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Roger, Serena, Rafa bring best to Wimbledon s Centre Court

Roger Federer of Switzerland celebrates defeating France's Adrian Mannarino in their men's singles match, on day seven of the Wimbledon Tennis Championships, in London, Monday July 9, 201.....»»

Category: newsSource: philippinetimes philippinetimesJul 10th, 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 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

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2018

US OPEN 18: On the clock! 25-second countdown s Slam debut

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press Any discussion of the serve clocks that will make their Grand Slam debut during the U.S. Open's main draw starting Monday, and could become a regular part of tennis as soon as next year, inevitably turns to Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. They are two of the greatest players in history — and two of the slowest between points. For one thing, Djokovic's incessant bouncing of the ball before a service toss delays things. So do Nadal's habitual mannerisms: the touching of the nose, the tucking of the hair, the grabbing at the shorts, and on it goes. And while neither was a big fan of introducing digital readouts on court to show the 25-second countdown before each first serve, the two men with a combined 30 Grand Slam singles titles seem ready to accept that they must abide by a change intended to add uniformity to their sport. "I just need to go faster," Nadal said, matter-of-factly. Djokovic's take: "I'm pretty comfortable with it." Both got a chance to see what this new, stricter world will look like during a test run at a handful of hard-court tuneup tournaments over the past month. "Some of the guys might think this is targeted to them," said Gayle Bradshaw, the executive vice president for rules and competition on the men's tour. Referring to Nadal and Djokovic, specifically, Bradshaw added: "They'll adjust. And I think for Rafa, it's going to be a benefit: Him wearing down the other guy." The U.S. Tennis Association, ATP and WTA are tracking what competitors, spectators and TV broadcasters make of the new system. Reviews from players so far have mostly been positive or indifferent, although Serena Williams said she's "not a fan of it at all." "You're aware of it. You certainly look at it and notice it. I do think it's a good thing," said Andy Murray, a three-time major champion. "It's one of those things in tennis that is so stupid: The players were sort of expected to sort of be counting to 25 in their head. ... How are you supposed to know how much time you're actually taking?" Wimbledon semifinalist John Isner and others noted they would step to the line to serve and still have plenty of time — sometimes 10 seconds or more — left, enabling them to catch their breath or think about how to approach the next point. "I didn't feel rushed at all, by any means," Isner said. "Maybe it can slow you down." That might have contributed to one unintended consequence during the three men's tournaments where clocks were used for qualifying and main draws: longer matches. It's a small sample size, and, of course, it's dependent on the particulars of individual contests — nearly 30 percent more matches went to 7-5 or a tiebreaker in the third set in 2018 than 2017 at those events. But third sets lasted an average of 5 minutes longer this year than last year. First sets were nearly 1 1/2 minutes longer this year while second sets were a minute shorter. Servers were warned 74 times and returners received nine warnings at the ATP and WTA tournaments with the clocks. It's possible this setup will become more widespread as soon as 2019; the ATP Board could consider that for the men's tour during its U.S. Open meeting. The amount of time taken between points has been a subject of discussion in tennis for quite a while now, just as other sports are concerned about whether events that take too long are losing viewers in this age of short attention spans and competition for eyeballs (take Major League Baseball's limits on mound visits, time between innings and movement toward a pitch clock). "This just makes it a little more transparent, a little more visible," U.S. Open tournament director David Brewer said. "North American fans are used to shot clocks. They actually expect this sort of thing." There already was a time limit in tennis, but it was entirely up to a chair umpire's discretion, because no one — most importantly players, but also folks in the stands and TV viewers — knew exactly how many seconds had elapsed. Now it will be apparent to everyone, much like a shot clock in the NBA and college basketball or a play clock in the NFL and college football. The serve clocks — along with a strict 7-minute period from when players enter a court until a match begins, also shown on digital readouts — were tested during 2017 U.S. Open qualifying. The basics of the serve clock: After announcing the score, chair umpires start the countdown (they have leeway to wait if a particularly long point merits an extra pause). If the 25 seconds expire before the service motion begins on a first serve, the server will receive a warning, then be assessed a fault for each subsequent violation (second serves are supposed to happen without delay, so clocks won't be used). If the returner isn't ready at the end of 25 seconds, first comes a warning, then the loss of a point with every other violation. The basics of the pre-match period: Clocks will count a minute from when players step on court until the coin toss, 5 minutes for the warmup, then another minute until the opening point. Delays can result in fines of up to $20,000, according to USTA spokesman Chris Widmaier. He said players already have been docked as much as $1,500 during recent tournaments. "The intent is not to fine players. The intent is to get players used to this new procedure and also to truly build consistency," Widmaier said, "so the matches start when they're supposed to start for television and for fans.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 26th, 2018

Isner, Anderson agree: Wimbledon needs 5th-set tiebreaker

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — John Isner already had won the longest match in Wimbledon — and tennis — history. And now he's lost the second-longest one ever played at the All England Club. So there's not much better an authority to weigh in on whether it's time for fifth-set tiebreakers at all Grand Slam tournaments. Actually, both Isner and Kevin Anderson, the man who won their Wimbledon semifinal 26-24 in the final set after more than 6 1/2 hours Friday, agree a switch is necessary. "I'm a proponent of changing that rule, for sure," Isner said. "I think it needs to be done." The 33-year-old American is best known, of course, for beating Nicolas Mahut 70-68 in the fifth set of an 11-hour, 5-minute match that was contested over three days in Wimbledon's first round in 2010. This one seems rather tidy by comparison: Anderson won 7-6 (6), 6-7 (5), 6-7 (9), 6-4, 26-24. Still, Isner did jokingly ask chair umpire Marija Cicak at one point during the last set whether they could play a tiebreaker. That's how the U.S. Open settles things at 6-all in the fifth set of a men's singles match — or at 6-all in the third set for women — and has since 1970. But the other three Grand Slam tournaments all play on until one player wins by two games. "It's way beyond a normal tennis match or tactics. I mean, it's just who's going to outlast each other," said Anderson, a 32-year-old from South Africa who is seeking his first major trophy. "It's pretty tough in the format that we have right now, especially at Slams. I mean, it's not easy in that setting at the end." He and Isner suggested one possible compromise: a tiebreaker at 12-all. "A sensible option," Isner called it. Anderson noted that some members of the Centre Court crowd were ready for his match to end, so that the day's second semifinal, between Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, could begin. One spectator called out, "Come on, guys! We want to see Rafa!" "If you ask most of them, I'm sure they would have preferred to see a fifth-set tiebreaker, too. They've paid to see two matches, and they came pretty close to only seeing one match," Anderson said. "I don't see the other opposing view of not incorporating a fifth-set tiebreaker at all the Slams." Now he's going to have to use Saturday to try to rest and recover so he can give it his best shot in Sunday's final. Isner had nothing left to give after his 70-68 record-setter eight years ago, and lost his next match. Of course, Isner would love to have to deal with such problems now. He also would love it if this were never again an issue. "I think it's long overdue," Isner said. "I mean, I'm a big part of that, a big part of this discussion, of course.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

The clash: World Cup, Wimbledon men s finals could overlap

By Howard Fendrich and Ronald Blum, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — Roger Federer almost sounded offended when asked whether he would be concerned about Centre Court spectators paying too much attention to the World Cup final during the Wimbledon men's singles final. "I'm more concerned the World Cup final will have issues because the Wimbledon final is going on," he quipped. "They'll hear every point, 'Wow, love-15, 15-30.' The players are going to look up in the crowd and not understand what's going on at Wimbledon." "That's how important Wimbledon is to me," the eight-time champion said, before he was eliminated in the quarterfinals this week, "and to us over here." What's a viewer to choose this Sunday? The Wimbledon final between the man who beat Federer, Kevin Anderson, and Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic could be only about halfway done in London when the World Cup final between France and Croatia kicks off in Moscow. This year's soccer final starts at 11 a.m. EDT, an unusual time: nine of the 10 World Cup finals from 1978 through 2014 started in the 2-3:30 p.m. EDT range. The exception was the 2002 finale in Japan, which began at 7 a.m. EDT. "I'm sure the change they made was to maximize their audience worldwide, considering the time in China, Japan, Russia, all the other major countries," said former CBS Sports President Neal Pilson, now an industry consultant. The soccer game begins at 6 p.m. local time at Luzhniki Stadium, which is 5 p.m. in Paris and Zagreb. The shift appears aimed at soccer's ever-increasing Asian audience, with the start time at 11 p.m. in Tokyo and midnight in Beijing. Four of FIFA's 11 top-level partners and sponsors are Chinese companies. "The kickoff times for the FIFA World Cup were set in cooperation with a range of stakeholders and taking into account a number of aspects such as the global broadcast market and feasibility for the fans — both in terms of attending the matches and reaching a wide TV audience," soccer's governing body said in an email to The Associated Press. In the U.S., the soccer is on Fox and the tennis on ESPN. In Britain, the soccer is on both BBC1 and ITV, and the tennis on BBC1. Tennis would switch to BBC2 if the finals overlap. "In due respect to the All England Club, the finals of Wimbledon is a blip on the radar when you're talking about the World Cup final," Pilson said. "It's unfortunate, and it does hurt in the United States, where tennis has a significant audience." Dates for the World Cup final have ranged from June 10 to July 30, and each has been on a Sunday except for the first tournament in Uruguay in 1930, played on a Wednesday, and the 1966 tournament in England, which finished on a Saturday at Wembley. The Wimbledon's men's singles final was scheduled for a Saturday through 1981. The World Cup final has twice been the same day as the men's singles final, on July 8, 1990, in Rome, and on July 9, 2006, in Berlin. Those soccer matches started at 8 p.m. local time (2 p.m. EDT), about two hours after the tennis ended: Stefan Edberg's 6-2, 6-2, 3-6, 3-6, 6-4 win over Boris Becker in 1990, and Federer's 6-0, 7-6 (5), 6-7 (2), 6-3 win over Nadal in 2006. The roots of this year's conflict go back six years. The All England Club announced in July 2012 that it would increase the time between the end of the French Open and the start of Wimbledon from two weeks to three starting in 2015, allowing players extra time to adjust to the switch from clay courts to grass. FIFA's executive council announced World Cup kickoff times in December 2015. Wimbledon never had any intent to alter the start time of its final, traditionally about 2:10 p.m. local (9:10 a.m. EDT). Its large-screen videoboard on Henman Hill will remain tuned to tennis. Pressure for a shift would have increased had England beaten Croatia and advanced to its first final since winning the World Cup in 1966. "We're very comfortable with the long-term view that we take," said Richard Lewis, chief executive of the All England Club. "We're not driven by short-term decisions, whether it be TV ratings or sponsorship. Wimbledon takes a long-term view. (The World Cup) is for this year. It's a one-year happening. And for the future, we'll still be at 2 o'clock on the Sunday. Nothing changes, from our point of view." ___ Fendrich reported from London......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 14th, 2018

Federer shocked at Wimbledon as Nadal and Djokovic set up semifinal date

LONDON -- Eight-time champion Roger Federer was sensationally knocked out of Wimbledon on Wednesday by South African giant Kevin Anderson while Rafael Nadal edged Juan Martin del Potro in a Centre Court epic and will meet Novak Djokovic in the semifinals......»»

Category: financeSource:  bworldonlineRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

Finished with a hug: Nadal edges del Potro in 5 at Wimbledon

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press LONDON (AP) — When the 4 hours, 48 minutes of diving across the grass and leaping into the stands, of slipping and sliding, of so many moments of great tension — and, above all, great tennis — were done, when Rafael Nadal had sealed his Wimbledon quarterfinal victory, the man he edged, Juan Martin del Potro, was face-down at a Centre Court baseline. "I wanted to stay there," del Potro said afterward, "all night long." He did hold that pose, a mixture of full-on despair and utter exhaustion, for a bit, which felt appropriate. So, too, did what happened next after Nadal won 7-5, 6-7 (7), 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 Wednesday and earned a trip to the semifinals at the All England Club for the first time since 2011: He went over to give del Potro a lengthy hug. Then they walked to the sideline together, arms draped across each other's shoulders. "Emotional match for both of us," said Nadal, who is ranked No. 1 and seeded No. 2 and won two of his 17 major championships at Wimbledon. "And for the fans, too." Now Nadal will face longtime rival Novak Djokovic in the semifinals Friday. It will be their 52nd career meeting; Djokovic leads 26-25. Djokovic, a 12-time major champ whose resume includes three trophies at the All England Club, advanced earlier Wednesday with a four-set victory over Kei Nishikori that didn't require nearly as much energy or effort as what followed on Centre Court. And Nadal rued failing to take control against del Potro much earlier. Nadal could have gone up two sets to none after leading 6-3 in the tiebreaker. But he blew those three set points, the last with a double-fault he later called "a big mistake." Nadal wasted a fourth chance at 7-6, before letting 2009 U.S. Open champion del Potro grab three points in a row for that set. After del Potro also took the third, repeatedly taking points with his thunderclap of a forehand, Nadal knew he needed to make some adjustments. The most important was pushing forward: The Spaniard went to the net a total of 23 times over the first three sets, and upped that to 24 over the last two, winning the point on 19 of those. At 1-all in the fifth, del Potro jumped to his right, rolling along the turf and losing his racket, for a volley winner, and then celebrated by raising both arms. Later in that 14-point, four-deuce game, Nadal chased a ball to no avail, sprinting so hard he was carried all the way over to the seats. He stepped on the short wall and landed in the lap of a female spectator. Soon, Nadal gained the upper hand, shaking off a hard fall onto his back on one point by whipping a cross-court backhand winner on the next to break for a 3-2 lead. That never really felt like much of a cushion, though. In the next game, Nadal staved off two break points, the first when he used his never-give-up-on-a-ball defense to stretch a point and del Potro pushed a forehand way long. Del Potro put both hands on his head. "Against Rafa," del Potro said, "you must go for winners all the time." Then, at 4-3, they played an epic 18-point game that featured six deuces and another trio of break points for del Potro, none of which he managed to convert. Soon enough, del Potro was down on his belly after one last slip, as Nadal finished off the victory with a volley. "Rafa is a fighter," del Potro said. "Also, he has a fantastic game.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 12th, 2018

Roger Federer knocked out of Wimbledon after wasting match point

LONDON --- Roger Federer was a point away from a rather tidy, straight-set victory in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. One lousy point. And then it all came apart for the eight-time champion against an opponent who'd never beaten him before nor made it this far at the All England Club. In a stunning turnaround in an unfamiliar setting --- Court No. 1 instead of Centre Court --- the No. 1-seeded Federer blew a match point and, eventually, all of a big lead in a 2-6, 6-7 (5), 7-5, 6-4, 13-11 loss to No. 8 Kevin Anderson on Wednesday. How hard was it to see this coming? Federer was 4-0 against Anderson entering the day, winning every set they'd ever played against each other. Bu...Keep on reading: Roger Federer knocked out of Wimbledon after wasting match point.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 11th, 2018

35 service points, 26 sets in a row at Wimbledon for Federer

LONDON --- As Roger Federer was winning 35 consecutive service points at Wimbledon on Wednesday --- yes, 35 in a row --- a Centre Court spectator cheered him on while wearing a red shirt with white lettering that said, "PeRFect." He comes pretty close to living up to that at times. Federer moved into the third round at the All England Club as he chases his record-extending ninth championship there, using close-to-impeccable serving to beat 73rd-ranked Lukas Lacko of Slovakia 6-4, 6-4, 6-1. The 36-year-old Federer compiled 48 winners and just 11 unforced errors. He won 40 of 43 first-serve points, never faced a break chance, and delivered 16 aces. "Sometimes your serve ...Keep on reading: 35 service points, 26 sets in a row at Wimbledon for Federer.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 5th, 2018

Miss or Mrs? Serena’s marriage shows Wimbledon’s use of courtesy titles

LONDON --- Serena Williams' recent marriage has shined a spotlight on one of Wimbledon's many quirky traditions. Suddenly "Miss Williams" has become "Mrs. Williams" in the words of chair umpires --- a small change that has led to bigger-picture questions about whether the All England Club is too old-fashioned. Only the women at the grass-court Grand Slam are addressed with a title before their names to reflect their marital status. In other words, when a chair umpire announces that Serena has won a game, it's, "Game, Mrs. Williams." For her sister Venus, it's, "Game, Miss Williams." And for Roger Federer, it's simply: "Game, Federer." It's a difference that is ...Keep on reading: Miss or Mrs? Serena’s marriage shows Wimbledon’s use of courtesy titles.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 5th, 2018

Federer loses his initials, still wins at Wimbledon

LONDON --- Roger Federer didn't need his initials to sign off on another masterful display at Wimbledon. He's hoping to get them back soon, though. Federer's stylish "RF" logo was missing from his outfit as he stepped out on Centre Court on Monday to begin his title defense with a quick 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win over Dusan Lajovic. So was the Nike swoosh that has been an ever-present adornment during his 15 years of tennis dominance. The eyebrow-raising new look was a result of switching apparel sponsors to Japanese clothing company Uniqlo, despite the Swiss star's name having been synonymous with Nike ever since winning his first Grand Slam title at Wimbledon in 2003. And while ...Keep on reading: Federer loses his initials, still wins at Wimbledon.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2018

New-look Federer breezes in Wimbledon furnace

LONDON, United Kingdom – Defending champion Roger Federer marked the start of his 20th successive Wimbledon with a new look and a comfortable 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win over Serbia's Dusan Lajovic on Monday, July 2. Top seed Federer marched out on Centre Court dressed for the first time in gear designed ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJul 2nd, 2018

Serena happy to plant seed of doubt for Wimbledon rivals

All eyes will be on Serena Williams when Wimbledon gets underway next week as the seven-time champion bids to win her first Grand Slam crown since becoming a mother. Williams' two-year reign as Wimbledon champion ended 12 months ago when she missed the grass-court Grand Slam while she prepared for the September birth of her first child. In the American's absence, Spain's Garbine Muguruza won Wimbledon for the first time with a final victory over Serena's sister Venus. Winning Wimbledon for the eighth time in her 18th visit -- coinciding with the event's 150th anniversary -- would be another memorable moment for Serena on the Centre Court she regards as a second home. But ...Keep on reading: Serena happy to plant seed of doubt for Wimbledon rivals.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsJun 26th, 2018

Nadal and Djokovic to renew rivalry in Italian Open semis

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 19th, 2018

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

Del Potro advances to 2nd round at Shanghai Masters

SHANGHAI (AP) — Juan Martin del Potro needed all three sets to reach the second round at the Shanghai Masters, beating Georgian qualifier Nikoloz Basilashvili 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 on Monday. Del Potro, a Shanghai semifinalist in 2013, struggled with his second serve. Although he won 40 of 49 points on his first serve, he only captured 13 of 30 second-serve points. American qualifier Frances Tiafoe advanced to the second round by beating Benoit Paire 6-4, 6-4. The 92nd-ranked Tiafoe was playing in his first main draw match since a five-set loss to Roger Federer at the U.S. Open. Tiafoe will play either 10th-seeded Sam Querrey or Yuichi Sugita in the second round. 'I hope I play Sam, two Americans, so their will be an American in the third round,' Tiafoe said. Chung Hyeon also advanced, defeating ninth-seeded Roberto Bautista Agut 6-4, 6-3. Chung saved all four break points he faced against last year's finalist. 'Today, I was trying to stay calm all the time in the match,' said Chung, who only won one game when he played Bautista Agut in Dubai in 2016. 'I won today so I did everything good.' Also, Feliciano Lopez advanced by beating Ivo Karlovic 7-6 (1), 7-6 (6), while Andrey Rublev and Greek qualifier Stefanos Tsitsipas also made it through. Federer, who won the title in Shanghai in 2004, will play his opening match on Wednesday. The Australian Open and Wimbledon champion hasn't played at an official tournament since losing in the U.S. Open quarterfinals. 'I'm playing just the big tournaments now,' Federer said. 'I've been practicing for hours on the Centre Court. I'm here for a reason. I'm here for a purpose. Hopefully to do well and winning the tournament. Federer will play either Diego Schwartzman or Australian qualifier Jordan Thompson in his first match. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 10th, 2017

1, done: Halep 1st No. 1 to lose 1st Open match; Serena wins

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — Some players, like top-ranked Simona Halep, freely acknowledge they don't deal well with the hustle-and-bustle of the U.S. Open and all it entails. Others, like 44th-ranked Kaia Kanepi, take to the Big Apple and its Grand Slam tournament. Put those two types at opposite ends of a court at Flushing Meadows and watch what can happen: Halep made a quick-as-can-be exit Monday, overwhelmed by the power-based game of Kanepi 6-2, 6-4 to become the first No. 1-seeded woman to lose her opening match at the U.S. Open in the half-century of the professional era. On a Day 1 that featured the major tournament debut of 25-second serve clocks, Halep blamed opening-round jitters, a recurring theme throughout her career. The reigning French Open champion has now lost her first match at 12 of 34 career major appearances, a stunningly high rate for such an accomplished player. "It's always about the nerves," said Halep, who was beaten in the first round in New York by five-time major champion Maria Sharapova in 2017. "Even when you are there in the top, you feel the same nerves. You are human." She also offered up an explanation tied to this particular site. "Maybe the noise in the crowd. The city is busy. So everything together," said Halep, who was coming off consecutive runs to the final at hard-court tuneup tournaments at Cincinnati and Montreal. "I'm a quiet person, so maybe I like the smaller places." Her departure means she can't stand in the way of Serena Williams, who could have faced Halep in the fourth round. Williams, the 23-time major champion who missed last year's U.S. Open because she gave birth on Sept. 1, returned with a flourish, following singer Kelly Clarkson's opening night performance in Arthur Ashe Stadium with a 6-4, 6-0 victory over Magda Linette under the lights. "The first set was tight. It was my first back here in New York, so that wasn't the easiest," Williams told the crowd. "Once I got settled, I started doing what I'm trying to do in practice." Williams, a six-time winner at Flushing Meadows, moved a step closer to a possible third-round matchup against her older sister, two-time winner Venus, who defeated 2004 champion Svetlana Kuznetsova 6-3, 5-7, 6-3. Others making the second round included defending champion and No. 3 seed Sloane Stephens, two-time finalist Victoria Azarenka, and two-time major champ Garbine Muguruza. Four seeded men lost, including No. 8 Grigor Dimitrov against three-time major champion Stan Wawrinka, who also beat him in the first round of Wimbledon, No. 16 Kyle Edmund and No. 19 Roberto Bautista Agut. Andy Murray, whose three major titles include the 2012 U.S. Open, played his first Grand Slam match in more than a year and won, eliminating James Duckworth 6-7 (5), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3. At night, defending champion Rafael Nadal advanced when the man he beat in the 2013 French Open final, David Ferrer, stopped in the second set because of an injury, while 2009 champ Juan Martin del Potro had no trouble dismissing Donald Young 6-0, 6-3, 6-4. Halep's loss was the first match at the rebuilt Louis Armstrong Stadium, which now has about 14,000 seats and a retractable roof, and what a way to get things started. That cover was not needed to protect from rain on Day 1 at the year's last major tournament — although some protection from the bright sun and its 90-degree (33-degree Celsius) heat might have been in order. "The courts suit my game, and I love being in New York. I like the city," said Kanepi, who is from Estonia and is sharing a coach this week with another player, Andrea Petkovic. "I like the weather: humid and hot." But several players had trouble in the heat, struggling with cramping or simply breathing. Since professionals first were allowed to enter Grand Slam tournaments in 1968, only five times before Monday did women seeded No. 1 lose their opening match at a major — and never at the U.S. Open. It happened twice to Martina Hingis and once to Steffi Graf at Wimbledon, once to Angelique Kerber at the French Open and once to Virginia Ruzici at the Australian Open. Halep got off to a slow start at Roland Garros this year, too, dropping her opening set, also by a 6-2 score, but ended up pulling out the victory there and adding six more to lift the trophy. There would be no such turnaround for her against Kanepi, a big hitter who dictated the points to claim her second career win against a top-ranked player — but first top-20 victory since 2015. Kanepi has shown the occasional ability to grab significant results, including a run to the quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows a year ago. On this day, Kanepi took charge of baseline exchanges, compiling a 26-9 edge in winners, 14 on her favored forehand side alone. Wearing two strips of athletic tape on her left shoulder, the right-handed Kanepi also had far more unforced errors, 28-9, but that high-risk, high-reward style ultimately paid off. "I thought, 'I just have to be aggressive and try to stay calm,'" Kanepi said. Early in the second set, on the way to falling behind by two breaks at 3-0, Halep slammed her racket twice, drawing a warning for a code violation from the chair umpire. Eventually, Halep got going a bit, taking advantage of Kanepi's mistakes to break back twice and get to 4-all in that set, getting a lot of support from fans who repeatedly chanted her first name. "I was thinking about that: Why (did) they cheer so much for her? Because normally, they cheer for the underdog," Kanepi said with a smile. "It was a bit annoying for some time, but I got over it." Sure did. She ended a 14-stroke exchange with a cross-court forehand volley winner to break right back for a 5-4 lead, then served out the victory......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2018

Ferrer s last Slam ends with injury against Nadal at US Open

By Howard Fendrich, Associated Press NEW YORK (AP) — There was something bittersweet about David Ferrer's last Grand Slam match. Yes, he got to depart by sharing the court with his friend and Spanish Davis Cup teammate Rafael Nadal, under the lights on the big stage of Arthur Ashe Stadium at the U.S. Open. He also was forced to quit for the first time in 208 contests at major tournaments, an ironic adieu for a guy known as one of the most indefatigable players in tennis. Nadal was ahead 6-3, 3-4 after less than 1½ hours of the first-round match when Ferrer stopped because of an injured left calf that began bothering him in the first set and kept getting worse in the second. "I'm sad because it's my last Grand Slam. I was enjoying playing the match against Rafa. I was playing good. But anyway, I am proud with myself, with my career," said Ferrer, whose best showing at a major was his runner-up finish at the 2013 French Open. The man who beat him in that title match? Nadal. "I am 36 years old," Ferrer said. "It's time to be home." He's not quite done with his sport, though. Ferrer, who was ranked as high as No. 3 but is currently 148th, made clear he plans to play a selective schedule of tournaments in 2019. Still, this felt like a farewell, both to him and to Nadal. "He deserved a better finish," Nadal said. "I am sad for him." They are just the fifth pair of men to play in the first round at a Slam after having met in a major final. In all, this was their 31st tour-level meeting; Nadal won 25. The only men with more victories over Nadal than Ferrer's six? Novak Djokovic with 27, Roger Federer with 15 and Andy Murray with seven. "We played in very important finals for both of us. We played important matches for both of us. Yeah, we shared a lot of very important moments in our lives together," Nadal said. "He will be one of these guys that the tour will miss, because he is one of the players that is a good guy. The tour loves him." Ferrer was asked whether he regretted playing at a time when the Big Four of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray dominated the sport. He said that's not the way he thinks about it, and that it was "a pleasure to play with them, with maybe the best generation," because they motivated him to strive to improve. After Monday night's match, Federer saluted Ferrer with a tweet that conveyed "ultimate respect." Others offered other words of praise, including 2009 U.S. Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, who said after winning his first-round match Monday that Ferrer "was the kind of player no one wanted to face.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 28th, 2018

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

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

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 27th, 2018