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Federer Pushed but Unfazed to Earn a Third Round Spot at the Miami Open

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Federer Pushed but Unfazed to Earn a Third Round Spot at the Miami Open


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The customary sentiment when one is 19 years old and sees a living legend across the net as the opponent is panic. By the time, the realization has set that it is an actual competition, the score line usually reads something like 0-6 with the first set evaporating in less than half an hour. Frances Tiafoe may be young, but he demonstrated a maturity today that will serve him well in the future as he faced the 18 time majors champion, Roger Federer. Although the Swiss master penned another in the win column, he was tested by the teenager in his 7-6, 6-3 victory in the second round at the Miami Open.

Ranked 101, Tiafoe worked his way into the main draw by qualifying. Then, he prevailed in the first round to earn his date with the reigning Australian Open champion. In the opening game, the American gave a nice account of himself, not getting frazzled after a 40-love lead dwindled to 40-30. With a nice backhand down the line winner, Tiafoe kept the proceeding on serve at 2-1.

As the competitors waited in the tunnel for their names to be announced, Federer was jovial and relaxed, chatting with the kid tasked with carrying his bag on court. To the contrary, Tiafoe had his racket bag on his back, concentrating intently not to let nerves creep up, not glancing long at his opponent. As he once mentioned Federer is “too smooth to emulate. He makes it look too easy. He is everybody’s idol.”

Federer kept his cool in the eight and tenth games, serving consecutive love games to put the set on an even footing twice. Later, it was Tiafoe’s turn to get comfortably to 6-5. When the former world number one saw a breathtaking backhand winner whiz for 0-15, he did not blink. Ultimately, Federer pushed the set into a tiebreaker with an ace. From that point on, Federer’s experience shone. Subsequent to securing the first point and mini-break with a volley winner, Federer cruised to capture the set.

After surrendering the first set with a bevy of unforced errors, Tiafoe rebounded by seizing the first break chance in the match to start the second set. However, his joy was ephemeral as Federer created two chances of his own and shortly leveled the set. Another testy moment in the contest was the fourth game. With three miscues, Tiafoe dug himself a 0-40 hole. The youngster shoveled himself out to reach 2 all. Yet, soon his next time serving the American stared at 15-40, Federer applied the accelerator to grab the break. The Swiss promptly sealed a love game with an ace to consolidate and move ahead 5-2. Still, for Tiafoe, there was no let down as he held serve and forced Federer to earn the win. The world number six did so with an easy service game.

Following the match, Federer reflected “I’ve hit with Frances maybe twice before: Once at the French and once at the US Open. There he surprised me . . .I saw the power he had, the explosivity he had, how he easily can generate pace. So I think he’s going to be really good, like most of the NextGen campaign . . . they’re pushing each other up right now. They have a good dynamic. They are quite friendly also with one another yet they have good rivalry.” He also praised the youngster for not letting the moment overwhelm him “I think the question was always how was he going to come out. It’s the question for any player. Also for me. How can you start a match? [He] seemed to be fearless, no problem, good serving, taking the ball early, making the plays. And that I like to see”

Hard to phantom, but at 35, Federer still gets jittery at the start of an event “even though I was pretty relaxed before the match . . .Yesterday I got these flashes of, Ooh, it’s going to be exciting. Then you walk out on court and there is always a big roar here in Miami . . it’s nice to get it over and done with on the winning side. You feel quite relieved to some extent because you know it can be dangerous. I don’t know his patterns well, or at all. I was actually playing very well. He stayed with me for very long time. That can make you nervous if maybe I wouldn’t have been so confident.”

With possibly, 14,000 sets of eyes watching, this is the biggest stage that Tiafoe has been on up to now. When Federer deferred and asked him to serve, admittedly, it amped up his anxiety level. “At first, I think he was feeling my game, didn’t know what to expect I think”.

When asked what is the primary lesson to take from this encounter, Tiafoe cited that he is encouraged by the way he played and that the goal will be to work hard on his game so that the next time he encounters such a big name it won’t be as early in the tournament. What does he feel he could improve “my return game”. Since the American pinpointed at least one aspect of his game which requires improvement, that alone is progress.

As Federer emphasized “I hope he’s going to learn a lot from a match like this just because playing on a center court with a lot of people, under pressure, saving break points, making break points, playing breakers. That’s what it’s about, and it should feed a player like him with a lot of energy moving forward hopefully. . .we both played very well and both can maybe walk away from this match quite happy, which is not often in tennis that that’s maybe the case.”

Looking to the third round, Federer could collide with Juan Martin Del Potro “I would love to play against him. I’m happy for him with his comeback, winning at Davis Cup. . .I should have played him here last year but I was sick. It’s better to play him this time around when we’re both better. . . We’ve had some epic matches against each other: Semis at the French, Olympic semis, finals at the US Open.” But as the great one himself pointed out “I’m sure the crowd would love to see it. Robin Haase is going to have a say about that, as we know.”

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On Tap Thursday at the Miami Open:  Pliskova, Muguruza and Wozniacki

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On Tap Thursday at the Miami Open: Pliskova, Muguruza and Wozniacki



IMG_0720_MuguruzaIt’s an all American ladies’ line up on Stadium court at the Miami Open on Thursday as second round action gets underway. World number 3 Karolina Pliskova opens play on center court against American Madison Brengle. Later in the afternoon, 2012 Miami Open semifinalist and former world number one Carolina Wozniacki battles another American Varvara Lepchenko. The night cap has reigning French Open champion Garbine Muguruza taking on Christina McHale. With the former Spaniard by way of Venezuela, it should be an electric evening on Miami’s main show court.

On the men’s side, 19 year old American qualifier Frances Tiafoe tussles with Russsian Konstantin Kravchuk in his first round match. 20 year old promising Croatian Borna Coric precedes Tifae’s match as he squares off against Spanish veteran Marcel Granollers. Novak Djokovic’s slayer in the second round at this year’s Australian Open, Denis Istomin, faces Russian Andrey Kusznetsov.

Still, the day belongs to the women undoubtedly as 2012 Miami Open Champion Agnieszka Radwanska hopes to get back on track with a victory over China’s Qiang Wang. Australian Open 2017 semifinalist Coco Wandeweghe tries continue her wonderful 2017 with a deep run in South Florida. She takes on qualifier Jana Cepelova. Newly minted Indian Wells titlist Elena Vesnina starts her quest for the double crown as she looks to breeze through against Ajla Tomljanovic.

Click here for Thursday’s complete order of play.

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Federer is Back at the Miami Open, Faces Del Potro in Round Two

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Federer is Back at the Miami Open, Faces Del Potro in Round Two


IMG_1793_FedererAfter a few months’ hiatus due to knee surgery, Roger Federer is once again holding court. His initial stop is the Miami Open which marks the two time champion’s return to the Magic City since 2014.

In his first match, the 17 time major holder squares off against Juan Martin Del Potro the 2009 U.S. Open winner. The Argentine himself is on the road back from injury after a second wrist surgery sidelined him for almost two years. Del Potro bounced fellow countryman Guido Pella in straight sets last evening in order to book a second round date with the Swiss. Federer leads in their head to head 15-5. However, of late, their matches have been quite close with Del Potro besting Federer at home to take the title in Basel in 2012 and 2013.

At today’s press conference preceding this marquee showdown, Federer discussed a myriad of topics including the upcoming match.

Reflecting back on his injury, Federer cited ” very sad when I did get the news I did have to have an operation because I thought I was going to get through my career without any. It was a big shock. . . I’m excited. Anxious to find out how it’s going to react, is it going to be different day-to-day, how is it going to feel after the match and so forth. I’m just really pleased that I’m here. Couldn’t be more happy how rehab has gone. It’s baby steps. Still at the same time you go from crutches to walking to running to jumping to sprinting. It’s pretty incredible to see the progress I’ve been able to make in a short period of time.”

About his opponent, Federer commented ” I like Juan Martin. We’ve had good matches over the years, Paris, five sets twice, US Open obviously. It’s nice to see him back. I haven’t seen him play at all since he’s been back, so I’m not quite sure what to expect. At the end I’m going to focus on my own game tomorrow, my own mind, managing my problems that I’ve had the last few months. Just also enjoy it out there. We’re both in a similar situation. His injury was much, much greater. That’s why I’m really pleased for him that he was able to find a way back onto the tour.”

Tennis has seen it’s share of controversies in 2016 from match fixing to Maria Sharapova’s revelation of use of a prohibited substance, the season only three months old. The latest involves parity in prize money regardless of gender. Here is Federer’s take on the subject ” we don’t always get the same like the women, as well. I think it depends on what tournaments we are talking about . . . I’m all for equal prize money. When I was fighting for prize money increases, especially at the slam level, I was always very aware of the fact that it was always going to impact the women’s game, which I was very happy about. . . But then you have to look at the history of each and every event. Some tournaments were a men’s tournament, then the women joined or vice versa. It’s sometimes hard to make equal prize money there. It’s up to the tournament director to decide if he wants it to be that way. It’s already happening here, Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid as well, all the slams. I’m happy that tennis has produced some of the greatest female athletes in the world. . . It’s a great platform. Equal prize money is a good thing.”

Federer’s campaign for the Miami Open title will be treacherous with world number one Novak Djokovic a likely semifinal rival should he get that far. The Swiss master’s first ball strike is on Friday.

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

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

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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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Murray Finally Snares Elusive Wimbledon Trophy

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Murray Finally Snares Elusive Wimbledon Trophy


Image ©CameraSport

Image ©CameraSport

For over seven decades, since 1936 to be precise, Great Britain has been restless for a homegrown male victor at the All-England Club. Today, it got to uncork that seventy-seven year old bottle of bubbly as Andy Murray held off Novak Djokovic 6-4, 7-5, 6-4 to claim his initial Wimbledon title and his second career major.

Last season after the disappointment of losing in the Wimbledon final, Murray bested Djokovic in the semifinals and Roger Federer in the next round to earn Olympic Gold in London a few months later. That feat along with having a major under his belt, the 2012 U.S. Open, were undoubtedly confidence boosters as Murray sauntered on the court to compete.

With Rafael Nadal and Federer knocked out in the first and second round respectively, Murray was expected to walk into the final. However, in the quarterfinals, the Brit had to overcome a 2 sets to none deficit against Fernando Verdasco. Also, in the semifinals, Murray surrendered the first set before ultimately taking control against newcomer Jerzy Janowicz.

Subsequent to beating all comers in straight sets, Djokovic needed five against an injured Juan Martin Del Potro who kept coming back from the brink in the longest semifinal in the tournament’s existence 4 hours and 43 minutes.

When Djokovic and Murray collided in the 2013 Australian Open final, Murray never broke despite a myriad of chances. So, when triple break point for Murray came and went in the opening game, the nail biting began for the spectators.

Later, with a forehand up the line volley winner, Murray had his seventh break point of the initial set. He converted with a backhand down the line winner. However, the public’s joy was ephemeral. Because of a slew of miscues, Murray dropped the next game at love and the set was leveled at 2 all.

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Murray Endures Gritty Ferrer to Bag his Second Sony Open Trophy

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Murray Endures Gritty Ferrer to Bag his Second Sony Open Trophy


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Britain’s Andy Murray had more at stake today than the Miami title. Hoisting the Sony Open trophy would signify the number two world ranking. The reigning U.S. Open defeated Spaniard David Ferrer 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 to obtain his second Sony Open prize.

Ferrer, who was making his maiden appearance in the final in Miami, his fifth at the ATP Masters 1000 level, knew from the outset it would be an uphill battle. Ferrer’s first ATP Masters 1000 title came in November after being denied three times prior.

Although Murray had a slight 6-5 lead in their head to head, the Spaniard has just one win on hardcourt. The others have been on clay. In 2011, these two collided at the Masters tournament in Shanghai, Murray triumphed in two sets.

Moreover, history was not on Ferrer’s side. Three compatriots, including Rafael Nadal three times, have gone down in the final at the Miami Masters. Also, Ferrer has an abysmal mark against top five players, 0-12.

Nevertheless, this was far from the Spaniard’s mind as he salvaged two break points in his opening service game, then went on a five game run to lead 5-0 in the first set.

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Djokovic Captures Historic Third Successive Australian Open Title

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Djokovic Captures Historic Third Successive Australian Open Title



Novak Djokovic defeated Andy Murray 6-7, 7-6, 6-3, 6-2 in the final of the Australian Open to become the first player in the Open Era to hoist that trophy three years in a row.

With extensive baseline rallies, a well contested opening set left Djokovic with a sour taste after he failed to capitalize on four break points in the sixth game and another in the eighth. Ultimately, the set was settled by a tiebreaker.

As a result of a double fault, Djokovic spotted his opponent a 1-0 advantage. From there, Murray took full advantage and ran away with the tiebreaker 7-2.

Subsequent to a love hold, Murray had triple break point courtesy of a litany of miscues by Djokovic, By reverting to his defensive style, Murray wasted those opportunities which allowed Djokovic to guard serve for 1 all.

As the second set progressed, each player dug in and protected serve quite comfortably. Again, a tiebreaker was needed to decide the set’s winner.

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Roddick Beats Murray to Reach Final at the Miami Tennis Cup

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Roddick Beats Murray to Reach Final at the Miami Tennis Cup



The inaugural semifinal at the Miami Tennis Cup featured Andy Roddick, who bowed out of the game this year, against reigning U.S. Open champion Andy Murray. Roddick, 2003 U.S. Open winner, prevailed 6-3, 6-2 over Murray to book his spot in tomorrow’s final.

Murray has had the upper hand in this rivalry with an 8-3 record. Consequently, Roddick was hungry for a victory although this is an exhibition tournament.

After converting on an early break point, Roddick built a 4-1 cushion. Down the road, on his third break point opportunity, courtesy of a Murray backhand crosscourt miscue, Roddick bagged the set 6-2 when Murray committed a second consecutive backhand crosscourt mistake.

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Serena Williams Wards Off Azarenka for a Fourth U.S. Open Title

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Serena Williams Wards Off Azarenka for a Fourth U.S. Open Title



In the final at the U.S. Open, Serena Williams held off world number one Victoria Azarenka 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 to grab her fourth U.S. Open trophy and her 15th career major
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With singles and doubles prizes at both Wimbledon and the Olympics, it has been a dream summer for Williams. Moreover, she’s demolished the field to reach the final this fortnight.

Azarenka had the harder road in booking her maiden appearance in the final in New York. The Belarusian fought past defending champion Stosur in the quarterfinals and survived another three setter in the semifinals against Maria Sharapova.

After closing out the opening game with an ace, Williams manufactured love-40. Even though Azarenka managed to get to deuce, Serena arrived at a fifth break point with a backhand lob winner.

When Azarenka’s backhand sailed long, Williams captured the break. Soon, with another quick game, Williams consolidated for 3-0.

Surrendering only six points on her serve, at 5-2, Williams broke Azarenka at love to bed the first set in 34 minutes.

Williams and Azarenka clashed on ten prior occasions, with the former winning nine of those encounters. Consequently, it seemed like 2008, Williams would cruise to the title without dropping a set. But, Azarenka demonstrated why she is the reigning Australian Open champion.

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