Saturday, December 31, 2011

Murray 'no certainty for Brisbane win'

Updated December 31, 2011 14:39:54

German veteran Tommy Haas has rejected concerns Andy Murray will claim the Roy Emerson Trophy in a Brisbane International cakewalk.

World number four Murray is an overwhelming favourite to take the ATP title in Brisbane with the field nowhere near as strong as the WTA event which has eight players ranked in the top 20, including four former world number ones.

While top seed Samantha Stosur is one of five grand slam women's champions competing, world number 44 Marcos Baghdatis is the only man beside Murray to make a grand slam final, way back in 2006 when he lost the Australian Open to Roger Federer.

Frenchman Gilles Simon (ranked 12th) is the second seed, ahead of Ukraine's Alexandr Dolgopolov (15), while local hope Bernard Tomic's world ranking of 42 has earned him the eighth seeding.

Defending champion Robin Soderling has not returned to Brisbane, nor last year's runner-up and 2010 winner Andy Roddick, leaving Murray the stand-out headliner.

But wily Czech Radek Stepanek, who took out the inaugural 2009 tournament and has an overall Brisbane record of 12-2, could be the Scots' biggest danger despite his number 28 ranking.

Former world numbet two Haas, slowly returning from hip and elbow surgery in 2010, insisted there is enough quality in the draw plus enough mystery following the off-season break to ensure Murray will not have it easy at Pat Rafter Arena.

"It's the beginning of the year and it's really about the person who put a lot of work in December and is fit and is coming here eagerly to win," the German said.

"You've got guys like Baghdatis who are very dangerous.

"So you never know. (But) obviously Andy is going to be the favourite."

Haas, who won silver at the Sydney Olympics in 2000, predicted an "interesting" Australian Open and felt Murray was close to breaking the stranglehold of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

"Andy is such a talented player, he's in great physical shape and he reads the game as well as anybody who ever played the game," the 34-year-old said.

"This could be his breakthrough year.

"You feel like he has a chance in every single (grand slam tournament)."


Tags: sport, tennis, australia, qld, brisbane-4000

First posted December 31, 2011 09:32:26

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Stosur cops difficult Brisbane draw

Updated December 31, 2011 14:41:31

US Open champion Samantha Stosur faces a massive challenge to finally start a new year with a bang after copping a treacherous draw at the Brisbane International.

Former world number ones Serena Williams, Kim Clijsters and Ana Ivanovic are all in the Queenslander's half of the draw for her home tournament which begins on Sunday.

Top seed Stosur, who has high hopes of enjoying a successful Australian summer for the first time, begins her Australian Open build-up with a relatively comfortable first-round match against Belarussian Anastasiya Yakimova on Monday.

But victory would likely pit her against Czech world number 25 Lucie Safarova, who beat her in the corresponding match in Brisbane in 2009, in the second round.

A first quarter-final appearance at the tournament would be rewarded with a meeting against Belgian Clijsters or Serb starlet Ivanovic, who are drawn for a blockbuster second-round clash at Pat Rafter Arena.

Williams, who has not played a match since falling to Stosur in the US Open final on September 11, flew into Brisbane on Saturday morning before also being drawn on the top half for a likely semi-final match against another grand slam champion.

Despite the star-congested top half of the draw in the women's event, upgraded to a WTA premier tournament, Brisbane International director Cameron Pearson could not be happier with the potential early heavyweight match-ups.

"It certainly is a strong top half but running a premier event all matches are tough and the girls know that so they won't be looking any further than the first round," Pearson said.

"Sam has a tough first-round match and some familiar foes are waiting if she make it through."

While the bottom half is far less intimidating, second-seeded German Andrea Petkovic has a tough opener against Israeli Shahar Peer, who was the tournament's second seed just 12 months ago when she was the world number 11.

Ivanovic, who has been preparing in Queensland this month after spending Christmas with golfing boyfriend Adam Scott, preferred to look at the silver lining of her draw.

Now ranked 22nd in the world to be a dangerous unseeded floater, the 2008 French Open champion will also play the Sydney International before she heads to Melbourne Park.

"It doesn't (get harder than that) but it's a good preparation (for the Australian Open)," Ivanovic said.

"It's a good way to check where you're at and if you want to get deep into a tournament you have to face them at some stage, so why not sooner!"

Another Serbian former world number one, Jelena Jankovic, will play Spaniard Carla Suarrez-Navarro in the first round and is set to meet Italian third seed Francesca Schiavone in the quarter-finals.

In the men's draw, Australia's top-ranked player Bernard Tomic has been seeded for the first time at eight and will play French world number 52 Julien Benneteau as the Gold Coaster looks for his maiden win in his fourth appearance in Brisbane.

Fellow Australian Matt Ebden has copped a tough draw against former tournament champion and sixth seed Radek Stepanek while top-seeded Scot Andy Murray faces Kazakstan's Mikhail Kukushkin on Tuesday night.


Tags: sport, tennis, brisbane-4000, qld, australia

First posted December 31, 2011 14:11:51

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Barty blitzed in Brisbane qualifying

Updated December 30, 2011 20:32:20

Junior Wimbledon champion Ashleigh Barty has come back down to earth with a thud after suffering a 6-1, 6-2 thrashing by American Vania King in Brisbane International qualifying.

Coming off the back of her remarkable success in this month's Australian Open wildcard play-offs in Melbourne, the 15-year-old Brisbane schoolgirl struggled badly with nerves against the world number 76.

It was a tough first-up draw for Barty with King, a former top 50 player, the highest-ranked player in the qualifying draw.

The opening day qualifying match lasted less than an hour at the Queensland Tennis Centre, as Barty only held her serve three times in the match after it was broken in the first game.

She will travel next week to Tasmania where she has a wildcard into the main draw of the Hobart International in the build-up to her Australian Open debut.


Tags: sport, tennis, brisbane-4000

First posted December 30, 2011 20:26:14

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Friday, December 30, 2011

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Stosur ready for breakthrough home summer

Updated December 30, 2011 14:57:04

US Open champion Samantha Stosur believes it is time for her to really shine in an Australian summer tennis season.

Stosur begins her Australian Open build-up next week when she headlines her home tournament as the top seed at the Brisbane International.

The world number six has played Brisbane twice but never made it to the quarter-finals, while her best result at the Australian Open is fourth-round finishes in 2006 and 2010.

But Stosur said her dramatic US Open final triumph over Serena Williams in September showed her ability to thrive under pressure continued to improve as she gained experience.

And she felt better prepared than ever to cope with the high expectations of home fans while playing in Australia.

"It would be nice to continue along the way that I finished 2011," she said.

"I'd love to start the year well here in Australia.

"I've never had a great summer here so hopefully I can turn it all around in 2012."

Jelena Dokic was the last Australian to make the quarter-finals at the Australian Open, back in 2009, but Stosur felt she was now better equipped to handle the pressure.

"It's one of those things that the more you experience it, the better you get with dealing with it," she said.

"The last few years have got a bit bigger (pressure) each time and I know this year will be even more than any other time, but I'm looking forward to that challenge."


Tags: sport, other-sports, tennis, australia, qld, brisbane-4000

First posted December 30, 2011 14:57:04

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

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Tennis Challenge beset by Blake withdrawal

Updated December 29, 2011 16:52:30

American James Blake has pulled out of next month's World Tennis Challenge in Adelaide for the second year in a row.

Blake was to partner American veteran John McEnroe on the Memorial Drive courts but says his pre-season training has been hampered by treatment on off-season injuries.

Organisers say they are confident of attracting a high-calibre replacement for the American, who has been ranked as high as number four in the world.

The tournament has been beset by late withdrawals in recent years.

Japanese youngster Kei Nishikori pulled out of this year's tournament because of illness.

The three-day competition begins on January 10.

Blake will also miss the Australian Open.

Tags: tennis, adelaide-5000, sa

First posted December 29, 2011 16:49:02

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Tennis Court Improvement Options Are Changing All the Time

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Hewitt to play through pain barrier

Updated December 28, 2011 15:59:40

He has been lauded as the toughest competitor in tennis and now Lleyton Hewitt is ready to fight through the pain barrier once more at next month's Australian Open.

Hewitt has assured his close-knit team he is "100 per cent" certain to line up for a 16th consecutive tilt at Melbourne Park glory despite ongoing concerns over his chronic foot injury.

A specialist last week told Hewitt his battered left big toe was the "worst he'd ever seen" and expressed surprise the former world number one was walking around, let alone preparing for a grand slam tournament.

Hewitt, though, considers the grim medical assessment a badge of honour and will soldier on without even using pain killers as they upset his stomach.

The 30-year-old's show of grit is no surprise to his vastly experienced coach Tony Roche.

"Look, he'd be the toughest competitor that I've seen," Roche said earlier this year.

"He's had a lot of setbacks the last couple of years but he keeps bouncing back."

Hewitt has not played since Australia's Davis Cup loss to Switzerland in Sydney in September.

But he has proven time and again he can return at a high level after long breaks from the game.

Last year, Hewitt was sidelined for almost four months following a second round of hip surgery and a knee operation before he toppled Roger Federer on grass in the Halle final.

He reached the quarter-finals of the 2006 US Open despite carrying a knee injury that had threatened his participation and famously beat Rafael Nadal in five sets at the 2005 Australian Open while battling a hip injury.

Despite languishing at 186th in the rankings, father-of-three Hewitt insists retirement is not in his plans.

"This year's been frustrating with the foot injury," Hewitt said.

"The rest of my body feels great, so that's probably even more frustrating. If I was breaking down in a lot of different areas, then you can sort of put up with it.

"So if I can get over this foot injury, I feel great at the moment in terms of my ball striking. It's as good as it's been in a long time.

"As long as my foot holds up, I'll keep going."

Hewitt will launch his 2012 campaign at the Hopman Cup in Perth starting on Saturday before contesting both the Sydney International and Australian Open as a wildcard entrant.


Tags: sport, other-sports, tennis, australia, vic, melbourne-3000

First posted December 28, 2011 15:50:19

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

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Sharapova out of Brisbane International

Updated December 24, 2011 14:13:45

Russian tennis star Maria Sharapova has withdrawn from the Brisbane International with an ankle injury.

She first suffered the left ankle injury at the Pan Pacific Championships in Tokyo in September and has yet to fully recover.

"Unfortunately my ankle is not 100 per cent and I won't be able to make it this year," Sharapova told Brisbane tournament officials in a statement released on Saturday.

It would have been her first appearance at the Brisbane event which begins January 1.

The 2008 Australian Open champion said the injury, which also forced her to withdraw from the China Open and later the WTA Championships in Istanbul after two losses, should not affect her chances of competing at next month's grand slam event, which begins January 16 in Melbourne.

"I do expect to be ready for the year's first grand slam and I am really looking forward to competing on court."


Tags: tennis, sport, brisbane-4000, qld, australia

First posted December 24, 2011 14:13:45

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Tennis Camps: What You Can Do To Further A Profession In Tennis

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Williams in doubt for Australian Open

Updated December 20, 2011 13:25:06

Former world number one Venus Williams is in doubt for next month's Australian Open after pulling out of a lead-up tournament in New Zealand.

Williams is suffering from Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease, and after playing a number of recent exhibition matches she announced Tuesday she was not ready to play in the Auckland Classic, which starts on January 2.

"We are disappointed to have lost a player of her calibre," tournament director Richard Palmer said.

"While withdrawals of this nature are part and parcel of sport, we sincerely feel for the fans who will also be disappointed by the news of Venus's withdrawal."

Williams, whose ranking has slipped to 102 in the world, has described her medical condition as affecting her energy, causing fatigue and joint pains.

Germany's Sabine Lisicki, the world number 15, is top seed in a field that also includes world top 20 players Peng Shuai of China, grand slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia and Italy's Flavia Pennetta.

The Australian Open begins on January 16.


Tags: australian-open, tennis, sport, melbourne-3000, vic, australia

First posted December 20, 2011 11:59:21

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Australian Drewett named ATP president

Updated December 23, 2011 07:06:19

Former player Brad Drewett has been appointed the ATP's new executive chairman and president.

The 53-year-old Australian, currently the ATP's senior executive, will begin a three-year appointment after being voted in unanimously by the ATP Board of Directors.

He begins his role on January 1, 2012, and will be based in the ATP's London office.

During his 12-year professional playing career, Drewett reached a career-high ranking of 34 in singles, winning two ATP World Tour titles, and represented Australia in Davis Cup competition.

The Australian Open Junior champion (1975, 1977), he reached the quarter-finals in his first grand slam in Melbourne in 1976.

"The ATP World Tour and men's tennis are stronger than ever and it is my intention to continue to lead the organisation on this successful path, working hand in hand with our players and tournaments," Drewett said in a statement.

"I am very excited about the opportunities ahead."

ATP Player Council President Roger Federer said: "Brad is a very experienced executive and has been an effective leader within the ATP for many years.

"He understands the global nature of the business as well as the complexities of dealing with all of the Tour's stakeholders. I am confident that Brad's work ethic and leadership will help contribute to the continued success of the ATP World Tour."


Tags: tennis, sport, australia

First posted December 23, 2011 07:06:19

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Mitchell gets Australian Open wildcard

Updated December 20, 2011 18:39:23

Last year's Wimbledon junior finalist Ben Mitchell has been given a wildcard into the Australian Open.

The 19-year-old Open playoff finalist from the Gold Coast has been a stand-out player on the Australian Pro-Tour this year, reaching seven finals, winning three, and has also claimed an event in Spain and was runner-up in a UK tournament.

"You pretty much play your whole career to compete in grand slams, so it's a dream come true to play at the Australian Open," said Mitchell.

World number 227 Mitchell, along with fellow AIS Pro Tour program member and Australian Open wildcard recipient James Duckworth, is spending time in Brisbane this week hitting with Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter.

"It's been great to work with Pat. He's a really good guy and the work were doing on court this week will really help my game," Mitchell said.


Tags: tennis, sport, melbourne-3000, vic, australia

First posted December 20, 2011 18:39:23

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Tomic aims high for 2012

Updated December 20, 2011 16:39:52

Breaking into the world's top 10 by the age of 20 may sound ambitious, but tennis prodigy Bernard Tomic reckons that may be the least of his achievements next year after surprising himself with his 2011 success.

Spurred on by fellow Gold Coast product Sam Stosur's US Open success, world number 42 Tomic hoped he would be celebrating more than just his 20th birthday on October 21.

"I would love to be in the top 10 by my next birthday," he said on Tuesday as he prepared for the Brisbane International from January 1.

"If not, I am looking to be in the top 20. It will be a hard task but I have done well this year.

"I did not think I would be where I am - anything is possible.

"I have a lot of tournaments where I can get points in the next six months."

Tomic is thinking big after this year becoming the youngest man to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals since Boris Becker in 1986.

The teenager qualified for Wimbledon as the world number 158 but had rocketed into the top 50 for the first time by the end of the year.

Tomic admitted he would be under more pressure to perform from an Australian sporting public starved for tennis success since Lleyton Hewitt's decline.

But Tomic did not mind adding to that pressure himself with grand slam success and Olympic medals now in his sights following Stosur's US Open triumph.

"It (Stosur) motivates us a lot. I look at it and say I want to win a grand slam like her," he said.

"That will always be with her that title, and maybe in the future I can win tournaments like that.

"The Olympics will be my focus as well next year.

"It is a true event, one that I want to win a medal at.

"There is a little bit more pressure on me, but I have always had pressure from a young age - I know how to handle it."

Tomic will hope to launch his bold 2012 plan at the Brisbane International, which will also feature Andy Murray.

Success has helped Tomic win over the sporting public but he still believes he has been "misunderstood".

Tomic recently made headlines after being investigated by Gold Coast police for complaints of hooning in his sports car.

"I don't worry about that stuff. It is in the past," he said.

"You are going to get good press and bad press ... but I am doing my job playing tennis."


Tags: tennis, sport, brisbane-4000, qld, australia

First posted December 20, 2011 14:01:47

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Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cricketers' earnings rise despite form slump

Updated December 15, 2011 00:31:13

Australian cricket is at its lowest point in nearly 30 years, but the national team's slump has yet to hit players in the hip pocket.

Having just lost a Test to New Zealand on home soil for the first time since 1985, Michael Clarke's cricketers are nevertheless cashing in more than ever according to the Business Review Weekly magazine.

While basketball star Andrew Bogut is officially the country's top-earning sports star, banking a cool $13 million a year, the number of cricketers in the BRW's annual list have doubled from five to 10 this year.

The list, which is typically dominated by golf and soccer stars, has a strong cricket influence this time due to the influx of mega bucks from the Indian Premier League.

All-rounder Shane Watson tops the cricketers in 11th spot, pocketing a healthy $4 million, with his work for the Australian Test, one-day and Twenty20 teams topped up by a $1.8 million deal with the Rajasthan Royals.

And while Watson has become Australia's most indispensable cricketer due to his reliability as an opening batsman and strike bowler, he is far from alone when it comes to a wealthy generation of players to sport the baggy green.

Skipper Clarke and his predecessor Ricky Ponting are equal 16th on the rich list, each earning $3.5 million a year despite neither playing in the IPL.

Bogut, the 2005 NBA number one draft pick, becomes the first basketballer to top the list thanks to his massive deal with the Milwaukee Bucks.

That was enough to push him past last year's top earner, Formula One driver Mark Webber, who fell to third despite another strong season in which he finished third overall behind Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel with one grand prix victory.

Motorsports dominated the top five, with Webber ($9 million) pipped by MotoGP world champion Casey Stoner ($9.5 million) for second place while motocross star Chad Reed finished the year with $8.5 million, ranking him fourth.

Cadel Evans elevated himself into sporting folklore with a historic Tour de France victory and he also broke into the top five with $5 million in earnings, while another success story, Sam Stosur, retained her place in the top 50.

The tennis star had another excellent season in which she enjoyed her breakthrough grand slam victory at the US Open, but she is not the only female to feature, with four-time surfing world champion Stephanie Gilmore also cracking the list.

Soccer stars still featured heavily, with Tim Cahill earning $4.5 million to rank ninth - the highest of the nine soccer players in the top 50, while there were seven golfers, down from 13 last year.

Lleyton Hewitt suffered the biggest slide from 2010, earning just $160,000 in prize money compared to $2.1 million last year to drop off the list.


Tags: cricket, sport, motor-sports, english-premier, soccer, tennis, cycling, australia

First posted December 14, 2011 15:28:52

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Dellacqua, Duckworth handed Open wildcards

Updated December 14, 2011 11:10:30

Casey Dellacqua has been rewarded for some excellent form with a wildcard into next month's Australian Open.

Dellacqua, who reached a career-high ranking of 39 in 2008 before being struck down by serious shoulder and foot injuries, won 30 successive matches and six tournaments recently on the Pro Tour in regional Australia.

She lost her opening match in last week's Open wildcard play-off to rising teenage star Ashleigh Barty.

But Tennis Australia (TA) officials felt she had done enough in recent months to get direct entry into the main draw for the first grand slam event of the year, along with compatriot James Duckworth.

"After missing most of 2010 with a foot injury I have spent this year building on my confidence and match practice," said Dellacqua, who enjoyed her best-ever run at a grand slam at the 2008 Australian Open when she advanced to the last 16.

"I now finally feel like I am playing some good tennis and with six Pro Tour event wins under my belt I have the confidence I needed going into the summer.

"I'm really happy with where I am at.

"I'm hitting the ball well, serving great and doing all the things I should be doing.

"I feel good and I am looking forward to some tough competition in January."

The 26-year-old has also been handed wildcards for the Open lead-up events in Brisbane and Hobart.

"It's nice to know my summer is set and hopefully I will get a few more wins and gain even more confidence coming into the Australian Open," said Dellacqua, who is now ranked 133 in the world.

"My goal is to get back into the top 100 next year and then once I'm back inside there, I will reassess and this will just help me speed up that process."

Duckworth, 19, earned his wildcard three days after being beaten in the final of the play-off mini-tournament at Melbourne Park by Marinko Matosevic.

"It's something I've been working towards for a number of years now, and it's really a dream come true to play the Australian Open with my friends and family there," said Duckworth, who has improved his world ranking by 400 places to No.260.

TA will hand out more Open wildcards in the coming weeks.


Tags: tennis, sport, australia

First posted December 14, 2011 11:10:30

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Tennis Player Fights to Keep Tennis Dollars in Georgia

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Teen Barty into Aussie Open wildcard final

Updated December 10, 2011 15:34:26

Room-mates Ashleigh Barty and Olivia Rogowska will meet for a place in the main draw of next month's Australian Open.

Barty, the Wimbledon junior champion, defeated sixth-seeded local Arina Rodinova 7-5, 6-3 while Rogowska beat West Australian Bojana Bobusic 6-4, 7-5.

Rogowska described the 15-year-old Barty as a dangerous proposition who is able to play freely with no expectations.

"Obviously, she's playing really good tennis, she's going out there with nothing to lose and that's always the most lethal kind of player," Rogowska said.

"I'm going to go out there and try to forget who I'm playing, just focus on myself and my game plan.

"We're both in the AIS, so we do hit with each other a few times whenever she's in Melbourne.

"She's a very solid competitor and I'm going to have to play some top tennis to beat her. It should be interesting."

Rogowska said she had been improving with each match and played well on the key points in windy conditions.

"The play-offs are tough because your friends are watching. But it's my third time in the final, so I play well here," she said.

Barty was a wildcard entry into the tournament itself and said she was "just pleased to win a few matches."

She said while she got on well with all the players in the tournament, she kept tennis talk away from her school friends in Queensland.

"We have a pretty odd group at school so I think we just talk a lot of crap," she said.

Victorian Marinko Matosevic will face Sydney's James Duckworth for an Australian Open wildcard spot on Sunday and is already looking forward to "the real deal".

Matosevic won the wildcard tournament last year but was ousted in the first round of the Open and is out to make amends.

Matosevic, the second seed, dropped the first set before beating Queenslander Michael Look 4-6, 6-3, 6-0 while Duckworth knocked out top seed Greg Jones from Sydney 5-7, 6-2, 6-4.

Matosevic said the match was not "the toughest" but found it hard to gather rhythm in the windy conditions during the opening set.

"I would like to have this confidence in January when the real deal is on but it's a great preparation, especially for me because I haven't played since the Shanghai Masters (In October)," he said.

"I practised with James (Duckworth) just before this got underway and I know him pretty well.

"He's had a really good breakthrough year and I'm looking forward to it tomorrow."


Tags: tennis, sport, melbourne-3000, vic, australia

First posted December 10, 2011 13:23:02

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Ill Soderling set to miss Australian Open

Updated December 09, 2011 16:29:58

Sweden's former world number four Robin Soderling has ruled himself out of the Australian Open as he struggles to conquer glandular fever.

The 27-year-old has not played since mid-July when he captured the Bastad title, his fourth trophy of the season.

"My recovery has been longer than expected," he wrote on his Twitter account.

"I am feeling better with each day but it will still take some time before I can start practicing in full speed. My goal is to start with practice in January and I hope for a tournament comeback in February but at this stage it is hard to know when and where. I hope my body will allow me to do that."

Soderling, twice a French Open runner-up, is currently ranked 13 in the world.

The Australian Open gets underway in Melbourne on January 16.


Tags: tennis, sport, sweden

First posted December 09, 2011 07:38:48

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The Basics Of Table Tennis

Murray's mum to captain British Fed Cup team

Updated December 08, 2011 23:08:09

Andy Murray's mother Judy has been appointed as captain of Britain's Fed Cup team, the Lawn Tennis Association has confirmed.

Murray, who has helped coach her world number four son Andy, will take charge of the team in the Euro/Africa Zone Group I from February 1-4 next in Eilat, Israel.

She will also work closely with the LTA player team in mentoring and supporting some of Britain's most promising female performance coaches.

"It is a huge honour for me to represent my country in this way, and the role presents a very exciting challenge, given the mix of talent, experience and determination we have in our top female players right now," she said.

The post has been vacant since the summer, when Nigel Sears resigned to coach former world number one Ana Ivanovic.


Tags: tennis, sport, england, united-kingdom

First posted December 08, 2011 23:08:09

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Thursday, December 8, 2011

The Rules Of The Game - What All Tennis Players Must Know

Safin elected to Russian parliament

Updated December 08, 2011 13:19:56

Two-time grand slam winner Marat Safin is swapping tennis whites for business suits after being elected to the Russian federal parliament, the Duma.

The former world number one, who was elected to the 450-seat lower house of Russian parliament, said he had thought long and hard about what to do with his life after his sporting career.

"I could go and make commercials left and right and pretend like I am a celebrity, but that is not me," he said.

"This is a completely new life, a new way of thinking, new way of doing things that's nothing to do with tennis or sports at all.

"But the two things definitely have one thing in common and that is that you need to have a character."

Safin, 31, is a member of Vladimir Putin's United Russia Party and will represent the Nyzhny Novgorod region, about 500 kilometres from Moscow.

United Russia is expected to win the election with a reduced majority, but the weekend poll has been widely criticised both inside and outside Russia, with widespread allegations of voter intimidation and vote rigging.

Overnight former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev called for the elections to be re-run and the opposition vowed to stage new rallies contesting the result.

Despite the cloud over United Russia's apparent victory, Safin's election win was praised by former on-court opponent and tennis great Pete Sampras.

Sampras went down to Safin in the 2000 US Open, handing the Russian his first grand slam win.

"In 20 years Marat will be the president of Russia," Sampras said.

"Marat is going to go a long way.

"He is very intelligent and articulate and he's good with people, and that's half the battle with being a politician."


Tags: world-politics, tennis, sport, government-and-politics, russian-federation

First posted December 08, 2011 13:10:10

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You Want The Most Comfortable: Figure Out The Perfect Tennis Shoe For You!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

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Geelong pencilled in for Davis Cup clash

Updated December 07, 2011 10:15:01

Australia will host China on grass in Geelong in a Davis Cup Asia-Oceania qualifying round clash in February.

The Geelong Lawn Tennis Club won the right to host the event ahead of three other Victorian regional cities - Shepparton, Mildura and Albury-Wodonga.

Australian Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter said his team was already looking forward to the tie.

"Our planning has already started for this tie and we are hellbent on playing well and winning," Rafter said.

"The boys really enjoy playing on grass and are keen to get on the local courts as early as we can.

"We always get great support when we go to regional centres and we will be keen to give the people of Geelong a good look at some top-class Davis Cup tennis."

The tie will be held from February 10-12.


Tags: tennis, sport, geelong-3220, vic, australia

First posted December 07, 2011 10:13:44

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Stosur eyes Aussie Open result

Updated December 07, 2011 17:22:00

Samantha Stosur is confident she can handle the pressure to present a strong challenge at next month's Australian Open following her maiden tennis grand slam triumph.

Currently ranked sixth in the world, US Open champion Stosur has never gone beyond the fourth round of her home grand slam in nine attempts.

But her triumph in New York has added another layer of confidence for the 27-year-old Queenslander who has appeared to struggle at times with the added attention and public expectation on home soil.

"I don't think there's any greater pressure than probably playing grand slam finals and I'm lucky enough to have played two of those now and got through the last one with flying colours," Stosur said.

"I think the Aussie Open I can get a good result, I don't think there's any reason why I can't.

"It's nothing to do with the court, or the conditions or anything like that, I think it's just been one of those things.

"The last two years I've obviously had very good results at the French and the US and now hopefully I can do that here in Australia."

Coach David Taylor said Stosur, who will play tournaments in Brisbane and Sydney before the Australian Open, was now much more comfortable under the spotlight.

"I think Sam has been criticised probably for not living up to the big moments sometimes, but she's really erased that now," Taylor said.

"It's just something that over time you get used to."

Taylor and Stosur are working on getting her to come to the net more behind her big serve and finish points faster.

"My forehand could still be probably a bigger weapon and if I'm moving well and really getting around it as best as I can," Stosur said.

"I think my backhand can still improve and there's always room to keep moving forward and finishing points off at the net."

Stosur said she would love the accolade of becoming the world's number one ranked player but it was not a specific goal.

Among her goals for 2012 are recording her first win over three other leading players, Victoria Azarenka (0-5), Petra Kvitova (0-3) and Kim Clijsters (0-5).

"I think my best tennis can beat anyone in the world," Stosur said.

She has put her hand up for Fed Cup duty in February against Switzerland and is looking to make the Olympic team for a third time, with singles, doubles and mixed doubles all on her wish list.


Tags: sport, tennis, melbourne-3000, vic, australia

First posted December 07, 2011 14:15:55

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Guccione out of Open wildcard event

Updated December 07, 2011 17:29:25

Tennis unknown John-Patrick Smith has pulled off one of the best wins of his brief career by beating Davis Cup player Chris Guccione in the first round of the Australian Open wildcard tournament.

Six months ago Smith did not have any sort of tennis ranking but six months from now, according to Davis Cup team manager Todd Woodbridge, Smith could be inside the world top 200.

Guccione, the fourth seed, went down to the Queensland US college graduate in straight sets, losing 7-5, 7-6 (7/3).

In the battle of the left-handers, Smith, 22, was able to quickly bring the towering Guccione's big serve under control and seized an early break.

He played steadily while the Victorian was plagued by unforced errors.

"I played well and served well and made sure I made a lot of returns, that was one of my goals, and I made him play a lot of balls," Smith said.

"He missed a few of his first serves early and I was able to get control of his second serve, which was a bit of a surprise."

Smith said he would not work out a schedule for 2012 until the end of this week but he said his ranking already was around number 440.

Woodbridge said Smith was one of the younger players Tennis Australia would be watching closely.

"He was unranked coming out of college but his ranking is moving very quickly and I wouldn't be surprised if in the next six months he wasn't in the top 200," Woodbridge said.

Earlier top seed New South Welshman Greg Jones eased into the second round with a straightforward 6-2, 6-3 victory over Queenslander Gavin Van Peperzeel.

And women's top seed Casey Dellacqua bounced back after her shock loss on the first day to beat Emelyn Starr, the eighth seed from New South Wales, 6-1, 6-1.

Dellacqua was the subject of a major upset in the first of her round-robin matches when she fell to 15-year-old Wimbledon junior champion Ashleigh Barty from Queensland.

Barty continued her march towards the semi-finals when she collected her second straight win, defeating New South Wales hopeful Stephanie Bengson 6-2, 6-4.


Tags: tennis, sport, melbourne-3000, vic, australia

First posted December 07, 2011 17:29:25

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Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Teen star upsets Dellacqua

Updated December 06, 2011 15:45:55

Wimbledon junior champion Ashleigh Barty has pulled off an upset win over top seed Casey Dellacqua at the Australian Open wildcard play-off in Melbourne.

The 15-year-old Queenslander stunned Dellacqua, who has won six straight Pro Tour events in the past two months, to win in straight sets.

Barty says she had little to lose against Dellacqua but was generous in victory following her 6-3, 6-3 win.

"I think I played very well today," Barty said.

"I know Casey didn't play her best but I'm just pleased to get the win."

Dellacqua struggled with unforced errors from the start and seemed unsettled against Barty, whose steady returns and consistency blocked any attempt at rhythm.

"Once I got that first set I was over the moon, so I just wanted to keep that roll going and see how I went," Barty said.

"I just came into the match going out there to enjoy it. I'm not too worried about the score at the moment so I just came out here wanting to enjoy it and have fun.

"We didn't really have a game plan so I was just out there seeing what would work and what didn't and I was just having a ball."

Dellacqua still has a chance to reach the quarter-finals but must win her next two matches.


Tags: tennis, melbourne-3000

First posted December 06, 2011 14:31:30

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Recreational Tennis: Treat It As Your Passion, Not An Excuse

Preventing and Treating Tennis Elbow in Tennis Players

Wozniacki to play Sydney International

Updated December 01, 2011 12:41:29

World number one Caroline Wozniacki will play in next month's Sydney International for a fourth consecutive year.

The 21-year-old Danish star, who finished as the top-ranked player for the second straight season, joins US Open champion Sam Stosur and French Open winner Li Na at the January 8-14 event.

Wozniacki claimed six WTA Tour titles this year and had semi-final appearances at the Australian Open and US Open.


Tags: tennis, sport, sydney-2000, nsw, australia

First posted December 01, 2011 12:41:29

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Monday, December 5, 2011

Argentina stays alive in Davis Cup final

Updated December 04, 2011 07:42:01

Argentina kept its Davis Cup final hopes alive on Sunday morning when David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank defeated Spain's Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to cut the deficit to 2-1.

The result means the final will be decided on day three when Rafael Nadal tackles Juan Martin del Potro before David Ferrer is scheduled to meet Juan Monaco in the last reverse singles.

Nalbandian and Schwank were playing together for the first time but they overwhelmed the Spanish pair who have now lost 11 of their 12 matches in the competition.

Nadal and Ferrer had won Friday's opening singles as they aim for a fifth Davis Cup title and history remains on their side - the last team to recover from a 2-0 deficit in the final was Australia in 1939.

Argentina is bidding for a first Davis Cup title having lost both its previous finals - against Spain in 2008 and Russia in 2006.

"We played great. We knew it was a very important match and we played unbelievable from the start to the end," said Nalbandian, who could replace Monaco in Sunday's singles.

"The result shows how well we played. They didn't break us and we played well at the net. It'll still be very difficult on Sunday. We knew the doubles would be crucial so we will see what happens on Sunday. But we are still alive."

Six-time French Open champion Nadal will again hold the key in the reverse singles.

His easy 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 win over close friend Monaco on Friday was his 19th win in 20 singles rubbers for Spain.

His only loss came to Czech Jiri Novak on his debut - as a 17-year-old - in February 2004. He is 15-0 in clay-court rubbers.

Nadal will take a 6-3 career lead into his clash with former US Open winner Del Potro, a record which includes the pair's only previous meeting on clay, a straight sets win in the first round at Roland Garros in 2007.

The world number two also boasts a formidable record having won 66 of 67 best-of-five-sets match on clay, with his sole defeat coming at the hands of Robin Soderling at Roland Garros in 2009.

Del Potro will go into Sunday having played for almost five hours on Friday when he lost 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 to Ferrer.


Tags: tennis, sport, spain, argentina

First posted December 04, 2011 07:35:32

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Hewitt given wildcard for Australian Open

Updated December 01, 2011 12:14:38

Lleyton Hewitt has been given a wildcard into next month's Australian Open.

Despite Hewitt's world ranking sagging to number 188, tournament director Craig Tiley said on Thursday handing former world number one Hewitt a wildcard was the easiest decision he has had to make.

Two-time grand slam champion Hewitt was an Australian Open runner-up in 2005 when beaten by Russian Marat Safin in the final.

However his recent seasons have been dogged by injury, causing his world ranking to slide well outside that needed for automatic entry to the year's opening grand slam.

"Lleyton has had some bad luck with injury recently, which has seen his ranking drop, but he has proved time and time again he can never be discounted, particularly in a big match," said Tiley.

"We look forward to welcoming him to the Australian Open in January," Tiley continued.

The decision means Hewitt does not need to contest next week's Australian Open play-off tournament in Melbourne where wildcard entries will go to the winning man and woman.

Casey Dellacqua will start a hot favourite to secure the women's wildcard after winning six satellite tournament titles around Australia recently.


Tags: tennis, sport, melbourne-3000, vic, australia

First posted December 01, 2011 12:14:38

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Ruthless Rafa, epic Ferrer give Spain Davis Cup lead

Updated December 03, 2011 14:47:34

Ironman David Ferrer beat Juan Martin del Potro 6-2, 6-7 (2-7), 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 on Saturday morning to hand Spain a 2-0 lead over Argentina in the Davis Cup final and inch it closer to a fifth title.

Ferrer needed four hours and 44 minutes to see off the battling del Potro after Rafael Nadal had earlier cruised to his 19th win in 20 rubbers in the competition with a 6-1, 6-1, 6-2 win over close friend Juan Monaco.

Spain can wrap up the title if Fernando Verdasco and Feliciano Lopez see off David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank in Saturday's doubles, which would leave Argentina still searching for a first Davis Cup crown.

"I played the best match of my career," said Ferrer.

The Spanish number two, who made the semi-finals at the ATP World Tour Finals last week in London, had looked down and out against a free-hitting del Potro in the second and third sets in front of a raucous 28,000-strong crowd at the Estadio Olimpico.

But the big Argentine gradually wilted, slipping 5-1 down in the decider.

He managed to retrieve a break and hold to put the pressure back on Ferrer, but the Spaniard held his nerve to wrap up the rubber with a sweeping winner.

"He's David Ferrer, he fights all the time," said Spain captain Albert Costa.

Sadly for Argentina, history is not on its side - the last team to recover from a 2-0 deficit in the final was Australia in 1939.

Nadal may be suffering from mental and physical tiredness at the end of a gruelling season, but he repaid the faith shown in him by Costa by winning in less than two-and-a-half hours to maintain Spain's 12-year unbeaten home record in the Davis Cup.

It was the Mallorcan's 67th best-of-five-sets match on clay, and his 66th win, with his sole defeat coming at the hands of Robin Soderling at Roland Garros in 2009.

He was far too strong for his 26th-ranked opponent, returning superbly and not facing a single break point over the course of the match.

"I played a very solid match and I am very happy with my performance," said Nadal after his 19th win in 20 singles rubbers for Spain.

His only loss came to Czech Jiri Novak on his debut - as a 17-year-old - in February 2004. He is 15-0 in clay-court rubbers.

"I was very positive before the match even if there was a lot of pressure. It's an important victory," he said.

"To win by such a score against a very strong player on clay is fabulous. I was sad for him as he is one of my best friends."

Nadal also praised the crowd that carried him to victory.

"I love playing at home. The atmosphere is great, it's like a football match."

Monaco saved three break points in the very first game, but was soon swept away by the six-time French Open champion.

Nadal sent down 27 winners to Monaco's 17, while the Argentine was undone by 35 unforced errors. The former world number one also won seven of 14 break points.


Tags: tennis, sport, spain, argentina

First posted December 03, 2011 09:34:49

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Stosur wins second Newcombe Medal

Updated December 05, 2011 22:18:35

US Open champion Samantha Stosur hopes her breakthrough year marks the start of another successful era for Australian tennis.

Stosur was awarded the Newcombe Medal as the country's best player for the second consecutive year at the Australian Tennis Awards in Melbourne on Monday night.

The legendary John Newcombe presented the 2011 US Open champion and current world number six with the medal.

The 27-year-old Queenslander was the hottest of favourites ahead of a shortlist which included Wimbledon quarter-finalist Bernard Tomic, Shanghai Masters quarter-finalist Matthew Ebden and Jarmila Gajdosova, who achieved a career-high WTA ranking of 25.

"It's such an honour to win the Newcombe Medal again this year and to have so many legendary Australian players here in the room makes it even more special," Stosur said.

"Winning the US Open is of course the pinnacle of my career to date.

"I'd like to thank my amazing team, especially my coach Dave Taylor, who has never stopped believing in me."

With Tomic and Ebden rising through the men's rankings and the achievement of Ashleigh Barty and Luke Saville in winning the Wimbledon junior girls and boys titles, Stosur hoped the success for Australian players would continue.

Barty was the first Australian in 31 years to win the junior girls crown.

"It's been a great year for tennis in Australia with Ash and Luke winning at Wimbledon and Bernard doing so well, and hopefully this is just the beginning of more success to come," said Stosur.

Barty and Saville were named junior athletes of the year.

Another highlight was the presentation of the Spirit of Tennis Award to former world number one and Australia's most successful Davis Cup player, Lleyton Hewitt, in recognition of his outstanding leadership, passion, sportsmanship and dedication to the sport.

"It's an honour to receive this award," Hewitt said.

"There is no greater feeling than playing for your country.

"Wearing the green and gold has been what I have cherished the most, therefore to receive the Spirit of Tennis award for Australia is very humbling."

Stosur's coach Taylor, who is also the Australian Fed Cup captain, was recognised with the Coaching Excellence, High Performance Award.


Tags: tennis, sport, melbourne-3000, vic, australia

First posted December 05, 2011 22:18:35

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Inspired Nadal delivers Davis Cup triumph

Updated December 05, 2011 08:31:00

Rafael Nadal ended a relatively barren year on a thrilling high when he battled back from a set down to beat Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro and secure Spain's fifth Davis Cup triumph.

After demolishing Juan Monaco in Friday's singles, the 10-times grand slam champion, overshadowed by world number one Novak Djokovic in 2011, had a tougher time on his beloved clay against an inspired Del Potro but rallied to snuff out the South American nation's bid for a first title in its fourth final.

The lanky Del Potro, nicknamed the tower of Tandil after his birthplace, had fully recovered from his five-set defeat by David Ferrer in Friday's singles and delighted the raucous away fans with a fearsome display of hitting to take the first set.

However, he ran out of steam at the crucial moment and lost the fourth-set tiebreak 7-0 in a 1-6, 6-4, 6-1, 7-6 defeat that sparked wild celebrations among the home support at the purpose-built indoor court at Seville's Olympic Stadium.

Nadal's victory, his 16th in 16 Davis Cup singles matches on his favoured surface, gave Spain an unassailable 3-1 lead in the best-of-five tie as the favourite secured its third title in four years.

It was Spain's second Davis Cup final victory over Argentina following success in Mar del Plata in 2008 and it also claimed the enormous trophy, known in Spanish as the 'salad bowl', by beating Czech Republic in Barcelona in 2009.

"This is a very good way of finishing after a long year," Nadal, who won just three singles titles in 2011, his fewest number in seven years, told a news conference, before announcing that he was not planning to play Davis Cup in 2012.

"Next year, since it's an Olympic year, my participation in the Davis Cup is impossible," said the 25-year-old, who has repeatedly called for the crowded tennis calendar to be overhauled.

"For the time being, let's enjoy today. It's not the most appropriate time to talk about the future but of course next year I will not play the Davis Cup."

Argentina was 2-0 down after Friday's singles before David Nalbandian and Eduardo Schwank thrashed Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco in Saturday's doubles to keep the tie alive.

Given the enormity of the task he faced - Nadal has only lost one best-of-five match on clay in his career - it was no surprise when Del Potro made a nervous and error-strewn start to the match.

He twice double-faulted in the opening game, the second time on break point, to gift Nadal the lead but broke back immediately when the Spaniard missed an attempted drop shot and held serve for a 2-1 lead.

A section of rowdy light blue and white-clad Argentina fans held up play several times on Nadal's next service game and Del Potro and captain Tito Vazquez had to make the first of several appeals for calm.

Nadal was also showing signs of nerves and his opponent took full advantage, thumping winners with his fearsome forehand and breaking the Mallorcan's serve twice more for a 5-1 lead before taking the set with a backhand pass.

It was the first time Nadal had dropped a set in 10 Davis Cup singles matches since September 2008.

Nadal's family and team-mates were looking edgy at the side of the court but world number two rediscovered his form in the second set and a huge roar echoed around the giant arena when he converted a smash and broke to level the match.

The Spanish fans leapt to their feet again when Nadal broke for a 5-1 lead in the third set with a brilliant whipped forehand pass on the run that curved just inside the line and he served out to love to move ahead for the first time.

Del Potro looked beaten when Nadal claimed an early break in the fourth set but the 2009 US Open champion battled on to force the tiebreak.

That marked the end of his brave challenge, though, and he failed to win another point.

Nadal sealed victory with a trademark forehand winner down the line before embracing his opponent at the net as his team-mates danced on the nearby court and Spanish King Juan Carlos celebrated in the stands.

"The very little energy I had, I had to put it in the court with the help of the crowd, with the help of my team," Del Potro told a news conference.

"I felt that once again I was very close to winning," the 23-year-old added.

According to Davis Cup rules, if the tie is decided after the fourth rubber and that match lasts at least four sets, the final singles is not contested.


Tags: sport, tennis, spain, argentina

First posted December 05, 2011 07:11:32

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Gajdosova aims for second Hobart win

Updated December 02, 2011 12:08:06

Tennis star Jarmila Gajdosova will return to defend her Hobart International title next month.

Gajdosova will prepare for the Australian Open by targeting successive titles at the Domain Tennis Centre from January 6-14.

The Australian has had an outstanding year, which peaked with a career-high ranking of number 25 in May.

Meanwhile, German crowd favourite Andrea Petkovic has joined a world-class women's field competing at the Brisbane International in the new year.

World number 11 Petkovic, 2010 French Open champion Francesca Schiavone and former world number one Jelena Jankovic are the latest to sign on for the January 1-8 tune-up for the Australian Open.

Petkovic lost this year's Brisbane final to the Czech Republic's Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova.


Tags: tennis, sport, hobart-7000, tas, australia

First posted December 02, 2011 12:08:06

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Tips on Choosing Tennis Equipment

Kvitova to play Sydney International

Updated December 05, 2011 13:51:50

Wimbledon champion and world number two Petra Kvitova will play in next month's Sydney International, tournament organisers said.

The 21-year-old Czech will become the third reigning grand slam titleholder to play in the Sydney event along with French Open winner Li Na and US Open champion Sam Stosur.

Kvitova, who also won the season-ending WTA Championships, will be playing in Sydney for the first time.

"I have had some great results in Australia over the years, winning in Hobart and Brisbane, so hopefully 2012 will be my year to win the title in Sydney," Kvitova said.

Both the top two ranked women's players will play in the Sydney International following last week's confirmation of world number one Caroline Wozniacki's entry.

Two-time grand slam champion Lleyton Hewitt and 2010 champion Marcos Baghdatis are confirmed starters for the men's event.

The Sydney International takes place at the Sydney Tennis Centre from January 8 to 14.


Tags: sport, tennis, sydney-2000, nsw, australia

First posted December 05, 2011 13:04:57

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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rusty Federer returns with a win

Updated November 03, 2011 11:32:43

Roger Federer needed 10 aces and a fighting finish in a 6-1, 4-6, 6-3 win over Finland's Jarkko Nieminen to secure his place in the quarter-finals of the Swiss Indoors.

Out of action for six weeks, the Swiss third seed was tested for the first time by his long-time rival in a series which began in 2002.

Since they began in Moscow nine years ago, Federer had won all 11 matches in straight sets.

Fellow 30-year-old Niemimen, a finalist two weeks ago in Stockholm, achieved a personal goal as he finally won a set off the Swiss, taking the second with two breaks of Federer's serve and despite double-faults on two of four set points.

It took a big effort in the third set for 16-time grand slam winner Federer to re-establish control. But he still needed three match points to end with a cross-court winner after just over 90 minutes.

"I'm really happy to go through," said Federer, the four-time tournament champion and holder.

"The second set was really tough and Jarkko played very well.

"He was also great at the end of the third (set). I found it tough to get my rhythm, it's a result of not playing for six weeks.

"To stay at your highest level you have to play consistently and I didn't manage to do that all the time today."

The field of leading seeds was reduced to Federer and Serbia's number one Djokovic as second seed Andy Murray withdrew with a right buttock muscle strain.

The world number three was replaced in the draw by Basel-born Marco Chiudinelli.

Ironically, his wild card was withdrawn by the tour in order to give it to Murray at late notice last week but he went on to lose to Robin Haase 6-2, 7-6 (9-7).

Murray said he woke up around 3:00am with pain in his buttock.

"I was struggling to walk," Murray said.

"I had trained twice on Monday and felt fine after that.

"It was a bit better later on Tuesday morning and I went to a pool for some exercises and had a light hit.

"But this morning (Wednesday) I knew it was still not good enough.

"I don't know how I did it or what it came from. I've never had anything like this before."

The Scot said his personal physio and doctor suspect the problem might be linked to the sciatic nerve.

Murray said he will travel to Paris on Thursday and take four or five days off with anti-inflammatory treatment in the hope of being fit for the final event of the regular ATP season starting on Monday, the Paris Masters.

Murray's pull-out was the second of the day after Serb sixth seed Janko Tipsarevic was unable to go on when he was trailing 5-1 in the first set against German Florian Mayer in their first round match.

Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus joined Federer in the last eight as he beat Swiss Michael Lammer 7-6 (7-2), 6-7 (2-7), 6-3, taking nearly two-and-a-quarter hours to go through.


Tags: tennis, sport, switzerland

First posted November 03, 2011 08:51:52

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Murray hints at strike over schedule

Updated September 20, 2011 10:14:10

Leading men's tennis players could go on strike if the ATP schedule is not reformed, world number four Andy Murray has claimed.

The 24-year-old Scot told the BBC that he had held several talks with other players at the US Open and they would be discussing the matter further at the Shanghai Masters early next month.

Matters came to a head at the US Open where rain forced some players such as Spanish star Rafael Nadal to play matches on three successive days then have one day off and travel to Europe to play Davis Cup.

The players were also incensed by the announcement last year by ATP chief executive Adam Helfant, who has since decided to leave the governing body, that the Paris Masters and the World Tour Finals would be played back-to-back, so two weeks have been saved in the 2012 ATP calendar.

However, Murray made clear the players' patience was wearing thin.

"It's (a strike) a possibility. I know from speaking to some players they're not afraid of doing that (striking)," said Murray, who was beaten by Nadal in the US Open semi-finals.

"Let's hope it doesn't come to that but I'm sure the players will consider it."

Murray, who is still without a grand slam title but this year reached the Australian Open final and the last four of the other three, was adamant that their voices had to be heard and that a strike or boycott will be discussed in Shanghai.

"If we come up with a list of things we want changed - and everyone is in agreement but they don't happen - then we need to have some say in what goes on in our sport," he said.

"At the moment we don't.

"We'll sit down, talk about it with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and International Tennis Federation (ITF), see if they will come to a compromise and, if not, we'll go from there.

"We just want things to change, really small things. Two or three weeks during the year, a few less tournaments each year, which I don't think is unreasonable."

Murray said it was vital the issues were raised now.

"Right now it takes so long to change things," he said.

"To get another change implemented may take five or six years at the rate things are going and then all of us will be done (retired).

"We want it to happen sooner rather than later."

However, the sport's administrators have also claimed that the players have themselves to blame for the heavy schedule.

ITF president Francesco Ricci Bitti said last week that complaints by Nadal over the Davis Cup scheduling were "inconsistent", saying players voted for the current dates, against the ITF's wishes, back in 2009.

The ATP too has hit back, saying it has taken into account the stresses on the players by reducing most finals to the best of three sets, allowing top eight seeds byes into the second rounds of tournaments and also increased the prizemoney.


Tags: tennis, sport, scotland, united-kingdom

First posted September 20, 2011 06:06:47

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Media call: Roger Federer

Published:Friday, September 16, 2011 7:16 AESTExpires:Thursday, December 15, 2011 7:16 AEST

Switzerland's Roger Federer speaks to the media after his 5-7, 7-6, 6-2, 6-3 win over Australia's Lleyton Hewitt in the Davis Cup World Group play-off.

Tags: sport, tennis, australia, nsw, sydney-2000, switzerland

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Tomic looks for fast start in Davis Cup

Updated September 15, 2011 20:52:52

Bernard Tomic will look to give Australia the whip hand in the opening Davis Cup World Group qualifying rubber against Switzerland at Royal Sydney on Friday against an opponent who freely admits to not being fully fit.

While much of the focus will turn to the second fixture between Lleyton Hewitt and Roger Federer, Australia's prospects of getting back into the World Group will be closely aligned to the result of the opening rubber.

Australia have already targeted wins against Stanislas Wawrinka as the most likely path to victory and the home side got some encouragement in Thursday's draw with Wimbledon quarter-finalist Tomic paired against the Swiss number two in the first match.

World number 19 Wawrinka, who has a modest 9-13 record on grass and has been carrying a foot injury, said he was feeling better and OK to play but was "still not 100 per cent".

Federer though quickly dismissed any concerns that he would be feeling the effects of two flights and limited preparation following his US Open semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic.

"I'm not sore. Sorry to disappoint you," he said.

"I'm feeling good, really good, actually."

So good it seems, he has been named to play in the doubles with Wawrinka on Saturday and reverse singles on Sunday - although Davis Cup captains can choose to change their playing roster for matches after the first day.

Hewitt is also slated to have a three-match tie, teaming with Chris Guccione in the doubles.

The former world number one who went through a horror 15-match losing streak to Federer said he got a major boost from beating the 16-time grand slam champion in their last clash, the 2010 final in Halle, also on grass.

"On grass with Roger's record in Halle, that gave me a lot of confidence to come back from a set down and win that match and win a title against Roger," he said.

"But Davis Cup's different. It's over five sets obviously and Roger is going to be up for it tomorrow and Saturday and Sunday as well.

"As a team we have to find a way to get three points out of the five matches."

Federer felt he should have won that day but conceded the result would have given his great adversary a boost.

"It increases maybe his belief that he can beat me but a former world number one and former Wimbledon champion should always believe he can beat anybody on any given day and it's going to be interesting to see how it goes but I am really happy to be playing against Lleyton," he said.

The winner of the tie advances to the Davis Cup World Group in 2012 while the loser will be forced to battle it out in zonal qualifiers for the chance to enter the elite competition again in 2013.

Australia has not played in the 16-nation World Group since 2007.


Tags: tennis, sport, australia, switzerland

First posted September 15, 2011 18:18:35

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Serbia, France stay alive in Davis Cup

Updated September 18, 2011 12:22:43

Defending champion Serbia and France stayed alive in their Davis Cup semi-finals when they both won their decisive doubles rubbers on Saturday.

In Belgrade, Viktor Troicki and Nenad Zimonjic defeated Argentina's Juan Ignacio Chela and Juan Monaco 7-6 (7/4), 6-4, 6-2 to trail 2-1 overall while in Cordoba Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Michael Llodra earned France its first point by beating Spanish duo Feliciano Lopez and Fernando Verdasco 6-1, 6-2, 6-0.

After world number one Novak Djokovic pulled out of the opening singles rubber on Friday, Serbia slumped 2-0 down overnight.

Djokovic was suffering from fatigue as well as a back injury picked up in his US Open final win over Rafael Nadal on Monday.

World number 74 David Nalbandian took full advantage of Djokovic's absence on Friday to see off Troicki, who won the decisive leg of last year's final against France, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Juan Martin Del Potro then eased past Janko Tipsarevic 7-5, 6-3, 6-4 to give Argentina, which has never won the Davis Cup, a 2-0 lead.

But on Saturday Troicki and Zimonjic took a tense tiebreak and then battled back from 4-1 down in the second set, winning five games in succession, roared on by a 15,000-strong crowd.

"There was so much energy out there," Serbia captain Bogdan Obradovic said, adding that Djokovic was fit to compete on Sunday.

In the Cordoba bullring, nine-time champions France needed to win after Nadal cast off fatigue to thrash Richard Gasquet 6-3, 6-0, 6-1 in Friday's opening rubber and David Ferrer then defeated Gilles Simon 6-1, 6-4, 6-1.

And Tsonga and Llodra duly obliged giving their experienced Spanish rivals no chance.

Meanwhile, International Tennis Federation chief Francesco Ricci hit back at Nadal, insisting the Spanish superstar was wrong to claim the gruelling tennis schedule was damaging players' welfare.

Nadal had even hinted at a players strike in protest at a calendar which required him to play Davis Cup just four days after losing in the US Open final in New York.

"I have the deepest respect for Nadal. He is a great champion and a sporting role model, but to accuse the Davis Cup of putting players' physical well-being at stake is incomprehensible," said Ricci.

"Why doesn't Nadal address his complaints to the ATP which controls 90 per cent of the calendar when we control just a few weeks?

"It is not acceptable to us to relax the Davis Cup calendar. The players already play less than two weeks of Davis Cup each year. We want to find more favourable dates, we are already putting all this on the table.

"We will see what solutions we can find."

Nadal takes on Simon in Sunday's reverse singles with Ferrer drawn against Gasquet.


Tags: tennis, sport, serbia, yugoslavia, spain, argentina

First posted September 18, 2011 12:22:43

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Berdych to face Cilic in Beijing final

Updated October 09, 2011 07:08:41

Czech Tomas Berdych outpowered top seeded Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to take a 6-4, 4-6, 6-1 victory and reach the final of the China Open.

He will face Marin Cilic, who deployed his powerful serve to ease past fellow Croatian Ivan Ljubicic 6-4, 6-3.

In women's play, German 9th seed Andrea Petkovic overwhelmed Romanian qualifier Monica Niculescu 6-2, 6-0 to reach the final.

She will play 11th seed Agnieszka Radwanska, who defeated Italian Flavia Pennetta 6-2, 6-4.

Tsonga was unable to take control of the on-form Berdych, who is one of his rivals in the chase for a spot at next month's season-ending World Tour Finals in London.

The world number 10 took advantage of 15 Tsonga unforced errors, pounding his way into the final with his eighth ace on match point.

"This final could turn my season from a good one to a really great one," said Berdych.

"I thought I was in with a good chance, I'm expecting a tough final tomorrow."

Cilic, outserved his opponent with 13 aces against nine from Ljubicic.

He broke serve to lead 5-4 before serving out for the first set.

"I then started serving better, the start of the second set was really crucial," said the 23-year-old.

"It was maybe the best I've ever served."


Tags: tennis, sport, china

First posted October 09, 2011 07:08:41

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Safin targets seat in Russian parliament

Updated October 28, 2011 10:17:44

Former world number one and double grand slam title winner Marat Safin is the latest Russian tennis player to confirm he intends to run for his country's parliament.

Safin, the 2000 US Open winner and 2005 Australian Open champion, said he was serious about his political ambitions.

"I am running for Federal Parliament in Russia," Safin told the ATP Champions Tour website.

"The elections are on December 4th so I will find out soon. It's a new challenge. I think I am an intelligent guy and I have a lot to bring and a lot of ideas about things and what to do. I am very committed to it."

Safin added: "I could be the best looking guy in the Duma, but that's only because all the other guys are over 60."

The 31-year-old Safin is the second Russian tennis star to target a seat in the Duma following 2007 US Open women's semi-finalist Anna Chakvetadze announcement in September that she was to stand for the Right Cause party.

The 24-year-old, formerly ranked in the top five in the world, has not played since Wimbledon in June because of poor health.

Chakvetadze said she wanted to "try something new" and focus on women's rights and children's sports.

"I joined the Right Cause Party because it's a young party," she said.

"All of its members are young people, who have many fresh ideas. I believe I also can bring some fresh ideas into this project.

"I'd like to be involved in deciding the questions concerning the sports sphere in case we manage to enter the State Duma."


Tags: tennis, sport

First posted October 28, 2011 09:25:59

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Interview: Bernard Tomic

This service may include material from Agence France-Presse (AFP), APTN, Reuters, AAP, CNN and the BBC World Service which is copyright and cannot be reproduced.

AEDT = Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time which is 11 hours ahead of UTC (Greenwich Mean Time)

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Nadal sets up heavyweight final

Updated September 11, 2011 15:49:25

Defending champion Rafael Nadal booked a US Open title showdown against world number one Novak Djokovic with a tough 6-4, 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 win over British fourth seed Andy Murray.

Nadal, the second seed, will be playing in his 14th grand slam final in what will be a repeat of last year's decider where he became the youngest man to complete a career grand slam.

"I played my best match of this US Open today," said Nadal, the winner of 10 grand slam titles, after completing his 13th win in 17 meetings with Murray.

"I have played Novak five times this year, all in finals, and lost them all. I hope to have better luck this time and I hope New York will help me."

Nadal made sure he could get the majority of support in the final by taking time to remember the victims of the September 11 attacks, ahead of the 10th anniversary.

"I just want to send all of my support to the families of the victims of September 11th. I have terrible memories of that day," said the Spaniard, whose victory Saturday was helped by Murray committing 55 unforced errors to his 23.

Defeat for Murray, who reached the semi-finals of all four grand slams in 2011, means that Britain's long wait for a first major winner since Fred Perry in 1936 goes on.

"Anyone playing Rafa, you're gonna play a lot of long rallies. So if you can get some opportunities to try and shorten the points, then it would be good to do that," said Murray, the 2008 runner-up.

"Once I went behind, I realized that wasn't working. I was playing longer rallies. Physically I felt decent considering the circumstances. We had quite a lot of points and long games. I needed to be much more patient."

Nadal was in control from the start in a low-key first set, serving three love games, breaking in the eighth and claiming the opener when an off-colour Murray netted an easy backhand.

Murray squandered three break points in the second game of the second set which opened the door for the champion to again seize the initiative with a break for 3-2 when the fourth seed unleashed a loose forehand.

The world number two and French Open champion was quickly two sets to love ahead when he went to set point with an ace and clinched it when Murray again dumped a lazy backhand into the net.

But Murray finally managed to break for a 2-0 in the third set following a gruelling 28-shot rally.

The pair exchanged a 34-shot duel in the third game which Murray edged, but the Scot again failed to press home his advantage as a double fault handed Nadal a break point which he converted thanks to another netted groundstroke.

But Nadal was broken to trail 3-5 and Murray pounced on his opportunity to take the third set 6-3.

Nadal fought off a break point in the third game of the fourth set to lead 2-1, his defiance quickly rewarded with a 3-1 lead.

Murray, appearing to feel discomfort in his back, was under siege but he saved three more break points in the sixth game as a hold each gave Nadal a 5-2 lead.

The champion took victory when the Scotsman's challenge finally wilted with a backhand jab which sailed wide.


Tags: tennis, sport, united-states

First posted September 11, 2011 11:59:25

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Gajdosova reaches Guangzhou quarters

Updated September 22, 2011 09:05:25

Defending champion Jarmila Gajdosova of Australia advanced to the quarter-finals of China's Guangzhou Open by beating Mandy Minella of Luxembourg 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Top-seeded Maria Kirilenko also advanced, defeating Iryna Bremond of France 6-3, 6-1.

Zheng Jie, the last Chinese player in the tournament, moved into the next round by beating Noppawan Lertcheewakarn of Thailand 6-3, 7-5, while Zhao Yijing of China lost to Tetiana Luzhanska of Ukraine 6-4, 2-6, 7-5.


Tags: tennis, sport, china, australia

First posted September 22, 2011 09:05:25

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Djokovic knocks out Federer

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Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Broadcast: 11/09/2011

Reporter: Barrie Cassidy

World number one tennis player Novak Djokovic has beaten Roger Federer to reach the US Open final.

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Czechs take out Fed Cup

Updated November 07, 2011 09:32:25

Doubles duo Lucie Hradecka and Kveta Peschke sealed a 3-2 victory for the Czech Republic in the Fed Cup final against Russia in Moscow.

The pair needed four match points to see off Maria Kirilenko and Elena Vesnina 6-4, 6-2 after one hour and 36 minutes in the Olympic Stadium as the visitors lifted their first title since 1988, when the former Czechoslovakia won the annual women's team competition.

"Petra (Kvitova) won two points for us but we needed one more," Czech captain Petr Pala said.

"I'm happy we managed to get the third one. We won it all together because the victory is made of small pieces you have to put together.

"It was great team work."

Russian skipper Sahmil Tarpischev also highlighted Kvitova's contribution to the Czechs' win.

"The Czechs won thanks to Kvitova's superb play," Tarpischev said.

"She was just great."

Wimbledon champion and world number two Kvitova had put the visitors 2-1 ahead after beating two-time grand slam winner Svetlana Kuznetsova 4-6, 6-2, 6-3.

Kvitova, fresh from her success at last week's season-ending WTA championship in Istanbul, battled back from a set down to win her first ever meeting with the 26-year-old Kuznetsova in two hours and 13 minutes.

"I wasn't playing my tennis in the first set, (I was) making too many mistakes, while Svetlana moved and returned very well," Kvitova said.

"It was tough to come back into the match in the second set but I forced myself into playing with crosses mainly instead of my favourite flat drives."

Kuznetsova admitted: "The difference between us today was that she has played so many tight matches this season, while I rarely had such intriguing matches.

"I played well today but she was just a bit better at key moments."

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova took the tie to the decisive doubles by ousting Lucie Safarova 6-2, 6-4.

Pavlyuchenkova, ranked 15th, broke her rival's serve twice in the opening set for a one-set advantage after 41 minutes, and a break in the fifth game of the second set put her on the way to victory.

"I was nervous playing as I had no room for error," said the 20-year-old Pavlyuchenkova, who took 90 minutes to record her fourth win over Safarova in five meetings.

"But she (Safarova) also was in the same situation and it was also tough for her. Anyway, all's well that ends well."

Kvitova drew first blood for the Czechs on the opening day, beating Kirilenko 6-2, 6-2, while Kuznetsova pulled the scores level with a 6-2, 6-3 win over Safarova.


Tags: tennis, sport, russian-federation, czech-republic

First posted November 07, 2011 08:37:37

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Tired Murray hits out after Davis Cup rout

Updated September 19, 2011 07:42:00

World number four Andy Murray insists the current schedule for top players must be changed to ease their workload after his tired victory in the Davis Cup against Hungary on Sunday.

Murray was forced to travel to Scotland to meet his Great Britain team-mates just one day after returning home from the US Open and next week he will be back on court in Asia at the Thailand Open in Bangkok.

It is the final part of a gruelling year-long schedule that has started to take its toll.

Britain had wrapped up victory over Hungary and promotion back to Europe/Africa Zone Group I of the Davis Cup on Saturday when doubles pair Colin Fleming and Ross Hutchins established an unassailable 3-0 lead.

But with a near full house expected at Braehead Arena and fans eager to see their hero, Murray decided to play in Sunday's first dead rubber against unranked Gyorgy Balazs.

It looked an easy task for the British number one on paper but he struggled to get going while Balazs proved a useful opponent, and in the end Murray was happy to come through 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 after going a break down early in the second set.

Murray then turned his attention to the demands placed on top stars and admitted the main problem is the number of mandatory tournaments the players must compete in.

As well as the four grand slams and eight Masters 1000 events, players must also enter four other tournaments, while the ranking points are made up of results from 18 tournaments, so players will lose out if they play less.

"The mandatory events is the worst thing. All you had to do originally was play in nine Masters Series and four slams, that was 13 events," Murray said.

"I'm being quite open about it. Some of the smaller events, because the ATP's messed up the smaller tournaments by giving them 250 points, it doesn't really make much sense to play in, because 250 points isn't going to make hardly any difference.

"When we play the Masters Series and the slams, we're playing against the best players in the world every time. The schedule's messed up and we need to change it."

The issue of the schedule and a feeling of a lack of power among the players came to the fore at the US Open, and a meeting is scheduled at the Masters in Shanghai next month where Davis Cup dates are likely to be discussed.

French Open champion Rafael Nadal hinted at a players strike in protest at a calendar which required him to play Davis Cup just four days after losing in the US Open final in New York.

Nadal's outburst prompted International Tennis Federation chief Francesco Ricci to hit back at the Spaniard but the issue clearly will not go away.

With British number two James Ward still suffering the effects of his dramatic win over Attila Balazs on Friday, Scot Fleming came in for the final rubber and recorded his first singles win in Davis Cup, beating Sebo Kiss 6-4, 6-3 to secure a 5-0 victory for Britain.


Tags: tennis, sport, united-kingdom

First posted September 19, 2011 07:42:00

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Tomic knocked out by Dolgopolov

Updated October 25, 2011 13:07:21

Australia's Bernard Tomic has been eliminated from the Shanghai Masters by 12th seed Alexandr Dolgopolov, while defending champion Andy Murray progressed.

Ukraine's Dolgopolov advanced to the quarter-finals with a 5-7, 6-1, 6-0 victory over Tomic.

The win continues Dolgopolov's unbeaten record against Tomic, who he has defeated in all three of their previous encounters.

Murray survived a testing encounter with Stanislas Wawrinka to reach the quarter-finals as David Ferrer saved three match points to progress.

Second seed Murray, on a red-hot run of form of 21 wins from 22 matches coming into the clash against the Swiss 13th seed, won 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 under the roof at the Qi Zhong stadium.

The British player looked set for a straightforward victory after taking the first set but cut a frustrated figure as he conceded a break of serve in the second set as Wawrinka levelled the match with an ace.

Murray raced into a 5-0 lead in the decider as Wawrinka was warned by the umpire after smashing his racket but despite a late wobble, he closed out the match and remains on course for a final clash against top seed Rafael Nadal.

Earlier, Spain's Ferrer edged into the last eight when he beat injured Juan Carlos Ferrero.

Third seed Ferrer won the all-Spanish tie 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 after a major fright in the 10th game of the second set, when he was forced to dig deep to hold serve and prevent Ferrero from sealing the win.

The win for Ferrer means he becomes the fifth player to qualify for the season-ending ATP World Tour Finals, featuring the world's top eight singles players over the year.

Injury-cursed Ferrero had strapping applied to his right ankle midway through the second set after a nasty tumble and although he recovered to force the match points, his challenge faded in the third set.

American 10th seed Andy Roddick reached the last eight after an impressive 6-3, 6-4 win over Nicolas Almagro, seeded seven, of Spain.

Roddick secured a single break in each set, wrapping up victory with his 11th ace in a controlled display that saw him make just 14 unforced errors.

Japan's Kei Nishikori triumphed over Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 7-6 (8-6), 4-6, 6-3.


Tags: tennis, sport, australia, china

First posted October 13, 2011 20:10:52

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