Sunday, March 31, 2019

Roger Federer's Tennis Mastery 101 in Miami

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Victory was swift and convincing for Roger Federer on Sunday at the Miami Open presented by Itau. The Swiss produced a championship masterclass under the Florida sun, dominating reigning champ John Isner 6-1, 6-4 to take his fourth tournament title and No. 101 in his storied career.

The battle between the last two Miami champions went the way of Federer in a flash, as he needed just 64 minutes to triumph. Federer toppled the big-serving American behind four breaks of serve and a staggering 32 of 35 points won on his own delivery.

"It was a dream start, relaxing my nerves [to break in the opening game]," said Federer. "What a week it's been for me. I'm just so happy right now. It's unbelievable. I played here in 1999 for the first time and here I am in 2019. It means a lot to me."

One week after falling to Dominic Thiem in the Indian Wells final, Federer was all business at the subsequent ATP Masters 1000 stop in Miami. He streaked to the title behind 12 consecutive sets won, refusing to back down after dropping his opening set of the tournament to Radu Albot.

Federer's fourth Miami title puts him two behind Andre Agassi and Novak Djokovic for most in tournament history. Moreover, it was his 101st in total at the tour-level, moving him just eight back of all-time leader Jimmy Connors.

Four years after their last encounter, revenge was sweet for Federer. In their first meeting since Isner got the best of the Swiss at the 2015 Paris Rolex Masters, it was one-way traffic for the World No. 5. He extended his FedEx ATP Head2Head lead to 6-2 over the top-ranked American, also marking his second triumph in a title match (2012 Indian Wells).
ATP World Tour Masters 1000 Title Leaders
PlayerMasters 1000 TitlesMiami Titles
(1) Rafael Nadal330
(2) Novak Djokovic326
(3) Roger Federer284
(4) Andre Agassi176
(5) Andy Murray142

Much has changed since they last met four years ago, but Federer's serving prowess against Isner remains the same. Entering the final, he had saved a combined 16 of 16 break points against the North Carolina native on all surfaces. And he would drop just one point on serve in the opening set on Sunday.

Federer put the clamps down on Isner's mammoth delivery from the first ball, immediately applying pressure on the big-hitting American. He would convert his third break point of the opening game to send a message right out of the gates.

A hyper-aggressive Federer was on the attack in longer rallies, pouncing on every short ball and using his backhand slice to disrupt Isner's rhythm at the back of the court. And he consistently put the 33-year-old out of his comfort zone, often baiting him to come to the net. A running forehand pass secured a second break for the Basel native and he streaked to a one-set lead in a flash, needing just 24 minutes.

After cruising past Denis Shapovalov in the semis, Federer was keen to replicate the performance in the final. And after letting a commanding lead slip against Thiem in the BNP Paribas Open final, the World No. 5 refused to endure a similar fate. He successfully neutralised Isner's serve throughout the encounter and a left foot injury did not help the American's cause.

Federer crossed the finish line after 64 minutes as a hobbled Isner was unable to hold serve in the final game. He fired 17 winners overall, including six off his backhand wing, while benefiting from 16 unforced errors off Isner's racquet.

"I think I was very clear on how I wanted to play, so I think that helped that I was able to not just have the plan but then being able to execute," said Federer. "It's always two things, having the plan and then it not working. And of course to win every single point [on my first serve], things need to go your way against him. So there needs to be both sides to the thing because he did have chances obviously to win some points. But apparently also on my second serve I hardly dropped any points.

"I just can be very happy on either end, return and serve, and that's why I'm so happy that I was able to produce a performance like this in a finals, because this is what you train for and play for that constantly keeps your level going up as the tournament progresses. And this was my best. I'm very excited."

The 37-year-old is the first champion at the new Hard Rock Stadium, securing his 28th ATP Masters 1000 trophy in total. It was his first victory at the elite level since Shanghai in 2017.

Federer has not only reached three straight finals, posting a 15-1 record in that span, but he adds a Miami crown to his championship silverware in Dubai. He is the first player to win multiple titles this year, ending the streak of 19 winners from 19 events.

Meanwhile, defending champ Isner was bidding for his second Masters 1000 title and 15th in total on the ATP Tour. He caps another impressive fortnight in Miami, which saw him not drop a set en route to the final, including nine of nine tie-breaks won. Moreover, Isner claimed his first Top 30 wins since the US Open with a Round of 16 victory over Kyle Edmund and quater-final defeat of Roberto Bautista Agut.

"Somewhere along in the first set I started feeling some pain on the top of my foot, and it didn't go away," said Isner. "It only kept getting worse. It's a terrible feeling, because you're on an island out there, and you have no teammates to hide behind. I was going up against the greatest player ever, playing in this incredible atmosphere and my foot's killing me.

"Not that I would have won the match, anyways, let's make that clear, but I think I could have made for a more interesting match and one that was a little more fun. Roger was too good. In the first five games, I was fine. Nothing was bothering me. He was all over me. Then there was this weird pain on the top of my foot. I'm hoping it's nothing, but we'll see."

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Roger Federer routs Shapovalov to reach Miami Open Final

Canadian Denis Shapovalov had been looking forward to playing Roger Federer practically his entire life. Before the match, he called it "a dream come true". The 19-year-old, however, didn't envision their semi-final going like it did on Friday night at the Miami Open presented by Itau.

The Canadian was nervous to start, and that was more than Federer needed as the three-time champion delivered another near-perfect performance at Hard Rock Stadium.

The Swiss glided around court and hit winners all match, cruising to his fifth Miami final – his 50th at the ATP Masters 1000 level – 6-2, 6-4 and will face American John Isner for a chance at his 28thMasters 1000 crown. The defending champion Isner beat 18-year-old Canadian Felix Auger-Aliassime7-6(3), 7-6(4) earlier Friday.

“I enjoyed it. I think I played very well. I had to. Because I think when you let Denis play, he's got some serious power, and he gets rhythm going. He can really put you in uncomfortable situations,” Federer said. “So I think I did well, and I'm very happy how I played.”

Federer leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Isner 5-2, including a straight-sets win during the 2012 BNP Paribas Open final. Isner, however has yet to drop a set this fortnight and is 9-0 in tie-breaks.

Shapovalov was on the board early, despite the nerves that can come with playing your idol for the first time. But the good feelings didn't last, as Federer broke in the third game when Shapovalov shanked a backhand.

The teenager finished the opener with 20 unforced errors. Federer, meanwhile, picked up where he finished with Kevin Anderson on Thursday night, smacking crosscourt forehand winners and pressuring Shapovalov to pass. The Swiss hit only four unforced errors in the opener.

Shapovalov came back from a set down three times to reach the semi-finals, including during his quarter-final against #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe. And the Canadian held to start the second. But Federer broke in the third game again and served his way into the final.

“It's surreal, being on the court against him," Shapovalov said. "Obviously I wasn't trying to focus on the fact that it's Roger on the other side. I was just trying to play as good as I can, and he did a good job today. He played an excellent match. I wasn't able to kind of stay at his level. I'm just going to try to learn from this and move forward.”

The 37-year-old Federer has now reached the most Masters 1000 finals in history with 50 (27-22). Spain's Rafael Nadal has made 49 finals at the prestigious level (33-16).

Federer will go for title No. 101 against Isner, after having won his 100th title earlier this month at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Tsitsipas).

Not as amazing as his previous match, but still an entertaining one. The final is going to be tough, his first serve percentage will definitely have to be way higher than the 30 or 40 he's been at for most of this tournament.  But if anyone knows how to deal with big servers it's Mr. Federer.

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Roger Federer puts on nearly perfect performance to reach his 65th semi at Masters 1000 in Miami

Roger Federer might make a mistake later this week at the Miami Open presented by Itau, but he hardly did on Thursday night against Kevin Anderson.

The three-time Miami champion had everything on full display during his 6-0, 6-4 rout against the sixth seed and looks like the man to beat heading into the final weekend of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament.

Federer brought the cheeky net skills, the crafty slices from side to side and the attacking mindset, and it was all far too much for Anderson, who couldn't replicate his 2018 Wimbledon comeback and fell to 1-6 in his FedEx ATP Head2Head series against the 27-time Masters 1000 champion.

The 37-year-old Federer moved into his seventh Miami semi-final and 65th final four at a Masters 1000 event. Next, instead of an experienced veteran like the 32-year-old Anderson, he'll meet someone who spent his childhood watching the Swiss in 19-year-old Denis Shapovalov.

The Canadian came back from a set down for the third time this tournament to win a #NextGenATP battle against beat 21-year-old American Frances Tiafoe 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-2. Both players have competed at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. The semi-final will be the first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting between Shapovalov and Federer.

It was an ominous start for Anderson, who served first. The South African looked unnerved and overhit a backhand long to hand Federer the break.

Coming into the quarter-final, he had been broken only three times (34/37) against Spain's Jaume Munar, Portugal's No. 1 Joao Sousa and Jordan Thompson of Australia. But Federer would break Anderson that many times in the opening set alone.

Federer landed only 38 per cent of his first serves, but he defended his second serve without problems. Anderson recovered from the 26-minute opening set and the 0-6, 0-2 deficit, breaking Federer to get back on serve at 3-3 in the second.

But the pressure mounted once more at 4-4, and, after a marathon 14-minute game, Federer showed off his craftiness once more. The Swiss cut a slice return to Anderson's forehand wing that he lunged for and hit, but missed wide, and Federer had his fifth and final break.

Did You Know?

Federer is currently third (27) on the all-time Masters 1000 title leaderboard, behind Novak Djokovic(32) and Rafael Nadal (33).

I'm really excited for this next match. 

I'm sure it'll either go one of 2 ways. 

Total blowout, or half blow out half competitive. 

I'm hoping for the latter. I can't wait to see The Master teach the student. 

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Roger Federer dismisses Medvedev to reach quarters in Miami

Roger Federer booked a place in the Miami Open presented by Itau quarter-finals for the 11th time in his career on Wednesday afternoon. The fourth seed and three-time former champion knocked out the 2019 ATP Tour match wins leader, No. 13 seed Daniil Medvedev of Russia, 6-4, 6-2 in their rain-delayed clash postponed from Tuesday night.

Federer will next look to beat sixth-seeded South African Kevin Anderson on Thursday at the Hard Rock Stadium, the new venue of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Miami. Federer leads Anderson, who is coming back from an elbow injury, 5-1 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series that includes four hard-court victories.

The two played twice last year. Anderson saved a match point to win in the Wimbledon quarter-finals, but Federer gave Anderson his only group stage loss at the Nitto ATP Finals.

“I think it's going to be a bit tricky. He's got a great serve, so you go back to big-serve mentality to try to hold your own service games first before thinking about how to break Kevin,” Federer said. “But I think I'm feeling really good. Today's match I can be really happy with. I hope it's going to give me some confidence for tomorrow.”

In a first set serving duel, Federer remained patient and waited for the opportunity to strike at 4-4 by chipping away at Medvedev’s backhand. In winning a 34-stroke rally at 30/40, the Swiss pounced on a short ball from Medvedev, who overcooked a forehand long on the next point.

Federer recovered from 0/40 in the next game, mixing up his service placement and pace, and Medvedev’s head dropped when another unforced error – again, on his forehand – gifted his opponent the first game of the second set. Federer’s run of five straight games ended when Medvedev held for 1-2.

“I think when you want to go deep in tournaments, sometimes you need those 15 minutes that go your way and you're able to pull away with the score,” Federer said.

“It's not always simple. Margins are super slim. You need a bit of help sometimes from your opponent. But you can definitely fight your way in that position. And I did. I got the break to go up 5-4, and then, sure, he had 0/40, but he's still under pressure. He has to break. He knows that. Maybe with that pressure, to some extent, you somehow find a way. And I did.

“Maybe a bit of frustration kicks in, and next thing you know, instead of it being 4-all you're up 6-4, 2-0 and it's tough... These best-of-three-set matches can be very tricky. Today I showed why that is. I'm very happy how I played today, especially in that spell.”

At 2-4, Medvedev found himself in trouble, letting slip a 40/15 lead to be broken for a third time, courtesy of a double fault and Federer calmly recovered from 0/30 in the next game to wrap up his 15th victory of the season. Overall, 37-year-old Federer hit 22 winners and committed eight unforced errors, in the 62-minute encounter, to extend his perfect record against Medvedev to 3-0.

Federer lifted his 100th tour-level trophy three weeks ago at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Tsitsipas) and came into Miami on the back of a final run at the BNP Paribas Open(l. to Thiem). Medvedev, 23, who now has a 17-6 match record on the season, captured his fourth ATP Tour title at the Sofia Open in February (d. Fucsovics). He also finished as runner-up at the Brisbane International (l. to Nishikori) in the first week of the 2019 ATP Tour season.

Monday, March 25, 2019

Roger Federer back on form in Miami reaches 4th round

Roger Federer's third-round match on Monday was much more his style. The Swiss was thoroughly tested during his Miami Open presented by Itau opener on Saturday, needing three sets to beat Delray Beach Open by champion Radu Albot of Moldova.

But Federer, after an even start against Filip Krajinovic, raced past the Serbian 7-5, 6-3 to reach the fourth round in South Florida. Federer, second all-time in Miami wins, improved to 52-14 at the season's second Masters 1000 event.

The 27-year-old Krajinovic stayed with the three-time Miami titlist (2005-06, 2017) in the opener, matching Federer from the baseline. The Serbian made the fourth round at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (l. to Nadal) and was looking to match that result in Miami.

But the 37-year-old Federer came through in the 12th game to take the opener, blasting a crosscourt forehand winner. He settled in from there, racing to a 4-1 lead behind an early break in the second and finishing with 35 winners to 23 unforced errors.

"It was an... intense match in the first 10 games. Then I was able to pull away. I had a good 20-minute stretch where I was really able to stretch the lead, and that was key today," Federer said.

He will next meet Russian Daniil Medvedev, who beat American Reilly Opelka 7-6(5), 6-7(5), 7-6(0). Opelka was two points from the match on Medvedev's serve at 5-6, 15/30 in the third set. But the Russian, who hit 19 aces to Opelka's 22, sprinted away with it in the tie-break.

Their only prior FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting, at the Citi Open in 2017, also featured three tie-break sets. Federer leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Medvedev 2-0. Since August 2018, Medvedev has won three ATP Tour titles (Winston-Salem, Tokyo, Sofia).

"I'm looking forward to the game," Federer said. "I'm very impressed about his progress. I must say the last year has been unbelievable for him... Very impressive."

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Roger Federer avoids upset in Miami 2nd round

One year ago, Roger Federer suffered a stunning opening-round defeat at the Miami Open presented by Itau. On Saturday, the three-time champion made sure that history wouldn't repeat itself.

Being aggressive and coming forward often, Radu Albot produced an impressive display to push Federer to the brink of defeat in his Miami opener. But, as day turned to night in South Florida, Federer would navigate to the finish line, prevailing 4-6, 7-5, 6-3 in two hours and 10 minutes. He fired 38 winners, including 15 off his forehand wing, while overcoming 41 unforced errors.

"It's always going to feel very different in a massive place like this," said Federer, referring to the new venue at Hard Rock Stadium. "It was definitely different, especially very different to Key Biscayne last year. I'm happy I got it out of the way. I'm happy I was able to find a way tonight.

"It was a good atmosphere at the end. I thought it was quite electric, how it usually is in Miami. I'm happy that hasn't gone away."

In one of the biggest upsets of the 2018 season, Thanasi Kokkinakis sent shockwaves throughout the ATP Tour with a deciding tie-break victory over Federer. Unfazed and showing great poise, Albot sought to replicate the feat behind a strong start. Using his great agility and steady baseline game, he put immense pressure on Federer in the early stages. As he's done throughout his career, the 37-year-old found a solution with his back against the wall.

The World No. 5 Federer stopped Albot from achieving his first win over a Top 10 opponent (0-5) and secured his first comeback from a set down in Miami since 2012 (d. Roddick). He will next face Serbia's Filip Krajinovic on Monday.

"I expected a player with a great attitude, which he showed. An aggressive baseliner, who moves well. He's not afraid to come to the net. The problem is I've never practiced with him. I've never really seen him play live matches.

"I thought it was hard. I have a lot of respect for those types of players who don't have the size, have to find a different way to win. He's a great, great player. I was impressed."

Federer, who made his tournament debut 20 years ago, is making his 18th tournament appearance. He is a three-time champion, lifting trophies in 2005-06 and 2017. Two years ago, he downed Rafael Nadal for the championship.

Six days after falling in the BNP Paribas Open final to Dominic Thiem, Federer continues his quest for a 28th ATP Masters 1000 crown. He has enjoyed great success at the 'March Masters' events and carries a 51-14 record into the Miami third round.

Federer struggled to convert break points (2/11) in his final defeat to Dominic Thiem at the BNP Paribas Open. And that trend would continue on a sun-kissed Saturday evening in Miami. After conceding an immediate break, Federer had four opportunities to draw level, including a 0/40 look. But Albot held his nerve, fending off the Basel native and eventually closing out the opener 6-4.

Federer failed to convert on another chance to break midway through the second set, as Albot kept his cool under heavy pressure. But the man they call 'The Machine' was unable to withstand the Swiss barrage as the business end of the set arrived. Serving to force a tie-break at 5-6, Albot dropped serve for the first time as Federer sliced a backhand volley winner.

Momentum would swing to Federer's end in a flash as he forced a decider. Albot had a peak at a break point at 3-all when Federer struck a double fault, but the Swiss would respond with authority, firing three straight service winners to escape trouble. And he would claim the decisive break in the next game before closing out the victory after just over two hours.

Earlier in the day, Filip Krajinovic denied an all-Swiss rematch, defeating Stan Wawrinka 5-7, 6-2, 7-6(5) in the first meeting between the pair. The Serbian World No. 103 rallied from behind in a third-set tie-break to upset 30th-seeded Wawrinka.

The 27-year-old, who trailed 2-4 in the 'breaker, continued his recent good form which saw him come through qualifying in Indian Wells to beat David Goffin and Daniil Medvedev before falling to Rafael Nadal in the fourth round.

Federer leads the FedEx ATP Head2Head series against Krajinovic at 2-0. He triumphed a year ago in Indian Wells, before earning a three-set win on home soil in Basel.

Friday, March 22, 2019

Roger Federer talks Miami Open

Roger Federer shared some breaking news ahead of his 18th appearance at the Miami Open presented by Itau. The 37-year-old, who won his 100th tour-level title in Dubai earlier this month, doesn't plan on sticking around to win title No. 200.

“Not another 100, I can tell you that,” Federer said when asked how many more titles he wants to win.

“I hope a few more. I'm just very happy to be at 100 already. It's exciting to have won that many and to have gotten another chance in Indian Wells. It was a pity [to lose to Dominic Thiem]... but it's how it goes, so I just have to keep plugging away and hopefully give myself some opportunities.

“The important thing is to be healthy, happy playing and that's exactly how I feel right now sitting here in Miami.”

Federer has had a busy few months to start 2019. After a disappointing fourth-round exit at the Australian Open to Greece's #NextGenATP star Stefanos Tsitsipas, he gained revenge and beat him to win the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on 2 March. Federer followed that by reaching his ninth BNP Paribas Open final on Sunday.

But the 27-time ATP Masters 1000 champion, who missed out on a record-setting sixth Indian Wells title, doesn't hold any regrets about the final, which saw Thiem win his first Masters 1000 crown.

“I felt like that one was easier to digest, even though the result was close. I felt like I was still happy with the run I had in Dubai and Indian Wells,” Federer said.

He didn't always get over matches that quickly. “I think it always depends on how the match played out, how you feel at the very end. Do you feel like you have massive regrets? Do you want to go back in time and play certain shots over again and hope for a different outcome?” Federer said. “It's definitely much easier nowadays than when I was younger.”

Federer has won three Miami titles, all of which were won at Key Biscayne, where the tournament was played for 32 years. This year the season's second Masters 1000 event is taking place at the Hard Rock Stadium, in Miami Gardens, the home of the NFL's Miami Dolphins.

“We left an iconic venue in our sport in Key Biscayne. Back in the day we had best-of-five set first-round [matches] in Key Biscayne. It was a massive tournament,” Federer said. “So in a way I'm sad about that, but I'm really, really excited to be here now.

“It's like a new tournament... but at the same time it's nice to see innovation, it's nice to see growth in the game, and I hope that's exactly what's going to happen here.”

Federer fell in his opener last year to Aussie Thanasi Kokkinakis. Suffice to say the fourth-seeded Swiss isn't looking past his second-round opponent, either Matthew Ebden or a qualifier.

“My focus has got to be doing better than last year,” Federer said. “I really have to make sure I do my upmost to get through that first [match] and hopefully catch momentum.”

If he makes the third round, he could meet countryman and friend Stan Wawrinka for the second time in as many tournaments.

"I prefer not to have him in my draw. I prefer to never have him in my section, but it is what it is," Federer said. "As a player, I think you always look at your first couple of rounds, so I know that there's a chance there and a possibility, so we'll see what's going to happen. But it's definitely not ideal that we're maybe going to play each other in back-to-back tournaments."

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Angelique Kerber could face Indian Wells champion Canada's Andreescu in Miami 3rd round

MIAMI, FL, USA -- A rematch of the scintillating BNP Paribas Open final could be in the offing early at the 2019 Miami Open, as the star-studded draw, which was revealed on Sunday, finds Bianca Andreescu and Angelique Kerber in the same section of the Premier Mandatory event.

No.8 seed Kerber and Andreescu could meet up in the third round as the Miami Open starts its first year at its new venue, the Hard Rock Stadium. 18-year-old Andreescu claimed her first WTA singles title when she defeated reigning Wimbledon champion Kerber in the Indian Wells final on Sunday in three sets.

Andreescu, still unseeded, has some hurdles before getting to that match. She will face Romania's Irina-Camelia Begu in the first round, and they went three sets in the first round at Indian Wells. If Andreescu can get through that match, she will face No.32 seed Sofia Kenin of the United States -- the most recent player to beat Andreescu, which occurred in the semifinals of Acapulco a few weeks ago.

Andreescu, Kerber, and Kenin, along with No.9 seed Aryna Sabalenka, find themselves in the top quarter of the draw, where the winner from their section could face World No.1 Naomi Osaka, who sits at the top of the bracket, in the quarterfinals.

Osaka was unable to defend her 2018 BNP Paribas Open title last week, falling to Belinda Bencic in the fourth round at Indian Wells. A battle between the two most recent Australian Open champions could take place in the fourth round, as the current titleholder Osaka is projected to face last year's Melbourne champion, No.13 seed Caroline Wozniacki, at that stage.

No.3 seed Petra Kvitova, who lost to Osaka in this year's Australian Open final, leads her quarter, also in the top half of the draw. No.7 seed Kiki Bertens and No.12 seed Ashleigh Barty are in the Kvitova quarter too, as well as three-time Miami Open champion Victoria Azarenka.

Azarenka's most recent WTA singles title came at Miami in 2016, when she completed the Indian Wells/Miami "Sunshine Double." She will face former World No.4 Dominika Cibulkova in a marquee first-round match between unseeded players.

In the bottom half of the draw, No.2 seed Simona Halep of Romania will try to rebound from a fourth-round loss to Czech teen Marketa Vondrousova at Indian Wells. Three-time Miami Open champion Venus Williams, who made the quarterfinals at Indian Wells, is in Halep's section as well.

The victor from that section could face No.10 seed Serena Williams, who has won an astounding eight titles in Miami, in the quarterfinals. Before that point, Serena Williams could potentially face No.6 seed Elina Svitolina, a 2019 Indian Wells semifinalist, or 2019 Australian Open semifinalist Danielle Collins, the No.25 seed, in the round of 16.

Finally, reigning Miami Open champion and No.4-seeded American Sloane Stephens leads her quarter, also in the bottom half, as she attempts to defend her most recent title. Stephens is just 5-5 on the season thus far, but will attempt to turn that record around in a second-round match against either Ons Jabeur of Tunisia or Belgium's Alison van Uytvanck.

Stephens' vanquished finalist from last year, No.22 seed Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, is also in the same section, and No.5 seed Karolina Pliskova sits at the other end of her quarter. Pliskova, however, has No.23 seed Belinda Bencic in her portion of the draw. Bencic has beaten six Top 10 players over the last month -- including Pliskova at Indian Wells.

I feel like I don't do enough women's tennis posts on this blog. I'm not sure why since I often watch more women's matches than men's. 

It certainly was the case at Indian Wells this year. The matches were often more entertaining than the men's 

The entire draw at BNP Paribas Open for the women was fantastic to watch. And I'm really looking forward to seeing what unfolds in Miami this week. 

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Roger Federer gets tricky Miami draw could face Wawrinka again in round 3

Roger Federer could meet compatriot Stan Wawrinka in the third round for the second straight tournament at the Miami Open presented by Ita├║. After Federer defeated Wawrinka in straight sets in Indian Wells en route to the final (l. to Thiem), Wawrinka, the 30th seed may get a chance to avenge that loss in the second ATP Masters 1000 tournament of the year.

If the Swiss stars meet, it will be their 26th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting (Federer leads 22-3). All three of Wawrinka’s victories have come on clay, at either Roland Garros or a Masters 1000 tournament. But perhaps Federer was a prophet after beating his friend in the California desert.

"“I think he knows, as well as I, that he's very, very close and it's just a matter of time until he's going to break through again,” Federer said after their Indian Wells match.

Federer will have to get past Aussie Matthew Ebden or a qualifier, and Wawrinka must defeat Serbian Filip Krajinovic or Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert to set the popcorn battle. Federer has won all 12 of his clashes with Wawrinka at hard-court Grand Slams or Masters 1000 events, triumphing on eight of those occasions in straight sets.

Also in their quarter is sixth seed Kevin Anderson, Rolex Paris Masters champion Karen Khachanov, 13th seed Daniil Medvedev and 2017 Nitto ATP Finals winner Grigor Dimitrov.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, who is pursuing a record seventh Miami title, will look to get back on track after a surprising third-round loss against German Philipp Kohlschreiber in Indian Wells. Regardless of who he meets in the second round, it will be a familiar foe. Djokovic will play former World No. 4 Tomas Berdych or Aussie Bernard Tomic.

The top seed has won 25 of 28 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Berdych — including all 21 of their matches on hard courts — and all five of his clashes with Tomic. But Berdych owns four victories against World No. 1s, including a triumph in Miami against then-World No. 1 Federer nine years ago.

The first seeded opponent Djokovic could face is No. 32 seed John Millman, who beat Roger Federerin the fourth round of last year's US Open before Djokovic dismissed him. No. 22 seed Roberto Bautista Agut, who upset Djokovic en route to the Doha title in January, could be a fourth-round opponent for the Serbian. No. 15 seed Fabio Fognini, who partnered Djokovic to the Indian Wells doubles semi-finals, is also in his section.

Fresh off his maiden Masters 1000 triumph in Indian Wells, Dominic Thiem carries plenty of confidence into Miami. Matching his career-high ATP Ranking of No. 4, the third seed will play Indian Wells quarter-finalist Hubert Hurkacz or Italian Matteo Berrettini in the second round. The next highest-ranked player in his quarter is Kei Nishikori. There may be another popcorn third-round match, as Nishikori could face Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC winner Nick Kyrgios.

Seventh seed John Isner begins his title defence against Slovak Martin Klizan or a qualifier, and he could face Australian Open semi-finalist Lucas Pouille in the third round. Alexander Zverev, who lost to Isner in last year's final, is the second seed. The German will face an early test against former World No. 3 David Ferrer or home favourite Sam Querrey.

Zverev's quarter is filled with #NextGenATP stars. He could play 28th seed Frances Tiafoe in the third round, while reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas and 20th seed Denis Shapovalov are also among the #NextGenATP players in the bottom fourth of the draw.

Projected Quarter-final Matches

Monday, March 18, 2019

Roger Federer 'Thiem was better when it counted' in the Indian Wells Final

Roger Federer fell short in the BNP Paribas Final for the second consecutive year on Sunday, losing to Dominic Thiem in three sets. But even with a record-setting sixth title on the line, Federer took the loss with perspective.

“I'm not too disappointed. I feel like he had to come up with the goods, and it did feel like to some extent it was on my racquet,” Federer said. “[I] just came up against somebody who was, on the day, a bit better when it really mattered. That's how it goes. Sure, it's frustrating and disappointing and sad to some extent. But look, I have been in these positions so many times that I get over it very quickly.”

Federer also missed out on his sixth Indian Wells title in last year's final against Juan Martin del Potro, failing to convert three championship points against Juan Martin del Potro. He also fell just short in the California desert in 2014, '15.

“It's hard to pinpoint exactly what went wrong [against Thiem]. The return he hits on the line at 5-all [in the third set], that's the one I needed, and I couldn't produce that. Why is that? You can start looking, digging so deep, and then you end up getting lost, rather than just saying he played maybe a little bit better when he really had to,” Federer said. “I didn't feel like I played bad, either. I had my chances. I was in the points.”

It would be one thing if Federer was blown off the court because of his own poor play. But, for the most part, the deciding factor was Thiem’s fearlessness in the big moments, not a Federer implosion.

“I feel like I'm actually playing good tennis. Like, in Australia, I wasn't too down on myself because I feel like my game is there, my body is there. I think when you feel that way, you take it more... positively?” said Federer, who was stunned in the fourth round of the Australian Open by reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas. “I don't know how to explain, but it's just not as dramatic. Whereas, when you're hurt and things are difficult… maybe those hurt more.”

This loss may sting a little bit, but Federer has still won 12 of 14 matches this year. At the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, the Swiss became the second player in the Open Era to earn 100 tour-level titles (Jimmy Connors, 109).

“I'm happy for Dominic, winning his first Masters 1000, as well. It's a massive event to win,” Federer said. “I just got my 100th in Dubai, and I had a good week here. Really, there is no reason to get down. Plus there is more to look forward to in Miami.”

Federer will now turn his attention to the Miami Open presented by Itau, the second Masters 1000 tournament of the year. With Rafael Nadal’s withdrawal, the Swiss will be the fourth seed. And while Federer has played 10 matches since only 25 February, he is eager to pursue his fourth trophy at that event.

"The body is perfectly fine. That also always keeps me upbeat, and I feel it's a privilege when I feel this way leaving a tournament,” Federer said. “I have been playing every single day for the past three weeks. I can be very happy and proud of that fact.

“I feel really good, so why shouldn't I go into the tournament and to the event confident?”

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Roger Federer talks future of Nadal Rivalry

Saturday’s BNP Paribas Open semi-final between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal wasn’t meant to be, but the Swiss star believes they’ll have another chance to share the court.

Federer expected it to be business as usual when he warmed up for their Indian Wells clash and heard Nadal was on a separate practise court. But a couple of hours before they were slated to battle on Stadium 1, the Spaniard was forced to withdraw due to right knee pain.

“Rafa texted me a message saying ‘It’s not going to be possible, my knee is not well.’ It’s definitely a big letdown because I know the anticipation [for the match] was there and the tension was so high for the both of us,” said Federer. “I’m obviously excited to be in the final, but not this way. He was playing some of his best tennis again, so I was looking forward to the match and I’m sorry it didn’t happen.”

Nadal still leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head Series 23-15, but they haven’t faced off since the 2017 Shanghai Rolex Masters. The two titans are in the twilight of their careers, so the opportunities for them to play each other are less frequent. As Federer continues his 21st year on tour and Nadal his 18th, it’s only natural for fans to wonder when their last match will be.

But with both men still playing high-quality tennis, Federer is optimistic they’ll put themselves in position to meet again.

“We’ve had so many epic battles and I know every match we have now could be our last. Was this our chance for the last one? I really hope not,” said Federer. “I believe at the level he’s playing and that I’m still going at, there’s going to be more. But if we keep staying up high in the [ATP Rankings], it’s more of a challenge to get to each other in the draw as well.”

Federer is now one match away from a record sixth Indian Wells title as he gets ready to face Dominic Thiem on Sunday. He was just one point away last year from taking sole ownership of the record he shares with Novak Djokovic, but missed three championship points in a heartbreaking third-set tie-break loss to Juan Martin del Potro.

Although Federer has put himself in the same position 12 months later, he won’t be logging in any extra hours on the court in spite of Nadal’s withdrawal.

“I’ve hit so much the last few weeks that I’m happy to save my knees for my body, to be honest,” joked Federer. “We don’t have much time off, so when you do get an afternoon off, you put your feet up, take a massage and spend some time with the family. It’s a big final for me, especially after the tough loss last year…but I’m feeling good and ready to go.”

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Roger Federer moves into final via walkover faces Thiem for the title at Indian Wells

Five-time BNP Paribas Open champion Roger Federer may not have had to step on the court against second seed Rafael Nadal on Saturday, as the Spaniard withdrew from the tournament due to right knee pain. But nevertheless, Federer is on the verge of history in Indian Wells, one match away from becoming the first player to capture six titles in the California desert.

Federer, who is tied with World No. 1 Novak Djokovic at five Indian Wells crowns, will not have it easy in the final against seventh seed Dominic Thiem, who seeks his first ATP Masters 1000 title. This will be the pair’s fifth FedEx ATP Head2Head clash, with each player winning two of their previous meetings. Federer has triumphed in both of their hard court matches.

“I'm just excited to be in another finals here, to be quite honest,” said Federer, who is into his ninth Indian Wells final. “It's not the way I wanted to get there in a semi-finals walkover, but as we know, it's how it goes sometimes in tennis.”
 Year Tournament Round Winner Score
 2016 Brisbane SF Roger Federer 6-1, 6-4
 2016 Rome R16 Dominic Thiem 7-6(2), 6-4
 2016 Stuttgart SF Dominic Thiem 3-6, 7-6(7), 6-4
 2018 Nitto ATP Finals RR Roger Federer 6-2, 6-3

Federer has flown through the draw thus far at the first Masters 1000 event of the year, winning all eight sets he has played. The 37-year-old has been broken only once in the tournament, and that came in the second set of his opening-round victory against German Peter Gojowczyk.

Federer, who by triumphing in Dubai earlier this month became the second player in the Open Era to win 100 tour-level titles, is in position to erase bad memories from last year in Indian Wells, where he missed out on three championship points before losing to Juan Martin del Potro in the final.

“I hope I can play a great match. It’s a big tournament, big final for me tomorrow especially after last year’s tough loss against Juan Martin,” Federer said. “I would love to go all the way this year, we’ll see how it goes.”

Across the net will be a hungry Austrian in Thiem. The 25-year-old carries plenty of confidence into the match after his two-hour, 31-minute three-set win in the semi-finals against Milos Raonic. The World No. 8 had not lost a set before dropping the middle set against the Canadian. But he is ready to push for a Masters 1000 breakthrough on Sunday.

“I think he’s playing very well. I think he’s using the kick serve very effectively. The spins, they really bounce up high here in the desert air. I think he’s one of the fittest guys out there and can hit the ball the hardest. I think this surface suits him well for that,” Federer said. “I really hope I can play aggressive tennis against him. But I like his style. He uses the spins and the variations very effectively and for that I think we’ll see some interesting points tomorrow.”

Before this tournament, Thiem, a two-time Mutua Madrid Open finalist, had made the semi-finals of a Masters 1000 event on hard courts just once. Coincidentally, that was the most recent tournament at this level: the 2018 Rolex Paris Masters. He has only advanced to the quarter-finals in Indian Wells once, and owns just one win against a Top 10 opponent on the surface (1-10) compared to his eight on clay (8-10). But he feels comfortable on the courts at the BNP Paribas Open, which he believes are similar to those at the US Open, where he pushed Nadal to a fifth-set tie-break in the quarter-finals.

"I was preparing here for 12 days before the tournament. That helped, of course, a lot. This surface and also the one in New York, for example, it suits me pretty well because it's bouncy, especially during the day," Thiem said. "It's not too fast, so it's a little bit more similar to a clay court. The biggest adjustment is the moving, that I cannot slide around."

Thiem has done a little bit of everything this tournament, from standing against the flowerbeds at the back of the court to return Raonic's serves, to stepping up to the baseline to take gargantuan rips at his groundstrokes. One thing's for sure — he's going to try to use every tool in his arsenal to prevent Federer from lifting his 28th Masters 1000 title.

"It's always something special to play him and also something special to compete in a Masters 1000 final. It's only my third one," Thiem said. "I know it's going to be very tough, but same time, I will give everything to hopefully win my first title."

Did You Know?

This will be Federer's 153rd tour-level final, but his first against an Austrian. Federer holds a 10-4 record against Austrians, losing one match apiece against Stefan Koubek (2001 Vienna) and Jurgen Melzer (2011 Monte-Carlo).

Don't think a lot of people had Thiem in the final.

I'm a bit disappointed that Fedal didn't happen.

No one wants to win a match on a walkover.

But I think Thiem is going to be a tough one for Fed. Should be a great final.