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Dimitrov Destroys Pospisil to Advance at the Miami Open, Tsonga and Isner Advance

Dimitrov Destroys Pospisil to Advance at the Miami Open, Tsonga and Isner Advance

Tennis - 2015 ATP World Tour 1000 - Miami Open - Key Biscayne, USA - Day 6 - Saturday 28 March 2015One of the star matches on Stadium Court at the Miami Open featured 2014 Wimbledon semifinalist Grigor Dimitrov against promising prospect, Vasek Pospisil. For the Canadian who ousted Juan Martin Del Potro in the first round, it was a miserable day at the office. Dimitrov required only 59 minutes to dismantle his opponent 6-2, 6-2.

The ninth seed came out of the block blazing converting on double break point in the opening game. Dimitrov went on to cash in on another break point in the fifth game to take a 4-1 lead. The Bulgarian closed out the first set with ease with a love hold.

Unfortunately for Popisil, the second set offered more of the same. Leveled at 2 all, the Canadian surrendered his serve by double faulting. After Dimitrov consolidated, Pospisil dropped serve his next game. Without fanfare, Dimitrov sealed the match on his first match point.

In the third round, Dimitrov will battle John Isner. The American had a comfortable 6-3,6-4 victory against reigning junior world number one, 17 year old Andrey Rublev.

Earlier in the afternoon, in a hold over from last evening rained out session, the affable Frenchman Jo-Wilfreid Tsonga tussled with American Tim Smyczek for a spot in the third round. The 2008 Australian Open finalist who was on forced sabbatical due to an arm injury held off Smyczek 6-4,3-6,6-3.

Tsonga was satisfied with his performance considering this was his first match in few months “I didn’t expect to play my best tennis today ever. I’m happy the way I managed. . .I played pretty solid. I just had a little hole in the second set, it’s normal when you haven’t played since couple of months”.

Regarding the injury itself, Tsonga reflected “my arm is feeling better today. I hope it’s going to be better and better, but for first match was already something good for me.”

Next for the world number eleven is compatriot Gael Monfils who skipped Indian Wells this year due to a knee issue. Monfils dug deep against Filip Krajinovic in the tiebreaker after wasting a few match points to win 3-6,6-2,7-6.

On Grandstand court, 2014 U.S. Open finalist Kei Nishikori routed Mikail Youzhny 6-2, 6-1. Fifth seed Milos Raonic and 2013 Miami finalist David Ferrer also crushed their opponents to book their safe passage into the third round. Other winners today include young American Jack Sock, Juan Monaco, Belge David Goffin who schooled 18 year old talent Borna Coric and Fernando Verdasco.

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Nadal Axes Almagro at the Miami Open, Murray Also Moves on

Nadal Axes Almagro at the Miami Open, Murray Also Moves on

IMG_3458_NadalThe twelfth contest between fellow Spaniards Rafael Nadal and Nicolas Almagro went the way many of the others have gone. Nadal posted a 6-4, 6-2 victory to advance to the third round at the Miami Open.

Almagro came in with a ray of hope after banking his maiden victory over the world number 3 last year in Barcelona. Today was the competitors’ third meeting on hardcourt and Almagro’s triumph materialized on clay a surface he excels at. Moreover, the latter’s 2014 season was marred by a foot injury requiring surgery. Almagro began 2015 on the right foot with a successful South American swing which culminated with a semifinal appearance in Buenos Aires.

Nadal hasn’t been sizzling on any surface of late. His 46th clay court prize in Buenos Aires a few weeks ago was his first since the 2014 French Open. The world number three’s best on hardcourt in 2015 has been quarterfinals at Indian Wells and Australian Open. Consequently, Almagro came in with a ray of hope.

With a flubbed forehand volley by Almagro, Nadal converted on break point in the initial set for 2-1. The 14 time major winner stared down three break points on his serve before securing the set.

In the second set, Almagro dumped a forehand into the net on double break point to place his opponent in the lead at 2-1. Shortly thereafter, Nadal bolstered his edge with a love hold. Later on, with a forehand winner, Nadal cushioned his position with an additional break for 4-1. At that stage, it was clear that Almagro would have to wait another day for the hope of a second victory over his compatriot.

In analyzing his performance, Nadal believes “I played a solid match. . .I had to put the balls in and play with no mistakes today with very tough conditions. . .my forehand worked well. . .I’m happy, Almagro was not an easy opponent for the first round”.

Nadal was disappointed with some aspects of his game with his loss at Indian Wells. Today, he was determined to “play with no mistakes on the important points. . .last week, I had a lot of opportunities in the quarterfinals. . . I didn’t have a lot of mistakes, he played well. But I lost the opportunities to convert. It’s important to change the dynamic of these things quick. Doing it in this match is important for me”

Commenting on the deluge which followed a few minutes after he was done, “sure important to finish the match before the storm arrived. . .But that can happen here in Miami. It’s nothing new”.

Four times the groomsman, never the groom, the Miami Open has been less kind to Nadal than Indian Wells, he possesses three of those trophies “it is true that Indian Wells has been a tournament that has worked better historically for my game. . .the bounces are higher. . .I like playing in [Miami]. . .some days can be very humid and hard for the body. But in general, they are the conditions I like to play tennis. . .Sea level, hot, no problem, I like to play tennis”.

With the weather delay, Nadal’s third round counterpart has yet to be established. It will be either countryman Fernando Verdasco against whom he has 13-1 mark or 23 year old Australian James Duckworth ranked 97th in a first meeting

Earlier in the day, two time Miami Open champion Andy Murray disposed of Donald Young in two sets 6-4, 6-2. Murray improves his record against the American to 5-1. After surrendering the opening set in a tiebreaker, world number eight, Stanislas Wawrinka knocked out Carlos Berlocq.

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Novak Djokovic Holds Press Conference at Miami Open

Novak Djokovic Holds Press Conference at Miami Open

Four time Miami Open champion Novak Djokovic met with the press in Miami after his doubles match with fellow Serbian Janko Tipsarevic.

Djokovic responded to questions regarding his past wins on the ATP tour, social media, and his support for Tipsarevic while he has recovered from injuries.

Here is the complete interview :

Q. You have won Miami back to back twice already. What’s the key for this quick turnaround?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I started the season very well with winning Grand Slam, and that definitely helps my confidence level. I finished the 2014 season in a great form winning Paris and London back to back and then winning Australia and playing finals Dubai, Davis Cup, and then Indian Wells. Of course I’m at a great place now. I try to enjoy and take the best out of the feeling that I have on the court right now. Hopefully I can have another great week in Miami. The record that I had in last, you know, eight, nine years I have been coming back to Miami and playing the tournament is really good. Some of my best tennis I have played here in these courts. That can hopefully help me to get far in the tournament. We are here in United States for, you know, some of the biggest events we have in sport, Indian Wells and Miami for four weeks, playing best of three, and it’s well spread. It does help you to recover and get ready for the next matches. You don’t get too exhausted physically because the schedule is such that it allows you to have fun to recover and have time for the next one.

Q. You know, Wimbledon has famous Kipling line of if you can meet with triumph and disaster, and treat those two imposters the same. Do you follow something the same? Is that how you keep your mindset, coming off a big win, as well?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Well, you mentioned one very wise saying that you see just before you walk out on Centre Court. There is a lot of wisdom in that. Of course that’s easier said than done sometimes, but I guess you become wiser as you grow and as you become older, as well.
Playing more matches and spending more time in the highest level in tennis allows you to understand, you know, how you need to approach and have the healthy approach to every tournament. Back in 2011 when I had the best season so far in my career and became No. 1 of the world, I was so much blown away and so happy by those terrific achievements that, you know, it was difficult for me the year after to kind of face all those challenges, to defend points, and was a little bit carried away by a lot of distractions, I would say, you know, off the court. But it allowed me  those kind of experiences allowed me to grow and to become stronger mentally, you know, as a tennis player and as a person, and to find the right balance between the private and professional life, to enjoy the life that I have, to really embrace everything that life is presenting to me. But yet again, stay professional discipline, committed to the sport that I love. So I think right now I found the right balance, and I’m at the peak of my career and my abilities. Hopefully I can maintain that for the time to come.

Q. (Indiscernible.)

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, let’s say I prefer the medium speed of the court. I think that it all depends if you’re playing during the day or the night. The conditions change. Of course the night, during the night, the ball travels through the air a bit slower and the balls get a bit bigger. Also, as you mentioned, because of the humidity it’s tough to physically stay out there and, you know, fight for every point.
So you kind of have to be prepared that you have to face a certain kind of challenges. Swirly conditions today; wind, for example, that changes directions all the time. But it’s the same for you and your opponent. It’s just that, you know, you need to be tough and approach it in a right way. The experience of playing this tournament so many times helps me to approach it in that way and not get distracted by these conditions. Of course it is frustrating when you’re on the court, but more importantly is to stay concentrated.

Q. (Question regarding social media.)

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think the best thing about the social media and social platforms is the fact that you can interact with the people that follow and you support you. You know, there are many people around the world that actually, you know, watch tennis. It’s a very global sport. They support you and really express their love and appreciation for what you do. So this is one of the ways to give them back, not just on the court by playing good tennis, but also you interact with them and feed them with some video or picture content that would give them a different look at your personality. Not just what they see on the TV when you’re playing tennis, but something else, to present yourself as a person.
Everything has its borders, obviously, but I try to, you know, kind of post  most of the content I post is something that is fun, something that is different. You know, sometimes I have to show them that I’m working in the gym or on the tennis court, that I am preparing myself.
But mostly some other fun stuff for people that I get to meet along the way.

Q. And the bad side? Do you get mean messages?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I do. Of course, in the ideal world everybody with love you, but it’s not like that. I respect everybody’s opinion and freedom to say whatever they think. Actually, it’s good to read criticism in some ways, because you can have a different angle of observing yourself, as well, different perspectives. That’s how I see it.

Q. (Indiscernible.)

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s difficult to compare any of those seasons with this season, as well. Every season brings something new, new challenges. Right now I’m a complete person and really fulfilled in every aspect of my life. Became a husband and a father in last 10 months, and that’s a very important milestone for me that has definitely contributed in a positive way to my tennis, as well. I’m not taking things for granted. I am very grateful for the opportunity to play the sport that I love, and still kind of fulfill my parental duties and, you know, be, I would say, accomplished as a husband and a father. I cannot complain. It’s a great place in my life where I am at the moment, and trying to take the best out of it.

Q. After so many years you stay on the top of tennis, how can you handle the fame, but on the same time, to be a humble person that you are? Can you send some words for the people who follow your career? And in Miami, people love you.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Thank you. I love them, too. I do feel that it’s multicultural, very international city, Miami. There is a lot of Latin people. I feel over the years I have had a very nice relationship with the people from Latin America. Hopefully they will keep on supporting me. It’s very much necessary here. And referring to your first part of the question, as I said before, I really appreciate the fact that I’m playing tennis. Probably the childhood that I had, the circumstances in life that I had to face and overcome to be where I am at this moment allowed me to observe things in life in a different way, in a more humble way, I would say. The fact that I come from a very small country, the fact that I overcame some challenges that seemed impossible at the time with the war and sanctions and all these things and arrived to where I am, that has shaped me as a person and my character, and helps me now to have this kind of approach that I believe is the right one.

Q. Can you just talk about the emotions you’re going through in supporting Janko over these years.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah. It’s incredibly sad story with him in last 17 months. I know him for such a long time. We are great friends. His last official match that he played was in October 2013, and ever since then he was suffering from injuries. Mostly from the heel that he had to operate I think two or three times. Along the way he also hurt some other muscles and joints. Just a very dreadful time for him. I tried to, as a friend and as a colleague, be close to him, to give him support, to let him know that I’m there and I wish him to have a speedy recovery and to come back as quick as possible. So the opportunity to play today with him was very special for me, really, as a friend, and I cared very much to win this match today. I got very tight in the supertiebreaker, I have to say, because it was a very tough match. We lost to two of the great, very good doubles players. But we talked after the match, and he appreciated the fact that he can actually play. Just feel that match play, you know, have that sensation of how it feels and what takes to be on the court. 17 months is a long time for injuries, and he’s also not young. You know, he’s now 31 this year. But he’s eager to play. He’s motivated. He right now has been practicing for a couple of weeks 100%, and he decided actually it’s better to skip this tournament in singles because he needed a little bit more time to get into it. Hopefully this doubles match today can help him. When he plays now in Houston after Miami he can perform his best. He can relax. He has the quality to go back to where he was. You know, that’s top 10. I really wish him that.

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Del Potro Sent Packing by Pospisil in the First Round at the Miami Open

Del Potro Sent Packing by Pospisil in the First Round at the Miami Open

IMG_0946_Del_PotroArgentine Juan Martin Del Potro choose the Miami Open to make his return to the ATP tour after nursing a wrist problem. However, the 2009 U.S. Open did not get the desired result. Undaunted by the swarm of Argentinian fans buzzing the stadium and cheering for their man, Canadian Vasek Pospisil defeated Del Potro 6-4. 7-6.

After salvaging a break point in his opening service game, Del Potro was gifted 0-40 when Pospisil double faulted. Yet, with superb serving, the Canadian managed to extricate himself from that jam. In the ninth service game, Pospisil again kept his composure down 15-40 and ultimately build a 5-4 lead. Next, it was the Canadian’s turn to be at triple break point and he took full advantage. On his second try he went on to bank the first set.

Del Potro turned things around by obtaining a break to start the second set. The Argentine went on to consolidate for a 2-0 edge. However, Pospisil continued to place pressure on the 2009 Miami Open semifinalist by maintaining the difference at one break. Serving for the set at 5-4, Pospisil blazed a forehand down the line to have his initial opportunity to break back. He converted as Del Potro’s lob sailed long.

Eventually, the second set went to a tiebreaker. Again, Del Potro carved out a 3-1 lead. Later, the Argentine found himself ahead 5-2. In front 6-4 Del Potro double faulted to give his opponent back the mini-break. Down the road, another Del Potro double fault handed Pospisil match point. As the Argentine’s forehand landed long, Pospisil was declared the winner.

Del Potro missed the remainder of 2014 because of his wrist surgery in March. He returned January of this year, reaching the quarterfinals in Sydney. Subsequently, plagued again by the wrist problem, Del Potro was forced to take time off. Following his defeat, Del Potro had this to say “I don’t feel frustrated. . . I have to take the positive things on my comeback. Another official match after one year, it’s a good signal for the future. . .I wanted to win, I had a few chances. . .but I couldn’t close the set because I had easy mistakes. . .I didn’t serve well in the special moments.”

In addressing the wrist, Del Potro cited “it’s not 100%, but I feel even better than Sydney tournament. It’s only two months after the second surgery on my left wrist. I feel better week by week”.

One stroke which has suffered post surgery is Del Potro’s backhand, “I’m not confident 100% to hit my best backhands yet. I need time to improve my backhand again. I’m working hard, it’s the only way to get pass through all the things and get well for the future. Mentally, you must be strong enough to deal with the problem.”

Currently, ranked 616, Del Potro is cognizant that his second comeback to the upper echelon will be fraught with obstacles. “I’m in no hurry to be in the top 10 very soon. . .It doesn’t matter how long it takes. . .it’s most important to be patient and stay calm. I got depressed for a while. . .in the end, I want to play tennis. . If I have to learn a different backhand. . . I will”.

The Argentine was moved by the warm reception from the fans “it’s an amazing tournament. . .the atmosphere is great as always. Argentinian fans, South American people come to watch me play. . .I have a lot of fans in the United States after winning the U.S. Open”. Although Del Potro was not victorious this time around, he is looking forward to his next encounter to bring joy to his fanatics.

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Serena Williams on the Hunt for an Eighth Miami Title

Serena Williams on the Hunt for an Eighth Miami Title

IMG_7084_Serena Only a few days after pulling out of the semifinals at Indian Wells, Serena Williams is set to compete for a record eighth trophy in Miami. Prior to her anticipated second round match, Williams answered questions for reporters about this tournament, her recent knee injury and expectations as 2015 moves along. Here is an excerpt below of what the 19 time major winner had to say.

Regarding the status of her knee, Williams stated “just trying to stay out of as much pain as possible and see what happens. . . [I will test it] probably my first match, if I get that far. I don’t want to put too much pressure on it before. . . I hit some balls today for the first time. I know I’m going to have to manage the pain. . . You have to figure out the best way around it”

Despite her injury, Serena iterated in terms of banking another Miami Open title “I definitely don’t have low expectations. . . I don’t feel any pressure because I have won this title a few times. I feel good about being here. . . I think every player has pain. . . Every match I play, I could be 10% in pain or I could be 80% in pain. . . Knowing ahead of time the problems that you’re dealing with and this is how you treat it, so you can play at a high level. . . Just something about Miami, I just feel good out here.”

Williams is living in the moment and not pondering what may be ahead. Although major number twenty is achievable, she commented “right now what’s realistic is 19. I think I have a chance to get 20. There’s is a lot of young players who want to get one. A lot of people want to increase their numbers. . . I just take it one at a time. Last year, I started thinking way far in advance and I couldn’t get past the fourth round at a Grand Slam. After that I won two in a row.”

At age 33 and with a horde of talented youngsters ranked right below her, the world number one is still viewed as the one to beat by her fellow competitors. Williams replied “I think it’s a compliment. . . I love what I do . . . I might not be good at many other things, I’m really good at playing tennis. . . I’ve always said if I am playing on a level that I know I can play. . .without pontificating, it’s difficult to beat me. . . It’s not easy to get to that level”.

Williams’ defense of her Miami title starts on Friday as she faces Monica Niculescu in the second round. The two collided in the same round last week at Indian Wells. Serena had to overcome her emotions, after being absent over a decade at that tournament, before prevailing in two tough sets. Consequently, for an injured Williams, a victory against the crafty Romanian may not be a given.

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2015 Miami Open Player Field Announced

2015 Miami Open Player Field Announced

IMG_8310_DjkokovicThe 2015 Miami Open is set to take place from March 23 – April 5. Today, the tournament announced the field of players that will be taking to the courts at the Crandon Park Tennis Center.

Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams will both be returning to Miami to defend their titles from 2014. From the ATP, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Juan Martin del Potro are also on the acceptance list. From the WTA, Maria Sharapova is still looking to claim her first Miami title. Victoria Azarenka and Petra Kvitova are also on the roster. A complete rundown of the acceptance list is provided in the tournament’s press release below.

Miami Open Field Once Again Unrivaled on Tour Calendar

The hottest ticket in tennis returns to Miami featuring the best players in the world

MIAMI, Fl. (www.miamiopen.com) – The Miami Open may have a new name, but the Grand Slam-quality player field it delivers each spring remains the same. The event received its 2015 official acceptance lists from the ATP and WTA tours and, once again, the line-up is unrivaled among tour events.

With 74 of the top 75 ranked men, including all of the top 50, and each of the top 75 ranked women, the Miami Open player field ranks best on the tennis calendar. The 15 combined Grand Slam Champions, seven men and eight women, scheduled to compete at this year’s tournament are more than any other event on the tours outside of the Grand Slams. Whether you are looking to see a future Hall of Famer, a multiple Grand Slam champion, or a rising star, all will be on display at the Crandon Park Tennis Center during the event’s two weeks, March 23- April 5.

CLICK HERE FOR FULL LISTINGS

Tickets to the 2015 Miami Open are on sale now and can be purchased by phone (305-442-3367) or online at www.miamiopen.com. An exhilarating two weeks of tennis, fashion, food and fun conclude with the women’s final on Saturday, April 4 and the men’s final on Sunday, April 5.

Individual session tickets start at just $31 and packages begin at only $136. Don’t miss the chance to be a part of the most glamorous event on both tours.

The 2015 ATP acceptance list features World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, a seven-time Grand Slam winner, the defending Miami Open champion and reigning Australian Open champ; 17-time Grand Slam champion, Roger Federer; 14-time Grand Slam winner, Rafael Nadal; two-time Grand Slam and Olympic Gold Medalist, Andy Murray; and former US Open champion, Juan Martin del Potro.

The women’s field for 2015 is fierce, featuring 19-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams, who is the defending Miami Open winner and became the winningest player, male or female, in tournament history when she captured her seventh Miami Open title last year. Seven-time Grand Slam Champion Venus Williams, five-time Grand Slam champion and reigning French Open champion Maria Sharapova, two-time Grand Slam winner Victoria Azarenka and defending Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova are also entered to compete.

Fans will also see last year’s break out stars Stan Wawrinka, the 2014 Australian Open champion, and Marin Cilic, the surprise winner at the US Open as they make a run for the Miami Open title. On the women’s side rising stars Eugenie Bouchard, a 2014 Wimbledon finalist, and American Madison Keys, who made her first semi-finals appearance at a Grand Slam at this year’s Australian Open, will also be in action.

The Miami Open is more than just a tennis event. Located in one of the world’s most beautiful vacation destinations with a diverse fan base and exquisite dining and luxury shopping offerings, the Miami Open has an energy and excitement that is uniquely Miami.

Qualifying rounds will be played March 23-24 and will determine 12 additional slots in each singles draw. The Miami Open will also award wildcards to five men and eight women. The main draw begins on Tuesday, March 24 as the women take the court, followed by the first round of the men’s main draw on Wednesday, March 25.

About the Miami Open presented by Itaú

The 2015 Miami Open will be played March 23-April 5 at the Crandon Tennis Center in Miami. The two-week combined event is owned and operated by IMG. The Miami Open is one of nine ATP Masters 1000 Series events on the ATP calendar, a Premier Mandatory event on the WTA calendar, and features the top men’s and women’s tennis players in the world. The tournament is widely regarded as the most glamorous on the ATP and WTA calendars because of its exotic Miami location, thriving nightlife, five-star hotels and restaurants, beautiful weather and beaches, and its celebrity appeal. For ticket information, call +1.305.442.3367 or visit www.miamiopen.com.

About Itaú

Itau is the largest Latin America privately owned bank, with approximately 95,000 employees and operations in 20 countries throughout the Americas, Asia and Europe. Itaú’s relationship with sport goes back to the 1970s, when Itaú first sponsored the Itaú Tennis Cup in Brazil in 1970. Itaú has been a sponsor of the Miami Open for the last six years, and also sponsors the Rio Open, the only combined ATP/WTA event in South America. Itaú also supports the Brazilian Women’s Tennis Circuit, only female professional tournament in South America, certified by the Brazilian Tennis Confederation (CBT) and the International Tennis Federation (ITF), as well as the Tennis Institute Training Center, responsible for the development of young, new talent.

About IMG

IMG is a global leader in sports, fashion and media operating in more than 25 countries around the world. IMG’s businesses include Events & Media, College, Golf, Tennis, Performance and IMG Academy, Fashion, Models, Clients, Licensing, Joint Ventures, and creative management agency Art + Commerce. In 2014, IMG was acquired by WME, the world’s leading entertainment and media agency. Together, the companies offer an unparalleled client roster; strategic partnerships with sponsors and brands; and marquee assets across sports, entertainment, events, music and fashion.

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Djokovic Captures Year End Championship by Default

Djokovic Captures Year End Championship by Default

International Tennis - Barclays ATP World Tour Finals - O2 Arena - London - Day 8 - Sunday 16th November 2014
The much anticipated tussle for the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals trophy between the world’s top two players, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, was scrubbed due to injury. Djokovic took home a third consecutive title, his fourth overall, as Federer forfeited the match.

Approximately an hour prior to start time, a packed arena listened to Federer apologizing for his decision not to take the court. The six time year end championship titlist was forced to pull out of today’s contest because of a back problem which surfaced in the semifinals. This was only the third time since turning pro in 1998 that Federer has pulled out of a tournament he began playing and never before in a final. The withdraws from the other matches were also provoked by an unfit back.

The full stadium settled for exhibition matches which organizers scrambled to put together at the ultimate minute. Brit Andy Murray, who was ousted in the round robin round, came to the rescue by playing a set against Djokovic which the latter won. It was followed by a doubles competition featuring John McEnroe and Murray versus Pat Cash and Tim Henman.

What a difference less than twenty four hours make! On Saturday, spectators were treated to two tantalizing matches. The drama between Federer and compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka alone was worth the price of admission.

After losing the first set 4-6, Federer scrapped through the second set, breaking Wawrinka at 6-5 to push the match to a deciding set. Subsequent to breaking Federer in the opening game, Wawrinka maintained the advantage and served for his first year end final at 5-4.

With Wawrinka squandering two match points, the third set victor was determined by a tiebreaker. Once again, Federer overcame two match points prior to coming out on top.

Djokovic was also challenged in his semifinal match by Kei Nishikori, the man who shocked him in the semifinals at the U.S. Open this year. After being absent in the opening set and Djokovic seizing it 6-1, Nishikori persevered and took the second 6-3.

However, there would be no full comeback for the Japanese as Djokovic regained the reigns in the third set. The Serb dominated 6-0 to punch his ticket into the last ATP match of 2014.

With today’s triumph, Djokovic became the first player since Ivan Lendl 1985-87 to lift this trophy three years in a row.

Although the ATP season is now concluded, for Federer there is still the matter of the Davis Cup. In just a few days, Switzerland will battle France in the final. 1992 was the only other occasion that Switzerland reached this stage of the competition. That year, the United States captured the win. Consequently, should Federer hoist this distinguishing prize, he will further cement his iconic status in the sport. After all, both Rafael Nadal and Djokovic, his two biggest rivals, have at least one Davis Cup title. Then, the only milestone for the Swiss to conquer would be singles Olympic Gold.

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Djokovic downs Nadal for fourth Sony Open title in Miami

Djokovic downs Nadal for fourth Sony Open title in Miami


IMG_8540_DjokovicMiami, Ricky Dimon
The fourth time was not the charm for Rafael Nadal. Novak Djokovic, on the other hand, made his fourth time look easy.

Djokovic captured his fourth title at the Sony Open Tennis tournament and dropped Nadal to 0-4 for his career in Miami finals with a 6-3, 6-3 rout on Sunday afternoon. The Serb saved the only break point he faced the entire way in the very first game of the match before cruising in one hour and 23 minutes.

After missing his chance at 30-40 in the opening game, Nadal was rarely competitive. He dropped serve at 2-3 in the first set and Djokovic was off to the races. Miami’s No. 2 seed lost a combined two points in his next two service games to bag the opener. It was all but over when Djokovic broke right away to begin the second with a crushing backhand winner.

For good measure, Djokovic capped off the match in style with his third break of the day. The two competitors saved their best point for last, with Nadal serving at 3-5, 15-40. A furious rally ended when Djokovic answered a backhand volley by the Spaniard with a forehand into the open court.

“This tournament has been perfect from the beginning to the end,” Djokovic reflected. “The matches that I have played I played really well, and I elevated my game as the tournament progressed. The best performance of the tournament came in the right moment on Sunday against the biggest rival.”

“Just the fact that I’m playing against Nadal and playing in the finals, fighting for (the) trophy is already a huge motivation and responsibility to try to perform my best and to kind of be at the right intensity and right focus. I didn’t have any letdowns throughout the whole match. I was in a very high level; serve, backhand, cross-court, forehand…. I have done everything right and I’m thrilled with my performance.”

Nadal did not have to offer much analysis of his own game, because his opponent was simply too good.

“Easy to analyze,” the world No. 1 assured. “[Djokovic] was better than me. That’s it. Some matches are more difficult to say. This one was not that difficult in general. He was better than me in everything.

“Today I felt that he played great, but I feel that he doesn’t need to hit a great shot to be an advantage on the point. So playing against him is the worst thing that can happen for me, because in general, talking about the first two shots, he has a better return than my one, he has a better serve than my one. In this surface especially.”

The surface now changes to clay after a week of Davis Cup quarterfinal action. Nadal and Djokovic are expected back on court for the Monte-Carlo Masters next month.

Ricky Dimon is a contributor in Miami and writes for tenngrand.com. You can follow him on Twitter under @RD_Tennistalk by clicking here.

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Serena captures a record-setting seventh Sony Open title

Serena captures a record-setting seventh Sony Open title

IMG_8162_Serena(March 29, 2014) Serena Williams came back from a 2-5 deficit in the first set to win 11 of the next 12 game to close out Li Na 7-5, 6-1 to claim a record-setting seventh Sony Open title on Saturday.

This marks Williams’ 59th title of her career, 14 more than any other currently active player on the WTA Tour and the seventh most in history.

Williams came out sluggish in the first set going down two breaks to Li to trail 2-5. Li served for the set twice and had one set point which Williams overcame.

“I don’t think I was play(ing) bad,” Li said. “Maybe she just start a little bit better after 5‑2 down.”

“Sometimes I do get off to a slow start, but then again, sometimes I get off to a fast start,” Williams said.

“I just remember being down. She was playing so well, and at that point I just was trying to just stay focused and stay in the game.

“Then I remember really ‑‑ some of the crowd was so intense. I thought, Wow, they really want to see a good match, I’ve got to try harder, I’ve got to do better.

“That really helped me a lot.”

“I really thought I could do better at this point,” Williams explained. “My serve, percentage was super, super low, I think in the 30s, and I thought, Okay, I can serve a little better, and I know I can return better, and I’m practicing all these years and I have a good return. I need to start doing it. I need to start doing what I practice.

“And no joke. So many people in the crowd were saying, Come on, Serena. That was such a great feeling for me. I really definitely think the crowd got me through this match.”

During the trophy ceremony, the two 32-year-old veterans shared a laugh on the podium.

“I just feel that both she and I, we just have this never‑give‑up fight, and it just goes to show that, you know, you can still shine at any age.” Williams commented.

“We were talking about for sure before the match they say, Oh, two old women come to the final,” Li said with a smile.

“Yeah, because a little bit laughing about our age.”

“I was so happy for her and us and how we were doing,” Williams said.

“We’re playing great tennis and we’re both 1 and 2 and, you know, we’re both the same age.

“For me, it was just an honor to be there with her. We have had ‑‑ we are living the same life, and at this stage, to be on top, I don’t think it’s been done before and I think it’s really awesome.

“I definitely feel like she deserved praise. Especially winning the Australian was great.”

Williams is the oldest player, at 32 years and six months, to win the Miami title; Chris Evert (in 1986) is the only other player to have won the title after their 30th birthday.

Williams is the fourth player, after Chris Evert, Steffi Graf and Martina Navratilova, in the Open Era to win the same tournament seven or more times.

Karen Pestaina is a contributor in Miami. She writes for various tennis and news outlets and is the Editor-in-Chief of Tennis Panorama News. Follow her on Twittter @TennisNewsTPN.

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Nadal overcomes Raonic, joins Berdych in Sony Open semifinals

Nadal overcomes Raonic, joins Berdych in Sony Open semifinals


IMG_8089_NadalMiami, Ricky Dimon

Rafael Nadal passed his first real test of the Sony Open Tennis tournament with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 victory over Milos Raonic during semifinal action on Thursday night. Nadal held his last nine service games and won 20 of 24 service points in the third set before advancing in two hours and 35 minutes.

Raonic had never taken a set off Nadal in four previous meetings and the underdog was going up against an opponent who had dropped a mere nine games in his first three Miami matches. Still, Raonic showed plenty of belief. The 6’5” Canadian saved all three of the break points he faced in the opening frame of play and clinched it when Nadal double-faulted down set point at 4-5.

From there, however, it was all Nadal. The top-ranked Spaniard surged to a 4-0 lead in the second set and earned the decisive break at 3-3 in the third.

“I was lucky at the beginning of the second set,” Nadal explained. “I started with a break and (that) was very important for me. I felt that I finished the match playing better. I think I started the match playing okay, playing well but not playing well (on) the break points.”

Next up for the No. 1 seed is Tomas Berdych, who got the best of Alexandr Dolgopolov 6-4, 7-6(3). Berdych fired 11 aces and battled back from a break down in each of the two sets as he prevailed in one hour and 45 minutes. Dolgopolov, an Indian Wells semifinalist, was doomed by 48 percent serving and just 35 percent of his second-serve points won.

Berdych is now 4-0 lifetime against Dolgopolov, but the story is a much different one against Nadal. The Czech trails the head-to-head series 17-3 and has lost 16 consecutive matches.

“I don’t even know the number, Berdych said, referring to his streak of futility with Nadal on the other side of the net “I stopped counting.”

Ricky Dimon is a contributor in Miami and writes for tenngrand.com. You can follow him on Twitter under @RD_Tennistalk by clicking here.

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