Francesca Schiavone Wins 2010 French Open|
Posted by: David on Saturday, June 05, 2010 - 10:05 PM
Francesca Schiavone defeated Samantha Stosur to win the 2010 French Open.|
Playing the red hot Samantha Stosur in the final, Schiavone was solid in every way, giving away almost zero free points and taking control of the rallies in many ways - loopy topspin groundies, creativity at the net, crafty retrieving.
After breaking serve in the ninth game of the match and serving out the first set, Schiavone rallied from 4-1 down in the second set against the No.7-seeded Stosur, eventually playing a perfect tie-break to clinch one of the most unlikely Grand Slam title runs in the Open Era - and in tennis history, 64 76(2).
"I didn't prepare anything, because whenever I prepare something for the future, it doesn't happen," Schiavone told the crowd during the trophy presentation. "I've watched every final of this tournament and I know what the big champions say. So I want to thank everybody. I felt amazing today. I'm really, really happy."
Schiavone had a few words to add for Stosur, who, like herself, was in her first major final. "Congratulations Sam. I think you're a great, great person and a great athlete. You deserve to be here and you're young, so you'll do it too."
Schiavone, who turns 30 years old this month, is the second-oldest player in the Open Era to win their first Grand Slam title (Ann Jones was 30 years, 8 months when she won Wimbledon in 1969). But she doesn't see things as other players her age may: "I can still improve," she told Italian reporters earlier in the week. "I can still be more explosive. I can still put more spin on my shots. I can still hit deeper. I can still improve my serve. I'm just beginning."
"It doesn't matter what the age - if you've got that desire, anyone can do it," Stosur said. "It proves you don't have to be a teenage wonderkid superstar."
Not only was Schiavone the first Italian woman ever to win a major, she was the first to reach a major final, and the first in the Open Era to reach a major semi.
Stosur had been on fire throughout the tournament and the last few months. She has had more clay court wins and more overall wins than anyone else this year, and had beaten three No.1s en route to the final: Justine Henin in the fourth round, Serena Williams in the quarters and Jelena Jankovic in the semis.
"I still don't think I played that badly. She just had her day. She went for it and everything came off," a gracious Stosur told the press. "It takes guts to do that.
"I am disappointed, not just because I lost, but it has been a big journey and a great two weeks. I guess I wanted the full fairytale, but it didn't quite happen."
Discuss | Email This
Roger Federer Wins 2010 Australian Open, Beating Andy Murray|
Posted by: David on Sunday, January 31, 2010 - 04:09 PM
Roger Federer collected his 16th major title with a 6-3, 6-4, 7-6(11) win over No. 5 seed Andy Murray at the Australian Open on Sunday.|
The 28-year-old Swiss master, appearing in his 18th final from the past 19 Grand Slam events, notched his fifth win over Murray from 11 contests in the two-hour, 41-minute clash as he regained the title he lost to Rafael Nadal last year. It was a repeat of the 2008 US Open final (Murray's first in a major), which Federer also won in three straight sets.
Federer becomes the fifth man to win at least four Australian Open titles (2004, 2006, 2007, 2010) and only the second to do so at Melbourne Park alongside Andre Agassi. It is his first Grand Slam title won as a father, with his wife Mirka giving birth to twin girls six months ago.
"Coming here at the beginning of the year and playing so well, it's a beautiful feeling," said Federer, who edged ahead of Pete Sampras to win a record 15th major at Wimbledon last year. "I definitely had to play some of my best tennis tonight to come through. That was clearly the case."
On a day during which the mercury reached 37 degrees Celsius (98.6 Fahrenheit), stormy weather later in the day meant the roof on Rod Laver Arena was only partially open at the start of the match in case the rain returned. But as the skies cleared the roof was opened more, providing perfect conditions for the last match of the 2010 tournament.
Federer broke Murray to love with winners off both wings to lead 2-0 in the first set but Murray returned the favour immediately, hitting some scorching winners to break back.
While Murray continued to threaten Federer's serve he failed to hold another break point from 2-all first set until early in the third set as Federer broke in the eighth game of the first and third game of the second, which was enough for him to take a two-set lead.
"I thought it was very physical at the beginning," Federer said. "We both wanted to win the long rallies, and the start was crucial because it was so intense."
Federer had never lost a Grand Slam match after leading two sets to love, and while Murray appeared to pull up gingerly on his right leg at 2-2 his intensity increased while Federer's dipped slightly.
At 2-3, Federer fell to 0-40 and though he saved two break points Murray won a quick-fire exchange at the net to lead 4-2 which fired up the Scot and the capacity crowd. A confident hold for 5-2 had Murray close to forcing a fourth set, but serving at 5-3 Murray allowed Federer his first break points of the set, and the top seed levelled proceedings.
"There was no reason to panic," said Federer of his 5-2 third-set deficit. "I was still leading two sets to love, and Andy's such a great returner so it wasn't a big problem. I was still happy with the way things were going up to that point."
Fittingly, the third set was decided on a tie-break with both men playing somewhat conservatively. Murray held the first set points at 6-4 but an unreturnable Federer forehand and a Murray forehand error erased both opportunities.
Murray held three more set points but Federer's experience and bravery paid dividends as he held his first championship points 8-7 and 10-9. On the second, Murray chased down a drop volley and hit a backhand that Federer watched drop in, much to his disappointment.
"I hesitated for a split second - I could've played the ball but I decided to let it go, and matches have been lost in the past this way. I'm always positive, but obviously that could have cost me the match and the tournament."
After Murray netted a return on his fifth set point at 11-10, Federer took the next two points as a tired Murray backhand into the net gave Federer the title.
“I always knew it was going to be a very intense match," said Federer. "I'm happy I was able to play so aggressively and patiently at the same time because that's what you got to be against Murray."
"I don't feel great," Murray said. "I wanted to win the tournament. I think it was more the way the end of the match finished. Obviously it was pretty emotional end to the match."
It certainly wasn't a painless path to the title for Federer, who come from behind to beat Russians Igor Andreev in the first round and Nikolay Davydenko in the quarter-finals. Nonetheless, Federer has now won a Grand Slam singles title in each of the past eight years, a feat matched only by Bjorn Borg (1974-81) and Pete Sampras (1993-2000).
Just as Federer fought back tears during last year's trophy presentation after his harrowing five-set loss to Nadal, Murray was overcome during his speech on-court. "I can cry like Roger; it's a shame I can't play like him," Murray joked.
Much had been made of the fact that at age 22 and contesting his 17th Grand Slam event, Murray was at the exact point in his career as Federer was when he won his first major title.
After his semi-final victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Federer had joked that it had been 150,000 years since a British man had won a major singles title. In fact Fred Perry's US Open victory came in 1936, now followed by six runner-up finishes.
“The next one (Grand Slam final) is not going to get any easier [for Murray]," said Federer. "But his game is so good that I'm convinced he will win one. And I thought he did really well tonight because conditions were tough. I think I played a great match. So someone's got to win, and I'm happy it was me."
"Tonight's match was a lot closer than the one at Flushing Meadows," said Murray, comparing his first and second major finals. "I had a chance at the beginning of the match, and I had chances at the end of the match.
"I worked really, really hard to try to do it and give myself the opportunity; so far it's not been good enough. But I'm sure one day it will be. When it comes, maybe because of the two losses, it will be even better."
The official attendance of 653,860 beats the previous record by nearly 50,000 spectators.
It was also announced that approximately $687,000 was raised from the Hit For Haiti appeal launched by Federer on the eve of the tournament, aiding those affected by the recent earthquake.
Federer takes home A$2.1 million for winning the men's singles title while Murray earned A$1.05 million.
Discuss | Email This
Serena Williams Wins Australian Open 2010|
Posted by: David on Saturday, January 30, 2010 - 03:33 PM
Serena Williams has won her second straight Australian Open championship, stopping Justine Henin’s hopes of a Grand Slam title in her return from retirement with a 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 victory Saturday.|
Serena Williams withstood a determined challenge from Henin before securing her fifth Australian Open title overall and 12th Grand Slam singles championship overall, tying Billie Jean King.
King was at the stadium on Saturday night to take part in a pre-match ceremony to honor the 40-year anniversary of Margaret Court’s four Grand Slam tournament wins in 1970.
“Billie, we are tied,” Williams said. “So I’ve reached my goal.”
Williams’ five Australian titles is the most by any woman in the Open Era, since 1968, surpassing the four held by Margaret Court, Evonne Goolagong Cawley, Steffi Graf and Monica Seles. Court holds 11 Australian Open titles overall, most coming before 1968.
Henin, who had most of the crowd support at Rod Laver Arena, couldn’t match her fellow Belgian Kim Clijsters’ feat of winning in her Grand Slam comeback tournament. Clijsters won last year’s U.S. Open in her return from a two-year retirement after getting married and having a daughter.
Williams won the last four games to clinch the championship in just over two hours, falling on her back in celebration after match point.
“It was definitely a tough match mentally and physically,” Williams said. “We were both out there to prove something, and I think we did at the end of the day.”
It was an impressive run by Henin. She lost in the final of the Brisbane International tournament to Clijsters two weeks ago.
The unranked and unseeded Henin then beat four seeded players en route to the Australian Open final, including No. 5 and Olympic gold medalist Elena Dementieva in the second round.
“It’s been a very emotional two weeks for me,” said Henin, who put her hand on her heart as she thanked the crowd for support. “I thought it would never happen to me again. I’d like to congratulate Serena. She’s a real champion.”
Later, Henin said there was a feeling of disappointment, but accomplishment.
“It’s just more than what I could expect, I just have to remember that,” Henin said. “Even if it’s quite soon after the match now, I’m sure there will be a lot of positive things I can think about in a few days. It’s been almost perfect. Just the last step, I couldn’t make it.”
And she’s certain now about her decision to come back on the tour.
“I was curious about what my level would be and how I was going to deal with just the atmosphere on and off the court, how it would feel,” Henin said.
“I felt I took the right decision, so it’s good enough for me already. I got the results also in the last four weeks—two finals. So I can be really happy about that.”
Henin saved two break points to hold for 3-3 in a four-game run in the second set, winning 13 of the last 14 points in a dominant finish to the set. She maintained the superiority early in the deciding set, increasing that to 18 of 19 points before Williams held serve to even the third set at 1-1.
Williams, with her right thigh and left knee heavily taped as it had been for much of the tournament broke Henin to go up 2-1. The two then traded breaks, with Williams going up 3-2, a lead she never relinquished.
“I thought I was just giving it to her at that point,” Williams said. “I didn’t want to go out like that. I literally said to myself, ‘I need to man up and start playing better.”’
Williams used an ace on her second serve to hold for a 4-2 lead, then broke again to move within a game of the title.
“It’s good to have her back, it’s exciting,” Williams said of Henin. “She can definitely be No. 1, especially with our ranking system, if she keeps doing well.”
The American holds an 8-6 edge in career meetings between the pair, including a 6-2, 6-0 win in Miami in 2008. At the time, it equaled the worst loss for a reigning No. 1, and Henin quit tennis two months later.
Henin won the Australian Open title in 2004. She quit during the 2006 final with stomach problems while trailing Amelie Mauresmo 6-1, 2-0.
Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova are Williams’ next goal, with 18 majors each.
“Honestly, I’m just doing what I can. I obviously enjoy playing in Melbourne, clearly,” Williams said. “I never thought I could catch up with Martina, because she’s such an amazing champion.” the title here three of the past four years and were losing finalists the two previous years.
Discuss | Email This
Juan Martin Del Potro Wins US Open|
Posted by: David on Tuesday, September 15, 2009 - 12:51 AM
Always so cool, so consistent, so in control of his emotions and his matches, Roger Federer amazingly let the U.S. Open championship slip from his grasp.|
Two points from victory against inexperienced, unheralded Juan Martin del Potro of Argentina, two points from a sixth consecutive title at Flushing Meadows and a record-extending 16th Grand Slam title overall, Federer, quite simply, fell apart Monday.
He railed at the chair umpire. His legs grew weary. His double-faults mounted. He could not figure out a way to stop the 6-foot-6 del Potro from pounding forehand after forehand past him. In a result as shocking for who lost as how it happened, the sixth-seeded del Potro came back to win his first Grand Slam title by upsetting the No. 1-seeded Federer 3-6, 7-6 (5), 4-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2.
“Maybe I look back and have some regrets about it,” said Federer, never before beaten by anyone other than Rafael Nadal in a major final. “But, you know, you can’t have them all and can’t always play your best.”
He had won 40 consecutive matches at Flushing Meadows. He had won 33 of his previous 34 Grand Slam matches. And he has made the final at 17 of the past 18 Grand Slam tournaments, 21 overall.
Del Potro? This was the 20-year-old’s first Grand Slam final, and he was 0-6 against Federer until now. But after handing Nadal the most lopsided loss of his Grand Slam career in the semifinals Sunday, del Potro came back the next day and rattled Federer.
“I would like to congratulate Juan Martin on an unbelievable tournament. I had a great one myself, too,” Federer said, “but he was the best.”
That’s some compliment.
Somehow, del Potro never seemed intimidated by the setting or the man many consider the greatest tennis player in history.
The usually unflappable Federer argued with chair umpire Jake Garner during a changeover, using a profanity and saying, “Don’t tell me to be quiet, OK? When I want to talk, I talk.”
He also got steamed while up a set and serving at 5-4 in the second. Del Potro tried a forehand passing shot that was called wide, but he challenged, and the replay system showed he was right. Federer kept glancing at the mark the shot left on the blue court, even into the next game, and del Potro wound up stealing the set.
“That one cost me the match, eventually,” Federer said.
Del Potro, meanwhile, managed to have the time of his young life, high-fiving front-row fans after winning one point, and reveling in the soccer-style serenades of “Ole!” ringing through the stadium.
“When I would have a dream, it was to win the U.S. Open, and the other one is to be like Roger. One is done,” del Potro said during the on-court ceremony.
Then, addressing Federer directly, del Potro added: “I need to improve a lot to be like you. I’d like to congratulate you for fighting ‘til the last point.”
The 4-hour, 6-minute match was the first U.S. Open final to go five sets since 1999, and there were no early signs to indicate it would be this competitive—much less end with del Potro down on his back, chest heaving, tears welling, a Grand Slam trophy soon to be in his arms. He is the fifth-youngest U.S. Open champion and the first man from Argentina to win the event since Guillermo Vilas in 1977.
Vilas was in the stands Monday, sitting one row behind Jack Nicklaus.
One simple indication of the difference in age and status of the two finalists: The 28-year-old Federer’s guest box was full, with pals such as rock-star couple Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale and Vogue editor Anna Wintour seated alongside Federer’s parents, wife and agent. Only three of the 15 available seats were occupied in del Potro’s box.
Federer took a 3-0 lead in 15 minutes, winning one point by racing about 5 feet wide of the doubles alley for a defensive backhand, then sprinting the other way for a cross-court forehand passing winner that he celebrated by yelling and shaking his fists.
He even took time to watch a replay on a stadium video screen. Not quite the “Did he really just do that?!” sort of trick shot Federer pulled off against Novak Djokovic in the semifinals—a back-to-the-net, between-the-legs, cross-court passing winner to get to match point—but pretty spectacular, nonetheless.
But del Potro eventually got going, swinging more freely and taking full advantage of Federer’s serving woes: 11 double-faults and a first-serve percentage of only 50.
Used to traveling without a full-time coach, Federer generally is quite adept at making mid-match adjustments and dealing with opponents’ switches in strategy. But it was del Potro who realized he needed to put full belief in the strength of his 100 mph forehands and not worry about too much else.
That tactic worked, and Federer never found a way to counter it, losing leads in the second set and the fourth set. He was up 5-4 in the fourth, and at 15-30 on del Potro’s serve, Federer needed only two more points to become the first man since Bill Tilden in 1920-25 to win the American Grand Slam tournament six years in a row.
Del Potro held steady there, and Federer would never come that close again.
While hardly a household name, del Potro was not an unknown in the tennis world. He burst onto the scene a year ago with a 23-match winning streak and four tournament titles in a row on hard courts, the surface used at Flushing Meadows. There also was a bit of a harbinger for this back when del Potro presented problems for Federer in the French Open semifinals in June, taking a 2-1 lead in sets before frittering that away.
Federer went on to win the title at Roland Garros, his first there, to complete a career Grand Slam and tie Pete Sampras’ career record of 14 major championships. Federer then broke that mark by collecting No. 15 at Wimbledon.
Thanks to del Potro, Federer will have to wait for No. 16.
From mid-May until Monday, Federer had been 32-1 with four titles from five tournaments. Aside from the on-court success, Federer’s 2009 included getting married and becoming a father—of twins, no less.
Quite a year. Still, one can’t help but ponder this: No man has won even three straight major tournaments in a season—much less all four—since Rod Laver’s true Grand Slam in 1969. Federer came close this year, his French Open and Wimbledon titles bookended by a five-set loss to Nadal in the Australian Open final and a five-set loss to del Potro in the U.S. Open final.
This U.S. Open was Federer’s first Grand Slam event since his daughters were born, and he spoke proudly of quickly learning to change diapers and getting used to sleeping less.
“Right now, I’m just tired,” he said after his loss. “I want to get a rest.”
Discuss | Email This
Kim Clijsters Wins US Open|
Posted by: David on Monday, September 14, 2009 - 12:35 AM
Kim Clijsters cradled the baby in one hand, the trophy in the other.|
The joy of motherhood. The joy of winning the U.S. Open.
Clijsters made history Sunday night, capping a comeback from two years out of tennis to become the first unseeded woman to win the Open—and the first mom to win a major since 1980—with a 7-5, 6-3 victory over No. 9 Caroline Wozniacki.
When it was over, Clijsters collapsed to the ground and started crying— tears of joy, probably mixed in with a little bit of shock, too. Her 18-month-old daughter, Jada, watched from a suite with a pacifier in her mouth, but later came down to the court to take part in the celebration.
Guess what mommy got for you, sweetie! A Grand Slam title.
“It was not really our plan,” Clijsters said. “I just wanted to start these three tournaments and get back into the rhythm of playing tennis and get used to the surroundings again.”
Talk about your quick transitions.
It was all quite a different scene from the night before, when Clijsters’ semifinal win over Serena Williams was decided on a point penalty, and the 26-year-old Belgian stood behind the baseline, looking bewildered as Williams ran over to shake her hand.
Williams’ tirade may have been the talk of the U.S. Open. But Clijsters was the winner. This was her second U.S. Open title, the other coming in 2005—her last appearance at Flushing Meadows and before a spate of nagging injuries eventually drove her out of the sport and led her to start a family.
Some might have called this the mother of all upsets, but by the time she reached the final, against the resilient but still-learning 19-year-old from Denmark, it was hard to view it that way.
Clijsters beat both Williams sisters and two players seeded in the teens. She matched Venus and Serena power shot for power shot and showed she could play Wozniacki’s patient game—and play it better.
This one was nothing like the Williams match—before it turned sour—which was filled with short, hard-hitting rallies in which Clijsters moved one of tennis’ best players at will and made her hit shots from places she normally doesn’t.
Instead, it was a waiting game, and when Clijsters fell behind 4-2 in the first set, she showed she was willing to play it.
A 29-shot rally here, a 25-shot rally there. Drop shots and lobs. Clijsters did that. Went for more, too, and finished with two more winners than unforced errors (36-34)—a good ratio on any day—and 26 more winners than Wozniacki.
After getting back on serve, Clijsters held off two break points at 5-5, then broke Wozniacki for the fourth time to win the first set. The second set was easier and before they knew it, Jada was on the court posing for photographers.
Clijsters didn’t even have a ranking coming into this tournament because she hadn’t played enough tournaments to get on the list. She’ll come in at around No. 20 when the new rankings are released this week, but probably won’t try to improve on that right away.
“It’s the greatest feeling in the world being a mother,” she said. “I just can’t wait to spend next the few weeks with her and have her routine schedule at home again.”
Her victory came over the first Danish player to reach a Grand Slam final, though Wozniacki’s greater claim to fame is that she has won more matches on tour this year than anyone.
She played like a winner over two weeks in Flushing Meadows, including that 6-2, 6-2 victory that ended the magical run of 17-year-old Melanie Oudin, whose rapid rise was the story of the tournament for the first 10 days.
Oudin left, then the Williams imbroglio took over.
Clijsters made her headlines, too. The mother-on-a-comeback story was a winner all the way.
Beneath the surface of all these stories might also be a referendum on the state of women’s tennis. If an unseeded mother who has been away from the game for two years can beat five top-20 players and win the U.S. Open, maybe the talent pool isn’t so deep.
In fact, stories circulated recently that former No. 1 Justine Henin might be making a comeback, too.
Could Evonne Goolagong Cawley be far behind? She was the last mother to win one of these Grand Slams, back in 1980 at Wimbledon.
Clijsters last major title isn’t that sort of ancient history. It was only four years ago that she climbed into the stands and tightrope-walked across the railings to celebrate her first U.S. Open title.
Same scene this time but with a few new players. There was her husband, American Brian Lynch, with whom she shared a long, sweet kiss. Then there was Jada, clapping her hands with that binky in her mouth.
“We tried to plan her nap time a little later today so she could be here,” Clijsters said.
Looks like she’s getting the hang of that motherhood thing, too.
Discuss | Email This