cincinnati masters

Roger Federer Will Continue to Make History

Roger Federer: 17-time Grand Slam champion, 6-time Year-End Championships winner, 21-time ATP Masters 1000 champion (he holds the record amount of titles alongside Spaniard, Rafael Nadal), Olympic silver medalist and Olympic gold medalist in the doubles with compatriot Stanislas Wawrinka. Overall, he has won 76 career singles titles in total, but why am I collating a list of his outstanding career achievements? Well, it is because Roger Federer made it to the semifinals of a Grand Slam and for many tennis players that would be a dream come true, for Federer’s critics, it’s simply not good enough.

World No.2, Roger Federer, was bundled out of the semifinals of the Australian Open by eventual finalist Andy Murray after 5 gruelling sets against the world No.3, not too dissimilar to his Australian Open achievements last year.

At the start of 2012 after Federer lost to Rafael Nadal in four sets during the semifinals of the first Grand Slam of the year, some began to question his future in tennis and if it would be the beginning of his career decline due to his age, after starting a family and having other players emerging and dominating in the major tournaments.

Last year in Rotterdam during the press conferences I heard the former world No.1 being questioned about his career and possible retirement (he went on to win the title in Rotterdam), whether he would ever win another Slam again (Wimbledon 2012 anybody?) and if he believed he would regain his place at the top of the rankings again (on July 16th 2012 he tied Pete Sampras’ record of 286 weeks at No.1 after taking back the top spot once more). Prior to these achievements, Roger Federer had been written off in the minds of some people, but in 2013, write him off at your own peril.

After his 2012 semifinal Australian Open defeat, Federer went on to win consecutive titles in Rotterdam (where he defeated Del Potro), Dubai (where he beat Murray) and Indian Wells (once again beating the then-ranked No. 9 Del Potro, No. 2 Nadal and No. 11 Isner, all in straight sets).

His success continued back in Europe where he was successful in the final against Tomas Berdych on the controversial blue clay in Madrid and won a record 5th Cincinnati title against world No.1 Novak Djokovic. His victories continued on his beloved grass courts of Wimbledon where he was crowned champion for the seventh time against Andy Murray and two weeks later he was avenged by the Brit in the final of the Olympics where he was awarded the Olympic silver medal.

His 2012 season did not end too badly either with back-to-back final appearances in hometown Basel and at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals at the 02 Arena in London.

There is no doubt that current world No.1 Novak Djokovic and world No.3 Andy Murray are a formidable force on the tennis court and the ‘Novandy’ battles could serve up a rivalry lasting several more years, but whilst Roger Federer is around, he still has the ability to beat the top players – after all he is still one of them. If Federer remains healthy, he may go on to win another major, let’s remember what he achieved last year. Could 2013 be a bit of history repeating? For many Federer fans, they are hoping so and they never give up on their hero.

Ahead of the Australian Open, Federer had not played a tournament going into the first Grand Slam of the year and by his own admission, he was pleased to reach the semis with very little match practice prior to the tournament:

“So I go from here with a good feeling for the year. I didn’t play a tournament leading in, so now obviously I know where my level is at.”

Murray may have knocked Federer out of the semifinals, but has that knocked his confidence or willingness to improve? Of course not…

“I have even more time to work on my game, work on my fitness this year. It’s something I’m excited about.”

With Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray frequently taking centre stage in Grand Slam finals and with the imminent return of Rafael Nadal after his lengthy injury battle with his knee, domination is something which Roger Federer will have to fight for, but he is a sportsman and losing is a learning experience that teaches you to work harder.

The 17-time Grand Slam champion is often referred to as arguably one of the greatest of all time (GOAT) players and as long as the Swiss maestro has the desire to continue playing, he will endure fighting amongst the greatest for more Grand Slam glory and to continue making history. For this reason I would not write him off for future success, after all, he is Roger Federer.

US Open Begins in Wake of Irene – Early Day One Matches

Despite a hurricane travelling through the area just over 24 hours previously the US Open got underway on Monday with just a two-hour delay disrupting schedules as cleanup teams tried to restore the grounds as best they could before the gates opened.

Anybody who may have feared a subdued day one, understandably, due to disruptions to preparations quickly had their worries allayed.

Just days after admitting she was worried about her recent form, the new Wimbledon Champion Petra Kvitova crashed out in round one to world No.49 Alexandra Dulgheru of Romania.

“Still I have bad timing for the hard court and I didn’t have some small steps before the shots,” she had said after early round exits from Cincinnati and Toronto. “Sometimes my serve is like up and down. It’s also right before the US Open, so I have a week off now. Hopefully it’ll be better. Of course I won a Grand Slam so it’s going to be more [pressure], but it’s not in my head.”

And certainly she seemed ready for a fight during the first set as her and Dulgheru traded blows before entering a tie-breaker on Louis Armstrong Court.

But she dropped it, and could never quite get herself firing in the second. A surprised Dulgheru rushed to take it 6-3 and complete an unlikely victory. She will now face her compatriot Monica Niculescu in round two who defeated Austria’s Patricia Mayr-Achleitner 6-3, 6-3 on court nine.

Top American seed in the men’s draw Mardy Fish kicked off play on Arthur Ashe Court and dropped only five games against Germany’s Tobias Kamke in a 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 win that made the sport look extremely simple.

But his compatriot, Ryan Harrison, lost in straight sets to Croatia’s Marin Cilic, who progressed 6-2, 7-5, 7-6(6).

Tomas Berdych, Richard Gasquet, Flavio Cipolla, Bernard Tomic, and Janko Tipsarevic were among the male players to make it through in straight sets, while Michael Llodra was one of the first stars taken to five sets by Romania’s Victor Hanescu before triumphing 6-2, 4-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2.

Teenage British star Laura Robson went through earlier than planned when Japan’s Ayumi Morita retired at the beginning of the second set with a shoulder injury, while German star Julia Goerges progressed by dropping only five games in a routine 6-3, 6-2 win over her compatriot Kristina Barrois.

Federer wants Hingis Partnership, Roddick Outburst in Cincy and Serena Wins Two Titles out of Two

Federer Wants Hingis Partnership:

Despite her best efforts to quash talk of a comeback and another assault at the Olympic Games next summer it seems that Martina Hingis’ fellow pros aren’t so willing to let the issue lie. Roger Federer has been talking this week of the possibility of the pair linking up for a dream mixed doubles partnership at the All England Club next summer to compete in the London Games. “Might as well just see if she is available,” he said on Monday. “If I played mixed with anybody it would be with Hingis just because she’s been an amazing player and I had my first kind of success at the Hopman Cup with her and practised and played with her before. Even if she is retired, she might think about it at least. I’ve approached her already a long time ago, and I guess she just mentioned something to the press and it took a life of its own. But I haven’t spoken to her myself yet. We’ll see where it goes. I know it’s a lot on your plate to play singles, doubles, and mixed. I need to decide if I want to do that in the first place, and then see if she will come out of retirement. Still have a lot of things to go through, but haven’t spoken yet. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Roddick Outburst Compounds Cincy Defeat:

Andy Roddick crashed out of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati yesterday to Philip Kohlschreiber in an outburst-riddled match which landed the American star in hot water. After taking the first set in a tie-breaker, Roddick began to fall apart on court and secured only one game in the final set of a 7-6(7-5), 5-7, 1-6 loss. Having already been warned for smashing one racket to pieces, Roddick was docked a point in the third set to give the German Kohlschreiber a 2-0 lead for hitting a ball in to the crowd in frustration. “Obviously it’s a split second thing, as soon as I did it I wanted it [the ball] back,” he said after the match. “It was a judgment call for the umpire. I am pretty sure I saw an eight-year-old girl catch it on the way down. He was telling me I hit it as hard as I could. I understand where the umpire is coming from but at a certain point, you know, you hit a tennis ball into a stadium, someone goes home with a souvenir, and it pretty much ruins the match from there. Seems counterproductive.”

Serena makes it Back To Back Titles:

Serena Williams made it back-to-back tournament wins on her return from injury as she lifted the Rogers Cup in Toronto over the weekend. She broke Aussie Sam Stosur to move 5-4 ahead in the first set and then served it out, before breaking the 2010 French Open finalist twice more in the second set on her way to victory. “I’m so excited. I never expected to do this well,” she said in her on-court interview in Toronto. “I’m just so happy to be playing again, let alone winning. It’s cool.”

Djokovic Continues Unrivalled Year:

In Montreal, Novak Djokovic continued his unbelievable 2011 with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 win over America’s Mardy Fish in the final. The 24-year-old took just 38 minutes to win the first set and although he suffered a blip as Fish broke him to go 3-2 up in the second and held on to take it, Djokovic recovered and saw out the decider with now-unsurprising ease. “I am human, I can definitely assure you of that,” Djokovic joked afterwards. “I’ve been playing incredible tennis this year. I’m aware of the fantastic year that I’ve had and a great streak but I’m not thinking how many matches will I lose? I’m thinking how many matches will I win?” Fish was quick to pay homage to his all-conquering adversary: “Every knock he’s answered 10-fold this year,” he said. “It’s been incredibly impressive.” The Serb has only lost one match this year to Roger Federer in the semi-finals of the French Open and he becomes the first player in ATP history to lift five Masters events in the same season; Indian Wells, Miami, Madrid, Rome and now Montreal.

Federer Enjoys DelPo “Revenge”:

Roger Federer overcame Juan Martin del Potro in the second round at Cincinnati this week in what was a revenge match for the 2009 US Open final, where Del Potro won through in five sets in what R-Fed describes as one of the “biggest losses” of his career. This time the Swiss star won through 6-3, 7-5 with relative ease and he will progress to face James Blake, the man who painfully ended his run at the 2008 Olympics quarterfinals. “That was obviously a pretty big match for me to lose as well,” said Federer. “May be getting a chance for some revenge. I’m looking forward to it. Seems like he’s playing well. Definitely going to be ready for it.  Had a great final here years ago, and hope we can make something similar happen.” Del Potro, however, will now take a week off before making his first return to Flushing Meadows since that famous win after his long-running injury problems. “I will try to train hard to be 100 per cent for the Open,” he said. “I love this tournament. I want to be there. I want to just play the US Open this year, and then I will have time to take a rest, to think about this season, and to fix all my physical problems.”

Stepanek Hits Milestone:

Radek Stepanek’s 7-5, 5-7, 7-6(4) win over big American John Isner at Cincy this week was the 300th ATP level win of his professional career.

Pre-Open Injuries:

There are a couple of injuries to report ahead of the US Open. As well as the well-documented struggles of Venus Williams and Kim Clijsters, Agnieszka Radwanska pulled out of this week’s Cincinnati event with a right shoulder injury sustained during her Toronto semi-final loss to Sam Stosur. It is unclear as yet how much it will hamper her Open preparations. There were also painful scenes for 52-year-old John McEnroe in the Rogers Legends Cup event in Montreal last week. He went down late in the second set clutching his leg and lay prone for 10 minutes while opponent Michael Chang and medical staff assisted him before helping him off-court.

Nishikori Heading to Malaysia:

Japanese star Kei Nishikori has confirmed that he will compete in this year’s Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, which takes place from September 24 to October 2. “It is a wonderful opportunity to be able to welcome a player from Asia to the Malaysian Open, Kuala Lumpur, and especially one who has shown such great maturity and determination,” said Nick Freyer, of organisers IMG. “Kei has incredible talent and it is tremendous for tennis in Asia to be able to see him playing the standard of tennis he has always been capable of.”

O’Brien Retires:

Britain’s Katie O’Brien has retired from professional tennis at the age of 25. She reached a career-high ranking of No.84 in September 2010 but has since slipped all the way down to No.281 in the world. “There are so many bits about tennis that I love, but the day-in day-out grind got to me a little bit,” she said. “A lot of people see the end product, when you’re on the big stage at the Grand Slams, and it all looks so luxurious. But the path to get there takes years and years of dedication. I did really well to break into the Top 100, that was my lifelong ambition, but I sacrificed everything to get there. The Challenger circuit can be a pretty depressing place at times, especially when you’re travelling many weeks on your own, which is what I have been doing.”

Fish at Record High in Rankings Watch:

American Mardy Fish has benefitted from his final appearance at Montreal last week by climbing to a record-high No.7 in this week’s South African Airways ATP World Rankings. Jo Wilfried-Tsonga’s impressive showing at the event also sees him jump six places to enter the Top 10. Janko Tipsarevic climbs four in to the Top 20, while Ernests Gulbis, Pablo Cuevas and Alex Bogomolov Jr. are all in to the Top 50. Belgium’s Steve Darcis climbs in to the Top 100, as does Chilean Paul Capdeville, who leaps 18 places to No.98 in the world. There were further 2011 Chinese records in the Sony Ericsson WTA World Rankings this week as Peng Shuai climbed to a career-high No.15 in the world to make it two Chinese players in the Top 15 in the same week for the first time ever. Vera Zvonareva is back up to No.2 in the world this week, while Petra Kvitova’s amazing couple of months continue as she is at a new career-high No.6 in the world. Italy’s Roberta Vinci made her Top 20 debut at No.19, whilst Serena Williams climbed 49 places to No.31 in the world on the back of her title in Toronto. Mona Barthel also climbed a place to enter the Top 100 for the first time in her career.

Low GOAT Race Points Totals after Shock Montreal Losses:

Both Roger Federer and Raphael Nadal saw shock losses in last week’s Montreal Masters, severely limiting their points total increases this week. Nadal crashed out in round two as Ivan Dodig secured the biggest win of his career, 1-6, 7-6(5), 7-6(5) against the world No.2. Federer followed in round three, missing out on a place in the quarterfinals thanks to Jo-Wilfried-Tsonga’s 7-6(3), 4-6, 6-1 win. As a result, neither man built on their 10 points for entering. They both, however, gain another 10 points each for entering Cincinnati this week.

Roger: 975 Rafa: 1685

Federer Wins 61st Title To Overtake Agassi

Roger Federer is back in top-of-the-world form heading into the U.S. Open.

The Swiss star played up to his No. 1 ranking Sunday, beating Novak Djokovic 6-1, 7-5 for the Cincinnati Masters title and plenty of confidence heading into the Open, which he has won each of the last five years.

Federer’s win Sunday gave him a 61st career title, which, according to the book THE BUD COLLINS HISTORY OF TENNIS, moved him ahead of Andre Agassi into seventh place alone for most men’s singles titles won in a career. He is now one tournament title shy of equaling Bjorn Borg and Guillermo Vilas, who each won 62 titles, and jumping into tie for sixth place all-time. He is five tournament titles shy of overtaking Pete Sampras and his 64 titles and moving into fourth place by himself. Jimmy Connors holds the record with 109 singles titles, followed by Ivan Lendl with 94 and John McEnroe with 77.

Federer’s goal in Cincinnati was to work off the rust from a brief layoff during his stellar season. He won his first French Open championship and an epic Wimbledon match against Andy Roddick for his record 15th Grand Slam title, then took time off to become the father of twin daughters.

He dominated at the outset against Djokovic, who hadn’t dropped a set all week. Federer breezed through the opening set, but encountered more resistance in the second, having to save a set point as he served at 4-5 down.

But it was saved with a fine service and in the next game he broke Djokovic for the fourth time in the match.

Federer duly served out the match to love, claiming his third Cincinnati title as his Serbian opponent netted a return after one hour and 30 minutes.

Joked Djokovic after the match in the trophy ceremony, “The closest I was about to get to the first place trophy was now…Unfortunately. I was born in the wrong era.”

Federer will seek his sixth straight US Open title in New York, starting August 31.