Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Robson, Watson to warm up in Hobart

Updated December 23, 2012 12:58:36

British Olympic silver medallist Laura Robson and compatriot Heather Watson will warm up for the Australian Open at the January 4-12 Hobart International, organisers said on Saturday.

The 18-year-old Robson, who won mixed doubles silver with men's singles champion Andy Murray at the London Olympics, will make her first appearance at the Tasmanian tournament headlined by former French Open champion Francesca Schiavone of Italy.

Watson, 20, who became Britain's first WTA champion in 24 years with her win at the Japan Open in October, returns for her second appearance after playing this year's tournament as a qualifier.

The Australian Open starts January 14.


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

First posted December 22, 2012 13:30:59

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I can win the Australian Open: Stosur

Updated December 21, 2012 13:55:27

A year on from her summer from hell, Samantha Stosur says there is no reason why she cannot bounce back and win the Australian Open.

Despite candidly confessing to stage fright after first-round losses in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne last January, Stosur is brimming with belief entering 2013.

"I've got as good a chance as any of the girls up there," Stosur said.

"I won the US Open last year, so why not?

"I know that I can compete and beat the best girls in the world, so I'd like to think it's possible."

Far from shying away, Australia's world number nine is vowing to stare down her mental demons and says reliving the pain of last summer is pivotal to hurdling the psychological barriers next month.

"I think you've got to realise what happened and why and what you did wrong and what you can improve on to not make the same mistakes again this coming year," she said.

"Last summer I just froze and played really tight tennis and wasn't free. I was too passive and didn't do what I needed to do.

"That has happened a few times and it's a matter of realising that in the moment and just taking that chance to do more rather than letting your opponent continue to dictate."

After urgings from coach David Taylor and ongoing sessions with her long-time sports psychologist, Ruth Anderson, Stosur has resolved to be more aggressive in the pressure points that will ultimately define her summer campaign.

"I don't play my best tennis when I'm letting my opponent dictate," she said.

"A lot of the top girls don't, so you've got to realise that in the moment rather than when you're off the court and thinking 'I should have done this and I should have done that'.

"If I had a second chance, that's the one thing I probably want to try and improve this year."

Stosur insists "there's no secret formula" to coping with the hype and expectations that inevitably accompany Australia's big home hope at Melbourne Park.

"There's no point in trying something completely new," the Queenslander said.

"The key is you can't go into one of the most important times of the year that you want to do well in and expect that doing something completely different is going to work.

"Obviously you tweak things here and there, but I'm not going to all of a sudden change my whole routine between points or anything like that.

"I don't think that's going to be beneficial."

Stosur will open her summer at the Brisbane International on December 30 before contesting the Sydney International the following week.
Both events have red-hot fields.

"You can't really get two tougher tournaments before a grand slam let alone the first one of the year," Stosur said.

"It's going to be really tough, a really good way to see the benchmark and what you've got to do to improve before Melbourne.

"But everything's going well and I feel like I'm in a good spot at the moment with another week and a bit to go before Brisbane.

"I'm sure by the time I play my first match, I'll be as ready as I'll ever be."


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

First posted December 21, 2012 13:51:23

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Prize money increase for Australian Open

Updated December 21, 2012 00:13:28

Early-round losers at next month's Australian Open will receive a significant pay rise after officials released the breakdown of the biggest purse in tennis history on Thursday.

Responding to player demands for a bigger slice of the pie, Tennis Australia has averted a boycott of the opening grand slam of the year with rich rewards for the sport's battlers.

While the 2013 singles champions at Melbourne Park will collect monster cheques for $2.43 million, first, second and third-round losers will also be big winners after considerable prize money increases.

First-round losers will receive $27,600, representing a 32.7 per cent boost from 2012; second-round casualties will pocket $45,500 (up 36.6 per cent); and third-round losers will pick up $71,000, a 30 per cent increase from the $54,625 this year.

With a record total purse of $30 million on offer, prize money for the fourth round, quarter-finals and semis has gone up by an average of more than 14 per cent.

Prize money for the three rounds of qualifying has also increased almost 15 per cent, while first-round doubles prize money has increased more than 30 per cent.

Players' council representatives Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray were central to the push for more money, arguing that the players were the entertainers and deserving of more.

The game's biggest names agreed it was vital for the lower-ranked players who help make up the 128-strong grand slam draws to receive extra prize money.

Tennis Australia boss Craig Tiley has always considered this a reasonable compromise.

"Our motivation is to make a major contribution toward helping ensure professional tennis players can make a decent living," said Tiley, the Australian Open tournament director.

"As we have said in the past, it is a real issue and needs to be urgently addressed throughout the sport.

"That is why the biggest increases are in the earlier rounds, qualifying and doubles which in effect rewards a lot of the lower-ranked players for their achievements which, by the way, should not be undersold.

"To just reach the main draw of a slam, a professional tennis player has to be among the top 100 in what is one of, if not the most, competitive professional sport in the world.

"At the same time, we also still want to continue to recognise the incredible drawing power and contribution of the top players."


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

First posted December 20, 2012 18:54:02

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Monday, December 17, 2012

Ebden, Gajdosova handed Brisbane wildcards

Updated December 12, 2012 13:44:46

Matthew Ebden has been rewarded and Jarmila Gajdosova boosted by wildcard entries into the Brisbane International tennis tournament after starkly contrasting seasons.

South African-born, Perth-based Ebden enjoyed a breakthrough year in which he reached a career-high ranking of 61 in October.

"The year 2012 was good in a few ways. I won some of my first grand slam matches and played in the main draws of all the slams," said Ebden, currently the world number 105.

"I also won some of my first Davis Cup matches and debuted ... and won by far the most tour matches through the whole season that I have ever done."

For Gajdosova, the wildcard into the December 30 to January 6 Brisbane International is a much-needed shot in the arm in an injury-ravaged 2012 in which her ranking has dropped 150 places to 184.

Slovakian-born Gajdosova looked forward to joining a women's field boasting eight of the world's top-10 players.

"It means a lot. I can't thank enough the Brisbane International and Tennis Australia for giving me this opportunity to start my comeback and new year playing main draw at such a great event," Gajdosova said.

"I've been working hard this off season - also had some time off, so I am very excited to come back home and play in front of my home crowd.

"I feel healthy and happy and hope all my hard work on and off the court will show."

Brisbane International director Cameron Pearson said the pair was a logical pick for selectors.

"They want to know that they can play at that level and certainly both Matty and Jaka can," he said.

"They both make themselves available for our national teams - the Fed Cup team and the Davis Cup team - so they were certainly always high on the list as wildcards too."


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

First posted December 12, 2012 11:12:55

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New clay courts best surface for young players

Amy Bainbridge

Updated December 11, 2012 13:45:22

Tennis Australia has opened eight new clay courts at Melbourne Park as part of the $366 million redevelopment of the precinct.

Tennis champion Todd Woodbridge says clay is the best training surface for up-and-coming stars.

"It gives you the opportunity to learn offensive tennis, defensive tennis, more importantly they can do the workloads that are necessary on young bodies. It doesn't hurt them," he said.

"If you play on hard court too often, they often get issues with knees and backs.

"So this is the perfect development surface, we haven't had it as it is in Australia before."

The courts are made up of five layers. The three base layers are made from Australian materials.

The top two layers, known as the "hard of the court" and the dust have been imported from Italy.

Former Davis Cup captain John Fitzgerald says the courts are as good as any in the world.

He says they will give young players the chance to practise on a European surface.

"When we talk about clay courts, it's not just a third of the world's tournaments that are played on clay, it is the best court surface to teach a young tennis player his craft," Fitzgerald said.

"The game's changed. So we need to adapt and we need the best surface possible for our young kids to learn on, and this is it.

"It shows them how to understand the construction of a point, and it gets them to understand what you need to have longevity in a point."

Victorian Sports Minister Hugh Delahunty says Melbourne Park's redevelopment is on track.

"We'll be the only Grand Slam event in the world with three covered courts and that gives us a very strong advantage competing against all the other countries in the world," he said.

"There's a lot of other countries in the world that would love to get the Australian Open off us, but this $366 million development ensures that we keep it until 2036."

Tags: tennis, melbourne-3000

First posted December 11, 2012 11:01:07

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Taylor stands down as Fed Cup coach

Updated December 15, 2012 23:21:29

Dave Taylor has stood down as Australian Federation Cup captain to focus on coaching world number nine Sam Stosur.

Taylor cited the draining amount of travel required to coach both a top 10 player and the national team as the reason for relinquishing the captaincy.

Taylor took over the role seven years ago when Australia were wallowing in the Asian group qualifying.

He leaves them on a high with an away win over Germany elevating Australia into World Group One with a captaincy win-loss record of 15-6.

"I especially wanted to mention the fantastic support I have enjoyed from our Fed Cup coach Nic Bradtke, who has been a crucial part of the team," Taylor said.

"I have been honoured to work with Nic as I have also to see several players make their debut during my time.

"I have also been saddened to see the retirement of greats like Alicia Molik and Rennae Stubbs during my time.

"The common theme through it all though has been the selfless commitment from our players to our team goals and the terrific team environment that they all very much subscribe to. It has made my role so much easier over the years.

"I am confident the right person will be chosen for the job and that they - along with a terrific team - will continue the momentum we have built in these past few years."

Tennis Australia director of tennis, Craig Tiley, paid tribute to Taylor.

"Dave was the perfect Fed Cup captain," Tiley said.

"His ability to bring out the best in his players and to build a healthy team environment is as good as I have seen in tennis."

Tiley said the search for a new captain would begin immediately, ahead of Australia taking on reigning Fed Cup champions Czech Republic in February.


Tags: sport, tennis, australia

First posted December 15, 2012 23:21:29

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Dellacqua withdraws from Hopman Cup

Updated December 17, 2012 21:56:23

WA tennis player Casey Dellacqua has been forced to withdraw from the Hopman Cup because of a foot injury.

Dellacqua was due to represent Australia along with Bernard Tomic at the Perth team mixed doubles event, which starts on December 29.

Dellacqua posted a series of messages on Twitter on Monday announcing her withdrawal from the Australian team:

?@caseydellacqua I'm so sad to have to withdraw from @hopmancup due to a foot injury. Hope 2 try and play @hobarttennis if I can get a WC...

I love playing @hopmancup, my Perth peeps always get behind me & its a great feeling to have so much support.

Would've loved to have played at new @pertharena also. Hopefully I have the chance next year!!!

A replacement for the former world number 39 is due to be announced shortly.

Tags: event, sport, tennis, perth-6000

First posted December 17, 2012 18:36:53

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Stosur tells Tomic to knuckle down

Updated December 06, 2012 13:43:47

Australia's grand slam-winner Sam Stosur says Bernard Tomic must "knuckle down" if he is going to have any chance of fulfilling his enormous potential.

Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter has decided not to consider Tomic for Australia's opening Davis Cup tie against Taiwan in February due to what he believes is a questionable attitude towards representing his country.

The 20-year-old's dismal end to the year meant his ranking slid from number 27 in June to number 52.

When asked what advice she would give Tomic, Stosur said: "'What are you doing? Are you wanting to play tennis?

"'If you are, then give it 100 per cent because you only get one crack at it'.

"He's going to have to decide what he wants to do and how he's going to approach his career.

"Until that improves in a lot of people's eyes, he's going to have to deal with things like being dropped out of the Davis Cup team."

Stosur added it would be unfortunate to witness Tomic's undoubted talent go to waste.

"That's probably the most disappointing thing for a lot of people on the outside - that he's got this unbelievable tennis ability and he's not really using it at the moment," said the world number nine and US Open title winner.

"So I think everyone would like to see him knuckle down and do his best and see where that gets him."


Tags: sport, tennis, robina-4226, qld, australia

First posted December 06, 2012 13:43:47

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Matosevic into Vienna quarter-finals

Updated October 19, 2012 07:11:48

Australia's Marinko Matosevic knocked the last home player out of the Austrian Open on Friday morning (AEDT), defeating Dominic Thiem 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) to set up a quarter-final meeting with top seed Juan Martin del Potro.

Matosevic, ranked 55 in the world, will be playing his fifth quarter-final of the season when he faces Argentina star Del Potro, who fought for just over three hours to win his opening match on Thursday.

Matosevic improved his record to 16-17 this season with his win over wildcard Thiem, who was the final chance for the host nation at the Stadthalle following the exit of two-time champion and fourth seed Jurgen Melzer.

"I played well against a tough opponent, he had the crowd on his side and I needed to concentrate," said Matosevic after his win over Thiem, the world number 394.

"I'm glad to win and am looking forward to a test against Del Potro. He's been serving unbelievably but I'm ready for a tough match."

Matosevic has already made a breakthrough this week, ending a six-match losing streak when he beat sixth-seeded Dutchman Robin Hasse in the opening round.

Slovenia's Grega Zemlja shattered Australian hopes of seeing two players in the quarter-finals when he defeated Matthew Ebden 7-5, 6-4.

Second seed Janko Tipsarevic also advanced while Tommy Haas made personal history by winning his 500th career match.

Tipsarevic enjoyed a 6-3, 6-4 defeat of Ernests Gulbis and tried to put the race for the year-ending ATP World Tour Finals out of his mind.

The Serb, who has been a top 10 regular for a year, said that standing provisional ninth in the chase for the eight-man London showpiece means that he must focus constantly on the court.

"I try not to think of anything before me or behind me," he said of the race in which he has a 400-point cushion against a pack of trailing rivals.

"I cannot be affected by the fact that everyone is chasing me. All I can do is stay completely focussed on every point of every match. I cannot think about being ahead or behind."

Tipsarevic admitted he was worried about potential damage from Latvia's Gulbis, a streaky player who once stood 21st in the world before falling to his current spot of 159.

"I've lost to him before, so I know how dangerous Ernests can be. But I came out on fire today from the start," said the Serb.

"I knew I'd have to fight so I was aggressive from the start. I'm very glad to win in straight sets."

German third seed Haas, 34, joined an elite group of active players comprising Roger Federer (871 wins), Rafael Nadal (583) and Lleyton Hewitt (566) who have won 500 matches.

Haas achieved the mark by beating American Jesse Levine 6-4, 6-2.

The all-time match-win leader is Jimmy Connors (1,243 wins) followed by Ivan Lendl (1,071), Guillermo Vilas (923) and John McEnroe (875).

Haas was presented on court with a Fiat 500 retro car to celebrate his record.


Tags: tennis, sport, austria

First posted October 19, 2012 06:52:00

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Tomic fined for driving offences

Updated November 05, 2012 17:38:16

Tennis player Bernard Tomic has been given a hefty fine for a series of traffic offences on the Gold Coast.

The 20-year-old has been ordered to pay a $750 good behaviour bond for failing to stop for police on Australia Day this year.

He has also been fined $1,000 for failing to keep left of double dividing lines and twice breaching licence conditions.

Speaking outside the Southport Magistrates Court this afternoon, Tomic said he was relieved the court proceedings were over.

"Now I can really focus on tennis and getting my tennis back to where it should be," he said.

No conviction was recorded.

Tomic says he is now focused on becoming one of the top 10 tennis players in the world.

Tags: courts-and-trials, tennis, sport, southport-4215, qld, australia

First posted November 05, 2012 12:07:49

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Berdych beats Tsonga to stay in semis hunt

Updated November 08, 2012 09:47:05

Tomas Berdych remains in the hunt for a place in the semi-finals of the ATP Tour Finals after the Czech fifth seed defeated France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5, 3-6, 6-1 in London on Thursday morning (AEDT).

Berdych, who lost his opening Group A fixture against Andy Murray, now has to beat world number one Novak Djokovic on Friday to book his place in the last four of the prestigious season-ending event.

The former Wimbledon finalist's victory also means Djokovic is not certain to qualify yet even though the Serb maintained his 100 per cent record with a win over Murray earlier on Thursday.

Tsonga is not definitely eliminated but he would need to beat Murray in straight sets and hope Berdych loses by the same margin against Djokovic to advance.

"It was important to win and now I'm looking forward to the next match," Berdych said.

"I tried to just focus on myself and remind myself I had won the recent matches between us.

"I was a bit surprised with the score in the final set but not how hard I had to work for it. I played well and finished it well."

Berdych had beaten Tsonga in both of their meetings this year, including the final of the Stockholm Open, and the 27-year-old was a deserved winner again after a blistering finish.

Tsonga has not defeated a top-eight ranked player this year and once again the flamboyant Frenchman was too inconsistent on the big points.

Berdych had a chance to take control of the first set when he earned three break points in the seventh game, but Tsonga saved all three with a series of booming serves and powerful forehands.

Tsonga did not make the most of his escape though as a series of wayward groundstrokes gifted Berdych the first break at 6-5 and the Czech gleefully seized the chance to serve out the set with an ace.

Berdych saved two break points at 1-2 in the second set, yet Tsonga was beginning to find some momentum and he pressured the Czech into one more mistake to move 3-1 ahead.

Tsonga briefly wobbled when he served for the set, giving Berdych a break point, but he held on to send the match to a decider.

Berdych was under pressure again in the first game of the final set, this time digging deep to save two break points, and he made the most of his reprieve with a break for a 3-1 lead.

Suddenly the tide had turned back in Berdych's favour and he sealed the win in emphatic fashion with a second break.


Tags: tennis, sport, england

First posted November 08, 2012 09:47:05

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Czechs beat Spain to secure Davis Cup win

Updated November 19, 2012 07:52:27

The Czech Republic has won the Davis Cup after Radek Stepanek stunned Spain's Nicolas Almagro in the decisive rubber of the 100th final in Prague on Monday morning (AEDT).

Stepanek, the world number 37, beat 11th-ranked Almagro 6-4, 7-6 (7-0), 3-6, 6-3 in three hours and 52 minutes in a hardcourt clash of the teams' number-two players.

It is the Czech Republic's first Davis Cup win since gaining independence following a 1993 split with Slovakia. Former Czechoslovakia won the trophy in 1980.

The victory has also handed the Czechs a rare team double after their women lifted the Fed Cup two weeks ago - a feat last achieved by the United States in 1990.

"It's amazing, we've written history here in our country," a jubilant Stepanek said after the game.

"I cannot describe what I'm feeling right now."

"There are no words to say. Undescribable. This is the best thing that can be," said Stepanek's Czech team-mate, Tomas Berdych.

In Sunday's key rubber, a wild home crowd of more than 14,000 fans was all that Stepanek needed to shake off the fatigue from Friday's singles and Saturday's doubles.

His game against a rested Almagro went with serves until Stepanek capitalised on a single set point to break the Spaniard for a 6-4 win in the first set.

"I came on the court with a mindset that I have to stay calm, hungry, motivated, concentrated, and always know what I'm doing. And that's what I did," Stepanek said.

The crowd got even louder as Stepanek, combining patience with aggression, topped up with put-away volleys to come back from 4-2 down in the second set.

He failed to convert four set points but then thrashed Almagro 7-0 in the tiebreak.

"I played very aggressive today, I didn't want to leave anything behind, I wanted to be the one who is active, who is controlling the game," Stepanek said.

Almagro fought back and held on to his serve to take the third set.

But Stepanek, red hot and propelled by the crowd, refused to bow and took the fourth and final set after breaking Almagro's serve once again.

In the first game overnight, Spain's David Ferrer beat Berdych in straight sets.

Ferrer, the world number five, needed just two hours and 25 minutes to see off sixth-ranked Berdych 6-2, 6-3, 7-5.

The 27-year-old Berdych got off to a slow start, losing his opening service game in the first set and then another to let Ferrer, 30, move ahead without too much trouble.

"I played very focused, very aggressive, I started really good and maybe that was the key," Ferrer said.

Ferrer broke Berdych's serve early in the second set for a 3-0 lead that prompted Berdych to take a bathroom break.

But even that did not help - Berdych was flat and allowed Ferrer to gain the upper hand in long exchanges and finally take the second and third sets too.

"It's very difficult to beat Tomas in three sets but I played one of the best matches of my career in Davis Cup," said Ferrer.

Berdych said he was upset he had failed to decide the tie.

"In Davis Cup this year, I have lost only one rubber and it was the last one," he said.

"Ferrer played an excellent game and I was always way behind him."

On Friday, Ferrer beat Stepanek 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and Berdych then put the Czechs level after beating Almagro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.

In the doubles rubber, Berdych and Stepanek beat Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 for their 12th victory in Davis Cup doubles against a single loss.

Spain, who won the Davis Cup three times in the last five years, was missing world number four Rafael Nadal, who is recovering from a knee injury.


Tags: tennis, sport, czech-republic, spain

First posted November 19, 2012 06:42:03

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Tomic: I can be best ever

Updated December 07, 2012 07:47:03

Bernard Tomic has insisted it was his decision not to play Davis Cup and vowed to become the best player "to play this game".

Tennis Australia revealed yesterday that Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter had dropped the Gold Coast star due to his behaviour on and off the court.

Tomic rebuffed this claim insisting it was his decision not to play against Taiwan in February.

"I was never meant to play that tie," Tomic said.

"I'm going to use that time to train to prepare for tournaments in America.

"I spoke to Pat and told him I would miss the first one and maybe the second one ... I was never meant to play, I told Pat that."

Tomic was told to "knuckle down" by Sam Stosur and he admitted taking this advice on board.

"I'm young and I'm learning. You get to a point where you need to stop and I think it's a good bit of advice,'' said Tomic.

"I am working really hard and trying to push myself to become the best tennis player I can be.

"I've had a slippery slope the last year.

"It's changing me and I'll prove that I'm going to be the best ever player one day to play this game.''

Tomic has received support from former Davis Cup winner Paul McNamee who believes TA is risking alienating him, saying he could go the same way as Mark Philippoussis and Jelena Dokic.

"The most disappointing thing from my perspective is the public way (TA) have gone about things. To my way of thinking, that approach isn't helpful for either part, but particularly so for Bernard," McNamee told The Australian.

"The whole timing of it seems strange to me, too. We are right on the brink of a new Australian summer, but the actual Davis Cup tie is still a couple of months away. I mean, why now? And what do they actually hope this will achieve other than ostracising Bernard further and tarnishing a kid's name.

"He is 20. Surely there is a better way, but (TA) don't seem to have any other approach ... I believe they have really hurt our Davis Cup team at a time when we aren't exactly enjoying a huge amount of success.

"Let's not kid ourselves, Bernard is our best player and is our best talent by some margin.

"If we are looking at Davis Cup performances, Bernard has actually won his match on the opening day of each of our last two major ties. He has done his job there.

"No one is denying he has had his issues, but surely we can find a way to better nurture him and support his development as both a player and a man than just cutting him completely. To me, that is a flawed strategy.

"It didn't work with Dokic. It didn't work with Philippoussis. It won't work here."

Tags: sport, tennis, robina-4226, qld, australia

First posted December 07, 2012 07:41:48

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Hewitt returns to Kooyong

Updated October 17, 2012 15:19:09

Lleyton Hewitt heads the first four players announced to take part in the 2013 Kooyong Classic tournament in January.

Hewitt, the 2011 Kooyong champion, will be joined by 2009 US Open champion Juan Martin Del Potro, former Australian Open finalist Marcos Baghdatis and world number 16 Kei Nishikori of Japan in the eight man field.

Baghdatis, ranked number 33 in the world, will be playing at Kooyong for a fourth time as a lead up to the Australian Open.

World number eight Del Potro is the highest ranked player of the four signed to date.

It's the 25th anniversary of the event which is played at Kooyong, the former home of the Australian Open.

Tags: tennis, sport, kooyong-3144, vic, australia

First posted October 17, 2012 15:19:09

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Tomic needs extreme makeover: Newcombe

Updated November 21, 2012 16:47:33

Tennis great John Newcombe believes Bernard Tomic requires an "extreme makeover" to have any hope of reviving his flagging career.

Newcombe says the 20-year-old needs to get supremely fit, revamp his predictable game and lose the attitude to realise his potential.

"Bernie's out in the real world now and I don't think he's come to that conclusion," Newcombe said on Wednesday.

"He might have to hit rock bottom first and fall out of the top 100. That can easily happen."

If he continues his run of outs during the Australian summer, after reaching the Brisbane International semi-finals and last 16 at Melbourne Park this year, Tomic will in fact be at risk of slipping from the top 100 as early as January.

Such a dreaded scenario would leave the dual junior grand slam champion having to qualify for premier events and Newcombe suspects Tomic may struggle against the hungrier pros desperate to earn a living.

"They're trained killers out there," the seven-times grand slam champion and former world number one said.

"I think Bernie thinks it's just going to happen and it's not."

While others are advocating a change of coach from his father John, Newcombe believes Tomic's troubles run deeper than that.

"Unless he's prepared to devote 100 per cent of time and effort to becoming as good as he could become, it doesn't matter who his coach is. It's going to fall apart," he said.

"The answer to Bernard is Bernard.

"Until Bernie makes a decision on what he's willing to do and draws a line in the sand and knuckles down, he's not going to fulfil his full potential.

"I'm not sure also if he realises that his game has become predictable.

"He had a different type of game that worked when he came on to the scene and guys had trouble dealing with it.

"Now they've figured out what he can and what he can't do. They're probing that and it's making Bernie very uncomfortable in his matches, not realising a way out of that."

Tomic has dipped from a career-high number 27 in the world to 52nd in the rankings and Newcombe doubts he will crack the top 20 with his current playing style.

"He can change that but to play another type of game, he's got to get his fitness up another 30 per cent," Newcombe said.

"Then he can start developing a more powerful game.

"He can volley well; he should be spending more time at the net.

"But if you're not 100 per cent fit, that's hard to do. And if your mobility is not great, that's hard to do.

"If I was giving him advice, I'd say go and find the best physical trainer in the world and go and spend three months getting yourself really fit."


Tags: tennis, sport, australia

First posted November 21, 2012 16:47:33

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Murray exits Paris, London cast complete

Updated November 02, 2012 09:42:49

Andy Murray joined arch-rival Novak Djokovic in heading for the exit at the Paris Masters with an early-round loss to Polish qualifier Jerzy Janowicz on Friday morning (AEDT).

Third-seed Murray was spanked by towering Polish qualifier Jerzy Janowicz 5-7, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 as the Scot followed Dkjokvic in losing early at the last event of the regular season.

World number one Roger Federer and injured number four Rafael Nadal did not play the event.

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga thrilled the home crowd with his defeat of Spain's Nicolas Almagro 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (7-3).

That result put Serb Janko Tipsareivc into the eighth spot in the year-end ATP World Tour finals, which takes place in London next week.

Tipsarevic made his own luck as he knocked rival Juan Monaco off with a 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 win.

London qualifier Tomas Berdych, the Czech fifth seed, came back to defeat South African Kevin Anderson 1-6, 6-3, 6-4. France's Michael Llodra ended an 11-match indoor win streak for Juan Martin del Potro 6-4, 6-3.

Murray had never been beyond the Bercy quarter-finals and looked like having the perfect chance to fix that blemish in his record.

But beanpole Janowicz upset the form book with his huge serve, which produced 22 aces and 51 winners in just under two and a half hours.

"He played aggressive. He moves pretty good, serves very well. He's unpredictable," said Murray, who was heading to London within hours.

"When you're on your serve (with a match point) you must close the match."

The 21-year-old winner scored the biggest success of his career on his second match point and fell to the ground with his hands over his eyes lying on the court in pure joy.

"This was the most unbelievable day in my life. I beat Olympic champion, US Open champion. I beat Andy Murray.

"It's an unbelievable feeling for me. I fell like in few minutes I'm going to wake up and it's gonna be everything gone.

"I don't know actually what I supposed to say because it's really hard to describe this feeling. It's not easy for me to believe what happened actually."

Murray did not want to predict how the exits of himself and Djokovic might affect their showings in London next week.

"Only time will tell really. A lot of the players will have had slightly different run-ins to the O2. Obviously me and Novak lost early this week; Roger didn't play, and then I think the rest of the guys are still in here," he said.

"You never know, maybe the guys that go deep here they'll have confidence from having a good tournament. But they may arrive a little bit later and might take a while to get used to the conditions.

"I'll be in London tonight. I'll have some rest and I'll come back to practise on Saturday."

The defeat means that the quarter-finals will be the first in four years at a Masters 1000 event not to feature at least one of the top four players.

Janowicz had beaten a pair of top 20 opponents this week in number 19 Philipp Kohlschreiber and number 15 Marin Cilic, never facing a break point in those matches.


Tags: sport, tennis, france

First posted November 02, 2012 08:53:01

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Federer downs Ferrer to reach semi-finals

Updated November 09, 2012 07:11:41

Roger Federer clinched a place in the semi-finals of the ATP Tour Finals on Friday morning (AEDT) as the defending champion ground out a 6-4, 7-6 (7-5) win over Spain's David Ferrer in London.

Federer required a straight sets win over the fourth seed to seal his spot in the last four with one Group B match to spare and he reached that goal despite a scrappy performance that included 39 unforced errors.

While Federer was some way from his best, the world number two displayed his priceless knack of elevating his game on the big points as the 31-year-old extended his winning run at the Tour Finals to 12 matches.

As well as securing his semi-final berth, Federer also achieved a notable personal landmark by recording his 70th match win of the year - the first time he has done that since he was at the very peak of his form in 2006.

It was a familiar story for Ferrer, who has now lost all 14 of his meetings with Federer, and the Spaniard will need a victory over Janko Tipsarevic in his final match on Saturday to have any chance of qualifying for the semi-finals.

"It was a long match and I'm extremely happy to win," Federer said.

"I played a great match. I've qualified and I'm obviously relieved and thrilled that that's the case.

"David's been on a great run and he is so respected by his fellow competitors. I enjoy playing against him, not because I've got a good record, but because he's a great guy and a great competitor."

Going into this match Ferrer had won only three of 30 sets against Federer and, although he walked on court on an 11-match unbeaten run that brought him titles at the Valencia Open and Paris Masters, the 30-year-old was soon playing second fiddle to the Swiss yet again.

Presented with a golden chance to secure a vital break in the first game, Ferrer was unable to convert as Federer wriggled out of trouble three times.

With Ferrer still cursing that missed opportunity, Federer went for the kill and pressured the Spaniard in a crucial mistake, an off-balance backhand that sailed long, to break for a 2-0 lead.

This was Ferrer's 12th match in 16 days and he could have been forgiven for waving the white flag when three more chances to break slipped through his fingers during a marathon third game.

To his credit he refused to surrender and earned two more break points in the Swiss star's next service game, finally converting one at the eighth attempt when Federer pushed a backhand wide.

But, despite struggling badly on his first serve, Federer was still able to wrestle the set away from Ferrer with a ruthless break to love at 5-4.

That burst of brilliance from Federer was followed by another dip and he had to stave off two break points in the first game of the second set.

Ferrer remained a nuisance for Federer, who was throwing in enough unforced errors to keep the Spaniard in with a chance, and it needed a tie-break to decide the set.

However, Federer, shrugging off his inconsistent spell, finally saw off the dogged Ferrer with a pair of brilliant forehand winners to settle the contest.


Tags: tennis, sport, england

First posted November 09, 2012 07:01:06

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Tomic in hot water after spa fight

Updated October 30, 2012 15:27:09

Former Australian Davis Cup coach Roger Rasheed says Bernard Tomic needs to step away from tennis to settle his off-court issues following another run-in with police on the Gold Coast.

Tomic was reportedly involved in an altercation with a friend during his 20th birthday celebrations with police called to a disturbance at a spa in a Surfers Paradise apartment tower in the early hours of Monday morning.

Queensland Police said no arrests were made or charges laid.

"We spoke to a couple of males and that was it," a police spokesman said.

According to the Gold Coast Bulletin, police "separated the two men before the tennis ace turned on officers".

"He reminded police of 'who he was' and accused officers of running a hate campaign against him," the newspaper said, citing police sources.

The incident comes just a week before Tomic is set to face court to challenge traffic charges stemming from an Australia Day incident where he is alleged to have driven his high-powered V8 BMW M3 in breach of special licence conditions.

Tomic is also accused of failing to stop for police and not keeping to the left of double dividing lines on the road.

The talented Australian has endured a tough year on the court as well, his world ranking sliding from 28 to 49 and having to deny accusations of tanking during his US Open loss to Andy Roddick in September.

Rasheed, who used to coach Lleyton Hewitt and is currently mentoring France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, said Tomic needs to get his life in order and should stay away from tennis until that happens.

"I think there's a lot of work to do off the court," Rasheed told Sky Sports Radio on Tuesday.

"I wouldn't hit another ball if I was Bernard Tomic. I would just sort everything out, see where I'm at. (Even) if it took him three months now, six months or whatever it took him.

"You need to sort out the basics and the platform otherwise it'll raise it's ugly head again. It's unfortunate."

Rasheed also believes Tomic's entourage has a lot to answer for and while his father John has done an admirable job to get his son into the world top 50, it is time for the pair to re-think their relationship.

He says appointing a widely regarded coach as well as sorting out what motivates Tomic to play tennis will be a key to revitalising the youngster's career.

"To be honest, I think he's rebelling against the whole system," Rasheed said.

"He's talented but he's not Lleyton, he's not Rafa (Nadal) and he's not Novak (Djokovic), he's not those guys. You see what those guys were doing at the same age, they were in a different ball game, a different class.

"I'm not sure if he's got the people in front of him to be able to position him in the right place right now. Which is unfortunate.

"His father's aware of it but he needs a coach, there's no doubt about it. His father's done a great job to get him to position A but position A is not where it's at now for him.

"If he wants to keep excelling he gets a legitimate coach and decides what he wants out of the game."


Tags: tennis, sport, surfers-paradise-4217, qld, australia

First posted October 30, 2012 11:48:18

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Federer targets Rio Games

Updated December 07, 2012 13:11:13

Roger Federer has said he wants to carry on playing until the 2016 Rio Olympics and plans to cut back on his schedule to ensure he lasts that long.

The 17-time Grand Slam title winner will be 35 by the time the Rio Games come around, but the Swiss world number two remains without a gold medal in singles having been defeated by Andy Murray in the London Olympics final this year.

He was a gold medallist in doubles in Beijing in 2008.

"My goal is to be here again in three and a half years to play the Rio Olympics," Federer said, ahead of a series of exhibition matches in Brazil.

Federer will play 14 events in 2013, beginning at the season's first Grand Slam event at the Australian Open in Melbourne, but will skip the Miami Masters and Monte Carlo Masters.

"I'm trying to prioritize the events in which I participate, therefore I am not able to play 25 tournaments in a year," he told the Folha newspaper.

"I am picking just those already won or to which I have a sentimental attachment, either with the people or with the city."

Federer will share the exhibition tour in Brazil with home player Thomaz Bellucci, Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Germany's Tommy Haas and Spain's Tommy Robredo.

Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams are also part of the tour.

"I'm very excited to be here. I have waited for this for years. I have travelled almost every day of my life. I was not able to come here until now," Federer told O Globo.


Tags: sport, tennis, olympics-summer, brazil

First posted December 07, 2012 13:11:13

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Federer brushes past Murray to set up Djokovic clash

Updated November 12, 2012 09:19:58

Roger Federer remains on course for a seventh ATP Tour Finals title after the defending champion defeated third seed Andy Murray 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 on Monday morning to set up a final showdown with Novak Djokovic.

Federer produced another of his supremely dominant displays he seems to reserve for this tournament as he cruised past Murray in one hour and 33 minutes in London and the Swiss great is now one win away from completing a hat-trick of titles at the prestigious season-ending event.

Murray pushed him hard in the first set, but once Federer got into his stride the result was inevitable as the 31-year-old emulated his Wimbledon triumph over the Scot and in the process gained a measure of revenge for losing their Olympic final clash.

Murray, who was bidding to become the first Briton to reach the final, has enjoyed a year to remember, but this was a frustrating way to end it as he bowed out in the semi-finals for the third time.

"It was a special match," Federer said. "It was the third time in London this year for the two of us and the crowd was electric.

"I have been around the block a few times and that was something. You can't tire of nights like this.

"That is why I keep practising in front of no people, it inspires you to keep working hard."

In his gold medal victory at the All England Club, Murray had set the tone for his straight sets win by grabbing the initiative from the start and he was clearly determined to do the same again.

Taking the attack to Federer, the 25-year-old earned two break points in the first game of the match and converted the second with a blistering winner.

But rather than triggering a period of Murray dominance, that was simply the cue for an absorbing battle to break out.

Federer was in a more determined mood than during his Olympic defeat and the world number two kept probing away at the Murray serve, eventually earning his reward with a break to level at 4-4 after a searing backhand proved too hot for the Scot to handle.

To his credit, Murray refused to cede any further ground after that and a tie-break was required to settle the set.

It was the same story in a tremendously tense breaker. Murray had the early advantage, but could not kill off Federer, who broke back after a 22-shot rally.

Federer then seized the moment, wrong-footing Murray with a looping forehand at 6-5 to seal the set in 61 minutes.

With the momentum firmly in his favour, Federer was able to unveil the full range of his arsenal in the second set.

Rather than try to over-power Murray, he teased him with a series of backhand slices and drew a frustrated mistake from the Scot that gave Federer a break for a 2-1 lead.

Federer was even more energised by that vital breakthrough, while Murray seemed to lose all belief and it was not long before the Swiss delivered the final blow when he broke again to move 5-2 ahead before serving out the win.


Tags: tennis, sport, england

First posted November 12, 2012 09:13:51

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Czechs overwhelm Serbs to retain FedCup

Updated November 05, 2012 07:46:04

The Czech Republic won a second straight Fed Cup on Monday morning (AEDT) after Lucie Safarova gave the defending champs an unbeatable 3-1 lead over Serbia by thrashing Jelena Jankovic 6-1, 6-1 in Prague.

Safarova, the world number 17, cruised past 22-ranked Jankovic in just an hour and 17 minutes, keeping the Serbian under constant pressure and earning 32 winners against Jankovic's eight.

"It's fantastic because it happened at home, in Prague, in front of our fans," a triumphant Safarova said just after the game.

"It was one of the best games I've played in my career," she added.

"It was unbelievable. She hardly missed one ball," Czech team captain Petr Pala said.

The Czechs had stumbled earlier after Serbia's Ana Ivanovic reduced their two rubber lead to 2-1 by beating Petra Kvitova 6-3, 7-5.

Ivanovic, the world number 12, needed an hour and 46 minutes to sink Kvitova, the world number eight, who was grappling with the effects of an illness.

Kvitova, sweating profusely and visibly weakened by a cold that forced her to pull out of the WTA Championship last week, lost her first rubber after an 11-game Fed Cup winning streak.

"I really started swinging from the beginning and it worked well for me," said Ivanovic, the Serbian number one, who had lost easily to Safarova on Saturday.

"I was a lot calmer today and I was sort of playing the game that I've been playing lately," she added.

Kvitova managed to fight back at the end of the second set, when she broke Ivanovic's serve for the first time and seemed on the verge of overwhelming her rival.

But Ivanovic broke back as she converted the third match point in the last game.

Kvitova refused to blame the loss on her illness.

"I felt better and I found it easier to breathe than on Saturday," she said.

"But I lost a lot of strength yesterday and I was also drained emotionally.

"I lacked energy, the doctor gave me some sugar during a bathroom break but it didn't help much," said Kvitova, adding she did not sleep well.

But Serbia, playing their first final ever, never had a chance to come close as Safarova rallied.

"Petra was sick so she wasn't at her best today, and I thought OK, it's going to be my turn this time, and I'm really happy that I did it," said Safarova.

Kvitova and Safarova had earlier eased past their rivals in straight sets to give the Czechs a 2-0 lead.

Safarova first beat Ivanovic 6-4, 6-3 on the hardcourt of Prague's O2 Arena, and Kvitova then cruised past Jankovic 6-4, 6-1.

Last year, the Czech Republic lifted the trophy after beating Russia in Moscow 3-2.

Before that, former Czechoslovakia, which split peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, won the Fed Cup five times between 1975 and 1988.


Tags: tennis, sport, czech-republic, serbia

First posted November 05, 2012 07:41:25

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Hewitt loss comes with silver lining

Updated October 20, 2012 18:50:27

Lleyton Hewitt has almost certainly clinched direct entry to the Australian Open despite his Stockholm Open ending in the quarter-finals.

Spanish third seed Nicolas Almagro eliminated Hewitt 6-1, 6-4 in 66 minutes to boost his own hopes of qualifying for the end-of-season World Tour Finals in London.

Hewitt, though, is set to climb into the world's top 80 on Monday following his run to the last eight.

With only a handful of events to go this year, the former world number one is unlikely to slip out of the top 100, meaning he will not require a wildcard for the Melbourne Park major in January.

Hewitt received wildcards into all four grand slam events in 2012, with a last-16 charge in Melbourne his best result in the big ones.

The 12th-ranked Almagro will next face Czech second seed Tomas Berdych, who defeated Russian Mikhail Youzhny 6-3, 7-6 (7-2) in his quarter-final.

Cypriot Marcos Baghdatis, the 2009 champion, edged Lithuanian Ricardas Berankis 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) and will play French top seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who downed Sergiy Stakhovsky 6-3, 6-4.


Tags: tennis, sport, sweden

First posted October 20, 2012 17:10:47

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Azarenka to finish season on top

Updated October 27, 2012 18:20:52

Victoria Azarenka of Belarus will finish the year as women's tennis world number one after a 7-6 (7-4), 6-3 win over China's Li Na in her final round robin match at the WTA Championships on Saturday (AEDT).

The Australian Open champion managed the two wins she needed in the round robin competition to end 2012 in top spot by beating Germany's Angelique Kerber on Thursday and then Li.

Azarenka now faces world number two Maria Sharapova in the semi-finals.

The Russian beat Australia's Sam Stosur 6-0, 6-3 on Saturday, having already sealed first place in Group B before playing Stosur who could not reach the last four.

Poland's fourth seed Agnieszka Radwanska will play Serena Williams in the semis after overcoming seventh-seeded Italian Sara Errani 6-7 (6-8), 7-5, 6-4 in the longest match ever played at a WTA Championships which lasted three hours, 29 minutes.

Azarenka becomes the 11th year-end number since the WTA began its rankings in 1975 and the fifth this century.

"It's kind of difficult to believe that a little girl from Belarus is on that list," the 23-year-old said. "But it's really an incredible achievement.

"When I started to play tennis I had this big picture in my head that I want to be there. Back then it was so far away. It was like pretty much touching the sky," added Azarenka.

The Belarussian broke Li when the eighth-ranked Chinese player served for the first set at 5-4 and was forceful in the tiebreak, winning it 7-4.

Azarenka dominated the action off the ground for much of the second set and sealed the match after forcing Li into a forehand error in a hard hitting rally.

Radwanska next faces 15-times grand slam champion Williams, who has yet to drop a set at the tournament.

Radwanska, who had lost to Sharapova in a three-hour and 12 minute marathon on Thursday, had to pull out all the stops to get past the determined Errani.

The Italian won the first set 8-6 in the tiebreak after coming out ahead in a 34-ball rally and pumped her fist in delight while Radwanska angrily threw her racket to the ground.

Errani fought off four break points to hold for a 5-4 lead in the second but Radwanska responded brilliantly, winning 12 of the next 13 points to take the set 7-5.

"When I'd played for so long already I was thinking, just pretty much fight until the end," Radwanska said.

Errani troubled the Pole with a mix of heavy topspin and relentless retrieving but was unable to stay as mentally focused as the 2012 Wimbledon finalist.

"She's a big fighter so she didn't give up," Radwanska said. "So I really had to play my best tennis until the end of the match."


Tags: tennis, sport, turkey

First posted October 27, 2012 11:31:27

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Djokovic future clouded after loss

Updated November 01, 2012 09:32:51

With an opening-round loss, poor fitness and a father reportedly ill in a Serbian hospital with respiratory problems, Novak Djokovic on Thursday (AEDT) appeared to be slightly unsure of his immediate tennis future.

With five days to go before the start of the year-end World Tour Finals in London for which he has already qualified, the Serb was still absorbing a 0-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 second-round defeat against journeyman American Sam Querrey at the Paris Masters.

While refusing specifically to react to reports on his father's situation, Djokovic did admit that he has not himself been the picture of health.

"I've not been feeling very good the last few days," he said.

Reports from Serbia suggest that Djokovic made a quick visit home to see his father this week, something the world number two refused to address.

He also seemed to leave at least some of his intentions concerning London open to speculation.

"Now that I'm done with the tournament, I will sit down with the team and see what's the best thing to do before London," said the ousted second seed.

"The way I feel, I definitely need a few days' rest, and then try to get a few days' practice before the tournament starts."

The last two places in the eight-man London field are being decided this week.

But the main talking point has been the retreat from an ATP decision to shorten the season - a former player demand - by eliminating the rest week prior to the London spectacular which players rate almost as highly as the grand slams.

While he is surely expecting to play, Djokovic also added: "There is no guarantee that you can be 100 percent, especially at this time of year.

"The players have played so many matches and (are) obviously struggling to be fresh.

"You're trying to find that last drop of strength, mental and physical, in order to play your best.

"These are big tournaments, and there is definitely no compromising in trying to think of maybe skipping the (Paris) event or playing less or saving energy in order to play well in London."

Roger Federer pulled out of defending his title here in Paris after losing the Basel final at the weekend, in order to be fresh for London even after winning Basel, Paris and London - three concluding events over four weeks - in 2011.


Tags: sport, tennis, france

First posted November 01, 2012 08:30:54

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Murray swears off on-court cursing

Updated December 08, 2012 08:30:45

US Open champion Andy Murray is cleaning up his act after promising to stop swearing while on court.

The Scot has been warned about his language during matches in the past, but he believes non-Anglophone players get away with worse outbursts because umpires cannot understand what they are saying.

"Obviously, me saying shit or whatever is bad and wrong, and it's something I want to try to stop doing," Murray said, according to Scottish newspaper the Daily Record.

"But it isn't as bad as some of the stuff the foreign players come out with. I wouldn't want to name any names, but some of what they say is ghastly.

"It's just that all of the umpires speak English."

Murray, who became Great Britain's first male grand slam winner in 76 years when he won the US Open earlier this year, says his no-swearing campaign will begin at the Australian Open next month.

The 25-year-old was given an official warning for bad language at the Rome Masters this year and was also warned about his swearing at the 2011 Paris Masters.


Tags: tennis, sport, scotland

First posted December 08, 2012 08:30:45

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Berdych keeps Czech Davis Cup hopes alive

Updated November 17, 2012 10:08:10

Hosts Czech Republic and holders Spain were tied 1-1 in the Davis Cup final in Prague Saturday morning as Tomas Berdych beat Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3 in the second rubber of the day.

Berdych, the world number six and the Czech number one, needed three hours and 58 minutes to see off 11th-ranked Almagro on Prague's hardcourt.

In the first rubber of the day, world number five David Ferrer beat 37th-ranked Radek Stepanek 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to give Spain a lead.

"That's all we need today. Under the circumstances today, that's the maximum that we can get," Berdych said after the epic rubber.

"We are 1-1, we have opened the chance for Sunday, no matter what happens tomorrow. That's a good step for us," he added.

Berdych took the first set against Almagro owing to a single break.

The fast-serving players - both 27 years old - reversed their roles in the second set, with Almagro equalising.

The third set started with a nervous exchange with the umpire, whose verdict in Almagro's favour turned the home crowd of 14,237 people against the Spaniard.

Berdych then capitalised on the frantic support and took the third set.

In the fourth, Berdych took an early lead but Almagro levelled with a re-break to take the set in tie-break.

And in the fifth, both players traded breaks midway through the set with Berdych emerging on top.

Almagro won 21-13 on aces.

Spain is missing world number four Rafael Nadal, sidelined with a knee injury.

It is looking to add a fourth crown to its three Davis Cup trophies from the last four years, after having won the cup in 2000 and 2004.

Czechoslovakia, which split peacefully into the Czech Republic and Slovakia in 1993, won the Davis Cup in 1980.

But if the Czechs win the 100th edition of the Davis Cup finals, they will clinch a rare team double, last achieved by the United States in 1990, after their women's team lifted the Fed Cup here two weeks ago.


Tags: tennis, sport, czech-republic, spain

First posted November 17, 2012 10:08:10

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Czechs stun Spain in Davis Cup doubles

Updated November 18, 2012 09:05:36

Hosts Czech Republic came within a point of winning the Davis Cup final after beating holders Spain in the doubles rubber in Prague on Sunday morning (AEDT) to take a 2-1 overall lead.

Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek beat Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 3-6, 7-5, 7-5, 6-3 on the hardcourt in three hours and 19 minutes.

"That's all we wanted," a triumphant Berdych, who is only 119th in the ATP doubles rankings, said after the game.

"We are still missing a lot, it's just one point, but we are looking ahead and we will do everything" on Monday morning, he added.

Berdych, the world number six in singles, will take on fifth-ranked David Ferrer in a rubber pitting the teams' number one players against each other.

Stepanek, the world number 37 in singles, is due to face 11th-ranked Nicolas Almagro after that.

The Czechs are eyeing their first trophy since the country split with Slovakia in 1993, while former Czechoslovakia won the cup in 1980.

A win would hand them a rare team double after the women's team defended the Fed Cup here two weeks ago.

Spain, missing world number four Rafael Nadal, who is recovering from a knee injury, are looking to lift their fourth Davis Cup in five years, in addition to wins in 2000 and 2004.

But the holders' hopes suffered a blow as Lopez and Granollers, ranked sixth and 10th in doubles, failed to overcome the Czech pair.

This all despite a boost that the Spaniards got from winning the ATP Tour Finals, where they lost only one game - against Stepanek and India's Leander Paes.

Besides, both Berdych and Stepanek had played the singles rubbers on Friday.

Things looked bright for the Spanish pair as Stepanek, the world number four in doubles, lost his opening serve, which was enough for Granollers and Lopez to take the first set.

"I had a bad first serve and our opponents ... played without any pressure, delivering incredible shots, serving amazingly," said Stepanek.

"But we told ourselves there is no way they can keep playing like that," he added.

In the second set, Lopez was the first to lose his serve but Berdych offered Spain a quick re-break.

But Lopez was in for more trouble as he struggled to come back from three set points down and finally conceded the fourth one to let the Czechs come level.

In the third set, games went with serve until Lopez offered two set points again and the Czechs converted the second one.

All but flawless throughout the rubber, Granollers lost his serve in the sixth game of the fourth set and that was all the Czechs needed to clinch their 12th Davis Cup doubles win together, against a single loss.

"I served very well today but in that game I couldn't make a single first serve and if you don't have one good serve against such players, it's pretty difficult," said Granollers.

"It was a close game. We were very good in the first set, and the second and third one were close," said Lopez.

"We tried our best and we are a little disappointed because we didn't win," he said.

In Friday's singles, Ferrer beat Stepanek 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 and Berdych then put the Czechs level after beating Almagro 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.

Stepanek spent three hours on the court on Friday and Berdych an hour longer.

But they waved aside all concerns about weariness before the final rubbers, insisting they would be ready for the climax of the 100th Davis Cup final.

"We have the best score we could hope for after day two," said Berdych.

"We're facing a terribly hard Sunday, but if you want to win the Davis Cup final, you can't expect to be done after Saturday."

"We have lots of will left, and I believe we'll manage to finish the job tomorrow," Berdych added.


Tags: tennis, sport, czech-republic, spain

First posted November 18, 2012 08:42:17

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Hewitt into Stockholm Open quarter-finals

Updated October 18, 2012 08:43:10

Australian veteran Lleyton Hewitt reached his first quarter-final since July when he defeated eighth-seeded Finn Jarkko Nieminen 7-6 (7-2), 2-6, 6-4 at the Stockholm Open on Thursday (AEDT).

Former world number one Hewitt dropped serve six times, but capitalised on three of his four break points in the decisive set to improve to a 5-0 record against Nieminen.

The 31-year-old last made the quarter-finals on his way to the Newport championship match in July where he was runner-up to John Isner.

Nieminen was looking to reach the Stockholm quarter-finals for a seventh straight year and eighth time overall. He was a finalist in 2001, 2006 and 2011.

In other second round results, Lithuania's Ricardas Berankis ousted German fourth-seed Florian Mayer in three sets, winning 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

Spanish third seed Nicolas Almagro had it easier against Romanian Marius Copil, winning in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 (7-4), while Russia's Mikhail Youzhny beat local hope Patrik Rosenholm 6-0, 6-2.

Meanwhile in the Austrian Open, top seed Juan Martin Del Potro marked his return to tennis after a month-long injury absence with a three-hour victory over German qualifier Daniel Brands to reach the third round.

The Argentine defeated Brands 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-4), 7-6 (8-6) in a match featuring 59 aces and no breaks of serve.

The match point - Del Potro's second - was decided by the Hawk-Eye electronic system.

"If I'd known I'd have to start with a three-hour win, I would have stayed home," joked the 2011 finalist, who was playing for the first time since suffering a wrist injury in September's Davis Cup semi-finals.

"We both served so well, it was a really tough match," added Del Potro, who kept alive his hopes of booking a place in the eight-man World Tour Finals next month in London which wrap up the ATP season.

The Argentine top seed struggled to find any rhythm in the first set, relying on his serve to stay out of trouble against Brands, the world number 111 who made the semi-finals in 2011.

The German won the opening set only to see Del Potro return the favour in the second, claiming it on a fifth set point.

The final set was also tight before Del Potro pulled it out in another tiebreaker.

"I guess it was a good match to start. I need to count on my serve in the next one. I will have to work on my returns though," said Del Potro.

"I had a few chances today which were hard to take, it all came down to the last point."

Two-time champion Juergen Melzer suffered his earliest Vienna defeat in five years as the fourth seed went out in the second round, losing to Gilles Muller, 6-3, 3-6, 7-6 (7-4).

The result at the Stadthalle was a huge disappointment for the newly-married 31-year-old, his ranking down to 37 after a number of injuries including a hip problem.

Melzer admitted at the start of the week that he was going into the European indoor season with a loss of form, but remained encouraged by his recent Beijing quarter-final run.

But the Austrian was unable to cope with 18 aces from Muller, a Luxembourg journeyman about to turn 30 without a career title.

Dominic Thiem, 19, who ended the career of comeback king Thomas Muster a year ago at the same venue, defeated Slovak Lukas Lacko 7-6 (7/3), 6-3 to keep home hopes alive.


Tags: tennis, sport, sweden, finland, australia

First posted October 18, 2012 08:19:01

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Azarenka to join Sharapova, Williams in Brisbane

Updated November 21, 2012 12:00:18

The Brisbane International will feature the world's top three women players with confirmation on Wednesday that top-ranked Victoria Azarenka will take part.

Belarus's Azarenka joins Russian world number two Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams of the United States in the tournament starting December 30.

The Brisbane International is the main lead-up to January's Australian Open in Melbourne, and tournament organisers said the field would feature eight of the top 10 women.

Other players confirmed include Germany's Angelique Kerber, Sara Errani of Italy, Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic and Australia's Samantha Stosur.

"I am really looking forward to returning to Brisbane where I won the inaugural title in 2009," Azarenka said.

"I am very proud to have ended the year as world number one and I am excited to start my 2013 campaign in Brisbane where I know I will get some tough matches against the world's best there."

Azarenka, 23, said it was the perfect preparation leading into the Australian Open, where she will defend the title she won this year.

The Brisbane International, which also features US Open champion Andy Murray in the men's draw, takes place from December 30 to January 6.


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

First posted November 21, 2012 12:00:18

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Djokovic downs del Potro to reach final

Updated November 12, 2012 07:48:36

Novak Djokovic cut giant Argentine Juan Martin del Potro down to size as the world number one battled into the final of the ATP Tour Finals with a 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 victory on Monday morning (AEDT).

Djokovic will play defending champion Roger Federer or third seed Andy Murray in the final after coming from a set and a break down to topple the former US Open champion in a gruelling semi-final clash lasting two hours and 11 minutes in London.

After another impressive season, which will end with Djokovic the world's top ranked player for the second successive year, the Serb now has a chance to cap his campaign by taking the title at the season-ending event for the second time.

The 25-year-old won the Tour Finals in 2008 in Shanghai and he looks in the mood to emulate that success after moving into the final with four consecutive victories - the only unbeaten run of the eight competing players - taking him to 74 match wins in 2012, a record that only David Ferrer has equalled over the last 11 months.

Djokovic had won six of his previous eight meetings with del Potro, but the reigning Australian Open champion had to draw on all his remarkable reserves of energy and determination before finally seeing off the big-hitting sixth seed.

"He was the better player in the first set but I managed to turn it around," Djokovic said.

"I just told myself to stay out there fighting. It's a step forward because it's my first final in London.

"I'll watch the match this evening and whoever I play it will be tough. It will be an amazing final."

Both players are masters of the power game and a bruising start saw del Potro survive an early scare as he saved two break points in the second game before Djokovic fought off a break point at 3-3.

Few players can out-hit Djokovic in baseline rallies, but del Potro has the size and power to overwhelm anyone with his booming groundstrokes and he pressured the Serb into a pair of hurried errors to break for a 5-4 lead.

Djokovic had no answer as del Potro easily held serve to take the opening set and it needed the Serb's supreme battling qualities to stave off three break points in the first game of the second set.

But the Argentine would not be denied. He was hitting with such a lethal combination of poise and power that even Djokovic was unable to stop him breaking for a 2-1 advantage.

At that point del Potro, who celebrated the break by clenching both fists above his head, was in complete control, but he may have started dreaming of the final prematurely.

Djokovic had no intention of surrendering and, aided by the suddenly rash of del Potro errors, he recovered from squandering three break points to convert at the fourth attempt in the next game.

Another break for the Serb opened up a 5-3 lead and he held his nerve to serve out the set and send the tiring del Potro back to his chair with shoulders slumped.

The momentum was with Djokovic now and he raced through the final set, shattering del Potro with breaks in the third and seventh games.


Tags: tennis, sport, england

First posted November 12, 2012 07:44:16

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Del Potro upsets Swiss master Federer

Updated October 29, 2012 07:41:53

Juan Martin del Potro earned his revenge after six losses this season to hometown hero Roger Federer when he won the Swiss Indoors title 6-4, 6-7 (5-7), 7-6 (7-3).

The upset victory over the top seed in two and three-quarter hours denied world number one Federer a sixth title from the last seven editions at the St Jakobshalle and kept him from the 77th of his career.

Del Potro last beat the Swiss star in 2009 when he captured the US Open at Federer's expense as well as posting a victory in the year-end final two months later.

Del Potro won the 13th trophy of his career and improved to 62-14 on the season.

"This is a great win for me, a dream," said Del Potro, who finished with 10 aces to the 18 of Federer, holder of six trophies in 2012.

"It's an honour to be on the court with Roger, who is the greatest of all time, it's great to share this moment with him."

Federer suffered his first loss at the tournament which he has ruled since the 2009 final against Novak Djokovic.

"You played a great match and deserved to win," Federer told Del Potro during the trophy ceremony.

"I beat you in a couple of tight matches this year, so it was your turn after those tough losses. I'm happy for you, you played a great match today."

"Overall, I played pretty well," added Federer, who revealed that he has withdrawn from the Paris Masters starting on Monday in order to rest for the World Tour Finals a week later in London.

"He got off to a better start and made the best of it. He was better than me in the first set.

"It was close in the second and he didn't play a very good tie-break. I had my chances in the third and couldn't take them. I tried to take it to him but it wasn't enough today."

Del Potro now heads to Paris after qualifying this week for the eight-man field in London.

"I'm hoping to get back to my best level," said the former top five-ranked Argentine, who missed the 2010 season with a wrist surgery.

"Roger gave me a really tough match. It is super to win this fantastic title."

Federer was appearing in his seventh straight Basel final and ninth overall in 13 editions; he now stands 5-4 in hometown finals.

Del Potro expanded his win streak to 10 matches, last losing to Djokovic in the US Open quarter-finals.

He stands 17-1 indoors this season after adding Basel honours to trophies in Marseille, Estoril and Vienna.


Tags: tennis, sport, switzerland, argentina

First posted October 29, 2012 07:19:39

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Sunday, December 9, 2012

Djokovic sinks Federer to win Tour Finals

Updated November 13, 2012 17:50:15

Novak Djokovic produced a masterful display to end Roger Federer's reign as ATP Tour Finals champion as the world number one swept to a 7-6 (8/6), 7-5 victory in the final in London.

Djokovic underlined why he will finish as the world's top-ranked player for the second successive year, withstanding an early barrage in both sets before overwhelming the six-time Tour Finals winner in an epic encounter lasting two hours and 14 minutes.

The 25-year-old Serb's brilliant display clinched his second triumph at the prestigious season-ending event and his first since 2008 when he won the title in Shanghai.

After winning the Australian Open in January and then falling short in the following three majors - he lost in the finals of the French and US Opens - this was the perfect way to end any debate about Djokovic's right to be regarded as the world's best.

"It's always a privilege and a challenge to play Roger," Djokovic said.

"I want to thank my team, I couldn't have done it without you. I love you!"

For Federer, bidding for a hat-trick of Tour Finals titles, there was only frustration as he failed to take advantage of some dominant spells.

The 17-time grand slam champion is the most successful player in the history of the event, having won more titles and recorded more match wins than anyone else.

But even he could not subdue the rampant Djokovic, who handed Federer just his second defeat in eight appearances in the final of the Tour Finals and only his third ever loss at the O2 Arena.

For just the fourth time in the 43-year history of the Tour Finals, the top two in the world rankings were meeting in the final and they produced an enthralling clash that lived up to its billing.

Federer had swept into the final with a dominant display against Andy Murray and picked up where he left off with a blistering start.

He fizzed winners past Djokovic from all angles to take the first nine points of the match, breaking in the second game in the process.

After absorbing that frenzied assault, Djokovic got on the scoreboard when he held serve in the fourth game.

Federer must have known Djokovic would not surrender and the Serb turned the match on its head when he converted a break point in the next game.

Now Djokovic was in the ascendancy and he broke for a 5-4 lead when he unloaded a searing forehand winner on the run.

But Federer staved off a set point in the next game and took advantage of that escape to break back for 5-5.

Djokovic needed treatment after cutting his elbow while diving in vain to reach a Federer shot, but he regained his composure well enough to force a tie-break.

The breaker included a candidate for the best point of the year as Djokovic, on set point, lunged to clip a diving Federer volley past his opponent, only for the Swiss to contort his body and fire a forehand winner past the Serb from an impossibly acute angle.

But not even that could subdue Djokovic, who broke on the next point thanks to a Federer mistake before blazing a forehand winner to seal a quite brilliant set on his third set point.

Federer needed an immediate response and he delivered in the opening game of the second set with a break at the fourth attempt.

There was no let-up from Djokovic though. He kept grinding away and eventually wore Federer down, saving two set points before breaking back to level at 5-5.

Djokovic celebrated by thumping his chest and letting out a defiant roar.

The message was clear. He was coming for Federer and he delivered the knockout blow with a sublime backhand winner to seal the victory on his first match point.


Tags: tennis, sport, england

First posted November 13, 2012 09:43:21

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Williams, Sharapova through to Championships final

Updated October 28, 2012 12:23:35

Maria Sharapova set up a blockbuster WTA Championships final against Serena Williams on Sunday (AEDT) with a crushing 6-4, 6-2 win over world number one Victoria Azarenka.

Olympic, Wimbledon and US Open champion Williams had earlier eased into Monday's title match with a 6-2, 6-1 success against an exhausted Agnieszka Radwanska in a repeat of this summer's Wimbledon final.

"I have lost to Victoria a few times so I was happy to get the chance to play against her," said Sharapova.

"Against the world number one, you have to run down every ball. She's number one for a reason so I had to be ready for every shot.

"It will be a difficult match against Serena. She's been on fire, she's the one to beat."

Not many people expected Sharapova to complete a career Grand Slam by winning the French Open on her least favoured clay court surface in June.

And after losing four times out of five to Azarenka this year, a semi-final win indoors in Istanbul did not seem likely either.

But the Russian designed sensibly bold tactics to frustrate the heavy-hitting Belarussian, stuck to them bravely, and executed them excellently.

Sharapova took the ball early as much as possible, denied Azarenka time and room to dominate, took risks with fierce drives to force openings, and resolutely punished most of the short returns. Altogther she clobbered 30 clean winners on a slow surface.

Azarenka, who had secured the year-end top ranking the day before with her win over Li Na, was unexpectedly subdued -- perhaps hindered by a strained right thigh which she grasped several times.

Even Sharapova's sometimes variable serve was mostly functioning well, producing a high 72 per cent first service statistic and seven aces.

The only notable exception to this came during the important sixth game of the second set, which lasted 15 minutes and during which Sharapova delivered two double faults.

Azarenka was making her last stand during this desperate phase, and Sharapova was unable to push through until she was annoyed by a line judge who called fault to a pounding delivery down the centre line.

Her appeal to Hawkeye showed the ball as having touched the line, causing her serve to be reinstated as an ace. A newly fired-up Sharapova then produced an excellent sliding first serve and raking cross-court drive combination to reach 5-1.

At the end she looked more than usually excited, shrieking loudly and pumping her arms very hard -- perhaps because it avenged important Grand Slam defeats in Melbourne and New York.

Perhaps also she now fancies her chances of regaining a WTA Championships title she last won in her breakthrough year back in 2004.

While Radwanska had had a record-breaking three-and-a-half hour match against Sara Errani the night before, Williams had had a rest day and the statistics showed that the underdog had already run three times as far as the former champion to get to the semi-finals.

Not surprisingly Radwanska had admitted that it would be an achievement "just to get to the court in one piece."

Serena's side-to-side ground strokes soon made it clear that she would have to cover large areas of court again and that was something which could not be repeated for long.

"I really wanted to run, but my legs didn't," Radwanska admitted.

Williams was certainly sympathetic to the Polish player's predicament.

"I just told her it was awesome that she played so well and played through another match after playing a good eight hours. It was really inspiring for me."

'Despite the mundane encounter, Williams was almost as thrilled as Sharapova.

Waving ecstatically and fluffing up her already voluminous hair she announced that all she wanted to do now was finish 2012 with a win.

That would have special meaning for her, since this has been a year in which she proved she has finally recovered from a horrific 12 months during which a blood clot in her lungs threatened her life.


Tags: sport, tennis, turkey

First posted October 28, 2012 07:47:55

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Aussies fall as Del Potro books London ticket

Updated October 26, 2012 08:05:45

Aussies Matt Ebden and Marinko Matosevic have missed out on the quarter-finals of the Swiss Indoors.

Ebden suffered a 6-3, 6-1 defeat to Russian Mikhail Youzhny, who convincingly eliminated Bernard Tomic in the first round of the tournament in Basel.

Matosevic lost a big-serving showdown with towering South African Kevin Anderson 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3.

Juan Martin del Potro secured his place in the ATP World Tour Finals with a 7-5, 6-1 defeat of American Brian Baker which gave him a place in the quarters at the St Jakobshalle.

The second-seeded Argentine, who had already increased his qualification hopes for London by winning the Vienna title last weekend, was delighted to make it into the eight-man, season-ending event for the third time.

But he was also sympathetic to the plight of Rafael Nadal who had to withdraw from the World Tour Finals, which begin a week from Monday, as he continues to battle back from the knee injury which has kept him off tour since June.

Del Potro said he knows exactly how Nadal feels after his own wrist injury absence in 2010 saw his career suffer a worrying setback.

"I'm sad for Rafa, he's really trying in his comeback. But it's not easy after such a long time away. I had the same feeling with my wrist.

"We miss Rafa a lot on the Tour. He is one of the best players in history, he will come back strong.

"I'm sure it will be very soon. He will be ready to win a big event again, I know that he can play better than me when he makes his comeback, I wish all the best to him."

Two Frenchmen also celebrated wins, with Paul-Henri Mathieu overcoming Russian veteran Nikolay Davydenko 6-3, 6-7 (2-7), 6-4 and Benoit Paire lining up a quarter-final date with Roger Federer after his 6-4, 6-4 defeat of Lukasz Kubot.

The 23-year-old Paire is buoyed by being at his highest ranking of 46 and fresh from an upset of fifth seed Andreas Seppi in the first round.

"I played a good match against Kubot, I'm very satisfied," said Paire, who admits that he has been working to curb his notorious temper.

"I've always admired Roger. It is a dream to be able to play him in his home. Of course he will be the favourite, but I want to put in my best effort and play as well as I can."

Paire nudged his 2012 record to 25 wins against 24 losses as he took down Kubot.

The Frenchman overcame the Pole in just under 90 minutes with six aces and three breaks of serve.

"It's great to be in a quarter-final and to be playing Roger Federer," added the Frenchman.

"I had a good match against Kubot which gives me confidence. And of course beating Seppi may have been a surprise.

"Federer had a tough time playing (Thomaz) Bellucci in the second round, it went to three sets. Anything is possible in tennis and I have my chances if things go well for me."


Tags: tennis, sport, switzerland, australia, argentina

First posted October 26, 2012 07:11:50

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Murray sees off Tsonga to make semi-finals

Updated November 10, 2012 11:21:42

Andy Murray swept into the semi-finals of the ATP Tour Finals as the world number three defeated France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-2, 7-6 (7-3) in London on Saturday morning (AEDT).

After Novak Djokovic's earlier win over Tomas Berdych, Murray knew he only needed to take one set off seventh seeded Tsonga to guarantee his third appearance in the last four of the season-ending event.

The 25-year-old took just 33 minutes to achieve his goal and he eventually sealed his second win of the tournament, advancing from Group A in second place behind Djokovic, despite a late flurry from Tsonga.

After a glorious year which has featured his first grand slam title at the US Open, a gold medal in the Olympic singles and a first appearance in the Wimbledon final, Murray would love to cap the campaign with a first Tour Finals crown.

To do that he is likely to have to get past defending champion Roger Federer, who will be the Scot's semi-final opponent on Sunday if, as expected, the Wimbledon champion finishes top of Group B.

"It was quite a tough scenario and I was lucky to get off to a good start," Murray said.

"There was some good tennis at the end of the second set. Jo started playing better.

"When he was imposing himself as he was in that second set, he is a hell of an athlete and very tough to play."

Tsonga, beaten in his previous two group matches, required a straight sets victory to sneak through at Murray's expense, but his track record suggested the outcome would not go his way.

Murray had won six of their previous seven clashes, including a semi-final success at Wimbledon earlier this year, while Tsonga had lost all 11 of his meetings with top-eight ranked players this year.

Cleverly mixing the pace and flight of his groundstrokes, Murray quickly took charge and tempted Tsonga into a series of rash shots from the baseline that gifted the Scot a break in the opening game.

Murray continued to baffle Tsonga with his astute shot selection and secured a second break for a 3-0 lead when the frazzled Frenchman drove a forehand into the net.

Tsonga, the Tour Finals runner-up 12 months ago, finally got on the scoreboard when he held serve in the fifth game, but Murray refused to relinquish his stranglehold and easily closed out the set.

Murray kept his foot on the gas and broke in the first game of the second set thanks to a Tsonga double-fault.

Yet, with defeat looking certain, Tsonga underlined why he can be so frustrating as he suddenly started playing with real purpose and broke Murray to love to level at 4-4.

Tsonga saved two break points at 5-5 and kept the pressure on Murray, who had to save a set point to force a tie-break.

But the Scot refound his rhythm in the breaker and some searing groundstrokes ended Tsonga's resistance.


Tags: tennis, sport, england

First posted November 10, 2012 09:27:31

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