Sunday, September 22, 2019

Roger Federer & Alexander Zvarev win as Europe retains Laver Cup title

Alexander Zverev won the final match for Team Europe in last year's Laver Cup and put in a repeat effort on Sunday in Geneva. The German defeated Milos Raonic 6-4, 3-6, 10-4 to complete a successful title defence for the home team.

Team Europe defeated Team World 13-11 after three exciting days of play and has won the Laver Cup crown in all three years of the competition. Each winning team member will also receive $250,000.

“It was an unbelievable weekend. My team was screaming at me in the locker room before the Match Tie-break, saying this is how I could turn my season around. Without all of these guys on the bench, I couldn’t have done it,” Zverev said. “This is very special, especially playing in front of those guys and having them trust me to play the last match.”

Zverev improved to 5-1 in singles, while Raonic fell to 0-2. He also tied his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Raonic at 2-2.

Zverev laced a forehand winner at 3-3 in the opening set to break Raonic and went on to take the early advantage. Raonic responded in the second set by breaking Zverev at 3-2, then bravely saved four break points on his serve at 5-3 to force a Match Tie-break.

But it was the Canadian who blinked first with the title on the line, hitting a pair of backhand errors to give Zverev a 5/2 advantage. The German nailed a forehand winner on match point and collapsed to the ground in delight after one hour and 29 minutes.

Federer kept Team Europe's title defense alive with a 6-4, 7-6(3) victory over John Isner. Federer leads Isner 8-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry and has won both of their Laver Cup singles matches. The Swiss is undefeated (6-0) in singles at this event, while Isner dropped to 2-4.

”I’m very excited. What an atmosphere and what a match. I’m thrilled that I was able to give something back to the team after a tough Match Tie-break (in doubles) earlier today,” Federer said. “Team Europe has been amazIng. They’ve fought so hard and played so well.”

Federer came out firing and nailed a passing shot winner at 2-2 to earn the lone break of the match. The Swiss remained flawless on serve, winning 83 per cent of his service points (20/24) to grab the opening set.

Both players held serve throughout the second set, but Federer was forced to save a set point at 5-6. He raised his game even further in the tie-break, rifling a forehand winner for a 5/3 mini-break lead and hitting a big first serve to wrap up the match after one hour and 26 minutes.

Earlier in the day, Team World staged a dramatic comeback as Isner/Jack Sock defeated Federer/Stefanos Tsitsipas and Taylor Fritz won a thrilling battle against Dominic Thiem.

It was also announced that the 2020 Laver Cup will be held in Boston. Team Europe captain Bjorn Borg and Team World captain John McEnroe confirmed that they will reprise their roles next year.

Well we didn't get Fedal in doubles on the final day (due to Rafa being injured). 

But I thought Tsitsipas did outstanding his 2nd time around in the doubles with Fed. Didn't do as well when he played with Nadal the first day. 

They still lost, but boy did Tsitsipas provide a lot of shots for the highlight reel. 

Roger kept a perfect 6-0 record in singles at Laver Cup with the Isner defeat. He may be 38, but the man knows how to turn it on for a home crowd when it's needed. 

Kudos to Rafa and Roger for having faith in Sascha who brought it home again. This is definitely the best he's played all year, who knows it might even turn his season and game around. 

I felt a bit sorry for poor Bautista Augut who they didn't utilize at all, so all he did was sit on the bench for 3 days. Something tells me they regret it given how Fognini played. 

And I honestly thought they were going to lose this one, especially once I found out Rafa was out today, but Zvarev clinched it just as he did last year. 

I don't know what the future of this event will bring without Roger in it, but I hope it remains as fun. 

Already looking forward to Boston 2020.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

Roger Federer undefeated in singles at Laver Cup

Roger Federer utilised sound advice from his longest rival on Tour to prevail over a more recent adversary on Saturday at Laver Cup in Geneva. With Rafael Nadal providing strategy from the bench, the Swiss rallied to defeat Nick Kyrgios 6-7(5), 7-5, 10-7 and give Team Europe a 5-3 lead over Team World.

All of Saturday’s matches are worth two points, compared to Friday’s matches that were worth one point. Federer is 3-0 against Kyrgios in Laver Cup play and now leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry 6-1.

“I was hoping it was going to be like this. It was amazing,” Federer said. “It was tough to lose that first set. I needed to get some energy, so I was just trying to stay with Nick because if you can turn it around, you can get the crowd behind you. I need some earplugs for the next match!”

Both men traded early service breaks in the first set and eventually forced a tie-break. Federer sprinted to a 4/0 lead, but began to get tight and leak unforced errors. Kyrgios responded by going on a four-point run and won the last three points of the tie-break to take a commanding lead.

Although the Swiss continued to hold serve comfortably, he was unable to make inroads in most of the baseline rallies. His teammates had been silent throughout the match, but Nadal took the reigns and offered statistics with Federer serving to stay in the match at 4-5 in the second set.

”After five shots [in the rally], you are winning more [points] than him,” Nadal said. “I know it’s difficult because he reads the ball so well… Wait for the right one and then attack because he’s not missing.”

The plan worked to perfection as Kyrgios coughed up a pair of unforced errors to hand Federer a break at 5-5. At the next changeover, Nadal urged Federer to add more spin to his serve and hit higher balls to disrupt the Aussie’s rhythm. The strategy produced a comfortable service hold to force a Match Tie-break.

Federer saved his best tennis for when it mattered most. A leaping backhand volley winner gave him a 3/2 mini-break advantage as Kyrgios began to tighten up on his backhand, leading him to take short swings at the ball that allowed the Swiss to pounce. Federer took a 9/4 lead in the Match Tie-break and a forehand sent wide from Kyrgios three points later wrapped up play after one hour and 51 minutes.

With Isner winning over Zvarev and Jack Sock/Nick Kyrgios prevailing over Nadal/Tsitsipas team Europe only has a 2 point advantage (at 7-5). 

With 3 points for grabs tomorrow this could be the tightest Laver Cup yet. 

Really hoping to see some Fedal doubles tomorrow. 

I am immensely enjoying the back and forth coaching between Nadal and Federer. 

2 of the games greatest giving each other advice, it doesn't get better than that.  

Friday, September 20, 2019

Roger Federer & Alexander Zvarev give Team Europe 3-1 lead in Day 1 of Laver Cup

Roger Federer/Alexander Zverev doubled their pleasure on Friday at the Laver Cup in Geneva, saving six set points in a 6-3, 7-5 victory over Denis Shapovalov/Jack Sock to give Team Europe a 3-1 lead over Team World after Day 1.

“It was a great atmosphere. There’s nothing like playing at home. Sascha carried me in the second set and it was great fun out there,” Federer said. “My back has recovered (since the US Open) and I’m ready to go for more tomorrow.”

Federer improved to 6-2 in Laver Cup play and Zverev is now 5-1. Sock dropped to 6-4 and Shapovalov seeks his first win at this event (0-3).

“I had two great coaches, one on the court and one (Rafael Nadal) on the sidelines,” Zverev said. “I could just shut off my brain and do whatever they told me to do.”

Federer/Zverev delighted the crowd at Palexpo by breaking Shapovalov for a 3-1 lead in the opening set and rode that momentum to an early advantage. A strong return from Zverev led to an immediate break of Sock’s serve in the opening game of the second set.

Shapovalov/Sock struggled on break points and missed their first nine opportunities, but Shapovalov made good on their 10th chance by ripping a backhand return to break Federer and level the set at 4-4. But with Zverev serving at 4-5, the Canadian-American pair were unable to convert on six set points.

A costly double fault from Shapovalov at 5-5 handed a critical break to Federer/Zverev. The Swiss took advantage of the opportunity and served out the match after 97 minutes, marking the longest doubles match in Laver Cup history.

In the first match of the night session, #NextGenATP Greek Stefanos Tsitsipas made his Laver Cup debut a memorable one by overcoming an equipment malfunction and a determined Taylor Fritz to prevail 6-2, 1-6, 10-7. Tsitsipas’ shoelace broke at 2/2 in the Match Tie-break, but the 21-year-old made the surprising decision to continue playing.

”I didn’t want to stop the match. That was quite tough because I was scared I was going to lose my shoe during the point,” Tsitsipas said in his on-court interview. “The momentum changed in the tie-break. I found my rhythm again and had a clear mind on the court.”

Tsitsipas raced to a 5/2 lead in the Match Tie-break, but Fritz responded with a series of aggressive forehand runs to go on a four-point run. The American hit his first double fault of the match at 7/7 and Tsitsipas, No. 7 in the ATP Rankings, fired two big serves to give Team Europe a 2-1 lead.

The day session saw Dominic Thiem save three match points to defeat Denis Shapovalov and give Team Europe their first point, but Jack Sock responded for Team World by beating Fabio Fognini for his first singles win of the season.

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Roger Federer: Nadal is pumped for Laver Cup

Laver Cup Twitter

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal are teaming up again at the 2019 Laver Cup, which starts Friday in Geneva. And Nadal can't wait to get started.

“He couldn't be more pumped up for this event,” Federer said on Wednesday. “He just won the US Open. It would have been so easy for him to say, 'Look, I need a break.' But he said, 'No, my break's coming afterwards. I push it all aside, and I'm doing this because I really believe in the concept of the Laver Cup. And I believe in you guys.'”

The players were welcomed and made a public appearance on the balcony of the Palais Eynard, Parc des Bastions on Wednesday afternoon ahead of the third edition of the Laver Cup, which pits the best of Team Europe against the best of Team World.

“It's been energetic, it's been thrilling, it's been exciting. The two teams have finally clashed and seen each other. We are all ready to go,” Federer said.

He and Nadal combined forces for Team Europe during the inaugural Laver Cup, in Prague in 2017. The two all-time greats played doubles together, beating Team World members Sam Querrey and Jack Sock 6-4, 1-6, 10-5.

Expect Federer/Nadal to take the court together again as the two practised doubles together on Wednesday against teammates Alexander Zverev and Fabio Fognini. The team competition gets underway on Friday.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Roger Federer talks plans for 2020

Wimbledon 2020 could be Roger Federer's competitive curtain call.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion says he will play The Championships next year and will definitely decide "over the next few weeks" whether he will play beyond Wimbledon or pull the plug on his brilliant career.

“Inside myself I decided that I want to play until Wimbledon,” Federer said in comments published by Eurosport. “Now I am busy about making a choice for Tokyo [2020 Olympic Games].

"I already discussed about it with my team and I asked how they see it. I also spoke with [wife] Mirka. I will definitely take a decision over the next weeks."

The eight-time Wimbledon champion is in Geneva for Laver Cup this week.

Federer didn't say if or when he'd reveal his final decision and said maintaining a balance between family life and playing schedule is vital.

“For me it’s just important to have a stretch of tournaments and enjoy a break, have enough time for my family," Federer said.

Partnering buddy Stan Wawrinka, Federer struck doubles gold at the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games then fell to Andy Murray in the gold-medal match at the 2012 London Games. Federer said he hopes to play the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, but has not reached a final decision.

"I'm very excited about the prospect of maybe playing the Olympic Games, but I'm not quite sure yet," Federer said. "My planning goes until Wimbledon next year which is a couple of weeks before the Olympics, so I guess I'm going to be deciding on the Olympic Games in the next few weeks, hopefully the next month or so.

"It's been such a special event for me over the years. Me and my wife in 2000 carrying the flag in Athens and Beijing for the Swiss Olympic delegation which was a huge dream for me come true."

The 38-year-old Swiss came achingly close to collecting his 21st Grand Slam championship—and first since the 2018 Australian Open—holding two championship points in the Wimbledon final.

World No. 1 Novak Djokovic denied championship points in the final set fighting off Federer, 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-6 (4), 4-6, 13-12 (3) to successfully defend his Wimbledon title in The Championships' longest final—and first men’s major final decided in a fifth-set tie breaker.

Federer has contested the Wimbledon final in five of his last eight appearances at SW19. The five-time US Open champion's last Flushing Meadows final was in 2015.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Simona Halep & coach Darren Cahill to reunite in 2020

Simona Halep will team up with coach Darren Cahill once again for the 2020 season, the former WTA World No.1 announced via her social channels.

The Australian announced a split with his long-time pupil during November 2018, expressing that he wished “to be home more for support as our children enter important stages of their lives”.

It brought to an end a successful three-year collaboration, which saw Halep become WTA World No.1 for the first time in 2017 and pick up a maiden Grand Slam title at the 2018 French Open.

Although Halep won Wimbledon this year, defeating Serena Williams in the final, she has struggled to match the consistency she managed in 2018 and has slipped to WTA World No.6.

However, she will be reunited with Cahill for the coming year.

“I have some exciting news to share with you,” Halep told her social media followers. “After a year without him on my team, I’m happy to announce that Darren will be back by my side next season."

Jokingly, she added: “So, D, last time I killed you, and I’m playing to kill you again. I can’t wait to finish what we started. See you soon!”

Halep, who had a trial spell with coach Thierry Van Cleemput earlier this year, is currently recuperating from an ankle injury that forced her out of Zhengzhou.

And the good news keeps on coming!. 

Seriously, can we fast forward to next season already?! ♥ 

I have no doubt that with Darren, Simona will be back to the consistent player she's been over the years and I'm looking forward to watching it. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Kim Clijsters plans to return to professional tennis circuit in 2020!

ST PETERSBURG, FL, USA – The WTA today welcomed news that former World No.1 Kim Clijsters, winner of 41 career singles titles including four Grand Slams and three season-ending WTA Finals, is in training with plans to compete on the professional tennis tour in 2020.

Clijsters, who played the first professional matches of her career on the ITF Circuit in 1997 and made her WTA debut age 15 at Antwerp in 1999, was 29 years old when she played her last competitive matches at the US Open in 2012. Now 36, the Belgian eyes her return to the tennis circuit as a mother of three – daughter Jada was born in February 2008, followed by sons Jack (2013) and Blake (2016). She is also a member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame, having been inducted in the Class of 2017.

“Kim Clijsters ranks among the greats of the game and her return to the Tour is exciting news for the WTA family and tennis fans around the world,” said Steve Simon, WTA Chairman and CEO. “Driven by her love for the sport, this wonderful champion continues to inspire women and men in all walks of life – and she only adds to the compelling wealth of talent in women’s tennis. I wish Kim all the best in this next chapter of her playing career.”

Clijsters’ ‘first career’ was highlighted by two victories at the WTA Finals (2002-03), 19 non-consecutive weeks as World No.1 on the WTA Rankings (first attained on August 11, 2003 for 10 weeks), and a maiden Grand Slam title at the 2005 US Open. That triumph at Flushing Meadows came after four runner-up finishes at Slams: Roland Garros in 2001 and 2003, the US Open in 2003 and the Australian Open in 2004.

She stepped away from tennis in May 2007, marrying Brian Lynch shortly after and giving birth to a daughter, Jada, the following year. But in July 2009, after 26 months away from the tour, she launched a famous comeback that began with a run to the quarterfinals at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati. Then, in just her third tournament back, Clijsters won the US Open to become the first mother to win a Grand Slam title since Evonne Goolagong at Wimbledon in 1980. She defended the Flushing Meadows crown in 2010, before going on to capture a third WTA Finals title at Doha and win the 2011 Australian Open. Her victory in Melbourne helped Clijsters return to No.1 for a 20th career week in February 2011 – the only mother to hold the top spot since computer rankings began in November 1975.

Her last singles match was against Laura Robson in the second round at the 2012 US Open, which she lost in two tie-break sets. This was followed by a first round doubles exit partnering with fellow Belgian Kirsten Flipkens and finally, a second round appearance with Bob Bryan in the mixed doubles.

With 41 singles titles (41-19 record in finals), Clijsters still places third among active players, behind Serena Williams (72 titles) and Venus Williams (49) – and 14th on the Open Era list. She reached at least the semifinals on 16 of her 35 Grand Slam appearances and also shone in doubles, winning 2003 Roland Garros and Wimbledon (both with Ai Sugiyama) among 11 titles and spending 4 weeks at No.1. She remains one of just six women to simultaneously hold the top spot in both singles and doubles.

In addition to being a fan favorite, Clijsters won the WTA’s Peachy Kellmeyer Player Service Award in 2010 and the Karen Krantzcke Sportsmanship Award a record eight times – both accolades decided by peer vote. She was named Most Impressive Newcomer by international media in 1999; Comeback Player of the Year in 2005 and 2009; and Player of the Year in 2005 and 2010. In recent years she served as a Legend Ambassador for the WTA Finals in Singapore.

As a former World No.1, Clijsters is eligible for unlimited wild cards at WTA tournaments. She will need play three tournaments or earn 10 ranking points to re-establish a ranking.

OMG this qualifies as the best news I've read in a while (I do admit I did double check the date of the article to make sure it wasn't a joke). 

I say why not?. 

How many times did Martina Hingis come back from retirement? 2, 3 4? I've lost count. 

And she won many more doubles titles. Including Grand Slams.

It'll be interesting to see if Kim plans to focus mainly on singles, or do a little bit of everything. With so many players nowadays playing well into their late 30's Kim could definitely still make a go of it.

It's funny I was just recently comparing Kim to Bianca Andreescu in terms of her ability to do the splits, and now Kim is actually returning to do them herself.

I am so excited, bring it on 2020!.

Saturday, September 07, 2019

Canada finally has their first Grand Slam Tennis Champion @ U.S. Open!

NEW YORK, NY, USA - Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu capped off her breakthrough 2019 season with Grand Slam glory at the US Open, playing indomitable tennis to survive 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, 6-3, 7-5 to win her first major title.

Andreescu hasn't lost a completed match since February, and the Rogers Cup champion withstood a late hiccup to extend her winning streak to 13 straight and become the first Canadian woman to win a Grand Slam singles title in the Open Era, winning after one hour and 39 minutes on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Williams, who broke Stefanie Graf's Open Era record of Grand Slam singles titles at the 2017 Australian Open, was making her fourth attempt to tie Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 after finishing runner-up at the last two Wimbledon Championships and 2018 US Open final.
Bianca Andreescu became the first Canadian in the Open Era to win a Grand Slam singles title, shocking 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams in straight sets.

Dropping just one set en route to the final, Williams, who spent 14 months away from the sport to marry and give birth to daughter Alexis Olympia, looked to begin with a strong service hold.

The BNP Paribas Open champion, undaunted in the face of the biggest match of her career, flipped a 40-15 deficit to break off a double fault from the American.

The American initially remained within one break and aimed to pump herself up after saving a whopping five break points in the seventh game. Down break point on her own serve, the No.15 seed gamely saved it and broke once more in the next game to capture the opening set.

With a quick break to start the second, Andreescu shook off losing a long service game of her own to reclaim the initiative and race out to a 5-1 lead, holding her first championship point on serve.

Williams saved it and put on a brave last stand, winning 16 of 20 points to level the set as nerves set in for the teenager. With her back against the wall, Andreescu stopped the run of games to again put herself within four points of victory.

Striking a forehand winner for 15-30, Andreescu earned two more championship points when Williams ended a long rally with a backhand error. Saving a second match point off an ace, the American couldn't save a third as Andreescu batted a way a forehand winner to clinch victory.

In all, it was a clean match from Andreescu, who struck 18 winners to 17 unforced errors, converting five of 12 break point opportunities while winning a solid 64% of first serve points.

Already set to make her Top 10 debut regardless of result, Andreescu is tentatively set to move up to No.5 on Monday's rankings.

I haven't been talking about Bianca Andreescu much this year when I really should have because the rest of the world certainly has!. 

She has been on a remarkable run this year, that seemingly came out of nowhere. 

And she topped it off with the first ever Grand Slam title for Canada, against none other than Serena Williams. 

It doesn't get better than that. 

Her poise and composure reminds me so much of a teenage Martina Hingis it's uncanny. 

Granted Hingis never had the same type of power on her shots, but the way she's able to out play and out smart opponents with variety is so similar. 

I would even go as far as saying she's like a cross between Martina Hingis and Simona Helap. 

Her slides on hard court remind me a lot of Kim Clijsters. They're so fun to watch. 

That relentless fighting spirit against opponents in the top ten is just remarkable. 

When she lost the 5-1 lead in the second set after having won the first and Serena got back to 5-all I thought, oh no now Serena will make the comeback in the 3rd and that will be the end of that. 

But Bianca held her nerve and broke Serena again to win it in straights. That is mental resilience of the highest order. The kind you need to win all the big titles. 

It'll be interesting to see how she handles it all now. There's going to be so much attention on her, and with so much success eventually you get a target on your back.

I'll be very curious to see how the rest of this season ends for her after this. 

But for the moment I'm just going to bask in the happiness of the first ever Canadian Grand Slam Champ, courtesy of a 19 year old from my hometown. 

Take a bow Bianca. Outstanding ♥