TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – Roger Federer is back in another major final and how fitting it is that it should at Wimbledon, the place where he has had the most success. It has been two years since the Swiss has had the chance to play for a major title but his form over the past two weeks suggests that he is capable of winning more titles. In the semifinal he dispatched the green Milos Raonic 6-4 6-4 6-4. Cordell Hackshaw
After the match, Roger Federer (4) stated, “My game’s back where I hoped it would be … I’m unbelievably thrilled to be in another final.” The 17-time major champion is back in another major final and how fitting it is that it should at Wimbledon, the place where he has had the most success, having won 7th titles (2003-2007, 2010, 2012). It has been two years since Federer has had the chance to play for a major title but his form over the past two weeks suggests that he is capable of winning more titles. He was up against Milos Raonic (8) who has shown this year that he is close to winning a major title. However, despite owning a 4-0 record against the Canadian, Federer did not take Raonic lightly in the least. Federer remained calm and focus at the task at hand. He let his experience in these big moments worked for him as he dispatched the green Raonic 6-4 6-4 6-4 in an hour and 40 minutes.
Raonic has over the past few matches started nervously and this semifinal match would be no different. He was broken in the opening game of the match and Federer edged ahead 2-0. Federer would later state, “I didn’t see it coming necessarily, but I grabbed it and then ran with it.” Federer was showing that he had the read on Raonic’s serve as he earned two more break points on Raonic’s serve but Raonic produced those trademarks big serves to hold his serve. Federer maintained his break advantage to close out the set 6-4 in 34 minutes. Raonic would hold serve to start the 2nd set and things would remain on serve till the 9th game when Raonic again played a loose service game to be broken at love. Federer now up 5-4, served it out to take a 2-0 sets lead 6-4 6-4. The 3rd set was a near mirror of the 2nd as Raonic again at 4-4 played a sloppy 9th game to be broken. Federer with all his experience served out the match with a big unreturnable serve for the win 6-4 6-4 6-4.
“Today I think I had to be very focused and concentrated, even after match point … I was very pleased the way I played today because it was always going to be a difficult match against Milos,” Federer said. He quite literally out served Raonic. He won 81% of his 1st serve points and 68% on his 2nd serve compared to Raonic who won 80% on 1st serves and 50% on 2nd. Federer saved the lone break point he faced against Raonic and maintained a single blemish on his serving card as he was broken only once in the tournament against Stan Wawrinka. One can only hope that Raonic does not look back at this match with negative thoughts because he played an excellent match. Unfortunately, he was up against Federer who is far more experienced and knows how to play the big points as well as create opportunities for himself. Raonic is not quite at that level as yet.
In the final on Sunday, Federer will play Novak Djokovic for the 34th time with Federer leading that head-to-head 18-16. Of the match up, Federer had this to say, “[W]e both like to be close to the baseline. We both like to take charge, especially on quicker courts. Novak can hurt you down the line or cross court on both sides. I think for me it’s really important to stay aggressive against him.” Federer fans will be excited that he has a chance for a record 18 major titles.
Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?
Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?
In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.
In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.
Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.
“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.
These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.
“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.
Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.
This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.
Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career
Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.
Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.
Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.
Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.
“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.
Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.
“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.
David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati
David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.
Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.
The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.
Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open 2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.
Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.
“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”
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