Tuesday, November 19, 2019

Martina Hingis becomes Ambassador for Swiss Tennis Academy

Swiss tennis legend Martina Hingis will continue her involvement with the sport in her homeland by becoming an ambassador for the Swiss Tennis Academy.

The Academy, founded in 2009, wishes to focus specifically on high-performance athletes from at home and abroad, and it is hoped that Hingis, who also holds a coaching license and is the coach of the Swiss national team in Fed Cup, will be able to help attract talent from the Asian market.

“I’m absolutely delighted to once again be able to play a more active role in Swiss tennis,” she said in a statement. “In my mother’s academy I learnt what a difference good coaching can make and I’m very happy that I will be able to accompany many young players on their way forward together with the ambitious team at the Swiss Tennis Academy.”

Meanwhile, Swiss Tennis believe that the five-time Grand Slam singles winner’s commitment to the project is evidence that they are getting things right.

“The fact that Martina wants to work with us to develop the Swiss Tennis Academy further and in doing so position the location of Biel / Switzerland as a worldwide center of competence for tennis, is not only a great honor and pleasure for us, but also shows that we are on the right path,” RenĂ© Stammbach, the president of Swiss Tennis, said.

With a coaching team that is five-strong, the focus is on quality rather than quantity.

“Our Academy is not the largest, but ‘small and sweet’ - this ranges from the coaching team with highest level of qualifications to individual support for every player. With us nobody is treated as a number, but each person is supported as an athlete and individual,” Peter Frey, the head of the academy said.

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Roger Federer falls to Tsitsipas at Nitto ATP Finals, but is extremely excited for next season

Roger Federer admits to having his chances against Stefanos Tsitsipas on Saturday at the Nitto ATP Finals in London. The six-time champion went one for 12 on break points against the Greek in what must have felt like a sequel to their Australian Open quarter-final in January, when the Swiss didn't convert any of his 12 break points.

“No doubt I had my chances,” Federer said. “[I] had some good spells, but the spells where things were not working well, they were pretty bad. At this level, you just can't have it happen, so that was pretty disappointing today.”

But don't expect the 38-year-old Swiss, who will finish year-end No. 3 in the ATP Rankings, to mull over his semi-final loss for too long.

Federer can feel proud of finishing inside the Top 3 of the year-end ATP Rankings for the 15th time, his four ATP Tour titles, including his 100th in Dubai, and his 16th semi-final at the season finale at The O2.

“I've got to keep on playing at the level like I have this year, and then I will create some chances. I thought I played some consistent, solid tennis. Got to take care of my body, listen to the signs, work well with the team, get the balance right with everything that's happening in my life,” Federer said about his hopes for 2020.

“But I'm happy how I played this season, and I'm extremely excited for next season.”

The Swiss beat Tsitsipas for the Dubai title, won his 28th ATP Masters 1000 in Miami (d. Isner) and won his 10th title in both Halle (d. Goffin) and Basel (d. De Minaur), his hometown tournament.

Federer fell short of winning Big Titles at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells (l. Thiem) and at Wimbledon (l. to Djokovic). He'll look to shore up his performances in those big matches next year during his 23rd season on Tour.

“When the matches come, it's not maybe as easy as it was maybe 10, 15 years ago, where you're just going to play very good day in, day out. Maybe you need to do extra effort sometimes for that to happen. Maybe that's what it felt like today, just things were complicated. But I've got to maybe do even a better job at figuring these moments out, because the opportunities were there today, for instance. They were there in other moments as well this season, maybe Indian Wells or Wimbledon,” said Federer, who had two match points against Novak Djokovic in the Wimbledon final.

“That can change an entire season around, the confidence around, the flow of things.”

Federer, who is 2-2 against Tsitsipas in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, was complimentary of the 21-year-old.

“I thought that he played really well. He took the ball early. I know he does that. I thought I returned actually pretty good on the first serve... For the most part I wasn't quite getting into the rallies the way I wanted to,” Federer said. “I think I have to credit him for pushing me to not play at the level I was hoping to today."

About Tsitsipas' one-handed backhand, which the Greek hit effectively down the line, Federer added, “He can loop it and come down on it, and that's why also I believe he's good on faster courts and on slower courts. It's going to be very beneficial for his career... Obviously it's his footwork that's always on the aggressive side. Any short ball will be attacked, and I think he does that very, very well. He's one of the best at that in the game.”

Federer, however, minutes after the loss, was already prepared to move on and think about future opportunities.

“It's the year-end. It's over now, and I can't make it better. I tried everything I could, to be honest. I tried to chip it eventually, tried to stay back and hit some. I tried to come forward. And for the most part I actually tried to play up in the court and tried to play aggressive. But, of course, with his aggression, it's not always easy because he always takes the ball very early himself too,” Federer said.

“I knew he was going to be incredibly athletic. He was just a little bit better today at all those little things.”

You win some, you lose some. That's kind of how the year went for Roger, lots of chances he just wasn't able to capitalize on. 

Something I am hoping he'll find a way to improve on in 2020, because generally his year has been pretty darn good. 

Got 4 titles (yeah ok no Grand Slams, but any title is always better than none confidence wise). 

And he got revenge on Djokovic for Wimbledon by finally beating him for the first time in 4 years. 

I thought Roger didn't play badly against Tsitsipas, he was just outplayed, and the forehand wasn't there for him, when that isn't there it always seems to make things more difficult. 

Can't be too upset with it all though, because as I said all in all it's been another stellar year for the man from Switzerland. I'm with Roger on this one bring on 2020. I can't wait for more.  

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Roger Federer gets revenge for Wimbledon loss in 49th meeting with Djokovic at Nitto ATP Finals

Roger Federer can probably play better, but it's hard to imagine how.

The 38-year-old Swiss beat Novak Djokovic for the first time in four years – and six FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings – on Thursday night, dazzling a capacity crowd at The O2 with a 6-4, 6-3 win against the World No. 2.

“Great atmosphere, a great opponent here in London at The O2, definitely incredibly special. Just a night I enjoyed from the beginning. I played incredible, and I knew I had to because that’s what Novak does and I was able to produce. So it was definitely magical,” Federer said.

The third-seeded Federer, making his 17th appearance, reached his 16th semi-final at the season-ending Nitto ATP Finals and ended Djokovic's season, along with his hopes of finishing year-end No. 1 in the ATP Rankings for a record-tying sixth time.

Djokovic needed to win the title to have a chance at knocking Rafael Nadal off the top spot, but now Nadal is guaranteed his fifth year-end No. 1 finish, evening him with Federer, Djokovic and American Jimmy Connors.

Federer finished second in Group Bjorn Borg, behind Austrian Dominic Thiem, who beat both Federer and Djokovic earlier this week. The Swiss will face the Group Andre Agassi winner on Saturday.

No matter who he faces, though, if the six-time champion plays like he did on Thursday evening, he'll be hard – if not impossible – to beat. Federer barely made a mistake against Djokovic, attacking the Serbian and serving flawlessly. He finished with 23 winners to only five unforced errors.

In the first set, Federer won 87 per cent (20/23) of his service points and made only one unforced error to start their 49th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting. Djokovic had won their last meeting, saving two match points in the Wimbledon final, but the Serbian threw in a loose service game at 1-1. The World No. 2 donated two double faults to start, and on break point, 0/40, Federer walloped a sitting backhand.

“He was the better player in all aspects and absolutely deserved to win,” Djokovic said. “He served great, moved well, returned my serve very well... He did everything right.”

Djokovic, who led their head-to-head series 26-22, responded in the second set, saving two break points in the opening game to rip back momentum. The Serbian then saw his first break chance of the match in the fourth game, but couldn't convert and ran into more trouble on his serve at 2-2.

Djokovic, hearing chants of “Let's go, Roger, let's go!”, fell behind 15/40 and sailed a forehand long to give Federer the second break of the match. The Swiss, who lost the Wimbledon match points on his racquet, broke once more to close it out.

“There was a lot riding on the match. I think I served great, had great anticipation, a clear game plan and it worked to perfection tonight, and hopefully not the last time against Novak,” Federer said. “But even if it didn’t, it was all worth it. It was a great performance tonight from me.”


Ah revenge, how sweet it is. 

I will admit I had my doubts about this one, based on the level Novak was at in his first 2 matches especially vs Thiem even though he lost it generally his level was much better than Roger.  

Even after Roger won the first set, I was holding my breath because I knew the job was not done yet and Djokovic being Djokovic could still mount some miraculous comeback as soon as Roger slightly dropped his level on serve. 

After all Roger won the first set at Wimbledon and we all know what happened there. As he himself said in his post match interview tonight in terms of what he did differently "I won the match point I guess". 

We all know how much that loss still hurts, so this straight sets win was a real statement that had to feel good. First win over  Novak Djokovic since 2015 ATP World Tour finals and it was an emphatic one. 

And the manner in which he accomplished it must have felt even better. His serve was the best it's been all tournament, probably since winning Basel in October. 

It put a lot of pressure on Djokovic, not giving him a chance to get into the match by playing long points the way he usually does. 

Roger was playing on his terms and that was the real difference. 

And yes I'm sure some will say that Djokovic was playing half-heartedly due to his previous match with Dominic Thiem taking a lot out of him physically or mentally, and there's some truth to that (he did grab his elbow in the beginning of the 2nd set). 

Might have also been the pressure of trying to win for another shot at end of year world #1 spot, and maybe even the crowd getting to him a bit. 

But whatever the factor, there's no denying that Roger is the one who was better tonight and he thoroughly deserved the win. 

Looking forward to finding out who he plays next in the semis over the weekend. 

And I'm going to re-watch this one because I was too stressed to truly enjoy it while watching it live. 

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Roger Federer looking forward to Djokovic match at Nitto ATP finals

Roger Federer isn't shying away from the opportunity to avenge his Wimbledon final loss against Novak Djokovic. The Swiss held two match points on his serve but fell 7-6(5), 1-6, 7-6(4), 4-6, 13-12(3), marking the first time in Wimbledon history that a fifth-set tie-break decided the final.

Federer, who beat Italy's Matteo Berrettini on Tuesday to move to 1-1 at this year's Nitto ATP Finals, will face Djokovic again on Thursday with semi-final implications on the line.

“We have played a lot of matches since, and I think we both look back at a great match. I think we both can take away some confidence from the match. Him, obviously a lot. Me, maybe a tad bit less,” Federer said.

“But at the end of the day, I wasn't hoping [for] him not to be in my section or in my draw. I didn't hope I was never going to play him again.

“Actually, it's good for me to play him again, and maybe that all helps to get a chance to get him back or whatever it is... I'm personally excited to play against Novak on Thursday.”

Their Group Bjorn Borg meeting will be their first matchup since they played in the longest Wimbledon final in history (four hours and 57 minutes). Djokovic became the first Wimbledon champion to save match points in the final in 71 years.

The Serbian, who faces fifth seed Dominic Thiem on Tuesday night, leads his FedEx ATP Head2Head series with Federer 26-22 and has won their past four matchups. Djokovic is also 3-2 against Federer at the Nitto ATP Finals.

“I think indoors you've got to go with what you can do best. At the end of the day, maybe it took me a few days, couple weeks at most, to get over the Wimbledon loss,” Federer said. “I still thought I played a great final and a great tournament, beating Rafa there along the way.

“I'm excited [to be] playing against him. I'm excited to see how he's going to play tonight, as well. It's definitely going to give me some more information about what to expect.

“But other than that, I think I need to focus on my game, what I do best. And regardless of what I need to do, I just hope I play well.”

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Roger Federer gets past Berretini to stay alive at Nitto ATP Finals

Roger Federer declared that he's "not allowed to lose anymore" after dropping his opening match to Dominic Thiem at the Nitto ATP Finals. The Swiss stuck to his rule on Tuesday, prevailing 7-6(2), 6-3 against Italian Matteo Berrettini in Group Bjorn Borg.

”It’s unusual to lose and then come back to play again, but I did it last year, so I have some experience,” Federer joked. “I’m very happy with how I played today. Matteo was always going to be difficult with his big serve… I was pretty clean in my own service games and I think that helped today. I hope I can keep it up and maybe even play a bit better in the next match.”

The 38-year-old Federer improved to 2-0 against Berrettini their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry, including a straight-sets victory this year at Wimbledon. The Swiss has more match wins (58) and titles (6) than any player in Nitto ATP Finals history. Federer, who fell to Dominic Thiem on Sunday, is 17-0 lifetime in his second round-robin match at this event.

”There's no reason to be too down [after losing to Thiem]. We came here to play three matches and give it all we have. It was the big goal of the season to qualify here, which we did," Federer said. "I had a day off and there’s plenty of ways to get rid of that loss. Hanging out with my kids will do that for me. I was ready and prepared today. That’s what matters the most right now.”

The match result also impacts Dominic Thiem's chances at advancing out of round-robin action. He'll qualify for the semi-finals if he defeats Novak Djokovic in Tuesday's night session. Thiem is bidding to become the first Austrian semi-finalist at the year-end championships since the event added semi-finals and finals in 1972.

Berrettini, who lost to Djokovic on Sunday, is still looking to become the first Italian to win a match at the season-ending championships.

Federer earned the lone break point of the first set at 6-5, but Berrettini erased it with a forehand winner. The Swiss drew first blood in the tie-break and earned a 2/1 mini-break advantage after Berrettini overcooked a forehand. Federer raced through the final three points of the set to grab the early lead after 42 minutes. The six-time champion is 21-7 in tie-breaks this season.

He continued to ride the momentum and broke the Italian to love in the opening game of the second set. Berrettini had a chance to level the match with Federer serving 4-3, but couldn't convert three break points. A slice forehand from Berrettini found the net in the next game and wrapped up play after 78 minutes.

Monday, November 11, 2019

Roger Federer loses opening round robin match to Thiem at Nitto ATP Finals

Roger Federer has mentally removed himself from Group Bjorn Borg at the Nitto ATP Finals. After dropping his opening match on Sunday to Dominic Thiem, he’ll likely need to win his two next matches in order to advance out of round-robin action and into the semi-finals. The Swiss is now treating this week as a knockout tournament.

“It's a normal tournament from here on forward. I’m not allowed to lose anymore,” Federer said. “That's how it is every week of the year for the past 20 years, so from that standpoint, there is nothing new.”

The six-time champion wasn't pleased about dropping his opening service game or being broken to love at 5-5 in the second set. But Federer still finished the night with more winners (24) than unforced errors (22) and only won five fewer points than Thiem (72 to 77). His level on Centre Court required a world-class performance to beat him and he praised the Austrian for delivering it.

“I thought he played well. The start definitely didn't help. That put me on the back foot,” Federer said. “But I recovered well and I thought the match was pretty even for a long period of time. I felt that I had my chances. Didn’t feel like I was outplayed or anything. Just maybe those first-match hiccups, not hitting your spots on the serve when you need to, getting into trouble early in the service games, which maybe doesn't happen later on in the tournament.”

Although Federer’s form dipped at times, the crowd support for him never wavered. The British public has adopted the Swiss as one of their own after the memorable moments he’s provided in London throughout his 21-year ATP Tour career, including two titles at The O2 (2010-2011). Despite the loss to Thiem, he remained optimistic that their energy can help propel him to a seventh title at this event.

“I thought the atmosphere was great. I wish I could have given them a bit more something to celebrate tonight,” Federer said. ”I felt like the fans were waiting and they were ready to go… Maybe getting that break in the second set would have done exactly that, but it's a wonderful event here. I'm happy I’ve played here so many times so I could enjoy the crowds. I'm looking forward to the next two [matches]."

Federer will shift his focus to his next match on Tuesday against Matteo Berrettini, who also lost his opening match to Novak Djokovic. He dropped just five games against the Italian in their lone FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting this year at Wimbledon, but said that anyone who qualifies for the season-ending championships can’t be underestimated.

“With his serve, with what he can do, obviously any opponent is dangerous here,” Federer said. “I've got to recover. I've got to make sure I play better than today and hopefully I can win that match.”

Federer is now 12-5 lifetime in opening matches at the Nitto ATP Finals. He also lost his first group match last year against Kei Nishikori. The 38-year-old won the season finale crown in 2003-04 (Houston), 2006-07 (Shanghai) and 2010-11 (London). He has a record 57-15 match record at the tournament, which was first held in Tokyo in 1970.


Not a shocking result, just very disappointing. Same thing happened to him last year with Nishikori so hopefully not all is lost just yet. 

But he'll definitely have to pick his game up a lot more because even though Thiem played really well Roger could have beaten him if he played more like he did in Basel (movement on the forehand being the key). 

Fingers crossed we see more of that on Tuesday.

Monday, November 04, 2019

Kim Clijsters delays comeback due to knee injury

BREE, Belgium - Kim Clijsters' comeback to the WTA Tour will be postponed due to a knee injury, the former World No.1 announced on social media today.

"I've had to make the decision that I will not be able to compete in January," wrote the 36-year-old. "I am undergoing rehab and treatment for a knee injury. It's a setback but I'm determined as ever to get back to the game I love. I really appreciate all your support and encouragement."

In September, Clijsters announced her return to professional tennis after a seven-year absence, intending to begin her comeback during the 2020 Australian swing. The mother-of-three turned pro in 1997 and first retired in 2007, returning two years later after having oldest daughter Jada for a glittering second career in which she won three Grand Slams, taking her overall total to four.

Saturday, November 02, 2019

Roger Federer pulls out of inaugural ATP Cup for family reasons

Switzerland's Roger Federer has withdrawn from the inaugural ATP Cup in January for "family reasons".

The 20-time Grand Slam champion's decision means Switzerland no longer qualify for the 24-team event.

Switzerland had been drawn in the same group as Great Britain, who qualified after Andy Murray confirmed his entry.

An extra team will now qualify for the event, which runs from 3-11 January 2020, with the final line-up confirmed on 13 November.

Federer, 38, said it had been a "difficult decision" to withdraw but he "looks forward" to playing the Australian Open later that month.

"It pains me to not be a part of the most exciting new event on the calendar, but this is the right thing to do if I want to continue to play for a longer period of time on the ATP Tour," Federer said.

"I have decided that the extra two weeks at home will be beneficial for both my family and my tennis."

The ATP Cup, which carries 750 ranking points, is separate from November's revamped Davis Cup but could amalgamate with that tournament, according to International Tennis Federation president David Haggerty.

A country's team for the ATP Cup can include up to five players and team's qualify courtesy of their players' singles rankings.

Friday, November 01, 2019

Martina Hingis excited for Clijsters comeback, but doesn't think she'll beat players like Andreescu

Martina Hingis and Kim Clijsters are members of an exclusive club.

The Hall of Famers are among a handful of players to hold the world No. 1 ranking in both singles and doubles.

The 39-year-old Hingis is rooting for the 36-year-old Clijsters in her planned 2020 return to the WTA Tour, but questions if the mother of three can make a successful comeback amid the physicality of today's tennis.

"To me, I think the game has evolved," Hingis told the media at the WTA Finals Shenzhen. "The last time she won was 2011 or 2013. It wasn't yesterday. After all of this, I mean, I played some exhibitions with her or against her, we also played in doubles, I think it's quite different.

"I mean, she was a much more physical player than I was. For me, the doubles was good enough. I felt like, This is what I can do, still participate. I finished at No. 1, so it was nice to come back and play. I felt like I would not be probably good enough for singles. Also I didn't want to put myself out there. That's why I said that it's quite ambitious to want to make that move."

Five-time Grand Slam singles champion Hingis mastered the art of the comeback. Hingis initially stepped away from the sport at age 22 before mounting a successful comeback in 2006.

The former No. 1 eventually worked her way back to No. 6 before retiring again on November 1st, 2007 following a hip injury and positive test for cocaine. Hingis launched another comeback in 2013. Playing exclusively doubles in her second comeback, Hingis won multiple Grand Slam doubles title and regained the world No. 1 doubles ranking.

The new mother suggests Clijsters will face a major challenge against younger players, including US Open champion Bianca Andreescu.

"Even for me it's going to be, like, interesting to watch," Hingis told the media at the WTA Finals Shenzhen. "If she can come back to the game she finished off with, then I'm sure she can have some good matches. Will that be enough to play in today's game? I don't know that.

"I mean, personally I can't see that she's going to go out there and beat Andreescu, Sabalenka, the people who qualified here. If she gets a chance, a good draw, she can get into it. Depends maybe on the first matches who she is going to face. As a wild card, if she's going to face Andreescu first round, you don't really know."

Though she suggests her fellow former No. 1 may struggle, Hingis said she's excited to watch Clijsters compete again.

"I think everybody was surprised to hear about that. She's 36 years old, three-time mother," Hingis said of Clijsters. "I think that's a very ambitious challenge to come back. But I'm sure she won't come back until she's ready. When she feels she's ready, she'll play some good tennis.

"I'm actually excited to see how she's going to do. I mean, speaking as a mother, it's not that easy after having a child and everything. Like I said, it's a very ambitious project. But I wish her all the best."