berdych

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic Win Easily To Set Up Classic Semifinal Down Under

by Kevin Craig

@KCraig_Tennis

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic cruised through their Australian Open quarterfinal matches on Tuesday to set up a classic semifinal matchup. The current head-to-head record between Federer and Djokovic is even at 22, and each player will look to take the advantage in that record as well as earn a spot in the Australian Open final.

Federer was able to defeat Tomas Berdych in the last match of the of the day session on Rod Laver Arena with a 7-6, 6-2 6-4 score line. Berdych started off strong as he was able to break Federer early in the set, but was unable to consolidate the advantage as Federer broke straight back. The two played a lot of hard hitting extended rallies throughout the entire first set, but just a couple poor points for Berdych handed the first set to Federer in the tiebreak.

Berdych appeared to lose all the confidence he had in the first set as he was quickly broken in the first game of the second set. Federer lost only five points on serve in that set and went on to get another break late to close it out with a double break advantage.

Berdych appeared as if he was going to turn things around in the third set as he grabbed an early break to take a 2-0 lead. Federer would have none of that, though, as he quickly broke right back and controlled his serve throughout the rest of the set. Just like in the second, Federer grabbed a break late and was able to easily serve it out for the straight sets win.

Djokovic looked to join Federer in the semifinals as he had to play Kei Nishikori in the night session. The No. 1 player in the world was able to bounce back from his poor, 100-unforced error performance against Gilles Simon in the fourth round to beat Nishikori handily, 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. Djokovic started off the match in a dominant manner, having little trouble on his serve and applying pressure on Nishikori’s service games. A break to go up 4-2 was all Djokovic needed as he would lose only two points in his next two service games to close out the set.

Nishikori began to make Djokovic work a lot harder on serve in the second set, but just was not able to defend his own serve and win the big points. Despite winning the same number of return points as Djokovic in the second set, Nishikori played two poor service games, allowing the defending Australian Open champion to pounce on the opportunity. The two service games combined with a 0-5 conversion rate on break points led to an easy two sets lead for Djokovic.

The level of play dropped drastically in the third set from both players as there were four breaks in a row early on. After breaking to get back on serve for the second time in the set, Djokovic settled down and broke Nishikori for the third straight time to take a 4-3 lead. Once again, the Serb cruised in his last two service games to close out the set and win the match.

Both Djokovic and Federer played clean tennis in their easy quarterfinal wins. The two combined to hit only 53 unforced errors and get broken only four times as they both cruised to the matchup that many fans around the world have been waiting for.

With a win in the semifinal, either player would take the 23-22 lead in their head-to-head record, but each player has a little more to play for than that. This match is coming down to a battle of legacies. Federer is hoping to get one more grand slam title and separate himself that much more from Djokovic, who is quickly approaching many of Federer’s records. Another win at the Australian Open for Djokovic would be his 11th slam title with a few years still left in his prime, only six away from what Federer currently has. Federer will be well aware of this when they take the court on Friday night in Melbourne, and the warriors will be ready to provide a match for the ages.

Federer Creates History with His Sixth ATP World Tour Finals Title – Live Coverage

by Ahmed Ibrahim

The stage was set as the O2 Arena filled with 17,500 spectators ready for the climax of the 2011 season that pitted Roger Federer against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. This was the third consecutive Sunday that both players would meet on a tennis court; Roger Federer emerging victorious in all three recent encounters, although nothing quite compares to the resounding victory Tsonga had over the Swiss Maestro in Wimbledon last June when he clawed back from two sets down to win in dramatic style.

Both players had a great week in London: both bested Nadal in the round robin of the group, and Federer beat David Ferrer in straight sets in the Semi-Final while Tsonga did the same to Tomas Berdych. It was fitting that both players would meet again in the Final.

The O2 Arena expected a big show from both players, after all, this was the Final of the ATP World Tour Finals and the last ATP match of 2011. The rapturous applause and loud cheers as the players walked on to court was deafening and cheers in equal measure for both players echoed around the arena.

Federer and Tsonga were in no mood for giving each other the break as they both held serve showing off the hard hitting and fast court coverage that has seen them take down the best this year. The crowd, at various times, was held in awe as Tsonga dropped some very gutsy drop volleys and ferocious crosscourt winners. Federer, although playing second-best in the first set, wowed us with his abilities to use the court to great effect and return hard hitting groundstrokes from Tsonga.

The break came when Tsonga was serving 3-4 and a rare sloppy play gave Federer a 0-40 advantage which he capitalized and, despite Tsonga’s valiant efforts to break, served out the first set on the second set point in 35 minutes.

Tsonga almost gave away an early break in the second set at 1-1 when his serve seemed to have departed the O2. Two consecutive double-faults put him on the back foot but he managed to dig himself out and hold from 15-40. Federer was getting hungry and managed to secure a break at 2-2 when he had Tsonga on the ropes at 30-40 facing a second serve. Running around the backhand he unleashed a monstrous inside-in forehand to break and take the 3-2 lead.

The crowd went wild, Federer was fist pumping, Tsonga could not believe it. As the crowd cheered for Federer many turned their support to Tsonga; the O2 crowd loves to support a player who can keep his head when faced with a mountainous task.

Federer had the opportunity to serve for his sixth ATP World Tour Finals titles at 5-4 but lacked the concentration that has seen him serve out for championships many times in his 69 victories. Facing triple break point he recovered to 30-40 when an aggressive Tsonga got a little too aggressive and hit long before sending a forehand into the net. Federer was unable to salvage the third break point as Tsonga smashed his way to 5-5.

This is often the moment when the momentum can shift. Tsonga was pumped up, the crowd was getting behind him and he was feeding from the energy. Federer was his usual self not letting it show where others would probably stand on the court with their hands on hips, racquet to the floor in disbelief. Perhaps by 30 you’ve learned a lot about holding back your emotions and keeping that ‘poker face’ trying not to show your opponent that you have taken a hard whack on the nose.

Fittingly this match would go to a tie-break. Lots in the crowd wanted this to go to three sets. “Jo, we’ve paid a lot of money for today, make this worth it!” yelled the lady behind me. If going to a tie-break in such a situation was not worth the money we were in for a tense one.

The tie-break started nervy with Tsonga giving away the immediate mini-break. But Federer yielded back and snatched a 4-2 lead making it look like one-way traffic on court; all he had to do was hold onto his service points. Tsonga was not going to go down without a fight despite trailing 3-5 when he fought back with three straight points. Federer reached Championship Point with an ace but would have to work past the bullet Tsonga serve. Saving Championship Point with a mid-court winner and hitting an unreturnable serve, he nailed a ferocious forehand return of serve direct at the feet of Federer to take the second set.

Needless to say the crowd went beserk and was firmly rooting for Tsonga who, by now, was gathering momentum and confidence. Federer, who remained his cool un-phased self, started the third set by serving first. This is where he often turns up the heat as he had done against Tsonga and Mardy Fish over the past week.

The tennis was gathering pace as both players hit the ball harder, deeper, and with more spin. Federer’s backhand was looking more fluid; Tsonga’s forehand resembled a heat seeking missile waiting for the moment to strike.

At 3-4 Tsonga would finally buckle as he was held on the ropes at 0-30. He fought back with three straight points but two forehand errors gave Federer a break point. Tsonga bravely saved by volleying a winner off a forehand approach he was facing another break point two points later but saved it again as he ripped a backhand crosscourt that left Federer stunned and the crowd erupting with cheers and applause. It was not until the third break point that Federer made the crucial break through as Tsonga hit a running forehand into the alley.

A roaring cry from a fist-pumping Federer, who stood a few feet below me, lifted the crowd into levels of mad hysteria for they knew this was his moment and history was only four points away. A love-hold by Federer who ended the match with a forehand volley winner leapt into the air with celebration for the 70th time in his career.

The trophy presentation spoke a thousand words as the confetti reigned down over Federer. Tsonga was extremely gracious in defeat; Federer humble as ever in his victory speech praised Tsonga’s great year. The crowd appreciative of what was put before them gave both players a standing ovation. Many are confident that Tsonga will grow from this experience; others are excited for whatever else Federer can accomplish.

This was a fitting way for Federer to end his 2011 season with a title win that lifts him to World Number 3 in the ATP Rankings while Tsonga retains his career high of Number 6.

Ahmed Ibrahim is the author of the website Tennis Addict. He is in London covering the ATP World Tour Finals as a guest contributor for Tennis Grandstand. Follow his ATP World Tour Finals updates on his personal twitter @TennisAddict_

ATP World Tour Finals Feature Familiar Faces

What parity?

The final eight players for the ATP World Tour Finals are clearly the big names in men’s tennis and have dominated all season-long. They are set to face off on November 20-27 at the O2 arena in London and fans will be treated to witnessing some of the best tennis players of any generation.

The two round-robin groups are:

Group A: Novak Djokovic (SRB), Andy Murray (GBR), David Ferrer (ESP), Tomas Berdych (CZE)
Group B: Rafael Nadal (ESP), Roger Federer (SUI), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (FRA), Mardy Fish (USA)

But while the names are familiar, much has changed in the past 12 months.

Defending champion Roger Federer has experienced an up-and-down year, dropping out of the top three and failing to capture a Grand Slam title for the first time since 2002. However, the Swiss maestro should never be counted out and showed he still has magic left with title-winning performances at Basel and the Paris Masters recently. Federer, a 30-year-old father of twins, also ended world No. 1 Novak Djokovic’s unbeaten streak of 43 matches at the French Open semifinals and earned his 800th career win last week.

Djokovic has been virtually unstoppable at times during the year and captured the Australia Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open to compile one of the best individual seasons of all time. The 24-year-old Serb conquered his fitness woes and played with confidence to match his talent and skill. Sitting behind Federer and Spain’s Rafael Nadal for most of his career, Djokovic proved he could win in any condition, any surface and any situation, and will deservedly finish the 2011 season on top. Djokovic, however, is still recovering from a nagging shoulder injury that forced him to withdraw in Paris.

The oft-injured Nadal also enters the World Tour Finals recovering from ailment, as he has not played since the Shanghai Masters last month, electing to prepare his body for London and Davis Cup. The world No. 2 enjoyed a solid season, winning his sixth French Open and finishing runner-up at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open to friendly rival Djokovic. The two captivated tennis fans all year with their intense matches that culminated in one of the most thrilling U.S. Open finals.

With a triumph in Shanghai, Britain’s Andy Murray overtook Federer as the world No. 3. Almost surprisingly, the Scot was perhaps the most consistent player on the Grand Slam stage aside from Djokovic, with a finals appearance at the Australian Open and three semifinal finishes. The brooding, seemingly self-loathing player has dedicated himself to fitness and after a deflating defeat at the hands of Djokovic at Melbourne, has rediscovered his game and confidence and should be a force at the World Tour Finals and in the 2012 season.

Spain’s David Ferrer and Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga should prove formidable and could spoil the party for any of the top four. World No. 5 Ferrer enters the event with solid wins at Shanghai, Valencia and the Paris Masters. Tsonga, at World No. 6, matched his career high ranking by reaching the finals in Paris, where he lost to Federer. Of the bottom four, only Tsonga has a winning career record against Djokovic.

Rounding out the top eight are Czech Tomas Berdych and World Tour Finals newcomer American Mardy Fish. In the quarterfinal of the Paris Masters, Berdych stunned Murray and secured his second consecutive World Tour Finals berth. Fish, who overtook fellow countryman Andy Roddick as the top American player this year, has shown consistent top victories that were lacking in the past. He enters the tournament despite being troubled with a hamstring strain.

The end-of-the-season round robin competition begins this Sunday, November 20th and should showcase some thrilling matchups to close out the 2011 ATP season.

ATP World Tour Finals set with Berdych, Tsonga, Fish; Ivanovic wins in Bali – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Blow to the Cause

The saying goes that “there’s no place like home,” and that was certainly the case for Roger Federer last week in Basel.  The Swiss Maestro won his home tournament for the fifth time, ending a 10-month title drought in the process.  But while the victory provides Federer some much-needed momentum and confidence going into the last remaining tournaments of the year, the bigger story was his comments pertaining to the recent gripes about the length of the ATP season.  Unlike many of his other high profile fellow competitors, Federer doesn’t see the schedule as a huge issue, putting more of the responsibility on the players to schedule themselves appropriately.  He is correct in saying that it’s better to have too many rather than too few tournaments, and players need to realize where they perform best and put themselves in the best position to peak at the right time.  So while there is definite merit to Murray’s suggestion of slightly reducing the number of required events, Federer is the one to have hit the nail on the head.  His sentiments are undoubtedly music to tournament directors’ ears, and his view will carry some weight against the opposing school of thought’s arguments.  Federer’s record speaks for itself, as you don’t win as many tournaments as he has without putting in a lot of court and travel time over the course of several seasons.  If he’s been able to do it with little complaint and little injury, there’s no reason why others should not be able to follow in a similar fashion.  And if they can’t, maybe they need to take a hard look at what else is causing their injuries aside from just the length of the season (such as poor personal scheduling, style of play, etc.).

One for All

The field is set for London, and it comes courtesy of Tomas Berdych’s win over Janko Tipsarevic on Thursday in Paris.  Berdych, who was next in line to qualify, had to dig himself out huge holes in both sets to secure the victory, and as happy as he was to earn the win, two others were equally as thrilled.  The Czech’s victory also ensured that the remaining two London berths went to Tsonga and Fish.  This may have proven key for Mardy Fish, who after blowing two match points against Juan Monaco in a second set tiebreak, ultimately had to retire from the match early in the third with a niggling left hamstring strain.  Fish will hopefully be able to take advantage of having the luxury to pull out of the match, knowing he was already London bound, in order to recuperate and be in the best shape possible for the final tournament of 2011.

Great Expectations

Fresh off her win in Bali for the second straight year, a confident Ana Ivanovic stated she thinks she has what it takes to get back to the top.  Ordinarily, this might be considered a pipe dream given her results the last couple of years, but with the current topsy-turvy nature of the WTA, it’s not impossible.  She’s quickly turning her game around since bringing on Nigel Sears, and with a victory to cap off her season, she’ll be looking to build on her results early in 2012.  And while her team admits it’s a big ask to return to the apex of the rankings, the WTA could use her in the latter rounds of the competition.  Here’s to hoping she’s back in the mix and on her way to playing Istanbul at the end of next year.

Now or Never

Andy Roddick’s 2011 campaign came to an abrupt end, as Andy Murray showed no mercy in dismantling the American’s game to win the match handily 6-2, 6-2.  But it will be more than just this loss that will be leaving a sour taste in Roddick’s mouth.  For the first time since 2001, he will finish outside of the Top 10.  For sure, going into 2012 Roddick is going to put in the time and effort, because he’s always been a fighter.  He also seems confident that his slump in form is due to needing to improve his fitness and movement.  But there’s no denying that he hasn’t seemed to be enjoying himself out there much of the season.  Nor does he have the personality of a Hewitt or a Ferrero, making it difficult to see him taking the approach of those two struggling veterans.  So, barring a favorable turnaround in results, it might be time to start asking ourselves if 2012 will be the final season for the man who has carried the American banner the last decade.

Cherry on Top

After a horrendous autumn, Petra Kvitova righted the ship in stunning fashion to finish the season strong with her win in Istanbul, making a very strong case to be named the WTA’s Player of the Year for 2011.  But the hard-hitting Czech wasn’t done yet.  She valiantly led her nation against Fed Cup powerhouse Russia to secure a sixth title for her country and first since 1988.  She certainly didn’t need the win to serve a springboard going into 2012, but it’s a great addition to her growing résumé.  If she can continue to play this way consistently, we may be witnessing the dawning of a new and fruitful era in Czech tennis.

Petra Kvitova poised to dominate, Stacey Allaster backpedals on grunting issue – The Friday Five

By Maud Watson

Poised to Dominate?

Last week marked an impressive run by young Czech Petra Kvitova, as she stormed to the WTA Championships title without the loss of a match. Kvitova has always had a big game, but en route to the title, the reigning Wimbledon champion also showed some great hands at the net, as well as some deft touch and feel that seems to be lacking in so many of the game’s other big hitters. Throughout the week, it appeared her biggest hurdle had nothing to do with who was on the other side of the net so much as what was going on between her ears. Her win in Istanbul also puts her just a mere 115 points behind current No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki, and while no offense to Wozniacki, the WTA would probably appreciate Kvitova bypassing her to quiet the murmurs about a sport that has a No. 1 who lacks a major title. Kvitova definitely has the game to raise the bar and spark a new generation to follow her lead to create another great decade in women’s tennis. But don’t buy into her just yet. We’ve seen this kind of run from her before, and it’s always been followed by a severe dip in results. The start of 2012 may tell the tale. Hopefully she can strengthen the mental part of her game and firmly become the leader of the pack.

Discouraging Retreat

After some positive statements about the WTA looking into the grunting issue, WTA CEO Stacey Allaster has backpedaled to the point that it sounds like little will be done about the problem. Allaster has done well with the WTA, but she’s way off on this issue. Her argument that all of the “grunting” is a natural byproduct of how hard the players are hitting the ball is for the birds. If a player the size of Henin can slug it out with the likes of the Williams Sisters and Sharapova and hardly utter a sound, you can’t tell me the “grunting” is necessary. The argument that it’s okay that the women do it because the men do too is also lacking. While the difference in vocal registers means that grunting in the men’s game doesn’t garner has much attention as it does in women’s, it’s a problem that should be addressed on that our as well. And finally, just because the other players aren’t coming to complain to her or chair umpires about the noise level on court doesn’t mean it’s not a problem. With the game’s greatest stars and top-ranked players being the biggest culprits, it’s unlikely the quieter players will speak up. Rules never seem to apply in the same way to the stars as they do to everyone else, and the player who complains runs the risk of coming out on the shorter end of the stick. Allaster needs to open her eyes and fix the problem. There are too many other potential great things going on in the game to have something like this be one of the hottest topics dominating the sport.

Shaking off the Rust

After lengthy layoffs, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have returned to action this week in Basel. While neither has looked anywhere near their best, it’s apparent that they are starting to find the range once again. This is a special blessing for Djokovic, who earlier this week stated that he was coming back from the most serious injury of his career. The other positive for these two players is that their stiffest competition will be going into the ATP World Tour Finals fairly cold. Murray pulled out of Basel with a right gluteal muscle strain, while Nadal has pulled out of the Paris Masters in order to better focus for London. It’s going to be interesting coming down the stretch of the 2011 season.

Scrambling to London

And speaking of making it interesting down the stretch, that’s exactly what the remaining London hopefuls are doing in the final weeks of the regular season. In fact, they’re making it a little too interesting, much to the chagrin of the people in their respective camps. Fish, teetering in the eighth spot, was forced to withdraw from Basel with an injury, as did Tipsarevic. Meanwhile, Tsonga struggled to win his first round match against a Spanish teenager in Valencia before bowing out to Querrey in the following round. Simon also failed to capitalize on his opportunities this week, as did Berdych, and a handful of other London hopefuls. Injuries aside, the inability of many of these players to produce their best when the chips are down is disappointing. It may make for an exciting finish to the race, but it is also a blatant example of why the gap is so big between the top four players and the rest of the field.

Bizarre Category

One of the more absurd pieces of news this week was the story that Serena Williams locked herself in her panic room when she thought a burglar was attempting to break into her home. The alleged burglar was in reality a drug tester, who showed up at 6am for one of the required random drug tests that tennis players must submit to. Undoubtedly the ITF’s anti-doping program is too extreme, and 6am does seem a ludicrous time to request a sample.  But some should also question if Serena didn’t overreact. In many of the anti-doping stories, players have frequently cited the random drug testing as an annoyance, specifically mentioning that 6am call. Given Serena’s status as a veteran of the game, it’s difficult to believe this is the first time someone has come knocking at that hour of the morning. But when you’ve had to file a restraining order against someone, perhaps locking yourself in the panic room is the logical step. Either way, we’re used to the fact that there’s no shortage of drama where Serena Williams is concerned.

Tennis People: US Open seedings announced, Del Potro and Serena out, Nalbandian very much in

*The seedings have been announced for the US Open next week and this is where the realisation the final Slam of the year is upon us really sets in. On the men’s side the top seeds are as you would expect. The top ten reads, in order: Nadal, Federer, Djokovic, Murray, Soderling, Davydenko, Berdych, Verdasco, Roddick, Ferrer. Cypriot fans’ favourite Marcos Baghdatis finds himself seeded 16th and could be an outside bet on going far in the tournament. John Isner, Mardy Fish and Sam Querrey fly the home flag at 18, 19 and 20 while David Nalbandian (31) and Lleyton Hewitt (32) round off the seeds.

*The women’s side throws in a few more surprises as there are a few stars missing through injury. Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki will be celebrating her top seeding in Serena Williams’ absence and China’s Li Na (8) will have a few eyes on her following her heroics in Australia on the hard courts. 14th seed Maria Sharapova can never be overlooked in these events and emphatic Russian teenager Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova at 20 will be looking to cause some Melanie Oudin-sized shockwaves in 2010. Zheng Jie (21), Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez (22), Lucie Safarova of the Czech Republic (26) and Estonia’s Kaia Kanepi (31) are also worthy outsiders.

*The Juan Martin Del Potro injury saga has reached a disappointing conclusion for his fans as he has announced that his persistent wrist injury will prevent him from defending his US Open title this year. The Argentine has been missing since the Aussie Open and underwent surgery in May. “I’m so sorry for my fans, sponsors and the people who care about me,” he said. “But I have only started practising in the last two weeks and unfortunately I cannot compete at the top level yet.” The news follows the pulling out of World No. 1 women’s player Serena Williams who has failed to recover from the foot injury she sustained stepping on broken glass in Munich in July. “It is with much frustration and deep sadness that I am having to pull out of the US Open. My doctors have advised against my playing,” she said. Serena has set next month’s Toray Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo, beginning September 26, as her likely return date.

*David Nalbandian has spoken of his delight at securing a seeding for the US Open next week. “I think expectations are good because the goal we set for this year was to finish in the top 30 and in a few tournaments I’ve pretty much done that,” he told ESPN Desportes. “After getting a seed at the U.S. Open, you aspire to more.”

*Ahead of the Davis Cup World Group relegation playoff between Ecuador and Romania in September, Ecuadorian coach Raul Viver has highlighted Nicolas Lapentti as the key man in the tie. Viver believes that victory over Romania could help to persuade Lapentti to postpone his retirement for a further year. “If we win against Romania I can see Nicolas Lapentti staying one more year,” said Viver. “For the team, it would be good to have him more years because I think the younger players can learn a lot from him. Nicolas is a great team player, a natural leader, and he increases the level of motivation for the rest of the players. In Davis Cup, he always plays his best level, physically and mentally. He demonstrated that last year against Brazil, winning both his singles matches and the doubles match.” For the full interview on Ecuador’s prospects visit the ITF website.

*Top South African player Kevin Anderson has announced he is ready to end his self-imposed two-year ban from Davis Cup play. With such an important match against Germany next month for a place in the World Group stage Anderson’s announcement is a well-timed boost for SA tennis fans. Speaking in a conference call last Thursday Anderson said: “I needed time to work on my game but I’m back in the top 100 now (in the ATP rankings) and I’ve grown a lot as a player over the last two years. I’m glad to be back in the team and I’m looking forward to the tie in Germany.” For full build up visit South African sporting website Sport24.co.za.

*Lleyton Hewitt and coach Nathan Healy have parted ways after this year’s tournament in Washington. Hewitt’s manager David Drysdale says it is down to Healy wishing to spend more time with his family and being unable to constantly travel.

*Slovakian Daniela Hantuchova has been reflecting on her career recently and giving thanks for the fact she has remained relatively injury-free. Recently passing the $7m mark for prize money she still harbours hopes of returning to the Top 10 despite a career-record 3-10 in tournament finals, and only one Grand Slam semifinal appearances in 38 attempts. “Knock on wood , I wonder when I will get to that stage but I remember when Ai Sugiyama and other players said you wait till you get to certain age…but I don’t feel that way yet,” she said of her good health. To read about her thoughts on recent results visit the TennisReporters website.

*Sam Querrey has spoken of his delight as his family went in to partnership with the City of Las Vegas to run the Darling Tennis Center. Querrey won his first professional tournament, the Tennis Channel Open, on the site in 2008 and spoke of his pride at what his family could bring to the people of LA. However, he has been quick to play down talk of him being a “white knight” or saviour to the site. “It’s an awesome place,” Querrey said. “I think there’s so much potential here, and I learned to play tennis as a kid (in Las Vegas), so I wanted to help.” For the full interview visit the Las Vegas Review-Journal’s website.

*James Blake’s 6-0, 6-1 victory over Pere Riba at New Haven on Monday in 35 minutes was the fastest completed match of 2010.

*Twitter is currently awash with tennis gossiping as players begin descending on New York for the US Open. Close friends Caroline Wozniacki and Viktoria Azarenka both seem pleased with their hotel choices while Azarenka is also delighted to have stumbled across £160 in a jacket pocket left there since Wimbledon. What is it with women and multiple jackets? Sabine Lisicki has been getting her sweat on in the gym while Brit teenage sensation Laura Robson is voicing her frustration at rain-delayed matches.

*This week’s South African Airways ATP World Rankings see Andy Roddick climb back in to the top 10 at No. 9 in good timing before the US Open begins. Juan Martin Del Potro is now ranked at No. 10 as his injury woes continue. Another American, Mardy Fish, leaps 15 places to No. 21 in the world while the Argentine Juan Ignacio Chela slips back in to the top 50. Taylor Dent leaps 13 places to No. 70 and Donald Young sees himself ranked at No. 100 in what is a great week for the USA ahead of their home slam.

*Two returning female stars have achieved their comeback’s highest rankings this week in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings. Kimiko Date Krum sees herself at No. 50, her highest placing since her retirement back in 1996 (she returned to the tour in 2008). The 39-year-old is the oldest player in the Top 50 since Billie Jean King in March 1982, aged 40. Kim Clijsters is the world No. 3, her highest slot since August 2006. Li Na is at a career-high No. 8 after becoming the first Chinese player to break the Top 10 back in February while Elena Dementieva slips from No. 8 to No. 13.

*Former world No. 8 John Alexander has been elected in to Australia’s parliament after winning the New South Wales seat of Bennelong. Alexander, 59, won 7 singles and 28 doubles titles during his career and has spent many years since his retirement commentating for Australian Channel Seven. “I think for the moment I’ll concentrate on this job, I won’t do anything that will detract from my efforts to represent the people of Bennelong. I’m 100 per cent committed,” he said.