Category Archives: Tennis

Roger Federer to make last-minute decision on Laver Cup participation

Roger Federer is set to make a last-minute decision on his participation in the Laver Cup, his physical trainer has stated.

Last week 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer announced he would be retiring from professional tennis after a series of knee operations and stated the Laver Cup would be his last official event.

Federer was pictured arriving in London for the Laver Cup on Sunday, with the tournament’s official account tweeting “RF has arrived.”

But the 41-year-old could be denied the opportunity to bow out at the team competition between Europe and the rest of the world, which starts on Friday at London’s O2 Arena, due to persistent injury troubles.

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“He will probably decide that at the last moment,” Pierre Paganini, Federer’s trainer, told the Swiss newspaper Blick. “He is trained to have as much information as possible about whether it’s a good idea or not.”

Paganini also explained how Federer had first contemplated retiring in July, when it became clear he was making “greater efforts for relatively low intensity.”

“Since July, when he started combining the different training elements, he has noticed that he has to make more and more detours and put in extra effort,” Paganini said.

“He had to make greater efforts for relatively low intensity.

“I think it’s a smart decision. It’s not just about the knee. Roger has played a lot of matches in his career and put his body under extreme strain.”

Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray will all play together on the same team for the first time at the Laver Cup, which is run by Federer’s management company.

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Frances Tiafoe drops out of Davis Cup matches after semifinal run at US Open

US Open semifinalist Frances Tiafoe pulled out of the United States team that will play group stage matches in the Davis Cup next week in Glasgow, Scotland.

The U.S. Tennis Association announced Tiafoe’s withdrawal Saturday.

Tiafoe, a 24-year-old from Maryland who was seeded 22nd at Flushing Meadows, became the first American man to get to the US Open semifinals since Andy Roddick was the tournament runner-up in 2006.

Roddick was the last man from the country to attain any Grand Slam tournament when he earned the trophy in New York three years before that.

Tiafoe’s run ended with a five-set loss to No. 3 seed Carlos Alcaraz, a 19-year-old from Spain. Alcaraz will meet No. 7 seed Casper Ruud of Norway in Sunday’s final, with the winner collecting his first Grand Slam title and rising to No. 1 in the ATP rankings for the first time.

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Captivating crowds in Arthur Ashe Stadium with his superb play and unbridled enthusiasm, Tiafoe reached the second major quarterfinal of his career by eliminating Rafael Nadal in the fourth round in New York and ending the 22-time Slam champion’s 22-match undefeated run at major tournaments.

Tiafoe followed that up by defeating No. 9 seed Andrey Rublev to get to the semifinals.

“Obviously, through my career, I’ve been pretty sporadic [at] playing well [then] veering off for a while,” Tiafoe said. “I’ve always backed myself against the best players in the world. I’m doing it on a consistent basis, starting to beat guys more readily. Ready to take the next step.”

The USTA stated Tiafoe would not be replaced on the Davis Cup roster for the Americans, who will start by facing Britain on Wednesday.

The other U.S. players are Taylor Fritz, Tommy Paul, Jack Sock and Rajeev Ram.

U.S. Davis Cup captain Mardy Fish will miss the trip to Scotland because he got COVID-19, and Bob Bryan will fill in as acting captain. Bryan was a member of the U.S. squad that won the Davis Cup in 2007.

Britain’s team is expected to include three-time major champion Andy Murray and Dan Evans, who is ranked 23rd this week.

Davis Cup group stage matches also will be held in Bologna, Italy; Valencia, Spain; and Hamburg, Germany, from Tuesday through Sept. 18.

The top two teams from each group advance to the Davis Cup Finals in Malaga, Spain, on Nov. 22-27.

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No. 1 Iga Swiatek tops Ons Jabeur in women’s US Open final to win third major title

As good as she’s been this year, Iga Swiatek came to the US Open unsure of what to expect.

She complained that women use different, slightly lighter, tennis balls than men do at Flushing Meadows, where she’d never been past the fourth round. She was trying to grow accustomed to the noise and distractions, the hustle and bustle, of the Big Apple. And she arrived with a record of just 4-4 since her 37-match winning streak ended in July.

None of that matters now. Cementing her status as her sport’s new dominant figure by winning what is expected to be the last tournament of Serena Williams’ career, the No. 1-ranked Swiatek outplayed No. 5 Ons Jabeur 6-2, 7-6 (5) in Arthur Ashe Stadium on Saturday to claim her first championship at the US Open and third Grand Slam title overall.

“It’s something that I wasn’t expecting, for sure. It’s also like a confirmation for me that the sky’s the limit,” said Swiatek, who is 55-7 in tour-level matches with seven trophies in 2022, both best in the WTA. “I’m proud. Also surprised little bit.”

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She acknowledged harboring concerns about the US Open after a couple of shaky showings at hard-court tune-up tournaments.

It turned out OK: She is the first top-seeded woman to earn the US Open since 23-time major champion Williams in 2014.

“I feel like on court, I can just do my job,” Swiatek said, “and I’m happy about it, that I kind of can make these doubts go away.”

Swiatek, like Jabeur, travels with a sports psychologist, and it took some fortitude to finish this one off. At 6-5 in the second set, Swiatek held her first championship point. Right before Jabeur served, Swiatek jogged over to the sideline to change rackets — an unusual choice at that moment.

When action resumed, Swiatek missed a backhand. That could have been tough to recover from. Indeed, Jabeur pushed things to the tiebreaker, which she then led 5-4. But Swiatek steeled herself, took the last three points and soon was accepting the silver trophy and a $2.6 million winner’s check, joking: “I’m really glad that is not in cash.”

The 21-year-old from Poland won the French Open for the second time in June and is the first woman since Angelique Kerber in 2016 to collect two major titles in a single season.

“She’s really set the bar very high. It’s great for our sport,” said Jabeur, a 28-year-old from Tunisia who will rise to No. 2 in the rankings on Monday.

She is the first African woman and first Arab woman to reach a Grand Slam final and was participating in her second in a row. But she is 0-2 at that stage, being the runner-up at Wimbledon in July.

“Definitely, I’m not someone that’s going to give up,” said Jabeur whose support team wore black shirts with white writing that read “Yalla Habibi,” Arabic for “Let’s go, my love!” “I am sure,” she added, “I’m going to be in the final again.”

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Borna Coric spoils Rafael Nadal’s return from 6-week layoff with 3-set win at Western & Southern Open

Borna Coric spoiled Rafael Nadal’s return from a six-week layoff, defeating the Spanish star 7-6 (9), 4-6, 6-3 on Wednesday night in the Western & Southern Open.

The winner of a men’s record 22 Grand Slam championships, including two this year, hadn’t played since July 6 after an abdominal tear forced him to withdraw from a semifinal match versus Nick Kyrgios at Wimbledon. He was hoping to start putting the final touches on prepping for the upcoming US Open.

“With a week-and-a-half to New York, it’s sad to not play here,” Nadal said. “I need to get into Grand Slam mode.”

The second-seeded and third-ranked Nadal, 36, showed no signs of the injury that mostly plagued his serve. He reached 121 mph with one serve and needed several awkward body movements to return some of Coric’s shots.

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“I need to practice,” Nadal said. “I need to return better. I need days. It’s better to come back when you’ve spent a period of time outside and win your first match. I wasn’t ready enough to win the match today. The big thing is to stay healthy. It’s a difficult injury to manage. I need to take it step by step.”

The match lasted 2 hours, 51 minutes, not including a rain delay of 1 hour, 25 minutes in the first set.

In an all-English men’s second-round match, 11th-ranked Cameron Norrie outlasted three-time Grand Slam champion Andy Murray 3-6, 6-3, 6-4.

Also, Taylor Fritz beat Kyrgios 6-3, 6-2, and 19-year-old wild card Ben Shelton upset fifth-ranked Casper Ruud. Shelton is the youngest American to defeat a top-five opponent since Andy Roddick beat No. 1 Gustavo Kuerten in 2001.

Sebastian Korda came back to defeat Frances Tiafoe 4-6, 6-1, 6-4 to reach the third round in Cincinnati for the first time. He is among four American men to advance to this stage of the tournament, the most since 2003 when there were five; he joins Fritz, Shelton and John Isner, his next opponent.

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Simona Halep wins tournament title in Toronto for third time, outlasting Beatriz Haddad Maia

Simona Halep collected the National Bank Open on Sunday for the third time, defeating Beatriz Haddad Maia 6-3, 2-6, 6-3.

Halep, from Romania, also collected the title in 2016 and 2018 when it was called the Rogers Cup. It’s the 24th title of Halep’s career and first since switching to Patrick Mouratoglou as her coach.

The 26-year-old Haddad Maia, who is from Brazil, has never won a tennis tournament at this level before but has rocketed up the WTA Tour’s standings this year.

She upset three seeded players at the National Bank Open: 13th-seeded Leylah Fernandez of Laval, Que., world No. 1 Iga Swiatek and 14th-seeded Karolina Pliskova in succession.

A year ago, Haddad Maia was ranked 183rd in the world, but entered this week’s tournament No. 24 and will crack the top 20 next week.

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Halep fell behind Haddad Maia 3-0 in the opening set and started yelling at herself.

Some Brazilian fans — many of them in yellow national soccer kit — started chanting “Bee-ah! Bee-ah!” to cheer on Haddad-Maia but they were soon drowned out by Romanian fans’ calls of “See-moh-nah! See-moh-nah!”

The chanting seemed to rouse Halep. A deep forehand return on set point that was just out of the reach of Haddad Maia’s extended racket sealed six consecutive games for Halep as she came back to take the first set.

Haddad Maia seemed to shake off that stunning comeback to start the second set, quickly winning the first two games and fending off Halep on two more for a 4-0 lead.

Although Halep won a game back to slow Haddad Maia slightly and make it 4-1, the younger Brazilian immediately reclaimed that momentum to make it 5-1.

Halep claimed another game before Haddad Maia could serve for the second set. Haddad Maia jumped out to a 40-15 advantage and then her serve handcuffed Halep to attain the set and force a decisive third and final set.

For the first time in the match, Halep opened a set with a game winner and took a 2-0 lead when Haddad Maia’s return of her forehand went long. Later, an overhand smash at the net by Halep completed her own unblemished game for a 5-2 lead.

Haddad Maia stayed in the match, winning another game. She made it 5-3 when her high backhanded volley dropped in for a point. Holding a 40-15 advantage in the ninth game of the third set, Halep clinched her first title in Toronto when Haddad Maia put her return into the net.

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Serena Williams advances to second round in Toronto in straight sets

Serena Williams hadn’t won in so long, she said she couldn’t even remember the feeling.

She picked up her first triumph since the 2021 French Open on Monday, beating Nuria Parrizas-Diaz 6-3, 6-4 at the women’s National Bank Open.

“I’m just happy to get a win. It’s been a very long time, I forgot what that felt like,” Williams said.

It’s just the second tournament of the season for the 40-year-old Williams, who returned to competition at Wimbledon just over a month ago. The 23-time Grand Slam champion fell in the first round to Harmony Tan in three sets at the All England Club.

Before then, she last competed at the 2021 Wimbledon tournament, where she retired in the middle of her first match due to a torn hamstring suffered after slipping on the grass surface.

Williams, who will turn 41 at the end of September, will next face either 12th-ranked Belinda Bencic or Tereza Martincova.

Williams has acquired this tournament three times and reached the final in her last appearance at the hardcourt event in 2019, losing to Bianca Andreescu when she was forced to stop because of injury.

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But Williams has played little since and knows she needs time on the court.

“I feel good, I felt like I competed well today. I think that’s what I needed to do, is just compete,” she said. “Mentally, I’m getting there. I’m not where I normally am (or) where I want to be. Any match I play, whether I win or lose, helps me.

“I haven’t played a lot in the last year, (even) two years. I think that helps me physically. I feel much better in practice, it’s just getting that to the court. Literally, I’m the kind of person (where) it takes one or two things and then it clicks.”

Williams started out strong, taking the first two games with relative ease.

Parrizas-Diaz tied it 2-2, but despite Williams’ struggles at certain points, the 31-year-old Spaniard couldn’t find enough of a consistent flow to get ahead. Williams found her rhythm, mixing solid touch with her signature power and putting shot after shot out of Parrizas-Diaz’s reach.

Williams’ effort had the fans on their feet roaring and some even bowing.

Williams won the final three games to take the first set, then surged ahead in the second after the 57th-ranked Parrizas-Diaz took a 4-3 lead. She endured a nine-deuce game to hold serve and even the set, then broke in the next game before serving out the victory.

While Williams says the end of her remarkable career is in sight, she’s enjoying her time and staying in the moment.

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Naomi Osaka returns to court for first time since May, wins in first round of Silicon Valley Classic

Four-time major champion Naomi Osaka collected the first match she has played since May, defeating Zheng Qinwen 6-4, 3-6, 6-1 on Tuesday night at the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.

Osaka hit 11 aces and saved 7 of 8 break points in the hard-court tournament that serves as a tuneup for the US Open.

Osaka, who had not played anywhere since a first-round loss to Amanda Anisimova at the French Open on May 23, was all smiles after the match, waving and clapping back at the crowd, which gave her a standing ovation.

“It’s really good to be back,” she said in her on-court interview after the win. “I’m just really happy.”

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The former No. 1-ranked player was bothered by her left Achilles tendon during that defeat, then cited that lingering injury when she pulled out of Wimbledon in June. Osaka won the US Open in 2018 and 2020.

Next up for Osaka is Coco Gauff, who won her match 6-0, 6-1 over Anhelina Kalinina.

Osaka leads their head-to-head series 2-1, including a triumph over Gauff at the 2019 US Open. Gauff was the runner-up at this year’s French Open.

Another past champion at Flushing Meadows, 2019 winner Bianca Andreescu, lost Tuesday in San Jose, beaten 6-4, 6-2 by Shelby Rogers.

In other first-round action, qualifier Elizabeth Mandlik won her WTA debut, defeating Alison Riske-Amritraj 6-3, 6-3, and No. 9 seed Veronika Kudermetova beat Camila Giorgi 7-6 (2), 4-6, 7-5.

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Simona Halep advances in Citi Open ahead of Venus Williams’ return

Simona Halep earned her opening match at the Citi Open on Monday hours before another former No. 1-ranked women’s player returned to singles action for the first time in 2022.

Venus Williams is set to play her first singles match in nearly a year when she faces Canadian Rebecca Marino on the same court where the third-seeded Halep beat Cristina Bucsa of Spain 6-3, 7-5 earlier in the day at the hard-court tuneup for the U.S. Open.

“I had a good run in Wimbledon, so it’s always tough to start,” Halep said of changing surfaces after the grass-court season. “But I’m really happy I won the match and I can play another match here.”

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Williams has not played a WTA singles game since losing to Su-Wei Hseih 6-2, 6-3 in Chicago on Aug. 23. She and partner Coco Gauff lost their doubles debut earlier this year at the French Open.

On the men’s side, Kyle Edmund beat qualifier Yosuke Watanuki 6-4, 7-6 (8) to win his first ATP Tour-level singles match since October 2020.

Edmund, who was once the top-ranked Brit and climbed as high as 14th in the world, was out while recovering from three knee surgeries.

During his rehab, Edmund pictured himself back on the court in moments like this.

“There was long periods where I was just out, couldn’t play, didn’t pick a racket up. … It just wasn’t fun at all,” he said. “These sort of matches or these events are something you imagine when you’re out.”

Countryman Andy Murray is set to play his first match of the tournament Monday afternoon versus Mikael Ymer of Sweden.

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Top seeds Carlos Alcaraz, Anett Kontaveit won first-round matches at Hamburg European Open

Top-seeded players Carlos Alcaraz and Anett Kontaveit gained their first-round matches at the Hamburg European Open on Tuesday, while Emil Ruusuvuori had an upset win over Diego Schwartzman.

Alcaraz, 19, dropped the first set but recovered to win 3-6, 6-1, 7-6 (3) versus 259th-ranked German wild card Nicola Kuhn. His second-round opponent at the clay-court event will be Filip Krajinovic.

Playing as the top-seeded player in an ATP tournament for the first time, Alcaraz stated it was difficult to adjust to playing on clay again after his run to the fourth round on the grass at Wimbledon.

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Ruusuvuori won 7-5, 6-4 versus third-seeded Schwartzman, who was coming off a 6-1, 6-0 loss in his last match against Pablo Carreno-Busta last week at Bastad. 

Tallon Griekspoor won 7-6 (8), 7-5 to eliminate eighth-seeded Holger Rune.

Kontaveit started her campaign in the women’s draw with a 6-3, 7-6 (3) win over Irina Bara despite losing her serve four times and next plays Rebecca Peterson.

Kontaveit started the season strongly but has struggled since a coronavirus infection in April and was 1-3 in her previous three tournaments including the French Open and Wimbledon.

Second-seeded Barbora Krejcikova, the 2021 French Open champion, defeated Magdalena Frech 6-3, 6-0 in the second round and will face either Anastasia Potapova or Maria Lourdes Carle in the quarterfinals.

Eighth-seeded Andrea Petkovic beat Misaki Doi 6-4, 6-3 and will play either Kontaveit or Peterson in the quarterfinals.

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Novak Djokovic defeats Nick Kyrgios to win seventh Wimbledon title

Novak Djokovic used his steady brilliance to defeat the ace-delivering, trick-shot-hitting Nick Kyrgios 4-6, 6-3, 6-4, 7-6 (3) on Sunday for a fourth consecutive Wimbledon championship and seventh overall.

The top-seeded Djokovic ran his unbeaten run at the grass-court Grand Slam tournament to 28 matches and raised his career haul to 21 major trophies, breaking a tie with Roger Federer and moving just one behind Rafael Nadal’s 22 for the most in the history of men’s tennis.

Among men, only Federer, with eight, has won more titles at Wimbledon than Djokovic. In the professional era, only Federer was older (by less than a year) than the 35-year-old Djokovic when winning at the All England Club.

His comeback on a sun-filled afternoon followed those in the quarterfinals, when Djokovic erased a two-set deficit versus No. 10 seed Jannik Sinner, and the semifinals, when No. 9 Cam Norrie grabbed the opening set. In last year’s title match at Wimbledon, Djokovic dropped the opening set. In the 2019 final, he erased two championship points against Federer.

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There were two particularly key moments Sunday that went Djokovic’s way, ones that Kyrgios would not let go as he began engaging in running monologues, shouting at himself or his entourage (which does not include a full-time coach), finding reason to disagree with the chair umpire (and earning a warning for cursing) and chucking a water bottle.

In the second set, with Djokovic serving at 5-3, Kyrgios got to love-40 — a trio of break points. But Kyrgios played a couple of casual returns, and Djokovic eventually held. And then, in the third set, with Kyrgios serving at 4-all, 40-love, he again let a seemingly sealed game get away, with Djokovic breaking there.

The 40th-ranked Kyrgios was trying to become the first unseeded men’s champion at Wimbledon since Goran Ivanisevic in 2001.

Ivanisevic is now Djokovic’s coach and was in the Centre Court guest box for the match.

Kyrgios is a 27-year-old from Australia who never had been past the quarterfinals in 29 previous Grand Slam appearances — and last made it even that far 7½ years ago.

In some ways, he stole the show Sunday. He tried shots between his legs. Hit some with his back to the net. Pounded serves at up to 136 mph and produced 30 aces. Used an underarm serve, then faked one later.

Perhaps, in some ways, it would have been fitting for such a unique player to emerge as the champion at such a unique Wimbledon.

All players representing Russia or Belarus were banned by the All England Club because of the war in Ukraine; among the men that kept out of the field were No. 1-ranked Daniil Medvedev, the reigning U.S. Open champion, and No. 8 Andrey Rublev.

In response, the WTA and ATP professional tennis tours took the unprecedented step of revoking all ranking points from Wimbledon.

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