Friday, June 22, 2012

Clijsters into semis after downing Schiavone

Updated June 22, 2012 09:21:18

Kim Clijsters reached the semi-finals of the 's-Hertogenbosch grass court tournament in the Netherlands, defeating Italy's Francesca Schiavone 6-3, 7-6 (9-7).

Former world number one Clijsters, who before this week had not played since March because of a right hip injury, was the champion in this pre-Wimbledon event in 2003.

And she showed that she could be a genuine threat at this year's Wimbledon, which starts Monday.

"It was a very intense match. Schiavone is a player who keeps fighting and has all sorts of different strokes. It is very important to stay focused," said Clijsters, who will face Poland's Urszula Radwanska for a place in the final.

In the men's tournament, world number six David Ferrer dropped just three points on serve in a 6-0, 6-1 rout of Dutch wildcard Igor Sijsling.

"Sometimes you find good feelings and sometimes it works," Ferrer said. "Today I was very good throughout the match, attacking well with my first serve, and maybe he was a little bit nervous."

The top-seeded Ferrer is bidding to win this grass court tournament for the second time after victory on his debut in 2008.

Ferrer goes onto face France's Benoit Paire, who fired 15 aces as he defeated Japan's Tatsuma Ito 6-3, 7-5 in 72 minutes.

German qualifier Philipp Petzschner struck 14 aces and broke serve twice as he overcame Frenchman Edouard Roger-Vasselin 6-4, 7-6 (8-6) in one hour and 35 minutes.

He will face Belgium's Xavier Malisse, who battled past Gilles Muller of Luxembourg 6-3, 4-6, 6-1 in 86 minutes.


Tags: tennis, sport, netherlands

First posted June 22, 2012 09:21:18

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India names two doubles pairings

Updated June 22, 2012 09:17:02

Mahesh Bhupathi and regular partner Rohan Bopanna will play together at the London Olympics after India's tennis association backtracked on a controversial decision to split up the pair.

The All India Tennis Association (AITA) announced it will field two men's doubles teams in London, after a player revolt over the original decision to name Bhupathi and former partner Leander Paes, who no longer speak to each other, as the only pair.

Bhupathi, not on speaking terms with Paes after their second bitter split last year, had threatened to boycott the Games if he and Bopanna were separated.

Bopanna, too, rejected an AITA offer to partner Paes, whose top 10 ranking gives him direct entry.

Paes, who won three major doubles titles with Bhupathi in the late 1990s, will now partner Vishnu Vardhan, ranked outside the top 200 in doubles.


Tags: olympics-summer, sport, tennis, india

First posted June 22, 2012 09:17:02

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Hewitt cops nightmare Wimbledon draw

Updated June 22, 2012 20:02:38

Lleyton Hewitt's nightmare run with grand slam draws has continued with the luckless former champion pitted against French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Wimbledon first round.

While 20th-seeded countryman Bernard Tomic should win his opener against Belgian David Goffin, Hewitt will be a rank outsider to knock over Tsonga, who last year at Wimbledon became the first man in history to defeat Roger Federer from two sets down at a grand slam.

Hewitt has played just two competitive matches since undergoing toe surgery in February but would have given himself a chance of a decent grasscourt run with a helpful draw.

Alas, his incredible record of striking the world's premier players in the opening round at the majors continues.

A defiant Tomic insists Australia's Wimbledon outlook is not all doom and gloom despite an utterly bleak build-up for the country's three best hopes.

Tomic, a quarter-finalist last year as a qualifier, Hewitt and women's world number five Samantha Stosur all failed to win a match in their grasscourt lead-up events.

The star trio succumbed to players ranked outside the top 50 and, in Stosur's sorry case, to the world number 251.

Compounding concerns, Tomic is also in a fitness battle after being struck down by an untimely virus that robbed him of vital conditioning and court time ahead of his assault on the greatest prize in tennis.

Rather than dwell on what might have been, the teenage ace is putting a positive spin on proceedings.

"Sam lost, and Lleyton, and I was a bit sick in Halle," Tomic said after his 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 loss to Italian claycourter Fabio Fognini at Eastbourne on Wednesday.

"But in one way it could be good that you're getting that before a major.

"You want to play well before the four majors but, if you play bad, also it's a sign of something to work on before the actual major starts and that's the important bit.

"So we'll see ... this is where it started for me. This tournament made my tennis, made me into the top 100, and I'll always look back to it as that.

"When Monday or Tuesday comes, I'll be ready ... I'm feeling like I can do well again."

Hewitt lost his only competitive grasscourt outing at Queen's to towering Ivo Karlovic, the Croatian who spectacularly eliminated Australia's defending champion at the All England club nine years ago.

Stosur, the reigning US Open champion, has modest expectations after nine years of poor returns on the London lawns, but also with a nothing-to-lose approach following her first-round losses in 2010-11.

Australia's leading threesome will have a support cast of six - Matt Ebden and debutant Marinko Matosevic in the men's event plus Jarmila Gajdosova, Anastasia Rodionova, Casey Dellacqua and 16-year-old junior girls' champion Ashleigh Barty in the ladies singles.


Tags: tennis, sport, england, united-kingdom

First posted June 22, 2012 20:01:34

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Djokovic, Nadal set up French final

Updated June 09, 2012 08:29:00

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal set-up a history-making French Open final courtesy of devastating semi-final wins, which confirmed their mastery of the men's game.

World number one Djokovic crushed third seed Roger Federer 6-4, 7-5, 6-3 to reach a first Roland Garros final, while six-time champion Nadal, the world number two, breezed past Spanish compatriot David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1.

On Sunday, history will be made as a win for Djokovic will make him only the third man to hold all four major trophies at the same time.

A win for Nadal, whose record in Paris now stands at 51 wins against just one defeat, will mean he would be the first man to win the French Open seven times, breaking a tie with Swedish legend Bjorn Borg.

"I am happy to be in the final here, it's always difficult to play against Roger," said Djokovic, who had his 43-match winning streak ended by Federer at the same stage of Roland Garros 12 months ago.

"It's a dream to be in the final, but Rafa, who always plays so well here, will be the favourite."

Both Djokovic and Federer had looked far from convincing in reaching this stage.

Djokovic came back from two sets to love down to beat Andreas Seppi in the fourth round, before saving four match points against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a five-set quarter-final.

Federer had also been two sets to love down to Juan Martin del Potro in his five-set, last eight match before battling back.

The Swiss world number three ended the semi-final with an uncharacteristic 46 unforced errors, caused to some extent by the swirling wind inside the Philippe Chatrier court.

He was also left to regret twice squandering early breaks in the first two sets.

Defeat also ended Federer's hopes of making a 24th major final, while extending his long wait to add to his record 16 majors, the last of which came at the 2010 Australian Open.

"He played well under difficult conditions," said Federer, who had been 3-0 and 5-4 ahead in the second set.

"But I had chances. There are no excuses. I tried and if I had won that second set, it would have been a different match. But it didn't work out."

Nadal says his demolition of Ferrer was one of the most complete matches he has played for some time.

The Spaniard was only briefly troubled at the start of the match, saving two break points in the fourth game before accelerating away for victory.

"In my opinion I did almost everything right, because my serve worked very well, changing directions," he said.

"My backhand was at its best so far today. I hit the forehand well during all the tournament. Today wasn't an exception."

The win sees Nadal into his seventh final in eight years and once again he has done so without dropping a set. In fact he has only once had his serve broken, in the second set of his first-round tie against Simone Bolelli.


Tags: tennis, sport, france

First posted June 09, 2012 08:07:58

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Sharapova to face Kvitova in semis

Updated June 07, 2012 08:13:49

Maria Sharapova has reached her third French Open semi-final where she will take on Petra Kvitova, the powerful Czech who crushed her in last year's Wimbledon final.

Russian second seed Sharapova, who was also a semi-finalist in 2007 and 2011, eased past Estonia's Kaia Kanepi 6-2, 6-3 while fourth-seeded Kvitova ended Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova's dream run with a 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 win.

"I am happy to be back in the semi-finals. I love coming back here to challenge myself to go further in the tournament," said Sharapova, who can reclaim the world number one spot if she gets to Saturday's final.

"I won two tournaments coming into Paris in Stuttgart and Rome and they gave me a lot of confidence.

"But every event is different. I am just happy to improve and I know it'll get tougher from here."

Kanepi was broken seven times in the match and admitted that Sharapova had too much firepower for her.

"She attacked all the time, I didn't have any time to hit my shots and I just couldn't get any rhythm out there," she said.

"I was also very nervous and I am just sorry I didn't get to spend more time on the court.

"Maria is playing really well, she can win the tournament."

On another chilly, gloomy day in the French capital, Sharapova and Kanepi, who made the quarter-finals in 2008, exchanged breaks in the first two games before the Russian picked up two more in the third and seventh games.

Kanepi, the 23rd seed, saved two set points in the eighth game, but was powerless on the third when Sharapova unleashed a fierce serve down the middle which the Estonian could only deflect into the stands.

The start of the second set was just as untidy as the first with the world number two giving up a break to slip 2-0 down on a fourth double fault and then retrieving it immediately in the next to trail 2-1.

Kanepi, who put out former world number one Caroline Wozniacki in the third round, was quickly another break down while a Sharapova hold to love gave the Russian a 4-2 lead.

Sharapova squandered the opportunity to serve out the match in the eighth game when she was broken to love but it was a brief respite for the 26-year-old Estonian, who ballooned a forehand wide to hand Sharapova the tie in the next.

Kvitova reached her first French Open semi-final with a battling victory over world number 142 Shvedova, who had knocked out defending champion Li Na in the fourth round.

Shvedova was bidding to become the first qualifier to make the last four at Roland Garros and she got off to a roaring start against Kvitova and was even 4-2 ahead in the deciding set before she wilted.

Kvitova held in the seventh game of the decider and immediately put pressure on Shvedova's serve to level the match at 4-4, followed by a crucial hold.

Serving at 4-5, nerves got the better of Shvedova, allowing the world number four to convert her second match point for a place in the semi-final.

"Every point that we played was really tough," Kvitova said.

"I knew that I had to change my game. It wasn't easy and I'm really happy that my serve helped me and I played my aggressive game again."

Kvitova's clash with Sharapova will be the pair's third grand slam clash within a year.

The Czech triumphed in the Wimbledon final before Sharapova defeated the Czech in the Australian Open semi-finals.

Crucially, Sharapova enjoyed a straight-sets victory in the semi-finals on clay in Stuttgart in the run-up to Paris.

Thursday's other semi-final sees Australia's Samantha Stosur taking on Sara Errani of Italy.


Tags: tennis, sport, france

First posted June 07, 2012 05:52:33

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Stosur stalls in Wimbledon warm-up

Updated June 19, 2012 11:15:39

Samantha Stosur's preparations for Wimbledon have hit a setback, with the Australian losing in the first round of the grass court tournament in the Netherlands to a rank outsider.

The Queenslander was top seed at the tournament, but her seven double faults contributed to her loss to Belgian world number 251 Kirsten Flipkens, 7-6 (9-7), 6-3.

The match was her first on grass since an equally inexplicable opening-round defeat at Wimbledon a year ago to world number 262 Melinda Czink of Hungary.

Stosur's premature exit from s-Hertogenbosch leaves the US Open champion desperately short of grass court match practice before Wimbledon gets underway next Monday.

But the world No.5 put on a brave face and said she was unconcerned.

"Overall, I was quite happy with the way I played. It wasn't really anything disastrous," Stosur said.

"It's just a matter of going out there again tomorrow, practising hard and just fine-tuning a few important points and that can make the difference.

"I don't think I did too much wrong."

The world No.5 started brightly enough, racing to a 3-0 lead in the first set and had two more break points to open up a 4-0 buffer.

Instead, Flipkens broke back to get back on level terms before Stosur had another chance to take the set in the 10th game, only to snatch at a routine forehand volley.

Some daring serve-volleying earned Stosur three more set points and she appeared to have nabbed the opening set with her fifth ace.

Alas the chair umpire over-ruled and the Belgian made the most of her good fortune to take the set when Stosur was unable to control a low forehand volley.

Stosur admitted the over-rule proved the turning point as she again dropped serve in the second game of the second set and was unable to recover as the lowly-ranked Belgian powered to the biggest win of her career in one hour, 35 minutes.

"That was definitely a big moment in that tiebreak and obviously in the end of the match because I really thought I won that set and then you don't win it and you're a set behind," she said.

"You take two steps into the baseline, you pump your firsts and you think you've won the set - especially when she's walking to the changeover as well giving you the point - and the umpire decides that's he's going to over-rule.

"Yeah, it was just a few points here and there throughout that first set. I don't think I did too much wrong.

"I made my set points and on grass sometimes the way it goes."


Tags: sport, tennis, netherlands

First posted June 19, 2012 08:31:51

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Hewitt given Wimbledon wild card

Updated June 12, 2012 23:08:23

Former champion Lleyton Hewitt and Belgium's David Goffin, the lucky loser who took a set off Roger Federer at the French Open, have been given wild cards for this year's Wimbledon tennis championships.

Virginie Razzano, the Frenchwoman who beat Serena Williams in the first round in Paris, received one of the women's eight wild cards as did Kazakhstan qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova who reached the French quarter-finals after ousting champion Li Na.

Australian Hewitt, now 31, won the men's title at Wimbledon in 2002.

Four low-ranked Britons received automatic entries to the men's and women's singles draws for the grass-court tournament which starts on June 25.


Tags: tennis, sport, england, united-kingdom, australia

First posted June 12, 2012 23:08:23

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Hewitt falls to Karlovic at Queens

Updated June 13, 2012 08:09:46

Four-time champion Lleyton Hewitt fell victim to 22 service aces from towering Croatian Ivo Karlovic in a straight sets first-round loss at the Queen's club on Tuesday.

The 6-3, 6-2 loss came shortly after Hewitt, 31, received a wild-card call-up for the Wimbledon tennis championships.

Hewitt, who is playing in the wake of undergoing foot surgery in February, won the last of his four titles on the grass of Queen's six years ago.

He saved a pair of match points in the penultimate game before Karlovic secured victory with an ace in 64 minutes.

"It was frustrating, to say the least," said 2002 Wimbledon champion Hewitt.

"I felt like I was actually seeing the ball not bad out there, especially the returns that I could get my racquet on.

"The pressure just builds on your service games, and he's just lashing at shots left, right, and center. I didn't serve my best, him serving like that puts a lot more pressure on you."

Karlovic lost the 2005 Queen's final seven years ago and is playing the pre-Wimbledon event for the ninth time, now standing 17-8 in west London.

Hewitt's compatriot Matthew Ebden beat Matthias Bachinger of Germany 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, while South African ninth seed Kevin Anderson unleashed his emotions in a 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Britain's James Ward.

Anderson, a semi-finalist at Queen's in 2011 when he lost to eventual runner-up Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, hammered 16 aces in his one-hour, 49-minute win over wildcard Ward, who reached a surprise semi-final a year ago.

But the number 30 admitted he needed to lift himself emotionally for his first match on grass this season.

"I can sometimes be too passive, but I feel by the end I was really involved in the match. It's a bit of my personality, sometimes it's a challenge to show a bit more emotion," said Anderson.

Anderson, winner of the Delray Beach title in February, added: "It's always great to get through the first match on grass.

"I'm happy with the way I finished off the match. The court was not as slippery as it seemed in warm-up."

Gilles Muller, the 14th seed from Luxembourg, spoiled the ATP debut of teenaged Briton Liam Broady whom he beat 6-1, 6-2.

Nicolas Mahut of France, the 2007 finalist, began with a win over Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez 6-4, 6-2 to set up a second round match with British number one seed and defending champion Andy Murray.

Although Murray will be tipped to proceed, Mahut is feeling in bullish mood.

"Of course I believe I can beat him (Murray). Otherwise I wouldn't be on the court," said Mahut, who took Roger Federer to four sets at the French Open 11 days ago.

"He's the favourite but I just have to come on centre court, enjoy it and play my game."

Murray's fellow Scot, Jamie Baker, meanwhile defeated fellow Briton Oliver Golding 7-6 (7-1), 6-3 to set up a second round clash with French second seed Tsonga.


Tags: tennis, sport, england

First posted June 13, 2012 08:01:46

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Djokovic and Federer survive epic battles

Updated June 06, 2012 06:51:08

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer survived five-set struggles at the French Open overnight to set up a mouth-watering semi-final, where the Swiss legend will attempt to shatter the world number one's Grand Slam dream.

Top seed Djokovic saved four match points against Jo-Wilfried Tsonga before pulling off a nail-biting 6-1, 5-7, 5-7, 7-6 (8-6), 6-1 quarter-final win.

Third seed Federer reached a record-equalling 31st grand slam semi-final when he survived a brutal barrage from frail Argentine Juan Martin del Potro before prevailing 3-6, 6-7 (4-7), 6-2, 6-0, 6-3.

After his triumphs at Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open, Serb star Djokovic is bidding to become just the third man to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time and the first in 43 years.

His win over Tsonga made it 26 straight match victories in grand slams, but seldom has he been run so ragged as he was at times by the powerful Frenchman, who had let slip four match points in the fourth set.

The defeat meant Tsonga's dream of becoming the first Frenchman to win at Roland Garros since Yannick Noah in 1983 was cruelly shattered.

"He was the better player for most of the match and I was fortunate to come back from four match points down," said Djokovic, who had needed five sets to beat Italy's Andreas Seppi in the fourth round.

"It was an incredible match."

Heartbroken Tsonga said: "I did what I said I would and gave everything. I came close and I would have loved to have won.

"It's a shame because I was pretty close, but at the end I had no energy left.

"Now I will have to close this chapter."

The key part of the tie was in the ninth game of the fourth set when Tsonga had two match points, only for Djokovic to hold firm.

Two games later two more match points escaped the Frenchman, setting up a tie-break.

Djokovic trailed 2-4 in that, but with Tsonga looking increasingly tight, the top seed clawed his way back and forced a fifth set on his third set point.

The world number one seized the occasion to jump out into a 3-0 lead and he raced away to pull off a stunning victory.

Federer, the 16-time grand slam title winner and 2009 champion in Paris, came back from two sets to love down for the seventh time in his career and will take on Djokovic for the 26th time with a place in Sunday's final at stake.

The result was cruel luck on the 1.98m Del Potro, who had looked on course for a straight-sets win after unleashing a brutal wave of power-hitting off both wings which left Federer floundering in the first two sets.

However, his hopes were finally sabotaged by a recurrence of the knee injury which has plagued him in Paris and which left him struggling to move by the end of the match.

"I knew Juan Martin's knee was bothering him and was trying to finish the rallies quickly," said Federer, who has pulled level with Jimmy Connors' mark of 31 grand slam semi-finals.

"I knew it would be a big fight today. I played well tactically and was strong mentally because there wasn't a lot in it."

Federer, playing in his 50th straight grand slam tournament and 32nd consecutive quarter-final at the majors, took an 11-2 career advantage over the towering Argentine into Tuesday's clash.

One of those wins came in a gripping Roland Garros semi-final in 2009, when he twice fought back from a set deficit to win in five before Del Potro gained revenge three months later with a first grand slam title triumph at the US Open.

The 23-year-old Argentine had lost all five meetings with the Swiss since returning after almost a year out from wrist surgery in 2011.

"I played a great match, but in the third and fourth sets, he started to play a lot better than he did at the beginning," said Del Potro, who insisted his knee was not a problem.

"I called the trainer to have the tape loosened on my knee, but there was no problem.

"I just served really badly in the fourth set and you won't get many points against the top guys if you do that.

"He took his opportunities and won."

The two remaining quarter-finals will take place tonight, when six-time champion Rafael Nadal meets fellow Spaniard Nicolas Almagro boasting a 7-0 career advantage.

Fourth seeded Andy Murray faces Spain's David Ferrer, defending a 5-4 head-to-head lead.


Tags: tennis, sport, france

First posted June 06, 2012 06:42:11

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Bhupathi will not go to the Olympics with Paes

Updated June 17, 2012 17:14:11

India's Mahesh Bhupathi will not go to the London Olympics if he is separated from his usual partner and forced to play with Leander Paes, the doubles specialist said on Friday.

A row erupted when the All Indian Tennis Association (AITA) announced on Friday that Bhupathi would be prevented from competing with his normal partner Rohan Bopanna.

Instead he would have to play with Paes, with whom he won three grand slam titles before the pair had an acrimonious split.

"I have told them I will not partner Leander Paes," Bhupathi said at the Queen's Club tournament in West London.

"I have told them I am not available if they don't pick me with Rohan.

"We have been hoping all year since we decided to partner together that we were going to represent India at the Olympics.

"The decision taken today did not go in our favour so we are going to try and hope that something changes."

Bhupathi and Paes joined forces to great effect in the late 1990s, winning the French Open and Wimbledon in 1999 before claiming a second Roland Garros title two years later.

Their partnership did not endure, however, as the relationship gradually deteriorated and they ceased to play together on the tour circuit from 2002.

They announced they would never appear together again after joining up for the Asian Games in 2006, but managed to put their differences aside to play at the Beijing Olympics, where they finished joint fifth.

They played together at the Australian Open in 2011 and Paes even attended Bhupathi's wedding to former Miss Universe Lara Dutta.

While the acrimony has cooled, Bhupathi feels they do not have the relationship on court needed to succeed at the Olympics in July and August.

"We (Paes and Bhupathi) haven't practised together," he added.

"We haven't literally spoken with each other since we played last at the Masters in London in November so there is no camaraderie, there is no chemistry.

"So for me to go back to a fifth Olympics and make up the numbers is not going to be exciting at all. They have kind of killed our Olympic dream."

Paes, who completed his collection of men's doubles grand-slam titles when he triumphed at the Australian Open in January with Czech partner Radek Stepanek, was given direct entry into the Olympic doubles thanks to his top-10 ranking.

Bopanna is ranked 12th and Bhupathi is 14th.

"There is a lot of room for manoeuvre," Bhupathi said.

"The two teams have already qualified. We have qualified on our ranking as a team and Leander being top ten gets the pick of another player so there is a lot of room for manoeuvre, they just have to wake up and smell the coffee.

"It does not make any sense when logic is not prevailing.

"When you can send four people to the Olympics and the government has given us money for the year to make the Olympics and all of a sudden they are taking two spots away. It is complex and we can't understand it."

Bopanna, who won his first and only title with Bhupathi in March in Dubai, believes the AITA have underestimated the on-court chemistry between the pair.

"I have been training with Mahesh the last six months," he said.

"I even changed partners because of the fact we were going to play at the Olympics.

"We have the same coach travelling with us and it makes a huge difference having a great camaraderie."


Tags: sport, olympics-summer, tennis, india

First posted June 16, 2012 09:23:55

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Illness disrupts Tomic's Wimbledon preparations

Updated June 13, 2012 12:10:01

Australian hotshot Bernard Tomic's preparations for Wimbledon have been disrupted by an illness that forced him to retire from a warm-up tournament in Germany.

The 19-year-old, who last year became the youngest All England Club quarter-finalist since Boris Becker in 1986, lasted just 22 minutes of his match against Tommy Haas at the Halle Open grasscourt tournament before retiring.

Haas, who was leading 5-2, told the tournament's official website that Tomic said he had been suffering from an illness for 10 days.

Tomic had said he could not wait to start playing on his preferred grass surface after losing on clay to Colombia's Santiago Giraldo in the second round of the French Open two weeks ago.

Wimbledon begins on June 25.


Tags: tennis, sport, germany, australia

First posted June 13, 2012 11:58:59

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Wildcard Haas beats Federer in Halle final

Updated June 18, 2012 08:58:00

Germany's Tommy Haas defeated second seed Roger Federer 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 to win the Halle grass court tournament on Monday morning (AEST) and become the ATP's second oldest champion.

Playing in front of his home fans, the 34-year-old wildcard added to his triumph at the same venue three years ago to take his 13th ATP title.

Swiss great Federer, the second seed, was seeking a sixth win at this Wimbledon warm-up event having booked his seventh final ticket with a straight sets semi-final win over unseeded Russian Mikhail Youzhny.

Haas, a former world number two, secured his place in the climax with a defeat of compatriot Philipp Kohlschreiber.

After claiming the title Haas said: "This has been one of the best weeks of my career, but I reckon I won't really appreciate what's happened until this evening.

"If someone had said to me beforehand that I was going to beat Roger Federer, probably the best player of all time, I would have thought they were mad.

"It's a special moment knowing that four months ago I didn't know if I would be able to play at this level again. It's a life lesson," said the injury-plagued Haas, who only recently returned to the tour after a 14-month absence.

In that time, he underwent hip and right shoulder surgery which sent his ranking plummeting to 200.

He came into Halle at 87 in the world with Monday's victory expected to move him back into the world top 50.

France's Fabrice Santoro remains the oldest champion, winning the 2008 Newport tournament when he was 35.

"This would normally be the perfect time to retire, but I am not ready. I hope to play on for a long time," added the German, who went through qualifying at the French Open last month before going onto to reach the third round.

He has also been awarded a wildcard into Wimbledon.

Federer was magnanimous in defeat, saying: "Tommy has performed well throughout, I'm thrilled for him."

Federer, the record 16-time Grand Slam title winner, said he will head to Wimbledon "probably on Thursday".

"It would be great to win there for a seventh time," he said.

Monday's victory was Haas's third career win over Federer after beating his better-fancied rival at Halle in the semi-finals in 2005 and 2006, against 10 defeats, the last in the semi-finals at Wimbledon in 2009.

Federer broke to lead 3-1 in the opening set but proceeded to lose three successive games to find himself trailing 4-3.

Haas went on to clinch the set on a winning serve in 50 minutes.

In the second set, Haas broke to lead 5-4 and serve for the match, winning when Federer put a return long.


Tags: sport, tennis, germany

First posted June 18, 2012 08:58:00

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Tomic given seeding fillip

Updated June 20, 2012 21:54:31

Bernard Tomic has been promoted seven spots to 20th seed for Wimbledon, meaning he will not face any of the big four until the last 16 at the earliest.

Tomic, who reached the quarter-finals last year, is the biggest change from the world rankings made by the All England club who are the only grand slam organisers to reserve the right to order the seeds themselves.

Australia's number one is now assured he will not meet any of the world's best four players until the second week of the competition.

Top seed Novak Djokovic comes into the tournament on the back of his French Open final defeat to Rafael Nadal in Paris which marked the end of a run of three successive grand slam final victories over the world number two, which started when he won Wimbledon for the first time last year.

Six-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer is seeded third as he seeks to win a grand slam for the first time since the 2010 Australian Open.

Britain's Andy Murray, a loser in the Wimbledon semi-finals for the last three years, is the fourth seed, while France's Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, a beaten semi-finalist at Wimbledon last year, is seeded fifth.

Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic, who lost to Nadal in the 2010 Wimbledon final, is bumped up to the sixth seed, one place above Spain's David Ferrer, who is ranked higher but drops down to seventh seed due to his inferior grass-court record.

Big-serving American Mardy Fish, back in action after serious health issues, is promoted to 10th ahead of John Isner and Nicolas Almagro.

French Open winner Maria Sharapova is the top seed in the womens' singles which reflects the current WTA Tour rankings.

Next come world number two Victoria Azarenka of Belarus and Poland's Agnieszka Radwanska, who is seeded third.

Reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova of the Czech Republic, who defeated Sharapova in last year's Wimbledon final, is number four.

Australia's Sam Stosur, who has endured a torrid warm-up in grass court events, is the fifth seed and America's Serena Williams, a four-time Wimbledon winner, is seeded sixth.


Tags: sport, tennis, australia, united-kingdom

First posted June 20, 2012 21:46:40

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Tsonga's Wimbledon participation in doubt

Updated June 15, 2012 08:33:27

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's Wimbledon hopes suffered a double blow on Thursday after he injured his finger badly during a shock 7-6, 3-6, 7-6 third round defeat by Queen's Club debutant Ivan Dodig.

Tsonga joined Andy Murray on the Queen's Club scrapheap, meaning the top two seeds and last year's finalists have both been eliminated before the quarter-finals, but more worryingly for the Frenchman was the injury which could scupper his Wimbledon participation.

"I think it's serious. I haven't had it examined yet but it sounds very bad. I felt like I broke something or I stretched a lot of ligaments," a sombre Tsonga told reporters.

Asked at which point he suffered the injury, he added: "I just fell down. I just fell down. That's it. I fell down on it, and that's it."

Tsonga was seen diving around court, and at one point after falling flat on his stomach, he even showed off his bulging biceps by doing some push-ups behind the baseline.

However, he could have done with preserving his energy as unheralded Croatian Dodig squeezed into the last eight, where he will meet 2010 champion Sam Querrey.

Grass-loving Spaniard Feliciano Lopez also made an early exit after he was beaten 7-6, 7-6 by South African Kevin Anderson.

Murray's conqueror Nicolas Mahut was unable to capitalise on his unexpected passage to the third round after he was tame 7-6, 6-4 by little-known Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov.


Tags: sport, tennis, england, united-kingdom

First posted June 15, 2012 08:30:15

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Nadal and Ferrer in Spanish showdown

Updated June 07, 2012 08:12:10

Rafael Nadal and David Ferrer will meet in an all-Spanish French Open semi-final after winning their way through from the last eight.

Defending champion and second seed Nadal ousted another Spaniard, Nicolas Almagro, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-3, while sixth seed Ferrer outgunned fourth seed Andy Murray of Britain 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-2.

Friday's other semi-final has already been set, with top seed Novak Djokovic of Serbia taking on third seed Roger Federer of Switzerland.

The win over Almagro was the 50th for Nadal at the spiritual home of claycourt tennis since he first competed in Paris as an 18-year-old in 2005.

His only defeat came in the fourth round in 2009, when he lost to Sweden's Robin Soderling in a fourth-round match.

This year Nadal is bidding to become the first player to win seven French Open titles, moving him out of a tie with Swedish legend Bjorn Borg.

A win on Sunday would also be his 11th grand slam title, level with Borg and Australia's Rod Laver.

In the end Almagro went the way of so many others over the course of the last seven years but he gave a solid account of himself, especially in a hotly-disputed first set.

"He had chances in the third. He had a few very good moments hitting the ball very hard," said Nadal of Almagro, who he beat for the eighth time in as many matches.

"But my serve worked really well, and he had one mistake, one important mistake with the forehand."

Nadal's drive into the final four has come at the cost of just 30 games and he will take confidence into the semi-final clash with close friend Ferrer, having beaten him 15 times out of the 19 times they have played each other.

Ferrer is fully aware of the extent of the challenge that awaits him.

After his hard-earned win over Murray he said: "It will be a tough match against Rafa, he's the best in history on this surface, but I hope to have a good match."

"Tonight's match was very hard, physically very difficult. But I am happy to be in the semi-finals at Roland Garros for the first time."

Murray, bidding to reach a second successive French Open semi-final, comfortably matched his opponent in the gruelling, big-hitting rallies, but was undone by 59 unforced errors.

It meant his long-running quest to end 76 years of heartbreak for British tennis at the four major tournaments in tennis will now move on to the grass at Wimbledon.

"He had his chances and converted them. He's solid and consistent and if you don't convert opportunities against him, the games become longer and the pressure builds on you," said Murray, who had reached the semi-finals in the last five grand slams.

"But it was a good tournament for me. I felt better coming in this year than I did last year. I lost to a better claycourt player tonight.

"There are things to work on but I knew it would be a tough match."

Asked who he thought would win the tournament Murray replied: "I think the four best claycourt players in the world are left in and whoever plays best will win.

"I probably have to favour Rafa (Nadal) slightly, but everyone is playing very, very well."


Tags: tennis, sport, spain

First posted June 07, 2012 05:47:11

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Nadal to carry Spain flag at opening ceremony

Updated June 21, 2012 08:23:00

Olympic gold medallist Rafael Nadal will carry the Spain flag at the opening ceremony for the London Games.

The world number two, who recently won a record seventh French open title, has won 11 major tournaments.

Nadal was chosen ahead of sailing duo Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez, who have a gold and a silver from the Athens and Beijing Games in the 49er class event.

The 26-year-old Nadal will be attending his third Olympic Games. He competed in the doubles in Athens in 2004 and won the singles in Beijing four years ago.

World number one Novak Djokovic will carry Serbia's flag at the opening ceremony on July 27.


Tags: tennis, olympics-summer, sport, spain

First posted June 21, 2012 08:23:00

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Barty gets Wimbledon wildcard

Updated June 18, 2012 21:32:15

Australian teenager Ashleigh Barty has been handed a Wimbledon women's singles main draw wildcard after winning the $50,000 grass court warm-up event in Nottingham over the weekend.

The 16-year-old Queenslander beat Tatjana Malek 6-1, 6-1 in the final in the East Midlands event on Sunday, albeit after the German world number 149 had been forced to play her semi-final earlier in the day.

Barty had already been awarded a place in qualifying at the All England Club after winning the girls' junior title at Wimbledon last year.

She made her senior grand slam debut at the Australian Open earlier this year and also received a wildcard for the French Open but lost in the first round on both occasions.

Bernard Tomic meanwhile will look to boost his Wimbledon ranking when he faces either Fabio Fagnini or Albert Ranos on Tuesday in Eastbourne.

Last year's quarter-finalist, ranked 27th in the world, received a first-round bye and holds a slim hope of receiving a top-24 Wimbledon seeding which would mean he would not face a top-eight seed until the fourth round.


Tags: sport, tennis, australia, qld, england

First posted June 18, 2012 14:49:41

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Rain postpones thrilling French Open final

Updated June 11, 2012 11:22:28

Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were locked in a tight French Open final duel when rain caused a suspension of play until Monday, only the second time in history that the tournament has not finished on time.

Nadal, chasing a record seventh Roland Garros title, was leading 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 1-2 when play was halted for a second and final time at 2:50am (AEST) with conditions on Philippe Chatrier Court becoming increasingly treacherous.

The final, already in progress for three hours, will resume on Monday at 9:00pm (AEST) with Djokovic in the ascendancy and serving for a 3-1 lead in the fourth set.

The last time a French Open men's final failed to be completed on a Sunday was 1973 when it was played on the following Tuesday with Ilie Nastase beating Niki Pilic.

World number one Djokovic, bidding to become only the third man, and first in 43 years, to hold all four grand slam titles at the same time had looked down and out at one stage.

After slipping two sets down, he was also a break down at 0-2 in the third before he reeled off eight games in succession to take the third set and lead 2-0 in the fourth.

Nadal had stopped the rot for 2-1 before play was suspended.

The Spanish world number two, playing in his 16th grand slam final and seeking an 11th major, went into Sunday's final with a staggering record of 51 wins against just one loss at Roland Garros.

Djokovic, the Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open champion, was looking to emulate Don Budge (1938) and Rod Laver (1962 and 1969) by holding four majors at the same time.

In a record fourth successive major final between the two, and following their almost six-hour epic in Australia, Nadal swept into a two-set lead with Djokovic undone by 30 unforced errors.

He had also earned a warning for smashing his raquet into his courtside chair box which left a gaping hole in the front.

But Djokovic, who had been two sets to love down to Andreas Seppi in the fourth round, and saved four match points in his quarter-final victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, refused to buckle.

From 2-0 down in the third, he reeled off eight games in succession to take the third set and lead 2-0 in the fourth.

The first game of the fourth set had featured a gruelling 44-shot rally.

Monday finishes have become common at the US Open in New York with the last four finals taking place on the extra day.

Roland Garros will eventually avoid more late finishes as a main court with a retractable roof will be built from 2017.


Tags: tennis, sport, france

First posted June 11, 2012 05:24:57

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Tomic falls in Wimbledon warm-up

Updated June 21, 2012 08:14:15

Bernard Tomic's Wimbledon preparations hit a hurdle after he lost his opening match at the Eastbourne ATP/WTA event in England.

The fourth-seeded Tomic, a Wimbledon quarter-finalist last year, lost his second-round match to the 64th-ranked Italian Fabio Fognini in three sets, 4-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Tomic, who received a first-round bye at Devonshire Park and was overnight announced as the Wimbledon 20th seed, had led 5-2 in the third set before succumbing to the clay court specialist.

Fellow Australian Marinko Matosevic will play his quarter-final against Belgian Steve Darcis this evening.

Meanwhile, three-time Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick renewed his grass court confidence with a place in the quarter-finals.

The American sixth seed, playing on a wildcard after an early loss at last week's Queen's Club, defeated Frenchman Jeremy Chardy 6-2, 7-6 (8-6) to continue his successful debut appearance in this English seaside town.

It was still hard work, with Chardy saving four match points in the 12th game of the second set and two more in the tie-breaker, before Roddick eventually came through with a winning backhand pass to end the contest.

The former world number one, now ranked 33rd, ended a six-match losing streak with his opening win after writing off his clay court season, which featured three losses in Dusseldorf and one at the French Open.

"It was good, I served well and returned pretty well. He served great on big points, but I stuck through there," Roddick said.

"I'm comfortable on this surface. I started playing really well in practice when I got here."

Elsewhere, the exodus of seeds continued, with number two Marcel Granollers of Spain going down 6-1, 4-6, 7-6 (7-2) to Uzbekistan's Denis Istomin.

Italian third seed Andreas Seppi is through after beating Carlos Berlocq 7-6 (7-2), 6-3, while big-serving American Ryan Harrison stopped Lu Yen-Hsun of Taiwan 6-1, 7-6 (7-2).

In the women's WTA field, Marion Bartoli reached the quarter-finals as she defeated Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak 6-2, 6-2.

The French fourth seed is the highest-ranked survivor in a field, which lost the top three women's seeds on Tuesday along with men's number one Richard Gasquet.

Bartoli broke Wozniak, a 2009 quarter-finalist, five times. She now faces a quarter-final clash with Czech seventh seed Lucie Safarova, who ousted Britain's Heather Watson 7-6 (7-5), 6-1.

Laura Robson was next to fall, going out to Russian Ekaterina Makarova 6-4, 7-5.

German fifth seed Angelique Kerber earned a last-eight spot through a 6-3, 6-2 defeat of South African Chanelle Scheepers.


Tags: tennis, sport, england, united-kingdom

First posted June 21, 2012 07:24:02

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Nalbandian disqualified from Queen's final

Updated June 18, 2012 09:03:50

Argentina's David Nalbandian was sensationally disqualified from the Queen's Club final in London on Monday morning (AEST) for angrily kicking an advertising board at a line judge which left the official suffering a gashed and bloodied leg.

The fiery Nalbandian, who had won the first set 7-6 (7-3) against Croatia's Marin Cilic, had just lost his serve to fall 4-3 down in the second when he reacted with a frustrated kick at the board, which was just in front of line judge Andrew McDougall.

A stunned and angry McDougall then rolled up his trousers to reveal a bloody gash on his leg before appearing to remonstrate with Nalbandian.

Play came to a halt and after a delay of several minutes, ATP supervisor Tom Barnes came onto the court to speak to umpire Fergus Murphy and Nalbandian.

It soon emerged that the 30-year-old's petulant behaviour had been punished with disqualification "due to unsportsmanike behaviour" and Cilic was declared the champion.

Nalbandian responded by waving his arms in frustration while the 6,000-capacity crowd jeered, but the former Wimbledon finalist later returned to the court to apologise for his actions.

"I am sorry to do that. Sometimes we get very frustrated here on court. It is tough to control," he said, before also launching into a rant against ATP chiefs.

"It is a tough moment to end a final like that. Sometimes we feel the pressure from the ATP. It is a mistake and I have to pay for that. Everybody makes mistakes.

"There are a lot of rules and sometimes they don't do anything. The rule book is very big and I can tell you the ATP do a lot to the players and nothing happens."

Barnes said that Nalbandian had accepted the sanction and said further punishment was likely to follow.

"He knows the rules and knew what was going to happen. He didn't do it intentionally. He lost control and a guy got hurt," Barnes said.

"I am not surprised by what he said about the ATP."

Nalbandian was understood to be unhappy with playing conditions at the Queen's Club, a traditional warm-up event for Wimbledon, where the schedule had been badly affected by rain all week.

"The grass had been slippery. Maybe he thought it wasn't safe. But the courts were playable," added Barnes.

Tournament director Chris Kermode said: "It's one of those really unfortunate things.

"It was an unbelievable final. Best match all week.

"Nalbandian ran across in frustration and kicked a panel which went flying across and caught a line judge.

"He's quite seriously injured. A violation was called immediately.

"Nalbandian clearly regrets what he's done. It's unfortunate. These things happen.

"To have the match ending this way is disappointing, but we're under the governance of ATP rules.

"David feels terrible. It was a pure accident."

Cilic looked slightly bewildered as he lifted the giant silver trophy during a rather subdued post-match presentation on court.

It was the 23-year-old's first ATP title since winning in St Petersburg in October last year and the triumph made him the first Croatian man to win on grass since Goran Ivanisevic at Wimbledon in 2001.

But the sixth seed admitted taking the title in such a bizarre manner wasn't the ideal way to conclude a successful week.

"It was very bitter. It's definitely not the way I wanted to win," Cilic said.

"To end like this is not easy. The match was getting hot and it's tough to see the final finish like this.

"I can't change it, but I'm really sorry for the fans that it finished like this."


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First posted June 18, 2012 08:07:15

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Stosur's streak ends in French Open semis

By Andrew McGarry, wires

Updated June 08, 2012 08:29:14

Australia's Samantha Stosur has crashed out of the French Open, suffering a shock three-set semi-final defeat to Italy's Sara Errani at Roland Garros.

Errani, the 21st seed, had never beaten sixth seed Stosur in five previous meetings, but she held her nerve in a tight, rain-delayed match on Court Phillippe Chatrier to win 7-5, 1-6, 6-3 in just over two hours.

The women's title decider will see Errani face Russian Maria Sharapova, who regained the world number one ranking for the first time in four years by making her first French Open final.

The second seed knocked out Czech fourth seed Petra Kvitova 6-3, 6-3 as she aims to complete a career Grand Slam, having won titles at Wimbledon in 2004, the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008.

Stosur - who was trying to earn a place in her third career grand slam final - had far more winners than Errani, but her 48 unforced errors to her opponent's 21 proved the difference.

Stosur said it "hurts a lot" to be upset by another Italian underdog at the French Open, having fallen to pint-sized Francesca Schiavone in the finale two years ago.

Stosur, 28, had beaten Errani five times in a row before their French encounter, and was hoping to be the first Australian woman to win at Roland Garros in 39 years.

"I'd have to say I was much more disappointed losing the final," Stosur said, before adding: "Obviously today hurts a lot as well."

"There are things that you can take away from both matches that are maybe similar," she said, regretting that she could have done more against Errani, who will move into the top 10 as a result of her victory.

"I don't know if I'm going to watch the final, to be honest.

"I couldn't really care less what happens at this point."

The Queenslander said she is looking forward to Wimbledon, which starts in two weeks' time.

"That's always been a very tough tournament for me, but I guess in some ways that's the beauty of tennis," she said.

"You can have, you know, a really crap day and then there's another tournament the next week and you get a chance to kinda redeem yourself very quickly."

Sharapova meanwhile is now celebrating a return to the pinnacle of the sport, having seen her career ranking slump to 126 after battling a shoulder injury which required surgery.

She finished runner-up to Kvitova at Wimbledon last year and was also runner-up in this year's Australian Open.

But claycourt titles in Stuttgart and Rome in the run-up to Paris hinted that she was approaching something like her best again.

"I was in a position a few years ago where I didn't quite know if I would ever be here again on this stage playing professionally," Sharapova said.

"It's a long road back. It's a lot of days of frustration and uncertainty not knowing if you'll ever get there, not knowing how much you want it, not knowing whether it would be a moment like that for you again.

"So there's definitely a lot of tough things you have to go through to get to this point, but it's all really worth it.

"I have played tennis since I was four years old. I committed myself to this sport. I've always loved what I did.

"When it was taken away from me for a while, that's when I realised how grateful I was and how lucky I was to be playing it."

Stosur started strongly, holding serve with three aces in the first game, and then she broke Errani straight away in the second.

But the Italian rallied, matching Stosur's aggression, standing up to her serve and concentrating on the forehand corner of the court to good effect.

She broke Stosur in the third game to go back 1-2, and held her serve to love to level the match.

Both players then held serve until the 11th game, where Errani converted her third break point of the game to get the advantage.

Five points later, the Italian served wide to the forehand court, drew a Stosur cross-court return and put a forehand winner away down the line to win the set 7-5 in 46 minutes.

The first game of the second set was a battle, with Errani netting a return on break point, and Stosur taken to three deuces before finally holding serve.

It galvanised Stosur into action, and the following game she broke Errani for the first time to lead 2-0.

A quick hold for 3-0, and suddenly it was Errani struggling to make inroads.

The following game she had Stosur cold with a lob from the baseline, but missed by inches to bring up another break point for 4-0, and Stosur crushed a forehand cross-court winner to get the insurance of a second break.

Stosur took Errani to four deuces in the sixth game before netting a drop shot into an open court to make it 5-1.

Stosur delivered her ninth and 10th aces for the match to bring up three set points, then wasted the first two before serving another ace down the T to level the match 6-1 in 36 minutes.

The Australian started the third set hitting for the lines, but errors handed Errani an easy opening service game.

The mistakes continued to come from Stosur, as she went down three break points in the second game and saved one before ballooning another ball off the frame of her racket to make it 2-0 to Errani.

The Italian then held for 3-0, putting extra pressure on Stosur to hold and stay in the set and match.

Stosur came back from 0-30 in the next game to hold, and then in the fifth game she made the breakthrough, rifling a backhand winner down the line after Errano saved the first three break points.

The breeze was picking up, making lobs swirl in the air and volleys go long. Stosur held her nerve to hold for 3-3, but Errani had an easy love service game.

The eighth game was pivotal, with Stosur having more errors. She saved two break point,s then a double fault and a wide return gave the break away.

Serving for the match, Errani was placed under little pressure by Stosur, who made errors on the first three points before the Italian put away a forehand winner to win through to her first grand slam final.


Tags: sport, tennis, france

First posted June 08, 2012 01:46:15

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Stosur sets sights on Wimbledon

Updated June 17, 2012 12:25:15

An upbeat Samantha Stosur launches her grass court campaign this week believing "all is possible" despite her galling Wimbledon record of only five wins from 14 matches.

World number five Stosur feels she has put her deflating French Open semi-final loss to Sara Errani behind her and she is now intent on rectifying one of the biggest anomalies in tennis - just one third-round appearance in nine trips to Wimbledon.

The US Open champion's dreadful strike rate at the spiritual home of tennis flies in the face of not only her awesome power game, but also three semi-final appearances in the past four years at the traditional warm-up event at Eastbourne.

Hence the reason Stosur opted this year to prepare for the grasscourt major in the Netherlands, where she is top seed and up against a qualifier in the opening round.

"It's funny, I've always had good lead-ups at Eastbourne and then got to Wimbledon and not done too well. I still don't have the answer for why," Stosur said.

"So I'm in S-hertogenbosch instead, trying something different. I think it's really about just getting to Wimbledon and not letting that frustration set in.

"Maybe by the time I get to Wimbledon there's been a bit more expectation on myself because the lead-up's gone well and I should be able to carry on. Then it doesn't happen.

"So I'm trying to go in there with a better mindset this year and stay positive - and what have I got to lose? Nothing.

"I've got no rankings points to defend, so I certainly don't have to think about that. I should be able to go in there and just play and not worry about anything else."

The 28-year-old insists she is no longer worrying about her shock loss to Errani at Roland Garros when a second final in Paris in three years beckoned.

"The couple of days after were pretty rough," Stosur said.

"Especially when I was still in Paris and I went out and was walking around and you see the women's final on TV and I didn't want to look at that too much.

"Yeah, it was disappointing and everything else but now a week later I'm trying to look at it as a very good tournament. The semis is still a pretty good result and a hell of an improvement on the Australian Open.

"So overall I'm feeling pretty good about it now."

Stosur's coach David Taylor is also backing his charge to bounce back quickly and make a long overdue run at the All England Club.

"She needs to believe all is possible for her on grass and that she possesses enough adequate weapons in her arsenal to trouble anyone," Taylor said.

His positive reinforcement has clearly penetrated Stosur's sometimes vulnerable mind.

"There's no doubt I can do it because I've had all those good (Wimbledon) lead-ups in the past," she said.

Stosur is joined in the Wimbledon singles draw by countrywomen Jarmila Gajdosova, Anastasia Rodionova and Casey Dellacqua.

Bernard Tomic, who has recovered from the virus that forced his retirement from Halle last week, former champion Lleyton Hewitt, Matt Ebden and Marinko Matosevic are in the men's event.

Another seven Australians will attempt to make the main draw through qualifying starting on Monday.


Tags: sport, tennis, netherlands

First posted June 17, 2012 12:25:15

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Ferrer into 's-Hertogenbosch quarters

Updated June 21, 2012 07:49:35

Top seed David Ferrer reached the 's-Hertogenbosch grass court quarter-finals, dismissing Leonardo Mayer of Argentina 6-3, 6-1.

World number six Ferrer, who triumphed on his tournament debut in 2008, next faces Dutch wildcard Igor Sijsling, who fired 21 aces past Belgian Olivier Rochus for a 7-5, 7-6 (7-4) victory.

Japan's Tatsuma Ito lost just 11 points on his serve to defeat third-seeded Austrian Jurgen Melzer 6-2, 6-2 in just 57 minutes.

In the women's draw, 2010 French Open winner Francesca Schiavone survived a tight struggle to beat Romanian Irina Begu 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (10-8), while fellow Italian and sixth seed Roberta Vinci triumphed over Monica Niculescu 6-3, 6-7 (4-7), 6-0.


Tags: tennis, sport, netherlands

First posted June 21, 2012 07:49:35

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Bhupathi, Mirza win French mixed title

Updated June 08, 2012 08:52:04

India's Mahesh Bhupathi and Sania Mirza won the mixed doubles title at the French Open, defeating Santiago Gonzalez of Mexico and Klaudia Jans-Ignacik of Poland 7-6 (7-3), 6-1 in the final.

Bhupathi, one of the most successful men's doubles and mixed doubles players ever, won the title in style on his 38th birthday.

He first won the mixed doubles title at Roland Garros in 1997, when he teamed up with Japan's Rika Hiraki to become the first player from India to lift a major trophy.


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First posted June 08, 2012 08:52:04

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Matosevic springs Eastbourne upset

Updated June 20, 2012 07:48:59

Australia's Marinko Matosevic upset French top seed Richard Gasquet in the second round of the ATP grass court event at Eastbourne in England.

Matosevic triumphed at the Wimbledon lead-up event in three sets, 1-6, 7-6 (7-5), 7-6 (7-3).

Fellow Australian Matthew Ebden bowed out of the tournament, however, losing 6-2, 6-4 to Belgium's Steve Darcis in the opening round.

Three-time Wimbledon finalist Andy Roddick progressed after American countryman Sam Querrey was forced to retire when trailing 5-2 in the first set.

Meanwhile, the three leading women's seeds were toppled in short order with reigning Wimbledon champion Petra Kvitova leading the exit.

The Czech, seeded second, was joined on the sidelines by top seed Agnieszka Radwanska and number three Caroline Wozniacki.

Wimbledon preparations were set back for the top trio.

Kvitova will kick off the defence of her All England club title next week without a win on grass this year after losing 7-5, 6-4 to Ekaterina Makarova.

Radwanska lost to Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova 6-2, 6-4 while former number one Wozniacki fell to American Christina McHale 6-1, 6-7 (7-9), 6-4.

German fifth seed Angelique Kerber rallied past Elena Vesnina of Russia 3-6, 6-0, 7-5, Lucie Safarova, the number seven beat Timea Babos 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (8-6) while Klara Zakopalova eliminated China's Zheng Jie 6-3, 4-6, 6-3.


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First posted June 20, 2012 07:48:59

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Nadal seals magnificent seventh French title

Updated June 12, 2012 09:20:58

Rafael Nadal has clinched a record seventh French Open title, defeating world number one Novak Djokovic 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 7-5 and shattering the Serb's dream of grand slam history.

In a final pushed into a third week for only the second time because of Sunday's rain, the Spanish world number two, playing in his 16th grand slam final, also took his Paris record to a staggering 52 wins against just one loss.

Victory allowed him to break the tie for six French Opens he shared with Bjorn Borg.

"It's a real honour," Nadal said.

"But for me the most important thing is this tournament. For me this is the most important tournament in the world.

"I'm really, really emotional and it's probably one of the more special moments of my career."

Djokovic was left to regret his unforced error count of 53 which undermined his challenge.

After Sunday's suspension at 2:50am (AEST), the players, meeting in a fourth successive grand slam final, resumed with Nadal leading 6-4, 6-3, 2-6, 1-2, but with Djokovic in the ascendancy and serving for a 3-1 lead in the fourth set.

But a forehand error from Djokovic, with the court at his mercy, gave Nadal a break point and the Spaniard seized it when the Serb had been left flat-footed by a net cord which allowed his opponent to push through a winner.

The set remained tight as would be expected with the pair meeting for a 33rd time.

Nadal moved to 5-4 as the umbrellas went up all around Philippe Chatrier Court and the players sat courtside to wait out a passing, heavy shower and complained to tournament referee Stefan Fransen about the slippery conditions.

Djokovic finally buckled when a monster forehand from Nadal set up championship point, which he converted when the top seed tamely served up a fourth double fault.

"Rafa was the better player," Djokovic said.

"I hope to come back next year and play even better."

The celebrations were ecstatic as Nadal fell to his knees and consoled Djokovic before the champion climbed into the player's box to embrace his family.

On Sunday, Djokovic had looked down and out at one stage, even picking up a warning for destroying his courtside chair box with his racquet.

After slipping two sets down, he was also a break behind at 0-2 in the third before he reeled off eight games in succession to take the third set - the first lost by Nadal in this year's event - and lead 2-0 in the fourth.

The first game of the fourth set had featured a gruelling 44-shot rally.

But Nadal had raged at tournament referee Stefan Fransen for having to keep playing as the court became increasingly treacherous.

As he stormed, Djokovic, who had been two sets to love down to Andreas Seppi in the fourth round, and saved four match points in his quarter-final victory over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, seized his chance to get back into the match.

The last time a French Open men's final failed to be completed on the last Sunday was 1973 when it was played on the Tuesday with Ilie Nastase beating Niki Pilic.

Monday finishes have become common at the US Open in New York with the last four finals taking place on the extra day while the 2001 Wimbledon final was also completed on a Monday.

Roland Garros will eventually avoid late finishes as a main court with a retractable roof is to be built in 2017.


Tags: tennis, sport, france

First posted June 11, 2012 22:06:33

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Sharapova makes history with French win

Updated June 10, 2012 11:42:41

Russia's Maria Sharapova became the 10th woman in history to win all four major titles when she defeated Sara Errani of Italy 6-3, 6-2 in the French Open final in Paris.

In what turned out to be largely one-sided contest, the second seed and new world number one led from the start, fixing the 21st seeded Errani with her biggest shots and giving her little chance to employ her own, more considered game.

The French Open title for Sharapova follows her major triumphs at Wimbledon in 2004, the US Open in 2006 and the Australian Open in 2008 and it crowns her return from a serious shoulder injury that nearly wrecked her career.

The 90-minute final though did little to restore the reputation of women's tennis at Roland Garros, continuing a run of straight sets finals that date back to 2001 when Jennifer Capriati defeated Kim Clijsters in a three-set thriller.

"It's a magical moment in my career," Sharapova said in French, before quickly reverting to English.

"It has been such a journey for me to to get to this stage. Eight years ago it was my first breakthough Grand Slam and eight years later here I am.

"No matter how many Grand Slams you win ... if it was my only one it would be just as special as it would be winning my fourth."

Errani, when told that her runner-up finish would put her in the world top 10 for the first time, replied: "I don't feel like top 10, but I will be top 10, so it's incredible for me and I can't believe it."

It what was the first meeting between the two and the contrasts were stark, notably in height with the 1.88-metre tall Sharapova towering 24 centimetres above the Italian.

The 25-year-old Sharapova had the experience of winning three major titles and has just been assured of regaining the world number one spot. Her global superstar status has made her the biggest-earning sportswoman on earth.

Errani, 10 days younger than her opponent, was little-known outside of her own country until she won three claycourt titles in the build-up to Roland Garros in recent weeks.

She then defeated two previous champions en route to a first appearance in a major final.

Sharapova opened confidently on serve and then used her booming groundstrokes to pin back a tight Errani, breaking serve when the Italian hit long.

The Russian, playing in her first final at Roland Garros at her 10th attempt, moved 3-0 up and then converted a third break point to take a 4-0 lead.

Sharapova had made a dream start, but once again her propensity to double fault struck again, with two of them in the fifth game. She then hit a forehand narrowly wide on break point.

That seemed to settle Errani, who was bidding to become the second Italian winner at Roland Garros after Francesca Schiavone in 2010, and she pumped her fist at her team in the player's box after holding serve for the first time.

Errani saved two set points at 2-5 and 15-40 down on serve in the eighth game as she started to pull Sharapova from side to side, but the Russian, despite another double fault, served out for the set.

Sharapova broke again to open the second set and moved 2-0 up as the Roland Garros centre court faithful tried to lift the morale of the outgunned Italian.

She held serve to get to 2-1 down and then had a break point to level, only for Sharapova to hit the line with a forehand.

The fifth game of the set was crucial as Sharapova opened her shoulders to hit some big winners, converting her third break point to go 4-1 ahead when a net-charging Errani failed to deal with a hard, angled drive from the Russian.

Errani was not yet quite out of it however, as she won four points in a row from 30-0 down to break Sharapova's service for the second time.

The Russian though put that aside to win the next two games, sealing her career Grand Slam on her third championship point when Errani failed to return an angled backhand.

Meanwhile, number one seeds Max Mirnyi and Daniel Nestor defeated Bob Bryan and Mike Bryan 6-4, 6-4 to win the men's doubles crown.


Tags: tennis, sport, france

First posted June 10, 2012 07:18:51

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Errani keeps twin title dream alive

Updated June 09, 2012 10:38:46

Sara Errani warmed up for her singles final by teaming up with fellow Italian Roberta Vinci to win the French Open women's doubles title on Friday by beating seventh-seeded Russians Maria Kirilenko and Nadia Petrova 4-6, 6-4, 6-2.

The fourth seeds, who were runners-up at the 2012 Australian Open, claimed their first major title.

Vinci and Errani have also won tournaments this year in Monterrey, Acapulco, Barcelona, Madrid and Rome.

Errani, who plays Maria Sharapova in the singles final on Saturday evening (AEST), is the first player since Kim Clijsters in 2003 to reach the singles and doubles finals at Roland Garros in the same year.

She is hoping to emulate Mary Pierce, who was the last woman to win both titles at the French Open in 2000.


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First posted June 09, 2012 10:18:56

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Police investigate Nalbandian 'assault'

Updated June 18, 2012 21:30:29

Police are investigating a complaint of alleged assault against Argentina's David Nalbandian after a line judge was injured when the tennis player kicked an advertising hoarding.

The 30-year-old was defaulted from the Queen's Club final in west London on Sunday for angrily kicking an advertising board at line judge Andrew McDougall which left the official suffering a gashed and bloodied leg.

"We are aware of an incident at the Aegon Championships on June 17. A complaint has been made and the Metropolitan Police Service is now investigating," Scotland Yard said Monday.

"The allegation is of assault."

Nalbandian, who had won Sunday's first set 7-6 (7-3) against Croatia's Marin Cilic, had just lost his serve to fall 4-3 down in the second when he reacted with a frustrated kick at the board, which was just in front of McDougall.

A stunned and angry McDougall then rolled up his trousers to reveal a bloody gash on his leg before remonstrating with Nalbandian.

Officials immediately disqualified Nalbandian "due to unsportsmanike behaviour" and Cilic was declared the champion of the ATP grasscourt event, a warm-up for Wimbledon, now the only one of tennis's four majors played on grass, which starts next week.

Nalbandian was stripped of his runners-up cheque, worth 44,945 euros ($56,802), and 150 ATP ranking points he would have earned as a beaten finalist.

He could also be hit with a 10,000-euro ($12,638) fine, which will be decided by ATP chiefs at a later date.

But he could also face an eight-week ban having also been fined $8,000 for throwing water at an Australian Open tournament worker in January following a five-set defeat by America's John Isner.

Having already apologised on court for his actions, Nalbandian issued a further statement through the ATP late Sunday in an effort to limit the damage ahead of Wimbledon, where he was runner-up in the 2002 men's singles final.

"I never intended to hit him (the line judge), it was an unfortunate reaction in which I wanted to let off steam after losing a point," Nalbandian said.

"I had the opportunity to personally apologise to the line umpire for this regrettable act that I am fully responsible for."

Although Nalbandian was contrite about the actual incident, he also vented his frustrations at the ATP.

He claimed officials impose too many rules on players, including asking them to play in the kind of slippery conditions that have been commonplace over the last few days at Queen's.

Nalbandian risked getting in more trouble as he said: "Everybody makes mistakes, right? When somebody else does a mistake, they have to pay in the same way, but the players don't feel that happens much, especially with ATP.

"Sometimes the ATP put a lot of pressure on the players, and sometimes you get injured because you play on dangerous surface and nothing happens."


Tags: tennis, sport, england, united-kingdom

First posted June 18, 2012 21:30:29

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Clijsters posts grass win

Updated June 20, 2012 09:52:11

Kim Clijsters advanced past the second round of the 's-Hertogenbosch ATP/WTA grass court tournament in the Netherlands.

Clijsters, who had been hampered by a hip injury earlier this season, defeated Ukraine's Kateryna Bondarenko 6-2, 6-1.

Elsewhere in the women's draw, Slovakian third seed Dominika Cibulkova defeated Israel's Shahar Peer 6-2, 7-6 (7-5), while eighth-seeded Russian Nadia Petrova triumphed over Spain's Anabel Medina Garrigues 7-5, 6-3.

Meanwhile, Spain's top seed David Ferrer accounted for Canadian Pierre-Ludovic Duclos 6-4, 6-4 in the men's opening, while Belgian veteran Xavier Malisse upset second-seeded Sebian Viktor Troicki 7-6 (7-4), 6-2

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First posted June 20, 2012 09:52:11

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Sharapova storms into last 16

Updated June 03, 2012 08:24:50

Maria Sharapova stormed into the French Open last 16 on Saturday, brushing aside China's Peng Shuai 6-2, 6-1, while semi-final rivals Li Na and Petra Kvitova laboured to reach the second week.

Second seed Sharapova fired 27 winners past 28th seed Peng in a 66-minute Philippe Chatrier court demolition.

The Russian, a semi-finalist in 2011, and seeking a French Open title to complete a career Grand Slam, has lost just five games in three rounds.

She will next face Czech veteran Klara Zakopalova who put out Russian 22nd seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova 6-3, 7-5.

"I came in knowing that I was facing a tough opponent who has beaten me before and against who I have played three sets," Sharapova said.

"She can really play, hits the ball really well, so I tried to keep her moving, tried to get her on the run."

Defending champion Li Na, the seventh seed, battled back to defeat America's Christina McHale 3-6, 6-2, 6-1.

The 30-year-old Li had to draw upon her 10-year age gap to prevail over the 36th-ranked American, who had fallen in the first round in 2010 and 2011.

"She's a very dangerous player. I was happy I could win the match today because I have more experience," said seventh-seeded Li, who will face Kazakh qualifier Yaroslava Shvedova for a place in the quarter-finals.

Italian 14th seed Francesca Schiavone, the 2010 champion and runner-up to Li last year, lost 3-6, 6-3, 8-6 to America's Varvara Lepchenko, the world number 63, who has reached the last 16 of a Grand Slam for the first time.

Schiavone, the oldest player left in the tournament at 31, will lose her place in the world top 20 as a result of her defeat.

Also going out was former world number one Caroline Wozniacki, the ninth seed, who lost to 23rd seed Kaia Kanepi of Estonia, 6-1, 6-7 (3-7), 6-3.

Kanepi, a quarter-finalist in 2008, needed five match points to seal the win and will face Dutchwoman Arantxa Rus who put out German 25th seed Julia Goerges 7-6 (7-5), 2-6, 6-2.

Uzbekistan-born Lepchenko, who had defeated 19th seed Jelena Jankovic in the second round, squandered the opportunity to serve for the match in the ninth game of the decider, but held her nerve in the 14th.

It was the 26-year-old's second successive win over Schiavone, having also won in three sets in the second round of the Madrid claycourt tournament in May.

"I was fighting till the end. She played amazing. It's her court.

"I knew that she's not gonna give it for free. I had to work really hard, and I did," said Lepchenko, who next tackles Kvitova, the fourth-seeded Czech.

The 22-year-old Wimbledon champion reached the last 16 for the third time but she did it the hard way, serving up eight double faults and committing 37 unforced errors in her 6-2, 4-6, 6-1 win over Russian world number 109 Nina Bratchikova.

She was only saved by her fierce, flatly hit groundstrokes which left the Portugal-based Bratchikova gasping.

"I started well, had a set already, and then I was very aggressive and I knew what I had to do," said Kvitova.

"In the second set I was still like, okay, if I play like the first set, it will be fine. But it wasn't.

"She played much better than the first set. She had a better serve, and it was tough to return."

Also making the last 16 was Shvedova, a quarter-finalist in 2010, who eased past Spain's Carla Suarez-Navarro 6-4, 7-5.


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First posted June 03, 2012 08:24:50

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Stosur reaches French Open quarters

Updated June 04, 2012 09:37:05

Australia's US Open champion Samantha Stosur has progressed to the quarter-finals of the French Open with a 7-5, 6-4 victory over American teenager Sloane Stephens in Paris.

Stosur took a little longer than anticipated to reach the final eight, with the match moved to Court One as two men's fourth-round ties ran longer than anticipated on Centre Court.

Stosur served for victory at 5-3 but produced a double-fault to give away three break points, perhaps disturbed by having to replay one point after a pigeon swooped along the top of the net during play.

Stephens, 19, broke the sixth seed, but Stosur broke straight back to love and will now play Slovakian Dominika Cibulkova, who pulled off a major upset when she knocked out world number one Victoria Azarenka.

The 15th seed won 6-2, 7-6 (7-4) against the Australian Open champion, who had been expected to coast past Cibulkova, having beaten her seven times out of eight previously.

But the little Slovakian, who reached the semi-finals in 2009, handled the cold, windy conditions on the Suzanne Lenglen court far better than the tall Belarusian.

After losing the first set, Azarenka appeared to be getting back on track as she broke to lead 2-0 in the second, but 23-year-old Cibulkova dug deep to run off four games in a row.

Azarenka levelled at 4-4, with the set then going to a tie-break which a pumped-up Cibulkova led from the start to pull off a stunning win.

"I am getting more mature and more tough mentally," said Cibulkova, explaining that she had learned from the experience of losing to Azarenka in Miami earlier this year when leading a set and 5-2.

"I managed to go through these emotions. She was 6-5 up, and I said, 'hey, come on, you have to play your game again and just make it'.

"And for the tiebreak I'm very, very proud of myself that I was still going for my shots, and I just made it because she would never give me the match.

Azarenka said: "It wasn't satisfying at all, not satisfying being out there playing like that. I do not know what to find positive in that. No excuses, just a bad performance."

Sara Errani of Italy and Angelique Kerber of Germany both reached the quarter-finals at Roland Garros for the first time with straight-sets wins.

Errani, seeded 21, defeated Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia 6-0, 7-5, while 10th seed Kerber ousted Petra Martic of Croatia 6-3, 7-5.

The pair will meet in the last eight in a top half of the draw which had also contained Azarenka.

Errani has been the form player on clay this year, winning tournaments in Acapulco, Barcelona and Budapest.

She also reached the Australian Open quarter-finals in January on hardcourts.

The win over 2009 French Open champion Kuznetsova followed her three-sets win over 2008 winner and 13th seed Ana Ivanovic in the previous round.


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First posted June 04, 2012 06:42:05

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Djokovic, Federer escape booby traps

Updated June 04, 2012 06:59:39

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer have stayed on course for a mouth-watering French Open semi-final showdown, but only after they survived fourth-round scares at a chilly Roland Garros.

Djokovic staged an epic recovery to defeat Italy's Andreas Seppi 4-6, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 7-5, 6-3 while Federer, the 2009 champion, dropped the first set against Belgian lucky loser David Goffin, the world number 109, before claiming a 5-7, 7-5, 6-2, 6-4 win.

World number one Djokovic, bidding to become just the third man to hold all four majors at the same time, and the first since 1969, struggled in the cold conditions on Philippe Chatrier court against a player he had beaten seven times in as many meetings.

"I played very badly, but I won thanks to my fighting spirit," Djokovic said after a 25th successive grand slam match win took him into the Paris quarter-finals for the sixth time.

"He was the better player for the first two sets and I was fortunate to come through.

"But even at two sets down I still believed I could do it and that's about the only positive I can take. It was one of those days when nothing worked."

A lacklustre Djokovic committed 77 unforced errors to 22nd-seeded Seppi's 81 before pulling through after four hours and 18 minutes.

He will next face either French fifth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga or Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka, the 18th seed, for a place in the semi-finals.

Tsonga was leading 6-4, 7-6 (8-6), 3-6, 3-6, 4-2 when their match was suspended until Monday because of fading light.

The 25-year-old Djokovic has never got beyond the semi-finals in Paris and his discomfort on the testing red clay courts was starkly illustrated last year when a 43-match winning run was ended by Federer.

For the first two sets on Sunday, he was heading for the biggest shock since Rafael Nadal had his perfect 31-match, four-title stretch smashed by Robin Soderling at the same stage in 2009.

But the top seed regrouped as Seppi, who had also played five-set matches in the second and third rounds, wilted.

Victory represented the Serb's third win from two sets to love down after pulling off similar Houdini acts against Federer in the US Open semi-final last year and Wimbledon second round against Guillermo Garcia Lopez in 2005.

"I didn't have a good start in the third and fourth sets. That's the only thing I could have done better," said Seppi, who was playing in his first grand slam last 16 match at the 29th attempt.

Federer, the record 16-time grand slam title winner, booked his place in a 32nd consecutive quarter-final at the majors, but he had been just two points from going down two sets to love down in the ninth game of the second set.

Contesting his 50th successive grand slam tournament, the third seed will take on either Argentine ninth seed Juan Martin Del Potro or Tomas Berdych, the seventh-seeded Czech.

Their match was halted due to darkness with Del Potro leading 7-6 (8-/6), 1-6, 6-3.

"I didn't know much about Goffin beforehand, but I know him a lot better now," Federer said of the Belgian, who used to plaster his bedroom wall with posters of the great Swiss.

The 21-year-old Goffin was the first lucky loser - an alternate on standby after being beaten in qualifying - to reach the last 16 of a major since countryman Dick Norman at Wimbledon in 1995.

"I came out of the qualifiers and I played my best tennis in my first three matches. Then playing Roger was the cherry on the cake," Goffin said.

The men's fourth round will be completed on Monday when six-time champion Nadal, who celebrated his 26th birthday on Sunday, meets Argentina's Juan Monaco.

Serb eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic tackles in-form Spanish 12th seed Nicolas Almagro.

Fourth seeded Briton Andy Murray faces French 17th seed Richard Gasquet with David Ferrer, the sixth seed, taking on 20th seed Marcel Granollers in an all-Spanish contest.


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First posted June 04, 2012 06:43:55

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Nadal leads Spanish charge at French Open

Updated June 03, 2012 08:28:36

Rafael Nadal tightened a Spanish stranglehold on the bottom half of the French Open draw, while Andy Murray set up a last 16 round clash with Richard Gasquet.

The top seed and defending champion coasted into the fourth round with a lop-sided 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win over qualifier Eduardo Schwank of Argentina.

Earlier sixth-seeded David Ferrer flattened Russia's Mikhail Youzhny 6-0, 6-2, 6-2 in just 101 minutes, whilst 12th seed Nicolas Almagro saw off the challenge of Argentina's Leonardo Mayer 6-4, 6-1, 6-2.

Marcel Granollers then edged a hard-fought 6-4, 6-4, 1-6, 4-6, 6-1 win over French wildcard Paul-Henri Mathieu to ensure that half of the qualifiers for the last 16 in the bottom half of the draw were from Spain.

In contrast, there were no Spaniards through in the top half of the draw.

Murray looked to be over the lower back problems that beset him in the previous round as he defeated Santiago Giraldo of Colombia 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

Nadal, who turns 26 on Sunday, had Schwank on the defensive from the start, jumping out into a 4-0 lead that set the tone for the entire match.

In the end he conceded just eight games, taking his total in three matches to a meagre 17.

The Spaniard is set on winning the French Open for a record seventh time in eight years, having first played at Roland Garros in 2005 as an 18-year-old.

With a match record of 48-1 in his favour Nadal next goes up against Juan Monaco of Argentina who defeated Milos Raonic of Canada 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 6-3, 6-4.

"I have started well the tournament - into the second week now, that is the most important thing," he said.

"Now I have a big confrontation against Monaco. He is having a fantastic season."

The 30-year-old Ferrer, who has yet to make it past the quarter-finals at Roland Garros despite being one of the best players on clay for the last few years, had Youzhny by the throat from the start, winning the first set 6-0 and leading 2-0 in the second before the Russian got off the mark.

Thereafter Ferrer conceded just another three games as he set up a last 16 round meeting with Granollers.

"This match was easier than planned, and I was immediately into the match," he said.

"When the situation was a bit difficult, I managed to overcome these difficulties.

Almagro's routine win over Mayer was his seventh straight victory following his title triumph in Nice last week.

His previous best at Roland Garros were quarter-final appearances in 2008 and 2010 and on both occasions he lost to Nadal who he will face again should the two Spaniards make it through to the last eight.

On his rest day on Friday, Murray had been left fielding criticism from such as British legend Virginia Wade and French champion Henri Leconte that he had acted in an unsportsmanlike manner in his win over Jarkko Nieminen on Thursday.

In that tie he had looked down and out in the first few games, clutching at his lower back and legs and needing medical treatment three times.

After dropping the first set 6-1, Murray suddenly settled down in the second and eventually ran out an easy winner.

Many felt his actions could have destabilized his opponent whose game fell apart after the opening set.

Against Giraldo though there was no sign of the back spasms that Murray said had been the problem against Nieminen and a single break in each set was enough to put him through into the last 16 at Roland Garros for the fourth straight year.

"Obviously it was very hot today and I warmed up very quickly," he said.

"I felt better yesterday when I woke up than I had the day before, and then had a very light practice.

"I woke up this morning again feeling better than I did, but that's because of the work my physio has done the last 48 hours and all the recovery work that we've done between the last match and now."

Also through to the last 16 was eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia who worked his way past Frenchman Julien Benneteau 6-3, 7-5, 6-4.

Tipsarevic won the last five games of the match after being 4-1 down in the third set to reach the last 16 at Roland Garros for the first time and will next take on Almagro.

There was better news for home fans with the victory of 17th seed Richard Gasquet 6-7 (3/7), 6-3, 6-0, 6-0 over German veteran Tommy Haas.

Gasquet, who won 13 games in a row from 5-3 ahead in the second set to destroy Haas, will next play Murray in a bid to reach the French Open last eight for the first time.


Tags: sport, tennis, france

First posted June 03, 2012 08:03:34

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