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Nadal hands Federer worst Slam loss in 11 years to reach French Open final

    PARIS, France – Defending champion Rafael Nadal powered past Roger Federer in the French Open semifinal on Friday, June 7, to move within one victory of a record-extending 12th Roland Garros title after handing his oldest rival his worst Grand Slam defeat in 11 years. The 33-year-old produced a masterful performance ........»»

Category: newsSource: rappler rapplerJun 7th, 2019

WIMBLEDON 19: What to know, from Murray s return to FAA

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Clearly, Andy Murray's tearful farewell to tennis was premature. So, too, was tennis' farewell to Murray. About five months since Murray discussed retirement because of pain in his surgically repaired hip — and everyone wished him well in any future endeavors — he is once again on tour thanks to a new operation. He's also back at age 32 at Wimbledon, where he won singles championships in 2013 and 2016. He is, for now, entered only in men's doubles but said Saturday he wants to find a mixed doubles partner, too. "We've had a number of conversations with a few players," three-time major champion said about finding a woman to play with, although he sidestepped questions about whether that could wind up being Serena Williams. "I mean, obviously she's arguably the best player ever," he said, before deadpanning: "It would be a pretty solid partner." In January, Murray said at the Australian Open that he would need to quit the sport because of his hip. After a five-set loss there — his first opening-round loss at a Grand Slam tournament in 11 years — Murray said: "If today was my last match, look, it was a brilliant way to finish." A video was shown there with tributes from Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and others. The gist: "Congratulations on a great career. You'll be missed." Except Murray decided soon thereafter to get an artificial hip. He teamed with Feliciano Lopez at Queen's Club this month for the first test — and they left with the title. At Wimbledon, he will play with Pierre Hugues-Herbert. Did that immediate success shift Murray's expectations? "That's probably one of the things that I will try to make sure doesn't change over the next few years. I think a lot of that stuff kind of comes out from other people," said Murray, who was Britain's first men's singles title winner at Wimbledon in 77 years. "I'm just happy to be playing tennis again, really." Here are other things to know for Wimbledon, the year's third Grand Slam tournament: NADAL'S SEEDING Nadal was not pleased that Wimbledon — unique to majors, it gives extra credit for results on its surface over the preceding two years — dropped him from No. 2 in the rankings to No. 3 in the seedings, swapping spots with Federer behind No. 1 Djokovic. Nadal said it wasn't fair, and he blamed the ATP for not putting pressure on the All England Club to switch the way it determines seeds. ATP POLITICS Four members of the ATP Player Council resigned Saturday, a day after a 7-hour meeting to decide the new Americas' representative on the board. Dani Vallverdu, Robin Haase, Jamie Murray and Sergiy Stakhovsky stepped down. It's part of an ongoing, behind-the-scenes power struggle in men's tennis that has included the decision to not renew the contract of CEO Chris Kermode and the resignation of board member Justin Gimelstob after he was sentenced in court for attacking a former friend in Los Angeles. Former ATP executive Weller Evans was chosen Friday to fill Gimelstob's seat. FAA Everyone wants to try to figure out the sport's next new star, and there are plenty who think it could be Felix Auger-Aliassime, an 18-year-old from Canada who is seeded 19th. There are two particularly important numbers associated with a guy many refer to by his initials, "FAA." There's 88, the ranking spots he's climbed this year, from 109th to 21st. And there's zero, his career victory total at Grand Slam tournaments. That figures to change soon. "To me," said McEnroe, a seven-time major champion and now an ESPN commentator, "he's going to be No. 1." INJURIES The latest person out of the tournament was 14th-seeded Borna Coric, who withdrew Saturday because of an abdominal injury. Brayden Schnur, who lost in qualifying, moved into the field and will face Marcos Baghdatis. Earlier withdrawals included 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro (right knee) and Bianca Andreescu (right shoulder). Among those coming back to action are 2018 finalist Kevin Anderson, who has played only two matches since March because of a right arm issue; 2018 semifinalist John Isner, out since the Miami Open final because of an injured left foot; and five-time major champion Maria Sharapova, who returned this month after being out since January with a hurt right shoulder. Petra Kvitova, who missed the French Open with a left forearm problem, plans to play at Wimbledon......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 30th, 2019

Federer, Nadal to meet in French Open semi-final blockbuster

Roger Federer set up a mouthwatering French Open semi-final clash with Rafael Nadal on Tuesday when he defeated Stan Wawrinka in four sets to become the oldest men’s Grand Slam semi-finalist in 28 years. The 37-year-old Swiss beat his compatriot 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 to reach his 43rd major semi-final and eighth at […].....»»

Category: newsSource:  tempoRelated NewsJun 5th, 2019

Federer joins Murray in 4th round at Australian Open

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Roger Federer showed against 10th-seeded Tomas Berdych that his first two wins against qualifiers at the Australian Open really were warmups. The 17-time Grand Slam champion, seeded a lowly-by-his-standards 17th after spending six months on the sidelines last season, only needed 90 minutes to beat Berdych 6-2, 6-4, 6-4 in the third round on Friday night. This was against a rival who played the Wimbledon final in 2010 and reached the quarterfinals or better in Australia the previous six years. And he'd beaten Federer in six of their previous 22 matches. Federer hit some vintage backhand winners, one that earned a hearty applause from the great Rod Laver — sitting in the crowd at the stadium named in his honor — in the second set. He had 40 winners and won 95 percent of points when he got his first serve into play. He didn't face a breakpoint. 'Crazy how quick I got out of the blocks — I did surprise myself,' Federer said of his almost flawless performance against Berdych. 'I did feel like I struggled a bit in the first two rounds.' He next plays fifth-ranked Kei Nishikori, who beat Lukas Lacko 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 to reach the fourth round for a sixth straight year at Melbourne Park. Federer leads that matchup 4-2, winning the last three. The winner of that has a potential quarterfinal against top-ranked Andy Murray, who showed no signs of trouble with his sore ankle as he advanced to the Round of 16 for the ninth straight year with a 6-4, 6-2, 6-4 win over No. 31 Sam Querrey. It was Querrey who ended then No. 1-ranked Novak Djokovic's impressive Grand Slam run in the third round at Wimbledon last year. At that time, Djokovic had won four straight major titles — Wimbledon and U.S. Open in 2015 and Australian Open and French Open in 2016. Murray, who replaced Djokovic at No. 1 last November, said he was surprised at the six-time Australian Open champion's second-round loss to Denis Istomin the previous night. But the five-time Australian Open runner-up didn't think it changed anything for him, unless he reached the final. 'I wasn't scheduled to play Novak today, so my job's to concentrate on Sam and to go into that match with a clear head and a good game plan and try to play well,' said Murray, who lost to Djokovic in four of the five finals he has contested in Melbourne. 'I did that. 'Obviously, if you're to get to the final, then it has an effect.' Murray injured his right ankle in the second round, and said he was hesitant at first but warmed into the match against Querrey. 'I felt better and better as the match went on in terms of my movement,' Murray said. 'I was moving well at the end — it was very positive.' Murray next plays Mischa Zverev. Seven-time major winner Venus Williams routed Duan Yingying 6-1, 6-0 in less than an hour to progress to the fourth round for the 10th time since her Australian Open debut in 1998. 'It's good (but) it's never enough,' she said, looking ahead to her fourth-round match against Mona Barthel. 'I've tasted it before and it's always a great feeling because it means, hey, I have an opportunity for the quarterfinals. That's what I'm going to go for.' The last two Americans in the men's draw lost within an hour of each other. After Querrey's exit, No. 23-seeded Jack Sock lost 7-6 (4), 7-5, 6-7 (8), 6-3 to No. 12 Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. There are no more Australians in the men's draw, either, after Daniel Evans beat Bernard Tomic 7-5, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (3). U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka had 3-6, 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 (7) win over Viktor Troicki to move into a fourth-round match against Andreas Seppi. In the last match of day five, French Open champion Garbine Muguruza closed out with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Anastasia Sevastova. Top-ranked Angelique Kerber had a straight-sets win for the first time in her first Australian Open title defense, 6-0, 6-4 against Kristyna Pliskova. She next play 35th-ranked CoCo Vandeweghe, who reached the fourth round in Australia for the first time with a 6-4, 3-6, 7-5 win over 2014 semifinalist Eugenie Bouchard. Two-time major winner Svetlana Kuznetsova held off former No. 1-ranked Jelena Jankovic 6-4, 5-7, 9-7 in 3 ½ hours. Australian Open organizers were briefed by Victoria state police over an incident in downtown Melbourne where a man deliberately drove into a street crowded with pedestrians, killing three people and injuring 20. Police said the incident, about three kilometers (two miles) from Melbourne Park, had no links to terrorism. 'Be assured there is no threat to the precinct,' Australian Open organizers said in a statement. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Worth a mention: Williams aiming for record 23rd major title

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer   MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Serena Williams definitely doesn't want to talk about the No. 23. She doesn't really want to think about planning a wedding, either, while she's pursuing a Grand Slam record. Newly engaged Williams brushed off concerns about the 88 unforced errors she had in a loss in New Zealand last week in her only warmup tournament ahead of the Australian Open, which starts Monday and where she's aiming for Open-era record 23rd major title. 'I've moved on,' she said. 'I'm feeling relaxed, calm, ready and poised.' Williams responded to questions about milestone achievements last year when she had 21 Grand Slam titles, and it didn't help — she lost the final here to Angelique Kerber and to Garbine Muguruza at the French Open before winning Wimbledon to equal Steffi Graf's Open era mark of 22. She's being more superstitious this time. 'I'm not talking about that,' Williams, a six-time Australian Open winner, said as she shut down questions during a promotional activity this week. 'I said I'm not talking about that. Move on.' Another Australian title is also high on the agenda for Novak Djokovic, who already has won six. But he isn't thinking much beyond his opening match after drawing Fernando Verdasco. A first is the priority for Andy Murray, recently knighted in Britain after finishing 2016 at No. 1. He is looking at the draw from the top for the first time at a major and is hoping it comes with a change in fortunes at Melbourne Park. He has lost five Australian Open finals — the first to Roger Federer in 2010, the other four to Djokovic. Federer could again stand in his way, only at the quarterfinal stage this time. The 17-time major winner slipped down the rankings during six months off last year recovering from an injured left knee and was seeded No. 17. Williams took time off after the U.S. Open, where she lost in the semifinals for the second year running and lost the top ranking to Kerber. The big news during her break was her engagement to Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last month, when she posted a poem on the news website to confirm she'd accepted his proposal. After hitting this week with 16-year-old Destanee Aiava, who will be the first person born in the 2000s to play in the main draw of a major when she meets a qualifier in the first round, Williams said her mind was back entirely on business. 'I told (Ohanian) my main goal was to win this title,' she said. 'Yeah, it really doesn't feel like anything different.' No date has been set for the wedding, with Williams' mind on one major thing, so she's not thinking about a dress or a cake, and she's not wearing a ring to practice. 'Oh my God. I don't think about it really,' she said, responding to questions about her marriage plans. 'I'm just ... I don't know I'll have to ask him that. I have a job — I mean, he does too. I kinda gotta focus.' Kerber won the Australian and U.S. Open titles last year, so will be attempting to defend a major for the first time in Melbourne. She may be feeling pressure as the No. 1 seed, having won only one match in two warmup tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney. That doesn't take any pressure off Williams. 'I am No. 2, I guess. I definitely don't feel like anyone's saying that, 'Oh, there's no pressure on Serena,'' she said. 'It's always there, I'm used to it. 'I feel like I've been No. 1 for so long, so many times. I've done things that are amazing. Sometimes that ranking really means a lot, but also I feel like sometimes just winning events ... means just as much.' That's something Djokovic understands. His 122-week streak at No. 1 ended amid Murray's incredible finish to last season, when he won Wimbledon and defended the Olympic gold medal among eight titles he won after reuniting with Ivan Lendl as coach. Before then, Djokovic had beaten Murray in the Australian and French Open finals, his 11th and 12th major titles. Half of those have come in Melbourne, where his victory last year equaled the record six Australian titles Roy Emerson won (1961 and 1963-67). 'I'm feeling phenomenal,' Djokovic said after arriving in Australia following a win over Murray in his season-opening event at Doha. 'Maybe this is the year — 2017 for seven. I'm not a numerologist, but it sounds good.' Murray jumped on a flight almost immediately after last year's final to be with his wife, who was expecting their first child. There have been plenty of changes for him since, becoming a father for the first time, No. 1 in the world for the first time, and reuniting with Lendl. 'Each time I come, I think I've got a chance of winning but it's just never happened,' he said. 'Hopefully, this year will be different. 'I do think the last few months of last year can help me with giving me confidence — other players look at that and see you're playing well and (I) feel physically and mentally strong.' Fourth-seeded Stan Wawrinka, who ended the run of wins by Djokovic and Murray when he won the U.S. Open last September, said the next generation of players such as Wimbledon finalist Milos Raonic and 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Kei Nishikori would be among the contenders for the Australian title. But he thinks it will be difficult for any new champion to emerge against the likes of the in-form Murray and Djokovic, and the returning Federer and Rafael Nadal. 'So far, last 10 years, the 'Big Four' was really strong,' Wawrinka said, 'so it's going to be interesting to see this year how Novak, Andy, Rafa, and Roger will play.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 13th, 2017

Dimitrov upsets Raonic, sets up Brisbane final vs Nishikori

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Milos Raonic's title defense ended in a semifinal loss to Grigor Dimitrov at the Brisbane International on Saturday, a day after his come-from-behind win over Rafael Nadal. Top-seeded Raonic beat Roger Federer for the title here last year, avenging a loss to the Swiss star in the 2015 final, and appeared to be on course for a third straight Brisbane final when he had set point in the first-set tiebreaker against Dimitrov. But the 25-year-old Bulgarian held firm, saving that set point, converting his own moments later and then breaking Raonic's serve twice in the second set on the way to a 7-6 (7), 6-2 win. The No. 17-ranked Dimitrov improved his record to 3-1 in career meetings against Raonic and set up a final against Kei Nishikori, who beat U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6 (3), 6-3 to reach the final for the first time at the season-opening tournament. Nishikori has a 3-0 record against Dimitrov, who lost the 2013 Brisbane final to Andy Murray and was ousted by Federer in his previous two trips to Brisbane. Wawrinka, who won the Chennai tournament in India in the first week of the season for the three previous years, had treatment on his left ankle in the first and second sets but didn't expect it to cause him any trouble at the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 16 in Melbourne. Third-seeded Nishikori took full advantage, converting his first break point in the second set to take a 3-1 lead when Wawrinka missed consecutive backhands. The No. 2-seeded Wawrinka broke back immediately, but dropped his serve again in the next game. Wawrinka beat Nishikori in the semifinals of the U.S. Open last year; his only win in their past four matches. With the result in Brisbane, Nishikori has leveled up his career head-to-head record against the three-time major winner at 4-4. Nishikori was making his seventh trip to Brisbane, and playing a semifinal for the fourth time. The Japanese star is still chasing his first Grand Slam title, with his best run at a major remaining his appearance in the 2014 U.S. Open final. U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova was playing unseeded Alize Cornet in the women's final on Saturday night. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 7th, 2017

11 years after epic, Federer tops Nadal in Wimbledon semis

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — After waiting 11 years to get another shot against Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon, Roger Federer was so, so close to the finish line. One match point slipped away when Federer missed a forehand return. A second came and went on a backhand return. Later, serving for a spot in a record 12th final at the All England Club, Federer shanked a leaping overhead off the top edge of his racket frame, giving Nadal a break point. After Nadal wasted that chance, Federer earned two more match points — and failed to convert those, either, as his wife, Mirka, peeked through the fingers covering her face. Federer knew it wouldn't be easy against his great rival. Never is, really, no matter where they play. Eventually, Nadal pushed a backhand long on match point No. 5, bringing an anticlimactic close to the otherwise classic contest and allowing Federer to win their semifinal 7-6 (3), 1-6, 6-3, 6-4 on Friday. "I'm exhausted. It was tough at the end," Federer said. "I'm just very relieved it's all over." Federer closed in on a ninth championship at the All England Club and 21st Grand Slam trophy in all. To get to those numbers in Sunday's final, Federer must get past Novak Djokovic, who is the defending champion and seeded No. 1. "We all know how good he is anywhere," Djokovic said about Federer, "but especially here." Djokovic isn't too shabby himself. He reached his sixth final at the grass-court major by beating 23rd-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 earlier Friday. Djokovic is eyeing a fifth championship at Wimbledon and 16th major title. As entertaining as that first semifinal was — including a 45-stroke point won by Djokovic — it was merely a tasty appetizer ahead of the day's delectable main course. Not only was this the 40th installment of Federer vs. Nadal, but it also was their first meeting at Wimbledon since the 2008 final. In a match many consider the best in the sport's lengthy annals, Nadal edged Federer 9-7 in a fifth set that ended after 9 p.m., as any trace of daylight disappeared. How excited, then, were the spectators for the rematch? When Federer and Nadal strode out into the sunshine at 4:30 p.m. Friday, they were welcomed by a standing ovation before ever swinging a racket. Quickly, that greeting was justified. These are, of course, two of the greats of all-time — maybe the two greatest — and they lived up to that status for stretches. One key, for Federer, was that his rebuilt backhand, hit strong and flat more frequently than it used to be, held steady against Nadal's bullwhip of a lefty forehand. Another was that Federer was able to withstand Nadal's serve, which has improved a ton over the years. Federer amassed 10 break points, and though he succeeded on just two, that was enough, with the last, vital conversion making it 2-1 in the fourth set. And then there was this: Federer won 25 of the 33 points when he went to the net. "I didn't play well enough," said Nadal, who lost a five-set semifinal to Djokovic a year ago at Wimbledon. There was something of an "Anything you can do, I can do, too" vibe to Friday's proceedings. Federer would kick up chalk with an ace to a corner, and Nadal would do the same in the next game. When Nadal jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the first-set tiebreaker, Federer used sublime returning to reel off five points in a row to claim it. Who else but Federer could strike a serve so well that Nadal's wild reply would be caught by someone in the Royal Box behind him, as happened early in the second set? Who else but Nadal could attack Federer's generally unassailable forehand in such a manner as to draw one so off the mark that it landed in the third row? "I thought probably the biggest points in the match went my way. There were some tight ones and long rallies," Federer said. "He plays with such velocity and spins and everything, you're not always sure you're going to connect the right way." No one ever has managed to reduce Federer to mid-match mediocrity quite the way Nadal can, part of why the Spaniard entered Friday with a 24-15 overall lead head-to-head, including 10-3 at Grand Slam tournaments. This was the second major in a row where they've faced off: Nadal won their windy French Open semifinal last month en route to his 12th championship on the red clay and 18th Slam overall. But Wimbledon is Federer's dominion: He's won 101 matches at the place — more than any other man at any other Slam, even Nadal at Roland Garros — and all of those trophies. Djokovic, meanwhile, leads his series with Federer 25-22, including 9-6 in Grand Slam matches. "I hope I can push him to the brink and hopefully beat him. But it's going to be very difficult, as we know," Federer said. "He's not No. 1 just by chance." On Friday, Djokovic was as animated as ever. When Bautista Agut's shot hit the net tape, popped in the air and slid over for a winner that tied their semifinal at a set apiece, Djokovic motioned to the roaring fans, sarcastically encouraging folks to get louder. When Djokovic ended that 45-stroke point — the longest on record at Wimbledon, where such stats date to 2005 — with a backhand winner, he cupped his ear while glaring into the stands. "I had," Djokovic said, "to dig deep." Even Bautista Agut didn't really expect his visit to the All England Club to last this long: The Spaniard was supposed to meet a half-dozen of his buddies on the island of Ibiza this weekend for his bachelor party. Instead, those pals were sitting in a guest box at Centre Court on Friday. Eventually, Djokovic took control with his enviable ability to return serves, track down balls and go from defense to offense. Now he's Federer's problem......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2019

Lucky loser from US upsets 2018 champ Kerber at Wimbledon

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Lauren Davis wasn't even supposed to be playing in Wimbledon's main draw, let alone upsetting defending champion Angelique Kerber in the second round. It's been quite a week. The 95th-ranked Davis lost in the last round of qualifying and figured that was that. But then another player withdrew from the tournament, opening up a spot, and the 25-year-old American got in — a "lucky loser" in tennis parlance. On Thursday, Davis turned things around after a poor start and knocked off the No. 5-seeded Kerber 2-6, 6-2, 6-1 to get to the third round and equal her best showing at any Grand Slam tournament. "I wouldn't say that I was surprised, because I always believe in myself. She's obviously an incredible champion; I have immense respect for her," Davis said. "I definitely believe in myself and believe that I can hang with these girls and beat them." She seemed to move around just fine despite a heavily wrapped left knee. "The tape is a lot worse than it looks. It's just a little soreness with my meniscus on my left side," Davis said. "It's really just prevention at this point, especially on the grass where it can be slippery potentially." Davis was by far the more aggressive player, compiling a hard-to-believe edge of 45-13 in total winners against Kerber, whom Davis called "a human backboard." This continues what's been an up-and-down season for Kerber, who won her third career major championship a year ago at the All England Club by beating Serena Williams in the final. Kerber hasn't won a title since. "I'm disappointed. Of course it's not the way I would like to finish here or to play here," the German said. "But you sometimes have days like that. You have to accept it. You have to learn from it." DUMPED FOR COCO Just a couple of other ways in which 15-year-old sensation Coco Gauff is gaining attention at Wimbledon: Her third-round match Friday against another unseeded player was scheduled for Centre Court, and she was picked to play mixed doubles by someone who dumped his original partner in that event. First, Gauff was the youngest player to qualify for Wimbledon in the professional era. Then the American went out on No. 1 Court and beat Venus Williams, who is 24 years older and had won four Grand Slam titles before Gauff was born. And then she beat 2017 semifinalist Magdalena Rybarikova, again on No. 1 Court, and again in straight sets. Now she'll face 60th-ranked Polona Hercog at the most hallowed tennis arena anywhere. Gauff is entered in mixed doubles with Jay Clarke, who explained after losing to Roger Federer in singles on Wednesday that he switched things up after initially planning to play with fellow Brit Harriet Dart. "I made the decision a few days ago now to play with Coco, because ... you play with a big name or a past champion," Clarke said. "Yeah, I made the decision to play with probably the biggest name in the draw at the moment." Sorry, Harriet. "Obviously, initially, she was very upset," Clarke said. "She had every right to be; I'd be too." SO LONG, MARCOS Marcos Baghdatis said goodbye to tennis with a kiss. The 2006 Australian Open runner-up played the last match of his career Thursday at Wimbledon, a 6-1, 7-6 (4), 6-3 loss in the second round to 17th-seeded Matteo Berrettini. After it ended, the 34-year-old from Cyprus patted his heart with both hands, then knelt and leaned his forehead on the grass, before planting a kiss on No. 2 Court. He cried as the spectators regaled him with a lengthy standing ovation. Baghdatis, a Wimbledon semifinalist in 2006, said before the tournament began that it would be his last before retirement. His wife, former player Karolina Sprem, is expecting a baby in November, their third child. "I didn't want to leave the court," Baghdatis said. "It was a nice farewell. It felt amazing.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 5th, 2019

Nadal tops Federer in 3 sets; into French final

PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal beat rival Roger Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 to reach his 12th French Open final. Nadal improved to 6-0 against Federer at Roland Garros, where they last met in 2011, and 24-15 overall. Federer had won their past five matches, but all of those were on hard courts. This one was on clay, where Nadal is nearly unbeatable. He is now 92-2 for his career in Paris as he pursues a record 12th title there and 18th Grand Slam trophy overall. In Sunday's final, Nadal will face top-ranked Novak Djokovic or No. 4 Dominic Thiem......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 7th, 2019

Fatigued Nishikori comes up empty against Nadal in Paris

By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Playing two straight five-set matches ahead of his French Open quarterfinal against Rafael Nadal was certainly not the ideal preparation for Kei Nishikori. Already exhausted before setting a foot on Court Philippe Chatrier on Tuesday, the Japanese player was handed a ruthless beating by the 11-time Roland Garros champion. "I mean, that's for sure I played too much hours on the court this week, last week. I played too much," Nishikori said after his 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 loss. In his four previous matches with Nadal on the slow surface, the seventh-seeded Nishikori had managed to win just one set. With the odds stacked against him, fatigue surely did not help his bid to reach the semifinals in Paris for the first time. Before taking on the 17-time Grand Slam champion, Nishikori had played five-set matches against both Laslo Djere and Benoit Paire. His fourth-round victory over the Frenchman extended over two days, meaning he had a day less than Nadal to recover and get ready for their meeting. "He was a little bit more tired than usual, no doubt about it," Nadal said. Nishikori is the best deciding-set player since the beginning of the Open era in 1968. Against Paire, he won his eighth consecutive five-setter. Overall, he has a 23-6 record in five-set matches. This speaks volumes about his fighting spirit, but he now wants to learn to finish off matches quicker. "I think I've got to keep trying, to work, to finish in straight sets," he said. "But that means I'm not, maybe, good enough, tennis-wise, and also mental. I think that's going to be the next step, because I'm always stuck in the quarterfinals in Grand Slams, and I think next goal is to be in semifinal or final." Nishikori was runner-up at the 2014 U.S. Open and reached the semifinals twice at Flushing Meadows, but he never progressed beyond the last eight at the three other majors......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 5th, 2019

Is it Thiem s time to win French Open? His coach thinks so

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Dominic Thiem wants one thing and one thing only right now: To go one step further than he did last year when he reached the final at Roland Garros. "Dominic has a chance to win the French Open for sure, one day," his coach, Nicolas Massu, said in an interview. "I hope that this year it happens." While he dropped a set for the third straight match, Thiem showed more flashes of his dominant clay-court game in a 6-3, 4-6, 6-2, 7-5 win over Pablo Cuevas on Saturday to advance to the fourth round. "It was my best match so far," Thiem said. "Not at all perfect yet, but the best so far." For a spot in the quarterfinals, Thiem will face Gael Monfils and likely a partisan crowd, too, against the French player. The other fourth-round matchups set Saturday: top-seeded Novak Djokovic vs. Jan-Lennard Struff; No. 5 Alexander Zverev vs. No. 9 Fabio Fognini; No. 8 Juan Martin del Potro vs. No. 10 Karen Khachanov; and No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas vs. No. 24 Stan Wawrinka, the 2015 champion. All top 10 men's seeds are in the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the first time since the 1970 Australian Open. When Massu looks at Thiem's game it feels a bit like staring in the mirror. Massu used a similar style in winning gold medals in both singles and doubles at the 2004 Athens Olympics. There's the big kick serve out wide, the heavy topspin, running around the backhand. "Many of the things that Dominic does today I was doing also, years before," said Massu, who started working with Thiem this year. "Same ideas. So I understand what he wants." Massu made an immediate impact on Thiem's game when he guided him to his first Masters series title in Indian Wells, California, in March — which was surprising because until then Thiem's best results had come on clay. Thiem reached the semifinals at the French in 2016 and 2017 before losing to Rafael Nadal in last year's final. He also has four career wins at other tournaments over Nadal, the 11-time Roland Garros champion. Massu understands the expectations surrounding his pupil. "It's normal that they put the name of Dominic (as) one of the favorite players, because of the results that he had in the past," Massu said. Thiem, however, is becoming quite comfortable in Paris, where he also reached the final of the boys' tournament in 2011. "Eight years ago when I made the final of the juniors I fell in love with this tournament," Thiem told the crowd after beating Cuevas. Then Thiem, who is dating French player Kristina Mladenovic, entertained the crowd inside Court Suzanne Lenglen with a few words in French, apologizing for his beginners' grasp of the language. At 25, Thiem has plenty of time to learn. "When you are 25 years old you are not even in the (halfway point) of your career," Massu said. "The good thing about Dominic (is) he has the time." Already up to No. 4 in the rankings, Thiem sits behind only Djokovic and Nadal, who are both 32, and Roger Federer, who is 37. "He knows that he has the chance one day to be No. 1 in the world," Massu said. "You never know when — maybe soon, maybe later — but he works for that." A trophy in Paris would be a big step toward the top......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 2nd, 2019

Super old Federer to face ex-contemporary s son at French

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Roger Federer, 37, joked to a stadium filled with screaming kids that he's "so super old." Stan Wawrinka, 34, pulled a crying boy out of a crush of autograph-seekers in the stands. Rafael Nadal, about to turn 33, offered this advice to youngsters at his match who might be pondering a tennis career: "The main thing is, don't think about winning Roland Garros." Schools in France are closed on Wednesdays, bringing out a, um, louder brand of fan to the French Open, and that trio of past champions of the clay-court major seemed to appreciate the adulation from the little ones who attended their straight-set victories. Fitting, too, perhaps, that Federer advanced to a third-round meeting against 20-year-old Casper Ruud, someone so much his junior that the guy's father was in the field when Federer made his debut in Paris in 1999. "I know probably more about his dad," Federer said, "than about him." Federer, the tournament's 2009 champion who hadn't been in the field in four years, will be playing his third opponent in a row who is 25 or younger, after beating 144th-ranked Oscar Otte 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round. Now the 20-time major champion takes on Ruud, a Norwegian ranked 63rd. He is coached by his father, Christian, who told Casper he once practiced with Federer, although they never played. "Ever since I can remember, I've been watching Roger on TV," said Ruud, who knocked off 29th-seeded Matteo Berrettini 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. Then came this admission from Ruud: "To be honest, I've been a little bit more of a Rafa fan and Rafa guy." Better hope no one tells Roger. Still, even if he always has preferred Nadal, Ruud described what comes next this way: "I'm playing one of the greatest champions ever of this sport on Friday, so I'm just super excited for it. I can play loose and free." Wawrinka, the winner in 2015 and the runner-up two years later, also had no trouble against a much younger foe Wednesday, eliminating 22-year-old Cristian Garin 6-1, 6-4, 6-0. Afterward, Wawrinka came to the rescue of one of his tiniest fans, lifting him away from danger and offering a towel as a keepsake. "I took him out of that mess a little bit," Wawrinka said. "He was in pain and sad." Owner of three Grand Slam titles in all, Wawrinka will bring his signature backhand into what shapes up as a more competitive matchup against two-time major semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov, who eliminated 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic 6-7 (3), 6-4, 4-6, 7-6 (2), 6-3 over nearly 4½ hours. Nadal's form hadn't been up to his usual standards during much of the clay season: This was the first time since 2004 that he entered May without a title for the year. But he looked good while taking the title at the Italian Open this month, including a victory over Novak Djokovic in the final, and he's been close to untouchable so far as he seeks a record-extending 12th trophy in Paris. His latest tour de force was a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 win over 114th-ranked Yannick Maden, a qualifier from Germany. OK, so Nadal hasn't really faced much of a test yet. Still, he is displaying the court-covering, ball-walloping style he has perfected, which could come in handy when he plays 2016 French Open quarterfinalist David Goffin in the third round. "I don't like the word 'easy,' because when you win, it always looks easier," Nadal said. "I can say (I had) a comfortable victory. I have been in control most all the time. And that's the only thing that really matters." While plenty of the sport's big names still dot the men's bracket, the women's field keeps seeing top players depart. On Wednesday, No. 4 seed Kiki Bertens, a 2016 semifinalist and considered a contender for her first major title, quit during the first set of her match against Viktoria Kuzmova because she was sick. Tears filled Bertens' eyes as she described waking up at 3 a.m., feeling ill. "Vomiting. Diarrhea. All night long, all day long. I felt a little bit better before the match. I had some sleep, and I just wanted to give it a try," she said. "But then as soon as I start warming up right before the match, it started again. There was not any energy left." Bianca Andreescu, an 18-year-old Canadian who was seeded 22nd, pulled out before her match against 20-year-old American Sonia Kenin, citing an injured right shoulder that sidelined her from March until this week. Kenin will face the winner of Thursday's match between Serena Williams and Japanese qualifier Kurumi Nara. Bertens and Andreescu join two-time Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova, who withdrew before her first match because of an arm injury, and former No. 1s Angelique Kerber and Caroline Wozniacki, who both lost in the first round......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 30th, 2019

Nadal reaches Rome semis; Federer and Osaka withdraw injured

By Andrew Dampf, Associated Press ROME (AP) — Rafael Nadal put away Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-0 at the Italian Open on Friday and ought to be a little nervous. He's conceded only six games in six sets at the Foro Italico but he's reached the semifinals. Nadal has fallen in the semifinals of his last three tournaments — all on his favored clay. And next up is Stefanos Tsitsipas, whom Nadal lost to in Madrid last week. "I know what happened last week, and I (am) going to try to do it better tomorrow," Nadal said. "I have to hold the level or increase a little bit more. If that happens, I (am) going to have my chances. The good thing is during the last month my feeling is every week was better than the previous one." Tsitsipas, 20, is up to No. 7 in the rankings. "Every year, we make (a) prediction with the team which player is going to be at the top 10 at the end of the season," Nadal said. "I put Tsitsipas there. ... He started even better than what I (expected). He deserves to be where he is now." Meanwhile, Roger Federer and top-ranked Naomi Osaka withdrew before their quarterfinals because of injuries. Federer reported a right leg injury ahead of his match against Tsitsipas, and Osaka said her right hand was hurting before she was to play Kiki Bertens. Also reaching the last four was Diego Schwartzman, who beat Kei Nishikori for the first time in four tries, 6-4, 6-2, to reach his first Masters Series semifinal. Schwartzman, ranked 24th, will face top-ranked Novak Djokovic or Juan Martin del Potro. On the women's side, Karolina Pliskova rallied past former No. 1 Victoria Azarenka 6-7 (5), 6-2, 6-2 and will face qualifier Maria Sakkari, who rallied past Kristina Mladenovic 5-7, 6-3, 6-0. Bertens, who won the Madrid Open last week, will face Johanna Konta, who beat Marketa Vondrousova 6-3, 3-6, 6-1. Although Osaka won both of her matches on Thursday in straight sets, Federer, 37, had to labor for more than 2 ½ hours to overcome Borna Coric in his second time on court. Federer said after beating Coric that he slid on a wet line and his leg "was hurting a little bit." "I am disappointed that I will not be able to compete today. I am not 100 percent physically and, after consultation with my team, it was determined that I not play," Federer said. "Rome has always been one of my favorite cities to visit and I hope to be back next year." Later, Federer wrote on Instagram: "The fan reaction and crowd energy during my matches yesterday remind exactly why I am still competing on the ATP Tour." View this post on Instagram I had to take the tough decision this morning to pull out of the Italian Open as I am not feeling 100% physically. The fan reaction and crowd energy during my matches yesterday remind me exactly why I am still competing on the ATP Tour. Thank you Roma for an incredible week. Mazie Grille! ???? A presto!???????????????????? A post shared by Roger Federer (@rogerfederer) on May 17, 2019 at 7:14am PDT It's only the fourth time in Federer's career he has had a walkover loss, the ATP Tour said, adding the 20-time Grand Slam champion has never retired in 1,465 matches. Osaka couldn't immediately say how serious her injury is or if it will affect her status for Roland Garros, which starts in nine days. She had yet to see a doctor, but when she held her hand up for reporters, it was clearly swollen. "I woke up this morning and couldn't really move my thumb," Osaka said. "I tried to practice and grip my racket but I couldn't, and I kept feeling this pain when I tried to move my hand in different directions." Osaka's win on Thursday guaranteed she will remain No. 1 going into the French Open. "I didn't feel anything yesterday. That's why I'm kind of confused right now because I literally woke up in the morning and couldn't move my thumb," Osaka said. "So I was like, 'Maybe I slept on it and maybe it will go away.' But it didn't." Osaka also withdrew before a semifinal in Stuttgart, Germany, last month due to an abdominal injury, and she retired from her previous meeting with Bertens at last year's WTA Finals with a leg injury. "I feel like the ab thing could have been helped, but this one I don't think I could have helped it because I don't know what caused it," Osaka said. "I don't know why I have it.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2019

Federer loses to Thiem in Madrid Open quarterfinals

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Roger Federer's return to clay lasted only three matches. A day after saving two match points at the Madrid Open, Federer squandered two match points himself in the quarterfinals against Dominic Thiem on Friday, losing 3-6, 7-6 (11), 6-4. It may have ended his first appearance at a clay-court tournament in three years, but Federer wasn't leaving the Spanish capital too disappointed with the outcome of his return. "I feel very good about my game. I thought I had some good matches here," Federer said. "I feel good on the clay right now. It's been a good week. Frustrating, clearly. Losing with match points is the worst, so that's how I feel. But nevertheless, if I take a step back, it's all good." Federer skipped the clay swing the past two years to remain fit for the rest of the season. He decided to return this year in preparation for his first French Open appearance since 2015. The fifth-seeded Thiem, runner-up in Madrid the last two seasons, will next face top-ranked Novak Djokovic, who didn't have to play his quarterfinal after Marin Cilic withdrew because of food poisoning. Thiem has a chance to win his third title of the year after victories in Barcelona and Indian Wells, where he defeated Federer in a three-set final. "Facing him, it always requires my absolute best game and also a little bit luck, which I both had in Indian Wells and also here, and that's why I won these two matches," Thiem said. The other semifinal will be between Stefanos Tsitsipas and five-time Madrid champion Rafael Nadal. Tsitsipas defeated defending champion Alexander Zverev 7-5, 3-6, 6-2, while Nadal cruised past Stan Wawrinka 6-1, 6-2. Nadal lost only seven points on his service games, conceding no break opportunities against the 34th-ranked Wawrinka. The Swiss lost the 2013 Madrid final to Nadal. "It was one of my best matches in a long time, my best match on clay this year," the second-ranked Spaniard said. "It means a lot to have this feeling in this crucial moment of the clay season." On the women's side, Simona Halep made it back to the Madrid final for the first time since 2017 with a 6-2, 6-7 (2), 6-0 win over unseeded Belinda Bencic. The French Open champion can surpass Naomi Osaka for the No. 1 ranking if she wins Saturday's final. "I don't want to think about that. For me, it is more important to win the trophy here than being No. 1," the third-ranked Halep said. "I prefer titles than numbers and rankings. So this is my goal, to play finals and to win trophies." She will face last year's runner-up Kiki Bertens, who defeated Sloane Stephens 6-2, 7-5. The 37-year-old Federer was trying to win his third Madrid title, and first since 2012. He has already won hard-court titles this season in Dubai and Miami. Federer got off to a great start against Thiem at the Magic Box center court, breaking the Austrian's serve early and cruising to a first-set win. He squandered five break points in the second, and then had match points at 8-7 and 10-9 in the tiebreaker before Thiem forced the deciding set by converting his sixth set point. Federer had saved two match points in his difficult three-set win over Gael Monfils on Thursday. Thiem broke Federer for the first time in the third game of the third set, converting his ninth break opportunity of the match. Federer got back on serve at 4-4, but started his next game 0-40 and couldn't recover. Thiem then served out for the victory, converting on his second match point. Thiem has won the last two matches he played against Djokovic, who got the day off because of Cilic's withdrawal. "It was supposed to be definitely a good match," said Djokovic, who has played only four sets this week. "I went back on the court, trained for another hour and got a good sweat in. Happy that I'm going to be fresh for my semifinal." The top-seeded Serb is seeking a third Madrid Open title, and his second of the season after winning the Australian Open. Thiem lost the Madrid final to Nadal in 2017 and to Alexander Zverev in 2018. "I was playing Novak last year and two years ago and he was not at his best I guess, and now he is again," Thiem said. "He's won the last three Slams and he is at the top of the ranking again. So the challenge couldn't be bigger.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 11th, 2019

A tournament without Djokovic to hit home in Australia

DENNIS PASSA, AP Sports Writer br /> MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — The stark reality of an Australian Open third round without Novak Djokovic — for the first time in 11 years — hits home on Saturday when the remaining players in his half of the draw, Rafael Nadal and Milos Raonic among them, attempt to advance to the second week of the tournament. Djokovic was beaten on Thursday in five sets by wild-card entry Denis Istomin, the earliest that the Serbian star has left Melbourne Park in singles since his first appearance here in 2006 when he was beaten by American Paul Goldstein in the first round. 'What Novak did here is just amazing, six victories here, six titles ... so it is not possible to be every time in that situation, no?' Nadal said after his second-round win. 'So then today was probably an accident, that's all. We are athletes. We know when we are going on court we can lose and we can win. It probably was a combination that Denis played a great match and Novak didn't play his best. When this combination happens, then you are in trouble. Everything can happen. And (it) happened.' Istomin, meanwhile, plays on. He's up against 30th-ranked Pablo Carreno Busta on Show Court 2 on Friday. Here's a look at some of the key matchups Saturday: ___ RAFA'S TOUGH ASSIGNMENT: Nadal plays 19-year-old Alexander Zverev in an afternoon match at Rod Laver Arena. The young German was voted the ATP Star of Tomorrow in 2015 and has mostly lived up to the hype, seeded 24th here. 'He is one of the best players in the world, without a doubt ... and one of the next Grand Slam winners,' Nadal said. 'He has a big chance to become the future world No. 1 if he's able to keep improving the way that he's doing.' Nadal has been playing well since his return to the circuit after two lengthy injury spells last year, the 14-time major winner looking almost flawless in his straight sets win over Marcos Baghdatis in the second round. Still, he's expecting to have his hands full with Zverev: 'I know I have a very tough match ... I know I need to play my best if I want to have a chance.' ___ A SERENA BREATHER?: Six-time Australian Open champion Serena Williams had two fairly tough matches through the first two rounds, facing Belinda Bencic, a former No. 7-ranked player now sitting at 59, and Lucie Safarova, ranked No. 61 but who Williams beat in the 2015 French Open final. Williams won both matches in straight sets. Her third-round match is against fellow American Nicole Gibbs, who Williams beat in straight sets at Stanford in 2012 in their only previous meeting. Williams said she feels she's better for the experience of having had tough opposition in the first two rounds. 'When I play players like Bencic and Safarova, they force me to play better,' Williams said. 'It forces my game from the very first day to be at a high level. I needed something to start really fast. I'm not going to complain about it.' ___ CONTRASTING STYLES: Third-seeded Milos Raonic plays Gilles Simon on Hisense Arena and the Canadian holds a 3-1 edge in career meetings. Their only Grand Slam match came in the fourth round of the 2014 French Open, when Raonic won in five sets, including 7-5 in the fifth. 'I know a lot about his game. I've watched him play a lot,' Raonic said. 'He's going to be there really trying to get me to play at his speed, his rhythm. Obviously he tries to slow things down, play low. I won't have the opportunity to get too many swings at many shots.' Which means Raonic, with one of the best serves in the game, will try to get points over quickly. 'I've got to serve well and I've got to be aggressive and I've got to take it to him. The last thing I want to do is get into this sort of game of playing long rallies with him.' ___ KONTA vs WOZNIACKI: Last year's semifinalist Johanna Konta and Caroline Wozniacki, a former No. 1 who made it to the final four here in 2011, meet for the first time in an afternoon match at Margaret Court Arena. Both have been playing well, Konta coming off a win in the Sydney International last week, and Wozniacki having dropped just seven games in her first two matches at Melbourne Park. 'She had a good last year,' Wozniacki said. 'But at the end of the day, it doesn't matter who is on the other side.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 20th, 2017

Raonic beats Nadal, keeps Brisbane title defense on track

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal was up a set and had a break point against defending champion Milos Raonic when he sent a forehand just wide. It was a mistake the 14-time Grand Slam champion wouldn't recover from. Raonic made the most of the reprieve, holding serve in that fifth game of the second set and then attacking Nadal's serve in the eighth to swing the momentum his way in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 quarterfinal win Friday at the Brisbane International. The top-seeded Raonic broke Nadal's serve again to start the third set, and calmly held on for only his second win in eight matches against the Spaniard. Raonic served 23 aces and hit 50 winners to just 19 for Nadal, who could only convert one of his seven break-point opportunities. As well as the big, deep service returns, Raonic also repeatedly went to the net, trusting his instincts and putting pressure on Nadal. 'Today the mentality behind the match was what sort of kept me around,' Raonic said. 'Some moments things weren't looking great. I wasn't efficient coming forward. I was missing some shots I shouldn't be. I was rushing. 'But at least I kept myself there, and I was able to always recuperate the next point. That's what I have to be most proud of.' Nadal, coming back from a layoff after an injured left wrist curtailed the end of his 2016 season, beat Raonic in an exhibition tournament last week. But Raonic played with more intensity in Brisbane, and Nadal said a couple of lapses were costly. 'Probably if I put that passing shot forehand cross, I had the break in the second set, big chance that we will be here one hour before with a victory,' Nadal said. 'That passing shot was long, and that's it. Then he had the break and match changes.' Nadal said three wins at the exhibition tournament, two wins and a close result in Brisbane gave him confidence his progress was good ahead of the Australian Open, where he is desperate to make amends for a surprising first-round exit last year. Still in contention to start back-to-back seasons with a Brisbane title, Raonic will play seventh-seeded Grigor Dimitrov — a 6-3, 4-6, 6-3 winner over No. 4 Dominic Thiem — in the semifinals. U.S. Open champion Stan Wawrinka and third-seeded Kei Nishikori will meet in the other semifinal match. The second-seeded Wawrinka beat unseeded Kyle Edmund 6-7 (2), 6-4, 6-4 to reach the semifinals in his first trip to the Brisbane tournament. In the previous three years, Wawrinka won the title in Chennai in the first week of the season before heading to Australia for the season's first major. Wawrkina has a 4-3 lead over Nishikori in career head-to-heads, including the semifinals at the U.S. Open last year, but Nishikori won two of the three meetings in 2016. Nishikori has now reached the semifinals four times in seven visits to the Brisbane International, needing just an hour for a 6-1, 6-1 quarterfinal win over Australian wild-card entry Jordan Thompson. 'I think I played one of the best matches so far, really dominating from the baseline and serving good today,' Nishikori said. 'Everything was working well.' U.S. Open finalist Karolina Pliskova will play Alize Cornet in the women's final on Saturday. Cornet was leading 4-1 when French Open champion Garbine Muguruza retired with a right thigh injury. Pliskova beat sixth-seeded Elina Svitolina 6-2, 6-4 in the other semifinal match. 'A little bit of luck never killed anybody,' said Cornet, who finished last year ranked No. 46 but now expects to be seeded at the Australian Open. 'I'm just going to take it. I really enjoy the fact that I'm in the final. It's a big day for me, yeah.' Muguruza didn't think the injury setback would trouble her at the Australian Open. 'It will not stop me,' Muguruza said. 'Cornet was playing good. I couldn't match her level today. I had some pains, and I thought it was smarter to take care of my body.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 6th, 2017

Nadal in Australia, still aiming to contend for major titles

JOHN PYE, AP Sports Writer br /> BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal cuddled a koala on the banks of the river, something that has become a customary photo opportunity for celebrity players on debut at the Brisbane International. The 14-time major winner has altered his preparation for the Australian Open, hoping a change of venues for the warmup tournaments will bring a change of luck at the season's first Grand Slam tournament after a shocking first-round exit in 2016. Nadal kicked off his season with a win in an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi on New Year's Eve, then headed directly to Australia to fine-tune at the Brisbane International in preference to remaining in the Gulf for the event in Doha. 'I played well in Abu Dhabi ... I played three good matches, and that's important for me,' Nadal said Monday after the brief meet-and-greet with a local politician and a native marsupial. 'I really hope the good matches I played in Abu Dhabi helps me for here.' The 30-year-old Spaniard is playing in Brisbane for the first time, replacing Roger Federer as the tournament's male draw card. He has a tricky opener against Alexandr Dolgopolov and, if he gets through that, a potential quarterfinal against top-seeded Milos Raonic, the defending champion. Nadal is coming off a left wrist injury that curtailed his 2016 season, and thinks the extra time in Australia will help him prepare to win his first major title since the 2014 French Open. Until last year, he had reached the quarterfinals or better at every Australian Open he had contested since 2007, including victory in '09 and runs to the final in 2012 and '14. The wrist injury last year forced Nadal to withdraw from the French Open before the third round and skip Wimbledon. He won the Olympic doubles gold medal for Spain in Rio de Janeiro, but he struggled with the pain and didn't win a title on a surface other than clay in 2016. 'Last year that I was playing great, I get injured in the worst moment possible,' he said. 'I'm happy to be back on the competition again. Abu Dhabi was a good start. I need to continue that way.' Despite his struggles with injury and the recent dominance of Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic, Nadal thinks he can still contend for the Grand Slam titles. 'Being here in Brisbane is good news for me,' he said, two weeks before the Australian Open starts. 'I don't know if that's going to help me or not — I can tell you after Melbourne, I cannot predict the future. 'The only thing I can say is if I am healthy, I believe that I can do it. If not, I (would) be at home fishing.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJan 3rd, 2017

Djokovic wins longest point ever recorded at Wimbledon

By Mattias Karen, Associated Press WIMBLEDON, England (AP) — Going by the number of strokes, it was the longest point ever recorded at Wimbledon. And for Novak Djokovic, it went a long way toward putting him into another final at the All England Club. After exchanging dozens of strokes during the third set of his semifinal match against Roberto Bautista Agut on Friday, Djokovic finally smacked a backhand down the line with the 45th shot of the rally to save a break point. The defending champion held serve to make it 5-2 and went on to win the match 6-2, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2. According to official statistics, the 45-stroke rally was the longest at Wimbledon since they started tracking point lengths in 2005. But for Djokovic, the important part was the impact it had on what was a very closely-fought duel up until that stage. "At one stage of the match, it could have gone (a) different way. Was very close in the third set," said Djokovic, who faces Roger Federer in Sunday's final as he goes for a fifth Wimbledon title. "Couple of very long games when I broke his serve and he had some break points, a very long rally. I managed to make a winner down the line with a backhand. Obviously winning that game was crucial for me. It gave me more confidence and relief so I could swing more freely in the next games." Aside from the number of strokes, the point itself was perhaps not that memorable. For much of it, both players seemed content with just hitting the ball back over the net and waiting for the other to make a mistake. The last 18 strokes were all crosscourt backhands, with the players remaining in more or less the same position until Djokovic finally switched it up with his shot straight down the line. That was at 30-40, and Bautista Agut had missed a previous break point as well at 15-40, which he said made him a bit more cautious on his second opportunity. "I had an easy forehand (on the first break point). I went too much for it," the Spaniard said. "Then the next point I wanted to play — I didn't want to take a risk on the point, to play long, to play a good rally. Was maybe one of the best points of the match." The previous Wimbledon record was 42 strokes, set in a 2006 match between Jarkko Nieminen and Dmitry Tursunov. The women's record is 39, set in a 2007 match between Nathalie Dechy and Elena Dementieva. Rallies on grass are usually shorter than on clay or hard courts. SECOND CHANCE Barbora Strycova made a Wimbledon final after all — in women's doubles. A day after losing to Serena Williams in the singles semifinals, Strycova teamed up with Hsieh Su-wei to beat top-seeded Timea Bagos and Kristina Mladenovic 7-6 (5), 6-4 and reach her first Grand Slam final. Strycova has 26 doubles titles in her career but lost in the semifinals twice at both the Australian Open and U.S. Open and once at the French Open. Hsieh won the 2013 Wimbledon and 2014 French Open doubles titles. The third-seeded pair will play No. 4 Yifan Xu and Gabriela Dabrowski, who beat Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova 6-1, 3-6, 6-3. JUNIOR FINALS Shintaro Mochizuki became the first Japanese player to reach a junior boys' Grand Slam singles final after outlasting fourth-seeded American Martin Damm 6-1, 0-6, 10-8. The eighth-seeded Mochizuki will play Carlos Gimeno Valero of Spain, who beat Harold Mayot of France 7-6 (5), 6-4. Gimeno Valero will also be playing his first Grand Slam final. In the junior girls' final, Alexa Noel of the United States will face Daria Snigur of Ukraine. Noel beat Diane Parry of France 6-2, 6-1, and Snigur defeated Emma Navarro of the United States 6-3, 6-0......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2019

Federer, Nadal clash in French Open semis blockbuster

      PARIS, France – Roger Federer set up a mouthwatering French Open semifinal clash with Rafael Nadal on Tuesday, June 4, when he defeated Stan Wawrinka in 4 sets to become the oldest men's Grand Slam semifinalist in 28 years. The 37-year-old Swiss beat his compatriot 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJun 5th, 2019

Nishikori wins 2-day five-setter, Djokovic easily advances

By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — When it comes to the deciding set, count on Kei Nishikori. The Japanese player won his eighth consecutive five-set match on Monday to defeat Benoit Paire 6-2, 6-7 (8), 6-2, 6-7 (8), 7-5 over two days and set up a quarterfinal match against defending champion Rafael Nadal at the French Open. In a match ridden with unforced errors that featured 15 breaks of serve but also some beautiful shots, Nishikori prevailed after a nearly four-hour battle. Their fourth-round match had been suspended by darkness on Sunday, with Nishikori leading two sets to one. Nishikori extended his impressive record in five-set matches to 23-6, including a 6-1 mark at the clay-court Grand Slam. He also holds the best percentage of wins in deciding sets (132-45) — either in best-of-five or best-of-three matches — since the Open Era began in 1968. In damp conditions, Paire's all-risk tennis was working when they came back on court. The Frenchman saved two match points in the fourth-set tiebreaker and served for the match at 5-3, but he was finally made to rue his awful mistakes. "He was serving for the match, and I just tried to play one point at a time," Nishikori said. Paire hit 15 double-faults and 79 unforced errors. "Never easy to finish a match," Paire said. "It was tough emotionally. I'm very sad to lose this match but glad for what I did this week." Nishikori will play in a third quarterfinal match in Paris but faces a tall order in the next round. Nadal has won 10 of their 12 previous matches, including all three matches on clay. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic had an easier time against 45th-ranked Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany, becoming the first man to reach the French Open quarterfinals 10 years in a row with a 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory. His quarterfinal opponent will be No. 5 Alexander Zverev or No. 9 Fabio Fognini. In the women's draw, Sofia Kenin and Katerina Siniakova could not follow up their upsets of Serena Williams and Naomi Osaka. Kenin lost to eighth-seeded Ash Barty 6-3, 3-6, 6-0, while 14th-seeded Madison Keys advanced to last eight for the second straight year with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over Siniakova. Keys and Barty will face off in the quarterfinals. "It's going to be a tough one," said Keys, a semifinalist in Paris last year. "I feel like clay actually suits her game really well with her kick serve and slice.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJun 3rd, 2019

Nadal opens bid for 12th French Open title against qualifier

By Samuel Petrequin, Associated Press PARIS (AP) — Rafael Nadal will start his campaign for a record-extending 12th title at the French Open against a qualifier. And if he makes it to the second round of the clay-court Grand Slam, another qualifier will be waiting. The defending champion was handed what looked like quite an easy draw Thursday at Roland Garros stadium, where the Spanish player attended the ceremony and said he was happy with his form. Nadal won his first title of the season last week at the Italian Open, where he looked close to his best after some uncharacteristic struggles on clay. "It was an important title for me," Nadal said. "I played very well throughout the tournament, I'm very happy to find myself in this situation." In the women's draw, Simona Halep will open the defense of her title against Ajla Tomljanovic. Top-ranked Naomi Osaka, who seeks a third consecutive major championship, will be up against Anna Karolína Schmiedlová. Coming to Paris with only one clay-court match since last year's French Open, 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams was drawn into the top half of the draw with Osaka and Halep. She will take on Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round. Osaka will be up against a tough opponent if she gets past Schmiedlova, facing the winner of a first-round match pitting 2017 champion Jelena Ostapenko and former top-ranked player Victoria Azarenka. Nadal, who last year became the first male player to win 11 titles at the same Grand Slam tournament, could meet his old foe Roger Federer in the semifinals. Federer, in his first French Open match since 2015, will face Lorenzo Sonego of Italy and could face Stefanos Tsitsipas in a potential quarterfinal matchup. Federer is back on clay after skipping that part o the season for the past two years. He reached the quarterfinals in Madrid and Rome, where he withdrew because of a right leg injury. Top-ranked Novak Djokovic will begin his run against Hubert Hurkacz. The Serb has been enjoying a good run of form during the clay season, winning the title in Madrid before losing to Nadal in Rome. Organizers announced before the draw that Tomas Berdych and Milos Raonic had withdrawn from the tournament, which starts on Sunday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 24th, 2019