Archive for Tennis
The Swiss drops to the floor at the end of a fabulous exchange in celebration of his fifth consecutive US Open. It was a superb display from the second seed, who answered his critics in the best possible style. Murray has done himself proud and it would have taken a great display from any player in the world to have beaten Federer at his best tonight.
A fifth consecutive title salvaged his season. A loss, and the silken Swiss would go home without a Grand Slam tournament title for the first time since 2002 — bolstering the notion that Spaniard Rafael Nadal is here to stay.
After a failure in Australia, an embarrassing loss in Paris, the end of his hegemony in London and a failure to grab singles gold in Beijing, second-ranked Federer arrives with questions swirling about what is wrong with his game, his head and his once impenetrable aura.
Federer, who won so often and so easily during his 237-week run atop the rankings that he often eschewed coaches and seemed indifferent to conditions, admitted Saturday that a little love from the crowd could help. “I think I need the support a little bit this year,” he said during a news conference.
Nadal, who took over the No. 1 ranking Aug. 18, has a chance to stamp his season as one for the ages after his wins at Paris and Wimbledon and the gold medal he captured in the Olympics in Beijing last month.
Djokovic throw his fist in the air after defeating Rafael Nadal.
Rafael Nadal comes up short on his way again for another title apperance in Cincinnati Masters. Novak Djokovic stops his almost two months of non-stop winning games from clay to grass to hard. It’s an amazing year for Nadal but everything must come to an end.
The third seed Djokovic will face Murray on the Finals of the Cincinnati Masters on Sunday. Novak Djokovic reached the final with a 6-1, 7-5 victory that delayed the inevitable. Murray reached his first Masters series final by beating Ivo Karlovic 6-4, 6-4.
Meanwhile, Nadal by reaching the semifinals of the $2.6 million ATP Western & Southern Financial Group Masters, Nadal piled up enough points to overtake Roger Federer as the world’s No. 1 player. Given the way points accrue — the last 52 weeks are counted — he will surpass Federer in the Aug. 18 rankings.
Bravo to Rafael Nadal!
Wimbledon has a new king. Rafael Nadal dethroned Roger Federer after a five-year reign by winning the longest-ever Wimbledon men’s final.
The consistently heartstopping 6-4, 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 6-7 (8-10), 9-7 classic began at 2.35pm and, thanks to a couple of breaks for rain (surely necessary for the spectators to catch their breath), it ended at 9.15pm with the 22-year-old from Mallorca dropping to the ground with his arms outstretched in celebration.
Watching the 4 hours and 48 minutes on-court action from the vantage point of the royal box was Centre Court legend Bjorn Borg. Nadal had matched the Swede’s fantastic feat of winning the Grand Slams of Roland Garros and Wimbledon back-to-back and in doing so had prevented Federer surpassing the five titles in a row Borg collected between 1976 and 1980.
Conditions for the latest duel between tennis’s two finest players could not have been more demanding. The rain, which delayed the start for 27 minutes, eventually cleared but the chill, gusting wind which accompanied it persisted throughout the match, blowing winning shots off course and making life even more difficult for the two competitors. That they coped so well spoke volumes for their skill and adaptability.
With the five-time champion looking less than his authoritative best, it was Nadal who struck the first heavy blow, capitalising on successive Federer errors to break for a 2-1 lead.
From the start Nadal concentrated his battering-ram attack on the Federer backhand, aiming every serve and looping forehand in that direction and it kept the champion in an unaccustomed position – on the back foot. Federer prospered more when he switched to net-rushing but he could not block Nadal’s inexorable advance towards the first set.
The Spaniard managed to fight off a break point to stay 3-1 ahead and he needed to avert two more as he served for the set, which he clinched on his third set point after 48 minutes, courtesy of another brace of ground stroke errors from Federer. It was the first set Federer had dropped since the final of the French Open, when he was routed by Nadal.
Federer’s counter-attack was immediate and it rushed him three games to the good which he extended to an apparently commanding 4-1 lead with his sixth and seventh aces, only for the irrepressible Nadal to bounce back with some thrilling, all-action stuff.
To Federer’s visible anger, his serve was broken as a stretched volley flew out of play and Nadal pulled level at 4-4 as Federer squandered yet another break point.
Now Nadal was in full, thrilling flow, breaking Federer again to lead 5-4 with another huge forehand and celebrating with pumped fists. As he was serving for the second set, Nadal received a warning from umpire Pascal Maria of France for taking too long between serves.
Clearly unsettled by the timing of that censure, the Spaniard permitted Federer another break point on a wind-caused error, but in typical fashion dug deep and clinched the set when Federer once more mistimed a backhand into the netting. So, having swept five games, Nadal was in the driving set, two sets ahead.
Nadal’s authority suffered a scare in the third game of the third set when he slipped while making a sudden change of direction and called in the trainer to check on his right knee. No time-out was requested by Nadal, though his speed around court appeared to be affected for a while.
He was at full stretch in the next game, fighting off two Federer break points and, as dark clouds began to mass over Centre Court, the champion went flat out to recover a set and get back into the match. But four more break points went begging as Nadal held for 3-3 before wasting three break points of his own which would have put him 4-3 ahead and perfectly positioned to win.
Instead, with Federer leading 5-4, the expected downpour set in and play was held up for 1 hour 20 minutes. On the resumption it was Federer who dominated when a tie-break was needed to resolve the set, hammering four aces to take it by seven points to five.
The fourth set did not contain a single break point for either man and when the second tie-break of the match arrived it was a sensation, with Nadal first leading by five points to two and then reaching, and missing, two Championship points before Federer levelled at two sets all when a Nadal backhand error left him the winner by 10 points to eight.
Another downpour drove the players off court for half an hour with the score at duece and 2-2 in the final set. When they returned the light was fading. But the spirit of both finalists burned bright as they hammered the ball at each other just as eagerly as they had done when this marathon first began.
At 3-4 Nadal saved a break point which would have left Federer serving for the title. At 6-6 Federer saved a couple of break points. Finally, in the gloom, the Spaniard broke to lead 8-7 when Federer struck a forehand too long.
So Nadal served for the match again, getting to his third Championship point only for Federer to hit an incredible backhand service return. Deuce once again, and Nadal moved to his fourth match point with a big serve and, with the crowd going wild, Federer finally cracked, dumping a forehand in the net.
It was late, very late, but not too late for the coronation of a new king.
WIMBLEDON, England — Venus Williams beat her sister Serena Williams 7-5, 6-4 Saturday for her fifth Wimbledon title and seventh Grand Slam championship.
This was Venus’ first victory over her younger sibling in a Grand Slam final since the 2001 U.S. Open, and it evened their career record at 8-8.
“I can’t believe that it’s five,” Venus said. “But when you’re in the final against Serena Williams, five seems too far away. … She played so awesome, it was really a task to beat her.”
Venus came from 3-1 down in the first set to turn around the match, breaking Serena four times while dropping serve twice in a final that produced breathtaking tennis despite swirling wind.
This was more than a matchup between siblings; it was a contest between two of the hardest-hitting, most athletic players in the world at the top of their game.
Venus broke to finish the match in 1 hour, 51 minutes, with Serena hitting a backhand wide on the second match point. The sisters embraced at the net, and Venus kept her celebrations in check as she twirled and waved to the Centre Court crowd.
Venus accepted the winner’s trophy — a sterling silver salver aptly named the Venus Rosewater dish — from the Duke of Kent.
“It’s so rewarding to perform here,” Venus said. “Every time I come back I know I have the chance to play well and make history. My first job is big sister and I take that very seriously.”
Watching from the players’ box was the sisters’ mother, Oracene. Their father, Richard, had flown back to the United States because he can’t stand to watch his daughters play each other.
Referring to the mixed feelings of her family about who to support, Venus said, “It’s hard for all of them, but I like to think they want me to win.”
The 26-year-old Serena accepted her runner-up trophy and paid tribute to her 28-year-old sister.
“I’m so happy that at least one of us was able to win,” Serena said. “She’s played great this year. We’re just glad to be in the finals again.”
The sisters were set to return later to Centre Court to play for the women’s doubles title, joining forces to face Lisa Raymond of the U.S. and Samantha Stosur of Australia in the final.
“Serena deserves to win something, so I’ll try even harder for that,” said Venus, who collected a winner’s check of $1.49 million.
Venus Williams shows her trophy to the crowd after defeating her sister Serena in the women’s singles final at Wimbledon, Saturday, July 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Glyn Kirk,pool)
Venus Williams holds her trophy, after defeating her sister Serena to win the Women’s Singles Championship on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, Saturday, July 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
Venus Williams left, of the US holds her trophy after winning the women’s singles final against her sister Serena right, on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, Saturday, July 5 , 2008. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Venus Williams of the US holds her trophy aloft after winning the women’s singles final against her sister Serena on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, Saturday, July 5 , 2008. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Serena Williams of the US wipes her face after receiving the runnerup trophy after losing the women’s singles final to her sister Venus on the Centre Court at Wimbledon, Saturday, July 5 , 2008. (AP Photo/Anja Niedringhaus)
Venus, appearing in her seventh Wimbledon final, avenged her two losses to Serena in the 2002 and 2003 title matches and stopped her sister from winning her ninth Grand Slam.
Many all-Williams finals have been awkward affairs that didn’t live up to expectations, with the sisters having trouble playing their best. But this final featured long, corner-to-corner rallies, booming serves and winning shots flashing all over the court.
In the opening game of the second set, Venus smacked a service winner on game point at 129 mph — breaking her own Wimbledon record of 127 mph and matching her women’s tour record set at last year’s U.S. Open.
Serena took more chances and finished with 32 winners and 11 unforced errors; Venus had 27 winners and 13 unforced mistakes. Serena also outaced her sister 9-4, but Venus won the big points when she needed them.
Both sisters struggled in the wind, with Venus repeatedly stopping to catch her service toss and rallies often disrupted by sudden gusts.
“It was so not easy,” Serena said. “Every time I tried to hit a shot, the wind would blow it.”
The third game of the second set was a match in itself — lasting 14 minutes and 21 points. Serena broke on her seventh break point, hitting an easy volley into the open court after Venus slipped and fell backward going for a backhand at the baseline.
That gave Serena a 2-1 lead, but she failed to grab her chance and Venus broke right back in the next game. They remained on serve, engaging in a 23-stroke rally in the ninth game, until Venus broke again to end the match.
Serena came out roaring, ripping clean winners to break in the first game and go up 3-1, with two aces and two serve winners in the fourth game. She earned a break point and a chance to go up 4-1, but Venus saved it with a stretch forehand cross-court volley and managed to hold.
Two games later, the momentum changed when Venus broke for 4-4, capitalizing on her second break point with a backhand serve return.
Serena fashioned two break points in the next game, but Venus ran down a drop volley and made a forehand pass on the run to save the first and erased the second with a deep forehand return.
The game ended in unusual circumstances when Serena, thinking her shot was going out, shouted “No” before the ball landed. The chair umpire called a let, meaning the point should be replayed, but Serena conceded the point and the game.
Venus broke in the next game to take the set, with Serena swiping her racket in disgust after netting a backhand return.
Top seed Ana Ivanovic puts her head in her hands during her shock defeat to Zheng Jie of China.
Ana Ivanovic of Serbia, clear favourite to win Wimbledon for the first time this year, was humbled in the third round on Court No. 1 by Zheng Jie of China. Zheng, ranked 133 in the world, secured the astonishing 6-1, 6-4 victory in 72 minutes.
The 24-year-old Zheng was playing at Wimbledon for only the third time and had fallen down the rankings after missing last year with an ankle injury. Her opponent, in contrast, was number one in the world and French Open champion. But Ivanovic, 20, had shown signs of frailty in her second round match against Nathalie Dechy of France, having to save two match points. And turmoil followed her every step of the way against Zheng.
The Chinese woman was playing a calm and precise game and remained unflappable as she neared her astonishing achievement. Ivanovic was chasing the match from the start and the ultimately the task proved beyond her.
Ivanovic was thrust into the top spot in the women’s game because of the unexpected retirement of Justine Henin. She responded to her elevation by winning at Roland Garros but at Wimbledon there were fewer factors in her favour. She is a clay court player of great presence but a counter-puncher like Zheng was always likely to worry her on grass.
Zheng also benefited from a better start than the top seed, taking the first set after only 30 minutes. If there was a test of nerve in the early stages, the woman from Sichuan province passed it comfortably.
Zheng needed just one set point to take the lead. First she had to save four break points at 5-1, and when that was done she went to set point with a drop shot on her backhand side with Ivanovic on the baseline. A service winner gave her the first set.
There were signs at the start of the second set that Ivanovic might recover and start to take control of the match. She held her opening serve but from 1-1 there were three breaks of serve in succession, leaving the Serb 3-2 behind.
Thereafter, Zheng stayed in command, maintaining a high percentage of quality shots. At 5-4 she served for the match. After an Ivanovic forehand winner on the first point, Zheng then produced four service winners in a row, the last one spinning off the Serbian’s racquet and flying out to take the Chinese into the fourth round and a meeting with Agnes Szavay.
No 1 seed Ana Ivanovic looks lost for words after her shock straight sets defeat to Jie Zheng of China.