Tag Archive | "Australian Open"

Federer, Murray, Roddick and Nadal Stand Out of the Heap as U.S. Open Favorites

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Federer, Murray, Roddick and Nadal Stand Out of the Heap as U.S. Open Favorites


The U.S. Open draw has been unveiled with the usual suspects at the top pack.  Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are the highest seeds followed respectively by Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray.  For some, the path has multiple green lights, but for others it is lined with yellow flags.  Here’s a breakdown of the draw.

After his victories at the French Open and Wimbledon, Nadal is once more in pursuit of the U.S. Open trophy, the sole major he lacks.  In 2008, the Spaniard was halted in the semifinals by Murray and last year in the same round by Juan Martin Del Potro, the champion.  Although Nadal has been the most prolific performer on grass and clay this season, hardcourt has been a different story.  Nadal has a lone final appearance in January in Doha and went down to Nikolay Davydenko.  With neither injury nor fatigue an issue this time, Nadal is capable of going the distance.  However, there may be a significant boulder in his way in the quarterfinals.

Finally in shape after hip surgery, David Nalbandian has made himself part of the conversation and could clash with Nadal in the quarterfinals.  Although Nadal recorded the win at their last meeting at the Sony Ericsson Open in March, Nalbandian’s form has improved markedly since then.  Moreover, Nalbandian took the title as a wildcard at the Legg Mason Tennis Classic earlier this month.  As a result, the Argentine will not be an easy customer for the Spaniard.

While Fernando Verdasco, the eight seed, is technically another likely quarterfinal counterpart for Nadal, Verdasco is at best a minute obstacle.  With a 10-0 record against his countryman, in a five set match, Nadal is a sure bet.

De novo, Nadal has been placed on a collision course with Murray to reach his first U.S. Open final.  Twice on hardcourt this year, Murray has comprehensively beaten Nadal including the Rogers Cup two weeks ago.  After dreadful results most of the season, Murray is at last in form and defended his title in Toronto.  If they clash in the semifinals, Nadal will have a tough time getting a pass.

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Serving Notice:  Federer Wiggles By Fish for His Fourth Cincinnati Title

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Serving Notice: Federer Wiggles By Fish for His Fourth Cincinnati Title


Following his Australian Open victory in February, Roger Federer’s game had been in a tailspin.  In his best form since Melbourne, Federer made the final at the Rogers Cup last week, but went down to Andy Murray.  However, today, Federer edged out wildcard Mardy Fish 6-7,7-6,6-4 at the Western and Southern Financial Group Masters for his second straight Western and Southern Financial Group Masters title and  his 17th Masters’ shield.

This hardcourt season, Fish has positioned himself as a man to fear.  After a grass title in Newport, Fish claimed the initial trophy of the Olympus U.S. Open series in Atlanta.  In Cincinnati the first three rounds, Fish dismissed Gilles Simon, 9th seed Fernando Verdasco and Richard Gasquet in straight sets.  Subsequently, in the quarterfinals, Fish defeated Andy Murray for the third consecutive time.  Then, in the semifinals, Fish collected his second successive win over Andy Roddick by erasing a 4-6,2-5 deficit and improved his record to 16-1 since Wimbledon.  Thus, with these results, Fish’s confidence was astronomical.

Moreover, with Fish in the most outstanding physical shape of his career and an easy triumph over Federer in their last meeting at Indian Wells in 2008, the chances were excellent that in his fourth attempt, Fish would gain his first Masters’ shield.  Conversely, despite advancing to two other finals besides Toronto, Federer was denied in Madrid and Halle this year.  In his 90th career final, Federer was hungrier than ever to capture his 63rd career title and gain momentum heading into the U.S. Open.

Subsequent to a comfortable hold by each player, Fish got embroiled in a 15 minute plus game.  After surviving two break points, on the ninth deuce, Fish obtained a game point with a backhand volley winner and sealed the game with a strong serve for 2-1.  Thereafter, both men cruised on serve until the tenth game when Fish misfired on a forehand up the line to give Federer set point.  With an ace, Fish wiped out Federer’s advantage and later tied the set at 5 all.  At 5-6 on Fish’s serve, Federer arrived again at set point when Fish’s stroke hit the net and flew long.  Once more, Fish repelled his opponent and forced a tiebreaker.

On Federer’s backhand crosscourt error, Fish got a mini-break for 4-3.  But, with two forehand winners, Federer stole both points off Fish’s serve for 5-4.  Still, Fish reversed the tides with an overhead winner and a backhand error by Federer to fabricate set point at 6-5.  With Federer unable to catch up to Fish’s serve, the American bagged the tiebreaker.

Yet to face a break point, Federer continued to coast on serve in the second set.  However, Fish had no problem matching the defending champion.  In fact, Fish’s first serve percentage improved as the set progressed.  At two all, Fish pushed Federer to a deuce game.  But, Federer guarded serve to stay ahead 3-2.  After holding at love for 6-5, Federer got to deuce on Fish’s watch with a forehand up the line winner.  By readily finding his first serve, Fish held for a second tiebreaker.

With a forehand crosscourt winner, Federer inched ahead with a mini-break for 2-0.  After stretching his lead to 4-1, Federer provoked two errors from Fish to take command of the tiebreaker at 6-1.  Next with an ace, Federer leveled the match at one set a piece and forced a decisive set.

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Don’t Put a Fork in Federer, He’s Not Done Yet

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Don’t Put a Fork in Federer, He’s Not Done Yet


In the last two years, Roger Federer’s tennis obituary has been written more than once.  In fact, the notion of the great one’s eminent demise has crossed this writer’s mind on a few occasions only to be refuted.  Since his victory in Melbourne, Federer has hit a speed bump from which he has yet to recover.  Thus, rumors again are rampid as to the Swiss genius being put out to pasture.  Unequivocally, the fear factor which Federer previously instilled in his opponents pre-match has waned.  Yet, to deduce that his career is at its conclusion is a tad premature.

Tennis followers are accustomed to Federer being a sure thing especially at the majors.  With a total of 32 titles from 2004 thru 2007 and double digit trophies three of those years, Federer has been brilliance personified.  In 2004, the stellar Swiss was perfect in finals, 11-0.  Moreover, three of the fore mentioned years, Federer prevailed at three of the four majors.  During that four year span, the ‘Federer Express’ was detained only twenty three times and relinquished at the most matches eight matches in a single season.

Even at his peak, Pete Sampras garnered double figure titles, 10, only one time in 1994 and obtained maximally two majors in a calendar year.  Arguably, 2008 was the best year to date for Federer’s archrival, Rafael Nadal.  Along with Olympics gold, the Spaniard claimed two majors in that cycle.  Considering Federer is almost 29 and Nadal 24 with his best years probably ahead of him, the comparison may be somewhat distorted.  Yet, this underscores further the reason that fans expect excellence from Federer.

Before 2008, with the exception of Nadal, Federer vanquished a lot of his competitors in the locker room.  It was the 2008 Australian Open semifinals which marked Federer’s transition to the land of mortals.  With Novak Djokovic halting Federer at that stage, it signaled to other adversaries that they had a prayer.  Although Federer’s languid movement, which could be ascribed to mononucleosis, contributed largely to his defeat.  The illness exposed a layer of vulnerability from which Federer had difficulty recovering the remainder of the year.  In some respects, this year seems a flashback to 2008 with the express difference that Federer’s counterparts are upstaging him even earlier at the majors; something unseen previously.

Why the transformation?  Confidence.  While Robin Soderling’s victory over Federer at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi this past February may have been categorized by some as insignificant.  In hindsight, it proved not to be trivial. That win cultivated in Soderling belief for their next meeting.  A few weeks ago at the French Open, Soderling had his initial triumph over Federer after 13 attempts.  Moreover, the encounter was historic as Soderling terminated Federer’s extraordinary streak of major semifinals at 23.

Another example is Tomas Berdych.  After eight successive takedowns by Federer, the mentally fragile Berdych bested his nemesis in Miami this year.  Then, in the Wimbledon quarterfinals, Berdych went on to replicate that feat.  Later, at the post match press conference, Federer revealed that a stiff back and a leg injury which first surfaced in Halle were in part to blame for his failure.

Indeed, there were echoes of Australia 2008 at Wimbledon this year.  Federer just seemed a step slower than his opponent.  Seldom would one associate the word mediocre with a Federer stroke, but it crept up to mind in watching his backhand.  Moreover, the sting had slipped off  the forehand side.  Consequently, the rest of Federer’s game could not coalesce.  In spite of the injuries, considering the result in Paris, the question lingers whether with a fully fit Federer, the outcome would have altered. Following the French Open, Federer’s ranking dropped to number two.  After Wimbledon, it dipped to number three, his lowest since November of 2003.

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Berdych and Roddick Lead a Stupendous Field at Legg Mason Classic

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Berdych and Roddick Lead a Stupendous Field at Legg Mason Classic


The Olympus U.S. Open series is on its D.C. stop this week.  Although Juan Martin Del Potro, the reigning U.S. Open and two time defending Legg Mason Classic champion, is sidelined by injury this year, numerous big names have made the trip to the nation’s capital to contest this coveted trophy.

This year’s superstar lineup is topped by Tomas Berdych, the new world number eight and 2010 Wimbledon finalist.  Berdych is making his third appearance in Washington, but his first as the number one seed.  The Czech will be aiming to improving on his semifinal result from 2005.

On the opposite side of the draw is perennial favorite Andy Roddick, the second seed.  Roddick, a three time champion and finalist in 2009, is hoping to rebound from a curtailed Wimbledon campaign.  Being on grounds which brought him tremendous success previously could be the remedy for the American’s blues.

Fernando Verdasco, the world number 10 and 2009 Australian Open semifinalist, is the third seed.  It’s Verdasco’s  maiden showing at the tournament.  With three titles already this year, Verdasco will be a certain threat.  Returning for the second straight year is Marin Cilic who is positioned as the fourth seed and a potential semifinal rival for Roddick.

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Nadal Marks Another Milestone in Madrid

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Nadal Marks Another Milestone in Madrid


Incredibly, an entire year had gone by since Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal clashed in a final.  At the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open, these two rectified that by battling for yet another Masters 1000 shield.  Nadal, the 2009 finalist, vanquished Federer, the defending champion, 6-4, 7-6 to claim an unprecedented 18th Masters shield surpassing Andre Agassi and a historic third straight Masters trophy.

Since prevailing at the Australian Open, Federer has been in a slump with early exits in Indian Wells, Miami and Rome.  The top seed in Estoril last week, Federer was stopped in the semifinals by the defending champion Albert Montanes.  Conversely, this season, Nadal has been again the “it guy” on clay with titles in Rome and Monte-Carlo.  By avenging his loss to Ernests Gulbis in Rome and beating David Ferrer, the hottest player on clay besides Nadal, in the semifinals, Federer seemed to be finding his form.  Still, Nadal would be the most intricate puzzle to solve.

Following a love opening game, with a forehand up the line error by Nadal, Federer had break point.  But, by provoking mistakes from Roger, Rafael held for 1 all.  Quickly, Nadal turned the tables and as a result of errors captured a break for 2-1.  However, as a backhand crosscourt by Nadal sailed long, Federer had triple break point.  Roger converted when Rafael’s forehand missed its mark.  With the players at 3 all, three successive miscues by Federer gave Nadal triple break point.  An unreturnable serve and two forehand winners allowed Federer to get to deuce.  Yet, after Federer failed to capitalize on a game point, Nadal connected on a backhand crosscourt pass for a winner and his fifth break chance.  When Federer netted the backhand, Nadal took a 4-3 lead.  Then, despite resistance from Federer, Nadal consolidated for 5-3.  Subsequent to a love hold, Federer hit a couple of great forehands and with a Nadal double fault obtained double break point.  Promptly, with back to back errors by his rival, Nadal got to deuce. Still, Federer manufactured two more break points,  But, with the return finding the bottom of the net on the next point, Federer could not get over the hump.  Finally, with a forehand crosscourt pass for a winner, Nadal punctuated the first set.

After Federer flubbed a volley on game point, Nadal went on to break to start the second set.  However, by baiting Nadal into a few mistakes, Federer arrived at double break point.  With a backhand crosscourt winner, Federer leveled the set.  Then, at 2 all, leading 40-15, Federer found himself at deuce.  By passing Federer two consecutive times, Nadal broke for 3-2.  After Nadal consolidated with an easy hold, Federer had a love service game to maintain a one game difference.  Taking the dropshot out of his arsenal for the first time, Federer fabricated triple break point.  When Nadal misfired with the forehand, the set was equalized at 4.  Then, with back to back aces, Federer crept ahead 5-4.  As neither guy was able to gain a break point, the decider was the tiebreaker.

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Just Like Old Times: Henin Pockets First Title Since Return

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Just Like Old Times: Henin Pockets First Title Since Return


After runner placements in Brisbane and the Australian Open, Justine Henin captured her first title since rejoining the tour.  At the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix, a premier indoor clay tournament, Henin prevailed over Samantha Stosur 6-4,2-6,6-1 in the finals.

Both Stosur and Henin entered as wildcards.  While the latter was unseeded, the former was seeded 7th and won 11 successive matches including a clay title in Charleston.  The first four games, each player readily held serve.  At 2 all, with a backhand down the line winner, Stosur had game point.  By connecting on a backhand down the line return, Henin leveled things at deuce.  After provoking an error from Stosur on a second game point, because of a double fault, Henin had break point.  With a strong forehand return, Henin forced another mistake from Stosur to seize the break.  As Henin served at 4-3, Stosur effaced a game point for deuce by forcing a forehand miscue.  Subsequently, Stosur manufactured a break point.  Henin got out of jail with a good serve and eventually held for 5-3.  Later, on her second set point, Henin bagged the first set.

As a result of a flubbed forehand volley, Stosur faced double break point in the second set.  However, Stosur rebounded with a myriad of good serves to hold for 2-1.  Next, serving at 2 all, by netting a backhand, Stosur stared at her third break point this set.  Again with a couple of huge serves, Stosur remained on track at 3-2.  Then, after Henin netted a forehand, Stosur had her initial break point.  Henin escaped with a decent serve. Next, with a forehand crosscourt pass winner, Stosur fabricated her second break point which she converted when Henin erred with a forehand up the line.  After consolidating for 5-2, with a forehand up the line winner, Stosur broke to take the set.

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Clijsters Clobbers Venus in 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Final

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Clijsters Clobbers Venus in 2010 Sony Ericsson Open Final


The grand duel predicted between Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters in the Sony Ericsson Open Final never materialized.   Instead, it was a 58 minute blow out as Clijsters ran away with the match 6-2, 6-1 to gather her second championship trophy in Miami.

After the semifinal with Justine Henin where Clijsters almost let the match get away, Kim knew that she would need to be well focused for the finals.  That’s exactly how Clijsters came out.  From the first game, Clijsters placed Venus’ serve under fire with two errors at 0-30.  Despite recovering to hold, this was a glimpse of how the rest of Venus’ day would unfold.  With Venus unable to find a first serve, Clijsters punished a second serve, forcing Williams into a forehand miscue for break point.  With another forehand error by Williams, Clijsters obtained the break for 2-1.  During the change over, Venus briefly called the trainer to re-wrap her left knee and right thigh.  Despite two double faults the subsequent game, Clijsters managed to get enough help from Williams in terms of mistakes to consolidate for 3-1.  The thinking was that Williams would rise up and challenge;  however, that did not happen.  Up 40-15, Venus botched an overhead then double faulted for deuce.  Williams also threw in a second straight double fault to give Clijsters break point.   When Venus netted the volley, Kim had a double break edge at 4-1. Thus, Clijsters sprinted away with the first set.

Still, the torture was only beginning  for Williams.  Subsequent to starting the second set with a double fault, Venus faced break point when a backhand crosscourt traveled long.  Despite erasing that with a good serve for deuce then getting to game point, Venus could not string together two consecutive points.  With a forehand up the line winner, Clijsters arrived at her second break point.  Venus allowed Clijsters the easy road to a second set lead by double faulting.  Following Clijsters consolidating with a love game, Williams shoveled herself into a 0-30 ditch.  At that moment, the crowd demanded a response from Venus with a round of applause.  Yet, this was to no avail.  Williams dumped another backhand into the net to face triple break point.  Unlike her match with Henin, Clijsters was not in a charitable mood.  Kim provoked a forehand crosscourt mistake from Venus to again widen the gap by a double break .  Next, with a backhand down the line winner, Clijsters grabbed an impressive 4-0 lead.  The subsequent game, Venus at least held to make the score respectable.  However, serving to lengthen the match, Venus committed her 29th unforced error to hand Kim triple match point.  With another flying forehand by Venus, Kim won the championship.

Taking nothing away from Clijsters, this was far from the performance expected from Williams, a 5 time Wimbledon champion.  Therefore, in the post match interview, MiamiTennisNews.com tried to ascertain exactly what the issue was with Venus:

Q.  Were you having timing issues with [your] serve today?
WILLIAMS:  No, . . . I think it was more or less my groundstrokes. . .  on my serve I go for it a lot, so that’s kind of the norm. . . I did start missing more first serves in the second set, so that didn’t help my cause.

Q.  Is it surprising to see how well Kim and Justine have done after their comeback and to just be able to go through a lot of top ranked players right off the [bat]?

WILLIAMS:  Yeah,. . . they’re playing really, really well.  This is just great and amazing for them.  They’re playing great.

After the match, Clijsters had this to say in reference to competing against someone who is struggling:  ” you constantly have to tell . . . and remind yourself to really keep [being aggressive and move forward], especially when you see that you have a second serve . . . it’s easier when things are really exciting and you’re both playing really [well] . . .  you almost have to be dominant and . . .  bring your best level.  But, when you feel like your opponent is not giving [her]  best tennis or bringing [ her] best tennis, you just really want to try . . . not focus on [her]  too much and just really focus on yourself.  [To] try to keep focusing on what you’re doing well.

For Clijsters, this win represents her 37th career title and her second of the year.  Kim prevailed in Brisbane over Justine prior to the Australian Open.  Clijsters’ ranking will move from 16 to 10 on Monday.  As a result of this defeat, Williams’ 15 match winning streak come to an end.  Regardless, Venus will get a slight bump in the ranking from 5 to 4.

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Venus Williams Bangs Up Bartoli to Reach Final in Miami

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Venus Williams Bangs Up Bartoli to Reach Final in Miami


Along with winning majors, Serena Williams has made a habit of hoisting the trophy in Miami, the “5th grand slam”.  In 2005 and 2009, Serena stopped sister Venus Williams from playing in the title match by beating her in the semifinals. Whilst Venus is disappointed that her sibling is unable to compete due to injury, she is perhaps relieved not to have to go through Serena to advance to the finals of the Sony Ericsson Open.  Today, Venus defeated Marion Bartoli 6-3,6-4 to book her space in the finals for the first time since 2001.

After a love hold, Venus got to triple break point when Bartoli double faulted.  Venus converted once Bartoli dumped a backhand crosscourt into the net.  Subsequent to erasing break point, with a backhand down the line winner, Venus extended her lead to 3-0.  In an atypical game where Venus committed two double faults, Bartoli was back on serve at 2-3.  However, after carrying the first point, Bartoli produced three consecutive double faults to hand Venus double break point.  Trying attain deuce, Bartoli contributed a fourth double fault to Venus’ cause, allowing the latter to get to 4-2.  With an easy game punctuated by a forehand winner, Venus consolidated for 5-2.  As Venus served for the set, Bartoli put up a fight.  Still, in the long run, Venus took the first set 6-3.

The second set by pushing Venus into errors, Bartoli broke at love for 3-1.  However, by doing the same the next game to her opponent, Venus got back on serve.  After each woman cancelled break point on her serve, Venus kicked into another gear and secured the break for 5-4.  Then, with two aces and a forehand volley winner, Venus arrived at triple match point.  Venus finally stamped her ticket into the finals when Bartoli’s return went out of bounds.

Since losing in the quarterfinals at the Australia Open to Na Li, Venus is on a 15-0 winning streak.  That includes defending titles back to back in Dubai and Acapulco.  In the Sony Ericsson Open final, Venus will contend with either Kim Clijsters or Justine Henin.  These two will do battle tonight.

Venus holds a 7-2 record versus Henin. But, at their last meeting, the 2007 U.S. Open,  Henin prevailed in straight sets.  Despite a 6-5 mark versus Clijsters, Venus has been on the wrong end their last three encounters including the 2009 U.S. Open.  Irrespective of the adversary that Venus faces, the finals possess all the ingredients for an excellent match.

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Quarterfinal Headliners at the 2010 SEO:  Henin, Wozniacki, Clijsters and Nadal

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Quarterfinal Headliners at the 2010 SEO: Henin, Wozniacki, Clijsters and Nadal


The remaining two women singles semifinal slots will be assigned today at the Sony Ericsson Open.  In addition, the men get their singles quarterfinal round under way.

Following women quarterfinal doubles action, Justine Henin and Caroline Wozniacki kick off the afternoon on stadium court.  For Wozniacki, this is her initial encounter with the four time French Open, two time U.S Open and 2004 Australian Open champion.  Afterwards, Andy Roddick battles Nicolas Almagro.  Likewise, it’s the first meeting for these guys.  Because the surface is hardcourt and not clay where Almagro has won his five ATP titles, Roddick has the advantage considering his superb results lately. Subsequently, Mike and Bob Bryan face Mariusz Fyrstenberg and Marcin Matkowski in the quarterfinals.

The women’s night session has Samantha Stosur and Kim Clijsters.  Although Clijsters has a 2-0 record versus Stosur,  their ultimate collision was in Miami in 2007.  A victory by Henin and Clijsters will result in an all Belgian semifinal in the bottom half of the draw.

The evening ends with the match featuring Rafael Nadal and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.  The only time Tsonga defeated Nadal was in the quarters of the 2008 Australian Open.  Since then, they have played three hotly contested matches.  With Tsonga performing well in Miami, this should be a great battle.

In addition, the grandstand focuses on male doubles with the team of Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez as well as Lukas Dlouhy and Leander Paes to name a few.

Here is today’s full schedule :

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31

STADIUM start 11:00 am
Y Chan (TPE) / J Zheng (CHN) vs [8] E Makarova (RUS) / S Peng (CHN) – WTA

Not Before 1:00 PM
[WC] J Henin (BEL) vs [2] C Wozniacki (DEN) – WTA

Not Before 3:00 PM
[6] A Roddick (USA) vs [33] N Almagro (ESP) – ATP
[8] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) vs [2] B Bryan (USA) / M Bryan (USA) – ATP

Not Before 7:00 PM
[9] S Stosur (AUS) vs [14] K Clijsters (BEL) – WTA

Not Before 9:00 PM
[8] J Tsonga (FRA) vs [4] R Nadal (ESP) – ATP

GRANDSTAND start 12:00 noon
[3] L Dlouhy (CZE) / L Paes (IND) vs B Becker (GER) / M Kohlmann (GER) – ATP

Not Before 6:00 PM
N Almagro (ESP) / T Robredo (ESP) vs F Lopez (ESP) / F Verdasco (ESP) – After appropriate rest


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Federer Tackles Questions Prior to Saturday Play at Sony Ericsson Open

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Federer Tackles Questions Prior to Saturday Play at Sony Ericsson Open


Roger Federer, world number one, will be holding court for the first time at 2010 Sony Ericsson Open on Saturday night.  This afternoon, though, Federer held a press conference at which MiamiTennisNews.com was present.  Here are some of the more salient remarks from the reigning Australian Open champion.

Q.  No doubt what happened to you last week at Indian Wells hurt.  We can could see that afterwards.  I mean, how much do defeats still really hurt you, at whatever level they come and whatever tournament they come?

FEDERER:  No, I mean, it was just disappointing on the moment itself.  Disappointed you don’t get a shot at winning the title.  I mean, it’s a long trip, and I’ve been practicing or trying to recuperate for weeks and weeks.  So when it’s over after one or two matches, it’s kind of  you know, you feel a little bit empty in the moment itself, in the moment that follows.  I mean, the press conference is three minutes after, which doesn’t help.  If I would do it the next day it would sound obviously much fresher.  And it was late and everything.  No, I mean, after that, you know, I’ve had many years where I run from one thing to the next that also I welcome having all of a sudden, you know, more days off, more days of practice, more days where I can just wake up and see what I really want to do instead of having the perfect plan the whole time.  So it’s nice to adjust that for a change, if there’s anything positive to take out of a loss.

Q.  MiamiTennisNews.com wanted to know since you had to withdraw from Dubai because of a lung infection.   Are you back to 100% now?

FEDERER:  Yeah, I mean, I felt good after, ever since I got the green light from the doctors, and I’ve been practicing hard before Indian Wells and also now in between.  So no issues whatsoever.  I’m fighting fit again.

Q.  Do you ever plan to play Latin American tour?  And what do you think of what happened down there?

FEDERER:  Yeah, I mean, it’s a tough circuit for me to attend really, because I have options to play indoor tournaments in Europe which are a one hour flight away and are indoors where I had my first success, which I really enjoy playing. Or I don’t play those and just go play Dubai, which is what I’ve been doing for many years.  So that’s why obviously to go to South America is almost impossible for me except for maybe exhibitions at the end of the year, which I guess at some stage I would consider.  But at the moment, especially with having a family as well, it’s  yeah, it’s not really in my plan, to be honest.  I’d love to go see more of it.  Back in maybe ’96 I played the junior circuit.  I mean, it wasn’t South America deep south, but I played Mexico, Costa Rica, and Venezuela.  That’s as close I’ve gotten really to get a feel for South America.

Q.  MiamiTennisNews inquired I believe you were the last person to win Indian Wells and Miami back to back.  Can you elaborate what’s so challenging about trying to win these two tournaments back to back?

FEDERER:  Two huge tournaments, tough draws, over three, four weeks you got to keep your concentration.  It’s not easy.  Obviously with a knockout system tennis it’s just not easy to win backtoback Masters 1000 events.  I think I did it for two years in a row.  I’m not sure about yeah, I was playing great and probably got lucky on one or two matches during the stretch.  That’s what you need, as well, if you want to try to win two in a row here.

Q.  Justine [Henin] said your winning the French really sort of put the fire back in her in terms of wanting to come back and play.  I know you’re a fan of the women’s game.  What is it you like about Justine and the way she approaches things?

FEDERER:  Well, one-handed backhand is something you don’t see very often.  I like that, you know, she doesn’t have too many letdowns.  You know, sometimes I see women players going through quite a few ups and downs during the match.  But she can really focus through an entire match.  Just putting in a solid performance every time she goes out on court.  She knows how to win the big titles.  She’s been in many pressure situations and she’s handled those well.  Yeah, something you can look up to.

Q.  What’s it like to still go out there and see people just to watch you practice?  What’s that like?  And do you ever just look around and say, Wow?

FEDERER:  Yeah, it’s funny how it goes.  You reach No. 1 in the world, and next time you practice you’ve got a crowd.  That’s something that was a very, you know, shockingly nice surprise when it happened, sort of, in 2004.  But it’s not easy.  I wish sometimes I was alone on the practice courts, because then you can really just relax a bit more.  But I feel like everything is documented, whatever I do in the practice courts.  So, sometimes I do feel the pressure, as well, and then you can’t just come in and walk in and out, you know.  You don’t have to, but of course I sign a lot of autographs and take pictures.  That always takes time away, too.  It’s just part of my life today.  But it definitely, you know, also wears you out at times.  I like to do it and put in the hard work because they make it so worthwhile, you know, to keep on playing and make it so much more fun.  I’m lucky enough to always be playing on center court and also the practice I get a lot of encouragement.  It’s nice they’re there, you know.  But, I definitely feel the pressure sometimes that they’re watching me, many of them probably for the first time in their lives, so it’s a big moment for them.  Especially here in Miami and also Indian Wells there’s huge crowds at the practice.  It’s nice, you know, because they’re really friendly and very enthusiastic.  So then obviously I like to spend even more time with them.

Federer was victorious on consecutive years from 2005-06 at Sony and reached the semifinals last year.  The holder of a record 16 majors, Federer will be attempting to win his 17th Masters’ shield.

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