swiss star

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.

Murray Brings Nalbandian Back To Earth

Reality set in today at the Rogers Cup in Toronto as David Nalbandian’s career best win streak was halted at eleven. Beaten with ease by fourth seeded Andy Murray 6-2, 6-2, it appeared as though the Argentine simply ran out of gas.

A day after taking care of fifth seed Robin Soderling, Nalbandian’s ground strokes missed the mark with regularity against Murray and his foot work seemed stagnant as well. A case of too much tennis in a short period of time perhaps.

Murray played his best match so far in the tournament and broke early in both the first and second set to take control of each frame.

Going into the match I’d have given Nalbandian a 50/50 chance to pull off the upset, given his 2-0 career head-to-head record against the Scot along with his stellar play of late. He has been playing top-15 tennis since coming back to the tour in July which is where his ranking should be when healthy.

On the positive side for the veteran ball-striker, he will now very likely be able to squeeze out a seeding at the U.S. Open in two week’s time which should help him at his first Grand Slam appearance since the 2009 Aussie Open.

Murray now advances to the semi-finals where he will meet the winner of the Rafael Nadal/Philipp Kohlschreiber match in his attempt to defend his Rogers Cup title.

Keep checking back for more updates from a fantastic day of tennis here in Toronto. The evening matches of Roger Federer vs. Tomas Berdych should answer a lot of questions we all have about the status of the Swiss star’s game. Later, Novak Djokovic will try to take advantage of the cool night time conditions to play against Frenchman Jeremy Chardy.

You can also follow us on Twitter for timely updates throughout the day.

Roger Federer Faces Doubts In Toronto

Roger Federer held his first tournament press conference at the Rogers Cup on Monday and was bombarded by questions about his current slip to the No. 3 position in the ATP rankings. Such is the reality the Swiss star faces wherever he goes these days as his game has dropped a notch in recent months.

After making a record 23 consecutive Grand Slam semi-finals, Federer’s streak was snapped at Roland Garros in May where he lost to surging Swede Robin Soderling. Then at Wimbledon, a tournament he has owned the past seven years, he lost to Tomas Berdych in four sets. Having just turned 29 years old on Sunday, fans and media alike are both starting to question Federer’s tenure at the top of the men’s game.

In fact, this is not the first time that Roger has been faced with a barrage of doubts about his grip on the upper echelon of the ATP tour. In 2008, after falling to Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals of the Australian Open, Federer would go on to lose the finals of both the French Open and Wimbledon to Rafa Nadal. This time two years ago in Toronto he was bounced in his opening match to Gilles Simon and then the vultures were really out to get him.

Federer rebounded of course by winning three of the next four Slams. He triumphed at the U.S. Open that September and then won his first French Open title last year, followed by another Wimbledon title. Could Federer have some late season magic up his sleeve for Flushing Meadows again this year?

One sign that Federer is serious about re-establishing his dominance is the new partnership he is testing out with Paul Annacone, former coach of Pete Sampras. The relationship began shortly after Wimbledon with a visit from the American tennis coach to Roger’s home in Switzerland and the Rogers Cup offers the first tournament action to test out their short-term progress.

“I’ve always gotten along very well with Paul,” Federer said. “Him being obviously the coach of Sampras and Henman who were sort of friends to me and I know very well. So I thought it was a good time to do a test, and this is our first test tournament we’re doing. We’re taking it slow, and we’ll see what happens next week.”

As for all the media attempts to speculate about his demise, Federer quipped that the press sometimes rushes their judgments and forgets some of the obstacles he has faced over the past year and a half. He also stated that Nadal had to endure the same type of negativity a year ago as he battled his injury issues.

“…the press gets too carried away too quickly. It’s understandable with our success we’ve had, Rafa, myself, you know, the last couple of years…I had mono, the lung infection, I had back issues a couple of times.”

Excuses aside, it is coming to the time where Federer is going to have to let his results do the talking. A strong start to his summer hard-court season here in Toronto would certainly put some of the doubts aside.

Federer takes to Centre Court this evening against Juan Ignacio Chela to try to take that first step forwards.

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.