Wednesday, November 23, 2011

ATP WORLD TOUR FINALS: Federer humbles Nadal to book ticket to semis

So I guess this is what happens when Roger Federer faces Nadal in a round robin match on a really fast indoor hard-court.

It was the first time in 26 meetings the pair have met in a non-knockout stage and the result was a complete deconstruction from Federer of his greatest rival.

Granted the Swiss had never lost any of his previous three meetings against Rafa on indoor hard-court, but this is the biggest win Federer has ever posted over the Spaniard - 6-3, 6-0 in 61 minutes!

It was Federer minus the nerves plus the genius we all know he has.

The no nerves part can be partly attributed to the round robin effect, everything else is just good genes, and impeccable form gained from a lifetime of supremacy on the court.

The Swiss Master hit 28 winners using every shot in the book and didn't even give Rafa a single look at a break point.

It also wasn't a matter of poor play from Rafa. The world No2 hit only 7 errors, but his winner count was a lowly 4. He even had a higher first serve percentage than Federer (73% to Fed's 70%). Nadal just didn't stand a chance last night!

Nadal's match with Jo-Wilfried Tsonga now will be a must win for the Mallorcan and we should expect quite an interesting showdown.

I have to say though, no one knows how to lose better than Rafa. Magnanimous in victory and defeat.

Post-match quotes

"At least I've got one surface that goes my way." - Roger Federer on his rivalry with Rafa.

“A very surprising result,” he added. “I’m excited at how well I played tonight.” - Roger Federer

"The score is true, and today he played too good for me. Just accept that today when you play against Federer and he's playing like this, the only way to stay in the match is have free points with the serve, because for the rest his level was too high in this surface. And I didn't had these free points as usual." - Rafa Nadal

"Only Federer can play at this level; I accept normally the losses, it's not the first time I lose a match like this, won't be last. I am in perfect health today, it didn't affect the match at all." - Rafa Nadal

"Is not the moment to say goodbye. Is not the moment to go down; is the moment to keep fighting. I'm still in the tournament. I still have the chance to be in the semi-finals because if I win the next match I will be in semi-finals. So it's the moment to keep fighting with positive attitude and is the moment to accept when Federer plays like this he is better than me." - Rafa Nadal

"Federer was unbelievable when he destroyed Nadal,what a master class. Fed was my pick to win event and looks like it's going to happen." - Greg Rusedski

"Federer played like Federer! Even against Nadal!!! Wow what a performance. Real joy to watch." - Ivan Ljubicic

"Looking at Federer's level makes you appreciate the merit of Nadal who managed to beat him 17 times, and win 10 Grand Slams in this era." - Carlos Moya

Sania Mirza back in practice following her surgery

Photo credit: Erik Arazas

Indian sensation Sania Mirza returned to practice following her surgery, which she underwent six weeks ago.

The former world No27 was hitting the ball very cleanly this morning at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, with PSS coach, Roberto Rubio.

Looking forward to her comeback!!

Here's the link to my interview with Sania...

Saturday, November 19, 2011

WORLD TOUR FINALS: Quotes of the day - Tsonga, Federer, Rafa and Fish

"There's only three players winning Grand Slams right now, but I am never intimidated when I walk out on court. The only person who intimidates me is my mother, when she is angry with me." - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga fears no one but his maman.

I'd love to meet Mama Tsonga, the woman has done a fine fine job I must say...

"I'm not taking anything away from Asia, but was Asia the strongest this year? I'm not sure. Novak wasn't there, I wasn't there – I played in the [Shanghai] final last year – and Rafa lost early, but it was a good effort by him." - Roger Federer talks to The Independent about Andy Murray's Asian hat-trick.

He does have a point but way to bring a man down, Roger. Not sure what the question was for him to give that answer but the result sounds a tad condescending. But either way, I do believe Fed respects Andy, so everyone should move on I guess.

"Maybe you have this feeling, but I don't. I played in the final of the last three Grand Slams and I've had a good season. I lost a few important matches this season, but I won a few ones too. I'm happy about my year. I didn't have a perfect year, but I've had a very good year." - Rafa Nadal on the defensive when asked if he felt like a forgotten man at this year's WTF's.

"Djokovic is not a goal for me. A goal is to be a better player than I was last year. Later we will see if that's enough." - Rafa Nadal doing what he does best, keeping things in perspective.

"Every time you play someone you learn something new. Last week, I learnt than Roger was better than me! At Wimbledon [in June], I was better than him." - Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

"To lose Shanghai was difficult to manage because I felt I was in a positive moment,” he said. “I felt I had an opportunity to play a good tournament, and I had a bad loss against Mayer, so that hurt me a little bit. I felt that I needed to stop, to practise a little bit, to recover a little bit physically and mentally, and that’s what I did…" - Rafa Nadal on losing to Florian Mayer in straight sets in the third round of Shanghai last month.

"I knew the guys who were sixth, seventh and eighth had a nice cushion going into the last couple of events of the year. During that period, I was the most stressed out - the most I have ever been in my career - because I didn't know how many points we were ahead and whether it would matter." Mardy Fish on the stress of fulfilling the dream of qualifying to the WTF's.

Group B action kicks off tomorrow with Federer facing Tsonga (not before 2pm UK time) and Rafa facing Fish (not before 8pm UK time).

WORLD TOUR FINALS: London tidbits...

The ATP World Tour Finals kick off tomorrow with some of the most talented players we've ever seen facing off at the O2 Arena.

Here are some updates from the English capital ahead of the tennis extravaganza we're about to be treated to.

The players and the ATP organised a charity gala on Thursday evening and they managed to raise more than £400,000 for Great Ormond Street Hospital Children’s Charity. Here's a video from the gala and you can find some cool photos of Rafa, Xisca, Federer and Murray here...

Djokovic and his girlfriend Jelena took some time to go see the Twilight: Breaking Dawn London premiere and British teen Laura Robson happened to be there too looking like an absolute rock star. Robson really knows how to glam up.

Photos via Getty

Tennis couple Jurgen Melzer and Iveta Benesova tweeted that they were also going to see Breaking Dawn, but a day later. Melzer is at the WTFs with his doubles partner Philipp Petzschner, and the pair are ranked fourth in the world.

Here's a photo of 'Melzsova' at the gala...
Djokovic practiced with Rafa for 2 and a half hours on Thursday and tweeted this photo of the "best teams" in tennis.

Tomas Berdych arrived at the gala with his new girlfriend Ester Satorova. First impression: Wow! Second thought: Poor Lucie Safarova (Berdych's ex)!

Photo via Reuters

And I'll leave you with this... The magnificent 8 ...

Photo via Getty

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy meet Ronaldo at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix

Photo credit: © Reem Abulleil

I have to admit I haven't been devoted to my beloved tennis as much as I am known to be, for quite some time and my new job of 5 months at Sport360° is mostly to blame.

That very job though allowed me to cover the F1 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this past weekend (a surreal and incredible experience I must say) and look who I bumped into at the paddock Sunday night...

Tennis-Golf couple Caroline Wozniacki and Rory McIlroy watched the race from the McLaren garage and on their way out after the race was over, the couple stopped to take a photo with Brazilian footballing legend, Ronaldo.

Caro was nice enough to talk to me and said it was her first Grand Prix and that she had an amazing time. Sadly I didn't have time to discuss any tennis with her but it was still great to get an awesome reminder of my beloved sport.

Now that the F1 with its flashiness, celebrities, super-awesome fast cars, glamorous drivers and magnanimous venue will depart the city, I vow to return to tennis for the London ATP World Tour Finals.

And just to prove I've been following the Tour through Twitter while I was at the Yas Marina Circuit... I'd like to say... way to go, Fed :)