At 36 years, 173 days, Federer has become the third man in the Open Era (since April 1968) to win four or more Grand Slam championship trophies after turning 30, following in the footsteps of all-time great Australians Rod Laver (1969 Australian Open, Roland Garros, Wimbledon and US Open) and Ken Rosewall (1968 Roland Garros, 1970 US Open, 1971-72 Australian Opens).

When asked what keeps him motivated, Federer said, "I think by not overplaying. I enjoy practice, not minding the travel [and] having a great team around me, they make it possible. At the end it's seeing that my parents are incredibly proud and happy that I'm still doing it. They enjoy coming to tournaments. That makes me happy and play better.

"Then, of course, my wife [Mirka] who makes it all possible. Without her support, I wouldn't be playing tennis no more since many years. But we had a very open conversation, if she was happy to do this or not, years ago. I'm happy that she's super supportive, and she's willing to take on a massive workload with the kiddies. Same for me, because I wouldn't want to be away from my kids for more than two weeks. This life wouldn't work if she said, 'No'."

Under a closed roof on Rod Laver Arena, due to the extreme heat, the perfect conditions favoured Federer, whose majestic stroke-play – a throw-back to a bygone era – ensured that the second seed raced out to a 4-0 lead. Having lost just two of his first-service points in the first set, Federer’s momentum stalled when Cilic’s serve and forehand potency began to reap dividends. Although sixth seed Cilic dumped a backhand into the net on set point opportunity at 5-4, with Federer serving at 30/40, the Croatian regrouped and played decisively in the tie-break, finishing with a composed smash winner.

Federer held his ground, waited for his next opportunity and when it came, at 3-2 in the third set, he capitalised on a forehand error from Cilic – letting out a scream of “Come On!”. Federer won five of the next six games and in breaking Cilic’s serve in the first game of the fourth set, the Swiss player’s grip tightened on a 20th major trophy (20-10 record).

With a Croatian flag fluttering barely four metres from the support team of Federer, Cilic gained inspiration and in a dramatic turnaround from a 1-3 deficit, the Croatian broke twice and clinched the fourth set courtesy of rediscovering his serve and winning the longer rallies. Federer ended a run of five straight games for Cilic by winning the first game of the decider, not before saving two break points.

"[I was] just really trying to get back winning a game again," said Federer. "So for me it was really just trying to break his momentum. [I] tried to serve well. [I] tried to get lucky a little bit. I think I was able to get that first game, at least get on the board. From then on, maybe momentum shifts a little bit, and it's exactly what happened. I think experience helped me there a little bit, and also a little bit of luck, I felt like I needed a little bit tonight."

Federer didn’t blink and seized his chance to take a 3-0 lead. Although Cilic, 27-13 in fifth sets, continued to fight, with the trophy in sight and another historic chapter in his glorious career almost finished, Federer didn’t let down his guard. He broke once more for a 5-1 lead when Cilic hit a forehand approach into the net. At the end, Federer had a look of a player unaware of his achievement: 20 Grand Slam crowns. Tears soon rolled down his cheeks.

Longest Streaks Of Grand Slam Titles By Federer & Nadal

Length of Streak Federer's Titles Nadal's Titles

11 majors 

2005-07 Wimb, 2005-07 USO, 2006-07 AO 2005-07 RG

6 majors 
2008 USO, 2009 RG, 2009 Wimb 2008 RG, 2008 Wimb, 2009 AO

5 majors

2017 AO, 2017 Wimb, 2018 AO 2017 RG, 2017 USO

4 majors

2010 AO2010 RG, 2010 Wimb, 2010 USO

"It was an amazing journey for me," said Cilic, who beat Nadal in the quarter-finals and will rise to a career-high No. 3 on Monday. "It could have been the best two weeks of my life. I had the chance at the beginning of the fifth but he played a great match. My team have been unbelievable for the last two weeks. We started this year amazingly well and hopefully we can reach more finals and lift more trophies!"

Federer improved to 9-1 lifetime against Cilic in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, having also won their 2017 Wimbledon final clash. The Swiss hit 41 winners to Cilic’s 45, but it was his stronger service consistency – 67 of 84 first-service points won and 32 of 55 second-service points won – that ensured he was able to remain in contention, despite surges in match-momentum for Cilic. Federer also hit 24 aces to Cilic’s 16, converting six of his 13 break point opportunities on the Croatian's serve. 2010 AO 2010 RG, 2010 Wimb, 2010 USO

Friday, January 26, 2018

Roger Federer going for #20 at Aussie Open after anti-climatic retirement from Chung

Roger Federer Tumblr

Roger Federer is one win away from a "special 20" in Melbourne. The Swiss will face Marin Cilic in Sunday's Australian Open final, with the opportunity to win his 20th Grand Slam championship and sixth at Melbourne Park.

Federer, the defending champion at Melbourne Park, booked his place in a 30th major final when leading 6-1, 5-2 against South Korea’s Hyeon Chung, the Next Gen ATP Finals winner, who retired due to blisters on his left foot.

"20 times special," said Federer. "It would be amazing. I can't believe how fast now the week has turned out to be. It ain't just an easy trip to the finals. There's always a lot of work that goes into it during the tournament, focus, and also preparation beforehand. For many weeks and months before, you try to put yourself in the position, are you going to be ready in case a good semi-finals or quarter-finals match at the Australian Open, so forth.

"This is something you sort of plan from a long time ago. That's why when it does happen, it's a great feeling. Rewards the hard work in my team. It shows us that we did a lot of things right in the off-season, as well. That always gives you confidence, especially moving into the semis and finals when you're starting to hit the ball very nicely after the first few matches where it's always a bit more difficult."

The 36-year-old Federer will contest his seventh Australian Open final (5-1) against sixth-seeded Croatian Marin Cilic on Sunday night. It will be a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon final, which Federer won in straight sets against an ailing Cilic. Federer has an 8-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead over Cilic, with the Croatian's lone win coming in the 2014 US Open semi-finals, when he went on to win his only major title (d. Nishikori).

Twelve months ago Federer was preparing to face his greatest rival, Rafael Nadal, in the final at Melbourne Park, both at the climax of a wonderful comeback from their respective injuries and time away from the Tour. The past year has seen Federer take his Grand Slam tally to 19, with victories in Melbourne and Wimbledon, and come close to reclaiming No. 1 in the ATP Rankings.

The Basel native has returned to this position in Melbourne with a near-perfect run through the draw, not dropping a set in his bottom half passage. There was much excitement around his semi-final with the 21-year-old Chung, who had upset Alexander Zverev and Novak Djokovic to reach his maiden Grand Slam semi-final. The Next Gen ATP Finals champion was thwarted by his blisters, but not before Federer had a chance to glimpse the right-hander's potential.

"I thought the first set was normal," Federer told Jim Courier, in an on-court interview. "I couldn't tell what was going on with my opponent. In the second set I felt he was getting slower. He's had a problem with the blister. It hurts - a lot. At some point it's too much and you make things worse. Clearly I'm happy to be in the final but not like this. He's had such a wonderful tournament.

"Fighting was a problem today. I could tell something was wrong, but he has a great composure. I think he's going to achieve next level excellence - Top 10 [in the ATP Rankings] for sure. I can see why he beat Novak (Djokovic) and Sascha (Zverev). He's going to be a great, great player."

First Set

Despite a lack of pace on serve, Chung maintained his position on the baseline as Federer tried to lift the power level early to break in the first game. Unsure of Federer’s service patterns, Chung continued to fight, but under a closed roof on Rod Laver Arena – as a result of rain – the Swiss star’s confidence grew in the controlled conditions. Federer, who had a closed practice earlier, worked on taking pace off the ball in the session. He moved to a 4-1 advantage when Chung struck a forehand long, and two games later – after Chung fired down an ace, then a double fault – Federer converted his fifth set point opportunity to take the 35-minute opener. Federer hit only 32 per cent of his first serves into court, but his 14 winners – and drawing Chung to the net – did the damage.

Second Set

Federer continued to show Chung the kind of level he needs in a major semi-final and broke for a 3-1 lead courtesy of a backhand winner past his Korean opponent. Chung received on-court treatment for a blister on his left foot after the fifth game – having won 19 of 51 baseline rallies. Two games later, Chung walked to the chair umpire to end the 63-minute encounter, the pain obviously too much.

Federer lost just one of his first-service points (15/16), converted four of his 11 break point opportunities and his 24 winners, including nine aces. World No. 58 Chung struck three double faults and six winners.

Well this turned out to be very anti-climatic.  Which is too bad it would have been a hell of a match otherwise.  

But it's pretty much a guarantee the final won't be.  Cilic is playing fantastic and Roger will have to fight for it I'm sure. 

So I hope he comes out ready, with a high serving percentage. I want him to win in 3 sets, but I know Cilic is a fighter so something tells me the final will go five. 

Still going with Roger as the victor though.  Is is Sunday yet?!. 

I must also say that for the first time in many years, I am extremely excited for the women's final on Saturday with Simona Halep and Caroline Wozniacki.  

Both players going for their maiden slam. 

I'm a little split on who I want to win, because both of them more than deserve it.  

But I would really like it to be Simona because she's really had to fight for this one (with a sore ankle to boot! ).  

And given the heart break she had last year at the French Open she more than deserves for things to go her way this year. 

More importantly I think she's ready to take it this time.  And I can't wait to see that.

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Roger Federer reaches 14th semi-final at Australian Open

Roger Federer Tumblr

Roger Federer continued his pursuit of a 20th Grand Slam championship crown on Wednesday night when he booked his place in the Australian Open semi-finals.

The Swiss superstar, bidding to retain his crown and lift a sixth trophy at Melbourne Park, fought back from Tomas Berdych’s promising start to record a 7-6(1), 6-3, 6-4 victory on Rod Laver Arena.

Berdych, the No. 19 seed, took a 3-0 lead and missed out on two set point opportunities at 5-3 and 6-5 in the first set, only for Federer to apply the pressure and regain control of the pair’s 26th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (Federer now leads 20-6).

"I hung around, got a bit lucky, a bit angry, a frustrated, maybe at the umpire, but I actually thought the call was good anyway," Federer told Jim Courier, during an on-court interview. "I was just frustrated and a bit antsy. I'm happy I got out of that first set. It ended up being key to the match. Tomas was great."

The 36-year-old Federer, who is through to his 14th Australian Open semi-final, is the oldest player to reach that stage since Australian all-time great Ken Rosewall (42 years, 68 days) in January 1977.

“It was a good start,” said Berdych. “I had good chances, a couple set points. Then I think he just got more confident after he saved the first set. Then it was very difficult with him again. After having been basically a whole set down, it gives you a [big] boost. Especially with him, I think it was just the deciding thing. I mean, everything is 'if'. But winning a first set would be completely different story."

Second seed Federer, who beat Rafael Nadal in last year’s final, will next challenge South Korea’s Hyeon Chung, the 21-year-old Next Gen ATP Finals champion. Chung reached his first major championship semi-final with a straight sets victory over American Tennys Sandgren earlier in the day. Federer and World No. 58 Chung have never met before.

"I've never played Chung or [Kyle] Edmund so it's great to see new names on the scene," said Federer, during his on-court interview. "The way both of them made it to the semis is highly impressive. The Chung-Djokovic match was the match I watched the most. Chung is very talented. He's clearly got nothing to lose. I will tell myself the same, and we'll see what happens."

Later, during his press conference, Federer admitted, "'I'm very excited to play Chung. I thought he played an incredible match against Novak. I mean, to beat [Novak] here is one of the tough things to do in our sport, I believe... To bounce back from a Novak match and just somehow get it done today, this afternoon, that's tough. That shows that he's had good composure, a great mindset... I think it's an interesting match for me. I'll definitely have to look into how I need to play against him because he has some great qualities, especially defensively."

With his ninth straight win over Berdych, Federer improved to 92-13 at Melbourne Park and will now prepare for a record 43rd major semi-final on Friday night.

Should Federer retain the Australian Open crown he will move to within 155 points of his great Spanish rival, Rafael Nadal, who is currently No. 1 in the ATP Rankings.

First Set

Berdych started aggressively to win the first three games, and didn’t put a foot wrong until the ninth game. But as the Czech served for the first set at 5-3, Federer appeared to be rattled, yet was subtly able to raise his game. The pressure began to tell and Berdych lost three of his first four service points, but recovered only to squander a set point chance. Federer broke on his fourth break point, then, when serving in the next game, made a subtle change of pace on a forehand at 30/40. Berdych’s eyes lit up. Needing to generate pace, the Czech struck a backhand long and a second set point opportunity disappeared. Federer refocused in the tie-break to win the first three points and clinched the 60-minute opener with a sliced backhand drop shot winner. Overall, Federer lost just three of his first-service points (25/28) and hit 24 winners in the set.

“I just tried to hang around, tried to play a bit more aggressive, get some rhythm going, because Tomas found that early,” said Federer. “That's why I was under pressure. It was definitely very close, the turning point [was the first set], and it ended up being for the entire match. I played a great tie-break. Got off to a good start there. But coming back from 2-5 in the first set, it was clearly big tonight.”

Second Set

Berdych, contesting the 200th Grand Slam championship match of his career, gave himself an opportunity in the third game of the second set, when Federer was serving at 30/40. But the Swiss star, with improved court position, remained aggressive and ripped a backhand winner down the line. As the set wore on, Federer pounced, coming to the net to strike a backhand body shot at 4-3, with Berdych serving at 15/40. Federer soon calmly held to 15 to remain on course for his ninth straight victory over Berdych.

Third Set

The writing appeared to be on the wall for Berdych when a Hawk-Eye challenge on break point at 1-1, went Federer’s way. Federer gave a wry smile as the big screen showed the ball had clipped the line by a small margin. But credit to Berdych, the 2014 and 2015 semi-finalist, when he broke back immediately with a return winner. Federer subsequently raised his game once more with a third successive service break, after a backhand winner. From that moment on, Federer lost only one point in his next three service games. He has yet to lose a set at this year's championship.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Roger Federer eases into the quarter finals at Australian Open

 First day match of the tournament

Like player, like coach. In 2002, Roger Federer beat Attila Savolt in the second round of the Australian Open. On Monday, Federer knocked out Hungary's Marton Fucsovics, who's coached by Savolt, to reach his 14th Australian Open quarter-finals 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-2.

Federer has now won 12 consecutive sets as he looks to stay on track to defend his Australian Open title. He made a bit of history as well on Monday. The 36-year-old Federer became the oldest man to reach the Melbourne quarter-finals since Ken Rosewall (43 years, 59 days) in December 1977, and Federer extended his Open Era record by reaching his 52nd Grand Slam quarter-finals.

The second seed will next face Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals. Federer leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 19-6, including all four matchups at the Australian Open (2008, 2009, 2016, 2017), and has won their past eight contests.

"We have had some good ones over the years," said Federer. "I'm looking forward to playing against him. He seems in good shape, and I'm happy he's over his back issues that he also had at the end of last year. That's a good thing."

Most Australian Open quarter-final appearances (Open Era)


No. of appearances

Roger Federer


Stefan Edberg


Rafael Nadal


Novak Djokovic


Ivan Lendl


John  New Combe

Active players in bold.

Fucsovics hardly lied down for Federer, though. The 25-year-old Hungarian was playing in his first Grand Slam fourth round, and he wasn't intimidated by the moment, particularly in the first two sets. The right-hander saved seven of 10 break points for the match against Federer, who showed a bit of everything against Fucsovics, including relentless defence and aggressive offence.

“I thought he was playing really clean, solid,” Federer said on court after the match. “Credit to him for playing a great tournament."

But Fucsovics, who had previously played best-of-five set practice matches with his opponent in Switzerland, couldn't touch Federer's serve. The second seed conducted a clinic with his racquet on Rod Laver Arena. His serve numbers by set:

First Set: 80% (20/25)
Second Set: 88% (28/32, including 18/18 on his first serve)
Third Set: 71% (17/24)

Federer, speaking about their previous practice match experience, shed some light on how the meeting in his home country helped him in the fourth-round encounter. "He was not completely the unknown opponent that maybe people thought he was," said Federer.

"When you play multiple sets in a short period of time against somebody, you start to understand their strengths and weaknesses a little bit. The goal for me was really trying to be focused on my own game and take it to him and play tough, but he hung with me for a long time, so it was a good match."

The five-time champion never faced a break point, and although he'll want to shore up his play during break points – three for 10 – the Swiss will happily take another straight-sets win.

Most Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances (Open Era)


No. of appearances

Roger Federer


Jimmy Connors


Novak Djokovic


Andre Agassi


Ivan Lendl


Rafael Nadal


Andy Murray


Friday, January 19, 2018

Roger Federer sweeps aside Gasquet to reach 2nd week of Australian Open

If second seed Roger Federer is feeling any pressure to defend his 2017 Australian Open title this fortnight, he certainly is not showing it. The Swiss right-hander won in straight sets for the third match in a row on Saturday evening, ousting No. 29 seed Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.

“My head’s still spinning from the match point where I got so lucky so I’m just trying to get over that one,” Federer said with a laugh on court after the match. “I think I was able to maybe stay a little bit more on the offensive than he was and maybe I was protecting my own serve a little bit better than him, I don’t know. But the second set was tight, the match was close."

A year after Federer won the title despite coming directly off a six-month layoff due to injury, the Swiss is attempting to tie the record currently held by Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic of six Australian Opentitles.

To Gasquet’s credit, the Frenchman battled until the end. Federer appeared in cruise control serving at 4-2 in the third set. But the 14-time ATP World Tour titlist found some of his best tennis to save three game points and break back, before playing a solid service game of his own to even the set at 4-4.

But true to his good form, Federer found a way to bounce back and on his second match point in Gasquet’s next service game, scrambled to reach a Gasquet volley, flicking a backhand passing shot down the line to clinch the victory on his second match point.

"I was hoping I could play at that level. No, I'm very happy that I was able to rise to a level that I needed to beat Richard," Federer said in his press conference. "It was tough. The score shows it, as well. I could have done it maybe a bit faster. At the same time I'm happy to have done it the way it happened. I was pleased. I think I had some good shots."

Federer won 80 per cent of his first-serve points and knocked 42 winners past his opponent to advance. But he was not the only one on Rod Laver Arena who showed good tennis — Gasquet struck 27 winners on the evening.

"I enjoy when we have good points. I like to see, I don't know, the way he saved match point. The first one was a backhand down the line. Feels like he can do that in his sleep," Federer said. "I admire that. I take pleasure out of him making that shot even though for a second I thought that this could have been the match point I had and end up losing the match. That really went through my mind. But I do take pleasure out of his shot-making, my opponent's shot-making, because I know how much hard work has been put into it."

The 36-year-old will next face Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, who defeated World No. 93 Nicolas Kicker 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in one hour, 56 minutes. The fourth-round matchup will be the first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair.

Fucsovics, who is at a career-high No. 80 in the ATP Rankings, arrived at Melbourne Park without a main draw Grand Slam victory in three attempts. That has not stopped him from winning his three matches thus far, though. The 25-year-old, competing in his first Australian Open main draw, broke six times and captured 59 per cent of points in the match to triumph.