by Kevin Craig
Milos Raonic earned a spot in his first major final as he pulled off an impressive comeback win on Friday over 17-time major champion Roger Federer, 6-3, 6-7(3), 4-6, 7-5, 6-3.
“It’s an incredible comeback for me…it’s a great feeling,” said Raonic, who became the first Canadian to reach a major singles final. “I showed a lot of emotion out there, always positive, and I think that’s what got me through. Mentally, I had one of my best matches in my history and my career.”
The Canadian, who tallied 75 winners in the match, including 23 aces, got off to a quick start against Federer, breaking the seven-time Wimbledon champ in just his second service game of the match for a 3-1 lead. A few more straightforward games on serve concluded the set and the No. 6 seed was able to take the first step forward to the final.
Each player impressed on serve in the second set as the majority of the games saw the returners struggling to win even just one point. In a crucial tenth game, though, Federer opened up a 0-40 lead on Raonic’s serve at 5-4, but the Canadian was up to the task and used his big serves and ground strokes to save those three set points, plus a fourth a few points later, displaying that he might actually be able to pull this off.
Federer, who hit just 14 unforced errors in the match, didn’t let the disappointment of missing out on those four set points, though, as the set went to a tiebreak. From 3-3, the Suisse was able to reel off four points in a row to level the match at one-set all, putting a minor dent in that confidence that Raonic had boosted up.
The former No. 1 player in the world kept his level up and looked to have taken complete control of the match in the third set as he was able to break Raonic in the latter stages for a 4-3 lead. Two holds at love for Federer closed out the set and allowed him to come within one set of his 11th Wimbledon final.
“I was struggling there through the third and fourth sets. He was playing some really good tennis,” said Raonic.
Federer, who beat Raonic in the 2014 Wimbledon semifinals, looked like he would pounce first in the fourth set, as well, as he had a look at two break chances at 2-2. Once again, though, the 6’5” Canadian was up to the task and saved both of them, plus one more in the 4-4 game. The confidence boost received from escaping those big moments allowed Raonic to bounce back from a 40-0 hole on Federer’s service game at 5-6, as he eventually won a 14-point game and converted his third break chance to steal the fourth set and force a decider.
The Canadian carried that momentum into the fifth set, breaking Federer in his second service game for a 3-1 lead, before having two more break chances in Federer’s next service game for a double break lead. He was unable to convert but he didn’t need that extra cushion as there was no way back for the Suisse. Raonic’s big serve, which reached speeds of 144mph and averaged 129mph on the day, proved to be too hot to handle for Federer as Raonic lost just five points on serve in the set, including a hold at love to seal the deal.
“I sort of persevered. I was sort of plugging away…He gave me a little opening towards the end of the fourth. I made the most of it,” said Raonic.
The Canadian now awaits the home favorite Andy Murray in the final after the Brit defeated Tomas Berdych comfortably in straights, 6-3, 6-3, 6-3. Raonic and Murray just played three weeks ago in the final at Queen’s Club with Murray winning, 6-7(5), 6-4, 6-3.
“Am I worried about recovering? No…my matches tend to be quite quick,” said Raonic. “I feel pretty good after. I know I’ll feel much better in 48 hours…It’s a slam final. A lot of adrenaline. All this kind of stuff takes over and you keep fighting through.”
“I’ve by no means done what I want to be here to do,” said Raonic, who hopes to become the first Canadian to win a major singles title. “The impact of being Canada’s first-ever finalist will be bigger if I can win the title. I have to focus on that, put all my energy into that.”
by Kevin Craig
Roger Federer added to his legacy with one of the most entertaining and astounding wins of his career on Wednesday at Wimbledon as he came back from two sets down to defeat Marin Cilic, 6-7(4), 4-6, 6-3, 7-6(9), 6-3.
“Today was epic,” said the former No. 1 player in the world.
Federer, who is in search of a record eighth Wimbledon title and first major title since 2012, not only was down two sets, but also down 0-40 midway through the third set, as well as being down three match points at various times throughout the fourth set.
“I fought. I tried. I believed…At the end I got it done,” said Federer, who turns 35 in just over a month. “For me the dream continues. I couldn’t be happier.”
The 17-time major champion made it sound simple, but the comeback was one for the history books as he earned his 10th win from a two set deficit.
A straightforward first set that saw no breaks and just two break points, both on Cilic’s serve, required a tiebreak to separate the two. It was the 2014 US Open champion who capitalized, racing out to a 5-0 lead on Centre Court before eventually taking it 7-4.
The second set was slightly less straightforward, as Cilic, who had been 52-0 in matches where he was able to take a two sets lead, was able to earn the first break of the match for a 2-1 lead before fighting off a break point in the next game to consolidate. There were no issues from there for the Croat as he lost just two points in his next three service games to close out the set and put himself just one set away from the Wimbledon semifinals.
Once again, the servers dominated in the third set as only five points went against serve in the first six games of the set. It was in that always crucial seventh game, though, that Cilic looked to be just a few points away from the finish line. At 3-3, the No. 9 seed earned a 0-40 lead on Federer’s serve before the Suisse, who hit 27 aces and zero double faults in the match, somehow worked out of that hole and used the momentum to break in the next game for a 5-3 lead. A comfortable hold in the next game signaled to Cilic and the tennis world that Federer wouldn’t go down that easily.
“That switched the momentum,” said Cilic, discussing his missed opportunities at 3-3.
The fourth set, like the first, saw no breaks, but there was a multitude of chances for both players throughout. Each had to fight out of a 15-40 hole early in the set to hold before Cilic had a 30-40 lead in consecutive Federer service games, one at 5-4 and one at 6-5, meaning both opportunities were match points. The Croat again was unable to convert on the big points, leaving the door open for Federer to stage an epic comeback.
The tiebreak was full of breathtaking and tense moments as the players were never separated by more than two points and it required 20 points to be decided. After fending off another match point at 6-7 in the tiebreak, Federer rattled off four of the next six points to shock the Croat and force a deciding fifth set.
After an early challenge in the decider from Cilic, Federer settled in and looked like the potential greatest player of all time that so many have grown to love over the course of his career. After pressuring Cilic’s serve to no avail at 3-2, he repeated the act at 4-3 and was successful this time, setting up an opportunity to serve for the match. No mistakes were made as Federer held to 15, thanks to two aces, for the win and set up a date with Milos Raonic in the semifinals.
“To be out there again fighting, being in a physical battle and winning it is an unbelievable feeling…it was an emotional win,” said Federer, who is hoping to become the oldest major title winner since Ken Rosewall won the Australian Open at the age of 37 in 1972.
“It’s great winning matches like these, coming back from two sets to love. It’s rare. When it happens, you really enjoy them.”
by Kevin Craig
Roger Federer ended the Cinderella run of Marcus Willis on Wednesday at Wimbledon as the No. 3 player in the world defeated the No. 772 player in the world, 6-0, 6-3, 6-4.
Willis, the Brit who was extremely close to pulling the plug on his professional tennis career, decided to make a run at his dream one more time and was successful, winning a wild card tournament to earn entry into the qualifying tournament at Wimbledon, where he was able to beat three top-quality players, one of which was ranked inside the Top 100, to earn a spot in the main draw.
“This story is gold. I hope the press respects his situation. It’s easy now to use it, chew it up, and then throw it all away. He’s got a life and career after this,” said Federer of Willis’ story.
A match with Federer on Centre Court inspired Willis to confidently breeze through his first round match in straight sets, but the 17-time major champion was able to quickly stomp out any possibility of Willis’ run continuing, racing out to a quick one set advantage in less than half an hour.
Willis provided the crowd with something to cheer for early in the second set as he got on the scoreboard for the first time to get to 1-1. The 25-year old played Federer tight throughout the set, but was unable to create any chances on the serve of the Suisse, winning just four points in four return games. Because of the inability to create chances on the return, one poor service game from Willis at 2-3 was the turning point in the set, as Federer converted on his third break point of the game to grab a 4-2 lead, before eventually closing out the set.
The British crowd continued their massive support of Willis in the third set, and he did not disappoint. The Brit looked like he belonged on the biggest stage in tennis as he battled toe-to-toe with arguably the greatest player of all time, serving confidently and beginning to create chances on return. Willis saw just his second break point of the match at 3-2 in the third set, but it was staved off by the veteran, propelling him to break at love just three games later before closing out the straight sets win.
“It’s not easy for him to come out there and play a decent match. There’s a lot of pressure on him as well. I thought he handled it great,” said Federer, complimenting Willis’ performance.
Sure, Willis didn’t win the match, but he earned something so much more important than that. He won the respect of millions of tennis fans around the world, especially those in his own country, who surely hope that he will change his plans and continue his professional tennis career.
“It was all just a blur. It was amazing…I love every bit of it,” said Willis. “The whole experience was incredible.”
After the match had ended, Federer stayed by his chair, allowing Willis to be the one who walked out to the middle of the court to acknowledge the applauding fans giving him a standing ovation, something he may never be able to do on that big of a stage again.
“It was his moment. I wanted him to have a great time,” said Federer.
Federer will take on the winner of Dan Evans, another Brit, or Alex Dolgopolov in the third round.
by Kevin Craig
Marcus Willis, the No. 772-ranked player in the world, put on an astounding performance on Monday at Wimbledon, continuing his improbable run that began even before the qualifying event last week.
Willis beat Ricardas Berankis of Lithuania in straight sets by a score line of 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 thanks, in large part, to the massive crowd support he had on Court 17.
Berankis, a player who has shown spurts of great talent on the ATP World Tour level, was simply unable to crack through the spirited performance from Willis, winning only one of 20 break points that he saw and was simply unable to ever get a foothold in the match.
Early breaks in each set allowed the Brit to play confidently throughout the match as he put on display his great touch around the net and his “unorthodox” game that has the ability to frustrate any opponent.
The confident display never wavered from Willis, and an unreturned serve on match point gave him the biggest win of his career over the 53rd ranked Berankis and a spot in the second round.
The 25-year old had absolutely no intentions of playing in Wimbledon this year, and was close to even calling quits on his professional tennis career. Having only played one event since September of 2015, Willis found himself looking for tennis teaching jobs around the world. After an inspiring conversation with his girlfriend and a bit of luck, though, Willis found himself back on court looking to fulfill one of his biggest dreams.
Willis, in order to fulfill that dream, had to play in a pre-qualifying event just to earn his spot in the main qualifying event for Wimbledon, and his entry into the pre-qualifying event only came when a player had travel issues and was unable to make it to the tournament site in time.
Some impressive performances in the pre-qualifying earned Willis a wild card into the qualifying event, where he was able to dispatch three very talented players, one of which is currently inside the Top 100, to continue his magical run into the main draw of Wimbledon.
“I’ve always wanted to play at Wimbledon. I just never thought it would happen,” said Willis.
He is getting his opportunity to play at Wimbledon now and is taking full advantage of it. His prize for reaching the second round? £50,000 and a match against seven-time Wimbledon champ Roger Federer.
“I think it’s one of the best stories in a long time in our sport,” said Federer of Willis’ run.
“I’m not sure he can play on grass, that’s good,” said Willis jokingly. “I get to play on a stadium court. This is what I dreamed of when I was younger.”
When Willis was younger, he was one of the highly touted juniors coming up through Great Britain with a lot of promise.
“When I was a junior, yeah, I was talented…Then I got dropped in the real world,” said Willis. “I lost a lot of confidence, made some bad decisions, went out too much, lifestyle wasn’t good…I didn’t have the drive.”
Thankfully, though, for Willis, he has regained that drive and will now get to play on arguably the biggest stage in tennis on Wednesday; Center Court at Wimbledon.
“Two, three, four years ago, [playing at Wimbledon] was looking very unlikely. Now I’m here. I’m going to enjoy every minute,” said Willis.
by Kevin Craig
Novak Djokovic was able to beat Roger Federer in the semifinals at the Australian Open on Thursday, 6-1, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, setting up a match-up in the final with either Andy Murray or Milos Raonic. Djokovic’s level was extraordinarily high for the first two sets, but Federer didn’t go down without a fight as he clawed out a set to make things interesting. In the end, Djokovic was able to take the lead in their head-to-head battles at 23-22, and make it to his 17th consecutive final.
It’s difficult to put into words how well Djokovic played in the first two sets. Djokovic was playing arguably the best tennis a human possibly could, as he was ripping winners from anywhere on the court and acting like a wall behind the baseline, leaving the 17-time grand slam champion frustrated and having no clue what to do.
Djokovic quickly broke Federer in his first service game of the match and raced out to a 3-0 lead in what appeared to be the blink of an eye. Federer did get a hold at love in his second service game, but that is all Djokovic would allow him to have has he turned the knob back up and won three straight games to close out the 22-minute set with a double break advantage. The second set was more of the same as Djokovic again raced out to a quick lead, finding himself up 4-1 in a very short period of time. Djokovic gave Federer more trouble in his last service game of the set before he was able to hold, possibly foreshadowing what he was about to do in the third set. Nevertheless, Djokovic held at love and once again closed out the set with a double break lead.
The third set was very tight throughout as Federer’s level began to rise and Djokovic’s began to drop slightly. Federer was the one who began hitting winners from almost anywhere on the court and playing tremendous defense as Djokovic would drag him from corner to corner. After four easy holds to get the set to 2-2, Djokovic had a look at a break point before Federer would save it and wind up getting the hold. In the next game, though, Federer and Djokovic fought for over 10 minutes in a 16 point game that saw Federer have four break points. As the game was being played, it almost felt as if Federer had to get that break if he wanted to prolong the match at all, or else Djokovic would relax and get the break in the next game and cruise to the win. The former is what happened, though, as Federer got the break on his fourth chance and went on to close out the set.
The match continued to be tight into the fourth set, as neither player gave the other any opportunities on their serve. Neither returner was able to get past 30, until Federer served at 3-4 and got down 30-40. Djokovic, disappointed with the fact he let the match get to this point and aware what Federer could do if the match was taken to a fifth set, had no issue converting the only break point of the set to go up 5-3, and served out the match at love to book his place in the final.
Djokovic put on an absolute masterclass display of tennis in the first two sets as he won both in an under an hour combined, losing only three games and making six unforced errors along the way. Many viewers were even being reminded of the 2008 French Open final when Rafael Nadal defeated Federer in the final, only losing four games in three sets. Djokovic stated himself that the “first two sets have been probably the best two sets [he’s] played against [Federer] overall.” All Federer could rely on was the hope that Djokovic’s level would drop at some point, and it did, allowing the Suisse to give the fans some of what they wanted as he took the match to a fourth set and competed until the last point. In the end, Djokovic was too good and proved again why he is the No. 1 player in the world.
Djokovic awaits his opponent in the final as Murray and Raonic will battle on Friday night in Melbourne. Both Murray and Raonic earned their spots in the semifinals with four set wins, Murray beating David Ferrer 6-3, 6-7, 6-2, 6-3, and Raonic defeating Gael Monfils 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-4. Murray is hoping to make his fifth appearance in the final of the Australian Open and create a repeat of last year’s final, while Raonic is in his second grand slam semifinal after making it to the Wimbledon semifinals in 2014 and looks to make his first final at a slam.
by Kevin Craig
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.
by Kevin Craig
- Roger Federer became the first player to win 300 grand slam matches with his third round win over Grigor Dimitrov at the Australian Open. Compatriot Stan Wawrinka also had a milestone win in Melbourne as he won his 400th career ATP match with his third round win over Lukas Rosol.
- Kristyna Pliskova set the record for most aces in a women’s match by hitting 31 in her second round loss to Monica Puig at the Australian Open.
- Novak Djokovic hit 100 unforced errors in his five set win over Gilles Simon in the fourth round, after only hitting 78 unforced errors in his first three matches combined. The win sent Djokovic to the quarterfinals for his 27th consecutive quarterfinal appearance at a grand slam event.
- Victoria Azarenka is still undefeated in 2016 with a 9-0 record that sees her in the quarterfinals of the Australian Open. Azarenka has only lost three or more games in a set four times, only once being taken to 6-4.
- John Isner exited the Australian Open in the fourth round, but not before hitting 119 aces, an average of just under 30 per match. Isner also made 75 percent of his first serves throughout the tournament. The second best first serve percentage of a player that made it to the fourth round was Bernard Tomic at 66 percent.
- Gilles Muller and Fabio Fognini played the first all tiebreak four set match at the Australian Open since 2000 when Max Mirnyi beat Antony Dupuis in four tiebreak sets. Muller was the winner with a 7-6, 7-6, 6-7, 7-6 score line.
- Adrian Mannarino and Lucas Pouille of France have teamed up to make the men’s doubles quarterfinals at the Australian Open without losing a set. Before the tournament, the two had a combined 10-42 doubles record for their careers.
- 38 year old Ruben Ramirez Hidalgo made the semifinals of the challenger in Rio de Janeiro this week. The 263rd ranked Spaniard has now made at least one challenger semifinal every year since 2001.
“On This Day In Tennis History,“ the popular tennis book, ebook and mobile app, is now also available as an audio book. The calendar-like compilation of historical and unique anniversaries, events and happenings from the world of tennis is now available in audio form via Audible.com and can be purchased here on Amazon.com: http://www.mailermailer.com/rd?http://www.amazon.com/This-Tennis-History-Day-Day/dp/B0178PCQH4/ref=tmm_aud_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1449508067&sr=8-1 The narrator is Tiffany Bobertz, a theatre production veteran graduate of Augustana College and resident of Tempe, Arizona. The audio version is available for sale for $26.21 or $14.95 with an Audible.com membership.
The popular mobile app version of the book is available for $2.99 at www.TennisHistoryApp.com. The app can be found by searching “Tennis History” in the iTunes App Store and Play Store or directly at these two links:
“On This Day In Tennis History,” compiled by Randy Walker, is a fun and fact-filled, this compilation offers anniversaries, summaries, and anecdotes of events from the world of tennis for every day in the calendar year. Presented in a day-by-day format, the entries into this mini-encyclopedia include major tournament victory dates, summaries of the greatest matches ever played, trivia, and statistics as well as little-known and quirky happenings. Easy-to-use and packed with fascinating details, the book is the perfect companion for tennis and general sports fans alike and is an excellent gift idea for the holiday season. The book features fascinating and unique stories of players such as Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, John McEnroe, Don Budge, Maria Sharapova, Bill Tilden, Chris Evert, Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors, Martina Navratilova, Venus Williams, Serena Williams, Anna Kournikova among many others. “On This Day In Tennis History” is available for purchase via on-line book retailers and in bookstores in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.
“On This Day In Tennis History” is published by New Chapter Press while the mobile app was designed and developed in conjunction with Miki Singh, founder of www.FirstServeApps.com. Fans can follow the app on social media at Twitter.com/ThisDayInTennis and facebook.com/thisdayintennis.
Said Hall of Famer Jim Courier of the book, “‘On This Day In Tennis History’ is a fun read that chronicles some of the most important—and unusual—moments in the annals of tennis. Randy Walker is an excellent narrator of tennis history and has done an incredible job of researching and compiling this entertaining volume.” Said tennis historian Joel Drucker, author of Jimmy Connors Saved My Life, “An addictive feast that you can enjoy every possible way—dipping in for various morsels, devouring it day-by-day, or selectively finding essential ingredients. As a tennis writer, I will always keep this book at the head of my table.” Said Bill Mountford, former Director of Tennis of the USTA National Tennis Center, “‘On This Day In Tennis History’ is an easy and unique way to absorb the greatest—and most quirky—moments in tennis history. It’s best read a page a day!”
Founded in 1987, New Chapter Press (www.NewChapterMedia.com) is also the publisher of “The Greatest Tennis Matches of All Time” by Steve Flink, “The Secrets of Spanish Tennis” by Chris Lewit, “Roger Federer: Quest for Perfection” by Rene Stauffer, “The Bud Collins History of Tennis” by Bud Collins, “How To Permanently Erase Negative Self Talk So You Can Be Extraordinary” by Emily Filloramo, “The Education of a Tennis Player” by Rod Laver with Bud Collins, “The Greatest Jewish Tennis Players of All Time” by Sandra Harwitt, “The Wimbledon Final That Never Was” by Sidney Wood, “Acing Depression: A Tennis Champion’s Toughest Match” by Cliff Richey and Hilaire Richey Kallendorf, “Titanic: The Tennis Story” by Lindsay Gibbs, “Jan Kodes: A Journey To Glory From Behind The Iron Curtain” by Jan Kodes with Peter Kolar, “Tennis Made Easy” by Kelly Gunterman, “A Player’s Guide To USTA League Tennis” by Tony Serksnis, “The 87 Rules For College” by Jacob Shore and Drew Moffitt, “Boycott: Stolen Dreams of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games” by Tom Caraccioli and Jerry Caraccioli, “The Lennon Prophecy” by Joe Niezgoda (www.TheLennonProphecy.com), “Bone Appetit, Gourmet Cooking For Your Dog” by Susan Anson, “How To Sell Your Screenplay” by Carl Sautter, “The Rules of Neighborhood Poker According To Hoyle” by Stewart Wolpin, “Lessons from the Wild” by Shayamal Vallabhjee among others.
by Kevin Craig
Both the No. 1 singles player and No. 1 doubles team were able to win the ATP World Tour Finals titles on Sunday, as Novak Djokovic defeated Roger Federer, while Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau took down Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea. The match between Djokovic and Federer was their 44th, and Djokovic was able to even up their record at 22 wins apiece. Rojer and Tecau were able to continue their impressive form in London as they won the tournament without dropping a set along the way.
Another classic match-up between two legends of the game saw Djokovic dispatch Federer in rather routine fashion by a score of 6-3, 6-4. After their match in the round robin stage in which Federer beat Djokovic, Federer surely must have come into this match with confidence, but Djokovic was able to play simply at a higher level than he did in that first match-up, as he played great defense all match and played high quality tennis on the pivotal points. The two men were only separated by four points total in the first set, but Djokovic was able to win the more important points, saving both break points he faced and winning 71 percent of his second serve points. Federer’s 57 percent first serve rate also didn’t do him any favors as he allowed Djokovic to step up and get good looks on a lot of returns, leading to two breaks. The second set saw the Serbian continue to dictate play as he was able to lose only six points in his five service games, and force Federer to face five break points. Out of those five, Djokovic was only able to convert on one, but that was all he needed to seal the match, as the break gave him a 5-3 lead. He would go on to comfortably serve out the match and claim the World Tour Finals title for the fourth year in a row and a fifth time overall. This title was his 11th of the year to go along with his wins at three of the four grand slam events, as well as six Masters 1000 events. Djokovic’s 2015 season will surely go down in the record books as one of the greatest seasons of all time, and winning the World Tour Finals in London was the icing on the cake.
The doubles final took place between two teams that had gone through their first four matches of the tournament undefeated, as Rojer and Tecau teamed up to take down Bopanna and Mergea, 6-4, 6-3. After clinching the No. 1 year end doubles team ranking on Saturday, Rojer and Tecau were brimming with confidence heading into the final. This showed as they were able to win a very tight first set by dominating on their second serve points, winning eight of nine, and saving both break points that they faced. Add on the six aces they hit in the first set, and Rojer and Tecau were tough to touch in their service games in the first set. The level of play from Bopanna and Mergea dropped significantly in the second set, as they only managed to make 42 percent of their first serves and just barely managed to win more than half of their service points overall. This resulted in Rojer and Tecau applying a lot of pressure in their return games, as they broke on both break points they saw, including a break at love to finish off the match. Rojer and Tecau dictated play with their serve again in the second set, only losing five points on serve total. This title for Rojer and Tecau was their third this year, and their 11th as a team. After a very successful year for the Dutch and Romanian pairing, they will surely take some time to relax in the offseason and enjoy their accomplishment of finishing the year as the No. 1 doubles team.
An interesting note about the two winners on Sunday is that Djokovic and Rojer/Tecau both also won Wimbledon in 2015. These players must really like something about London as they were impossible to match this year at Wimbledon and the World Tour Finals, and they must surely be happy to see that the year-end championships will be staying in London until at least 2018. Not only will they be able to bring home the title, but both Djokovic and Rojer/Tecau will also be heading into the offseason with their respective year-end No. 1 rankings, a true testament to how dominant they were throughout the year.
by Kevin Craig
Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer set up their anticipated match-up in the final of the ATP World Tour Finals with wins over Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, respectively, on Saturday in London. Djokovic and Federer played dominant levels of tennis, making fans around the world eager to watch the final that will take place on Sunday. The doubles event also witnessed very important tennis action as the team of Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau were able to clinch the year end No. 1 doubles team ranking by beating Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan in the semifinals. Rojer and Tecau will face Rohan Bopanna and Florin Mergea as they were able to continue their impressive form at the event by beating Ivan Dodig and Marcelo Melo.
Djokovic was able to defeat Nadal 6-3, 6-3, in a match that was much closer than the score line may suggest. The two players who have been in the best form this fall were unlucky to go up against each other, but it was Djokovic who was able to play the better tennis and win the bigger points. Nadal played well throughout the match but played one sloppy service game in the first set, which Djokovic gladly took advantage of. The first set was very tight as both men won an equal amount of points on the return, but that one bad service game from Nadal to start off the match was enough for Djokovic to run away with the set. The second was similar to the first as just a couple sloppy points from Nadal on his service games led to a comfortable win for Djokovic as he was able to get two breaks in the set. Nadal didn’t play poorly, he just simply could not hit through the wall that is Novak Djokovic. The incredible defense from the Serb, mixed in with his shot-making brilliance, was too much for the Spaniard to handle, as Djokovic was the one who saw his way into the final. Djokovic was able to avoid pressure situations in his service games as he didn’t have to face a single break point all match. He was able to dominate with the first serve, winning 89 percent of the points when he got the first ball in.
Federer won the all-Suisse semifinal against Wawrinka, 7-5, 6-3. After a tight first set that saw breaks exchanged early, Federer was able to break in the 12th game, giving him a one set advantage. This match saw a similar pattern to many Federer-Wawrinka matches, as Wawrinka was unable to raise his level of play after beginning to feel scoreboard pressure. Federer was able to grab a break early on in the second set and take control of the match as he saved the only break point he faced in the set. Overall, the difference in the match came from Federer’s ability to control his second serve points, as he won 65 percent while Wawrinka only managed to win 42 percent. That led to Federer being able to see six break points in the match and win three of them. The win now boosts Federer’s record to 18-3 against his compatriot, as well as sets up an appearance in the final at the World Tour Finals against Djokovic.
Rojer and Tecau were able to dethrone the Bryan brothers as the No. 1 doubles team in the world by winning their semifinal match-up, 6-4, 6-4. Similar to the Nadal-Djokovic match, it was a much closer affair than the score line would suggest. After trading breaks in the early stages of the first set, Mike Bryan was serving for his team at a deciding point late in the first set, but was given a time violation right before he started to serve, which according to him was the first he had received all year. This may have gotten into Mike’s head a bit, as he would go on to double fault, giving the break to Rojer and Tecau. After winning the first, they went on to control the second with ease, as they went a perfect seven-for-seven on their second serve points, only losing four points on serve total in the set. This win not only gave Rojer and Tecau the No. 1 doubles team ranking, but also saw them turn around an 0-4 record against the American brothers.
Bopanna and Mergea were able to continue their hot streak at the World Tour Finals as they took down the team of Dodig and Melo, 6-4, 6-2. In a match that lasted under an hour, Bopanna and Mergea were simply the better team, dominating on their first serve and converting on all four break points they had. Their level actually dropped in the second set, but luckily for them it dropped on the other side of the net, as well, as Dodig and Melo failed to win more than half of their service points. The win sees Bopanna and Mergea head into the final with a perfect record so far in London.
Federer and Djokovic set up the final that many fans expected to see by winning their matches on Saturday. Surely their final on Sunday will be a treat for fans as there will be high levels of tennis played by both men. The doubles final will see a Romanian on each side of the net as the 2015 Wimbledon champs Rojer and Tecau will face Bopanna and Mergea. The surprise team of the tournament, Bopanna/Mergea will hope to see their good run of form continue as they will need to play a high level of tennis against the team that will finish the year in the No. 1 spot, Rojer/Tecau.