Sunday, October 28, 2018

Roger Federer captures career title #99 at Swiss Indoors in Basel

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Roger Federer won his 99th tour-level title on Sunday, defeating qualifier Marius Copil 7-6(5), 6-4 to triumph in front of his home crowd at the Swiss Indoors Basel for the ninth time.

The Swiss, who was a ball boy in Basel as a child, has now won 20 consecutive matches there, extending his career record to 71-9. Federer has lifted the trophy at the ATP World Tour 500-level tournament in four consecutive appearances, and the 37-year-old has reached the final the past 12 times he's played the event.

"To come through and win again here in my hometown, never knowing if this might be your last time that you had the opportunity to play a final, maybe win for the last time here in my city, it obviously means a lot to me and it becomes very emotional," Federer said.

The victory brings Federer within one title of the century mark, which only Jimmy Connors, with 109 tour-level singles titles, has reached. The top seed also leaves Basel with his fourth trophy of the season, a feat he has now accomplished 14 times.
Most Titles Federer Has Won By Tournament
 Tournament Titles
 Swiss Indoors Basel 9
 Gerry Weber Open 9
 Wimbledon 8
 Western & Southern Open 7
 Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships 7

Federer entered the match having never lost a tour-level final to anyone placed as low in the ATP Rankings as No. 93 Copil. But the Romanian, who earned his first two Top 10 wins earlier in the week against No. 6 Marin Cilic and No. 5 Alexander Zverev, showed no fear.

For the third time in four days, Federer fell behind an early break. Copil entered the match leading all players at the tournament in service games won (48/50) and break points saved (19/21). But Federer battled through the ensuing tie-break to take the lead.

The Romanian dug in, though, once again breaking early in the second set en route to a 4-1 lead. Copil dazzled the Swiss crowd with a number of impressive one-handed topspin backhand lobs for clean winners, and his booming serve frustrated the home favourite.

But Federer would not be denied by the 28-year-old. After breaking the two-time ATP World Tour finalist twice more, the second time when Copil missed a forehand wide by just milimetres, Federer closed out his title at the first time of asking, triumphing after one hour and 34 minutes.

"I was tense today. I was nervous. But it started more throughout the game, because I couldn't really get my game going the way I was hoping for it to go against Copil," said Federer, who adds 500 ATP Ranking points and €427,765 in prize money. "But he did very well. I think he came out and he played nice tennis. Thankfully I was really good this week by taking my opportunities, especially on the return of serve, and I think that's what got me the victory this week."

It was a dream week for Copil, who adds 300 ATP Ranking points, which will send him to a career-best of World No. 60 on Monday. The Romanian, who was trying to become the 14th first-time winner on the ATP World Tour this year, leaves Basel with €209,715 as the runner-up.

"I would love for it to be the beginning of my career at this level," said Copil. "It was an amazing week. Coming here, I was fighting in order to play and to stay in the Top 100... after this amazing week, I've just gained a lot of confidence in myself and I saw that I can play a much higher level of tennis and I could keep it up."

Did You Know?

Federer will try to claim a record seventh title at the Nitto ATP Finals, to take place at The O2 in London from 11-18 November. If he triumphs, it will be the Swiss’ first title at the season finale since 2011.

Saturday, October 27, 2018

Roger Federer reaches his 14th final in Basel

If there’s anything that should not surprise you during an ATP World Tour season, it’s Roger Federer reaching the final at the Swiss Indoors Basel.

Federer advanced to the championship match of his hometown tournament for the 14th time on Saturday, racing past in-form Daniil Medvedev 6-1, 6-4 in just 65 minutes. The Swiss has made the final in Basel in 12 straight appearances, improving his record in semi-finals at the tournament to 14-1, with his only loss coming in 2002 against David Nalbandian.

"I'm very happy. I think it was my best performance this week," Federer said. "I'm starting to really get to understand the conditions and it was consistent, my most consistent match by far. The results show it as well, so I'm very happy."

The 37-year-old is not only on the verge of his ninth Basel triumph, but he can lift his 99th tour-level trophy. Federer is second on the all-time singles titles list, trailing only Jimmy Connors, who was victorious 109 times in his career.

The Swiss played his best match of the week against Medvedev, who has captured his first three ATP World Tour titles this season. After saving a break point in the first game of the match, Federer cruised through the first set in just 20 minutes and he would take a 6-1, 5-1 lead.

While Medvedev, who had won 22 of 27 tour-level matches heading into the match against Federer, broke the top seed to stay alive, the eight-time tournament champion served out the semi-final at the second time of asking. It was especially impressive considering Medvedev pushed Federer to three sets in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting two weeks ago at the Rolex Shanghai Masters.

"I don't think Daniil maybe played as well as then [in Shanghai]. Conditions are different, maybe also his legs were a little bit heavy. He's played a lot of tennis the past few weeks, so I understand," Federer said. "For me, it goes on. I'm really super-excited to be in another final here in Basel and I hope I can defend my title tomorrow."

In the final, Federer will face surprise finalist Marius Copil, who earned his second Top 10 win of the week with a stunning three-set victory against second seed Alexander Zverev in the semi-finals. It is the Romanian’s second ATP World Tour final, after finishing runner-up in Sofia earlier this year.

"I watched some against Cilic, he played great. Saw some against Zverev, he played great, too. He plays Federer, he plays great? I'm not sure. But anyway, I'm excited," Federer said. "He played a great match against Zverev. He served great when he needed to and then he had good variation from the baseline."

In 150 tour-level finals, Federer has never lost to someone ranked as low as Copil, who is currently World No. 93. The Swiss fell in championship matches to players ranked No. 87 twice, against Davide Sanguinetti at Milan in 2002 and Tommy Haas at Halle in 2012. Only one Basel champion — Jiri Hrebec, who captured the title in the tournament’s first edition in 1975 — did not break into the Top 10 in his career.

Did You Know?

Federer now has 70 match wins in Basel, including victories in 56 of his past 59 matches at the event.

Friday, October 26, 2018

Roger Federer made to dig deep to reach Swiss Indoors semis in Basel

Top seed Roger Federer was made to dig deep in the Swiss Indoors Basel quarter-finals, battling past French veteran Gilles Simon 7-6(1), 4-6, 6-4 on Friday.

The 37-year-old has now reached the semi-finals at his hometown tournament in 12 consecutive appearances. The Swiss is 15-1 in Basel quarter-finals, with his only loss at this stage of the event coming 19 years ago against then-World No. 6 Tim Henman. Federer was just 18 years old.

The eight-time champion and 13-time finalist has now won 18 consecutive matches at the ATP World Tour 500-level event, where he is pursuing his 99th career tour-level trophy. If Federer goes on to triumph this week, he’ll earn his fourth title of the season, finishing in the winners’ circle that many times in a year for the 14th time.

And while Federer got through after two hours and 34 minutes, it was anything but easy for the Swiss.

Simon has shown good form this year, winning titles in Pune and Metz. And the Frenchman showed it against Federer, keeping the home favourite from gaining any rhythm, especially off his dangerous forehand side. Simon served for the opening set, and then held a set point on the eight-time champion's serve while leading 6-5. But Federer, who made a slew of unforced errors off the forehand wing early, reduced his mistakes to cruise through the ensuing tie-break.

But the Frenchman maintained his focus, mixing up his paces well in the second set to continue frustrating the Swiss, forcing a decider. But despite coughing up an early break in the third set, Federer stayed the course and advanced, despite getting broken five times, when Simon missed a two-handed backhand long. Federer has now won seven consecutive FedEx ATP Head2Head matches against Simon, leading their rivalry 7-2.

Federer will face the winner of #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas and Russian Daniil Medvedev, who has captured three ATP World Tour titles this season. While Federer has not played Tsitsipas, he defeated Medvedev in their first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting at the recent Rolex Shanghai Masters.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Roger Federer's winning streak continues at Swiss Indoors in Basel

Roger Federer had to hurtle another slow start on Thursday at the Swiss Indoors Basel, but the eight-time champion pulled it together quickly to reach another quarter-final in his hometown. The top-seeded Swiss stayed unbeaten (4-0) against German Jan-Lennard Struff, dismissing the 6'5” right-hander for the third time this year 6-3, 7-5.

"I was ready for Struff to come out and swing. I didn't know how aggressive he was going to play or how much serve and volley he was going to do. But unfortunately, I didn't have the best first two service games. But he also played well, I must say. He connected well, he came out with a plan and it worked for him," Federer said. "In the second set it was close throughout, but I think I was able to clean up my game a little bit... I'm obviously happy I got through today."

Federer stretched his Basel winning streak to 17 and is two matches away from reaching his 14th final and his 12th in as many appearances. The 37-year-old was broken in the third game when he overplayed a forehand, and Struff, who was holding with ease behind 224 km/h serves, pushed his lead to 3-1 before Federer settled to take five straight games and the set behind the home faithful.

The 28-year-old Struff composed himself in the second, but serving at 40/40, 5-5, he threw in a pair of loose errors, including a double fault on break point. Federer, who's already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held 11-18 November, will next meet Frenchman Gilles Simon, who beat last week's Intrum Stockholm Open finalist Ernests Gulbis 7-6(4), 7-6(0). Federer leads the pair's FedEx ATP Head2Head series 6-2.

"I'm happy that I improved after a rocky, slow start today, to play well after that. I think the crowd was really into it. They were excited that I came back from being a break down," Federer said. "I'm excited for the next round, so I'm actually quite happy how I'm playing right now."

Serve and forehand were back, looks like the real Roger turned up today.  Hopefully he sticks around till the end of the tournament.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

WTA legends Kim Clijsters, Lindsay Davenport talk maiden slam champs, Wozniacki, Halep & Osaka

Speaking at a WTA Legends panel at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters discussed their favorite moments of the 2018 season alongside Jennifer Capriati, and Monica Seles.

Legends Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters watched the 2018 season’s biggest matches from the commentary booth, and both admitted to getting emotional more than once at seeing several players capture their first major titles.

“I'm a crier in the booth,” Davenport said during a WTA Legends panel at the BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global, one that also featured Jennifer Capriati and Monica Seles. “Three times this year - when Wozniacki won, when Halep won, and Osaka won - I couldn't speak because I was crying.”

Three of the year’s four Grand Slam tournaments went to maiden major champions, with Caroline Wozniacki lifting the Daphne Akhurst Trophy at the Australian Open, Simona Halep capturing the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen at Roland Garros in her fourth major final appearance, and Naomi Osaka shocking Serena Williams to win the US Open.

“To me, I love players winning their first major,” Davenport continued. “It's what every single player grows up dreaming to do. It could be a different one for every player, but that's what you dream about when you're out there hitting balls at six, eight, ten or whatever: it's winning a Grand Slam.

“All three of those stories, to me, were phenomenal this year, and how hard Wozniacki fought the whole Australian Open, everything Halep went through to finally raise the trophy in Paris, even just what Naomi had to go through in the final, all of that.”

Clijsters echoed Davenport’s sentiment, recalling messages she sent to Wozniacki after her triumph in Melbourne.

“I'm the same! I'm a crier. I remember, at the Australian Open when Caroline won, I was actually cooking. I stopped everything and just cried. I sent her a message and just to show how happy I was for her.”

Halep’s three-set victory over Sloane Stephens was equally poignant for the Belgian, who lost her first four Grand Slam finals before coming good in her fifth opportunity at the 2005 US Open.

“With Simona, I was there actually doing commentary. I had talked to her a little bit already in the past when she lost her finals, because kind of we could relate through a few moments like that.”

Clijsters, went on to win four major titles, and joined the BBC commentary booth for the Wimbledon Championships, noting the stark differences one notices from such a unique vantage point.

“I had a moment at the Australian Open last year where you sit on center court, and I was able to see some of the players' body language when they turn around, as an opponent that you don't see as a player. I was, like, ‘This would have been really helpful if I saw some of these moments,’ you know, if you're standing on the opposite side of the court of these players.

“It was nice to pick up a few things here and there that you don't expect from a player, players who you think are cold or not influenced by certain moments, and you actually saw them be a little bit negative or at times talking to themselves. Those are things that I have enjoyed about commentating.

“I have sat next to Lindsay and listened to her commentate. I love it. I enjoy listening to the past players who have been there actually and who know what it's like to be under pressure and that it's not that easy to sit in the commentating booth and say, ‘Oh, they should have done this or they should have done that.’ It's not that easy. I like listening to the past players who have actually been there.”

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Roger Federer made to fight through hometown opener in Basel

Roger Federer had to shake off some rust, but the eight-time champion eventually rediscovered his “Basel” gear and leaned on the home crowd to advance 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 on Tuesday against Serbian Filip Krajinovic.

The 37-year-old Swiss won his 16th consecutive match at the Swiss Indoors Basel, since losing the 2013 final to Juan Martin del Potro. Federer is trying to reach his 14th hometown final and capture career title No. 99.“

“It was a bit more of a hard-fought victory, but they feel good too, especially knowing that I have the day off tomorrow, so it's no problem having played three sets today,” Federer said.

The World No. 3 wasn't his usual self throughout the match, and especially at the start. Federer shanked forehands and missed whenever he stepped into the court in the beginning. The top seed faced two break points, at 15/40, 1-2, but saved both and broke immediately after, slapping a second-serve return for the first break of the match.

From 1-2 down, Federer won the next seven games against the 2017 Rolex Paris Masters finalist. But Krajinovic relaxed in the second and broke Federer, who struggled to find his forehand all match (23 unforced errors), in the eighth and 10th games to take the second.

Behind the red-and-white clad home crowd, however, Federer upped his first-serve percentage and advanced, despite being broken while first serving for the match at 5-3. The Swiss landed only 47 per cent of his first offerings overall.

“I didn't serve very well today. I think I was misfiring the corners, I was not hitting the lines enough. Clearly you make your life more difficult, but still I was up 6-2, 3-1, break points, so things could have ended very quickly today, even though I didn't have the best serve percentage stats. But maybe that's exactly what caught up to me eventually,” Federer said.

“It's just getting used to it. This is where the first rounds can be tricky.”

He will next meet German Jan-Lennard Struff, who beat Aussie John Millman 7-6(3), 6-2. Federer has won all three of their FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, including two earlier this year at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Elsewhere, seventh-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev, who is currently at a career-high No. 20 in the ATP Rankings, knocked out Maximilian Marterer of Germany 6-3, 7-5 in 85 minutes. It was Medvedev’s 40th match win of the year (35-13 on hard courts), which includes three ATP World Tour titles at the Sydney International (d. De Minaur), the Winston-Salem Open (d. Johnson) and the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018 (d. Nishikori).

In other action, qualifier Alexei Popyrin recorded his first ATP World Tour match win over fellow Australian Matthew Ebden 7-6(4), 6-4 in one hour and 33 minutes, while Italian Andreas Seppi knocked out qualifier Taro Daniel of Japan 6-0, 6-4 in 63 minutes.

Monday, October 22, 2018

Roger Federer reveals he injured his hand during grass court season

Roger Federer has told Tages Anzeiger that he injured his hand during practice at the beginning of the grasscourt season, which affected his forehand for the next three months.

Asked whether he had been having any problems with his forehand, Federer said, "At the beginning of the grass season, I hurt my hand a bit during practice. I have the feeling it was more of an influence than I had thought. That should not be an excuse... but I could not hit forehands properly, especially in the final of Halle and then at Wimbledon."

But the No. 3 said he has recovered. "I've felt better since [the Laver Cup at] Chicago," he said, adding that despite a semifinal defeat in Shanghai, "I did not think it was so bad and was happy. I had long rallies... especially against [Kei] Nishikori."

Federer plays his hometown event at Basel this week, where he is the top seed. The local favorite plays Filip Krajinovic in the first round.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Roger Federer may get a chance to avenge U.S. Open loss at home in Basel

Roger Federer might have a chance to avenge his shocking fourth-round loss at this year’s US Open in the second round of the Swiss Indoors Basel, the 37-year-old’s home tournament.

If Federer, an eight-time champion in Basel, wins his first-round match against 2017 Paris finalist Filip Krajinovic, and Aussie John Millman defeats German Jan-Lennard Struff, the pair will meet for the second time in less than two months. Millman stunned Federer at the year's final Grand Slam, sending the No. 2 seed home after four tight sets.

Federer has long enjoyed success in Basel, holding a 66-9 record at the event and a 15-match winning streak. He has advanced to the final in his past 11 appearances at the tournament. The last time Federer did not reach the championship match was in 2003, when he was just 22 years old.

This will be the 98-time tour-level champion's 18th appearance in the Basel main draw, where he grew up as a ballboy. Federer first played qualifying at the event when he was 16.

Millman is enjoying the best season of his career, currently placed at a career-high No. 33 in the ATP Rankings. The 29-year-old is making his Basel debut. The first seeded opponent Federer could face is No. 5 seed Jack Sock. But the American is playing Ernests Gulbis, who beat him this week in Stockholm, in the first round. Gulbis is competing in Sunday's Intrum Stockholm Open final against #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas.

All eyes will be on a tantalising first-round match in the bottom half of the draw between third seed Marin Cilic and #NextGenATP Canadian Denis Shapovalov. It will be the pair’s first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, but an interesting stylistic clash between two players who like to control the match with big serving and aggressive play from the baseline.

Cilic is trying to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals for the fourth time. The Croatian will enter the week sixth in the ATP Race To London, next in line to earn a spot at the season finale, to take place at The O2 in London from 11-18 November.

Also in the bottom half of the draw is No. 2 seed Alexander Zverev, who begins his tournament against Dutchman Robin Haase. While their FedEx ATP Head2Head series is knotted at 2-2, Haase has won the pair’s two most recent meetings, including a three-set win earlier this year at the Western & Southern Open.

In the same quarter as Zverev is former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka, who is pursuing his first title since Geneva last year. Wawrinka will face Frenchman Adrian Mannarino, who is competing in Sunday’s VTB Kremlin Cup final. The winner will face No. 8 seed Roberto Bautista Agut or Portugal’s Joao Sousa, who triumphed in Estoril earlier this season

Friday, October 19, 2018

Wimbledon to introduce final set tie-break at next year's championships

LONDON, UK: The All England Lawn Tennis Club has announced the introduction of a final set tiebreak as from next year's Wimbledon Championships.

Informed by a thorough review of match data from the past 20 Championships, and upon consultation with players and officials, the tiebreak will be played when the score reaches 12-12 in the final set.

This rule, which will be processed with respect for the Rules of Tennis governed by the ITF, will apply to all events at The Championships. The match winner(s) will be the first player(s) to win seven points with an advantage of two or more points. There will be no change to the current format of the Wheelchair and Quad Wheelchair events, which are the best of three tiebreak sets.

AELTC Chairman Philip Brook commented: “In reaching this decision, the AELTC Committee sought the feedback of both players and officials, analysed two decades of match data, and considered other factors including scheduling complexities and spectator experience.

“Our view was that the time had come to introduce a tiebreak method for matches that had not reached their natural conclusion at a reasonable point during the deciding set. While we know the instances of matches extending deep into the final set are rare, we feel that a tiebreak at 12-12 strikes an equitable balance between allowing players ample opportunity to complete the match to advantage, while also providing certainty that the match will reach a conclusion in an acceptable timeframe.

“As a next step, we look forward to sharing further details with our Grand Slam, ITF, WTA and ATP colleagues when we meet in Singapore.”

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Roger Federer is happy with his level of play despite semis loss to Coric in Shanghai

Roger Federer fell short of reaching his fourth Rolex Shanghai Masters final on Saturday, losing in straight sets to the ever-improving Borna Coric. And while the loss is disappointing, the top seed is taking positives from his first event since the US Open.

“I must say I felt overall actually pretty good. So I'm happy about that,” Federer said. “It's definitely something I can build on now for Basel and then for London and maybe Paris. I'm happy how the body has felt this week.”

Federer, who is next scheduled to play at the Swiss Indoors Basel (begins 22 October), a tournament he has won eight times, will drop to No. 3 in the ATP Rankings on Monday, with Novak Djokovic ascending to the No. 2 spot. But the Swiss did well to battle through two tough three-setters against Daniil Medvedev and Roberto Bautista Agut in Shanghai before showing some of his best form in ousting red-hot Kei Nishikori in the quarter-finals.

“I'm actually happy. I feel like I'm explosive out there, returning well. Serving, I think, it's okay, could be even a little bit better. I don't think I played a match where I didn't get broken, so that's something a bit more unusual for me,” said Federer, who has already guaranteed his spot at the Nitto ATP Finals. “But regardless, I think the court allowed for great ball striking. I felt like I got some great rhythm, whereas in Cincinnati I came out of the tournament, I was, like, ‘I don't know where my game is. It's the finals. Not bad. But I couldn't tell you if I'm hitting the ball well or not'.”

Federer is referring to this year’s Western & Southern Open where he lost to Djokovic in the final as the Serbian completed his Career Golden Masters by lifting the only ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy he was missing. Perhaps the one thing the Swiss will focus on moving forward is holding serve.

The 37-year-old began the week fifth all-time in service games won at 88.8 per cent, according to Infosys ATP Scores & Stats. This week, he was victorious in 41 of 50 service games, a rate of 82 per cent. Coric broke Federer twice in the semi-finals.

“He didn't give me many chances on his serve, and for me to stay with him, I should have maybe done a better job on my own serve,” Federer said. “But then again, it wasn't bad either. And then in the rallies, I thought he had more punch than me. Maybe it's a lot of tennis this week, but quite honestly, I'm happy how I'm playing… This was a good week again. I'm happy about my reaction after the US Open.”

As simple as it sounds, Coric was simply the better player on Saturday evening. For Federer, there’s no big secret about it.

“I thought he was better. I think he had more punch on the ball. He served better,” Federer said. “I think that's it.”

It's good that you're happy Roger, but your fans are once again left disappointed.  

It's been a disappointing 2nd of 2018 in that regard. 

I had a feeling Coric might be tough, I was hoping Roger would be able to put up a bit more of a fight. 

But I guess sometimes there's not much even Roger can do when someone is better on a given day. 

Onward to Basel, and maybe Paris?.  

Friday, October 12, 2018

Roger Federer confidently overcomes Nishikori to reach semis in Shanghai

Roger Federer Tumblr Tag

Two-time champion Roger Federer put together his best performance at the Rolex Shanghai Masters yet on Friday to beat Japan's Kei Nishikori 6-4, 7-6(4) over one hour and 52 minutes and reach the semi-finals.

Federer was his usual aggressive best, smashing returns at Nishikori's feet and touching the lines with second-serve returns in their eighth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (Federer leads 6-2). The Swiss broke serve three times and recovered from 1/4 down in the second set tie-break to record his 39th match win of the season.

“It was a tough match. Obviously Kei hogs the baseline much more than [Daniil] Medvedev did or also what [Roberto Bautista Agut] did. I think it was a different type of match,” Federer said, comparing the quarter-final to his first two matches in Shanghai. “I was very happy with the beginning of the match, to be quite honest. I played quite great there. Then the second set was key moments who was going to play a little bit better. Kei really tried to step it up one more time. I somehow got it done, so I was very pleased.”

The defending champion Federer will next meet Croatia's Borna Coric in a rematch of their BNP Paribas Open semi-final, which Federer won in three sets. Coric reached his second ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final of the season by sweeping Aussie Matthew Ebden 7-5, 6-4. Coric beat Federer in the Gerry Weber Open final in June.

“He's also really improved his game, stepping up in the court and hitting through the shots more than what he used to,” Federer said. “I think it's going to be tough. He's good in defence. He has a transition game now too, and he's got a solid serve. He's had a good tournament here again. I have always played him when he's playing well.”

The 37-year-old Federer is going for his third Shanghai title (2014, 2017) and looking to stay No. 2 in the ATP Rankings. He'll secure the latter if he wins the title and Novak Djokovic, who's also into the semi-finals, does not reach the final.

Nishikori could do little to slow down the two-time Shanghai champion as Federer raced to a 4-1 lead in the opener behind two breaks. Nishikori broke back but Federer served out the set to love.

The Swiss jumped on top in the second set with an immediate break, although he was broken in the fifth game when he lifted a backhand long. Nishikori, buoyed by Japanese support in the Qi Zhong Stadium, worked his way back from 0/30 when serving at 5-5. Nishikori capitalised on short balls early in the tie-break, but Federer won six straight points for a memorable win.

“Second set I think we both played good tennis. But sad to lose like that... maybe next time,” Nishikori said.

Federer, a winner of 98 tour-level titles including 27 ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crowns, is now 39-6 on the year, which includes the Australian Open (d. Cilic), the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam (d. Dimitrov) and the MercedesCup in Stuttgart (d. Raonic).

“I think I can be very happy with the level of play this week... There was some good ball striking going on from both of us today. I hope I can keep it up for tomorrow,” Federer said.

Nishikori, who last week lost to Medvedev in the Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018 final, is currently in ninth position in the ATP Race To London. With three of eight singles spots left at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November, the Japanese star is 535 points behind eighth-placed Dominic Thiem (3,535).

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Roger Federer made to battle once again to reach Shanghai quarters

Two-time former champion Roger Federer was once again forced to dig deep for victory at the Rolex Shanghai Masters on Thursday. Having edged past Daniil Medvedev on Wednesday, it was the turn of 2016 runner-up Roberto Bautista Agut, who made Federer sweat over one hour and 52 minutes. But the top-seeded Swiss triumphed 6-3, 2-6, 6-4.

Federer broke Bautista Agut’s serve in the first game of the second set, but the Spaniard’s forehand began to fire. Federer, a winner of 98 tour-level titles, trusted his game and continued to attack, winning 11 of 12 net points in the decider, which saw him break Bautista Agut in the ninth game.

“I'm actually quite happy,” said Federer. “I thought that Bautista really had to raise his level of play in that second set to stay with me. I mean, he really caught fire, I thought. I served, I think, 80 per cent in that second set and got broken twice… At the end he got tight. I'm happy that, because of my match yesterday, I was able to stay maybe calmer, even this time around, and come up with a really good game to break at 4-4 and then serve it out was great. I was very happy.”

The Swiss superstar, who is one of four players — also Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro — that are battling to finish 2018 at year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings, will next challenge eighth-seeded Japanese Kei Nishikori in Friday’s quarter-finals. Federer leads Nitto ATP Finalscontender Nishikori 5-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

“As we know with Kei's game, once he finds his range and his rhythm, he's very tough to play,” said Federer. “[I’m] not sure if fast courts suit him better or not, because I feel like he actually plays well on clay, grass, hard. He can do it all… [But] I think it's going to be a tough match tomorrow. I hope it's going to help me that I played against Medvedev and also Bautista Agut, two really good baseliners, to be honest.”

World No. 2 Federer, who earlier this year became the oldest No. 1 in the 45-year history of the ATP Rankings aged 36 on 19 February, is bidding to lift his 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title this week.

Federer broke serve in the fourth game of the first set and completed the 30-minute opener with a backhand volley winner on the first of his three set point chances. Having won Bautista Agut’s serve in the first game of the second set, Federer looked in complete control.

But 2016 finalist Bautista Agut had other ideas and won four straight games for a 4-1 advantage. The Spaniard’s forehand did the damage as Federer came forward to the net, but Bautista Agut finished the second set with a backhand return. Federer had won all 16 sets in their previous seven meetings.

But it was Federer who tightened his game at the right opportunity to break Bautista Agut’s serve in the eighth game, with a superb forehand, prior to closing out his 37th match win of the season.

Earlier in the day, Nishikori withstood the power of Sam Querrey, the big-serving American, to record a 7-6(7), 6-4 victory over one hour and 33 minutes.

The eighth-seeded Japanese star saved one set point at 5/6 in the first-set tie-break with a deep backhand return that caught Querrey off guard. Terrific speed around the court helped Nishikori break Querrey in the final game of the pair’s 10th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (Nishikori now leads 6-4).

Straight off a runner-up finish at last week’s Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018, Nishikori is now 36-16 on the season (20-9 on hard courts). He is currently in 10th position in the ATP Race To London for one of the four remaining spots at the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held at The O2 in London from 11-18 November.

I'm not sure how I feel about Roger having to play back to back 3 setters, he is playing pretty well but he's really gonna have to bring it against Nishikori next. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Roger Federer fights off Medvedev in Shanghai opener

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Defending champion Roger Federer survived an opening scare at the Rolex Shanghai Masters on Wednesday, fighting past Russian Daniil Medvedev 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

The Swiss extended his Shanghai win streak to seven against the 22-year-old, who was fresh off the biggest title of his career in Tokyo (d. Nishikori). Medvedev forced the two-time Shanghai champion to fight before Federer eventually broke in the ninth game of the decider and served out the match.

“In the third set I really started to figure it out, as well, how aggressive or how tactical I wanted to make the match, and by trying everything, I found a solution at the end, which was a great feeling to have, so I was very happy,” Federer said.

The top seed was keen on taking advantage of the quick conditions in Shanghai, serving and volleying, chip and charging and forcing Medvedev into the corners with his backhand slice. Federer won almost 70 per cent of his 42 trips to net (29/42).

But as the match progressed, he was struggling to put away points against Medvedev, who often made the Swiss volley from his shoelaces and passed him with looping forehands. “It was just tougher to get into his service games,” Federer said.

The 22-year-old said it had been a dream to play Federer, having narrowly missed out on prior chances. And the three-time ATP World Tour champion wasn't awed by the moment.

But he stumbled while serving at 4-4 in the third. Medvedev shanked a forehand on double break point, and Federer served out the match, celebrating with a “Come on!” and a stare to his box.

The top seed is going for his 28th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title this week and is looking to stay No. 2 in the ATP Rankings. He'll guarantee the latter if he can win his third Shanghai title (also 2014), and second seed Novak Djokovic does not reach the final.

Federer will next meet Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut, who beat American Mackenzie McDonald 3-6, 6-4, 6-1. Bautista Agut beat Djokovic in the 2016 semi-finals before falling to Andy Murray in the Masters 1000 final.

“I have a lot of respect for him. He's just a tough guy, you know. So you have to bring it. Could be similar like today. A lot of long rallies potentially,” Federer said.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

Roger Federer: "I Like This Part of the Season"

Defending champion and two-time titlist Roger Federer, who returns to competition this week at the Rolex Shanghai Masters, says that he is looking forward to the final weeks of the 2018 ATP World Tour season. The Swiss superstar has won 24 of his 98 career crowns on indoor courts.

“I like this part of the season,” said Federer. “It's always been a good [swing] for me. Maybe [the] conditions get faster, I'm not sure… It's helpful I have a home tournament [the Swiss Indoors Basel, on the surface] and the [Nitto] ATP Finals. I have been very successful, so clearly I hope for something similar again this year.”

The 37-year-old Federer, who lost to Australia’s John Millman on 4 September in the US Open fourth round, has already qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals for a record 16th time. He will join Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Juan Martin del Potro, who have also booked their places at The O2 in London from 11-18 November.

“[I] have also had some rest after the US Open,” said Federer. “I feel like I'm where I want to be… There is still, obviously, some goals left for the season.”

Reflecting on 2017, he added, “Last year was a fairy-tale from start to finish, basically. It was just a small disappointment at the end, at the [Nitto] ATP Finals, not maybe giving myself the chance to be in the final, losing to Goffin. I was a bit disappointed with my play there. That was probably the first time in the whole season that I felt that way. But he (Goffin) also came out and played a great match.

“This year, for me again, honestly, it's been a great season: winning the Australian Open, getting back to World No. 1 in Rotterdam [the ABN Amro World Tennis Tournament], playing a good final in Indian Wells [the BNP Paribas Open] and playing a decent grass court season… I didn't play great in Cincinnati [the Western & Southern Open], but made the final there.

“I'm just really happy. I'm healthy. I have won another [Grand] Slam again this year. I always say when you win a Slam in any season, it's actually a very good season already. So, I feel like there is still a lot more to play for.”

Federer, who has a 36-6 match record in 2018, opens his campaign for a third Shanghai crown (2014, 2017) against Russia’s Daniil Medvedev, who captured last week’s Rakuten Japan Open Tennis Championships 2018 trophy (d. Nishikori) in the second round.

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Roger Federer gets tough draw at Shanghai Rolex Masters

Roger Federer and Juan Martin del Potro have been drawn in the same half of the Rolex Shanghai Masters, raising the prospect of a rematch of their gripping semi-final battle one year ago at the Qizhong Tennis Centre.

Federer last year rallied from a set down to beat the Argentine in the semis before taking out Rafael Nadal in the final to claim his 27th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.

The Federer-Del Potro rivalry has been overshadowed over the years by the triangular battles between Federer, Nadal and Novak Djokovic. But their 25-match FedEx ATP Head2Head series – which Federer leads 18-7 - has produced some epic contests.

In 12 meetings since 2012 Roland Garros, 10 have gone the distance and only one has been decided in straight sets. Federer backed up his Shanghai semi-final win last year with a three-set win over the Tower of Tandil just weeks later in the Basel final. But Delpo took out Federer 7-6 in the third in the BNP Paribas Open final in March this year in their most recent meeting.

Federer and Del Potro, along with Nadal and Djokovic, are the players to have so far qualified for the Nitto ATP Finals, to be held in London 11-18 November. Federer is a six-time champion; Del Potro is chasing his first title and will be making his first appearance since 2013.

In Shanghai, two-time tournament champion Federer will begin his title defense against the winner of Russian Daniil Medvedev and China’s Ze Zhang. The Swiss is seeded to meet Canadian Milos Raonic in the third round, Kei Nishikori or Diego Schwartzman in the quarter-finals and Del Potro in the semis.

In his most recent appearance at the Masters 1000 level, Federer lost in the Cincinnati final to Djokovic. He has not played a tour-level match since a shock fourth-round loss to Australian John Millman at the US Open.

Del Potro opens against the winner of Argentine Leonardo Mayer and in-form Frenchman Richard Gasquet before a tough third-round match against one of Nick Kyrgios, a qualifier, Stan Wawrinka, or 13th seed Borna Coric.

Del Potro is seeded to meet No. 6 seed Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals.

In the bottom half of the draw, second seed Novak Djokovic will put his 13-match winning streak on the line in his opener against the winner of German Maximilian Marterer and French veteran Jeremy Chardy. He could get his chance to avenge his shock Roland Garros quarter-final loss to Italian Marco Cecchinato in the third round. He is seeded to meet his vanquished Wimbledon final opponent Kevin Anderson in the quarter-finals.

Djokovic owns a tournament-record three titles in Shanghai, winning crowns in 2012-13 and in 2015, when he dropped just 25 games en route to the title, beating Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 6-4 in the final.

Djokovic is returning to tour-level play for the first time since winning his 14th major at the US Open. Earlier in the US summer the Serb became the first man to win a ninth different Masters 1000 singles title at Cincinnati to complete the Career Golden Masters.

Three-time Masters 1000 champion Alexander Zverev, who is next in line to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals, will open against the winner of Canadian Denis Shapovalov and Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili, who find themselves in respective semi-finals in Tokyo and Beijing Saturday. Fifth seed Marin Cilic may await in the quarter-finals.

Play begins Sunday.

Friday, October 05, 2018

Roger Federer needs some wins at the Shanghai Masters

It might sound strange given Roger Federer's recent Laver Cup exploits, but the all-time men's Grand Slam singles champ could really use a title.

That is, one at an ATP-sanctioned tournament. It's something Federer hasn't experienced since he outfoxed Milos Raonic on grass in the Stuttgart final in early June.

Sure, Federer is still ranked No. 2. But in the annual "race" tally (which becomes more relevant as the year goes on), he has fallen to No. 4. In his last major tournament appearance, he wilted in the sopping heat of the US Open, losing in four sets against Aussie journeyman John Millman in the fourth round. Granted, Federer's chances of finishing the year No. 1 are slim to none, but it would be a real bummer for him to not end the year with at least one more high note.

Federer will get a chance to right his slightly listing ship starting Monday, and he couldn't ask for a better place to do it than the Shanghai Masters 1000, where he's defending champion.

Shanghai is likely the final Masters-grade tournament he'll play before the ATP World Tour Finals, which makes it all the more significant. "I don't plan to play Paris [an October Masters 1000 tournament]," Federer told recently. "But that a little bit that depends on how Basel goes."

Basel is a second-tier ATP 500, but it's also Federer's Swiss hometown. An eight-time champion there, Federer uses Basel as a tuneup for the World Tour Finals. Should he suffer an early loss, coupled with a so-so performance Shanghai, Paris might come back into play.

Federer has won Shanghai four times -- twice as part of the Masters Series and twice when the city hosted the more exalted World Tour Finals. No player has won in Shanghai more often. Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray are next best with three titles apiece.

But Murray is done for the year, still trying to recover his form following hip surgery. World No. 1 Rafael Nadal is out injured as well, leaving Federer as top seed. Juan Martin del Potro, Alexander Zverev and Djokovic round out the top four seeds. Federer has his work cut out. All four men have had wins over him in Masters finals within the past 13 months, give or take a few days.

Federer hasn't been sweating the details, though. His Asian swing this year began early with days of meetings with his new mega-sponsor, Uniqlo. He was also stoked about introducing his twin boys, Leo and Lennart, now 4 years old, to the wonders of the Far East.

But thoughts and concerns about Djokovic's service return or del Potro's forehand probably are increasing in Federer's mind as Shanghai approaches. He is defending 1,000 rankings points, so no matter what happens, his official ranking can only remain the same or go down. He knows that with his limited schedule, he's performing a rankings high-wire act.

"Upsets happen when you play less," Federer said. "So then if you don't schedule enough tournaments your ranking goes down fast. So you have to have even more confidence and trust in yourself when you do lose a match maybe you should win."

Federer demonstrated that confidence with his play in Laver Cup, against John Isner in a bout decided by a match tiebreaker and with a more routine win over Nick Kyrgios. There will be longer matches in Shanghai.

The bromance between Federer and Djokovic was a major story at Laver Cup, and how it might affect a potential matchup is likely to become a theme in Shanghai. That's all well and good. Let the cheery afterglow of Laver Cup linger for a little while longer.

But remember both men were quick to caution this new phase in a relationship that previously could only be called guarded will not dilute the intensity of their rivalry. They will not, as Federer joked more than once, "be going on vacation together."

Djokovic is hardly Federer's only worry in the upcoming week. Fed needs another win, and he's running out of time in 2018 to put one up.

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Serena Williams to face Roger Federer & Belinda Bencic in Hopman Cup doubles next year

Serena Williams is set to face Roger Federer in her first event of the 2019 season when the USA play Switzerland in the mixed doubles at the Hopman Cup.

Williams, 37, has not played since her controversial US Open final defeat by Naomi Osaka in September.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion partners Frances Tiafoe, while 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer and Belinda Bencic will seek to defend their title.

Cameron Norrie and Katie Boulter will represent Great Britain in Perth.

"The Aussie fans are always so warm and supportive and the Hopman Cup has always given me a great start to the season, especially ahead of the Australian Open," said Williams, who pulled out of this month's China Open.

Williams will be playing in Australia for the first time since winning the 2017 Australian Open while eight weeks pregnant, having missed last year's tournament as she was not fully fit to return following the birth of daughter Olympia.

The Hopman Cup runs from 29 December until 5 January, with the 2019 Australian Open taking place from 14-27 January.

The mixed team event features eight nations split into two groups, with teams facing each other in sessions that consist of a men's and women's singles match and a mixed doubles match.

Each team plays the other three in their group, and the top teams in each group then meet in the final.

The USA are due to meet Switzerland on New Year's Day in Group B, which also features Great Britain and Greece.

Group A consists of France, Spain, Germany and hosts Australia.

Federer, 37, and Bencic, 21, won Switzerland's first Hopman Cup since 2001 earlier this year.

Group A

France - Lucas Pouille and Alize Cornet

Spain - David Ferrer and Garbine Muguruza

Germany - Alexander Zverev and Angelique Kerber

- Matt Ebden and Ashleigh Barty

Group B

Great Britain - Cameron Norrie and Katie Boulter

Greece - Stefanos Tsitsipas and Maria Sakkari

Switzerland - Roger Federer and Belinda Bencic

USA - Frances Tiafoe and Serena Williams