Saturday, June 30, 2018

Roger Federer enjoying family time on court with sons Leo and Lenny at Wimbledon

Roger Federer was spotted enjoying a lovely moment on court at Wimbledon on Thursday. After his training session, the Swiss player was joined by his twins Leo and Lenny, who turned 4 in May this year. They seemed to enjoy the experience, and they were happy to see their father, who was alone just with his team in Stuttgart and Halle events.

Federer also has two girls, Myla and Charlene, who will turn 9 in August. As every year, the world No. 2 is with his whole family at the All England Club, including wife Mirka and his parents Robert and Lynette, all ready to enjoy moments on court and off-court.

Friday, June 29, 2018

Roger Federer gets favorable Wimbledon draw

Defending champion Roger Federer has been drawn in the same half of The Championships draw as Marin Cilic, the player he beat in last year’s Wimbledon final. Three-time former champion Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray, the 2013 and 2016 titlist, are in the bottom of the 128-man Wimbledon  draw with World No. 1 Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro.

The draw ceremony, held at the All England Club on Friday morning, has also thrown out intriguing first-round matches. Early popcorn matches include, 2014 and 2015 quarter-finalist Stan Wawrinkaagainst sixth seed and 2014 semi-finalist Grigor Dimitrov and an all-French clash between Gael Monfils and two-time former semi-finalist Richard Gasquet. Borna Coric will face Daniil Medvedev in the opening round, while in-form London-based Jeremy Chardy plays No. 26 seed Denis Shapovalov.

If Nadal, who plays Dudi Sela in the first round, is to complete the Roland Garros-Wimbledon title double for the third time (2008, 2010), the Spanish icon may need to work his way past Murray or 2013 semi-finalist Del Potro in the quarter-finals, followed by potentially one of fourth seed Alexander Zverev, No. 12 seed Djokovic or No. 15 seed Nick Kyrgios in the semi-finals. Nadal lost to Gilles Muller– who is in Federer’s top quarter of the draw – in last year’s fourth round.

Potential Popcorn Matches

Third Round: Andy Murray vs. Juan Martin del Potro
Third Round: Marin Cilic vs. Milos Raonic
Third Round: Grigor Dimitrov vs. John Isner
Third Round: Alexander Zverev vs. Nick Kyrgios
Fourth Round: Roger Federer vs. Borna Coric

Federer, the top seed, who will be looking to add to his 20 Grand Slam championship crowns, competes at the All England Club for the 20th year. With a 92-11 record at the grass-court major, the Swiss superstar will open his campaign for a ninth trophy against Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic. He may have a chance to avenge his Gerry Weber Open final loss to Coric in the fourth round. Should he reach the quarter-finals, Federer could then face eighth seed Kevin Anderson or last year’s semi-finalist and No. 11 seed Sam Querrey.

Djokovic, the 2011 and 2014-15 winner (58-10 record at Wimbledon), who finished runner-up to Marin Cilic at last week’s Fever-Tree Championships – representing his first ATP World Tour final for 12 months – will face American Tennys Sandgren in the first round and could meet No. 21 seed Kyle Edmund in the third round. Seventh seed Dominic Thiem, who opens against Marcos Baghdatis and in the same quarter, is a potential fourth-round opponent. The Serbian may then meet fourth seed Alexander Zverev, who advanced to the Last 16 in 2017, in the quarter-finals.

Murray, who started his comeback from hip surgery at The Queen’s Club last week, plays Benoit Paire in the first round. The 2013 and 2016 champion, with a 57-10 record at SW19, features in the same section as Del Potro and Nadal. But Murray will need to beat Chardy or Shapovalov in the second round prior to playing Del Potro, who begins his campaign against Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk.

Third seed Cilic, in the top half, is in the same quarter of the draw as Milos Raonic, the 2016 runner-up, ninth seed John Isner, Wawrinka and Dimitrov. Cilic, who is 27-11 lifetime at Wimbledon, opens his bid against Yoshihito Nishioka of Japan, while No. 13 Raonic plays British wild card Liam Broady.

Zverev, who reached his first major championship quarter-final at Roland Garros recently, starts against Australia's James Duckworth. Kyrgios, the No. 15 seed, challenges Denis Istomin, with a potential third-round clash against No. 24 seed Kei Nishikori, who begins against qualifier Christian Harrison.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Roger Federer upbeat despite falling short of 10th Halle title

It's not often that Roger Federer plays his best match of the tournament in an ATP World Tour final yet walks away with the smaller of the two trophies. But, Federer said, that's what happened on Sunday at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle.

The 36-year-old Swiss played great, but Croatia's Borna Coric, playing in his first grass-court final, competed a bit better to win the biggest title of his career at the ATP World Tour 500-level event.

“I actually thought I played maybe my best match of the week today. It just didn’t go my way. So, it’s a bit unfortunate there. But I’m definitely going to leave with my head high, thinking it’s been a good run,” said Federer, who fell to 9-3 in Halle finals.

“Credit to him to play really, really quality tennis at the very end of that first set and then in the third as well, he never really dropped his level and that was it. It was an unfortunate match for me but credit to Borna to really come out and play a tough match today.”

The top seed and defending champion saw his 20-match grass-court win streak snapped and had his quest for a 10th Halle title denied. Federer will also fall to No. 2 in the ATP Rankings on Monday when Rafael Nadal again takes over the top spot.

But Federer is proud of his grass-court season so far, including his title run at last week's MercedesCup in Stuttgart. The Swiss has 98 tour-level titles – 18 on grass – and will next compete at Wimbledon, which begins 2 July. The eight-time champion owns a 91-11 record at SW19.

“I’m definitely looking forward to some recovery time now next week and just some easy preparation. [I'm] really going to love going to Wimbledon. Being the defending champion always creates pressure. So regardless of whether I won or lost here I will be one of the favourites there,” he said. “But all of that stuff doesn’t matter; I just really need to make sure I play great tennis from the get-go and hopefully I can do that there again.”

Sad he didn't win, but Wimbledon is all that matters anyway.  And at least he won Stuttgart. 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Roger Federer reaches 12th Gerry Weber Open final in Halle

Roger Federer has won a record 18 grass-court titles, an all-time record according to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone. But the Swiss has never triumphed at two tour-level grass-court events ahead of Wimbledon in one season. After defeating Denis Kudla 7-6(1), 7-5 on Saturday to reach his 12th Gerry Weber Open final, he will have the opportunity to do so.

“I’m very happy,” said Federer. “I’ve never played back-to-back finals on grass like this in events before Wimbledon. So, this is a first for me. I’m very happy having won Stuttgart and, now, making another final here in Halle is great. I would have taken that any day a month ago.”

Federer, bidding to win his 99th tour-level title, won his 20th consecutive match on grass after 87 minutes, firing 12 aces and winning 84 per cent of first-serve points en route to victory. The nine-time champion has not lost on grass since his 2017 MercedesCup defeat to Germany's Tommy Haas. Federer's 20-match grass win streak is the second longest of his career. The 36-year-old won 65 consecutive encounters on the surface from 2003 to 2008.

Federer improves to 12-2 in Halle semi-final clashes after denying Kudla a place in his first ATP World Tour final. Kudla has reached two tour-level semi-finals from qualifying. The American qualifier also made it to the final four at the 2015 BB&T Atlanta Open (l. to Isner).

The Swiss improves to 63-6 at the event and will face Borna Coric in Sunday's final. Coric advanced to the championship match after playing just five games of his semi-final against Roberto Bautista Agut. The Spaniard was forced to retire after an unfortunate slip, with Coric serving at 2-3.

The Croatian enters his first grass-court final at the tour-level in strong form, after securing his first Top 10 victory on the surface earlier this week against home favourite Alexander Zverev. Coric has won one of his previous three ATP World Tour finals, triumphing at the 2017 Grand Prix Hassan IIagainst Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Federer leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Coric 2-0, which includes their three-set BNP Paribas Open semi-final meeting in March. “I’m ready for a tough final against Coric and I just hope I can find my best game,” said Federer.

Federer got off to a quick start, becoming just the second man to break Kudla in five matches this week with great depth off his groundstrokes proving key. Kudla had saved 20 of 21 break points at the tournament, including his two victories in qualifying.

The American quickly responded, however, immediately breaking back after rushing the World No. 1 into a forehand error. Both men eventually found their rhythm on serve from that point, holding comfortably to reach a tie-break.

Federer, as has often been the case in Halle tie-breaks, raised his level. The 36-year-old raced out to a 6/0 lead before clinching a one-set advantage, two points later, with a well-placed serve down the 'T'. Federer has now won 16 of his past 17 tie-breaks in Halle.

“It was a pity I could not maintain the break advantage I created in the first game,” said Federer. “That was my big goal this morning: to come out of the blocks fast and good and protect the lead. I couldn’t do that. And then, honestly, I think we both went on a pretty good roll of not dropping serves anymore. It was just hard to break for a while and I played a good tie-break again, like yesterday. I think that was crucial.”

Kudla manufactured two break-point chances in the fourth game of the second set, but could not convert either. The 25-year-old misfired on his backhand side in an extended rally at 15/40 before Federer seized control with aggressive play to level proceedings.

Kudla created further chances in the seventh game, taking the opening three points against serve. But, once again, Federer held his nerve and rose to the occasion. The nine-time champion took control on his serve and forehand side to escape for 4-4.

Three games later, Federer's forehand made the crucial breakthrough. On his first break point of the set, the Swiss fired a backhand return onto the baseline before taking charge on his forehand, from the backhand corner, to extract a crucial error from Kudla. Five points later, Federer converted his first match point with an unreturned serve out wide.

"I’m going to enjoy it," said Coric. "I didn’t expect this at the beginning of the week. Today I was a little bit lucky. I’m sorry for Roberto. But I can rest a little bit now which is good. I don’t think my chances are really big but I’m going to go out there and I’m going to try to win. That’s for sure."

Did You Know?

Roger Federer has never lost before the quarter-finals in Halle, and has reached 14 consecutive semi-finals at the event.

Friday, June 22, 2018

Roger Federer made to work again but reaches semis in Halle

World No. 1 Roger Federer extended his grass-court winning streak to 19 matches on Friday at the Gerry Weber Open, where he is bidding for a 10th trophy.

Twenty-four hours after saving two match points against Benoit Paire in the second round, Federer needed to recover from 3-5 down in the second set against Matthew Ebden for a 7-6(2), 7-5 victory over 88 minutes.

"I’m happy I played good when I had to [at the] end of the second, end of the first as well," Federer said. "I think that comes with playing a lot of matches now. It was tricky. I think Ebden played a good match and I’m happy I got through somehow."

Federer, the 2003-06, 2008, 2013-15 and 2017 Halle champion, with a 62-6 record at the ATP World Tour 500 tournament, moved up through the gears at 3-5 in the second set to win 16 of the next 20 points to win in straight sets. He will next prepare to face American qualifier Denis Kudla, who beat Yuichi Sugita of Japan earlier on day five.

Federer was made to bide his time in the first set, when Ebden, competing with confidence at a career-high No. 60 in the ATP Rankings, gave little away. Federer had one break point chance at 3-3, with Ebden serving at 30/40, but raised his game in the tie-break by winning the first three points.

Federer came close to taking a 2-0 lead in the second set, but Ebden maintained his composure to save three break points and later clinched Federer’s serve for 2-1 in their first-time meeting. While Federer immediately levelled the score at 2-2, Ebden kept fighting — just as he had done against 2011 titlist Kohlschreiber on Thursday — and broke his Swiss opponent’s serve for a second time at 3-3.

Ebden did little wrong when serving for the second set at 5-3, but Federer drew on his big-match experience when it mattered most - shortening his racquet take back on return to get the ball in court - to clinch four straight games and earn his 24th win in 26 matches this year.

"I think it’s normal once you get broken on grass that you are ready to go a third because that would be a logical consequence of being broken," Federer said. "But at the same time, you try to show a reaction, try to break back and I had to and was able to do that today."

Kudla advanced to only the second ATP World Tour semi-final of his career on Friday when he fought back from a 2-5 deficit in the second set — and saved one set point — to beat Sugita 6-2, 7-5 in 82 minutes. The qualifier, who reached the 2015 BB&T Atlanta Open semi-finals (l. to Isner), saved one set point when serving at 3-5, Ad-Out, in the second set for only his fifth tour-level match win of 2018.

Federer beat Kudla in their only FedEx ATP Head2Head clash at the 2012 BNP Paribas Open in straight sets. Kudla had won just two tour-level matches this year. but this week he has earned three victories for his second ATP World Tour semi-final.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Roger Federer comes back from the brink of defeat to reach quarters in Halle

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Roger Federer saved two match points in taking another step closer to his 10th Gerry Weber Open title on Thursday, when he worked overtime to extend his grass-court winning streak to 18 matches.

The Swiss superstar, who must retain the Halle title in order to remain at No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, had to play at his very best to knock out Benoit Paire of France 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7) in one hour and 59 minutes for a place in the quarter-finals.

Federer held his nerve to avoid another third set tie-break loss this year. In March, he lost to Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-7(8), 7-6(2) in the BNP Paribas Open final and at the next ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament, he fell to Thanasi Kokkinakis 3-6, 6-3, 7-6(4) in the Miami Open presented by Itau second round.

Federer led 3/1 in the deciding-set tie-break, before Paire fought back for a 5/3 advantage and held match point chances at 6/5 and 7/6. Federer saved the first match point by hitting a tricky topspin forehand from his shoelaces, inside the service box, to land on the baseline. The Swiss struck an aggressive backhand service return deep down the middle of the court on Paire's second match point, which the Frenchman ultimately lost with an unforced forehand error.

“It was a tough match,” said Federer. “I played at a good level actually. I think he served well and had a good mix and a good variety. It was hard to break. So, naturally, it was always going to be tight. And at the end it was just extremely close. So, I’m fortunate to have made it today.”

He will next play Australia’s Matthew Ebden, who beat 2011 champion Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany earlier in the day.

Paire began strongly, giving little pace to Federer and hit a high proportion of his first serves into court. The Frenchman earned the first break point opportunity of the match when Federer was caught off guard by a lob at 3-3. The World No. 48 showed signs of frustration one game later, when he committed successive groundstroke errors to gift Federer a 5-3 advantage.

Regaining his composure after the 27-minute opener, Paire saved two break points in the opening game of the second set and the used his backhand to move Federer around the court and take a 4-0 lead in 19 minutes. Paire came within two points of leading 5-0, but later at 30/40 Federer struck a backhand crosscourt winner to get one service break back. Paire held his nerve to win his first set in six FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Federer and finished with an ace.

While Federer served first in the decider, he continued to shake his head as Paire didn’t give him any rhythm. Paire was left frustrated on Federer's serve at 3-3, when the wrong shot choice cost him at 30/30 and he later saved two match points from 15/40 at 5-5, with big first serves.

Federer has a 61-6 match record in Halle, including trophies in 2003-06, 2008, 2013-15 and 2017. With three pieces of silverware to his name in 2018—Australian Open (d. Cilic), ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament (d. Dimitrov) and last week’s MercedesCup (d. Raonic) — the 36-year-old Swiss is 23-2 on the year.

Matthew Ebden, competing at a career-high No. 60 in the ATP Rankings, continued his impressive run of form on grass courts by beating local hope Philipp Kohlschreiber.

Ebden, fresh off his second ATP World Tour semi-final at the Libema Open (l. to Chardy), ran out a 4-6, 6-1, 6-2 winner over 2011 champion Kohlschreiber, who has a 31-12 record in Halle.

While this Houdini act was fun and all, a little less drama in the next one Roger.  Thank you.  I was having flashbacks to Miami and Indian Wells.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Roger Federer breezes through Halle opener

Roger Federer raced through his opening match at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle on Tuesday, taking only 71 minutes to beat Slovenia's Aljaz Bedene 6-3, 6-4. The top seed and No. 1 player in the ATP Rankings stretched his grass-court win streak to 17, dating back to last year's titles in Halle and Wimbledon and including his 98th title run last week at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart.

Federer fought through an eight-minute game to break Bedene and immediately grab control for a 2-0 lead. He served flawlessly, winning 84 per cent (41/49) of his service points for the match, including a hold to love for the opening set.

The Swiss right-hander then broke in the ninth game of the second set before another routine service hold clinched his place in the second round.

The 36-year-old is going for his 10th Halle title (2003-06, 2008, 2013-15, 2017). Half of Federer's 18 grass-court crowns have come in the German city. He needs to repeat as Halle champion to stay No. 1, or else Rafael Nadal will reclaim the top spot in the ATP Rankings.

Federer will next try to improve to 6-0 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Frenchman Benoit Paire, who beat Steve Johnson of the U.S. 7-5, 7-6(5).

In other action, sixth seed Philipp Kohlschreiber advanced when Hungary's Marton Fucsovics retired down 6-4, 3-6, 1-2. Kohlschreiber will next meet Aussie Matthew Ebden, a finalist last year at the grass-court Dell Technologies Hall of Fame Open in Newport. Ebden beat Tunisia's Malek Jaziri 6-0, 7-6(2) in Halle.

Did You Know?

Roger Federer improved to 60-6 in Halle on Tuesday.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Roger Federer 1st time Mercedes Cup Champion!

I'm sure he already has one of those, but hey what's one more, right Rog? :)

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Roger Federer might have taken 11 weeks off, but the Swiss wasted no time jumping back into the winners’ circle.

The top seed defeated No. 7 seed and 2016 Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic 6-4, 7-6(3) to capture the MercedesCup title on Sunday, extending his grass-court winning streak to 16 matches dating back to victories at Halle and Wimbledon last year.

"I'm really happy. I thought it was a good final from my side. I think I played very well throughout the tournament, actually, having not played for a while. It's a great comeback for me," Federer said. "Maybe I was a little bit better on the bigger points. Of course I'm so happy to have won here, finally, in Stuttgart."

Federer's Career Record By Surface

Surface Record Winning Percentage Titles

168-24 87.5% 18

Hard 725-145 83.3% 67

Clay 214-68 75.9% 11

It is Federer’s 98th tour-level title and 18th grass-court trophy. The 36-year-old, who was also victorious at the Australian Open and the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament earlier this year, has now earned three or more triumphs in 13 of the past 15 seasons. The Swiss is now 18-6 in grass-court finals, with all six of his losses coming against opponents who cracked the Top 2 of the ATP Rankings in their career.

By reaching the championship match in Stuttgart, Federer guaranteed that he will climb to World No. 1 in the ATP Rankings on Monday, doing so for the third time this season. He will need to retain his Halle title next week if he is to maintain the top spot ahead of Wimbledon. Federer now leads Raonic 11-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, and 4-1 on grass courts, winning his past five sets against the Canadian.

The top seed arrived in Stuttgart holding just a 2-2 record at the event. And in both of his losses over the past two years, the Swiss held at least one match point before losing. But Federer, who began his season a career-best 17-0 before losing consecutive matches in the Indian Wells final and his Miami opener, earned four wins this week. He dropped serve just twice en route to the title, holding on 48 of 50 attempts. According to the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, he now holds a 168-24 tour-level record on grass.

"It's been difficult the last [couple] years [in Stuttgart], lost a [couple] tight matches," Federer said. "But not this year. They went my way, so I'm very happy."

Raonic entered the final having won all 41 of his service games in the tournament. But Federer wasted little time making his mark on that statistic, breaking at 1-1 in the opening set with an inside-out backhand return winner. There were no breaks of serve in the second set. And it was Federer who held firm under pressure. Raonic double-faulted to give Federer a 5/3 lead in the tie-break, and that was the only edge the Swiss needed.

It was not that Raonic played poorly. In fact, it was quite the opposite. The Canadian, who led the tournament by winning 70 per cent of his second serve points ahead of the final, won 72 per cent of his service points overall and faced just one break point. But on the biggest points, the Swiss was in control of the pace of play, either choosing to swoop into net for a putaway volley, or moving the 27-year-old around the baseline.

"I played great in the big moments," Federer said. "At the end, I played some of my best tennis... it's a great feeling."

Federer showed an astute use of tactics in his final service game before the second-set tie-break. The Canadian earned a 0/30 advantage, threatening to send the final to a deciding set. But Federer hit four consecutive serves to Raonic's forehand — three of which were first serves — capturing each of the points without a return coming back into the court. The 36-year-old served well all day, winning 86 per cent (38/44) of first-serve points. And while he hit only four aces, Federer kept his opponent off balance, holding to love four times.

Federer earns €117,030 and 250 ATP Rankings points for his efforts, while Raonic takes home €61,635 and 150 points. It was a successful week for the eight-time ATP World Tour titlist, who is now 8-14 in tour-level finals. This was Raonic's first final since the TEB BNP Paribas Istanbul Open last year.

"I had some chances today but couldn’t convert them. All in all it was very positive for me and I hope to keep that trend going," Raonic said. "I’m not far off from my best grass tennis. Maybe I’m lacking the confidence for the right decision still. I hit the ball well, my service is good. Maybe I need a few more matches to get the confidence to make the right decisions in a split second."

Did You Know?

Roger Federer is now 98-50 in tour-level finals. He has won 65 of those championship matches in straight sets.

Title # 98 for the King of Grass :)

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Roger Federer fights past Nick Kyrgios to reach Mercedes Cup final in Stuttgart

Back to World #1 :)

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Top seed Roger Federer defeated No. 4 seed Nick Kyrgios 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-6(5) on Saturday in the MercedesCup semi-finals, guaranteeing that he will return to the top of the ATP Rankings on Monday.

"I'm very happy, very relieved. I thought it was a tough match [like] I expected against Nick. We've played so many breakers already, I'm losing count," Federer said. "It was close. It could have gone either way, naturally. But I'm happy I got it and get back to World No. 1 next Monday, so it's very exciting. And I've got another final, so it's great news."

It is the Swiss’ first tournament in 11 weeks, going back to the Miami Open presented by Itau. A year ago, Federer lost in his opening-round match in Stuttgart after opting not to play during the clay-court season. But this time around, he is into the final. The 36-year-old arrived this week with a 2-2 record at the tournament.

Trailing Rafael Nadal by 100 points entering the week, Federer needed to reach at least the championship match to ensure he will climb to World No. 1 on 18 June. Otherwise, he would not have had another opportunity to do so on the mown lawns, having won titles in Halle and Wimbledon last year. That means that Federer cannot gain any more points during the grass-court season after this week.

In February, Federer returned to World No. 1 for the first time since 4 November 2012, which is the longest gap between a player's stints atop the ATP Rankings. Federer, held the top spots for six weeks and then took it back from Nadal for one more week beginning on 14 May.

On Sunday, Federer will face a familiar foe in Milos Raonic as he attempts to lift his 98th tour-level trophy. The 36-year-old leads the Canadian 10-3 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, which includes a 3-1 edge on grass.

"It would mean a lot to me to win Stuttgart, no doubt about it," Federer said. "I'm really excited to play Milos. He's in great shape again. It's nice for him, and I hope we can play another great match and I'm really excited to be in the final here."

It looked like the Swiss' hopes were slipping away when Kyrgios hit a rocket-like crosscourt forehand passing shot to gain a mini-break lead in the final-set tie-break. But Federer was the steadier player, shoveling a short backhand past Kyrgios on his first match point to clinch the victory after one hour, 52 minutes and earn a chance to play for his 18th grass-court title.

FedEx ATP Head2Head Series: Roger Federer vs. Nick Kyrgios
 Winner Tournament Score
 Nick Kyrgios 2015 Mutua Madrid Open 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(12)
 Roger Federer 2017 Miami Open presented by Itau 7-6(9), 6-7(9), 7-6(5)
 Roger Federer 2018 MercedesCup 6-7(2), 6-2, 7-6(5)

This was the pair's third FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, with their series tied at 1-1 entering the match. Interestingly, their first six sets all went to tie-breaks. So it was no surprise that the first set on Saturday went to a seventh consecutive tie-break. Kyrgios, who saved the only two break points of the set, earned a mini-break lead for 3/1, dictating play with a series of down-the-line backhands before aggressively taking a final backhand crosscourt that the Swiss could not handle. The Aussie did not look back from there, confidently closing out the opener.

But as well as Kyrgios served under pressure in the first set, it proved his undoing in the second. The Australian went for two big second serves at 1-1, hitting back-to-back double faults to concede an early break. His frustration from that slip-up showed, as Kyrgios whipped an inside-out forehand from his back foot into the net to give Federer a second break.

But Kyrgios regrouped, and the decider was tight throughout. Neither player faced a break point, with the pair playing their eighth tie-break. And while Kyrgios hit two massive serves in the opening-set tie-break to consolidate his mini-break, Federer did not allow Kyrgios to widen his lead in the final-set tie-break. With the Aussie leading 3/1, Federer pinned him back with a deep return, before forcing an error with a heavy forehand approach shot to the backhand.

Federer won 81 per cent of his service points in the match, and did not face a break point. He excelled on his second serve, winning 75 per cent of points on his second delivery, mixing up placement well throughout the match.

It was a strong effort by Kyrgios, who showed little rust in his first singles tournament in two months, as the 23-year-old has been recovering from a right elbow injury. Earlier this year, the Canberran won his fourth ATP World Tour title at the Brisbane International presented by Suncorp, his first triumph in Australia. In May, he captured his maiden tour-level doubles title alongside Jack Sock at the Open Parc Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Lyon.

Did You Know?

Roger Federer and Milos Raonic have met at Wimbledon in each of the past two years. Federer won last year en route to the title, while Raonic triumphed in 2016 to reach his maiden Grand Slam final.

That 3rd set tie-break though.  Talk about a close one!. 

Friday, June 15, 2018

Roger Federer will meet Kyrgios next at Mercedes Cup semis in Stuttgart

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Roger Federer is now one win away from reclaiming the No. 1 ATP Ranking from Rafael Nadal.

The Swiss No. 1 seed defeated Argentine Guido Pella 6-4, 6-4 at the MercedesCup on Friday in his second match since 24 March. Trailing Nadal by just 100 points entering the week, Federer needs to reach the final in Stuttgart to guarantee his third stint atop the rankings this season.

"I thought I was in good control today. I thought I served well. I didn't give Guido many chances to get into my service games, except maybe the last couple," Federer said. "I was happy that I also got more rhythm today."

Despite being two triumphs from taking World No. 1 on 18 June, Federer says it didn't cross his mind while he was playing Pella.

"Funny enough, I didn't think of it today," Federer said. "I was really just focused on the task at hand. But I'm sure that the next match, especially now that you reminded me as well, I will think of it. It's all good. In the match that you play for World No. 1, it's clearly going to be in the back of your head."

He will next face talented Aussie Nick Kyrgios, who defeated 2017 Fever-Tree Championships winner Feliciano Lopez in three sets. Federer and Kyrgios's FedEx ATP Head2Head series is knotted at 1-1, with all six of their sets going to tie-breaks.

The 36-year-old has already doubled his victory total in Stuttgart this week after arriving in Germany this year with a 2-2 record at the event. One year ago, Federer fell against then-World No. 302 Tommy Haas in his opening match. This year's Australian Open and Rotterdam champion is attempting to win his 18th grass-court trophy. With his triumph against Pella, Federer has won 14 consecutive matches on the mown lawns dating back to title runs at Halle and Wimbledon last year.

The Swiss showed his prowess on the surface, frequently swooping to net with swift aplomb against the left-handed Pella, who had not won a tour-level grass-court match (0-4) before this tournament. Federer lost just one point on serve in the first set, earning a break with a whipping inside-out forehand winner. He didn't let slip the momentum, dancing on the grass to hit an inside-in forehand passing shot for an immediate break in the second set.

"I thought I was able to stay aggressive. I really wanted to cut down the length of the points as much as possible to see how that goes," Federer said. "I think that was a good decision."

Federer faced only one moment of difficulty, falling behind 15/40 while serving for the match at 5-4 in the second set. But Federer battled through with strong serving.

Did You Know?

Roger Federer got off to a career-best 17-0 start in 2018, before losing back-to-back matches in the Indian Wells final (l. to Del Potro) and his Miami opener (l. to Kokkinakis).

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Roger Federer makes happy return to grass court tennis at Marcedes Cup in Stuttgart

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Swiss had fallen to Haas during his Stuttgart opener last year

Roger Federer showed some rust but the Swiss legend ultimately settled enough into his first match in nearly three months to advance on Wednesday at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart.

The No. 2 player in the ATP Rankings came back to beat home favourite Mischa Zverev 3-6, 6-4, 6-2 in front of, as customary, a pro-Federer crowd.

“Three months is a long time, it's longer than the year-end break. So I'm very happy returning on good terms onto the Tour,” Federer said. “It was difficult, missed some chances maybe in the first set... He connected well at the right times.

“And then I found a way, I found my rhythm... I'm very happy with how I played. I'm super happy to be back on Tour. It's been a great start.”

Federer can reclaim the No. 1 ATP Ranking from long-time rival Rafael Nadal with a run to the championship match in Stuttgart. The 36-year-old lost to Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis on 24 March during his opening match at the Miami Open presented by Itau before skipping the entire European clay-court swing for the second year in a row.

But the Swiss has long favoured the grass. Seventeen – nine at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle and eight at Wimbledon – of Federer's 97 tour-level titles have come on the surface, and he's won 87 per cent (165/189) of his grass-court matches.

Zverev, though, covered the net well and landed enough first serves to take advantage of a slow start from the Swiss. Federer had four break chances during Zverev's first three service games, but the German erased them all and then broke Federer to love in the eighth game. The German had never won a set against Federer in their five prior FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, including three on grass, but he clinched the opener with a drop volley.

"It was difficult from the start... We both knew, going into the match, a passing shot here or there, or maybe a half volley, a return or a pick-up or something was going to make the difference," said Federer. "I think maybe I just created a few more opportunities than he did. I was able to play better as the match went on and that is something I can really build on."

Federer cranked it up a level in the second set, twice breaking Zverev to force the decider. Federer began to pick apart the lefty's serve-and-volley tactics even more in the third set, breaking again the fourth and eighth games.

“It feels good to win again. I've lost my last two matches,” said Federer, who lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the Indian Wells final before playing in Miami. “It's nice to get a fresh start here.”

The top seed had fallen to Tommy Haas in his Stuttgart opener last year. Federer will next meet Argentine Guido Pella or Indian Prajnesh Gunneswaran.

A little rusty, nothing more match play can't fix.  And he didn't lose in the first round this time. Progress. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Roger Federer clears up rumors about leaving Nike

Federer has been with the American sports brand since breaking through as a youngster and he has donned their jerseys throughout all 20 Grand Slam title wins.

However, rumours circulated in local Swiss press yesterday that the world No 2 had signed a bumper 10-year deal with Uniqlo.

Federer had apparently penned a $30m-a-year contract (£22.4m) to represent the Japanese brand, who severed their ties with Novak Djokovic last year.

The 37-year-old says he has not yet decided which sports brand he will represent for the remainder of his career.

But Federer admitted he could still sign an extension with Nike - if the deal is right for both parties.

"It has already expired in March and we are in negotiations,” Federer said.

"They are rumours and nothing is ruled out, neither my continuity in Nike nor the end of our collaboration, nor a change to any brand.”

Although now out of contract, Federer has been snapped wearing Nike clothing at the Stuttgart Open.

The Swiss star is hoping to return to the top of the world rankings by winning his opening three rounds in Germany.

Rafael Nadal is the current world No 1 and he retained his title after victory in the French Open final yesterday.

The Spaniard beat Dominic Thiem in straight sets to secure his 11th Roland Garros title.

Monday, June 11, 2018

Roger Federer ready for return in Stuttgart

It's that time of year once again. The ATP World Tour's best are ready to grace the grass of Stuttgart and 's-Hertogenbosch, as the lawn tennis season begins.

And that means a familiar face is poised to make his long-awaited return. World No. 2 Roger Federer is back, competing in his first tournament since the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami in March.

For the second straight year, the Swiss will kick off his campaign on his preferred surface at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart. Plenty is at stake, with a final appearance moving Federer back to the top of the ATP Rankings. But despite his reign of dominance on grass, posting an Open Era best 164-24 record (.872) in the FedEx ATP Performance Zone, he acknowledges the challenges that the ATP World Tour 250 event poses.

"It’s not always that easy, especially on grass," Federer said ahead of the tournament. "The rallies are short, a few points decide them. It was like that two years ago against Dominic Thiem and last year I lost against Tommy Haas after having a match point.

"When it’s wet it gets slippery pretty quick and you are afraid to slip. Once you play timidly all the good practice was for naught and your good game is gone. In the last two years I lost against good players, so it also always depends on your opponent. Today I had fun. The grass doesn’t only look good, but is really perfect."

Federer opens against either qualifier Mikhail Youzhny or Germany's Mischa Zverev. He owns a perfect 17-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head mark against Youzhny and an undefeated 5-0 record over Zverev. Surging #NextGenATP star Denis Shapovalov is seeded sixth and looms in the quarter-finals, with fourth seed Nick Kyrgios a potential semi-final opponent.

The World No. 2 is making his third straight tournament appearance, having reached the semi-finals in 2016 (l. to Thiem) and suffered a first-round exit in 2017 (l. to Haas). He is looking to go all the way this year.

"I’m back again and I’ll give my best to go deeper this year," Federer added. "We will see how it goes in the first match. It’ll be my first match in three months, so I’m missing some match practice. I think the grass is better than in the past years. Let’s hope for some better weather."

So, how did Federer occupy his time during his three-month break? With four children, the Swiss valued his time spent with family and in Africa with the Roger Federer Foundation.

"We had some great vacations together as a family and then also alone," Federer reflected. "I was traveling for my foundation in Zambia and had a great time there. I hope we can make things happen and provide a better education for the kids there. I practised a lot the rest of the time and also put in some work in the gym.

"Sometimes I wish I’d had more time but the three months went past in a blur. Now I’m eager to get going again. The last few weeks were a bit boring. I want to play matches again, not only to practise. I’m very much looking forward to my first match."

Federer opens his Stuttgart campaign on Wednesday.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Roger Federer receives tough draw at Mercedes Cup in Stuttgart

Roger Federer will make his long-awaited return to the ATP World Tour next week at the Mercedes Cup, but the Swiss star faces a tough draw in Stuttgart.

The 97-time tour-level titlist, competing for the first time since March's Miami Open presented by Ita├║, could open his campaign against serve-and-volley specialist Mischa Zverev, before potentially meeting #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov, the No. 6 seed, in the quarter-finals, which would be their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting.

World No. 25 Shapovalov enjoyed a successful clay-court season, which included a run to the Mutua Madrid Open semi-finals, and would present a tough challenge for Federer, who is seeking his first title on the grass courts in Stuttgart. Federer owns a 2-2 record at the event, reaching the semi-finals on his debut in 2016 (l. to Thiem) before a surprising opening-match defeat to Tommy Haas in 2017.

Also in Federer's half of the draw is fellow returnee Nick Kyrgios, Roland Garros breakthrough star Maximilian Marterer and 2017 finalist Feliciano Lopez.

Headlining the bottom half of the draw is 2017 champion Lucas Pouille. The Frenchman, seeded No. 2 in the draw, could meet home favourite Philipp Kohlschreiber in the last eight, while former Wimbledon finalists Milos Raonic and Tomas Berdych could wait in the semi-finals.

Saturday, June 09, 2018

Simona Halep: Champion at last at Roland Garros!

 This moment right here is what broke me

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Sometimes history finds a way to repeat itself with the addition of an unforeseen quirk, to fashion the happiest of new chapters. So it was for Simona Halep in the final of Roland-Garros 2018.

One year ago on Court Philippe-Chatrier, she led Jelena Ostapenko by a set and a break, only for the Latvian to turn the match on its head and break her opponent’s heart.

Twelve months on, Halep found herself a set and a break down to Sloane Stephens, looking down the barrel of her fourth defeat in a Grand Slam final. She didn’t much like the view.

With the weight of global expectation on her shoulders, Halep forced her way back, past an opponent playing with the freedom of one who has already exceeded expectation by reaching the final. This time, the Romanian would not be defeated, pushing on through exhaustion all the way to victory. Halep won 3-6 6-4 6-1. The world No.1 is at last a Grand Slam champion.

"It was amazing and I felt your support," Halep told the crowd during an on-court interview.

"In the last game I felt I cannot breathe any more. So I just tried not to repeat the (outcome from) last year. So I did everything I could, it's amazing what is happening now. Honestly I cannot believe it. I was dreaming for this moment since I started to play tennis. I'm really happy that it's happened in Roland-Garros in Paris. My special city."

Every inch of the form book dictated that this must be Halep’s time. She led her career encounters against the American 5-2; she had won all four of their most recent encounters in straight sets, three of which were on Stephens’ preferred hard courts, and the last three sets between them before this match had yielded just three games for Stephens. Moreover, before this match the No.10 seed had not defeated any world No.1 in six previous attempts.

Yet in the first set here, every statistic turned to dust.

Early on Halep was edgy, and there was no mistaking she was under pressure. In the stands of Court Philippe-Chatrier, to the left of the Presidents’ Box as Halep looked, her coach Darren Cahill sat very still, eyes always on his charge, moving only when her gaze met his. After a mistake he would applaud to encourage her into the next point, at other times making a tiny reflection of Halep’s own motion as she gestured at herself to stay calm, putting both palms down flat.

Sometimes the electric line of unspoken communication between them was almost visible, as if the 15,000 spectators on Chatrier melted away, and the great court contained only Stephens, Halep and Cahill.

But in the first set, it made no difference. Halep’s boundless defence met a worthy adversary in Stephens. This was the story of the growler and prowler – Halep investing a deep cry of effort into every strike of the ball, Stephens stalking the baseline and waiting for the Romanian’s defence to bow before unleashing an elastic forehand. She did it to break for 3-1 in the first, and it happened again right at the start of the second. Stephens’ intensity was terrifying.

Chatrier echoed to deafening sound – one moment explosive cheers for Stephens’ bravura, the next great bellows of Halep’s first name crashing from the stands. But just as the spectators thought the No.1 seed was on the road to defeat, she began hacking out the path to victory.

She reeled off four games, and suddenly Stephens was feeling the pace. The American found a way to stonewall the advance, grabbing back a break to love to put the set back on serve. After all, Stephens had faced a worse crisis than this, coming back from match point down in the third round to see off Camila Giorgi in three dauntless sets. But from 4-4 in the second, she won only one more game.

It made no odds that she was at her most resourceful, returning everything, prowling as before, waiting again for Halep to waver before unleashing a winner. But this time there was no wavering. Up in the stands at 4-0 in the third, Cahill was out of his seat, eyes locked on his charge, fist clenched in front of him as Halep mirrored the celebration.

Three games later, the day belonged to Halep, and the title with it.

"It's always tough to play against her. She was very strong on court," Halep reflected. "When I was down a break in the second set I said OK, everything is gone, I just have to start to relax and to enjoy the match. And I came back."

At last, at long last, Simona Halep is a Grand Slam champion.

I've been following Simona's career sporadically for some time, but she has really became a favourite of mine over the past 3 years.  

I think that heart breaking loss at last year's French Open is what cemented it for me. 

I have watched her have so many crushing losses, she was very close at this year's Aussie Open. The only reason she lost is because she literally exhausted herself by the time she reached the final.  

That's how hard she fights, and that's why she's become my favourite.  I absolutely love watching her play tennis. 

I will admit that I started to have my doubts again when she went down a break in that second set, but she managed to draw on her experience and somehow turn the set around.  In the final set she played with abandon working for every point. 

The athleticism with which she was able to run around that court and hit with so much authority was breathtakingly astounding (as was her opponent). 

The point for 4 love is when I truly knew she was ready to finally reach over the finish line that had been eluding her in 3 previous attempts at this tournament. 

When that ball hit the net on Championship point I teared up, and I was crying by the time she went over to hug her coach Darren Cahill in the stands.  Such a well deserved sweet moment between the 2.

All that hard work, disappointment and perseverance finally paid off. And there's no one more deserving than her. 

What a great year 2018 has been for women's tennis thus far. 

First Caroline Wozniacki finally wins her first Grand Slam after years of trying, and now Simona Halep follows suit.  

It doesn't get better than that.

It was an excellent women's final, made all the sweeter with Halep as the victor. 

Congratulations Simona Halep on finally achieving your dreams at your favourite Grand Slam. 

Thank you for making this one memorable.

Now I am so ready to say goodbye to the red clay, and say hello to the pristine green of grass. 

And the return of Mr. Federer.