final game

Murray Defeats Federer to Defend Rogers Cup Title

Andy Murray overcame his 0-3 record against Roger Federer in ATP Tour finals today with a drawn out 7-5, 7-5 victory that lasted through several lengthy rain delays. The Scot called it, “one of the best week’s of my life,” upon giving his victory speech to the resilient Toronto crowd.

It was a very different Roger Federer who came out in the opening set of the final today against Andy Murray. Instead of breezing through the opening frame as he had against both Tomas Berdych and Novak Djokovic, a lethargic Federer looked lifeless in the opening three games where he was broken twice.

Murray looked exactly as sharp as he had when he left the court yesterday afternoon after defeating world No. 1 Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4 and his shots were immediately hurting Federer on every occasion.

While Roger reminded us all yesterday that it was his younger opponents who seemed tired this week, one had to wonder if at the age of 29 his late night heroics were finally catching up to him.

While serving at 3-0 Murray then suddenly dropped all four service points to allow Roger one break and the chance to begin working his way back into the match. The players would then hold service for several games until Murray went to serve for the set at 5-4.

A fan flashed a sign on the overhead video screen that proclaimed, “Federer is Betterer,” and the Swiss star proved them right by breaking Murray to even things up at 5-5.

In that game it was Murray’s nerves that suddenly acted up as he blew a routine forehand to go down 0-30 within the game and later double faulted at break point to complete his mini-implosion.

Just when you thought a tiebreak was around the corner, Federer double faulted for 15-30. At deuce, a timely Murray lob eluded Federer to give him a break point and then a Federer forehand error wide tilted things in Murray’s favour.

Murray held in the final game of the set to take it 7-5. Federer being broken three times inside of one set was a rarity and on serve at 2-1 Federer the rain came and halted play for about one hour.

Returning to the court Murray would win two straight points to even things up at 2-2 and then proceeded to break Federer to go ahead 3-2. Another rain delay of well over an hour then appeared and upon resumption of play it was Federer who came out firing as he broke in the first game back to tie the set at 3-3.

At 5-5 and with fans hoping for the match to be pushed to a third set, Roger would let down his guard and find himself down 0-40 while serving. Murray hit a beautiful over-head, backhand volley to put away the game and then proceeded to serve for the set, ahead 6-5.

Though Roger managed to push the game to deuce, Murray would prevail with some excellent serving to become the first repeat champion in Canada since Andre Agassi in 1994-95.

Murray’s serve was very solid today and he even surprised himself with what he claims is his fastest serve ever on the ATP Tour.

“I managed to come up on the breakpoint with a big serve, and actually I think the deuce point is the fastest serve I’ve ever hit. I think it 225 kilometres an hour, which is just over 140 miles an hour. So that’s obviously something that I’ve been working on quite a lot. I just went for it.”

I asked Murray after the match what he felt was more satifying – winning his first tournament of 2010 or finally reversing his losing streak to Federer in ATP finals. Instead, Murray saw another bit of silver-lining in the triumph.

“Winning a tournament is always great, but it’s the first time I beat Roger and Rafa in the same tournament, which is probably the most pleasing thing, and then didn’t drop a set against either of them. So it’s good for the confidence for the next few weeks.”

Roger was quite gracious in defeat and made no excuses in his post-tournament press conference. Speaking about the reality of his and Murray’s struggles since the Australian Open he said,

“I think most important actually for both of us is that since Australia, you know, maybe we’ve had not the results we were hoping for after playing so well right off the bat at the beginning of the year. I think, for us, it’s really important knowing we’re back on hardcourt, that our game’s back on…I think that’s a big positive for both of us.”

Certainly with their strong play in Toronto this past week, Federer and Murray have sent a message to the rest of the tour that they are mentally and physically ready to take a good run at the U.S. Open. We’ll have to wait and see if they can carry that momentum into Cincinnati or if someone else is ready to step up and put their name into contention as well.

Thanks for following us throughout the Rogers Cup. Stay tuned to ProTennisFan for more updates and coverage of the ATP Tour as the final Slam of the year quickly approaches. You can also follow us on Twitter for frequent coverage as well.

Djokovic, Murray And Nadal Battle Through First Matches At Rogers Cup

It was an incredibly hot and humid day in Toronto on Wednesday as Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray made their first singles appearances at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. Both advanced to the third round but not without a struggle in their respective matches.

With on-court temperatures around the forty degree Celsius mark, Djokovic unsurprisingly struggled with the heat and had trainers come to his aid at several points throughout the match. As has been the case in the past, the talented Serbian was hindered more so by the weather than his opponent.

Red in the face and obviously labouring on the court between points, he had to come back from down a break against Julien Benneteau of France early in the second set. Djokovic managed to avoid going to a second set tie-break when he broke the Frenchman’s serve in the final game of the match. Had the match gone to a decisive set I believe we might have seen a retirement from the fragile world number two.

After the match Djokovic faced question after question about his health and why he seems to struggle so often in these types of conditions.

Asked to clarify what exactly goes on, he said, “Well it’s really hard to explain. Anybody who didn’t play professional level will not understand quite what’s going on. Today I was really on the edge, so health is the most important thing for me, and then tennis and success and whatever comes with it.”

Djokovic tried to reveal what he feared the worst case scenario might have been, “…at a certain moment you might collapse or whatever. But after half an hour, hour, with the proper recovery, you will get back to the normal feeling and normal state of body. I guess that in the long term it can hurt you, and it happens to me quite often. And, I don’t know, it’s just something that you cannot fight against. Nobody can turn off the sun and just do me a favour, even though I would like it.”

I’m not sure if Djokovic is struggling with some medical condition that he would rather not specifically describe or if he is just super-sensitive in the heat-threshold department. One thing is clear though – if these conditions hold up as expected, Djokovic will have trouble advancing deep into the draw. With Roger and Rafa likely to continue grabbing the prime-time evening spots in the schedule I think it is safe to say Novak will have to find a way to overcome his issues with the weather or he will soon find himself on a flight to Cincinnati.

For Andy Murray the obstacle today was not so much weather-related but rather a veteran opponent with a fierce forehand by the name of Xavier Malisse. In the early stages it appeared as though Murray was going to be in for a long match as the X-man raced out to a 4-2 lead. Serving at 5-4 however, Malisse would lose the next three games and have his serve broken twice in the process to lose 5-7.

In the second set Malisse completely fell apart and his once lethal forehand was suddenly missing the mark with regularity. Murray’s game was moving in the opposite direction and he was cleverly using his well-rehearsed drop shot to his advantage.

I watched the match today with my girlfriend, and she remarked how frustrating it used to be when I would drop shot her in a tennis video game we used to play together. That’s pretty much how Malisse felt during the second set as he stopped even trying to get to them towards the end of the match.

Serving at 2-3, Malisse would find a way to lose all four points in the game to surrender the critical break to Murray. At 2-5 he once again found himself down 0-40, but this time was able to salvage a couple of points before losing on Murray’s third match point. The final score was 7-5, 6-2 for Murray and he seemed happy with his first match as defending champion at the Rogers Cup.

“I feel good,” Murray said after the match had ended. “I mean, today could have been a little better from the start, but, you know, the first round is tough, and I was playing a very good player.”

During the evening session, Rafael Nadal finally made his singles debut. Going up against Stan Wawrinka seemed like it would be test on paper, but one that the Spaniard would likely handle with ease. Instead it took him 93 minutes to get through the first set. He would have to survive multiple set points against him during a see-saw tie-break that ended in his favour, 14-12.

The second set went more according to plan and Rafa closed it out without any unnecessary drama for a 7-6(12), 6-3 victory.

With Querrey and Marin Cilic both having been eliminated from that quarter of the draw, Nadal should now have an easier time advancing towards the finals.

In other results of note on Wednesday at the Rogers Cup, Fernando Verdasco the 9th seed lost to Jeremy Chardy. It was the second time in two career meetings that Chady has emerged victorious in their head-to-head although Verdasco came within one game of advancing. After winning the first set in a tie-break, Verdasco was serving for the match at 5-4 but could not hold. Chardy eventually closed it out 6-7(7), 7-6(5), 6-2. You can add his name to an impressive list of French players within the top hundred of the ATP rankings.

On an outside court, American Sam Querrey who has won four tournaments this year, was defeated by Kevin Anderson a qualifier from South Africa 7-6(4), 4-6, 6-4.

Thursday will be highlighted by what’s sure to be a fierce battle between David Nalbandian and Robin Soderling, as well as Federer vs Michael Llodra and Andy Murray against Gael Monfils.

STOSUR SURGES AT ROLAND GARROS

By Blair Henley

A surging Sam Stosur took out four-time French Open champion and No. 22 seed Justine Henin 2-6, 6-1, 6-4 on Monday, snapping the Belgian’s streak of 24 straight matches won at Roland Garros.

“My nerves were simply not strong enough today,” Henin explained. “I felt very nervous, very upset, which is normally not the way I am. Maybe today I was feeling some nervous fatigue. Maybe that nervous fatigue prevented me from seeing things in a calmer way.”

After a slow start, 26-year-old Stosur used her heavy groundstrokes to keep her opponent stuck scrambling behind the baseline, and in the third set, Henin’s picturesque backhand was nowhere to be found. She dumped three into the net in the final game.

Stosur, seeded seventh, squandered her first match point with a nervous double fault, but took advantage of a short, bouncing overhead on her second try.

“I just tried to shake it off and tried to have a laugh at myself, not worry about it and get the next one in,” Stosur said of the double fault.

It was so gloomy at Roland Garros Monday that the 26-year-old Australian was forced to remove her signature sunglasses, allowing fans to see the emotion in her eyes as she sealed one of the biggest wins of her career.

“I knew what I had to do,” Stosur said. “I kept going for it and I believed in myself.”

Stosur had more clay court wins this season than anyone else on tour coming into the French Open and she made it to the semifinals here last year, but her win over Henin still was still unexpected. The Australian lost to her earlier this month in Stuttgart.

The Aussie was known primarily as a doubles specialist before she decided to focus on her singles a couple of years ago. She has previously held the No. 1 ranking in doubles, but she entered the singles Top 10 for the first time just months ago.

Serena Williams easily beat No. 18 seed Shahar Peer of Israel 6-2, 6-2 to become the last American standing in the singles draws. She will take on Stosur in the quarterfinals.

It’s safe to say Peer doesn’t like playing the Williams sisters. She has now lost 5 times each to both Serena and Venus.

Tuesday No. 3 seed Caroline Wozniacki will take on No. 17 Francesca Schiavone, No. 5 seed Elena Dementieva will play No. 19 Nadia Petrova.

Wozniacki Ends Melanie’s Dream

NEW YORK – Four straight unforced errors ended one dream and continued another.

Although the Arthur Ashe Stadium crowd was loudly pulling for her, Melanie Oudin’s dream run at the US Open ended Wednesday night when she was overwhelmed 6-2 6-2 by ninth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki.

“She had a great run, beaten so many great players,” said Wozniacki, the first Danish player to reach the semifinals in a Grand Slam tournament Wozniacki made sure Oudin’s “great run” didn’t continue, instead controlling the points with her consistent baseline game, moving her 17-year-old opponent all around the court and finding answers to every problem the Marietta, Georgia, right-hander posed. In the final game, Oudin won the first point, then netted a forehand, attempted a backhand drop shot that didn’t even make it to the net, sailed a forehand long and was wide with a backhand on match point.

With a spot in the championship match awaiting the winner, Wozniacki will next take on Yanina Wickmayer of Belgium, who won her quarterfinal earlier in the day, 7-5 6-4 over Kateryna Bondarenko of Ukraine.

Oudin became the darling of America’s premier tennis tournament when she unexpectedly mowed down a series of Russians in her march to the quarterfinals. Although she had upset Jelena Jankovic en route to the fourth round at Wimbledon, she was a pleasant surprise here on the hard courts of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The youngster started off by beating Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, then followed that up with victories over fourth-seeded Elena Dementieva, 29th-seeded Maria Sharapova and 13th-seeded Nadia Petrova. With each successive upset, Oudin’s dream grew more vivid along with the expectations from growing legend of fans.

Only two years older than Oudin, Wozniacki never was in trouble against the American, repeatedly hitting with heavy topspin, making the ball jump up high to Oudin’s ground strokes. It was Wozniacki who was dictating the pace and the points.

“She’s such a strong player. She doesn’t give you anything for free,” Oudin said of Wozniacki. “She plays incredible defense. Makes me hit a thousand balls and really is a really great player.”

Unlike Oudin, Wozniacki wasn’t an unknown entity when she began the year’s final Grand Slam tournament. She was seeded ninth after entering the US Open having won the 56 matches, the most of any player on the Sony Ericsson WTA Tour this year. And she has captured three titles this year, including the Pilot Pen in New Haven, Connecticut, the day before the US Open began its two-week run.

Wozniacki said she wasn’t bothered by the crowd’s overwhelming support of Oudin.

“It’s always tough to play against a home favorite,” Wozniacki said. “I had this experience in Australia this year where I played (Australian) Jelena Dokic.

“I knew how I was going to feel to be out there and the crowd, but I just used the energy and tried to convert it into some good tennis.”

Oudin’s never-say-die attitude, her big forehand and her constant pressure caused her Russian opponents to eventually collapse. Not so with Wozniacki.

“She beat some great players,” Wozniacki said of Oudin. “I knew that it was going to be tough and I knew that she was going to fight to the last point. I just thought about one point at a time, one ball at a time and tried not to think too much about the score.
“I’m a fighter, so I don’t give up. I fought to the last point.”

Like Wozniacki, Wickmayer is playing in a Grand Slam semifinal for the first time. Her lone WTA Tour singles title came on clay in Estoril, Portugal.

Wickmayer started the US Open by upsetting 16th-seeded Virginie Razzano. Since then she has not had to face another seeded player.

“Before this my best result was second round (in a Grand Slam tournament),” Wickmayer said. “So of course when you get to the third, fourth round, you start surprising yourself. But actually I’ve been staying pretty calm. I’ve worked really hard for this.”

Top-seeded Roger Federer advanced one step closer to a sixth consecutive US Open men’s singles title when he ended the night by dodging an inspired Robin Soderling of Sweden 6-0 6-3 6-7 (6) 7-6 (6).

It appeared as if Federer would sail through the quarterfinal against the man he beat in the French Open final. But Soderling stepped up his game in the third set, and after Federer swept out to a 4-0 lead in the tiebreak, Soderling roared back to win it 8-6.
The two battled evenly through the fourth set, Federer using his huge serve and Soderling his big ground strokes.
Then, suddenly, Soderling ripped a forehand crosscourt that sailed wide, the only mini-break in the tiebreak, but one that gave Federer the match at 8-6.

“It was so close towards the end, a great relief to come through,” Federer said. “The beginning was a bit too easy. But he showed what a great player he is.”

The Swiss superstar is in his record 22nd straight major semifinal – Ivan Lendl had the old mark at 10 – and is seeking to become the first man to win three consecutive majors in one season since Rod Laver completed the Grand Slam in 1969.

Federer also is bidding to become the first man since Bill Tilden in 1925 to win six consecutive US titles. He is the only man to win five or more successive titles at two Grand Slam tournaments, having won Wimbledon from 2003 through 2007.

In the semifinals, Federer will face fourth-seeded Novak Djokovic, a 7-6 (2) 1-6 7-5 6-2 winner over Fernando Verdasco.