Saturday, September 29, 2012

Petrova wins Pan Pacific Open

Updated September 29, 2012 19:49:31

Nadia Petrova pulverised world number three Agnieszka Radwanska's defence of the title by beating her in the final to win the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

The Russian, who stormed back from one set and 1-4 down to beat sixth seed Sara Errani and went on to beat eighth seed Samantha Stosur in the last two rounds, pulled off yet another upset by scoring a 6-0, 1-6, 6-3 victory over the Pole.

"I feel amazing. This is the biggest tournament I ever won, and this is a great accomplishment," Petrova said.

"At the beginning of the tournament, I didn't expect to be here, because I had a back injury, so it's delightful to be here right now."

Petrova fired a sizzling service return winner on a break point to take an early 1-0 lead before whitewashing the first set by finishing off with an ace on her second set point.

Radwanska had to save four break points to finally keep her service in the first game of the second set and pulled off her first break when Petrova hit a forehand into the net to move up 2-0.

Petrova lapsed into making errors and took only one point each in the following three games before keeping the sixth game, but Radwanska hit three aces in a row and a service winner to comfortably even it at one set all.

Neither had a break chance in the final set until the score went to 4-3 for Petrova, who took a break point in the eighth game thanks to Radwanska's two double faults.

Petrova broke the game with a backhand winner to go up 5-3 and calmly served out for the match, hitting a forehand volley winner on her second match point.

It was Petrova's second title of the season, following her victory at 's-Hertogenbosch, and 12th overall.


Tags: tennis, sport, japan

First posted September 29, 2012 19:49:31

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Tomic knocked out of Thailand Open

Updated September 29, 2012 07:36:00

Bernard Tomic has been knocked out of the Thailand Open in straight sets by Frenchman Richard Gasquet.

Gasquet won 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 in 89 minutes to reach the semi-final where he will play top-seed Janko Tipsarevic who beat Fernando Verdasco by the exact same score.

In a game dominated by serve, Tomic forged three break opportunities but did not convert any, while Gasquet was successful in one of his two opportunities to break.

In the other half of the draw, Gilles Simon defeated Gael Monfils 6-4, 6-1, while Jarkko Nieminen downed Milos Raonic 6-3, 7-6 (7-3).

Tags: sport, tennis, thailand

First posted September 29, 2012 07:32:47

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Friday, September 28, 2012

Stosur goes down in Tokyo

Updated September 28, 2012 19:02:51

Samantha Stosur bowed out of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo after losing her semi-final to Russian Nadia Petrova.

Petrova accounted for the 2011 US Open champion in straight sets, winning 6-4, 6-2.

She will meet Poland's third seed Agnieszka Radwanska in the final.

Radwanska thrashed the third-seeded German Angelique Kerber 6-1, 6-1 in the second semi-final.

Tags: tennis, sport, japan

First posted September 28, 2012 17:31:01

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Thursday, September 27, 2012

Stosur sends Sharapova packing

Updated September 27, 2012 20:41:35

Samantha Stosur prevailed in straight sets against Maria Sharapova to advance to the Pan Pacific Open semi-finals in Tokyo.

Stosur triumphed 6-4, 7-6 (12-10) to set up a clash with another Russian, Nadia Petrova, in the last four.

Petrova came from behind to beat Sara Errani of Italy 3-6, 7-5, 6-3.

Two-time champion Sharapova took a service break lead first in both sets, losing the advantage both times before coming back from 3-5 down in the second set to force a tie-breaker.

Sharapova staved off four match points in the tie-breaker, but surrendered the match on Stosur's fifth match point.

"It was tough, Stosur said.

"I knew I lost nine points in a row (at 5-3 in the second set). I just tried to start well in the tie-breaker and I did get off to a good start. I just tried to keep going forward.

"In the tie-breaker, I had match points and she had set points. You don't get a few in a row and you don't know what happens. I just tried to keep going forward."

Meanwhile, world number one Victoria Azarenka withdrew from the tournament because of fatigue.


Tags: tennis, sport, japan

First posted September 27, 2012 20:38:56

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Stosur sets up Sharapova clash

Updated September 27, 2012 08:53:08

Samantha Stosur has booked a quarter-final clash with world number two Maria Sharapova at the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

Stosur defeated Slovakia's Dominika Cibulkova in straight sets, 6-4, 7-5 while Sharapova advanced after beating Czech Lucie Safarova 6-2, 7-6 (7-5).

The Australian has won just once in 11 matches against Sharapova, in Istanbul last October, but is confident she can improve on her record.

"I thought I played really quite well, so I'm looking forward to the next one," Stosur said.

"She's one of the players I've struggled with in the past and only beaten her once, so it is always a really good challenge to play her."

Top-seed Victoria Azarenka also eased through to the last eight beating Italy's Roberta Vinci 6-4, 6-2.

In the match of the round, Caroline Wozniacki beat former French Open champion Li Na 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Elsewhere, Australians Matthew Ebden and Marinko Matosevic both went out early in Asian tournaments.

Matosevic lost 6-3, 6-4 to Ivo Karlovic in the first round of the Thailand Open and Ebden fell 7-5, 6-2 to French seventh-seed Julien Benneteau in the second round of the Malaysian Open

Tags: sport, tennis, japan

First posted September 27, 2012 08:34:47

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Tomic through to Bangkok quarters

Updated September 27, 2012 18:38:07

Bernard Tomic progressed to the quarter-finals of the Thailand Open with a three-set victory in Bangkok.

Tomic, the tournament's eight seed, downed Israel's Dudi Sela 4-6, 6-3, 6-4.

He will meet either second-seeded Frenchman Richard Gasquet or Bulgarian Grigor Dimitrov in the last eight.

Tags: tennis, sport, thailand

First posted September 27, 2012 18:38:07

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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Tomic advances in Bangkok

Updated September 26, 2012 10:51:26

Bernard Tomic moved through to the second round of the Thailand Open with a straight-sets defeat of Spain's Guillermo Garcia-Lopez in Bangkok.

Tomic, the eighth seed, progressed with a 6-0, 6-2 triumph and he will now meet Dudi Sela of Israel.

Sela advanced via a 6-4, 6-4 win over Switzerland's Marco Chiudinelli.

Tags: sport, tennis, thailand

First posted September 26, 2012 10:43:34

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Stosur stays alive in Tokyo

Updated September 26, 2012 10:44:34

World number nine Samantha Stosur advanced to the third round of the Pan Pacific Open in Tokyo.

The eighth-seeded Stosur recovered from losing the first set to account for Italy's Francesca Schiavone 4-6, 6-2, 7-5.

Stosur, who enjoyed a bye in the first round, will meet Slovakian 12th seed Dominika Cibulkova, who beat Zheng Jie of China 6-0, 6-3.

Tags: sport, tennis, japan

First posted September 26, 2012 10:44:34

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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Venus Williams to make Hopman Cup debut

Updated September 19, 2012 15:17:14

Venus Williams will make her Hopman Cup debut in Perth later this year, partnering John Isner to represent the United States in the mixed international tournament.

Seven-times grand slam champion Williams will have a chance to match her sister Serena, who won the tournament in 2008 with Mardy Fish and five years earlier with James Blake.

"I've never been to Perth - I've never played the Hopman Cup, so for me it's going to be a wonderful experience," Williams said in a media release.

"I've watched it literally every year on TV so now I get to play, I'm very excited."

World number 10 Isner won the title in 2011 with Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who stands at 1.68m tall to his 2.06m and Williams' 1.85m.

"My previous two partners have been very, very small," said Isner.

"But Venus is a little bit taller so I'm not going to look like such a giant out there. She's obviously one of the greatest players ever so I think our team has a good shot to do well."

Novak Djokovic and Ana Ivanovic have already been confirmed as the Serbia pairing for the event, which will take place from December 29 to January 5 at the new Perth Arena.


Tags: tennis, sport, perth-6000, wa, australia

First posted September 19, 2012 15:17:14

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Monday, September 17, 2012

Spain, Czech to clash in Davis Cup final

Updated September 17, 2012 09:06:52

Defending champion Spain reached a sixth Davis Cup final in 10 years with victory over the United States and will tackle the Czech Republic, which shocked Argentina in Buenos Aires, in November's final.

The title clash will be a repeat of the 2009 championship match in which Spain routed the Czechs 5-0 on home clay in Barcelona.

But this time Spain will travel to the Czechs, who will have the choice of surface in the November 16-18 showdown.

Spain will be playing in its fourth final since 2008 after David Ferrer gave it a 3-1 victory over the United States, beating John Isner 6-7 (3-7), 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 on the clay courts of Gijon.

"This is a dream for me - another Davis Cup final," Ferrer said.

"It was unbelievable, the atmosphere supported me the whole match."

The United States had kept the tie alive with a doubles victory by twins Bob and Mike Bryan on Saturday but US Open semi-finalist Ferrer, on his favourite red clay, prevailed over the world number 10 Isner.

"It's disappointing. The Spanish team was just too good," Isner said.

Ferrer, currently number one in his country's team in Rafael Nadal's absence, recorded his 16th Davis Cup victory in a row on clay while Spain clinched a 24th successive home victory in the tournament, a run stretching back to 1999.

Nadal could make a return for the final if he recovers from the knee injury that kept him out of the Olympics and the US Open, but Spain captain Alex Corretja avoided speculating.

"We will monitor the players over the coming weeks, talk to all those we think appropriate, and go and see what condition they are in and then choose the players we think appropriate," Corretja said.

"We always hope to count on everyone and obviously Rafa is the same as everyone else."

In Buenos Aires, world number six Tomas Berdych defeated Carlos Berlocq 6-3, 6-3, 6-4 as the Czechs secured a 3-1 win over four-time runners-up Argentina.

Berlocq, the world 45, had been drafted in as replacement for eighth-ranked, former US Open winner Juan Martin Del Potro who suffered a left wrist injury in his win over Radek Stepanek in Friday's opening singles.

The Czechs' only Davis Cup title came in 1980.

"People think it's impossible to win in Argentina, but we had belief and proved that it is possible," said Berdych, who beat Roger Federer on his way to the US Open semi-finals earlier this month.

In the play-offs, world number one Federer beat Robin Haase 6-1, 6-4, 6-4 to put Switzerland 3-1 up against Netherlands in Amsterdam and secure his country's place in next year's World Group.

Sweden suffered its first whitewash since 2006 as Belgium swept back into the World Group in Brussels thanks to David Goffin beating Markus Eriksson 6-3, 6-4 and Steve Darcis seeing off Andreas Vinciguerra 6-4, 6-2.

The rout means that Sweden will be missing from the World Group for the first time in more than a decade.

In Tokyo, Amir Weintraub pulled off his second upset victory to give Israel a 3-2 win over Japan.

With the two teams tied at 2-2, Weintraub defeated Japan's number two Go Soeda 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 4-6, 6-3.

Going into the final day, with Israel on a 2-1 lead, Japan's ace Kei Nishikori had made it 2-2 by beating Dudi Sela 6-3, 3-6, 4-6, 6-4, 7-5.

Elsewhere, Canada beat South Africa in Montreal, Kazakhstan saw off Uzbekistan in Astana, Italy defeated Chile in Naples while Brazil had already made sure of victory over Russia in Sao Jose do Rio Preto by taking a 3-0 lead overnight.


Tags: sport, tennis, spain

First posted September 17, 2012 07:43:03

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Davis Cup heartbreak for Australia

Updated September 17, 2012 15:53:24

Former world number one Lleyton Hewitt crashed to a straight-sets defeat to youngster Cedrik-Marcel Stebe as Germany claimed a 3-2 Davis Cup World Group play-off win over Australia.

The 21-year-old Stebe, ranked 127th in the world and playing just his third Davis Cup rubber, rallied from 3-0 down in the first set to floor Hewitt 6-4, 6-1, 6-4 in just over two hours at Rothenbaum's clay-court stadium.

"It's another frustrating day, we were in a pretty good position overnight, but we didn't get ahead of ourselves," Hewitt said.

"We have been in this situation too many times, we prepared as well as we could, but things just didn't go our way today."

Australia was bidding to return to the World Group for the first time since 2007 and Hewitt's defeat means it will be playing in the Asia/Oceania Group again in 2013, while Germany stay in the top tier.

"This is the biggest success of my career, I was a bit nervous at the start," admitted Stebe, who was cheered every point of the way by the 4,400-strong crowd against Hewitt, ten years his senior.

"It was a crazy atmosphere out there."

Australia had held a 2-1 overnight lead, but Florian Mayer's straight sets win over Bernard Tomic earlier in the day before Stebe's heroics saw the hosts pull off a stunning win.

Tomic crashed in straight sets to send the tie to a deciding rubber.

"(Stebe) made some cheap errors in the first game, but he tightened those up and he hit his shots well and didn't give me much from them on in," Hewitt admitted.

"It would have been nice to take the chances that came my way and put some pressure on him.

"It takes a lot of energy out of you playing three games in three days, I don't know if that was a factor."

After racing into a 3-0 lead, Hewitt, now ranked 100th in the world, laboured as Stebe composed himself to take the first set, then dominated the 2002 Wimbledon winner in the second making just five unforced errors.

Hewitt was broken in the seventh game of the third set as Stebe served out for only his second Davis Cup win having made his debut against Argentina in February.

Germany's Philipp Petzschner, ranked 101st in the world, had been tipped to step in to play the final rubber, but a left knee injury forced him out, leaving Stebe to face Hewitt.

Australia started the day badly when teenager Tomic lost 6-4, 6-2, 6-3 to Mayer as the Germany levelled the scores at 2-2 after four rubbers.

Having beaten Hewitt in straight sets in Friday's singles match, Mayer, ranked 25th in the world, handed out the same treatment to Tomic to wrap up victory in just one hour, 31 minutes.

After Tomic and Mayer both won Friday's singles matches, Hewitt and Chris Guccione had enjoyed a 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4) doubles victory over Benjamin Becker and Petzschner on Saturday to make it 2-1 to Australia.

"It was very hard to back up in the singles after an intense, must-win doubles match, we had to roll the dice, the Germans are a good team," Australia team captain Pat Rafter said.

"We had to take chances and it came back to bite us a bit.

"We put in our best team, but the Germans played some great tennis."


Tags: sport, tennis, germany, australia

First posted September 17, 2012 05:49:32

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Sunday, September 16, 2012

Hewitt and Guccione hand Australia vital win

Updated September 16, 2012 15:16:45

Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione's doubles victory gave Australia a 2-1 lead over Germany on Sunday (AEST) in their Davis Cup World Group play-off to earn a key advantage going into the final day.

Australia is bidding to return to the World Group for the first time since 2007 while Germany must win to stay in the top tier after its opening-round home defeat to Argentina in February.

After Bernard Tomic and Florian Mayer won the first round of singles to make it 1-1, Hewitt and Guccione enjoyed a 6-3, 6-2, 2-6, 7-6 (7-4) victory over Benjamin Becker and Philipp Petzschner.

"I always knew it was going to be tough out there, we expected that from the start," Hewitt said.

"When you can look your partner in the eye in the locker room and know you are going to go into battle together, it is something I have really enjoyed with Chris.

"I feel like I can get the best out of him on the doubles court and it is a good belief to have when we are playing out there together."

In Sunday's final two rubbers, Mayer, ranked 25th in the world, plays teenager Tomic, while Hewitt is due to play 21-year-old Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.

The Germans must win both singles matches to be sure of keeping their World Group status.

Guccione enjoyed his seventh straight doubles win for Australia in the Davis Cup and admitted he was surprised by his own record.

"When I play for my country and pull on the green and gold, it seems to bring out the best in me," said the left-hander ranked 567 in the world in singles, but 133 in doubles.

"I enjoy playing with Lleyton and there is nothing better than playing for my country."

Having clinched the first two sets, the Australian duo allowed their German hosts to establish themselves enough to take the third convincingly at Hamburg's clay-court Rothenbaum stadium.

A tight fourth set was only decided by a tie-breaker, but Hewitt, 31, and the 27-year-old Guccione held on to put their side ahead before Sunday's remaining final matches.

"They compliment each other well, but the Germans were coming back at the boys and fighting hard," said Australia team captain Pat Rafter.

"They were showing a good fighting spirit and we are happy it didn't go to a fifth set."

Elsewhere, the United States stayed alive in its Davis Cup semi-final against champions Spain while four-time runners-up Argentina lost its doubles clash as well as Juan Martin Del Potro against the Czech Republic.

Bob and Mike Bryan beat Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez 6-3, 3-6, 7-5, 7-5 on the clay courts of Gijon as the US cut the deficit to 2-1 against Spain.

The Olympic and US Open champions secured the crucial point which will mean the tie will be decided on Monday (AEST) with a place in November's final at stake.

Argentina's hopes of making the final suffered a double blow when they slipped 2-1 down to the Czechs and then lost Del Potro through injury.

Tomas Berdych and Radek Stepanek eased past Carlos Berlocq and Eduardo Schwank 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 at a shell-shocked Parque Roca to take their Davis Cup record to 11-1.

World number eight Del Potro withdrew from the reverse singles with a wrist injury.

He will be replaced by world number 45 Berlocq in the clash against US Open semi-finalist Berdych, the sixth-ranked player, before Juan Monaco is scheduled to tackle Stepanek.

In the play-offs, where victory assures a place in the World Group for 2013, the Netherlands stayed in contention against Switzerland in Amsterdam when Robin Haase and Jean-Julien Rojer stunned Roger Federer and Stanislas Wawrinka 6-4, 6-2, 5-7, 6-3.

Federer and Wawrinka, who were doubles gold medallists at the 2008 Olympic Games, had both won their singles on Friday to give the Swiss a 2-0 lead.

Belgium was promoted to the World Group after Olivier Rochus and Ruben Bemelmans beat Sweden's Michael Ryderstedt and Johan Brunstrom 6-4, 4-6, 6-3, 6-2 for an unassailable 3-0 lead in Brussels.

The result means Sweden will not feature in the World Group for the first time since 2000.

Jonathan Erlich and Andy Ram claimed a 5-7, 6-3, 6-3, 6-1 win over Tatsuma Ito and Yuichi Sugita to give Israel a 2-1 lead over Japan in Tokyo.

Elsewhere, Italy leads Chile 2-1 in Naples and Kazakhstan is 2-1 up on Uzbekistan in Almaty.

Canada leads South Africa 2-1 in Montreal while Brazil wrapped up a 3-0 win over two-time champions Russia in Sao Jose do Rio Preto.


Tags: sport, tennis, germany, australia

First posted September 16, 2012 05:59:36

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

Hewitt humbled as Germany draws level

Updated September 15, 2012 16:23:45

Australia's Lleyton Hewitt was solidly beaten by Germany's Florian Mayer on Saturday (AEST) to level the Davis Cup World Group play-off match 1-1 after teenager Bernard Tomic's earlier win over German Cedrik-Marcel Stebe.

In a high-quality match, Mayer needed just over two hours to earn a 7-5, 6-3, 6-2 win over ex-world number one Hewitt to level the scores ahead of tonight's doubles and the two decisive singles rubbers starting on Sunday night (AEST).

Hewitt did not appear to be at 100 per cent fitness, finding lateral movement difficult on the slow surface.

Once the German made the break in the second set after taking a tight opener, there was always going to be only one winner.

The Australian team is bidding to return to the World Group for the first time since 2007, but 31-year-old Hewitt, now ranked 100 in the world, had few answers on Hamburg's clay-court against 25th-ranked Mayer.

"Florian played well from the start, I tried to weather the storm throughout the first set," said Hewitt.

"I had a small opportunity to break him late in the first set and I was only a few points away from winning it.

"I wanted to put some scoreboard pressure on him and let him know he'd have to go to four sets to win. But after he won the first set and his confidence was up, he was hard to stop."

"Tomorrow's doubles is a crucial match, but no different from what we have been preparing for," Hewitt added.

Australian team captain Pat Rafter said he was satisfied to end day one with honours even.

"I was feeling pretty happy after the first game, Lleyton did little wrong, but Florian played a great game of tennis," Rafter said.

"Things could be worse, we still have a chance and this is not a bad position to be in."

Mayer was extremely impressive in his singles tie, his powerful groundstrokes and ball placement constantly putting Hewitt under pressure.

"Of course I was under pressure, but from the first set, I really relaxed and felt good out there. I played some good tennis," said the 28-year-old Mayer.

"That was a world-class performance from Florian," beamed Germany captain Patrik Kuehnen. "I am relieved that we got back level, 1-1 is okay after the first day."

Earlier, Tomic put the guests ahead with a 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) victory over Stebe in a marathon opener which lasted three hours and 17 minutes.

"I am really happy, it wasn't a good feeling being down after the first set," admitted the 19-year-old Tomic.

"He was playing some really good tennis, but I managed to fight my way out of it. He played a really, really good opening set.

"He played some top 20 tennis out there, he has had some good results on clay and I had to play my heart out to get the win."

Stebe, ranked 127th in the world, upset the form book by taking the first set 6-2 against 19-year-old Tomic, who is ranked 42nd, after breaking the Australian early.

After a slow start, Stuttgart-born Tomic responded impressivly by taking the second, then the third set at Hamburg's clay-court Rothenbaum stadium.

Feeling the pressure, Stebe, 21, made 25 unforced errors in the third set alone which lasted 61 minutes, but quickly tightened his game considerably.

The fourth set went down to a tie-break after Stebe raced into a 3-0 lead, buoyed by the home crowd, but Tomic twice broke back to make it 4-2 before the Australian levelled at 4-all, then held his nerve to win the tie-breaker.


Tags: sport, tennis, germany

First posted September 15, 2012 08:12:43

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Spain takes lead in Davis Cup semi

Updated September 15, 2012 17:33:06

Defending champion Spain edged closer to a sixth Davis Cup final in 10 years when it shrugged off the absence of Rafael Nadal to open a 2-0 lead over the United States in their semi-final in Gijon.

Five-time champion Spain is defending a run of 23 consecutive home victories in the tournament, a streak stretching back to 1999.

World number five David Ferrer beat Sam Querrey 4-6, 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 before Nicolas Almagro won a four-hour slog against giant American John Isner, 6-4, 4-6, 6-4, 3-6, 7-5.

"It was a hard match, difficult at every moment," 30-year-old Ferrer said.

Isner saved three match points in the ninth game of the decider but buckled on a fourth when he went long with a weary forehand in the 12th game.

"That was really disappointing because I did such a good job the whole fourth and fifth set of just hanging in there and I just kind of gave it away at the end," Isner said.

In Buenos Aires, Argentina, which has yet to win the tournament and was defeated by Spain in the 2008 and 2011 finals, was 1-1 in the other semi-final against the Czech Republic.

Tomas Berdych recovered from two sets to one down, and 1-4 behind in the fourth set, to stun Juan Monaco 6-1, 4-6, 1-6, 6-4, 6-4 and pull the Czechs level.

With Argentine football legend Diego Maradona and former tennis glamour girl Gabriela Sabatini amongst the raucous 13,000-crowd inside Parque Roca, Berdych dug deep to claim a famous win.

Berdych, who defeated Roger Federer on his way to the US Open semi-finals last week, won nine straight games to lead 5-3 in the decider.

But Monaco stopped the rot for a break to trail 4-5 before Berdych broke again to seal victory.

Earlier, world number eight Juan Martin del Potro beat Radek Stepanek 6-4, 6-4, 6-2 to earn a comfortable first point.

Del Potro was playing against medical advice after hurting his wrist at the US Open and he broke down in tears as he gave his victory speech.

"It was very difficult to play with a hurt wrist," Del Potro said.

"But the crowd was fantastic. I am very passionate about playing for my country. I like to give them a good show."

In the play-offs, where a place in the elite World Group will be assured for 2013, world number one Roger Federer and his 2008 Olympic gold medal partner Stanislas Wawrinka put Switzerland 2-0 up against the Netherlands in damp and chilly Amsterdam.

Federer eased past Thiemo de Bakker 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 before Wawrinka defeated 50th-ranked Robin Haase 6-3, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

"It was important to get off to a good start and I played solidly in rainy and windy conditions," Federer said.

Belgium is one win away from ending Sweden's 12-year stay in the World Group after opening a 2-0 lead in Brussels where Steve Darcis beat Michael Ryderstedt 6-3, 7-6 (7-3), 6-0 and David Goffin defeated Andreas Vinciguerra 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

In Naples, Andreas Seppi beat Guillermo Hormazabal 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 to give Italy a 1-0 lead over Chile before bad light halted the second rubber between Fabio Fognini and Paul Capdeville at 1-1 in the final set.

Japan and Israel were level at 1-1 in Tokyo with Go Soeda beating Dudi Sela 6-2, 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 and Amir Weintraub seeing off Tatsuma Ito 6-3, 6-2, 6-4.

Ito was only playing because Kei Nishikori suffered a shoulder injury on Friday morning.

In Astana, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan were level at 1-1.

Canada was 2-0 up on South Africa in Montreal while Brazil took a 2-0 lead over two-time champion Russia in San Jose do Rio Preto.


Tags: sport, tennis, spain

First posted September 15, 2012 17:30:01

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Tomic puts Australia in front

Updated September 15, 2012 00:06:15

Bernard Tomic has provided Australia with an ideal start to their Davis Cup tie against Germany by overcoming Cedrik-Marcel Stebe in bone-chilling conditions in Hamburg.

After making a sluggish start against the tricky left-hander, world number 42 Tomic won 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (7-4) in three hours and 17 minutes on clay at Rothenbaum Stadium.

So cold was it courtside that Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter sat with a towel around his neck to keep warm.

The victory in testing, breezy conditions over the world number 127 was just what the Australian teenager needed following his controversial US Open flop a fortnight ago that Rafter described as "disgraceful".

The unforced error count was high with Stebe, playing in his first live Davis Cup rubber, committing 80 to Tomic's 70 under grey skies.

Australia must win the tie to return to the elite World Group next year for the first time since 2007.

Tomic won the opening six points before 21-year-old Stebe composed himself and the tall Australian became frustrated having to play extra shots on the slow surface.

Errors flowed from Tomic's racquet as he surrendered the opening set.

The Australian adjusted to the conditions and started pushing his opponent around to take the second set and carried that momentum into the third set.

He continued to chip away at Stebe's serve as he grabbed a two-sets-to-one lead.

The young German jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the fourth set before Tomic fought his way back and had a chance to serve for the match at 5-4.

At 30-30, Tomic made two errors with the set had to be decided in a tie break.

Lleyton Hewitt will take on German number one Florian Mayer in the second singles rubber shortly.

Hewitt and Chris Guccione will play in the doubles rubber against Germany's Philipp Petzschner and Benjamin Becker on Saturday before the reverse singles on Sunday.

Tomic was relieved to have grabbed the win with light rain falling late in the contest and the roof being closed for the second singles rubber.

"I am really, really happy," he said.

"It was not a good feeling being down a set.

"I had been training all week and I had been hitting the ball the best I have ever done.

"To be down a set after that to a guy that is playing really, really good tennis is a difficult feeling.

"But I managed to find my way out of it."


Tags: sport, tennis, germany, australia

First posted September 14, 2012 23:02:44

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Friday, September 14, 2012

Hewitt pledges to complete revival

Updated September 13, 2012 22:29:27

Lleyton Hewitt says the Australian Davis Cup team is ready to complete its mission to return to the elite World Group by defeating Germany in Hamburg.

The tie at the Rothenbaum Stadium is expected to turn into a dogfight with cold conditions expected to slow down the clay court for the tie starting at 7.30pm on Friday night (AEST).

World number 42 Bernard Tomic will open Australia's campaign against fellow youngster Cedrik-Marcel Stebe before Hewitt takes on fellow veteran and world number 25 Florian Mayer.

"The whole team and me in particular have waited a year for this opportunity and we won't be letting it slip," Hewitt said.

Australia has been out of the top-flight since 2007 and Hewitt is desperate to play in the 16-nation World Group one last time before he calls it a day.

Following more than a week in the national camp, Tomic is confident of rebounding from his US Open flop against world number 127 Stebe.

"It will be difficult. He will have a lot of energy of playing with the crowd on his side," Tomic said.

"I feel I am hitting the ball really well.

"I don't mind playing a left hander and slow conditions which suit me so I feel I can play really good on this court and I'm comfortable with how I am moving.

"I am confident I can play well tomorrow and win."

Hewitt who showed some encouraging form at the US Open, has a terrific record at the Hamburg venue of 18-6, having lost 7-5 in the deciding set to claycourt supremo Rafael Nadal in his most recent visit half a decade ago.

However he expected Mayer to be hard work on home soil.

"He plays with a lot of variety out there, a lot of different types of spins and heights and shots," he said.

"In terms of Stebe, I think he handled the pressure of playing a night match at the Australian Open really well earlier this year."

As expected, Australia named a doubles pairing of Hewitt and Chris Guccione to take on Philipp Petzschner and Benjamin Becker.

The Germans have never been paired together in Davis Cup while Hewitt and Guccione enjoy a 3-0 record in Cup competition, including a win last year against the Athens Olympic gold medal winning pair of Stanislas Wawrinka and Roger Federer.


Tags: sport, tennis, germany, australia

First posted September 13, 2012 21:31:57

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Williams, Sharapova headed for Brisbane

Updated September 13, 2012 13:35:44

US Open champion Serena Williams will be joined by Maria Sharapova at the 2013 Brisbane International.

Tournament organisers announced Williams and Sharapova have been added to the women's draw for what will be a key warm-up event for the Australian Open.

Williams will arrive in Brisbane for the tournament, which begins on December 30, as the winner of the two most recent majors.

She added the US Open crown on Monday (AEST) to her Wimbledon victory in July.

The 30-year-old, who also won the Olympic singles gold medal in London, contested Brisbane this year where she reached the quarter-finals prior to withdrawing with an ankle injury.

World number two Sharapova has enjoyed success in 2012 as well, having won her maiden French Open in June.

Tags: sport, tennis, brisbane-4000

First posted September 13, 2012 13:31:01

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Ferrero to retire next month

Updated September 13, 2012 11:06:56

Former world number one Juan Carlos Ferrero has announced he will retire from professional tennis next month.

The career of the 2003 French Open champion has been hampered buy injury and he will retire after playing in the ATP tournament in Valencia.

"The Valencia Open 500 will be my final tournament, in the best possible scenario," Ferrero said.

"This season injuries have prevented me from playing with regularity and it was a tough year as I realised on the court that I did not have the same ambition after 14 years at the top level.

"I am starting a new phase in my life with tremendous excitement, I will continue to be involved with tennis through the Valencia Open, the academy, the foundation that carries my name and other projects."

The 32-year-old Ferrero, who has slipped to 111 in the latest singles rankings, turned professional in 1998 and went on to win 15 titles, including the Masters events in Monte Carlo and Rome.

As well as his French Open victory, he reached the final at Roland Garros in 2002 and the US Open decider in 2003, after which he rose to number one and stayed there for eight weeks.

His last title came in Stuttgart in 2011 on his favoured surface clay.

Ferrero played in 17 Davis Cup ties for Spain, helping his country to its first triumph in the competition in 2000 and subsequent victories in 2004 and 2009.


Tags: sport, tennis, spain

First posted September 13, 2012 11:06:56

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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

No favourite in Davis Cup tie: Rafter

Updated September 12, 2012 07:53:55

Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter says the absence of Germany's top two singles players has left the teams evenly matched for this week's tie in Hamburg.

World number 18 Philipp Kohlschreiber was omitted following a falling out with team captain Patrick Kuehnen while US-based number 21 Tommy Haas opted to skip the tie in his old hometown.

"I don't think there are any clear favourites," Rafter said.

"The German team is very strong and they have a lot of depth and are able to fill the positions really well.

"We give ourselves a good chance of winning but I would not say we were favourites by any means."

The Germans will be led by world number 25 Florian Mayer with Cedrik-Marcel Stebe tipped to fill the second spot because of his superior record on clay to Philipp Petzschner and Benjamin Becker.

Australia's doubles combination of Lleyton Hewitt and Chris Guccione fine tuned their game under cover at Rothenbaum Stadium on Tuesday afternoon.

They practised against Matthew Ebden and James Duckworth with rain expected to keep the roof on later this week.

If Australia defeats the Germans, they will return to the 16-nation World Group for the first time since 2007.

The nation has found it a tough slog in play-offs, losing four in five years to Switzerland, Belgium, Chile and Serbia.

In 2009, Australia pulled out of a tie in India because of security concerns.

The tie against Germany will start at 11.30am (7:30pm AEST) on Friday.


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First posted September 12, 2012 07:53:55

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I was haunted by doubts: Murray

Updated September 11, 2012 21:39:50

Andy Murray admits that even with a confidence-boosting Olympic gold medal, he was nagged by doubts ahead of his US Open final triumph after having lost four prior major finals.

"The Olympics was huge for me. It was the biggest week of my life," Murray said.

"But still, when I was sitting in the locker room beforehand, there were still doubts.

"You are still thinking, 'If I lose this one, no one has ever lost their first five finals.' I just didn't really want to be that person."

Murray is not that person. And as a result, a 76-year major singles title drought for British men since Fred Perry's 1936 US championships was forever consigned to the scrap heap of tennis history.

Murray defeated World number two and defending champion Novak Djokovic 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 in blustery conditions at Arthur Ashe Stadium to claim his first major.

"It was a struggle for both of us to deal with the conditions," Djokovic said.

"At times we made a lot of unforced errors. At times we played some great points. I congratulate him because he came up with big serves when he needed to."

Djokovic had a five-setters win streak of eight in a row snapped by Murray, who had not gone such a distance since losing to Djokovic in the Australian Open semi-finals earlier this year.

"It was obviously a very tough match," Murray said. "When the conditions have been like they have been, you need to focus so hard on almost every shot because the ball is very hard to control.

"So it was an incredibly tough match and obviously it felt great at the end. Relief is probably the best word I would use to describe how I'm feeling.

"Very happy that I managed to come through because if I had lost this one from two sets up, that would have been a tough one to take."

Murray battled through two tense sets, then watched his hard work unravel as Djokovic fought back to take the third and fourth sets in relatively short order.

"Even though I was two sets down I still believed I could come back to the match," Djokovic said.

"I played really well third and fourth. A little bit slow start of the fifth and cost me the victory.

"The beginning of the fifth set was the turning point. Was crucial. I should have not lost the two breaks in a row. After that, it was really tough to come back."

But while Djokovic wanted it, Murray needed it, especially after going two-sets ahead.

"It was the thing just to try to keep going for my shots and giving 110 per cent, not leave anything out there on the court, because you know how hard Grand Slams are to come by and how hard you need to work to give yourself a chance to win them," Murray said.

"You don't want to step off the court not doing yourself justice. I felt maybe couple years ago in Australia a couple of years ago when I played Novak in the final there I didn't necessarily do that and that hurt me a lot.

"If I had lost tonight it would have hurt a lot, but I would have known I would have tried my best and given it 110 per cent."

And now, Murray will have even more confidence to face the future.

"I hope it doesn't change me as a person. That would be a bad thing," Murray said.

"I think on the court, hopefully, if I get into situations like this in the future I won't be having all the doubts that I was having before the match.

"I'll maybe just be a little more confident than I was before this tournament."


Tags: tennis, sport, united-states

First posted September 11, 2012 21:35:44

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Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Rafter commits long term to Davis Cup

Updated September 11, 2012 15:06:31

Australia Davis Cup captain Pat Rafter has announced he will remain in the role for at least a "few more years".

Appointed in October 2010, Rafter took time to embrace the role, but now says he feels a duty to remain on board for the long haul.

"I'd like to think that I'll do a few more years at least," Rafter said ahead of Australia's World Group play-off in Germany starting on Friday.

"We'll evaluate it then because it takes a couple of years to actually establish yourself and get trust from the players and understand the guys.

"It's going to take a little bit and I think it requires a length of time for it to have any impact."

More than a decade after retiring, Rafter remains among the most popular figures in Australian tennis and his pledge to stick around in an official capacity will be welcomed.

The Davis Cup captaincy has traditionally been one of the most coveted posts in Australian sport, with Rafter only the fifth man in the past 62 years to lead the 28-times champion nation.

The 39-year-old former world number one replaced John Fitzgerald (2001-2010), with John Newcombe (1995-2000), Neale Fraser (1970-1994) and the legendary Harry Hopman (1950-69) their predecessors.

Rafter says he feels Davis Cup still holds its prestige, despite a number of international players choosing not to play in the competition.

"A lot of the guys internationally think it doesn't fit into their schedule, but I think it's one of the most important things you can do," he said.

"It's a shame to see not everyone playing. It was a big part of my development, just being around all those guys.

"Every tie I learnt and there was a certainly a turning point in 1997 against France.

"You learn a lot about yourself in Davis Cup and you do a lot of hard work and I'm trying to get that across to the boys."

Rafter admits being captain is "getting better" after he endured the disappointment of presiding over Australia's 3-2 World Group play-off losses to Belgium in 2010 and to Switzerland last year.

"It's been a really big learning curve for me," he said.

"Coming to this US Open, I'm finding I'm sitting on the court watching the guys off the side actually visualising myself on the court with them and wondering what would I be saying to them in a situation.

"I'm talking to their coaches and understanding how their head space so I know how to interact with them, so I'm enjoying that aspect of it.

"With what we're trying to create, and getting support across the board with Tennis Australia, I'm starting to feel like we are actually heading into a direction; whereas before I was sort of sitting back and finding my feet a little bit.

"Now I know where I want to go with the team and I've got support with that, I'm enjoying it more."


Tags: sport, tennis, germany

First posted September 11, 2012 15:06:31

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Murray downs Djokovic to win US Open

Updated September 11, 2012 14:12:13

History-making Andy Murray ended Britain's 76-year wait for a men's Grand Slam champion when he beat 2011 winner Novak Djokovic 7-6 (12-10), 7-5, 2-6, 3-6, 6-2 in an epic US Open final on Tuesday (AEST).

Murray became Britain's first major champion since Fred Perry claimed his third American title in 1936, the year the Spanish Civil War started and Franklin D. Roosevelt was re-elected US president.

In a roller-coaster final, which witnessed a 54-shot rally, numerous 30-stroke exchanges, as well as a record-setting tie-breaker, the 25-year-old Murray held his nerve in a knife-edge final set.

The Olympic champion led 3-0 in the decider, dropped serve but broke again for 5-2 when Djokovic called a medical time-out.

Murray was not to be denied, taking the historic crown when Djokovic went long with a forehand on a second match point in what was, at four hours and 54 minutes, the equal-longest US Open final of all time.

Murray had lost all of his four previous Grand Slam finals - to Roger Federer at the US Open in 2008, the 2010 Australian Open and this year's Wimbledon, as well as to Djokovic in Australia in 2011.

But cheered on by fellow Scots Sir Sean Connery and Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson, he survived a thrilling fightback by Djokovic, a five-time major winner who had defeated Murray in an epic five-setter in the Australian Open semi-finals in January.

"I proved that I can win the grand slams," a relieved Murray said.

"And I proved that I can last four-and-a-half hours and come out on top against one of the strongest guys physically that tennis had probably seen, especially on this surface.

"(I learned) to not doubt myself physically and mentally from now on. I'm sure that would have a positive impact in the future."

It was Murray's 24th career title and his win denied Djokovic the chance to claim the biggest pay-day in the history of the sport, $US2.9 million ($2.8 million) for winning the trophy as well as having the best record in the lead-up tournaments.

Djokovic had spent five hours fewer than Murray on the court in reaching his fourth US Open final, but fitness was not an issue in the opening exchanges.

It was a battle to see who could master the vicious wind that suddenly whipped up inside Arthur Ashe Stadium as play got underway.

Both players were broken in the first two games before Murray nipped ahead 3-2 with a break courtesy of Djokovic's third double fault in just three service games.

Murray went to 4-2 despite Djokovic coming out on top in a 54-shot rally.

The Serb retrieved the break for 4-4 before serving two love games going into the tie-break.

The 24-minute tie-breaker, a record for a men's championship match at the tournament, featured a 30-shot rally and a 33-shot exchange before Murray took it on a sixth set point after a marathon 87-minute set.

Murray, sensing his place in the history books, raced to a 4-0 and 5-2 lead in the second set before Australian Open winner Djokovic, a five-time Grand Slam champion, clawed back to 5-5.

The Scot held for 6-5 and carved out two set points when the Serb sent a wild overhead wide.

Djokovic saved one but handed the second set to his opponent with a misguided forehand which also sailed away on the breeze.

But the world number two was not going down without a fight.

A year ago, he came back from two sets and two match points down to beat Federer in the semi-finals and on Tuesday he took the third set 6-2 on the back of a double-break.

Murray wilted under the barrage as the once-uncertain Djokovic became a sure-footed shot-maker, levelling the final by taking the fourth set 6-3.

Djokovic said he gave it everything but was unable to stop Murray winning his first grand slam title.

"He deserved to win this grand slam more than anybody because over the years he has been a top player, he has been so close, lost four finals," Djokovic said.

"Now he has won it so I would like to congratulate him. Definitely happy that he won it."

Djokovic, world No. 1 Roger Federer and Spain's Rafael Nadal had won 29 of the prior 30 Grand Slam titles with Murray the only rival who had consistently challenged the top trio and repeatedly reached grand slam finals.

"Us four, we are taking this game to another level," Djokovic said. "It's really nice to be part of such a strong men's tennis era."


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First posted September 11, 2012 11:04:13

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Murray reaches US Open final

Updated September 09, 2012 14:11:22

Olympic champion Andy Murray, trying to become the first British man to win a grand slam title since 1936, withstood blustery conditions to beat Tomas Berdych and reach the US Open final.

Third seed Murray advanced by defeating the Czech sixth seed 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (9-7) and will face either defending champion Novak Djokovic or Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer.

Murray, who owns a 6-5 career record against Ferrer but trails Djokovic 6-8 in their all-time rivalry, was left not knowing who he will face in the final after the other semi-final was suspended until Monday (AEST) with Ferrer ahead 5-2.

As a result the men's final will start at 6.00am Tuesday (AEST).

"It was brutal," Murray said, after a tornado warning had been issued earlier in the day.

"Some of the hardest conditions I have ever played in, and I come from Scotland so that's saying something."

Trying to end a British men's slam drought dating to Fred Perry's 1936 US title, the 25-year-old Scotsman battled through brutal winds to reach his fifth career grand slam final, his second in a row after falling at Wimbledon.

After collecting an Olympic crown last month, avenging his Wimbledon final loss to Roger Federer in the final, this might at last be Murray's moment.

"I hope so," Murray said.

"You can never say for sure. I know how hard these tournaments are to win.

"When the conditions are like they were today anything can happen. You have to be there from the first point to the last."

Murray and his coach, eight-time grand slam champion Ivan Lendl, are the only Open-era players to drop their first four grand slam finals, Murray losing at the 2008 US Open, 2010 and 2011 Australian Opens and last June at Wimbledon.

Despite wicked breezes, Murray connected on 74 per cent of his first serves and won 73 per cent of those points while making only 20 unforced errors to 64 for Berdych.

"The wind blew it away for me," Berdych said.

"It was really hard to play a passing shot in this kind of weather, but on the other hand, it was also tough not to make mistakes and be aggressive."

Wind gusts whipped the net and players' clothing, played havoc with many serve tosses, blew food wrappers across the court to foil several points and even sent Murray's chair and racquet bag onto the playing area late in the second set.

"You had to focus for every single point. You had to get in position for every shot. You weren't going for aces because it was hard enough to get the second serves in," said Murray.

Umpire Pascal Maria turned off the electronic system to signal let serves after wind gusts set off random beeps.

"This is not about show. This is just about somehow to try to deal with the conditions and then trying to put ball over the net," Berdych said.

"Sometimes it was impossible."

Murray, also trying to become the first man to win the Olympic and US Open titles in the same year, will overtake Spain's Rafael Nadal as world number three this week.

This is the first grand slam event since the 2004 French Open without either Nadal or Roger Federer in the semi-finals.

Nadal was absent with a knee injury while Swiss top seed Federer was ousted by Berdych in the quarter-finals.

With Scottish actor Sean Connery among those watching, Murray dominated the second set and broke Berdych at love to open the third set and again in the third and final games, then broke for a 2-0 lead in the fourth set.

Berdych, who will match his career-best ranking of sixth this week, broke back in the fifth game and they held to the tie-break, where Berdych took a 5-2 lead on a 129-mph ace but errors on the next three points pulled Murray even.

Murray, who lost four of six prior matches to Berdych, took advantage on his second match point to end it two minutes shy of four hours.

"I just tried to hang on and got through in the end," Murray said.


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First posted September 09, 2012 06:28:09

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Heavy winds delay US Open finals

Updated September 09, 2012 13:52:54

Heavy winds in New York have forced Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka's clash to be postponed until Monday (AEST) and the men's final to be held off until 24 hours later.

The match was scheduled to begin at 9:00am on Sunday (AEST), but bad weather forced the match to be put back 24 hours and it is now scheduled to begin at 6:30am on Monday (AEST).

The first semi-final between Andy Murray and Tomas Berdych was played after a 90-minute delay following heavy rain and a tornado warning with the Briton winning in four sets.

The second semi between Novak Djokovic and David Ferrer ended prematurely when Flushing Meadows was evacuated due to an incoming storm with Ferrer leading 5-2 in the first set.

This match is now set to resume at 1:00am on Monday (AEST) with the final now scheduled for 6:00am on Tuesday (AEST).

"They were brutal conditions, some of the worst I have ever played in," Murray, the 2008 runner-up, said after his 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (9-7) win.

Serena Williams will be going for a fourth US Open title in six finals while Australian Open champion Azarenka, the world number one, is making her New York championship match debut.

Despite the testing conditions, the deluge and continuing storms did not dampen everyone's spirits at Flushing Meadows.

US tennis legend John McEnroe tweeted: "A tornado warning??? You cannot be serious!!!"


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First posted September 09, 2012 05:04:05

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Serena wins fourth US Open crown

Updated September 10, 2012 15:40:26

Serena Williams captured her 15th grand slam title and fourth career US Open crown with a 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 victory over world number one Victoria Azarenka on Monday (AEST).

In the first three-set final at the US Open since 1995, American fourth seed Williams joined her sister Venus and Steffi Graf as the only women to win Wimbledon, the Olympics and the US Open in the same year.

Pushed to her limit for the only time in the Flushing Meadows fortnight, Williams was down a break twice in the third set but battled back to win after two hours and 18 minutes when Azarenka swatted a backhand long.

"I honestly can't believe I won," Williams said.

"I was preparing my runner-up speech. I'm so shocked. It's remarkable."

Williams, who turns 31 on September 26, became the second-oldest US Open women's champion in the Open era. Australian Margaret Court was one month past her 31st birthday when she won the 1973 title.

Not since Martina Navratilova in 1987 had a woman won the US Open title past her 30th birthday.

Taking home a top prize of $1.8 million, Williams won her 45th career title after finishing second to Australia's Samantha Stosur in 2011 following a year of health problems that included blood clots on her lungs.

Williams won prior US Open titles in 1999, 2002 and 2008 and added Grand Slam crowns at the 2002 French Open, the 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009 and 2010 Australian Opens and Wimbledon in 2002, 2003, 2009, 2010 and 2012.

Olympic bronze medallist Azaranka, whose 1-9 record against Williams in prior matches included losses in this year's Olympic and Wimbledon semi-finals, won her first grand slam title at this year's Australian Open.

But no women's top seed has won a US Open title since Justine Henin in 2007 and none has won a Grand Slam title since Serena Williams in 2010 at Wimbledon.

"Serena deserves to win. She showed how true a champion she is," Azarenka said.

"I definitely gave it all today. Stepping off this court I will have no regrets."

Williams, in a third set at the US Open for the first time since 2006, exchanged early breaks with Azarenka in the final set.

Azarenka, unbeaten in 12 prior three-set matches this year, broke Williams at love for a 4-3 lead, but was broken back when she served for the match in the 10th game, netting a forehand to pull Williams level at 5-5.

The American held serve and then watched as Azarenka twice hit errant shots when she was a point from forcing the first third-set tie-breaker in a US Open women's final since 1985. Williams then won on her first match-point chance.

The 13-year gap between Williams winning her first Slam title at age 17 at the US Open and now marks the longest span between first and most recent titles in US Open history and for any Grand Slam in the Open era that began in 1968.

No US Open women's final had gone to a third set since Steffi Graf went the distance to defeat Monica Seles 7-6 (8-6), 0-6, 6-3 some 17 years ago.

Williams stretched her match-win streak against world number one players to five in a row, last losing to a rankings leader in 2007 when Justine Henin beat her, and 15 for her career, three shy of Navratilova's all-time record.

It was the fourth time Williams defeated a world number one in a Grand Slam final after Martina Hingis in the 1999 US Open, Venus Williams in 2002 Wimbledon and Lindsay Davenport in the 2005 Australian Open.


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First posted September 10, 2012 09:18:18

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Serena bounces back to cap golden summer

Updated September 10, 2012 16:23:30

Three months ago, Serena Williams was at her lowest ebb after going out in the first round of the French Open, her earliest exit at a grand slam.

She was miserable after that defeat, but also at her most dangerous.

On Monday morning (AEST), the 30-year-old American capped off a 'golden summer' by winning a fourth US Open crown for her 15th slam singles title.

Her victory in the last grand slam of the season came after she won Wimbledon and singles and doubles gold medals at the 2012 London Games.

"Losses really motivate me," Williams said after a champagne toast at her news conference following her 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 victory over world number one Victoria Azarenka.

"I was miserable after that loss in Paris. I have never been so miserable after a loss," she said of her defeat to 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano of France.

"I don't know if that helped me, the loss in Paris. I like to believe it did, because I just wanted to do more. I wanted to do more and more and more."

After beating Australian Open champion Azarenka, Williams collapsed on her back and covered her face in shock.

"This is the most best feeling I think in tennis," she said.

Williams has had to overcome more than defeats.

She battled a slew of injuries over the last few years, including a severe foot injury and life-threatening blood clots in her lungs, and also had behaviour issues that plagued her at Flushing Meadows.

The power-hitting Williams has managed to come through it all in brilliant fashion, showing she still has the skill, will and enthusiasm to rule the women's game.

"I was in the hospital last year," said Williams, who checked herself in after having trouble breathing and was found to have the blood clots.

"So it means a lot. To win Wimbledon is always so special, but coming to your home country and winning this one is just awesome. To win two in a year, it's great."

Williams said she tried to think on the positive side, but has perspective about the challenges that must be faced.

"I don't think about the downs too much. I hope I never think about them as my life continues," she said.

"But I really think a champion is defined not by their wins but by how they can recover when they fall.

"I have fallen several times. Each time I just get up and I dust myself off. So I feel really awesome that I have been able to do that.

"You see great people like Muhammad Ali, for instance, who is a complete person I have always looked up to in sports. He went to jail for so long and he came back as a champion again.

"So I just really think that really defines a champion."

Williams's previous two trips to the US Open ended with matches in which she badly lost control of her temper.

She threatened an official on court for calling a foot fault on her in the 2009 semi-final against Kim Clijsters, and insulted the chair umpire when she was punished for screaming during a point against Sam Stosur in last year's final.

There was a moment in the final against Azarenka that tested Williams's self-control after she was assessed a foot fault in the second set and glared at the chair umpire.

"This is the first year in a long time I haven't lost my cool," she said, drawing a laugh from reporters.

"I think everyone thought about last year. (But) I was just thinking, OK,which foot was it? So I would know not to do that again."

Her extraordinary 2012 summer of success is extra special considering she began her run as a grand slam champion 13 years ago when she won the US Open crown as a 17-year-old.

Asked to compare herself to the teenager who the 1999 title,Williams said: "We both have so much to look forward to. I feel like even though I'm 30, I feel so young and I've never felt as fit and more excited and more hungry.

"Even with this win, (I'm) so excited still to play the next grand slam and see what I can do. Just to do more, I love that feeling.

"I will think about my legacy when I'm done."


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First posted September 10, 2012 16:18:32

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Ferrer reaches US Open semi-final

Updated September 07, 2012 10:27:40

David Ferrer won through to the US Open semi-final beating Janko Tipsarevic in a five-set thriller to earn a match-up against either Novak Djokovic or Juan Martin Del Potro.

The Spanish fourth seed fought back from two-sets-to-one down to defeat his Serbian opponent 6-3, 6-7 (5-7), 2-6, 6-3, 7-6 (7-4).

Ferrer will now watch defending champion Djokovic and 2009 winner Juan Martin Del Potro to see who he will face in the semi-final on Sunday (AEST).

The Spaniard is 5-2 all-time against Del Potro and 5-8 in his career against Djokovic.

This will be the first time since the 2004 French Open that the semi-finals at a grand slam will not feature either Roger Federer or Rafael Nadal, a run of 33 Slams in a row.

In a marathon battle that lasted four hours and 31 minutes, Ferrer rallied from 4-1 down in the final set to force a tie-breaker, then won five of the final six points of the match, the last when Tipsarevic netted a backhand.

"I'm really happy," Ferrer said. "It was a very emotional match. It was a really tough match. Janko, he's an amazing player and he really fought a lot. He deserved to win today too."

Ferrer improved to 17-9 in career five-set matches while Tipsarevic fell to 15-8.

"It was a lottery in the fifth set," Ferrer said. "I had a break down but I was fighting also and I won. I had to fight a lot and be focused every point."

In the fifth set, Tipsarevic broke Ferrer's first service with a backhand volley winner for a 2-0 lead on the way to a 4-1 edge.

But the Serb slipped and fell on his left side going for a Ferrer backhand in the sixth game, which Ferrer held to pull within 4-2.

Ferrer, held, broke back in the seventh game, held again to pull even at 4-4 and earned two break points in the ninth game before Tipsarevic called for a trainer, having his right upper leg taped after reaching toward his right groin during a rally.

The Serb responded with a forehand volley winner and three service winners to hold and each man held into the final tie-breaker.

"I don't want to blame the fall for why I lost the match," Tipsarevic said. "I don't think it did, even though it's really painful right now.

"He played a really good game (to break). He was able to pass me every time I came to the net."

British third seed Andy Murray and Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych meet in the other semi-final.


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First posted September 07, 2012 09:51:50

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Roddick's career ends with Del Potro defeat

Updated September 06, 2012 10:37:11

A tearful Andy Roddick said goodbye to the US Open, New York and his career in an emotional Flushing Meadows fourth-round defeat to Argentina's Juan Martin Del Potro.

The 30-year-old, the last American man to win a grand slam title when he won the US Open in 2003, had already said this would be the last tournament of a 12-year career which yielded 32 trophies.

It also brought him the world number one spot, as well as three heart-breaking Wimbledon runner-up finishes, before his prospects at a permanent place at the top table were swept away by Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

"I've loved every minute of it - for the first time in my career I'm not sure what to say," said Roddick, who was in tears as was wife Brooklyn in the stands while he addressed the crowd after his 6-7 (7-1), 7-6 (7-4), 6-2, 6-4 loss.

"I appreciate your support along the way. I know I certainly haven't made it easy for you at times. The one thing I'm not scared of about retirement are the people that I go home to," he said.

Roddick's farewell on the Arthur Ashe Stadium drew an instant response on Twitter.

"I shed a tear for you. Thank you for all the years of commitment to excellence. Going to miss it," tweeted golf superstar Tiger Woods.

Three-time women's champion Serena Williams tweeted: "@andyroddick I miss my friend already."

Seventh-seeded Del Potro, the champion in 2009, booked a quarter-final date with defending champion Novak Djokovic, the Serbian second seed who advanced 6-4, 6-1, 3-1 when Swiss 18th seed Stanislas Wawrinka retired.

The other side of the draw is likely to have an advantage as these players are already at the semi-finals stages.

Andy Murray reached the last four in the US Open for the second successive year after Marin Cilic squandered a set and 5-1 lead to lose their quarter-final 3-6, 7-6 (7/4), 6-2, 6-0.

Third seed Murray goes on to face either world number one Roger Federer, the five-time champion who beat him in the 2008 final, or Czech sixth seed Tomas Berdych for a place in the final.

This was Murray's seventh in eight meetings with 12th-seeded Cilic, whose only victory over the Briton came in the fourth round in New York in 2009 when he raced to a straight-sets triumph.

But after twice serving for the second set, the 23-year-old Cilic's game fell to pieces, being broken in the fifth and seventh games of the third set.

Murray, the Olympic champion and Wimbledon runner-up to Federer this year, was quickly 4-0 ahead in the fourth set as Cilic, who came into the match having spent over three hours more on court than the Scot, wilted.

Murray broke three more times in the fourth set with the Croat winning just four points on his own serve.

Cilic ended the three-hour encounter having won just three more games from 5-1 ahead in the second set.

Djokovic reached his 14th successive grand slam quarter-final in a match held over from Wednesday (AEST) because of rain with the world number two ahead 2-0 in the first set.

Wawrinka had already complained of feeling unwell at the end of the third game of the third set before he called it quits.

"It was a difficult situation for both of us with the rain yesterday. We were here for 10 or 11 hours, warmed-up and then stopped. It was hard to get ready for a match that way," said Djokovic, the 25-year-old Australian Open champion.

Djokovic has reached his sixth successive US Open quarter-final by dropping just 20 games in four rounds.

"I'm happy with my performances. I played well against a quality opponent and I wish him a quick recovery," added the Serb, who played his match in front of just a few hundred fans on the 10,000-capacity Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Wawrinka, who was bidding to reach the quarter-finals for the second time, having made the last eight in 2010, has now lost 19 matches in a row against top-10 players.

Djokovic's fellow Serb, eighth seed Janko Tipsarevic, fresh from a Twitter stir where he reignited the equal prize money row, reached his second successive US Open quarter-final.

Tipsarevic brushed past German 19th seed Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), 6-2 and goes on to face Spanish fourth seed David Ferrer for a place in the semi-finals.

Tipsarevic won the last time he met Ferrer at the Beijing Olympics in 2008.

"He is definitely a bulldog, I will tell you that. He runs down balls which maybe only Rafa can make from all the guys on tour," said the Serb.


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First posted September 06, 2012 07:58:18

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Straight sets win no joke for Novak

Updated September 07, 2012 16:12:39

Novak Djokovic has won through to the US Open semi-final, beating Juan Martin Del Potro in a straight sets victory that was a lot closer than the score of 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 indicated.

It may not have taken as long as the five-set thriller between David Ferrer and Janko Tipsarevic earlier in the day, but the crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium was stunned by the ferocity of the tennis on display by the second and seventh seeds.

"I love playing night sessions but this was much closer than the scoreline suggests," said Djokovic, who finished Thursday's tie with 43 winners.

"Juan Martin is a great player and I was lucky in the second set. There were some incredible points and rallies. He came up with some great forehands but he is a big guy and I wanted to keep him moving from side to side."

Djokovic defends an 8-5 record against Ferrer.

"It will be another big battle. David has been one of the most consistent players over the last six, seven years but few people ever talk about him. I will have to be very competitive," said the champion.

Del Potro admitted Djokovic had out-played him.

"He is playing better and better. I had the chance to take the second set but he played the important points well," said the Argentine.

"He was just too much for me."

Djokovic was in sensational form in the first set, and he swept to a 6-2 win in just 38 minutes.

What followed, however, was one of the most dramatic sets at a grand slam tournament in some time.

Del Potro took advantage of a slight loss in concentration by Djokovic to break early, but once he had the break in hand it became a breathtaking battle for every point.

Both players set aside the chips and slice shots, in favour of powerful, stunning groundstrokes that brought the crowd to its feet time and again.

Del Potro led 5-4 with the set in his grasp, but Djokovic forced a break point and then held on in a blistering rally to level the set and held for a 6-5 lead.

The set was capped by a 17-minute 12th game, where a desperate Del Potro fought to stave off a second set loss and both players battered the ball through an almost-endless string of deuces.

Finally, Del Potro hung on to force a tie-break, and then won an early mini-break to gain in confidence.

But Djokovic raised his play again, broke back and then again to race away with the tie-break by 7-3.

There was another early break in the third set, this time for the Serbian number two seed, and games then stayed with serve until the tenth of the set, when Djokovic served for the match.

He led 30-0 before Del Potro ripped a cross-court winner followed by an unforced error by Djokovic to bring the score back to 30-30. Djokovic rebounded to finish a big rally with a stinging backhand winner down the line to set up match point.

Finally Djokjovic pushed Del Potro deep to the corner, and the Argentinian could not get it back in play, ending the match after three hours and six minutes.

Djokovic will now play Ferrer in the semi-finals, while Czech Tomas Berdych - the conqueror of Switzerland's Roger Federer in the quarter-finals - will play Britain's Andy Murray to decide the other place in the men's singles final.


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First posted September 07, 2012 13:56:04

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Sharapova and Serena reach semi-finals

Updated September 06, 2012 10:38:26

Maria Sharapova advanced to the US Open semi-finals for the first time since winning the title in 2006, rallying to defeat French 11th seed Marion Bartoli 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Behind 4-0 in the first set when play was halted due to rain on Wednesday (AEST), Sharapova, came out a different player when the match resumed.

The Russian third seed, who improved to 12-0 in three-set matches this year, reached a semi-final against world number one Victoria Azarenka, who beat Sharapova in the Australian Open final, for a berth in the championship match.

Azarenka, the top seed from Belarus who ousted defending champion Samantha Stosur of Australia on Wednesday (AEST), leads the all-time rivalry with Sharapova 5-4, including a 6-3, 6-0 victory in January's Melbourne final.

"Tough challenge," Sharapova said. "She beat me in Australia quite easily and I would love to get my revenge at a Grand Slam."

In the other semi-final Serena Williams will face Sara Errani.

Williams advanced to the last four for the fourth time in five years by defeating Serbian 12th seed Ana Ivanovic 6-1, 6-3 in 58 minutes.

Three-time champion Williams, a 14-time Grand Slam winner, looks in ominous form as she looks to put make up for her defeat to Samantha Stosur in last year's final.

"It's going to be a good matchup. She is such a fighter. She's so strong and quick," Williams said. "I'm just so happy to be in the semis. It's so cool."

Williams has only dropped 16 games through five matches while blasting a tournament-best 41 aces, including 12 against outmatched Ivanovic, a former world number one won a grand slam title at the 2008 French Open.

"I came out really strong," Williams said. "Playing someone like Ana, the former number one, I knew I had to come out strong and play some amazing tennis."

Errani, the 10th seed, became the first Italian woman in the Open era to reach the US Open semi-finals with a 6-2, 6-4 victory over 20th-seeded compatriot, doubles partner and best friend Roberta Vinci.

Errani lost to Sharapova at this year's French Open final.

"It's always hard to play against a friend and it was strange seeing her on the other side of the net," said Errani.

"I am happy to get to the semi-final. Can I win the title? I will tell you in three or four days."

Olympic runner-up Sharapova, who completed a career Grand Slam last June by winning the French Open, could not explain her third-set domination this year.

"A little bit of luck always helps," Sharapova said. "You work hard to achieve your goals, get to one-set all, and this is where it matters. You have to put it all on the line. It's not over until the last point."

Sharapova, who improved to 5-0 all-time against Bartoli, admitted the rain break came at a perfect time giving her a chance to regroup.

"That rain break gave me a few hours to think about things. I came out so flat and she was on fire," Sharapova said.

"Bad four games yesterday. The match wasn't over. I had a chance to come out today and see how things go.

"I'm so happy to get through this one," Sharapova said. "It has been so long since I have been to this stage at the US Open."

Bartoli, 27, settled for her first US Open quarter-final, which gave her a trip to the last eight in every Grand Slam event for her career.

Sharapova, seeking her fifth Grand Slam title and second US Open crown six years after the first, also won majors at Wimbledon in 2004 and the 2008 Australian Open.

Bartoli surrendered a service break on a double fault in the first game once play resumed but held serve twice after that to claim the opening set.

After trading early breaks on double faults in the second set, Sharapova broke in the eighth game on a forehand winner and then held to force a third set, finishing off the second with her fifth ace of the match at 109 mph.

A blistering forehand cross-court winner by Sharapova broke Bartoli in the third game but Bartoli broke back to 2-2 on a backhand winner.

Bartoli squandered two break chances in the sixth game while Sharapova came through on her second break point in the ninth game when a Bartoli forehand went long. The Russian held serve to end matters after two hours, 32 minutes.

Errani broke to open her match and again in the seventh game to take the first set after 36 minutes, then powered past her friend into the final four.

Errani, 25, has four wins this year, all on clay, at Acapulco, Barcelona, Budapest, Palermo. They were her first WTA titles since 2008.

Vinci, 29, reached her first Grand Slam quarter-final in her 32nd Grand Slam appearance. She took her seventh career WTA title last month at Dallas in her final US Open tune-up.


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First posted September 06, 2012 06:52:44

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Azarenka to face Williams in US Open final

Updated September 08, 2012 09:46:50

World number one Victoria Azarenka, the reigning Australian Open champion, advanced to the US Open women's final by defeating

Azarenka defeated the Russian third seed Sharapova 3-6, 6-2, 6-4, while Williams, searching for her fourth US Open title and 15th grand slam, thrashed Errani 6-1, 6-2.

In a rematch of the Australian Open final where Azarenka beat Sharapova to win her first Grand Slam title, the 23-year-old from Belarus moved one victory shy of becoming the first top seed to win the US Open since Justine Henin in 2007.

"I was just trying to grab the first opportunity," Azarenka said. "Maria is such a great player. She came out firing and didn't give me a chance to get into a rhythm. I just kept fighting with all my heart."

This is the first time a US Open women's final four has included the year's prior Grand Slam champions -- Azarenka, Wimbledon and Olympic winner Williams and Sharapova, who completed a career Grand Slam with her Roland Garros title.

Azarenka improved to 12-0 in three-set matches this season while inflicting Sharapova's first three-set defeat in 13 such matches in 2012.

An extra-long break before the third set for excessive heat helped build the drama at Arthur Ashe Stadium, Azarenka practicing with the help of a ball boy as Sharapova went off the court to cool off after dropping the second set.

Sharapova fought off two break points in the fourth game, battled nearly 10 minutes to hold in the sixth but finally surrendered her serve in the final game to fall after two hours and 42 minutes.

"I was trying not to focus on the score," Azarenka said. "I wanted to give whatever it takes. I knew my opponent was going to play hard. I knew I was going to have to play harder."

No top seed has won any Grand Slam crown since Serena Williams in 2010 at Wimbledon.

Azarenka, who will remain number one next week no matter who wins the US Open, had never been beyond the fourth round in New York until this year but will play for her fifth title of the year and the 13th of her career.

Sharapova, who will rise to World No. 2 in next week's rankings, has not reached a US Open final since winning the title in 2006 and failed to become the first woman to reach three Slam finals in the same year since 2006.

Sharapova broke in the second game of the opening set and broke again at love for a 5-1 edge, but back-to-back double faults when she was two points from the set handed Azarenka a break and a lifeline.

Azarenka held and had two chances to break Sharapova in the ninth game before the Russian found her form and captured five of the final six points, taking the set in 40 minutes with her first ace, a 107-mph blast up the middle.

Sharapova, 25, double faulted away a break to hand the ponytailed top seed a 3-1 lead in the second set and Azarenka broke again in the last game to force a third set.

Wimbledon and Olympic champion Williams has reached the final for the loss of just 19 games.

She will take a 9-1 winning record into the final against Azarenka and will go into the game as a big favourite.

"I love playing here. It's always an honour, every time I play here is such a pleasure," said Williams, who was just 17 when she won her first US Open title 13 years ago.

"It's awesome to be back in the final again. I dreamt about this all year and I am really happy. It'll be great to win again, but Victoria also wants it. But hey, I'm the last American standing, so come on guys."

Williams, 30, was barely troubled by 10th-seeded Errani, the French Open runner-up, who she had already defeated three times in three outings prior to Friday's mismatch.

She broke three times in the first set, which was wrapped-up in 30 minutes, firing 18 winners to just three and allowing the Italian just five points on her serve.

More breaks followed in the first and fifth games of the second set as the American built a 4-1 lead.

Errani, the first Italian woman to reach the US Open semi-finals, saved a match point in the seventh game.

But Williams, the runner-up to Samantha Stosur in a bad-tempered final in 2011, wasn't to be denied, winning the tie with a second serve ace - her ninth of the contest and 50th of the tournament.

Her 64-minute victory was perfectly illustrated by 38 winners to just six by Errani.


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First posted September 08, 2012 07:36:38

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Challengers look to topple dominant Djokovic

Updated September 07, 2012 18:19:19

Defending champion Novak Djokovic tackles Spanish bulldozer David Ferrer for a US Open final spot determined to preserve the majors stranglehold of himself, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

The world's top three have confidently parcelled out 29 of the last 30 majors between them but, for the first time in more than eight years, a grand slam has reached the last-four stage without either Federer or Nadal still involved.

Federer, the 17-time major title winner, was knocked out in the quarter-finals while Nadal, the holder of 11 majors, never even made it to New York, forced to rest his increasingly troublesome knees at home in Spain.

That leaves 25-year-old Djokovic, battling to win a sixth major, as the sole survivor of the golden generation at Flushing Meadows.

The Serb has certainly looked the part, reaching a sixth successive US Open semi-final - and 10th in a row at all majors - without dropping a set.

On Friday he demolished 2009 champion Juan Martin Del Potro 6-2, 7-6 (7-3), 6-4 in the quarter-final to set-up a date against Ferrer, whom he has beaten eight times in 13 meetings with a 7-2 hardcourt advantage.

If he gets through, either Andy Murray, four-times a runner-up at the majors, or Tomas Berdych, Federer's conqueror and a major finalist just once, will be waiting in the championship match.

"Murray, Berdych, Ferrer, myself, we're all top 10 players. Maybe for some people it was surprising to see Roger lose because he's been so consistent and dominant a player in the last couple of years," said Djokovic.

"He's always expected to get to at least semi-finals of every grand slam. But Berdych deserved to win. He came up with incredible tennis. I have never seen him play that well."

Djokovic said he would not be under-estimating Ferrer who has equalled his best grand slam performance of a run to the semi-finals in New York in 2007.

"David is a fighter. He's one of the biggest competitors we have in the game. People overlook him," said the world number two.

Meanwhile, Murray admits he has nothing but respect for Czech power-hitter Berdych, the man who stunned five-time US Open champion Federer, ahead of their semi-final.

Berdych's stunning victory over the world number one condemned the great Swiss to his worst defeat in New York since 2003.

The sixth seed will be making his semi-final debut against the British third seed, who was runner-up to Federer in 2008, and will be buoyed by a winning record against the Scot that stands at 4-2.

"Berdych is a great player. Let's show him some respect, too," said Murray after his passage to the last four for the third time was followed almost exclusively about the potential dangers posed by Federer.

That was after Murray had seen off a choking Marin Cilic but before Berdych ended Federer's proud record of 21 successive wins in night sessions on Arthur Ashe Stadium.

"He's a huge hitter of the ball. Even if you want to dictate points and be aggressive, he can take that away from you because he's such a powerful guy," said Murray.

"You need to use good variation and try not and give him the same ball over and over, because he likes that."

Berdych has only made one grand slam final in his career - at Wimbledon in 2010 where he lost to Nadal after beating Federer in the quarter-finals.

He has also won four of his last five matches against Murray who is bidding to become Britain's first major winner since Fred Perry in 1936.

Berdych has endured a roller-coaster season, suffering first-round losses in Wimbledon and the Olympics, a fourth-round exit at the French Open and a run to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open.

But his game has flourished at Flushing Meadows, where he is second on the aces list with 71, only bettered by the 103 sent down by Canada's Milos Raonic, who was beaten in the fourth round by Murray.

Berdych has also only committed nine double faults in the tournament.

"If my game is well and I'm able to play my game, then I have a dangerous enough game to beat anyone," he said.


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First posted September 07, 2012 18:19:19

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Federer exits US Open

Updated September 06, 2012 15:52:00

Roger Federer was knocked out of the US Open after losing a quarter-final thriller to Tomas Berdych, marking the world number one's earliest exit from Flushing Meadows in nine years.

Top-seeded Federer was unable to conjure up any of his old magic after the Czech made a flying start and stormed to a surprise 7-6 (7-1), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 victory.

"It couldn't be better," Berdych said.

"There is no better feeling. There is no better moment than this one."

Federer was unable to hide his disappointment.

The 31-year-old had ended a two-and-a-half year majors drought by winning Wimbledon in July and arrived in New York on the back of a victory at the Cincinnati Masters.

"I had such an amazing summer. I really thought I was going to come out and play a solid match," Federer said.

"I didn't do that tonight. Obviously there is a bit of a let-down now."

While Berdych has never won a major, the gifted sixth seed has been a thorn in Federer's side before, most famously in 2010 when he beat the Swiss master at Wimbledon.

Berdych made a nervous start in the bear pit that is the Arthur Ashe Stadium, losing his opening service game, but was almost untouchable for the next 90 minutes, cracking winners to every part of the court.

Federer was staring at defeat when he went down a break in the third set but through sheer force of will, he raised his game and won the set, unsettling Berdych with perfectly disguised drop shots and some outrageous passes down the line and across the court.

"I still was down two sets to one, so I wasn't celebrating too much," Federer said.

"The momentum switch no doubt gave me a chance, put the score back to zero, put him further away from winning, and made the match go longer, make it more physical, more mental.

"Obviously I was excited winning the third, but the problem was the first couple of sets, particularly the first one."

Berdych regained his composure in the fourth and claimed the crucial break in the eighth game before serving out for victory.

"There is something in my game that he doesn't like and it makes him struggle a bit, I would say, and maybe bring him out of his comfort zone that he always like to be on court," Berdych said.

"He always likes to have a time and he always like to be the one dictating the game."

Berdych's semi-final opponent is Great Britain's Andy Murray, who won the Olympic gold medal in London, and lurking on the other side of the draw is the defending champion Novak Djokovic.

For Federer, a five-times winner at the US Open, it marked the first time he had failed to make the last four since 2003, the same year he won the first of his record 17 major titles.

"Obviously I wish I could have played better," Federer said.

"There were so many moments I thought, 'man, it's just not happening for me'. It was just a very disappointing match for me."


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First posted September 06, 2012 14:03:34

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