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Djokovic upbeat after winning comeback match at Australian Open

MELBOURNE, Australia – Six-time champion Novak Djokovic looked his old self as he powered to a convincing first round victory at the Australian Open on Tuesday, January 16, on his return from an elbow injury, saying he felt "great." The 12-time Grand Slam winner, seeded an unfamiliar 14, was too strong for ........»»

Category: newsSource: rappler rapplerJan 16th, 2018

Federer survives Nadal thriller to win 18th Grand Slam title

Roger Federer defied age and his Grand Slam nemesis Rafael Nadal to win a record 18th Grand Slam title in a thrilling, five-set final at the Australian Open on Sunday. Federer, 35, won a classic encounter 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 to become the oldest major-winner in 45 years and move four titles clear of Nadal and Pete Sampras on the all-time list. The veteran Swiss jumped for joy and cried tears of happiness as he sealed the win on his second championship point, ending a five-year wait for a big victory after Wimbledon in 2012. Neither Federer nor Nadal, 30, was expected to reach the final but both players grabbed their chance after the early demise of top seeds Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. And it was a final for the ages as momentum shifted from one side to the other before Federer finally seized control in the deciding set. 'That is a milestone in my career, they are always epic matches against Rafa,' said Federer, adding: 'Rafa has caused me the most problems in my career.' For Federer, it sealed an astonishing comeback from six months out with injury. His fifth Australian title came seven long years after his last, against Murray in 2010. 'Tennis is a tough sport, there's no draws. But if there was going to be one I would have been very happy to accept a draw tonight and share it with Rafa, really,' Federer said. 'Keep playing please, Rafa. Tennis needs you.' Federer becomes the oldest major champion since Ken Rosewall won the Australian Open in 1972 at the age of 37. His ranking has dipped to 17 after a knee problem ended last season following Wimbledon, but he will now rise to 10 when the new rankings are released this week. It was the 35th meeting between the two long-time rivals with Nadal now leading 23-12 and 6-3 in major finals, including his five-set win over Federer in the 2009 Australian final. 'Just fight' 'I would have said a great event would be making the quarters,' Federer said of his pre-tournament expectations. 'Today I just drove myself forward, I said, 'Believe in it, run for the ball. Serve and run, serve and run. Just fight and see if you get lucky. 'I did, really got lucky tonight.' Nadal, who has also come back to form and fitness after an injury-ravaged 2016, has held the edge over Federer in major finals, winning their last four. 'It's amazing how well he's playing after being away for so long. For sure, you have been working a lot to make that happen. I am very happy for you,' Nadal told the crowd. 'It was a good month for me, amazing month for me, really enjoyed it. I worked very hard to be where I am today. Probably Roger deserved it a little bit more than me.' 'I'm just going to keep on trying. Feel like I'm back to a very high level. I'll keep fighting this season.' Federer, playing aggressively and with a flatter backhand than normal, took the match to Nadal and got the only service break to take the opening set. Nadal fought back with two breaks to level before Federer got the bit between his teeth with a double break in the third set. The Spaniard hit back in the fourth set with a service break in the fourth game to take the final into a fifth set. He again broke the Swiss early in the final set but Federer stirred himself and broke Nadal twice before serving out for a brilliant and emotional victory. Federer, considered by many as the finest player in tennis history, is now the first man to win five or more titles at three different Grand Slam events. He has collected five Australian Opens, seven Wimbledons, five US Opens and one French Open in a span of victories which now stretches across 14 years. AFP    .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  thestandardRelated NewsJan 29th, 2017

Kvitova-Osaka: Australian final from different perspectives

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Petra Kvitova has shed her tears. The tears, for a long time private, were in a very public arena this week. A violent home invasion that caused serious knife wounds to her left hand was a punctuation point in her career, as she sees it. There's the before — two Wimbledon titles — and her "second career" — which so far is highlighted by her run to Saturday's Australian Open final. What she is focused on now is winning her first Grand Slam title since Wimbledon in 2014. To get there, she'll have to beat 21-year-old Naomi Osaka, the U.S. Open champion who is on a 13-match winning streak in the majors. "To be honest, I'm still not really believing that I'm in the final," Kvitova said. "It's kind of weird, to be honest, as well, that I didn't know even if I was going to play tennis again." Kvitova was 21 when she made her Grand Slam breakthrough at Wimbledon in 2011 and was a star on the rise, much like Osaka is now. Unlike Osaka, she lost in the first round in her next Grand Slam. There were ups — including a second Wimbledon title — and downs in tennis until that until the horrible ordeal in December 2016 that could have derailed her career, or worse. For a while she was confident being alone, she remembered, until one day she left the locker room at a tennis club in Prague and told her support crew "yeah, it was a good one today that I really felt OK." Her doctor didn't tell her at the time of concerns about the scarring on her surgically repaired left hand that could hinder her return to top-level tennis. In retrospect, Kvitova said it's good she didn't know. "It wasn't only physically but mentally was very tough. It took me really a while to believe," she said. "It was lot of, lot of work ... a lot of recovery, treatment. You know, it was — I think that's kind of the sport life help me a lot with that. I just set up the mind that I really wanted to come back, and I just did everything." She missed the 2017 Australian Open during three months off the tour. She returned at the French Open and had a second-round exit there and at Wimbledon before a bright spot in her comeback, a quarterfinal run at the U.S. Open. But that was the peak for two seasons. She was out in the first round at Melbourne Park last year and at Wimbledon, and third rounds the French and U.S. Opens. Minor setbacks, all things considered. "The mental side was there, and I really needed to be strong and not really thinking too negatively about it," said Kvitova, who is now on an 11-match winning streak. "Yeah, it's been long journey." Kvitova and Osaka have never played each other. Osaka has been watching Kvitova for a long time, though. "I've watched her play the Wimbledon finals. I know what a great player she is," Osaka said. "To have the opportunity to play her for the first time in a final of a Grand Slam is something very amazing." Osaka, whose mother is Japanese and father is from Haiti, has been a star in Japan since she beat Serena Williams in the final of the last U.S. Open. And her fan base has grown, as has her physical condition and mental strength. That was crucial when she had to come back from a set and 4-1 down against Hsieh Su-wei in the third round, when she spiked her racket in frustration. Wins over No. 13 Anastasija Sevastova, No. 6 Elina Svitolina and 2016 U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova followed. Now, she's aiming to be the first woman to win back-to-back majors since Serena Williams in 2015. "It definitely helped knowing that I won the U.S. Open," she said, "because I knew that I had the ability to win that many matches, play for that long." Both players are aiming for top-ranking with a win, and both will have plenty of support in Rod Laver Arena. Kvitova will be a sentimental favorite, particularly after her tearful on-court acknowledgment of success in her "second career" after her quarterfinal win over Australia's Ash Barty. She was asked Friday if she could sense that the crowd knew her story and was behind her. "I don't know. They are not screaming it," she said, smiling. "Hopefully I can find some of them to be on my side.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 25th, 2019

Osaka vs. Kvitova for Australian Open title, No. 1 ranking

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Naomi Osaka never made it past the fourth round at any of the first 10 Grand Slam tournaments of her career. Now, still just 21, she's suddenly on the verge of a second consecutive major championship. And the No. 1 ranking, too. Osaka moved one victory away from adding the Australian Open trophy to the one she collected 4½ months ago at the U.S. Open, using her smooth power to produce 15 aces and groundstroke winners at will while beating Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 4-6, 6-4 in the semifinals Thursday. "I just told myself to regroup in the third set and just try as hard as I can," said Osaka, who saved four break points in the last set and finished the match with an ace at 115 mph (185 kph). "I was so scared serving second serves. I was like, 'Oh, my God. Please!" Osaka said. "Somehow, I made it. I guess that's experience." A day after erasing four match points and a 5-1 deficit in the third set to stun Serena Williams in the quarterfinals, Pliskova could not produce the same kind of comeback. Instead it is Osaka, the only Japanese woman to win a major singles title, who will face two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova on Saturday. The winner will rise to the top of the WTA rankings for the first time; Osaka is currently No. 4, Kvitova is No. 6. In the men's semifinals, Rafael Nadal continued his relentless roll through the draw by defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-2, 6-4, 6-0 at night. Nadal has not dropped a set as he bids for a second Australian Open title and 18th Grand Slam trophy overall. Osaka's fourth-round finish at Melbourne Park a year ago was her best showing at a major until last year's U.S. Open, where she outplayed Williams in the final. A victory over Kvitova would make Osaka the first woman to win two Slams in a row since Williams claimed four straight across the 2014-15 seasons. Two years ago, Kvitova missed the Australian Open, just weeks after her left hand was stabbed by an intruder at her home in the Czech Republic. Back at her best during what she calls her "second career," Kvitova surged to a 7-6 (2), 6-0 victory against 35th-ranked American Danielle Collins after Rod Laver Arena's retractable roof was closed as the temperature soared toward 105 degrees (40 Celsius). Kvitova reached her first major final since the December 2016 knife attack that led to hours of surgery on the hand she holds her racket with — and first since winning Wimbledon for the second time in 2014. "I didn't know even if I (was) going to play tennis again," Kvitova said. "It's been a long journey." Against Collins, a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Virginia who was 0-5 at Slams until this one, Kvitova was more aggressive throughout, mixing big lefty forehands and well-timed pushes forward to the tune of a 30-9 edge in total winners. But the key to the outcome might very well have been what happened at 4-all after 35 minutes of action: That's when the decision finally was made to close the 15,000-seat stadium's cover, drawing cheers of approval from broiling spectators. Kvitova probably wanted to applaud, too. "I was happier than the fans that the roof closed," she said afterward. "I like to play indoors. It helped me a little bit." She's made clear over the years she is not a huge fan of playing in stifling heat. Not too many people truly are, of course, but Collins is OK with it and thought the roof should have stayed open. "I grew up in Florida and am used to it being really hot all the time. So I kind of embrace that very well," Collins said. "Indoor tennis is a different game. Certainly had its effect." When play resumed after a five-minute delay, it went from being completely even to tilted in Kvitova's favor. She dominated the tiebreaker and the second set to stretch her winning streak to 11 matches. Osaka, meanwhile, extended her Slam run to 13 matches while putting a stop to Pliskova's 10-0 start to the season. Osaka accumulated a 56-20 advantage in winners — and held on when it all could have slipped away. She began the day having won 58 matches in a row after taking the first set, but that seemed in danger when Pliskova broke to end the second and had three break points to go up 2-0 in the third. But Osaka steeled herself there, erasing the first break chance with a huge forehand, the second with a down-the-line backhand winner. On the third, another terrific backhand forced a forehand error into the net by Pliskova, who cracked her racket against the blue court. When Pliskova netted a return of an 83 mph (133 kph) second serve to make it 1-all, Osaka tugged at the brim of her pink visor and let out a big exhale. The match would continue for another 28 minutes, but it basically was done, then and there. That stretch began a nine-point, three-game run for Osaka, and she was on her way. She would face one last break point at 4-3, but saved it with a 108 mph (174 kph) ace......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 24th, 2019

On bad hip, Andy Murray out in 1st round of Australian Open

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — If this was it for Andy Murray, if this truly was it, he gave himself — and an appreciative, raucous crowd that included his mother and brother — quite a gutsy goodbye. What Murray could not quite do Monday at the Australian Open was finish off a stirring comeback and prolong what might just be the final tournament of his career. Playing on a surgically repaired right hip so painful that pulling on socks is a chore, he summoned the strength and strokes to erase a big deficit and force a fifth set before eventually succumbing to 22nd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-7 (4), 6-2, Murray's first opening-round loss at a Grand Slam tournament in 11 years. "If this was my last match ... I gave literally everything I had," Murray told a full house at Melbourne Arena, his voice shaking. "It wasn't enough tonight." Murray, just 31, is a year removed from the operation and he announced in the days leading up to the Australian Open that he will retire in 2019. The biggest looming question is whether he'd be able to make it to July for Wimbledon, where he won two of his three major titles, including the first for a British man in 77 years. He had raised the prospect that he might not be able to continue past this week, although he did leave a bit of room open, saying after Monday's match: "Maybe I'll see you again. I'll do everything possible to try. If I want to go again, I'll need to have a big operation (and) there's no guarantees I'll be able to come back, anyway." Even with a hitch in his gait, even as he leaned forward to rest his hands on knees between points, Murray summoned the strength and the strokes to push the match beyond the 4-hour mark. And the fans tried to will him past Bautista Agut, who had lost in straight sets all three previous matches the two men had played. They roared when Murray managed to break back to 2-all on the way to taking the third set, with his mom, Judy, smiling widely as she stood alongside other spectators. They chanted his name when he grabbed the fourth set. They stood when the compelling contest ended. "Andy deserves this atmosphere. Andy deserves (that) all the people came to watch him," Bautista Agut said. "He's a tough, tough fighter. A tough opponent. He gives everything until the last point. I want to congratulate him for all he did for tennis." Afterward, a video was shown in the stadium with tributes to Murray from various players, including rivals Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, along with Nick Kyrgios, Caroline Wozniacki, Karolina Pliskova and Sloane Stephens. "Amazing career. Congratulations, buddy," Federer said. "I'm your biggest fan.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2019

Nadal withdraws, Murray loses to Medvedev in Brisbane

By John Pye, Associated Press BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Andy Murray lost his second-round match less than an hour after Rafael Nadal withdrew from the Brisbane International on Wednesday. Both players arrived in Australia after long injury breaks, and neither had played a competitive match since September. At least Murray completed two matches, playing on a protected ranking after an injury-interrupted 18 months, beating James Duckworth before losing to fourth-seeded Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2. There were signs in both matches that he is still bothered by the hip problem which has derailed his last two seasons. The second-ranked Nadal had a first-round bye but withdrew on the eve of his scheduled second-round match against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga after having an MRI on a muscle strain in his left thigh. Nadal said he would keep practicing in Brisbane until the weekend, then head to Melbourne after a brief stopover in Sydney to prepare for the Australian Open. The 32-year-old Spaniard is confident he will be fit enough to compete at the season's first major, which starts on Jan. 14 at Melbourne Park. "After analyzing everything, (doctors) say that it's a very small thing, but can become a big thing, because a strain in the muscle is dangerous," Nadal said during a news conference staged while Murray was playing Medvedev on Pat Rafter Arena. "When you increase the intensity on the muscle competing, then there is a big risk to make something bigger." Also exiting the men's draw on Wednesday where defending champion Nick Kyrgios, who lost to Jeremy Chardy 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-3, and third-seeded Kyle Edmund, who lost to Japanese qualifier Yasutaka Uchiyama 7-6 (6), 6-4. Second-seeded Kei Nishikori and 2017 champion Grigor Dimitrov had straight-set wins earlier to set up a quarterfinal showdown — a rematch of their final in 2017 — and fifth-seeded Milos Raonic advanced with a 6-3, 7-6 (2) win over Miomir Kecmanovic. Anett Kontaveit beat fourth-seeded Petra Kvitova 7-5, 7-6 (1) to advance to the women's quarterfinals, and Anastasija Sevastova set up a match against U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka when she beat Harriet Dart 6-2, 6-0. Fifth-seeded Karolina Pliskova had a 7-5, 6-2 win over Marie Bouzkova, Ajla Tomljanovic beat Johanna Konta 6-2, 7-6 (2), and Donna Vekic ousted No. 6 Kiki Bertens 7-6 (5), 1-6, 7-5. Nadal withdrew after one match at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi before arriving this week in Australia, where he forecast another withdrawal when he said he wanted to focus on quality of his play over quantity of matches in his schedule this year. He played nine tournaments in 2018, winning five titles, including the French Open, in a season curtailed by knee and ankle injuries. "Probably I'm 100 percent in five days. And then I have plenty of time to prepare Melbourne," he said. "It's a waste to damage my body for one month if I keep playing here. After all the things that happened to me, probably I am not ready to assume that waste." Taro Daniel, a lucky loser from qualifying, will take Nadal's place in the Brisbane draw and will play Tsonga on Thursday. The absence of Nadal and Murray casts more focus on the Nishikori-Dimitrov quarterfinal match. Nishikori broke at love in the 11th game to seize momentum in a 7-5, 6-2 win over Denis Kudla in the second round. The sixth-seeded Dimitrov, who beat Nishikori in the 2017 final, had to withstand a late comeback from local favorite John Millman before winning 6-3, 6-4. He's using the quarterfinal match against Nishikori as a barometer for where his preparations stand for the Australian Open. "It's great. I mean it's right off the blocks," Dimitrov said. "It's perfect to play a match like that to kind of see where your game is at.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 2nd, 2019

Djokovic beats Sousa in straight sets at Paris Masters

By Jerome Pugmire, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Novak Djokovic began his bid for a record-extending fifth Paris Masters title with a 7-5, 6-1 win against Joao Sousa in the second round on Wednesday. Serving for the match at 5-1, Djokovic handed a towel to a male spectator who seemed unwell and who wiped his forehead with it. The second-ranked Serb set up match point with an ace and sealed victory on his third match point when Sousa returned a second serve long. The U.S. Open champion won four of the last five tournaments he has entered, including Wimbledon, the U.S. Open and most recently the Shanghai Masters. Djokovic is seeking to reclaim the top ranking from Rafael Nadal at a tournament Nadal has never won. Djokovic next faces Damir Dzumhur. Dzumhur upset 14th-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-3, while big-hitting Russian Karen Khachanov also advanced to the third round. He led 6-2, 2-0 against Matthew Ebden when the Australian retired. Returning from a right knee injury , Nadal faces Spanish countryman Fernando Verdasco on Wednesday, with 20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer also in action against Milos Raonic. Federer leads the big-serving Canadian 11-3 overall. Federer's last appearance at the Paris indoor event was a third-round loss to big-serving John Isner in 2015. There were doubts Federer would play after a grueling past week which saw him clinch his ninth victory at the Swiss Indoors and 99th overall. "I feel good," Federer told a news conference. "I feel like I recovered well from last week." The 37-year-old Federer is selective of when he plays in order to keep his body as fresh as possible, and he skipped the entire clay-court season for the second straight year. With the season-ending ATP Finals in London starting Nov. 11, he is playing three straight tournaments. But the third-ranked Federer feels comfortable with it. "I feel like it's better for me to play matches rather than practice," Federer said. "As long as I don't feel like I'm taking a chance on my health prior to London, that's the key as well." Federer showed fighting qualities last week in Basel, where he was twice taken to three sets and went an early break down in three of his last four matches. "I was a bit bumpy. But I was happy how I was fighting, how I was trying to figure it out in a different manner," he said. "Last week was special to win the way I did it, in a different manner." Federer moved within 10 titles of Jimmy Connors all-time singles record. He is cautious about his chances of success in Paris, where his only tournament victory came in 2011. The Australian Open champion is drawn in the same half as Djokovic, Australian Open runner-up Marin Cilic and big-serving Kevin Anderson, who upset Federer in the Wimbledon quarterfinals this year. "I rarely play two or three tournaments in a row now. So starting on Wednesday and winning five matches in a row with this caliber (of players) is very difficult," Federer said. "If I get close to the last four that would also be great." In first-round play Tuesday, there were wins for Mikhail Kukushkin, Gilles Simon, Daniil Medvedev, Marton Fucsovics, Raonic and Verdasco......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 31st, 2018

Coric upsets Federer, facing Djokovic in Shanghai final

By Sandra Harwitt, Associated Press SHANGHAI (AP) — Borna Coric upset defending champion Roger Federer to face Novak Djokovic in the Shanghai Masters final on Sunday. Coric earned passage to the final by taking down the top-seeded Federer 6-4, 6-4 in the semifinals on Saturday. "It was one of the best matches of my life," Coric said. Coric said neck pain almost caused him to skip playing in Shanghai. "Today, really, I just came on the court with absolutely no pressure. I basically didn't care, and that's why I played so good." The Croatian gave himself a third career shot at Djokovic. In their previous meetings, Coric failed to take a set off of Djokovic. The soon-to-be-No. 2-ranked Djokovic booked a final appointment after crushing No. 5 Alexander Zverev 6-2, 6-1. Coric finished off Federer in style with the final two points an ace and a sizzling forehand crosscourt winner. Coric didn't offer Federer a break point opportunity, while managing to break Federer's serve in the opening game of both sets. In all, Federer presented Coric with seven beak point possibilities. "He had more punch on the ball. He served better," Federer said. "I got off to a bad start in both sets. That combination is plenty here in Shanghai with fast conditions." Federer has won three titles this year - the Australian Open, Rotterdam, Stuttgart - but all of them were earned before the start of Wimbledon in July. Federer was asked several times on Saturday about his schedule for the remainder of the year, as well as for next year. He said he couldn't offer any specifics but did offer a guarantee regarding 2019. "I wish I could tell you all these answers, but I really don't know. But I will play tennis next year, yes," he said. Coric, who is 2-2 against Federer, also beat the 20-time Grand Slam champion in their last outing at Halle in June. "Against that kind of player, you need something to hold on to," he said. "I was holding on to that thought that I beat him the last time." Djokovic's win over Zverev and Federer's demise guaranteed Djokovic will move up from No. 3 to No. 2 in the world rankings on Monday, which has him swapping positions with Federer, but still trailing Rafael Nadal. Djokovic's serve has not been broken this week in 37 service games. He never offered Zverev a break point opportunity, and broke the German's serve on four of six offerings. By the time Zverev was 6-2, 3-1 down, his emotions got the better of him after he hit a routine backhand into the net. He banged his racket on the court, then gave it another swipe before tossing the mangled implement into the crowd. Djokovic posted only nine unforced errors to 24 for Zverev. "I did everything I intended to do on my end," Djokovic said. "It's all working and it's been a couple of perfect matches." Djokovic is targeting his 72nd career title here on Sunday. He has won all three of his previous finals in Shanghai. Djokovic played his 1,000th career match against Zverev, and holds an impressive 827-173 win-loss record. "I wouldn't be so dedicated to this sport if I didn't believe that I can achieve great heights," Djokovic said. "But you always have to kind of pinch yourself, particularly at this stage of my career, and be grateful, because I have had an awesome career so far." He is on a 17-match winning streak and is 26-1 in matches played since the start of Wimbledon. A win on Sunday would deliver a fourth title of the season to Djokovic, beside Wimbledon and the U.S. Open......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 14th, 2018

US OPEN 18: From Sloane & Serena to new roof, what to know

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — A little more than a year ago, Sloane Stephens was ranked outside of the top 950 as she tried to work her way back toward the top of tennis after foot surgery. By the time the U.S. Open was over, she was a Grand Slam champion for the first time and soaring up the rankings. On Monday, the No. 3-seeded Stephens will begin the defense of a major title for the first time, facing 80th-ranked Evgeniya Rodina of Russia at the new Louis Armstrong Stadium. "Going back again and knowing that you held the trophy there once before is super-cool. I think that it'll be fun. There will be a lot of different pressure and a lot of excitement and a lot of stress," Stephens said. "Whether I lose first round or win the tournament again, I know I'm going to do my absolute best and that's all I can ask myself." Her success at Flushing Meadows in 2017 is emblematic of the wide-open nature of women's tennis ever since 23-time major champion Serena Williams left the tour for a hiatus while she was pregnant. At four of the past six majors, the titlist was a first-time Grand Slam champ: Jelena Ostapenko at the French Open and Stephens in New York in 2017; Caroline Wozniacki at the Australian Open and Simona Halep in Paris in 2018. Consistency at the majors hasn't exactly been that quartet's hallmark. Current No. 1 Halep lost in the first round at last year's U.S. Open and this year's Australian Open. Ostapenko did the same at Roland Garros this year. Wozniacki exited in the second round at two of the past four Slams. Stephens has been boom or bust lately, too, collecting a pair of runs to finals and a trio of opening-round defeats at the five major tournaments she's entered since the foot operation. "You can't let the lows get you too low," the 25-year-old American said, "and you can't let the highs get you too high." Here is what else to know before play starts on the blue hard courts of the year's last Grand Slam tournament: DON'T CALL IT A COMEBACK Six-time champion Williams returns to the U.S. Open on Monday night in Arthur Ashe Stadium against 68th-ranked Magda Linette of Poland. Williams missed the tournament a year ago because she gave birth on Sept. 1. "I feel like everything is just different, in terms of: I'm living a different life. I'm playing the U.S. Open as a mom," Williams said. "It's just new and it's fresh." She is coming off a runner-up finish at Wimbledon but has lost three of her past four matches. Williams could face her older sister, Venus, in the third round. BIG 4 REUNION For the first time since Wimbledon in June 2017, a tournament will have the entire Big Four in the field: five-time U.S. Open champion Roger Federer , defending champ Rafael Nadal , two-time winner Novak Djokovic and 2012 champion Andy Murray. They have won 49 of the past 54 Slam titles and the last three Olympic singles golds and have been ranked No. 1 every week for the last 14½ years. Djokovic — who could face Federer in the quarterfinals — and Murray sat out the U.S. Open last year because of injuries. Also back is 2016 champion Stan Wawrinka, who couldn't defend his title because of a bad knee. WHOSE TURN IS IT? It's been a question asked for years, yet it still remains without an answer: Which youngster will assert himself and break up the dominance at the top of men's tennis? Alexander Zverev, a 21-year-old German who recently began working with Ivan Lendl, hopes he'll be the one, but there is a crop of up-and-comers worth watching. A SECOND ROOF For so many years, and through so much rain, the U.S. Open operated without any possibility of playing despite bad weather, resulting in a series of Monday men's finals pushed back from Sunday. Now there are two retractable roofs: the one added to Arthur Ashe Stadium that's been in use for the past two years, and the one at the rebuilt 14,069-seat Armstrong arena, which will host night sessions, too. It's the culmination of a five-year, $600 million project that remade the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. SERVE CLOCKS Serve clocks make their debut in the main draw of a Grand Slam tournament, allowing everyone to see the countdown on courtside digital readouts as players get 25 seconds to start a point. Clocks also will time the 7-minute pre-match period, from the players' walk-on through the coin toss and the warmup. Also new at the 2018 U.S. Open: electronic line-calling on every court......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2018

US OPEN 18: Federer tries to end decade drought in New York

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Even with all the times Roger Federer held the U.S. Open trophy, he still can't forget the time it slipped through his fingers. He had won five titles in a row in Flushing Meadows and was a game away from a sixth in 2009 when Juan Martin del Potro pulled out a fourth-set tiebreaker, then won the fifth set. "I still wish I could have played that match again," Federer said Friday. He's never been that close to winning the U.S. Open since, just once reaching the final. That would have been hard to imagine then, when Federer would steamroll into New York at the tail end of some of the greatest seasons in tennis history. He was 247-15 from 2004-06, and knew he'd figure things out across seven matches on the hard courts in a city where he is so comfortable. "For a long period I think I was not losing much," Federer said, "and when I came to the Open, I had all the answers for all the guys, all my opponents, all conditions, wind, you know, night, day. I really embraced everything about New York." Still does, which is why — at age 37, and a full decade removed from his last title at the place — Federer believes he can succeed again at the year's final Grand Slam tournament and collect a male-record 21st major when main-draw play begins Monday. A sixth U.S. Open title would break a tie with Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras for the most in the professional era. "Well, I mean, it would mean the world to me," he said. Novak Djokovic just beat Federer in the final in Cincinnati, and the Wimbledon champion might be the favorite in New York. Defending champion Rafael Nadal is the top seed after taking back the No. 1 ranking that Federer had regained earlier this season for the first time in five years. And del Potro is up to a career-best No. 3 in the world and proved again he could handle Federer at the U.S. Open when he stopped him last year in the quarterfinals. Yet few would count out No. 2 seed Federer, even as erratic as his gifted game looked against Djokovic on Sunday in Ohio. "If you are playing well before, is easier to play well in the Grand Slam, no? No doubt of that," Nadal said. "At the same time it's true that especially a few players are able to increase the level of concentration, the level of tennis, level of intensity in some places. If you have to do it, this is one of the places." Federer hasn't done it in the biggest moments in New York over the last decade. The loss to del Potro was followed by semifinal defeats against Djokovic in both 2010 and 2011, blowing two match points in both. He finally got back to the final again in 2015 but was beaten by Djokovic, then had to miss the 2016 event because of a knee injury. He won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in a resurgent 2017 but tweaked his back while reaching the Montreal final and knew his body and his game weren't in shape by the time he got to New York. "I knew from the get-go it was not going to be possible for me to win," Federer said. "Everything would have had to fall into place." So he was even more cautious in monitoring his schedule this year, sitting out the clay-court season again and pulling out of Toronto, making Cincinnati his only hard-court warmup. That's left him only four tournaments in five months, perhaps explaining some of the shots that once were winners but were sprayed around the court against Djokovic. "It's a fine line of how fit do you need to be and how much tennis can you play to be competitive?" Hall of Famer Rod Laver said. "And if you're not able to go get the match practice, then you've got to rely on being competitive on the other side of the coin, which is how fit can you be. He certainly is fit enough but mentally in the final, I could tell he was sort of down. You could tell he was just frustrated with some of the shots that he played." Federer won't second-guess his scheduling, believing he's made the right decisions for his preparation. Nor will he kick himself over the U.S. Opens lost over the last decade. "I won the U.S. Open five times. So I stand here pretty happy, to be quite honest," Federer said. "It's not like, 'God, the U.S. Open never worked out for me.' It hasn't the last couple years, but it's all good.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2018

US OPEN 18: Federer tries to end decade drought in New York

By Brian Mahoney, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Even with all the times Roger Federer held the U.S. Open trophy, he still can't forget the time it slipped through his fingers. He had won five titles in a row in Flushing Meadows and was a game away from a sixth in 2009 when Juan Martin del Potro pulled out a fourth-set tiebreaker, then won the fifth set. "I still wish I could have played that match again," Federer said Friday. He's never been that close to winning the U.S. Open since, just once even reaching the final. That would have been hard to imagine then, when Federer would steamroll into New York at the tail end of some of the greatest seasons in tennis history. He was 247-15 from 2004-06, and knew he'd figure things out across seven matches on the hard courts in a city where he is so comfortable. "For a long period I think I was not losing much," Federer said, "and when I came to the Open, I had all the answers for all the guys, all my opponents, all conditions, wind, you know, night, day. I really embraced everything about New York." Still does, which is why — at age 37, and a full decade removed from his last title at the place — Federer believes he can succeed again at the year's final Grand Slam tournament and collect a male-record 21st major when main-draw play begins Monday. A sixth U.S. Open title would break a tie with Jimmy Connors and Pete Sampras for the most in the professional era. "Well, I mean, it would mean the world to me," he said. Novak Djokovic just beat Federer in the final in Cincinnati, and the Wimbledon champion might be the favorite in New York. Defending champion Rafael Nadal is the top seed after taking back the No. 1 ranking that Federer had regained earlier this season for the first time in five years, and del Potro is up to a career-best No. 3 in the world and proved again he could handle Federer at the U.S. Open when he stopped him last year in the quarterfinals. Yet few would count out No. 2 seed Federer, even as erratic as his gifted game looked against Djokovic on Sunday in Ohio. "If you are playing well before, is easier to play well in the Grand Slam, no? No doubt of that," Nadal said. "At the same time it's true that especially a few players are able to increase the level of concentration, the level of tennis, level of intensity in some places. If you have to do it, this is one of the places." Federer hasn't done it in the biggest moments in New York over the last decade. The loss to del Potro was followed by semifinal defeats against Djokovic in both 2010 and 2011, blowing two match points in both. He finally got back to the final again in 2015 but was beaten by Djokovic, then had to miss the 2016 event because of a knee injury. He won the Australian Open and Wimbledon in a resurgent 2017 but tweaked his back while reaching the Montreal final and knew his body and his game weren't in shape by the time he got to New York. "I knew from the get-go it was not going to be possible for me to win," Federer said. "Everything would have had to fall into place." So he was even more cautious in monitoring his schedule this year, sitting out the clay-court season again and pulling out of Toronto, making Cincinnati his only hard-court warmup. That's left him only four tournaments in five months, perhaps explaining some of the shots that once were winners but were sprayed around the court against Djokovic. "It's a fine line of how fit do you need to be and how much tennis can you play to be competitive?" Hall of Famer Rod Laver said. "And if you're not able to go get the match practice, then you've got to rely on being competitive on the other side of the coin, which is how fit can you be. He certainly is fit enough but mentally in the final, I could tell he was sort of down. You could tell he was just frustrated with some of the shots that he played." Federer won't second-guess his scheduling, believing he's made the right decisions for his preparation. Nor will he kick himself over the U.S. Opens lost over the last decade. "I won the U.S. Open five times. So I stand here pretty happy, to be quite honest," Federer said. "It's not like, 'God, the U.S. Open never worked out for me.' It hasn't the last couple years, but it's all good.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2018

US OPEN 18: Serena Williams makes her return to New York

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press Women to watch at the U.S. Open, where play begins Monday: ___ SIMONA HALEP Seeded: 1 Ranked: 1 Age: 26 Country: Romania 2018 Match Record: 46-8 2018 Singles Titles: 3 Career Singles Titles: 18 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — French Open ('18) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-Lost in 1st Round, '16-QF, '15-SF, '14-3rd, '13-4th Aces: Won two hard-court titles this season. ... Claimed her first Grand Slam title at the French Open in June. ... Wins nearly half of all return games, WTA's best rate. Topspin: A year ago, exited in the first round against Maria Sharapova. This year, could face a Williams sister in the fourth round. ... If she's healthy, could make a deep run. ___ CAROLINE WOZNIACKI Seeded: 2 Ranked: 2 Age: 28 Country: Denmark 2018 Match Record: 32-12 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 29 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — Australian Open ('18) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-2nd, '16-SF, '15-2nd, '14-F, '13-3rd Aces: Third among active women with 21 career hard-court titles, trailing only the Williams sisters. ... Converts 52.1 percent of break-point chances, No. 2 on tour in 2018. Topspin: Loves that she no longer has to hear questions about why she hasn't won a major tournament. ... Her counter-punching clearly can succeed in New York, where she's twice reached the final. ___ SLOANE STEPHENS Seeded: 3 Ranked: 3 Age: 25 Country: United States 2018 Match Record: 27-13 2018 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 6 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — U.S. Open ('17) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-Won Championship, '16-Did Not Play, '15-1st, '14-2nd, '13-4th Aces: First attempt to defend a Grand Slam title. ... Last year's triumph capped a comeback after foot surgery. Topspin: Boom-or-bust streak in Grand Slam tournaments continues: She has either reached the final (twice) or lost in the opening round (three times) at her past five majors. ___ ANGELIQUE KERBER Seeded: 4 Ranked: 4 Age: 30 Country: Germany 2018 Match Record: 40-14 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 12 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 3 — U.S. Open ('16), Australian Open ('16), Wimbledon ('18) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-4th, '16-W, '15-3rd, '14-3rd, '13-4th Aces: Reached at least the fourth round at 12 of 14 tournaments she entered this year, the best rate among top-10 players. Topspin: Returned to the height of her powers with a Wimbledon title last month; one third of her career trophies came at majors. ___ MADISON KEYS Seeded: 14 Ranked: 14 Age: 23 Country: United States 2018 Match Record: 21-11 2018 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 3 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: Runner-Up, U.S. Open ('17) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-Runner-Up, '16-4th, '15-4th, '14-2nd, '13-1st Aces: Winning 61.6 percent of service points this season, ranking third on tour. Topspin: Run to French Open semifinals showed overall development of her game. No reason she couldn't have another long stay in New York. ___ SERENA WILLIAMS Seeded: 17 Ranked: 26 Age: 36 Country: United States 2018 Match Record: 12-5 2018 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 72 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 23 — U.S. Open ('99, '02, '08, '12, '13, '14), Wimbledon ('02, '03, '09, '10, '12, '15, '16), Australian Open ('03, '05, '07, '09, '10, '15, '17), French Open ('02, '13, '15) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-DNP, '16-SF, '15-SF, '14-W, '13-W Aces: Trying to win her first U.S. Open title since claiming a third in a row in 2014. ... Missed the tournament last year because she gave birth on Sept. 1. Topspin: You've heard it here before and you'll hear it again: Never count out Williams, no matter what her form appears to be entering a tournament. ___ MARIA SHARAPOVA Seeded: 22 Ranked: 21 Age: 31 Country: Russia 2018 Match Record: 2018 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 36 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 5 — U.S. Open ('06), Wimbledon ('04), Australian Open ('08), French Open ('12, '14) Last 5 U.S. Opens: '17-4th, '16-DNP, '15-DNP, '14-4th, '13-DNP Aces: 11-0 in first-round matches at Flushing Meadows. ... Hasn't been past the fourth round since 2012; missed the U.S. Open three of the past five years. Topspin: Made Grand Slam return in New York in 2017 after absence of more than 1½ years because of a doping ban......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 25th, 2018

Federer wins, Serena loses in Cincy tourney

MASON, Ohio (AP) — Roger Federer made a successful return to the Western & Southern Open on Tuesday. The day wasn't so great for Serena Williams. Federer advanced to the third round with a 6-4, 6-4 victory against Peter Gojowczyk, and Williams was eliminated by eighth-seeded Petra Kvitova in a 6-3, 2-6, 6-3 second-round loss. Federer and Williams were making their first appearance at the tournament since they each won the title in 2015. Williams opened with a straight-set victory against Daria Gavrilova. After a first-round bye, Federer extended his Cincinnati winning streak to 11 matches since losing to Rafael Nadal in the 2013 quarterfinals. "It doesn't feel like I have been away for so long here from Cincinnati," Federer said. "I guess the wheel keeps turning. It's not like I missed two years of tennis. It was a great pleasure to be back." The second-seeded Federer, refreshed from a month off after losing in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, became the tournament favorite when Nadal withdrew on Sunday night. Williams also was knocked out in her last tournament at San Jose two weeks ago after reaching the Wimbledon final. Cincinnati was her fifth tournament since she had a baby last September. She has dealt with blood clots and recently said she has been struggling with postpartum emotions. "You know, this is a long comeback," she said. "I just began. I just started — definitely at the very, very beginning. I'm getting there, and I'm going to just continue to work hard, and hopefully, I'll start winning more matches." Karolina Pliskova and Nick Kyrgios also advanced Tuesday in early tournament action. Pliskova moved into the second round by snapping a seven-match losing streak against Agnieszka Radwanska with a 6-3, 6-3 win. "It means a lot because it was against her, and, like, you know, I never beat her," Pliskova said. "We played so many times. I think I always played her at her best level the matches before, so it was always tough." Kyrgios, a finalist last year in Cincinnati, overcame physical problems to fight off qualifier Denis Kudla for a 6-7 (2), 7-5, 7-6 (9) victory. "This year has been tough," Kyrgios said. "I started the year very well. Then, obviously, I hurt my elbow. Then I had an ongoing hip injury. We have been definitely thinking about the options with my hip. You know, there is only so much you can do before you have to, you know, I guess, get surgery or something like that. You know, right now I'm just managing it." No. 11 seed David Goffin advanced with a 7-5, 6-3 win over Stefanos Tsitsipas, and Leonardo Mayer became the first player to reach the third round on the men's side with a 7-6 (7), 6-4 victory over 16th-seeded Lucas Pouille. Denis Shapovalov also reached the third round with an upset, knocking off 14th-seeded Kyle Edmund, 6-4, 7-5. Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung won the last five games to beat Jack Sock 2-6, 6-1, 6-2. Sock has lost eight straight matches since winning in Rome on May 13. Two-time Cincinnati semifinalist Milos Raonic advanced with a 6-3, 6-3 win over qualifier Dusan Lajovic. Robin Haase also made it to the second round, defeating Filip Krajinovic 4-6, 6-2, 6-3. Fifth-seeded Elina Svitolina was tested by wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova before reaching the third round with a gritty 7-6 (1), 4-6, 6-4 win. Sixth-seeded Caroline Garcia also reached the third round with a 6-4, 6-5 win over wild card Victoria Azarenka, but 12th-seeded Daria Kasatkina suffered a first-round upset at the hands of qualifier Petra Martic, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. Elise Mertens scored a 6-4, 6-2 first-round win over Magdalena Rybarikova. Ashleigh Barty stopped wild card Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 7-5. Maria Sakkari upset Indian Wells champion Naomi Osaka 6-3, 7-6 (8). Ekaterina Makarova cruised past qualifier Ana Bogdan 6-3, 6-2......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 15th, 2018

A look back at Roger Federer s record 8 Wimbledon titles

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Roger Federer's paths to his record eight Wimbledon championships were each different, of course. Different opponents. Different degrees of difficulty. Same old Federer. A year ago, for example, he did not drop a set the entire way, becoming the first man since Bjorn Borg in 1976 to claim the title at the All England Club in that unblemished manner. In 2009, in contrast, Federer was pushed to the very limit, edging Andy Roddick 16-14 in the fifth set of a final that remains the longest, by games, of any Grand Slam title match in tennis history. Here is a year-by-year look at Federer's trophy runs at Wimbledon: ___ No. 1: 2003 Final: Beat Mark Philippoussis 7-6 (5), 6-2, 7-6 (3). Grand Slam Title: 1 Age: 21 At Stake: Pegged for great success, Federer had yet to get past the quarterfinals of a major tournament. Close Call: Federer dropped only one set, to Mardy Fish in the third round, but the toughest moment came in the round of 16, when Federer needed treatment on his aching back while beating Feliciano Lopez. Key Quote: "There was pressure from all sides — also from myself. I wanted to do better in Slams." — Federer. ___ No. 2: 2004 Final: Beat Andy Roddick 4-6, 7-5, 7-6 (3), 6-4. Grand Slam Title: 3 Age: 22 At Stake: His first attempt to defend a major championship. Close Call: After dropping the first set, then trailing by a break at 4-2 in the third, Federer used a rain delay to change strategy, opting to charge the net more. He made that switch on his own, because he'd been without a coach since firing his a little more than six months earlier. It worked: Federer won 24 of the next 28 points on his serve. Key Quote: "This is a very important phase in his career as well, that he could step back, not rely on somebody, get to know himself, get to know his own tennis and technique." — Federer's mother, Lynette. ___ No. 3: 2005 Final: Beat Roddick 6-2, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Grand Slam Title: 5 Age: 23 At Stake: Trying to become the first man in 50 years to win his first five major finals. Close Call: None, really. Federer dropped merely one of 22 sets he played over the two weeks, a tiebreaker against 25th-seeded Nicolas Kiefer in the third round, but quickly recovered to win that match 6-2, 6-7 (5), 6-1, 7-5. Key Quote: "It's hard for him, because I really played a fantastic match — one of the best of my life. Today it seemed liked I was playing flawless." — Federer. ___ No. 4: 2006 Final: Beat Rafael Nadal 6-0, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 6-3. Grand Slam Title: 8 Age: 24 At Stake: Entering the championship match, Federer was 0-4 that season against Nadal — including a loss in the French Open final weeks earlier — and 55-0 against everyone else. Close Call: Once again, nothing to speak of, because Federer dropped just one set all tournament, this time in the final. Nadal did serve for the second set at 5-4, but missed three forehands and double-faulted to get broken there, before ceding the ensuing tiebreaker. Key Quote: "I'm very well aware of how important this match was for me. If I lose, obviously, it's a hard blow for me — he wins French, Wimbledon back-to-back. It's important for me to win a final against him, for a change, and beat him, for a change." — Federer. ___ No. 5: 2007 Final: Beat Nadal 7-6 (7), 4-6, 7-6 (3), 2-6, 6-2. Grand Slam Title: 11 Age: 25 At Stake: Joining Borg as the only men in the last 100 years to win Wimbledon five years in a row. Close Call: After dropping just one set (in a quarterfinal against 2003 French Open champion Juan Carlos Ferrero) along an unusually short road to the final (fourth-round foe Tommy Haas withdrew with an injury), Federer got all he could handle against Nadal. Key Quote: "He's an artist on this surface. He can stay back. He can come in. No weaknesses. I believe if he continues the way he's doing and stays away from injuries and has the motivation, he'll be the greatest player ever to play the game." — Borg. ___ No. 6: 2009 Final: Beat Roddick 5-7, 7-6 (6), 7-6 (5), 3-6, 16-14. Grand Slam Title: 15 Age: 27 At Stake: Breaking Sampras' record for most major singles trophies won by a man and reasserting his supremacy at Wimbledon after losing a 9-7 fifth set to Nadal in the 2008 final. Close Call: What could be a closer call than that fifth set? Federer's only break of the day came in the match's 77th and last game. Also worth remembering is that 2017 International Tennis Hall of Fame inductee Roddick led the second-set tiebreaker 6-2 but did not convert any of the four points that would have given him a two-set lead. Key Quote: "He's a legend. Now he's an icon." — Sampras. ___ No. 7: 2012 Final: Beat Andy Murray 4-6, 7-5, 6-3, 6-4. Grand Slam Title: 17 Age: 30 At Stake: Tying the record held by Sampras and William Renshaw (who played in the 1800s) for most Wimbledon men's championships, plus ending a personal 2½-year Grand Slam drought. Close Call: Federer dropped the first two sets in the third round against 29th-seeded Julien Benneteau of France, then was two points away from losing a half-dozen times, but pulled out a 4-6, 6-7 (3), 6-2, 7-6 (6), 6-1 comeback. Key Quote: "Oh, my God, it was brutal. The thing, when you're down two sets to love, is to stay calm, even though it's hard, because people are freaking out, people are worried for you." — Federer. ___ No. 8: 2017 Final: Beat Marin Cilic 6-3, 6-1, 6-4. Grand Slam Title: 19 (he added No. 20 at this year's Australian Open) Age: 35 At Stake: Breaking the mark for most men's singles titles at the All England Club after coming up just short with losses to Novak Djokovic in the 2014 and 2015 finals. Close Call: Nothing whatsoever. The closest thing to a close call came in the semifinals, when 2010 runner-up Tomas Berdych pushed Federer to tiebreakers in each of the first two sets. Cilic was hampered by foot blister in a final that was lopsided throughout. Key Quote: "Wimbledon was always my favorite tournament. Will always be my favorite tournament. My heroes walked the grounds here and walked the courts here." — Federer......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2018

WIMBLEDON 18: Roger Federer eyes record-extending 9th title

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Men to watch at Wimbledon, where play begins Monday: ___ ROGER FEDERER Seeded: 1 Ranked: 2 Age: 36 Country: Switzerland 2018 Match Record: 25-3 2018 Singles Titles: 3 Career Singles Titles: 98 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 20 — Wimbledon ('03, '04, '05, '06, '07, '09, '12, '17), U.S. Open ('04, '05, '06, '07, '08), Australian Open ('04, '06, '07, '10, '17, '18), French Open ('09) Last 5 Wimbledons: '17-Won Championship, '16-Lost in Semifinals, '15-Runner-Up, '14-RU, '13-2nd Aces: After skipping clay-court season for second year in a row, won title on grass at Stuttgart, then reached final at Halle before losing to Borna Coric, possible fourth-round opponent at Wimbledon. Topspin: Even as 37th birthday (Aug. 8) nears, tough to count out Federer at a tournament he's won more times than any other man. ___ RAFAEL NADAL Seeded: 2 Ranked: 1 Age: 32 Country: Spain 2018 Match Record: 30-2 2018 Singles Titles: 4 Career Singles Titles: 79 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 17 — Wimbledon ('08, '10), U.S. Open ('10, '13, '17), French Open ('05, '06, '07, '08, '10, '11, '12, '13, '14, '17, '18), Australian Open ('09) Last 5 Wimbledons: '17-4th, '16-Did Not Play, '15-2nd, '14-4th, '13-1st Aces: Has not competed since winning record-extending 11th French Open title on June 10. ... Four of past five Wimbledon losses came against opponents ranked 100th or worse. Topspin: Since reaching the final in five consecutive Wimbledon appearances from 2006-11, hasn't been past the fourth round. ___ MARIN CILIC Seeded: 3 Ranked: 5 Age: 29 Country: Croatia 2018 Match Record: 27-9 2018 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 18 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — U.S. Open ('14) Last 5 Wimbledons: '17-RU, '16-QF, '15-QF, '14-QF, '13-2nd Aces: Runner-up to Federer at two of the past four majors. ... Won Queen's Club grass-court tuneup last week, beating Novak Djokovic in the final. Topspin: When his serve and forehand are clicking, as big a threat as anyone to make a deep run. ___ JUAN MARTIN DEL POTRO Seeded: 5 Ranked: 4 Age: 29 Country: Argentina 2018 Match Record: 28-7 2018 Singles Titles: 2 Career Singles Titles: 22 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 1 — U.S. Open ('09) Last 5 Wimbledons: '17-2nd, '16-3rd, '15-DNP, '14-DNP, '13-SF Aces: Back at career-best No. 4 in rankings after semifinal run at Roland Garros. Topspin: Biggest forehand in the game could carry him far at All England Club. ___ JOHN ISNER Seeded: 9 Ranked: 10 Age: 33 Country: United States 2018 Match Record: 16-11 2018 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 13 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: QF, U.S. Open ('11) Last 5 Wimbledons: '17-2nd, '16-3rd, '15-3rd, '14-3rd, '13-2nd Aces: Ranks 2nd in 2018 in aces and percentage of service games won. Topspin: Never has put together a second-week run at the place where he won the longest tennis match in history in 2010. ___ NOVAK DJOKOVIC Seeded: 12 Ranked: 17 Age: 31 Country: Serbia 2018 Match Record: 18-9 2018 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 68 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 12 — Wimbledon ('11, '14, '15), U.S. Open ('11, '15), Australian Open ('08, '11, '12, '13, '15, '16), French Open ('16) Last 5 Wimbledons: '17-QF, '16-3rd, '15-W, '14-W, '13-RU Aces: Reached 1st tour final in nearly a year last week, and it was on grass. Good sign as he tries to come back from right elbow troubles. Topspin: Has won 12 of past 15 matches after going 6-6 to start 2018. ___ NICK KYRGIOS Seeded: 15 Ranked: 19 Age: 23 Country: Australia 2018 Match Record: 16-6 2018 Singles Titles: 1 Career Singles Titles: 4 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 0 — Best: QF, Wimbledon ('14), Australian Open ('15) Last 5 Wimbledons: '17-1st, '16-4th, '15-4th, '14-QF, '13-DNP Aces: Only three players have hit more aces or won a higher percentage of service games this season. Topspin: If he can maintain focus and play up to his abilities, can go far on a surface that suits his game. ___ ANDY MURRAY Seeded: Unseeded Ranked: 156 Age: 31 Country: Britain 2018 Match Record: 1-2 2018 Singles Titles: 0 Career Singles Titles: 45 Grand Slam Singles Titles: 3 — Wimbledon ('13, '16), U.S. Open ('12) Last 5 Wimbledons: '17-QF, '16-W, '15-Lost in Semifinals, '14-QF, '13-W Aces: Ranks 3rd among all active players in career percentage of return games won, trailing only Nadal and Djokovic. Topspin: Played only three matches in the last year because of hip surgery. ... Streak of making at least QFs in last 10 Wimbledon appearances could be in danger......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 30th, 2018

Nadal and Djokovic to renew rivalry in Italian Open semis

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will renew their rivalry in the Italian Open semifinals — and three-time Rome champion Maria Sharapova also reached the last four Friday. Nadal, who holds a record seven titles at the Foro Italico, overcame a poor first set and a partisan crowd to beat Fabio Fognini 4-6, 6-1, 6-2. Then, four-time Rome winner Djokovic rallied past Kei Nishikori 2-6, 6-1, 6-3. Nadal and Djokovic have played each other 50 times but their last meeting came more than a year ago, when Nadal won in the Madrid Open semifinals. "Tomorrow is going to be the ultimate challenge on clay," Djokovic said. "Beating Rafa is a really difficult thing to do on this surface. But, I've done it before." Djokovic leads Nadal 26-24 overall, but Nadal holds a 15-7 advantage on clay. Nadal can replace Roger Federer at No. 1 if he lifts the Rome trophy for the first time since 2013. Federer is sitting out the clay season to prepare for Wimbledon, where he will bid for a record-extending 21st Grand Slam title. Djokovic, who is returning from a persistent right elbow injury, hadn't reached a semifinal since before Wimbledon last year. "This is what I was looking forward to," Djokovic said. "This is what I was hoping to achieve." In the other half of the draw, defending champion Alexander Zverev extended his winning streak to 12 matches with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory over ninth-seeded David Goffin. He'll meet Australian Open finalist Marin Cilic, who beat 10th-seeded Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-3. Sharapova required more than three hours to eliminate last year's French Open winner, Jelena Ostapenko, 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-5; and defending champion Elina Svitolina defeated Angelique Kerber 6-4, 6-4 for her sixth straight victory over the former No. 1 player. Svitolina will next face 26th-ranked Anett Kontaveit of Estonia, who beat Australian Open champion Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-1. Sharapova's semifinal opponent will be Simona Halep, who advanced with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Caroline Garcia that ensures she will keep the No. 1 ranking for another week. Djokovic has now won 12 straight matches over Nishikori and the Japanese player didn't help his cause when he landed an easy overhead into the net early in the third set. Still, it remained tight with long rallies until the end. "It was a fantastic match," Djokovic said. "We went toe to toe until the last point." Fans were decidedly behind Fognini, Italy's top player, and Nadal was under pressure when Fognini won five straight games to cancel out a 4-1 deficit and win the opening set. "He played aggressive, a great level of tennis, creating a lot of winners and taking balls earlier," Nadal said. "I felt the pressure a little bit and played a couple of bad games." But Fognini couldn't keep up with Nadal's consistency and heavy topspin on the red clay court and eventually was physically worn down. "I tried to play more with my forehand and when I play aggressive with my forehand the backhand becomes better," said Nadal, who sat out earlier this season with right knee and hip injuries. "It's important to be able to change the tactics of the match." Fognini had tape applied under his left knee while trailing 3-2 in the third set due to a physical problem that has bothered him for weeks. "The first set lasted more than an hour," Fognini said. "It's him that causes the problem." While the result meant it was now 42 years since an Italian man last won the tournament — Adriano Panatta in 1976 — Fognini was still applauded as he walked off of the court. Nadal joined in the applause for Fognini......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

6-time champ Djokovic loses at Miami Open to Benoit Paire

By Steven Wine, Associated Press KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — Novak Djokovic's 16-match Key Biscayne winning streak ended, and his struggle to come back from an elbow injury continued. Djokovic lasted barely an hour at a tournament he has won six times, losing his opening match Friday in the Miami Open to Benoit Paire, 6-3, 6-4. The defeat was Djokovic's third in a row. He returned from a six-month injury absence at the Australian Open and lost in the fourth round, and was upset two weeks ago at Indian Wells by Taro Daniel, a 109th-ranked qualifier. "I'm trying, but it's not working," Djokovic said. "Obviously, I'm not feeling great when I'm playing this way. Of course I want to be able to play as well as I want. Just it's impossible at the moment. That's all." Against the 47th-ranked Paire, Djokovic dropped serve four times, returned poorly and had difficulty anticipating his crafty opponent's drop shots. "It happened very fast," Djokovic said. "I'm just in general trying everything I can. I'm not at the level that I used to be. I'm aware of that. I just have to obviously believe in myself, and hopefully it will come." In women's play, Naomi Osaka's breakthrough winning streak ended with a loss to No. 4-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-4, 6-2. Osaka said began feeling ill before the match but didn't want to retire after upsetting eight-time champion Serena Williams in the first round. The 20-year-old Osaka is ranked a career-high 22nd and won her first career title last week at Indian Wells. Djokovic sat out the last half of 2017 because of problems with his racket-swinging arm, saying it had been bothering him for more than a year. He was sidelined again after this year's Australian Open and said he had a "small medical intervention" on his elbow. The 12-time Grand Slam champion didn't seem to favor it against Paire, but his shots lacked their usually snap and sometimes were awkwardly struck, including the last two on match point. In the first set Djokovic served with a chance to reach 5-all, but from 40-0 he lost five consecutive points and the set. Another dismal stretch came when he was broken at love in the final game of the match. When asked if he expects to regain his championship level, Djokovic said he didn't know. He was also noncommittal about his schedule for the upcoming clay season. "I don't want to sit here and whine about my last couple of years," Djokovic said. "The truth is that it wasn't easy. Obviously, I compromised my game and the movement and everything because of the injury. I'm trying to figure things out." The latest loss was Djokovic's first at Key Biscayne since 2013. He missed last year's Miami Open but won the title three consecutive years in 2014-16......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 24th, 2018

Serena loses in exhibition comeback after giving birth

ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Serena Williams lost in her return to tennis after giving birth in September, beaten by French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko in an exhibition Saturday and still unsure if she will defend her Australian Open title. Williams called it a "wonderful" match despite the defeat — she took the second set in a score of 6-2, 3-6 and 10-5 in a super tiebreaker. The Australian Open, the year's first Grand Slam tournament, begins Jan. 15. "I don't know if I am totally ready to come back on the tour yet. I know that when I come back I definitely want to be competing for championships. I am definitely looking forward to getting back out there," Williams said. "I am taking it one day at a time. I am going to assess everything with my team before deciding." The 36-year-old Williams took time off after winning the Australian Open last January while pregnant. She gave birth to her first child, a girl named Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., on Sept. 1. She married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian in November. Williams struggled with her serve in the 67-minute match at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship. But, after nearly a year away from the game, she did win a set against the world's No. 7 player "I don't think I am going to rate my performance," Williams said. "I have plenty of comebacks, from injuries, from surgeries, but I've never had a comeback after actually giving birth to a human being. So, in my eyes, I feel it was a wonderful, wonderful match for me." Williams insisted she has a lot more tennis to play. "Knowing that I have won 23 Grand Slam titles and several other titles, I don't think I have anything more left to prove," she said. "But I am not done yet." Williams won her opening game, breaking Ostapenko. But she was nowhere near her best in the first set before fighting back and winning the second. After the initial break, Ostapenko latched onto Williams' weak serves and capitalized on several unforced errors to go up 4-1 with two breaks. Williams again struggled with her serve in the second set. But she went ahead 3-0 with a couple of early breaks and hit with more confidence, including several crowd-pleasing double-handed passing shots. Another break in the ninth game gave her the set. "In the beginning, it felt a little tough. But as the match moved on, I was less afraid. I knew I was not going to fall over and break," she said. "The more I played, the more confident I felt that I would be able to go for shots that I was afraid to go for in the first set." In the super tiebreaker, Ostapenko raced to an 8-2 lead before halting a brief recovery by Williams. "For me, it is all about physical, how I am feeling physically. ... I am just proud being out here and playing in Abu Dhabi and to be able to just compete," Williams said. "I have had a tough few months and I am just excited to be able to play again." It was the first time a women's match had been played in the traditionally men's only exhibition. U.S. Open runner-up Kevin Anderson defeated Spain's Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 7-6 (0) in the men's final. The 14th-ranked Anderson immediately broke Bautista Agut and was never in danger of losing serve in the first set. In the second set, Bautista Agut broke in the second game, but the South African broke back immediately. An aggressive Anderson swept the tiebreaker......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsDec 31st, 2017

Djokovic, Biles win Laureus sports people of year awards

  MONACO – Novak Djokovic's stupendous comeback from injury last year which saw him win two Grand Slam titles earned him the Laureus Sportsman of the Year Award on Monday, February 18, at a lavish ceremony. The 31-year-old Serbian – who added the Australian Open in January to the Wimbledon ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated News1 hr. 5 min. ago

1 major goal achieved for Mahut-Herbert; next goal is gold

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Not long after Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut completed their career Grand Slam in men's doubles, the Frenchmen were already turning their attention to the next goal. And that's gold. Mahut and Herbert beat Henri Kontinen of Finland and John Peers of Australia 6-4, 7-6 (1) in the Australian Open doubles final on Sunday, a match featuring just one service break. In doing so, they became the first French team and just the eighth men's doubles team overall in tennis history to win each Grand Slam tournament at least once. The 37-year-old Mahut was asked if he'd now consider retirement. He ruled that out immediately, preferring to instead focus on his next significant priority: the Olympics in Tokyo. The Frenchmen were the top seeds in the Olympic doubles tournament at Rio de Janeiro in 2016 but were upset in the first round. "We have so many things to achieve. If you remember well, in 2016 in Rio, we didn't play that good, so I still have this in mind," Mahut said. "So I won't think about retirement (until) after the next Olympics. You can wait at least one more year, and then of course at the end of my career, at least, I could say that we won all four slams." Herbert and Mahut won their first major doubles title together at the U.S. Open in 2015, then added Wimbledon in 2016 and the French Open last year. "We knew when we won Roland Garros that it was the one missing, so for sure it added maybe a special motivation" for Australia, Herbert said. "It's always tricky because when you want something, you have to make the good decisions and to be in the good state of mind to be good on court. "We wanted it, but we also wanted to be good on court on each match and we focused on the game, and that's why maybe today we could achieve what we achieved here." Herbert and Mahut saved all four break points they faced Sunday, all while Herbert served in the fourth game of the second set. The match's only break came when Kontinen served at 4-all in the first set. Mahut said he didn't need any extra motivation when it came to winning major titles, and came to Melbourne Park with a focus on the final rather than the title. "But now we can talk about it, and here we are," he said. "We have the four slams. So it's a great feeling." Mahut didn't play in the singles draw after losing in the first round of qualifying, and said he's going to give it six more months before deciding whether or not he should continue to play both of focus more on doubles. The 27-year-old Herbert lost in the third round in the singles draw to big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic. That left them both able to concentrate entirely on achieving their career Grand Slam. Mahut and Herbert had a quarterfinal win here over fourth-seeded Bob and Mike Bryan, who were the most recent pair to complete the career Grand Slam when they won at Wimbledon in 2006. The Bryan brothers were reuniting as a team at Melbourne Park after Bob missed three majors last season because of injury......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2019

2 years after stabbing, Kvitova into Australian Open final

By Howard Fendrich, Asosciated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Two years ago, Petra Kvitova missed the Australian Open, just weeks after her racket-holding left hand was stabbed by an intruder at her home in the Czech Republic. Two days from now, back at her best during what she calls her "second career," Kvitova will play for the championship at Melbourne Park. Taking control after the court's retractable roof was closed as the temperature soared toward 100 degrees (38 Celsius) Thursday, the No. 7-seeded Kvitova surged to a 7-6 (2), 6-0 semifinal victory over 35th-ranked American Danielle Collins. "It means everything," Kvitova said of reaching her first major final since the December 2016 knife attack that led to hours of surgery on her hand. Kvitova stretched her winning streak to 11 matches and has a chance to rise to No. 1 in the WTA rankings if she can collect her first Australian Open title to go alongside the two she earned at Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014. In Saturday's final, Kvitova will face reigning U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka or 2016 U.S. Open runner-up Karolina Pliskova. It was Pliskova who saved four match points and came back from 5-1 down in the third set to stun Serena Williams in the quarterfinals. Against Collins, a two-time NCAA champion at the University of Virginia who was 0-5 at major tournaments until last week, Kvitova was more aggressive throughout, mixing big lefty forehands and well-timed pushes forward to the tune of a 30-9 edge in total winners. But the key to the outcome might very well have been what happened at 4-all after 35 minutes of action: That's when the decision finally was made to close the 15,000-seat stadium's cover, drawing cheers of approval from broiling spectators. Kvitova probably wanted to applaud, too. "I was happier than the fans that the roof closed," she said afterward. "I like to play indoors. It helped me a little bit." She's made clear over the years she is not a huge fan of playing in stifling heat. Not too many people truly are, of course, but someone like Collins, a 25-year-old from Florida, might be more used to that sort of thing. The match was suspended for about five minutes and when play resumed, it went from being completely even to tilted in Kvitova's favor. She dominated the tiebreaker and the second set. The chair umpire was Carlos Ramos, the official who penalized Williams a game in last year's chaotic U.S. Open final, and Collins got into a couple of testy exchanges with him. First in the tiebreaker, then in the opening game of the second set, Collins protested that Ramos was applying rules differently than umpires had in her earlier matches. Whether or not there was merit to what she was saying, it seemed clear that the back-and-forths with Ramos didn't help Collins......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 24th, 2019