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Federer, Serena cruise into 3rd round at Wimbledon

Serena Williams of the United States returns to Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova in their women’s singles match, on the third day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Wednesday Jul Source link link: Federer, Serena cruise into 3rd round at Wimbledon.....»»

Category: newsSource: manilainformer manilainformerJul 5th, 2018

Federer, Serena cruise into 3rd round at Wimbledon

Serena Williams of the United States returns to Bulgaria’s Viktoriya Tomova in their women’s singles match, on the third day of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships in London, Wednesday Jul Source link link: Federer, Serena cruise into 3rd round at Wimbledon.....»»

Category: newsSource:  manilainformerRelated NewsJul 5th, 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

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

Anderson tops Isner 26-24 at Wimbledon; other SF suspended

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — To say that Kevin Anderson won this interminable Wimbledon semifinal, and that John Isner lost it, didn't really seem fair. To Anderson, anyway. They had played on and on, through 6 1/2 hours of ho-hum hold after ho-hum hold, during the second-longest match in the history of a tournament that began in 1877, all the way until the never-ending serving marathon did, finally, end at 26-24 in the fifth set Friday, with Anderson claiming the most important of the 569 points — the last. So when Anderson left Centre Court, well aware that his 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24 victory earned him the chance to win his first Grand Slam title at age 32, the South African said: "At the end, you feel like this is a draw between the two of us." He continued: "John's such a great guy, and I really feel for him, because if I'd been on the opposite side, I don't know how you can take that, playing for so long and coming up short." Only one match at Wimbledon ever lasted longer: Isner's 2010 first-round victory over Nicolas Mahut, the longest match in tennis history. It went more than 11 hours over three days and finished 70-68 in the fifth on Court 18, which now bears a plaque commemorating it. Friday's contest lasted so long, the day's second semifinal didn't finish. Novak Djokovic was leading Rafael Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 7-6 (9) in a compelling showdown filled with entertaining points that was suspended as soon as the third set concluded at just past 11 p.m., the curfew at the All England Club. Some people in the stands booed the decision to halt the match after a fantastic tiebreaker in which Nadal wasted three set points at 6-5, 7-6 and 8-7. Djokovic cashed in on his second when Nadal's backhand found the net after an 18-stroke exchange. Because Nadal and Djokovic didn't begin playing until after 8 p.m., the retractable roof above the main stadium was shut between the matches and the arena's artificial lights were turned on. Now they'll come back Saturday to figure out who will face Anderson in the final, resuming at 1 p.m. local time, under the roof. The women's final between Serena Williams and Angelique Kerber will then follow. That creates an unusual situation: Instead of a standard 2 p.m. start, Williams and Kerber won't know exactly when their match will begin. Anderson will certainly appreciate the chance to put his feet up ahead of Sunday's final, while Nadal and Djokovic — who have a combined 29 Grand Slam titles between them, five at Wimbledon — push each other some more. Anderson's fifth set alone lasted nearly 3 hours as his semifinal became a test of endurance more than skill. "He stayed the course incredibly well," said the No. 9 seed Isner, a 33-year-old American playing in his first major semifinal. "Just disappointed to lose. I was pretty close to making a Grand Slam final and it didn't happen." Anderson finally earned the must-have, go-ahead service break with the help of a point in which the right-hander tumbled to his backside, scrambled back to his feet and hit a shot lefty. "That definitely brings a smile to my face," said Anderson, the runner-up to Nadal at last year's U.S. Open. "At that stage, you're just trying to fight in every single moment, and I was like, 'Just get up!'" The No. 8 seed Anderson eliminated eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer in a 13-11 fifth set in the quarterfinals Wednesday. Between that and the energy-sapper against Isner, it's hard to imagine how Anderson will have much left for his second Slam final. Wimbledon doesn't use tiebreakers in the fifth set for men, or third set for women, so there's nothing to prevent a match from continuing ad infinitum. Both Isner and Anderson said they'd like to see that change. At one point in the fifth set, a spectator shouted, "Come on, guys! We want to see Rafa!" The 6-foot-8 Anderson and 6-10 Isner go way back, to their college days, Isner at Georgia, Anderson at Illinois. In the pros, Isner had won eight of 11 previous matchups. But this one was as close as can be. There wasn't a whole lot of intrigue, or momentum shifts. The serving, though, was something else. Isner pounded his at up to 142 mph; Anderson reached 136 mph. They combined for 102 aces: 53 by Isner, 49 by Anderson. "The effort they both put in and the performance and the guts, the way they competed — a lot to be proud of," said Justin Gimelstob, one of Isner's coaches. Both failed to seize early opportunities. Isner wasted a set point in the opener. Anderson served for the third at 5-3, got broken, and then had a pair of set points in that tiebreaker, double-faulting one away. By the latter stages, with break chances so rare, murmurs would spread through the Centre Court stands whenever a game's returner got to love-15 or love-30. Could we be about to see the sixth and last break of a match that would end up with 90 holds? Repeatedly, the answer was, of course, "No," even when Anderson held break points at 7-all, 10-all and 17-all. The 10-all game ended with Isner hitting a forehand passing winner on the run to hold, then letting his momentum carry him directly to his sideline chair, where he plopped himself down. By the end, he was looking exhausted, leaning over to rest a hand on a knee between points. "I feel pretty terrible," Isner said afterward. "My left heel is killing me and I have an awful blister on my right foot." He never got a break point in the fifth set. Anderson finally came through on his sixth for a 25-24 lead, when Isner wearily put a backhand into the net. Then Anderson served out the victory, with Isner sailing a forehand wide on match point. Soon, they were meeting for an embrace......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

Federer, Serena in master class act as Wozniacki crashes

LONDON — Roger Federer extended his flawless winning streak at Wimbledon to 26 consecutive sets as the defending champion crushed Lukas Lacko, while Serena Williams powered to her 16th successive win in Wednesday’s second round action......»»

Category: newsSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsJul 5th, 2018

Venus, Halep win, Wozniacki upset at Indian Wells

By Beth Harris, Associated Press INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Venus Williams defeated Anastasija Sevastova of Latvia 7-6 (8), 6-4 to reach the quarterfinals of the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday as the oldest woman in the draw. The 37-year-old American was coming off a straight-set victory over younger sister Serena a night earlier, ending a three-match skid against her sibling. "It was a quick turnaround from last night when it feels like, 'Hey, this is a final to you're only in the fourth round,'" Williams said on court. Playing under cloudy skies in 80-degree heat, Williams had her hands full with Sevastova, who used drop shots, top spin, lobs and jerked her 10-years-older opponent side to side. "There were some points where she just played and it was too good," Williams said. "I thought I was in control of the point and winning the point, and she turned it around. It's just real talent." After early losses in her first two tournaments of the year, Williams hasn't dropped a set at Indian Wells, where she has yet to reach the final in six previous appearances. Awaiting Williams in the quarterfinals is 27th-seeded Carla Suarez Navarro of Spain, who beat American wild card Danielle Collins 6-2, 6-4. Simona Halep is on track to retain her No. 1 world ranking after defeating Wang Qiang of China 7-5, 6-1 in the fourth round. Halep is the only former Indian Wells winner left in the women's draw after No. 20 Daria Kasatkina upset No. 2 Caroline Wozniacki 6-4, 7-5. Wozniacki blew a 3-0 lead in the first set and was on the run most of the match before losing for the second time this year to the 20-year-old Russian. "She outsmarted me," Wozniacki said. By reaching the quarterfinals, Kasatkina is projected to surpass her career-best ranking of 17th. She has beaten all four current Grand Slam titleholders in the past year, including U.S. Open winner Sloane Stephens in straight sets this week. "I'm playing best matches against the best players," Kasatkina said. "But as I say, if you want to be on the top, you have to beat the top players. So quite simple rule." Halep improved to 17-1 this year and needs only to reach the final to stay at the top. Next up for Halep is Petra Martic of Croatia, who beat Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic 6-3, 7-6 (4). American teenager Amanda Anisimova's run of success ended in a 6-1, 7-6 (2) loss to No. 5 seed Karolina Pliskova of the Czech Republic. Anisimova, a 16-year-old wild card, won her first three WTA Tour matches at Indian Wells, beating Pauline Parmentier, No. 23 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova and two-time Wimbledon winner Petra Kvitova without dropping a set. "She's 16, so she's not scared," Pliskova said of Anisimova. "You can see she's hitting the ball without thinking. But everybody is playing like this when they are 16. I think this will change a little bit in the future, but for sure the game is good and not really any weakness. I think everything is pretty solid." Pliskova faces a quarterfinal against Naomi Osaka, who beat Maria Sakkari of Greece 6-1, 5-7, 6-1. Halep attended Venus Williams' straight-set victory over 36-year-old sister and new mother Serena on Monday night. "I love the way that they are motivated and they are still playing at this age, Serena with the kid," Halep said. "It's a great thing what they do for sport, and it's great that tennis has them. I have many things to learn from them. That's why I'm trying just to go in to watch every time I can." On the men's side, Gael Monfils retired in the second set with a back injury trailing fellow Frenchman Pierre-Hughes Herbert 6-2, 3-1. Monfils used an eight-minute injury timeout in the second set to get his back worked on before returning to the court and getting broken in fourth game. He then walked to the net and ended the match. Herbert moved on to a fourth-round matchup with Philipp Kohlschreiber of Germany, who upset No. 2 seed Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-4. Cilic won 19 of 23 points on his first serve, but failed to convert four break points against 31st-seeded Kohlschreiber, who snapped a 12-match skid against top-10 opponents. Herbert remains in contention for the $1 million bonus offered to a player who sweeps the singles and doubles titles. No. 6 Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina defeated No. 29 David Ferrer of Spain 6-4, 7-6 (3) for the fifth straight time. With Cilic, Ferrer, Novak Djokovic, Monfils and John Isner all eliminated from his quarter of the draw, things are looking wide open for del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion. Top-ranked Roger Federer and del Potro are the highest seeds remaining. "I'm not thinking about that. I just want to keep winning," del Potro said. "Still far away from the final, but of course, any chance to play with Roger would be great." Del Potro's countryman, Leonardo Mayer, beat Japanese qualifier Taro Daniel 6-4, 6-1. Mayer next plays del Potro. No. 18 Sam Querrey rallied past Indian qualifier Yuki Bhambri 6-7 (7), 6-4, 6-4 and will play No. 28 Feliciano Lopez of Spain. He spoiled a potential all-American quarterfinal by beating No. 8 Jack Sock 7-6 (8), 4-6, 6-4. No. 32 Milos Raonic of Canada defeated Joao Sousa of Portugal 7-5, 4-6, 6-2 and will meet Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus, who beat lucky loser Dudi Sela of Israel 7-6 (7), 6-4......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 14th, 2018

Federer deflects attention to Nadal, Djokovic in Australia

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer prefers to think of Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic as the favorites for the Australian Open title, despite entering as defending champion and coming off a worry-free preparation. "I play down my chances just because I don't think a 36-year-old should be a favorite of a tournament," Federer said Sunday on the eve of the year's first Grand Slam tournament, "It should not be the case. "That's why I see things more relaxed, you know, at a later stage of my career." The 19-time major winner can afford to relax slightly longer, given the half of the draw that he shares with Djokovic doesn't start until day two. Top-ranked Nadal will get under way Monday night against Victor Estrella Burgos on Rod Laver Arena, where he lost the final in five sets to Federer last year. All four singles finalists were 30 or older here last year in what became a tournament for the ages, and three of them are back. Serena Williams beat her older sister Venus Williams in the final to capture an Open era-record 23rd major here last year but decided against defending her title because she didn't have enough time to recover from health issues after a complicated childbirth in September. Venus Williams is seeded fifth and is second match scheduled on center court to get her 77th major under way with a challenging opener against Belinda Bencic. She's 4-0 in career head-to-heads against 20-year-old Bencic — who reached a career-high No. 7 ranking in 2016 and who helped Federer win the Hopman Cup title for Switzerland earlier this month — but is coming off an abbreviated preparation that included a loss in the second round to eventual champion Angelique Kerber at the Sydney International last week. At 37, Venus Williams among the top contenders at Melbourne Park. Others in action on Monday include seventh-seeded Jelena Ostapenko, who meets Francesca Schiavone in a match featuring current vs. former French Open champions, No. 2-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, who opens against Mihaela Buzarnescu, and U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens against Zhang Shuai. Simona Halep is the No. 1 seed in the women's draw, and one of six women who can hold the No. 1 ranking at the end of the Australian Open. Halep, who has had back-to-back first-round exits on her last two trips to Melbourne Park, opens on day two against Australian wild-card entry Destanee Aiava. Only two men can hold the top ranking in the first week of February — Nadal or Federer — regardless of what No. 3 Grigor Dimitrov or No. 4 Alexander Zverev or anybody else does in Melbourne. Federer returns in contrasting circumstances to his appearance in 2017, when he was coming off a six-month break for an injured left knee and had low expectations about ending a Grand Slam title drought that dated to Wimbledon in 2012. "This year I hope to win the first few rounds and get rolling hopefully, whereas last year I was just hoping to win," a match, Federer told his pre-tournament news conference Sunday. "It was more of a 'let's see what happens' kind of tournament, maybe similar to what Novak or Stan (Wawrinka) or others are going through this year." Six-time Australian Open winner Djokovic has been sidelined for six months with an injured right elbow, returning with a remodeled service motion, and 2014 champion Wawrinka has also been out of the game since Wimbledon after surgery on his knee. Nadal, who won the French and U.S. Open titles last year, has also had a limited preparation restricted to couple of exhibition matches last week as he recovers from a sore knee. None of that makes them any less of a threat to Federer. "Rafa, with the year that he's had, and Novak with the six titles he's had here, even if it's unknown how he's feeling, they could very well be the favorites, too," Federer said. "If you're in the draw, you give yourself a chance. That's what happened for me last year — all ended up way better than I thought it would, as you know.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 2018

Novak, Naomi, other things we learned at Australian Open

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The way things went at the Australian Open didn't exactly teach the world that Novak Djokovic is the best there is in men's tennis right now. Certainly confirmed it, though. And while those within the game knew all about Naomi Osaka, she made sure her talent is more obvious to more people. Djokovic, a 31-year-old already ranked No. 1, now has won the past three men's Grand Slam titles. Osaka, who earned her debut at No. 1 at age 21, has won the last two women's trophies at majors. When it's time for the next Grand Slam tournament — the French Open, four months from now — all eyes should be on them. "Obviously, it's just the beginning of the season. I know there's a lot of tournaments to play before Roland Garros, so I have plenty of time to build my form slowly," Djokovic said. "I have to work on my game, my clay-court game, a bit more." After his impressive 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 victory over Rafael Nadal in the final at Melbourne Park on Sunday, Djokovic can pursue a fourth consecutive major championship, something he already accomplished from 2015-16. But the possibility also exists for him to aim for a calendar-year Grand Slam, something last done 50 years ago by Rod Laver. It's the kind of thing that could get everyone talking about tennis. As for Osaka — a 7-6 (2), 5-7, 6-4 winner over Petra Kvitova in Saturday's final — what makes her sudden surge to the top particularly noteworthy is that it comes right after a period of apparent depth but no dominance. Until this Australian Open, eight women had divided the previous eight major titles. Not since Serena Williams took four in a row from 2014-15 had one woman won consecutive Slam tournaments. And you have to go all the way back to Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to find a woman who won her first major championship and followed it up at the very next Slam with a second title. "I always hear stories that the best players win matches even when they're not playing their best. And I've always wondered how they did that," Osaka said. "So I feel like this tournament, for me, was that." Djokovic is at the height of his powers. Osaka is only getting better. Who will challenge them? Here is what else we learned at the 2019 Australian Open: SERENA AND ROGER Serena Williams and Roger Federer are both 37. No one has won more Grand Slam singles titles in the professional era than Williams' 23. No man in history has won more than Federer's 20. Williams owns seven Australian Open trophies, Federer six. But she lost in the quarterfinals at Melbourne Park this time, and he exited in the fourth round. Maybe age is catching up to them. Maybe not. The idea that either is done contending for big titles seems far-fetched, though. One key thing moving forward: Federer is planning to play the European clay-court circuit and at Roland Garros for the first time since 2015. HEALTHY NADAL Nadal was not up to slowing down Djokovic, but he otherwise sure looked terrific — and, most importantly, healthy. There's little doubt who the favorite will be on the clay courts in France. "The positive things that happened these couple of weeks make us very optimistic regarding his future and his level," said Nadal's coach, Carlos Moya. "We know there is room to keep improving and we are going to be working on that a lot." UP-AND-COMING If there are those who fret about what will happen when the players who ruled tennis for the past 15 years or so move on, there were several new faces who made statements in Australia. Stefanos Tsitstipas, a 20-year-old from Greece, upset Federer on the way to the semifinals. Lucas Pouille, a 24-year-old from France, arrived with a 0-5 record at Melbourne but was guided to his first major semifinal by coach Amelie Mauresmo. American Frances Tiafoe, a son of immigrants from Sierra Leone who turned 21 during the tournament, pulled off a couple of upsets on the way to the quarterfinals. Danielle Collins, a 25-year-old from Florida, beat three-time major champion Angelique Kerber and made her semifinal debut. Amanda Anisimova, a 17-year-old from New Jersey, showed she has a bright future......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 27th, 2019

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

Tsitsipas follows up Federer upset by reaching 1st Slam semi

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Lest anyone get the idea that Stefanos Tsitsipas' upset of Roger Federer was a fluke, the 20-year-old from Greece followed it up by beating No. 22 seed Roberto Bautista Agut 7-5, 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (2) at the Australian Open on Tuesday to become the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist since 2007. "That was a great win. It got people's attention," Tsitsipas said about his fourth-round stunner against two-time defending champion Federer on Sunday. "My biggest challenge was to stay concentrated, stay focused," in order to show that the previous victory "didn't happen accidentally." Cheered on by a loud, flag-waving contingent of Greek fans inside and outside Rod Laver Arena, Tsitsipas again displayed his varied skill set, with 22 aces, 30 more winners than unforced errors (68-38) and a nose for getting to the net. He was down a break in both the first and third sets before turning them around against Bautista Agut, whose run to the quarterfinals included victories over Andy Murray, a three-time major champion, and Marin Cilic, the 2014 U.S. Open champion and the runner-up to Federer at Melbourne Park a year ago. "Well, he's a good player, no? He's very complete. He has a good forehand and backhand. He's serving well," Bautista Agut said about Tsitsipas. "I think he knows the game. He knows how to play." Now the 14th-seeded Tsitsipas gets to continue the best showing of his career, one that marks him as perhaps the sport's next big thing. And make no mistake about it: He is a millennial, through and through, even promoting his 27,000-follower YouTube channel during his on-court interview. "Guys," he told the crowd, "if you haven't subscribed, please subscribe." No man as young as Tsitsipas had been this far at any Grand Slam tournament since Novak Djokovic at the 2007 U.S. Open or at the Australian Open since Andy Roddick in 2003. "It all feels like a fairy tale, almost. I'm just living the dream, living what I've been working hard for," said Tsitsipas, who dropped his racket, fell on his back and covered his face with his hands at match's end. "I mean, I feel a bit emotional but not too much because I know I worked hard to get here." Seated in his courtside guest box were his parents and two siblings, along with Patrick Mouratoglou, who is Serena Williams' coach and serves as a mentor to Tsitsipas. Now they'll turn their attention to his next opponent, either 17-time major champion Rafael Nadal or another up-and-coming member of the sport's new generation, 21-year-old American Frances Tiafoe. Nadal and Tiafoe were scheduled to play their quarterfinal Tuesday night......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 22nd, 2019

Federer marks 100th match on Rod Laver Arena with 3-set win

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer has played on Rod Laver Arena a hundred times and has six Australian Open crowns in his collection of 20 Grand Slam titles. The 37-year-old tennis statesman has developed a loyal following over 20 consecutive visits to the Australian Open for the season-opening major. After beating 21-year-old American Taylor Fritz 6-2, 7-5, 6-2 on Friday on the center court at Melbourne Park, and reaching the Round of 16 at a Grand Slam tournament for the 63rd time, he raised his racket to the crowd. It was not unlike what a batter scoring a century would do to acknowledge 100 at the nearby Melbourne Cricket Ground. He'll next play 20-year-oldStefanos Tsitsipas, who draws a big, vocal crowd to Melbourne Park. "I think I wanted to get out of the blocks quickly. I knew of the threat of Taylor," Federer said. "I think I had extra focus today." Tsitsipas had a 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7), 6-4 win over Nikoloz Basilashvili earlier on Margaret Court Arena to become the first Greek man to reach the fourth round at multiple majors. He reached the same round at Wimbledon last year. Big sections of Greeks sang songs and waved the blue and white flag and scarves in the crowd. Melbourne has the highest concentration of Greek people of any city outside of Greece, and is getting a lot of attention. "I'm delighted," he said. "I feel so comfortable. I feel like playing at home. "It's exciting to have such an atmosphere. I never get to play with so many Greek people supporting me ... and, and, and, Australians!" While rain prevented early play on outside courts at Melbourne Park for the first 2 ½ hours of Day 5, matches went ahead on the show courts. At one stage, Greek fans had to split their time between the adjoining Rod Laver and Margaret Court Arenas. There was no split loyalties on Rod Laver, where local favorite Ash Barty became the first player through to the fourth round a 7-5, 6-1 win over Maria Sakkari. It was first time a Greek man and woman have advanced to the third round at the same Grand Slam tournament since 1936. Barty continued the so-called "Barty Party" by ending Sakkari's run, and will play either former champion Maria Sharapova or defending champion Caroline Wozniacki in the next round. In the only other completed match by early afternoon, 2010 Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych beat No. 18-seeded Diego Schwartzman 5-7, 6-3, 7-5, 6-4. Berdych, who has reached the quarterfinals or better in seven of his previous eight trips to Melbourne Park, will meet either 2009 champion Rafael Nadal or local favorite Alex de Minaur in the next round......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 18th, 2019

Halep edges young American at Australian Open; Venus next

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Push Simona Halep to the brink, and she summons her best. The Australian Open's top-seeded woman got all she could handle from 20-year-old American Sofia Kenin in the second round before taking the last four games to emerge with a 6-3, 6-7 (5), 6-4 victory that took 2½ hours Thursday. "Well, I have no idea how I won this tonight," said Halep, the reigning French Open champion. "It's so tough to explain what happened on court." A year ago at Melbourne Park, Halep was a point from being eliminated in two matches but came back each time en route to reaching the final. In the first round this year, she was down a set and a break before turning things around. And this time, against a hard-hitting Kenin, Halep trailed 4-2 in the third set and managed to not cede another game. And that was despite getting what she described as "a little bit injured" in the second set, something that seemed clear from the way she wasn't always able to run with her usual verve. "Hopefully," said Halep, whose No. 1 ranking is up for grabs during the Australian Open, "next round I play better." That third-round matchup will be quite intriguing, because it'll be against seven-time Grand Slam champion and former No. 1 Venus Williams. And the winner of that could face Williams' younger sister, 23-time major champ Serena, in the fourth round. Venus won a three-setter that finished a little before Halep's did — and in much more emphatic fashion. Pushed to that deciding set by getting broken to end the second, Venus ran away with the win down the stretch, defeating Alize Cornet 6-3, 4-6, 6-0. So what was the difference in the lopsided third set? "She was just putting more intensity than me. She was hitting harder, deeper," Cornet said. "I had a little less energy than in the second set and she took advantage of it and really raised her level." The 38-year-old Venus, unseeded at a major for the first time in five years, was the runner-up in Australia to Serena in 2003 and 2017. Serena advanced to the third round by beating 2014 Wimbledon finalist Eugenie Bouchard 6-2, 6-2 on Thursday night, reeling off the last five games and 16 of the final 20 points. That match was to be followed in Rod Laver Arena by No. 1 Novak Djokovic against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a rematch of the 2008 final at Melbourne Park. Other winners in the women's draw Thursday included reigning U.S. Open champion Naomi Osaka, past U.S. Open runners-up Karolina Pliskova and Madison Keys, No. 27-seeded Camila Giorgi and No. 28 Hsieh Su-Wei. In men's action, Stan Wawrinka was up a set and was just two points away from taking the second against Milos Raonic. Couldn't do it. About an hour later, 2014 champion Wawrinka was a single point from grabbing the third set. Denied again. And another hour after that, Wawrinka was two points from seizing the fourth to force a fifth. Nope, not on this afternoon. Wawrinka kept coming oh-so-close, and Raonic kept hanging in there and toughing out the most important moments along the way to a 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6), 7-6 (11), 7-6 (5) victory that put the 16th-seeded Canadian into the third round. "I missed a few little points," Wawrinka said, "that could have changed the match." So true. "It feels like 4 hours passed by in about 15 minutes. ... The adrenaline takes over," said Raonic, the runner-up at Wimbledon in 2016. "I was very fortunate to stay alive in that fourth set." They were interrupted for about a half-hour while the roof at Rod Laver Arena was shut because of rain at 4-all in the third set. Raonic thought that helped him quite a bit. "I do a little bit better indoors than outdoors," he said, "so thank you for raining up there." In other men's action on Day 4, 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori withstood 59 aces from 39-year-old Ivo Karlovic en route to a 6-3, 7-6 (6), 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (7) victory, but No. 7 Dominic Thiem retired from his match in the third set after dropping the first two, and 2018 Australian Open semifinalist Hyeon Chung lost to Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-2, 1-6, 6-2, 6-4. Raonic delivered 39 aces, part of an impressive ratio of 84 total winners to only 44 unforced errors. This was a matchup probably better suited to the second week than the second round of a Grand Slam tournament, given both men's credentials. But Wawrinka, a three-time major champion once ranked as high as No. 3, dropped out of the top 250 last season, when he had surgery on his left knee. His signature one-handed backhand is as dangerous as ever — he had a 16-2 edge in winners on that shot Thursday — and he hit 28 aces of his own. But as even as the match was in many respects — Raonic only won two more points overall, 163-161 — Wawrinka couldn't come through when he really needed to. Raonic had plenty to do with that, of course, including in the third-set tiebreaker, when he served his way out of trouble. Wawrinka's three set points there came at 6-5, when Raonic delivered a serve at 129 mph (208 kph) followed by a forehand volley winner; at 8-7, when Raonic's 125 mph (201 kph) serve drew a missed return; and at 10-9, when an ace at 132 mph (213 kph) did the trick. A 123 mph (198 kph) service winner gave Raonic that set. In the last tiebreaker, Wawrinka was up 5-4 before Raonic closed with three consecutive points to avoid heading to a fifth set. "Today, I'm sad and frustrated," Wawrinka said. "But in general, if I take some distance with it, I'm happy to see that I'm able to play again with this level, able to move that well.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 17th, 2019

Stephens wins battle of frenemies at Australian Open

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Sloane Stephens advanced at the Australian Open at the expense of her former doubles partner Timea Babos in a second-round match the women's tour billed as a battle of the so-called "frenemies." Fifth-seeded Stephens, the 2017 U.S. Open champion, dominated the Rod Laver Arena opener 6-3, 6-1 on Wednesday but Babos kept her working by saving 18 of the 23 break points she faced. The pair combined to win three junior Grand Slam doubles titles — the French, Wimbledon and U.S. Open — in 2010. Stephens said she knew what to expect from Babos but that didn't make it any smoother. "I just had to hang in there and be patient," she said. Stephens will next play No. 31-seeded Petra Martic, who beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 7-5. Under sunny skies and an expected high temperature of 29 Celsius (84 Fahrenheit), local hope Ashleigh Barty was due to play the second match on the main show court against Wang Yafan. This is the first time since 2014 that Stephens has put back-to-back wins together at Melbourne Park. She reached the fourth round in 2014, a year after making a run to the semifinals. "It's tough getting back into the swing of things," Stephens said of her preparation for the season-opening major, which this month included first- and second-round losses in Brisbane and Sydney. "It's a little bit toasty, but a beautiful place to play." In other early women's matches Wednesday, Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova eliminated ninth-seeded Kiki Bertens 3-6, 6-3, 6-3 to reach the third round of a major for the first time since her quarterfinal run here in 2017, and Aliaksandra Sasnovich beat 20th-seeded Anett Kontaveit 6-3, 6-3. No. 19-seeded Caroline Garcia advanced 6-3, 6-3 over Zoe Hives 6-3, 6-3. Defending champions Roger Federer and Caroline Wozniacki were in action later Wednesday, as well the No. 2-ranked players Rafael Nadal and Angelique Kerber......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 16th, 2019

Nadal, Sharapova and Wozniacki advance at Australian Open

By John Pye, Associated Press MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal has missed a lot of tennis since last September. He hasn't missed a beat. The No. 2-seeded Nadal had a 6-4, 6-3, 7-5 win over Australian wild-card entry James Duckworth on Monday in the first round of the Australian Open, his first match back on Rod Laver Arena since he had to retire during his quarterfinal match last year. The 17-time major winner hasn't played since retiring from his semifinal at the U.S. Open because of a knee injury, and then had surgery on his right ankle in November. He also withdrew from a tune-up tournament in Brisbane because of a muscle strain in his thigh, mainly as a precaution, to ensure he's fit for the season-opening major. "Not easy to come back after a lot of months of competition, especially against a player playing super aggressive every shot," Nadal said. "It's very difficult to start after an injury — I know it very well. "So that's an important victory because is the first victory since a while, and at the same time, because that gives me the chance to be on court again." Wearing a sleeveless top, he showed no signs of any issues against Duckworth. His only hiccup came when he served for the match in the ninth game of the third set and was broken. He returned the favor quickly, though, to seal his spot in the second round. Nadal has only lost twice in the first round at Grand Slams — to Steve Darcis at 2013 Wimbledon, and to Fernando Verdasco here in 2016. Maria Sharapova's record in the first round is good, too. She was the first of five Australian Open winners to play on Rod Laver Arena on Day 1, starting with a 6-0, 6-0 win over Harriet Dart. No. 2-ranked Angelique Kerber, the 2016 Australian Open champion, opened with a 6-2, 6-2 win over Polona Hercog and defending champion Caroline Wozniacki beat Alison Van Uytvanck 6-3, 6-4 in the first of the night matches on the main arena. Sharapova has the second-best record (behind Serena Williams) among active women's players in first-round matches at the majors, and she gave an illustration of why that's the case in a 63-minute disposal of Dart. Stung by a first-round loss at Wimbledon last year, 2008 Australian Open champion Sharapova said she couldn't afford to feel any empathy for Dart. "There is no time for that, I'm sorry to say ... when you're playing the first round of a Grand Slam," said Sharapova, who is still feeling pain in her right shoulder despite sitting out the end of last season after the U.S. Open. "I think I was just focused on not having a letdown." Also advancing were 2017 U.S. Open champion Sloane Stephens, No. 9 Kiki Bertens, No. 11 Aryna Sabalenka, local favorite Ash Barty, No. 19 Caroline Garcia, No. 20 Anett Kontaveit, No. 24 Lesia Tsurenko, No. 29 Donna Vekic and No. 31 Petra Martic. Katie Boulter earned the distinction of winning the first 10-point tiebreaker under the Australian Open's new system for deciding sets, and she celebrated twice. Boulter beat Ekaterina Makarova 6-0, 4-6, 7-6 (6), including 10-6 in the tiebreaker. Boulter started celebrating and went to the net when she reached 7-4 in the tiebreaker, forgetting it wasn't a conventional count. The new rule was introduced to ensure matches don't get too lengthy — previously the third set in women's matches and the fifth set in men's matches at the Australian Open had to be decided by a two-game advantage. Fifth-seeded Kevin Anderson won his first match at Melbourne Park since 2015 when he beat Adrian Mannarino 6-3, 5-7, 6-2, 6-1. Also advancing on the men's side were No. 14 Stefanos Tsitsipas, no. 18 Diego Schwartzman, No. 19 Nikoloz Basilashvili, No. 20 Grigor Dimitrov, No. 26 Fernando Verdasco and No. 27 Alex de Minaur, who won the Sydney International final last weekend. It was high stakes when ninth-seeded John Isner lost 7-6 (4), 7-6 (6), 6-7 (4), 7-6 (5) to No. 97-ranked Reilly Opelka in a match featuring two of the tallest players on tour. Tomas Berdych sent 2018 Australian Open semifinalist Kyle Edmund home early with right away with a 6-3, 6-0, 7-5 win over the No. 13 seed on Melbourne Arena in the match before five-time finalist Andy Murray took on Roberto Bautista Agut......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 14th, 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

Zverev beats Djokovic in 2 sets to win ATP Finals title

By Sam Johnston, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Despite beating Novak Djokovic in straight sets to win the ATP Finals at only 21, Alexander Zverev knows keeping pace with the Serb isn't going to be easy. Zverev claimed the biggest title of his career with a 6-4, 6-3 upset on Sunday, becoming the youngest champion of the season-ending event since Djokovic claimed the first of his five titles a decade ago — also at age 21. "Oh my God," said Zverev, who also became the first German winner since 1995. "I've won one (year-end title). He's won five. He's won, I don't know what, 148 titles more than me. Let's not go there for now. I hope I can do great ... but just chill out a little bit." Top-ranked Djokovic was attempting to tie Roger Federer's record of six titles but followed the same path as the Swiss great, who lost to Zverev in the semifinals at the O2 Arena. Djokovic's serve hadn't been broken all tournament until the final. Zverev did it once in the first set and three times in the second, completing the victory with a spectacular backhand winner up the line. "There's a lot of similarities in terms of trajectory ... in our careers," said Djokovic, who ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by winning Wimbledon this year, before going on to claim his 14th major trophy at the U.S. Open. "Hopefully he (Zverev) can surpass me." Both players began the match in the same form that had seen them earn straight-sets semifinal victories a day earlier, with few points going against the server. It was Djokovic, who had lost just two of his previous 37 matches and defeated Zverev in the round robin, who began to feel the pressure as consecutive forehand errors gave up his first break of the tournament for 5-4. Fans gave Zverev a huge ovation as he stepped up to serve for the set, and it appeared to inspire him. Three straight aces brought up three set points, the second of which he took when Djokovic sent another forehand long. "I was making way too many unforced errors," Djokovic said. "From 4-4 in the first set, my game really fell apart." Zverev even began to win the longer rallies, an area of the game that Djokovic usually dominates. A 26-shot duel brought up another break point in the opening game of the second set and, although Djokovic saved it, Zverev won another lengthy exchange moments later with a forehand winner to go 1-0 up. With the biggest win of his career in sight, Zverev began to show some nerves. Although he is the only active male player outside of the Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to possess three or more Masters titles, the young German has only reached one Grand Slam quarterfinal. Two double faults and two backhand errors gifted Djokovic an immediate break back, but Zverev quickly refocused to win a 28-shot rally on his way to breaking in the following game. "I lost my serve once against him today," Zverev said. "I think this is a pretty good stat, especially as he's the best returner we have in the game." From there he remained solid on serve, before ending with a flourish. A backhand winner on the run drifted past the helpless Djokovic and Zverev sunk to the ground in tears. "This trophy means a lot, everything," Zverev said. "You only have so many chances of winning it. You play against the best players only." Djokovic sportingly crossed the net to embrace the player who will now be considered among the favorites in Australia in two months' time to end the Serb's run of two consecutive Grand Slam victories. "I've had most success in my career in Australia," said Djokovic, who has won six times in Melbourne. "Hopefully I can keep that going." Earlier, American pair Mike Bryan and Jack Sock saved a match point in the deciding tiebreaker to beat Pierre-Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 5-7, 6-1, 13-11 for their first ATP Finals doubles title together. Having failed to take advantage of five championship points during the first-to-10 match tiebreaker, Bryan and Sock then had to save one against their French opponents before finally closing out victory. "It was a hell of a match," Bryan said. The 40-year-old Bryan has now won the tournament five times. He won four times with his usual partner — and brother — Bob, who has been out with an injured hip since May. Sock and Bryan have dominated since teaming up, winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open before finishing their season in style in London. "It's been a hell of a ride," Bryan said. "This could be our last hoorah because Bob's training back in Florida.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 19th, 2018

Zverev s ATP Finals win vs. Federer tainted by ball boy flub

By Sam Johnston, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — After pulling off one of the biggest wins of his career, Alexander Zverev was left apologizing for an unforced error he didn't make. Zverev denied Roger Federer a shot at a 100th career title by beating the Swiss great 7-5, 7-6 (5) at the ATP Finals on Saturday to advance to the championship match against Novak Djokovic. Federer was leading the second-set tiebreaker 4-3 and in the ascendancy of a rally on a Zverev service point when a ball boy at the back of the court dropped a ball. Zverev immediately signaled for the point to be stopped and the umpire ordered the point to be replayed. Zverev served an ace before going on to close out the match moments later. "I want to apologize for the situation in the tiebreak," said Zverev, who was booed by some of the crowd during his on-court interview. "The ball boy dropped the ball so it's in the rules that we have to replay the point. "I'm a little bit upset about the whole situation because this is not how I wanted it to end." Zverev is the youngest player at 21 to reach the final since 2009 and the first from Germany since 1996. He will face five-time champion Djokovic, who defeated Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2 to extend his semifinal win-loss record at the tournament to 7-1. Federer, 37, was seeking a record-extending seventh title, but was unable to cope with the pressure created by Zverev's power and precision at the O2 Arena. "He (Zverev) apologized to me at the net," Federer said. "I was like, 'Buddy, shut up. You don't need to apologize to me here. Congratulations on a great match and a great tournament so far. All the best for the finals.' And you move on." An inspired series of shots earned Zverev the first break points of the match in the 12th game and Federer sent a forehand wide to fall behind. Federer willed himself to a break for 2-1 in the second set, but Zverev quickly composed himself to hit straight back in the following game. Zverev overcame the freak interruption to establish a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker, and Federer netted the simplest of forehand volleys to bring up match point. He saved the first, but Zverev confidently put away a backhand drive volley to set up a shot at the biggest title of his career and leave Federer waiting until next season for his 100th title. "Overall, I'm happy how the season went," said Federer, who picked up his 20th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open. "There's many positives. So I'm excited for next season." Despite having reached only one Grand Slam quarterfinal this year, Zverev is the only active player outside the Big Four of Djokovic, Federer, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray to have won three Masters titles. But victory at the tour's flagship event would exceed those achievements. "Novak right now is the best player in the world," said Zverev, who lost to Djokovic in the round robin. "You have to play your best game to even have a chance. I hope I'll be able to do that tomorrow." The Serb maintained his record of having not lost a set — or service game — at the tournament as he thrashed debutant Anderson to give himself the chance to join Federer on six titles. "I played very well in the group stage against Sascha (Zverev)," Djokovic said. "But I don't think he was close to his best." Djokovic won 20 out of 27 points on Anderson's second serve as he broke the South African twice in each set. "It was the best match I've played so far this week," Djokovic said. Having ended a two-year Grand Slam title drought by defeating Anderson in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic went on to win his 14th major trophy at the U.S. Open and has already sealed the year-end No. 1 ranking. The victory extended Djokovic's record to 35-2 since the start of Wimbledon, a tournament he began ranked 21st after a right elbow injury interrupted his first half of the season. "It's remarkable what he's done since Wimbledon," Anderson said. "It seems like he's definitely right back playing some of the best tennis of his career.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 18th, 2018

Federer advances to record-extending 15th ATP Finals semi

By Sam Johnston, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — Roger Federer advanced to the last four of the ATP Finals for a record-extending 15th time with a 6-4, 6-3 victory over Kevin Anderson on Thursday. Six-time champion Federer needed only a set to advance and produced his best performance at the season-ending tournament to end the round-robin stages with a 2-1 win-loss record. Dominic Thiem's 6-1, 6-4 victory over Kei Nishikori earlier had left Federer with a modest task and ensured that Anderson became the first South African ever to reach the semifinals. Federer looked as if he was about to give up a break advantage for the second time in as many service games when he dropped to 0-40 attempting to close out the opening set at 5-4, but the 20-time Grand Slam champion found his first serve when it mattered most to hold. Anderson hadn't faced a break point in winning his first two matches. Federer, though, broke him twice more in the second set to claim top spot in the group and likely avoid a semifinal meeting with top-ranked Novak Djokovic. Having struggled in an opening loss to Nishikori and relied mainly on his serve when defeating Thiem, Federer finally found some timing with his ground-strokes to apply consistent pressure on Anderson's serve. The previously impenetrable Anderson serve wilted, with two double faults gifting Federer a 4-3 lead. Much to the surprise — and disappointment — of the partisan crowd at the O2 Arena, the Swiss great handed the break straight back with a series of errors. However, Federer steadied himself and made a delicate drop volley to break once more in the following game, before eventually closing out the set to maintain his record of having only missed the semifinals once in 16 appearances at the tournament. Federer lost just four points on serve in the second set. He used a backhand slice to break for 4-3 and the same shot brought up two match points at 3-5, 15-40. Having saved a match point on his way to securing a five-set quarterfinal victory over Federer at Wimbledon, Anderson threatened another comeback as he won a 21-shot rally to get back to deuce, but there was to be no repeat this time. Two more Anderson forehand errors ended the match and Federer won the group by virtue of their head-to-head record. With Djokovic clear favorite to top his group, which concludes Friday, Federer has boosted his chances of avoiding the in-form Serb until the final......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 15th, 2018

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