Tag Archive | "Wimbledon"

Unmatched:  Djokovic Trounces Nadal For A Record Making Seventh Australian Open Title

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Unmatched: Djokovic Trounces Nadal For A Record Making Seventh Australian Open Title


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The 53rd career meeting between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, world number 1 and 2 respectively, took place in the final at the Australian Open. The Serb dominated the 17 time major champion 6-3, 6-2, 6-3 to hoist the trophy for an unprecedented seventh occasion and bank his 15th major title.

Djokovic continued to display the form that garnered him the last 2 majors, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, beginning the match with a love hold. Quickly, the world number one had double break point when Nadal buried a backhand crosscourt into the net. The Spaniard had not yielded a break since the opening round. With Nadal flubbing an easy forehand, Djokovic secured the game. He bolstered the break by capturing his 8th consecutive service point for 3-0. After saving break point, Nadal finally posted a game on the board. Still, Djokovic kept on rolling extending his lead to 5-2 after his fourth hold at love. The Serb surrendered only 1 point as he shut out the opening set 6-3.

Few competitors have succeeded in frustrating Nadal or making him look ordinary, especially in a final at a major. That’s exactly what Djokovic accomplished up to this point. After Nadal pocketed a tough first game to start the second set, Djokovic breezed through to square the proceedings at 1 all. With another arduous game, Nadal had his first lead for 2-1. However, the satisfaction was short lived as Djokovic cruised again on his serve to level the score at 2-2. The next few minutes pressed into mistakes after mistakes, Nadal stared at double break point as he hit his racket in disgust. As the Spaniard’s lob landed long, Djokovic converted the break for 3-2. Nadal’s best chance came the following game at 15-30 and deuce. But, the Serb pushed harder on the accelerator to eventually consolidate for 4-2. With a forehand up the line winner, soon, Djokovic was in position to nab a double break lead. He did so when Nadal dumped another forehand stroke into the net. The Serb finished the second set by winning four successive games.

Up to this juncture, Nadal had yet to manufacture a break point. His forecourt game which had worked beautifully this fortnight had deserted him, his first serve offered no solace. As Djokovic blanketed the baseline, Nadal was literally being pushed out of the stadium with each stroke. The Spaniard needed to rethink his tactics, minimize his errors and have his rival’s level of play dip. In the third game, misfiring on a forehand down the line, Nadal gave Djokovic double break point. With the Spaniard unable to handle a forehand volley, the Serb grabbed the break for 2-1. There had never been a straight sets victory in all of their previous 7 major finals. Winning 86% of his first serves, 89% of his second, with 28 winners and 4 unforced errors up to now, Djokovic was looking to make this one the first. Subsequent to his counterpart consolidating for 3-1, Nadal quickly held to keep the deficit at one game. In the sixth game, at last, Nadal had his maiden break point of the contest when Djokovic netted a makeable forehand. Anew, Nadal’s backhand failed to clear his side of the net, the score was at deuce. Djokovic simply would not be denied. With a couple of winners, the Serb was at 4-2. Down 3-4, Nadal again pushed his opponent to deuce, but to no avail. With a let court volley winner, Djokovic marched on for 5-3. Then, after 2 hours and 4 minutes, a forehand up the line winner gave the Serb double championship point. Djokovic cashed in on his second opportunity, when Nadal’s backhand went long.

The 2009 victor had these words for his rival “many congratulations to Novak and his team. It was an amazing level of tennis tonight and during both weeks, well done.” Still for Nadal, all is not lost “even though tonight was not my best day…It’s been a very important 2 weeks for me. I have been going through tough moments during the last year. . . since the U.S. Open I was not able to play a professional match until the first round of the Australian Open. For me so important to be where I am today coming back from injury. [This] is going to be good energy, good inspiration for myself, for what’s coming. I’m going to keep fighting hard, keep working hard to be a better player. . . Sometimes, this tournament has been hard for me, in terms of injury and opponents like tonight [laughing]. But I’m going to keep practicing, putting all the things that I have to comeback and give myself better chances in the future.”

Never one to forget the spectators, the Spaniard recognized them by saying “all the people, all the fans have been fantastic. The connection with all of you is difficult to describe. When I am not playing what I miss the most is the support and the love of all of you, many thanks”.

For Nadal, it’s always about perspective “I know tennis is not forever. We are not 20 anymore. My only goal is to keep going and fight for the thing that makes [me] wake up every morning. I want to do it as long as I can. You appreciate your rivals because you share a lot of important moments in your lives”.

Collecting his seventh Norman Brooks Challenge Cup, Djokovic complemented Nadal “on a great couple of weeks. . . You were unfortunate throughout your career to go through some injuries. You are showing me, other colleagues and many young tennis players throughout the world what is the definition of the fighting spirit and resilience, thank you for that”.

Djokovic went on to say “I had surgery exactly twelve months [ago]. To be standing now in front of you today, managing to win, this title, 3 out of 4 slams, this is truly amazing. I am speechless.” Moreover, he cited “I would like to thank my team. [Tennis] is an individual sport, but you guys are always behind me, tolerating me on my bad days. You are putting together a great successful formula that is working really well. Marian [Vajda], thank you for coming back to my team. . . [to my wife and kids], trophies are even more special when I have someone so dear, so special to me in my life to share it with. They are the dearest thing next to my parents and two brothers. I want to thank them for unconditional support. Through all these years, they’ve sacrificed a lot of their time and energy for me to live my dream, I always try to remind myself and not take that for granted”.

For Djokovic, in addition to the physical, it also seemed a matter of motivation, the last couple of years. But, he certainly found it again “the very essence of why I play the sport, love and passion for the game. I had to dig deep. That kind of pure emotion got me going. Nadal historically throughout my life and career has been the greatest rival that I’ve played against. Those kind of encounters have made me the player I am today without a doubt. These are the kind of matches you live for, the finals of slams against the greatest rival, what else can you ask for”, indeed. If Djokovic maintains the kind of focus he’s demonstrated since June of 2018, he will be impossible to halt. Consequently, 2019 may be the year which marks finally a true grand slam, Djokovic holding all 4 majors in the same calendar year.

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Osaka Soars with First Australian Open Championship and Claims Number One Ranking

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Osaka Soars with First Australian Open Championship and Claims Number One Ranking


Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships - Day 6 - Saturday 7th July 2018 -  All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club - Wimbledon - London - England
The 2019 Australian Open championship was a contest between two endearing women. Naomi Osaka world number 4 and Petra Kvitová ranked 8th. The fact that these were not novices, the former the reigning U.S. Open champion and the latter 2 time Wimbledon titlist, foretold the potential for a thrilling final. It lived up to its billing. In the end, Osaka walked away with the Daphne Akhurst trophy by prevailing 7-6, 5-7, 6-4.

Osaka displayed her anxiety by double faulting to begin the match. Yet, the Japanese star managed to hold serve. Her initial time, Kvitová sailed through with a love game which Osaka duplicated for 2-1. In the fifth game, Kvitová twice tattooed backhand crosscourt return winners to set up break points. Still, Osaka found the ripcord to stay on serve at 3-2. Then by forcing a forehand miscue from her rival, the Japanese player set up break point. However, the Czech star successfully extricated herself out of that situation. Swiftly, with a double fault and backhand mistake by Osaka, Kvitová had triple break point. Anew, the 2018 U.S. Open winner battled to level the score at deuce and pocketed the game for 4-3. Serving at 5-6, Kvitova netted a backhand to gift Osaka set point. With a winner, the Czech wrestled herself out of that jam. Osaka had a second chance to wrap up the set which she wasted. Thus, the tiebreaker was called upon. Osaka took control by striking backhand down the line return winner for a 2-0 mini break lead. Then, with a forehand up the line winner, she secured a 5-1 cushion. The Japanese competitor promptly closed out the set.

Kvitová responded to the challenge by holding to start the second. Also, seventh time was the charm, as the Czech thumped a forehand return crosscourt for a winner to break for 2-0. Unable to consolidate on three game points, Kvitova double faulted to hand Osaka break point. Soon, Kvitova misfired on a backhand to donate the game. Later, Osaka converted on triple break point and bagged the next 4 games. Nevertheless, Kvitová didn’t relent. Down 3-5 and 0-40, one point from defeat, with stellar serving, the Czech won the next 5 points to hold. Incredulous, Osaka faltered attempting to finish things off. Visibly perturbed as a double fault handed Kvitová double break point. Osaka erred on a forehand to equalize the set at 5 all. After salvaging break point, Kvitová seized on a break point opportunity. She pocketed the 4 consecutive games to push the final to a deciding set.

Towards the latter part of the second, Osaka’s emotions overwhelmed her. She berated herself for each error and concluded with a double fault on triple break point. Coming out to play the third, it’s as if she turned on the serenity switch. Kvitová continued the momentum with a love hold. However, the Japanese star halted the slide for 1-1. Then, she capitalized on a double fault which contributed break point by landing a backhand crosscourt winner. Subsequently, Osaka extended her lead to 3-1. Still, the Czech preserved. Serving at 2-4 and down 0-40, once again, Kvitová escaped by connecting choice serves and winners. Surely, Osaka had to do her utmost to block out the sensation of deja vu. Unlike the second set, Osaka shrugged away the evaporated chances with a love game. Regardless, Kvitová was going to make the 21 year old earn the victory after holding for 4-5. Demonstrating nerves of steel, Osaka stepped up with an ace, forehand up the line winner and provoked a backhand wide from Kvitová to arrive at triple championship point. Finally as on Osaka’s 5th try, as Kvitová backhand travelled wide, she secured the trophy.

A home invasion in December 2016 caused injury to four of Kvitova’s fingers on her left hand as she warded off an attacker carrying a knife. Following her surgery, Kvitová’s tennis future was in limbo. In an interview before the match, the Czech cited “Not many people believe that I can do that again[get to the final after five years]. I did not know if I would ever play tennis again, it’s been a long journey.”

After the match, the admirable runner up expressed “it’s crazy. I can’t believe I played a final of a grand slam again” as spectator shouted “we love you Petra”. A feeling that clearly reverberated through the stadium and touched her deeply. Kvitová went on to say despite the outcome “it’s a great tournament so for me it’s a big honor to hold this beautiful trophy as well.” The 2 time major holder turned to her opponent “It was a great final well done Naomi; to your team as well. You really played well. Congrats on being number one.”

Above all, Kvitová realized that without the support from family, friends and her team, she would never reach this stage “thank you for sticking with me even though we didn’t know if I’d be able to hold the racket again. Every single day supporting me, staying positive for me when I really needed it. It probably wasn’t easy. Thank you so much”.

Osaka is the first back to back winner at the majors since Serena Williams in 2015 and the first since Jennifer Capriati in 2001 to triumph at their initial first two tries at the majors. In disbelief of her accomplishments, Osaka began by apologizing “sorry, public speaking is really not my strong side. Huge congrats to you Petra. I’ve always wanted to play you, you’ve been through so much. Honestly, I would not have wanted this to be our first match. Huge congrats to you and your team. You are really amazing and I’m really honored to have played you in the final of a grand slam”.

The Japanese player went on to say to the crowd “I want to thank you guys for coming and watching. It’s really hot at times, [nevertheless], you come out and show support. I really want to show my gratitude to you”. She also acknowledged her box “I don’t think I would have made it through this week without you guys. Behind a tennis player there is always a team, so I’m really grateful. So thank you everyone. I’m really honored to have played in this final”.

The experience was quite different from Osaka’s last outing in a major final “In New York, the crowd was for Serena. Here it felt like it was split. When I heard the crowd was for both of us, I was happy. At the same time, I was just focused on playing the match”. Referring to her meltdown at the closure of the second set, Osaka confessed when she walked off “I was in tears. [She told herself] my second time playing in a final, I can’t act entitled playing one of the best players in the world to loose a set and suddenly, I think I am so much better than her that it isn’t a possibility. I wanted to enjoy my time here. Last year, I lost in the fourth round. This year I was in the final. I wanted to enjoy my time and have no regrets about today”

Osaka’s rise appears meteoric to those on the sidelines, finishing at 144 in 2015, floundering in the top 70’s in 2017 to this stage. Yet, she iterated “to me it doesn’t. For me, every practice, every match that I’ve played, the year feels short and long at the same time. But I’m aware of all the work that I’ve put in; I’m aware of all the sacrifices that every player does to stay at this level. In my opinion, it didn’t feel fast. It feels kind of long”.

Prior to the match, Osaka reflected “everyone has dreams that they want to win. I’ve had dreams that I’ve won this tournament and I don’t want to jinx it. Now that I’ve won a grand slam, the biggest thing for me is the belief. I think I believe in myself more this year. I want to win another one. I feel lucky that I’m kind of unknown. I’m a ghost, you don’t see me”. Even if she or others may have thought the U.S. Open was a fluke, with her second major, Osaka is no longer invisible any longer. Moreover, by ascending to world number one, she has beenforced out the shadow into the light. The Australian Open is her coming out party.

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2012 Miami Open Champion Agnieszka Radwanska Announces Retirement

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2012 Miami Open Champion Agnieszka Radwanska Announces Retirement


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Agnieszka Radwanska, the 2012 Miami Open champion, announced her retirement from the WTA professional tennis tour. The former world number 2 from Poland made history when she became the first Polish player, man or woman, to reach a Major singles final at the 2012 Wimbledon Championships. Known for her crafty all court game, Radwanska will be missed on the WTA tour.

Here is the official press release from the Women’s Tennis Association:

Poland’s Agnieszka Radwanska announced today her retirement from professional tennis. She leaves the game following 20 career WTA singles titles, highlighted by the 2015 BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore presented by SC Global trophy.

Radwanska became the first player from Poland – man or woman – to reach a Grand Slam singles final at 2012 Wimbledon, which helped her reach a career high ranking of WTA World No.2. She earned over $27.6 million in prize money over her career, which currently ranks seventh on the all-time career prize money earnings list.

“Today, after 13 years of playing tennis competitively, I have decided to end my career,” said Radwanska in her statement. “This was not an easy decision. I am grateful to have so many special memories, including 20 WTA titles, the WTA Championships in Singapore, a Wimbledon final, and so many others.”

In addition to her on court accomplishments, Radwanska, also known as “the Magician” by fans and media due to her crafty style of play, was voted the WTA Fan Favorite for six consecutive years.

“Congratulations to Agnieszka on an outstanding career,” said WTA CEO and Chairman Steve Simon. “Agnieszka embodies the qualities that make a true champion, on the court delivering world class performances and incredible displays of athleticism, and off the court with her poise, professionalism and support for her fellow players. Agnieszka leaves a legacy on the game across the globe and on behalf of the WTA, she will truly be missed.”

Radwanska played her last professional match in September at the KEB Hana Bank Incheon Airport Korea Open in Seoul.

Click here to read more on Radwanska’s remarkable career.

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Djokovic Vanquishes Del Potro for Third U.S. Open Crown

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Djokovic Vanquishes Del Potro for Third U.S. Open Crown


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In 2002, Pete Sampras capped his illustrious career by claiming his 14th major at the U.S. Open, a number which seemed insurmountable for future generation at the time. Today, Novak Djokovic downed Juan Martin Del Potro 6-3, 7-6, 6-3 to hoist the U.S. Open trophy, tying Sampras’ record.

What was suppose to be a routine seventh service game for Del Potro, up 40-0, turned into a nightmare as Djokovic induced a series of miscues to seize the break. Quickly, with an uneventful hold, the Serb sealed the first set.

On the surface, it was a straight sets victory. However, the match was anything but straightforward. After Djokovic broke in the opening game of the second set, Del Potro returned the favor in the fifth game. Up 4-3, the Argentine could not penetrate Djokovic’s formidable defense. Consequently, the Serb dismissed three break points in an eighth game which lasted 20 minutes. The set was decided by a tiebreaker. After the initial three points went against the server, Del Potro finally gained a 3-1 advantage with a forehand down the line winner. Yet, with the same stroke misfiring, the players were back on serve. With two consecutive errors on serve, Del Potro went down 4-5. As the Argentine’s forehand, his most ominous weapon, deserted him, a 95 minutes set terminated with Del Potro netting a crosscourt forehand.

Again it was Djokovic pocketing the early break for 3-1 in the third set. Still, Del Potro clawed his way back and ultimately levelled the score. Djokovic’s steady play put an end to Del Potro’s two game streak and the Serb moved ahead 4-3. Promptly with a forehand flub and a double fault, Del Potro stared at double break point. As the Argentine’s backhand sailed wide, Djokovic secured the 5-3 lead. Soon, a forehand down the line winner gave Djokovic match point. It was all the Serb needed as he struck an overhead winner to conclude the set and nab his third championship after 3 hours and 15 minutes.

A chant broke out from his horde of fans as the 2018 finalist stepped up to the mic during the trophy ceremony. Del Potro cited “it’s not easy to speak right now, but I love you too guys. I’m so happy to be playing the final against this magnificent idol. He is one of my friends on tour, he knows if there is one player I want to watch winning title is him. Of course, I’m sad because I [loss], but I’m happy for Novak and his team as well. You deserve to win”.

For Del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open titlist and world number three, it’s been a long journey to his second major final. With multiple wrist surgeries, there was doubt that he would ever return to this caliber of tennis. He expressed “I never gave up. . . I was trying to fix all my injuries to be back here, I got it after nine years which is amazing to me because the U.S. Open is my favorite tournament on tour and I am very proud for that”.

Always one to look at the glass more than half full, Del Potro conveyed in Spanish “I want to thank my team, all those who have helped me to get to this stage, my friends, all the people who have supported me. Even from those in Argentina, I could feel the energy. Lastly, I believe at times one can win or lose a tournament, but the love of the people is worth as much as this trophy. I already have this trophy, so I’ll take away with me the love from all of you”.

Post elbow surgery in March, Djokovic was an average player. A semifinal run in Rome where he fell to Rafael Nadal improved his record to 7-6. After an unexpected ousting by Marco Cecchinato in the quarterfinals at Roland Garros, Djokovic may have hoped, yet, it would hard to imagine that he’d bank on triumphs at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. He credits his resurgence to the “support of the love ones, my kids, my wife, my team, a small group of people that has been with me through difficult times as well. When I had the surgery this year, I could truly understand what Juan Martin was going through. . . You learn from adversity. . . I tried to take the best out of myself in these moments.”

What does this title signify for Djokovic, equaling Sampras’ feat, third on the all time list “I was hoping he was going to be here tonight, Pete you are my idol and I love you”. Moreover, Djokovic stated “I want to congratulate Juan Martin for what he has done, coming back last five years, having faith and belief in himself that one day he will be a top player. I wish him all the best. I know he is going to be here again with the champion trophy”.

With Nadal retiring in the semifinals with a knee injury after being down 2 sets to Del Potro, his future is uncertain. Thus, with this win, Djokovic gains traction, moving from a ranking of six to top three. As such, he has a realistic shot at ending as the year end number one.

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Djokovic Picks Up Fourth Wimbledon Trophy

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Djokovic Picks Up Fourth Wimbledon Trophy



Novak Djokovic dispatched Kevin Anderson 6-2, 6-2, 7-6 in the Wimbledon finals in order to acquire his 4th major at that the All England Club.

At the beginning of this fortnight, it’s unlikely that the odds maker had the South African on their radar. Anderson, the 2017 U.S. Open runner up, shocked Roger Federer in the quarterfinals. Never previously winning a set in their four prior meetings, he overcame a 0-2 set deficit, match point, to prevail 13-11 in the fifth, in a match lasting 4 hour and 14 minute. Two days later, clashing with John Isner, a player no stranger to marathon matches, Anderson outlasted the American 26-24 in the decisive set, he was on court for 6 hour and 36 minute. Djokovic for his part endured a 5 hour 15 minute tussle with Rafael Nadal in the semifinals over two days edging the Spaniard 10-8 in the fifth. Would fatigue be a factor as Anderson attempted to elevate his status not only to the first South African to get to the last dance, but to that of victor at this venue?

The two competitors had met 6 times before. The South African’s sole win was at the Miami Open in 2008. Anderson’s inability to connect on his most valuable asset the serve, gave Djokovic the initial game as the South African double faulted. Swiftly with another errant forehand by Anderson, Djokovic consolidated for 2-0. Later, with Anderson dumping a backhand volley into the net, Djokovic capitalized on another break point and with a love game padded his lead to 5-1. With this insurmountable advantage, Djokovic eventually captured the set.

Concern over his right elbow prompted Anderson to call the trainer for treatment, however, this was not sufficient to slow down Djokovic. A backhand miscue handed Djokovic breakpoint in the opening game. In a carbon copy of the first set, the Serb cashed in and after a hold jumped in front 2-0. Down the road, a double fault by Anderson gifted Djokovic 15-40. With the South African’s forehand up the line landing wide, Djokovic moved ahead 4-1. Serving for the set at 5-2, Djokovic’s stroke misfired off a tremendous return by his opponent. Yet, Anderson failed to convert on his first break opportunity. Djokovic went on to pocket the second set.

In the third set, with time his adversary, Anderson changed tactics slightly by coming to the net more frequently. In the eight game, a let court allowed the South African to control the point and get a break chance. However, with his backhand traveling long, Djokovic arrived at deuce and ultimately leveled the score at 4-4. The Serbian stared down two set points in his next service game. After a love hold by Anderson for 6-5, his best window to take the set came with Djokovic’s forehand down the line flub giving him 15-40. Still it was a no go. A third break point was swiftly dismissed by Djokovic. Soon with an ace, the score was 6-6. In the tiebreaker, Djokovic curled a forehand up the line pass for a winner for 3-1. Then, with Anderson’s backhand volley missing it’s target, the Serb sprinted to a 5-1 edge. With Anderson’s return finding the net, Djokovic sealed the deal at 7-3.

Anderson drove as hard as he could to make the match competitive “first and second sets, Novak beat up on me pretty bad. The whole fortnight I tried my best to keep at it, came a point or two from pushing it to the fourth set. It would have been great to play longer here. But playing against Novak isn’t easy. He is a true champion of our sport and congratulation to him.” Commenting on his physical condition, Anderson said “I am definitely not as fresh now as I was coming into the week. But this is such an amazing tournament for us players. We dedicate our whole lives to fight for a spot to be on this court. . . there’s only been a few individuals who’ve made it out here, so that’s what it takes for me to get to here, I would have given another 21 hours. It really meant a lot to me.”

After a 2 year drought, Djokovic has his 13th major “It feels amazing [to be holding the trophy] because for the first time I have someone screaming daddy, daddy. . . I’m very emotional. . . I want to congratulate Kevin and his team. . . In his first Wimbledon final, he didn’t play his best for two sets, but in the third, he was the better player. I was quite lucky to get through ”

Following his career grand slam achievement in 2016 at the French Open, Djokovic hit a dirt patch with only two titles in 2017. A round of 16 exit at the Australian Open this year finally convinced him that a niggling elbow issue could not be fixed with rehab, he underwent surgery. In addition, returning to familiar roots, coach Marian Vjada, considering today’s outcome was his most astute decision. Djokovic cited “I had to trust the process. . . I owe a great thanks to my team, last couple of years it hasn’t been easy. With a severe injury, I had many moments of doubt and did not know whether I could come back to a level to compete. . . No better place in the world to make a comeback, it’s a sacred place for the world of tennis”

When the new rankings are revealed, Djokovic will rejoin the top 10 from his current position at 21. While Anderson crack the top 5 for the first time from his spot at 8.

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Kerber Stymies Serena for Maiden Wimbledon Title

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Kerber Stymies Serena for Maiden Wimbledon Title



Angelique Kerber was at this stage twice before in 2016, meeting Serena Williams in finals. At the Australian Open, she surprised the American to obtain her first major. But Williams turned the tables on the grass to acquire her 7th Venus Rosewater dish. Today, Kerber’s steely defense once again proved impenetrable as she bested Serena 6-3, 6-3 to finally earn the coveted silverware.

This was their 9th meeting with Williams holding a 6-2 winning record. Subsequent to starting the match with 30-0, Serena committed a string of unforced errors to gift Kerber the opening game. The German backed up the break by claiming the second game. After seven unforced errors, the total of what she tallied the entire match in the semifinals facing Kerber’s compatriot, Julia Goerges, Williams settled down. With a break at love, she levelled the score at 2 all. But with consecutive double faults in the seventh game, the American found herself under the gun at 0-40. With Williams’ forehand landing long, Kerber secured a crucial break and by pocketing the next game led 5-3. With Serena’s backhand finding the net at 30-40, Kerber pocketed her third break and the first set.

Coming into the finals, the American had the fewest unforced errors compared to the rest of the field with Kerber second in that category. By the way she littered the lawn today, no one would have deduced that. Moreover, in the opening set, Williams won one point off her second serve. As the match progressed, Kerber continued to sure up her defensive play. What would have been uncontested winners against any other opponent, resulted in errors, whether forced or unforced, on Williams’ stat sheet. A prime example was with Serena serving at 2-3, Kerber sprinted to a casual volley on her part to blast a winner for 15-40. Soon with a running forehand winner up the line, Kerber sealed the next game for 5-2, four points from her maiden Wimbledon title.

By securing the next game at love, Serena kept her hopes for an 8th Wimbledon title alive momentarily. Promptly, with a sensational forehand up the line winner, the German arrived at championship point. Serena’s return miscue ultimately cemented the victory for Kerber. In defeating Williams, Kerber becomes the first German since Steffi Graff, her idol, in 1996 to triumph on the All England Club. Also, She stopped the American, at least for now, who remains knotted with Graff, 23 majors and 7 Wimbledon trophies.

Following a long hiatus due to pregnancy, Williams seeded 25th but ranked 181st, made it to this final after only her fourth tournament after rejoining the tour. Although despondent that she could not leave with the grand prize, her voice cracking a bit, she cited it “was an amazing tournament for me. I was really happy to get this far. It’s obviously disappointing, but, I cannot be disappointed. I have so much to look forward to. I’m literally just getting started.” With so many physiologic changes, it’s remarkable how Serena could get back to this form. She doesn’t believe that she is either “superhuman or supermom”, according to the American “I am just me. For all the moms out there I was playing for you today. I tried. Angelique played really well. . . I look forward to being back out here and doing what I do best. Angelique is an incredible person. She is a really good friend, I am really happy for her. It’s her first title [here], I know she is going to enjoy it”

Runner up in 2016, Kerber was overwhelmed by the occasion confessing “when I was a little kid, I was always dreaming of winning, it’s a dream come true. I knew that I had to play my best tennis against a great champion like Serena. It’s an honor for me to share the court with her”. Indeed, Kerber’s defense was stellar, 11 winners and only 5 errors in 2 sets. She commented that Serena’s comeback is “an inspiration for everybody, it’s amazing watching you. I’m sure you will have your next Grand Slam title”

After a brilliant 2016 including reaching number 1, Kerber’s stock declined finishing 2017 ranked 21. A new coach, a title in Sydney this year, her first since the U.S. Open in 2016, the German is once again on the rise at age 30. On Monday, her ranking will improve from 10 to 4. For her part, Serena Williams gained a lot of ground with her showing, her ranking will catapult to number 28.

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Wozniacki Gains a Quarterfinal Berth at the Miami Open with Muguruza Retirement

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Wozniacki Gains a Quarterfinal Berth at the Miami Open with Muguruza Retirement


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World number six and 2016 French Open champion Garbine Muguruza’s quest for her maiden quarterfinal berth at the Miami Open came to abrupt end today. Subsequent to dropping the first set in a tiebreaker where she posted only one point, moreover on her opponent’s serve, the Spaniard summoned the trainer on court. Soon there was a handshake with Caroline Wozniacki and the match was over. The umpire announced that Muguruza abandoned play due to illness.

Muguruza scrapped by in her previous two matches. In her second round opener, Christina McHale was up 6-0, with a break in the second set as well as match point before the Spaniard rescued the win 0-6,7-6,6-4. The next round, Muguruza surrendered the first set against Shuai Zhang then regrouped to march to victory 4-6,6-2,6-2.

Wozniacki and Muguruza had collided on four prior occasions including in Miami in 2013. The Spaniard last defeated her rival at Wimbledon in 2015 in straight set en route to her maiden major final.

The proceedings began with exchanges of breaks. Wozniacki obtained the upper hand with a forehand return winner to get to 3-1. Then, she consolidated for a 4-1 lead. Muguruza utilized her coaching call at that point in the set which seemed effective. When she came out, she held serve and pocketed a marathon seventh game to get back on serve. Later on, with a forehand crosscourt winner, Muguruza turned the set in her favor by securing the break to go up 5-4. The Spaniard’s advantage was short-lived. Serving for the set, Muguruza was unable to keep her error count down and her streak of four consecutive games was halted. Still, the world number 6 continued to fight, overcoming a double fault gave Wozniacki break point at 5-6 to push the set into the tiebreaker.

After the match, Muguruza felt “disappointed that I could not continue after fighting so hard to get to this stage. It bothers me. [Especially} since I was playing at a good level”. She cited that when she woke up that she had a good practice suddenly around the third game she “started feeling headache, stomach pain. . . later on dizziness” which persisted the rest of the set.

This type of heat related effect is not new to the Spaniard, she says that she experienced something similar at the U.S. Open last year and at the Australian Open this year. Perhaps, according to Muguruza “tension played a factor as well”.

Would Muguruza have decided to persevere had she closed out the first set at 5-4? She replied “I was not feeling well at that point, I’m not sure, win or loose, I was thinking more about my health”. What’s up next for the French Open titlist “I will rest. I think my body is asking me to do that. I’ve been struggling with an ankle problem all season”.

Wozniacki will meet Lucie Safarova, the 2015 French Open Finalist, who has been regaining her form after being sidelined by illness for several months following her deepest run at a major. Saforova upset fourth seed Dominika Cibulkova, 7-6, 6-1 to punch her ticket into the quarters for the first time at Miami Open.

In the first match on stadium court, Karolina Pliskova handled Barbora Strycova 6-1, 6-4 to secure her space in the quarterfinals. The second seed will clash with either Mirjana Lucic-Baroni or wildcard Bethanie Mattek- Sands who are both trying to reach the last eight for the first time in South Florida.

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Federer Top Billing on Saturday at the Miami Open

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Federer Top Billing on Saturday at the Miami Open


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First on Stadium Saturday at the Miami Open, Stanislas Wawrinka takes on Horacio Zeballos. The world number three holds a 2-0 record against Zeballos who had his best results at this event last year as a lucky loser. After Roger Federer pulled out due to illness, he shocked both Juan Martin Del Potro and Fernando Verdasco to advance to the round of 16 before being stopped by David Goffin. Consequently, with the Argentinian fans behind him and fond memories, Zeballos could present a challenge for the men’s top seed.

Later on in the afternoon, Wawrinka’s compatriot Federer begins his quest for the coveted Indian Wells, Miami Open double trophy, something he has not accomplished in over a decade. The 35 year old, 18 time major champion faces American rising star, 19 year old Frances Tiafoe. This will be their first meeting. The dynamic should be interesting dynamic considering the venue and the disparity in their resume.

A few day matches on the men’s column which are must see include, Sam Querrey versus Tommy Robredo and John Isner versus wildcard
Thomaz Bellucci.

On the women’s side, after her narrow escape in three sets on Friday, needing a rain delay and saving a match point against Christina McHale, Spain’s Garbine Murguruza returns for her third round match against China’s Shuia Zhang. The two met for the first time in Doha this year in the round of 16 with Zhang pulling off the upset. Thus, Murguruza will hungry for payback.

Another compelling day session match is Agnieszka Radwanska versus Mirjana Lucic- Baroni. The Croatian stunned 2012 Miami Open Champion in the second round this year at the Australian Open on route to her semifinal berth for the first time at a major since Wimbledon 1999. So, revenge will be on the agenda for the Pole without question.

Second seed Karolina Pliskova and fifth seed Dominika Cibulkova also are back on court for their third round matches as well as 2015 French Open finalist Lucie Safarova.

The honor of closing out the night on the men’s side belongs to Juan Martin Del Potro as he tussles with Robin Haase. With a 2-0 record over the Dutch and with the South American crowd likely to be in full force, Del Potro will likely book a projected date with Federer for the third round.

For the ladies, Sorona Cirstea battles Caroline Wozniacki to end the evening. It will be a riveting contest considering their close head to head of 4-3 with the former world number one having the edge.

Click here for Saturday’s complete order of play.

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Djokovic Withstands Murray for A Fifth Miami Open Trophy

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Djokovic Withstands Murray for A Fifth Miami Open Trophy


IMG_8889_DjokovicThe 30th edition of the men’s final at the Miami Open was contested between Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Yet again, Djokovic outlasted Murray 7-6, 4-6, 6-0 to bank his fifth title in South Florida.

In January at the Australian Open final, Djokovic manhandled his counterpart 6-0 in the fourth set to claim the trophy. The second Masters 1000 of the year was a chance for Murray to apply the brakes on a seven match skid against Djokovic against, he had an 8-17 record. Moreover, since his triumph in the 2013 Wimbledon final, Murray is 0-11 versus the combination of Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

With a forehand crosscourt winner, Murray manufactured a break point in the opening game. Although Djokovic held, for the Brit, this was a positive development. The next time Murray had break point, he struck an overhead winner for a 2-1 lead.

But, Murray’s advantage was short-lived. The Brit failed to consolidate ahead 40-30. As Djokovic misfired on three backhands in the seventh game, Murray broke at love for 4-3. Swiftly, it was Djokovic’s turn at triple break point and he leveled the set. With no further break points on offer, the opening set was decided by a tiebreaker.

Murray‘s caution at this juncture resulted in miscues. Courtesy of that generosity, Djokovic stormed to a 4-0 edge and ultimately with ease secured the first set.

In the third game of the second set, Djokovic had opportunities to tighten the rope around Murray’s neck with four break points. However, by serving well, the Brit recovered and kept the score in his favor for 2-1.

With the score 4 all and 40-30, Murray was given a time violation warning. This could have derailed him. Yet, the two time Miami Open champion overcame that distraction to hold for 5-4.

Soon, Murray blazed a forehand crosscourt winner off an overhead from Djokovic for 0-40. Then, with the Brit crushing a second serve backhand return crosscourt for a winner, a decisive set was needed to determine the victor.

The bipartisan crowd could hardly contain its glee as cries of “come on Nole or come on Murray” reverberated throughout the stadium. The public was salivating at the prospect of these two warriors dueling to the death.

The last couple of years, Djokovic has mastered the art of wrestling momentum away from his rivals. Once again, Murray learned there was no mercy for miscues.

In an opening game where Murray had game point, Djokovic capitalized on his opponent‘s sleuth of errors to come away with the break. After the Serb consolidated for 2-0, Murray double faulted to stare at 0-40. Despite getting to deuce, Murray could not overcome three more break points. Hard to phantom, but in a 48 minute set, Murray failed to post a single game.

Although the forecast was 75 and partly cloudy, it felt closer to 90 on the court. According to Murray, “I struggled physically, I played well for a couple of sets. I wasn’t getting in the right positions to hit the ball in the last set”.

Djokovic agreed “brutal conditions for both of us. First set was really up and down. We tried to stay mentally tough, hang in there, battle and wear down the other player physically. There were lots of long rallies. I was expecting that coming into the match. It wasn’t really great tennis, a lot of unforced errors. But in these conditions you just want to extend the punching exchange and wait for the opportunities.”

Despite residing and training part of the year in South Florida , Murray could not find his legs to make that last push “here more than most places, it’s draining because of the humidity. . .Part of being a professional athlete is dealing with those different conditions and making adjustments.”

Murray doesn’t attribute his flaming out to his past medical issues “I’ve trained as hard as I can. Maybe I could have hydrated a little bit better. He was stronger than me at the end.”

At one end of the court, in the opening set, the sun was a factor which perhaps killed Murray‘s chances “I would say until the end of the first set, it wasn’t an advantage serving… It’s one thing hitting the first serve significantly slower, but looking at bright light, the first shot of the rally when it comes back, your site is a bit off.”

Despite the outcome, Murray believes there are encouraging lessons to take away compared to Indian Wells “I made the match harder for him, I did many things better. I was going for my shots a bit more. I played a good match tactically.”

Djokovic has dominated his rival of late. Still, he expressed “I’m aware of his qualities and the tennis he can play, the shots, the talent he possesses. He’s also a multiple Grand Slam winner and knows how to perform on the big stage. He deserves respect and to be in the finals of big events. We play similar styles of game so we push each other. It’s like playing cat and mouse trying to outplay and outsmart him in certain types of point.”

Consequently, Djokovic is a tough puzzle for Murray to crack because he is an enhanced prototype. As Murray put it “he serves well, he moves exceptionally well. He’s in great shape and he hits the ball well off both sides. That’s why he’s the number one player in the world. In a couple of matches we’ve played this year, I felt like I’ve been able to hang with him, but not quite for long enough unfortunately.”

As far as his recent successes, the world number one expressed “I could not ask for a better start to the season winning three big titles. I’m probably playing the tennis of my life, feeling confident and physically fit. Hopefully, I’m able to use this for the clay court coming up. I’m aware that this cannot go on forever. I’m going to try to stay as long as I can on top and fight for the biggest titles”

At 27, both players have had triumphant careers. But, with his win at the Australian Open, Djokovic became the first player since 1968 to collect five prizes Down Under. Today, with his 22nd masters shield, he accomplished for a third time the Indian Wells-Miami Open double, something that had never been done. Moreover, Djokovic is one Masters 1000 title away from tying Federer in the number two spot.

On the historical perspective, Djokovic commented “it’s nice and flattering to hear that I have achieved another record. Any achievement that goes into the history books I’m hugely proud of and appreciate because I work hard for it and I do cherish it. It allows me to motivate myself even more.” Next year, at the Miami Open, the bar for Djokovic will be equalizing Andre Agassi’s record with a sixth title.

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Serena Williams Seizes Her Eighth Miami Open Title

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Serena Williams Seizes Her Eighth Miami Open Title


IMG_9003_SerenaBy choosing South Florida as her base and lifting the trophy on seven prior occasions, the Miami Open is Serena Williams’ home. Consequently, this afternoon, first time finalist Carla Suarez Navarro needed to play the match of her career to steal the title from the two time defending champion. Williams romped Carla Suarez Navarro 6-2, 6-0 for a third successive Miami Open trophy, her eighth overall.

After coasting through the early stages, Serena averted close calls in the quarterfinals and semifinals. First, Williams fought off Sabine Lisicki 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, the player who ended her bid as defending champion for a sixth Wimbledon prize in 2013.

Next up, the world number one clashed with Simona Halep, the 2015 titlist at Indian Wells. Ironically, the Romanian received a walkover into the final from Williams at that event because of an inflamed knee. A match fit Serena battled herself, her opponent and the Romanian partisans but eventually prevailed 6-2, 4-6, 7-5.

The opening game was a glimpse of how the proceedings would unfold as Serena held at love. For a short time, Suarez Navarro managed to keep up and in the fifth game was at 30-30. However, with two aces, Serena moved ahead 3-2.

After the Spaniard dismissed double break point, Serena provoked a few errors and capitalized on her third break point. The American easily consolidated for 5-2. With another break, 17 winners, 8 unforced errors and in just 32 minutes, Williams secured the set.

Prior to the second set, Suarez Navarro conferred with her coach. His advice was to “change the rhythm, serve better, get the shots deeper”. Consequently, the first game of the second set, the Spaniard arrived at break point. But, with an ace, Serena dismissed the sole break point she stared at the entire match. Swiftly, Suarez Navarro surrendered the next game. The Spaniard won only two more points in the remainder of the match.

Suarez Navarro has yet to capture a set from the world number one in their five meetings. Moreover, this was Serena‘s fifth love set.

There were mixed feelings for Suarez Navarro after she shocked Venus Williams in the quarterfinals, then dispatched world number nine Andrea Petkovic to advance to the biggest final of her career, at one of only four mandatory premier tournaments.

The 26 year old expressed “ I came into the final with the firm belief that she could win.. . It was difficult to compete with her, I tried to be solid, however, with her strength it proved to be impossible.”

Still, Suarez Navarro affirms that “Serena is not unbeatable, she has more experience and success. People are aware that she beatable. But you have to play at a high level. My plan is keep believing and to work hard.”

Despite the score, Suarez Navarro attested that “ I enjoyed the tournament. it’s worth the pain, I fought till the end, you learn from these moments”. For her efforts, when the rankings are released, Suarez Navarro will be rewarded with the number 10 spot. Furthermore, she is the first Spanish female in the top ten since Conchita Martinez and Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.

Every time Serena step on the court, she climbs a new benchmark. This week, she joined the exclusive 700 wins club, only the eighth female player to reach that mark.

In 2013, she surpassed Steffi Graf‘s all time record of five trophies at the Miami Open. Following her tenth final at the Miami Open, with losses only to Venus in 1999 and Victoria Azarenka in 2009, Serena cited “it feels really good to have eight under my belt. Can’t say I thought I would win, especially at the beginning of the week. . .each one is special. Some finals are long; some finals have been shorter. At the end, each one is a lot of hard work. ”

Yet, Williams’ celebration was muted “I was so focused out there today. When you’re winning 5-Love, 40-Love, it’s not a surprise. . .you’ve kind of accepted that you’re going to win . . . It’s different if it’s 5-All or 7-5. You don’t know which way it’s going to turn.”

Serena is only the fourth WTA competitors to bank the same title at least eight times. Will she be aiming for twelve at the Miami Open? Martina Navratilova won Chicago that many times “I hope not. Because I would still be here  I would be how old? Let’s pray that I don’t get to 12.”

With her 66th career prize, Serena is one title away from knotting Billie Jean King at number six on the roll call. Serena’s goal for the clay season “ I just want to stay consistent and get a little more fit. . . you have longer matches. I’m looking forward to the challenge and looking to have fun.”

By collecting her 19th major at the Australian Open, Serena is for the sixth time in a position to pull off the calendar grand slam. Furthermore, Jennifer Capriati was the last person to hold both the French and Australian in 2001 “I don’t know if I can do it. I’ve never done it. . .I don’t think it’s necessarily tough. I just think that sometimes the tournament’s hard and you fall at the wrong time.”

For now, Serena will relish her recent triumph in Miami. Who knows one day instead of stadium court, it will be Serena Williams Stadium.

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