Nadal Cruises Past Fritz To Win Acapulco Title

 

 

World number two Rafael Nadal captured his first ATP Tour title of 2020, easily defeating unseeded Taylor Fritz in straight sets, 6-3, 6-2, in the final of the Mexico Open on Saturday.

The 33-year-old Nadal, playing in his first tournament since losing in the quarter-finals at the Australian Open last month, didn’t drop a set all week and improved to 19-2 all-time at this event.

He nabbed his third Mexico Open title to go with victories in 2013 and 2005.

“I couldn’t be happier. I played a great event from the beginning to the end,” Nadal said. “Acapulco was the first big title that I won in my career, so to be able to stay here after 15 years is amazing.

“I can’t thank enough the people who make me feel at home every single time.”

READ ALSO: Wilder Exercises Rematch Clause For Third Fight With Fury – Reports

Nadal wasted no time figuring out Fritz’s game in the first career meeting between the two.

The 19-time Grand Slam winner made eight unforced errors and needed just one ace but it came in the final game of the second set to get to championship point.

Nadal closed it out with a blistering serve that handcuffed Fritz and gave Nadal his 85th career title.

Nadal ceded the world number one ranking to Novak Djokovic after the Australian Open, where the Serb won a record eighth title.

Nadal could have regained the top spot with a win in Acapulco, but he also needed Djokovic to fail to reach the final in this week’s Dubai event.

Djokovic extended his win streak to 21 matches by beating Stefanos Tsitsipas 6-3, 6-4 earlier Saturday to lift the Dubai trophy.

Nadal won the final eight points to take the first set. He seized control by breaking Fritz’s serve in the ninth game to go up 5-4. He then served for the set, winning four straight points.

On set point, he hammered a serve which Fritz barely got back. That set up an overhead smash for Nadal which he put away nicely.

Nadal broke Fritz twice in the second set, including the fifth game to go up 3-2. He broke Fritz again to take a 5-4 lead and then served out the match.

Nadal has now won a title for 17 consecutive years.

In the women’s final, seventh-seeded Heather Watson captured her first WTA title in three years by grinding out a 6-4, 6-7 (6/8), 6-1 win over Canadian teen Leylah Fernandez.

The persistent Fernandez, of Filipino and Ecuadorean descent, survived nine championship points before finally succumbing to Britain’s Watson in a two hour, 46-minute marathon.

Multiple Grand Slam Winner, Sharapova Retires From Tennis

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 28, 2019, Russia’s Maria Sharapova thanks supporters after defeating Australia’s Daria Gavrilova during their match at the St. Petersburg Ladies Trophy tennis tournament at Saint Petersburg’s Sibur Arena.  OLGA MALTSEVA / AFP

 

Five-time Grand Slam winner Maria Sharapova, one of the world’s most recognisable sportswomen, on Wednesday announced her retirement at the age of 32.

“Tennis — I’m saying goodbye,” Sharapova said in an article for Vogue and Vanity Fair magazines.

“After 28 years and five Grand Slam titles, though, I’m ready to scale another mountain — to compete on a different type of terrain.”

Sharapova burst onto the scene as a supremely gifted teenager and won her Grand Slams before serving a 15-month ban for failing a drugs test at the 2016 Australian Open.

The Russian former world number one’s ranking is currently 373rd.

Sharapova has hardly played in the past year because of long-standing shoulder problems.

When she did play she lost as many matches as she won and was dumped out in the first rounds at Wimbledon, the US Open and, most recently, the Australian Open in Melbourne.

Sharapova shot to fame as a giggly 17-year-old Wimbledon winner in 2004, the third-youngest player to conquer the All England Club’s hallowed grass courts.

‘Tennis gave me life’ 

She became world number one in 2005 and won the US Open the next year.

“One of the keys to my success was that I never looked back and I never looked forward,” Sharapova said on Wednesday.

“I believed that if I kept grinding and grinding, I could push myself to an incredible place.”

But in 2007 Sharapova began her long on-off battle with shoulder trouble.

She would win the 2008 Australian Open before a second shoulder injury kept her off tour for the second half of the season, missing the US Open and Beijing Olympics.

In 2012, the Siberian-born Sharapova captured the French Open to become the 10th woman to complete a career Grand Slam. She added Olympic silver to her resume that year.

Her 2014 French Open title was another high after a dispiriting injury low.

More fitness troubles followed before the bombshell announcement of her positive test for the banned heart drug meldonium.

Always a fighter — the seven-year-old Maria and father Yuri left for the US in 1994 with just a borrowed $700 to their names — Sharapova returned to the sport in 2017.

“In giving my life to tennis, tennis gave me a life,” Sharapova said in her retirement missive.

“I’ll miss it every day. I’ll miss the training and my daily routine: Waking up at dawn, lacing my left shoe before my right, and closing the court’s gate before I hit my first ball of the day.

“I’ll miss my team, my coaches. I’ll miss the moments sitting with my father on the practice court bench. The handshakes — win or lose — and the athletes, whether they knew it or not, who pushed me to be my best.

“Looking back now, I realize that tennis has been my mountain. My path has been filled with valleys and detours, but the views from its peak were incredible.”

AFP

Coco Gauff, 15, Stuns Title-Holder Osaka At Australian Open

 

 

Unseeded 15-year-old Coco Gauff beat reigning champion Naomi Osaka in straight sets in a major upset at the Australian Open on Friday.

The American prodigy, making her Melbourne debut this year, beat the third seed 6-3, 6-4 in the third round to avenge her heavy defeat at last year’s US Open.

The youngest player in the draw will play 14th seed Sofia Kenin of the United States or China’s Zhang Shuai.

“Oh my gosh. Two years ago I lost the first round in the juniors and now I’m here — this is crazy,” said Gauff.

“I was just telling myself one point at a time and just keep fighting because you never know what happens on this court.”

This was the second installment of a budding rivalry that could light up tennis for the next decade or more, having met at the US Open, where Osaka won easily.

READ ALSO: Serena Williams Stunned At Australian Open, Ending Record Bid

The teenager Gauff, who spent time training with Serena Williams in the off-season, had said she would be less nervous and more aggressive this time round.

And so it proved as they rattled through the first five games in barely 15 minutes at the 15,000-capacity Rod Laver Arena.

Osaka, a relative veteran at age 22, fired into the net to drop serve in game eight and then racked up more unforced errors in gifting Gauff the first set in 32 minutes.

“Come on!” shouted Gauff, ranked 67 but fast making a name for herself as the most exciting prospect in women’s tennis.

The young American carried the momentum into the first game of the second set, breaking a subdued and rattled Osaka, a two-time Grand Slam champion.

The Japanese broke back for 1-1 when Gauff volleyed into the net, but it was a rare mistake by the American and she broke once more, before serving for the match at 5-4.

The nerveless teenager clinched victory on the first match point when Osaka fired into the net.

Gauff announced herself to the sporting world at Wimbledon last year when, as a qualifier, she stunned Venus Williams in the first round.

She did the same thing to the seven-time Grand Slam champion on her Melbourne debut this week, then came back from a set and 3-0 down to defeat Sorana Cirstea on Wednesday.

When Gauff and Osaka met five months ago in New York, also in round three, then-world number one Osaka crushed the tearful and overawed teenager 6-3, 6-0 in a little over an hour.

That first clash was memorable also for what happened afterward when the teenager cried and Osaka consoled her before Osaka herself began welling up.

Serena Williams Stunned At Australian Open, Ending Record Bid

 

Serena Williams was sensationally knocked out of the Australian Open third round by China’s Wang Qiang on Friday, torpedoing her bid for a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam crown.

Williams, 38, was the bookies’ favourite to win an eighth title at Melbourne Park but she came unstuck against a determined Wang, who took only one game off the American last time they met.

The 6-4, 6/7 (2/7), 7-5 upset means Williams, whose last Major win was at the 2017 Australian Open when she was pregnant, has fallen short at eight Grand Slams since returning from having a baby in 2018.

READ ALSO: Victor Moses Signs For Inter Milan On Loan

“I think my team always believed I can do it,” said 27th seed Wang, who lost 6-1, 6-0 to Williams in last year’s US Open quarter-finals.

“After last time I did really hard work on and off-court, I believed I could do it.”

Her reward is a clash with Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who upset Williams’ close friend Caroline Wozniacki, sending the Dane into retirement.

Williams, seeded eight, started slowly against the fast, positive Wang, and she was three break points down in the ninth game when Wang punched away a forehand to grab the break.

Serving for the set, Wang won a full-blooded rally to bring up set point and then sealed it to go one set up — a far cry from their last meeting in New York.

Williams came out firing for the second set but her chances plunged when she was broken to go 3-2 down, and it looked all over when she let Wang off the hook on breakpoint in the eighth.

However, Wang wobbled when she was serving for the match and Williams won a titanic 24-shot rally to break the Chinese player for the first time, raising her arms in triumph.

Williams staved off more break points before dominating the tie-breaker, where she benefited from another net cord and a Hawk-Eye review before levelling the match with a service winner.

In the tense final set, both players held firm but Wang pounced when Williams was serving to stay in it, converting her third match point as the American netted.

Wang received a torrent of criticism from Chinese fans after her capitulation to Williams in the last eight at Flushing Meadows.

The 28-year-old from Tianjin has now achieved her deepest Australian Open run, after reaching the third round last year — a prelude to her best Major performance, at the US Open.

AFP

No Longer Angry Serena Glad To Be Back In New Zealand

Serena Williams of the US serves against Qiang Wang of China during their Women’s Singles Quarter-finals tennis match during the 2019 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York on September 3, 2019. DOMINICK REUTER / AFP

 

Serena Williams returns to the Auckland WTA Classic on Monday for the first time since her “miserable” debut appearance two years ago, determined to put the record straight.

“I’m in a really different frame of mind,” she said ahead of her opening match on day one — a marquee doubles appearance partnering Caroline Wozniacki — with her first-round singles against long-time rival Svetlana Kuznetsova expected on Tuesday.

The 38-year-old Williams is banking on Auckland setting her up for an unprecedented 24th major title at the Australian Open later in the month.

Williams was way below par when she played in Auckland in 2017, complaining about the windy conditions, being abrupt in interviews and could not wait to get out of the country as soon as she lost in the second round to Madison Brengle.

But she says the anger she felt then has gone.

“I’m not pregnant, as a start, so that works, so I can only do good now,” the tournament top seed and world number 10 joked with journalists as she reflected on how she was unaware at the time that she was six weeks pregnant with her daughter Alexis Olympia.

“I just remember it was windy and being angry, hating my now husband (Alexis Ohanian). I was like ‘I can’t stand you and I don’t know why,'” she said.

“Obviously at the time I didn’t know why either … I was six weeks pregnant and I had no idea. So looking back it’s so surreal and crazy and now that I’m here, I have all of these funny memories of being miserable.

“I always knew that I would have to come back, for sure. I didn’t even realize what was happening, and now I’m here with my daughter.

“This is kind of where it all began. It’s amazing. It’s so exciting to be here with her, and to know that this is literally where it started.”

Despite her quick exit in 2017, Williams went on to win the Australian Open for her 23rd major title, but has not won a tournament since.

Williams, who has a 10-3 record against Kuznetsova in a 16-year rivalry, said she was pleased to be playing her “really good friend” first up.

“I like to play really tough opponents in the first round, and there’s no better way to start than to start serious. I really love her and adore her, and I wish it could’ve been a little bit later, for both of us,” she said.

She was also looking forward to playing with former world number one Wozniacki in the doubles, calling the Dane “one of my best friends”.

Meanwhile, the Auckland tournament has been hit with the late withdrawal of seventh seed Jelena Ostapenko who pulled out for “personal reasons”.

The 22-year-old Latvian, who won the French Open in 2017, is the second high-profile withdrawal with Canadian Bianca Andreescu pulling out last month due to her ongoing knee problems.

Andreescu defeated Williams to claim the US Open title in September last year.

Djokovic Driven By Lasting Legacy, Not Trophy-Hunting

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic returns the ball to Russia’s Karen Khachanov during the Mubadala World Tennis Championship 3rd Place match at Zayed Sports City in Abu Dhabi, on December 21, 2019. AFP

 

 

Novak Djokovic says the main source of his motivation at this stage of his career is securing a lasting legacy rather than simply trying to win tennis matches and trophies.

For nearly two years, from mid-2016 until mid-2018, the 32-year-old Serb had admittedly struggled with motivation after pulling off the historic feat of winning four Grand Slams in a row –- a first in men’s tennis since 1969.

Djokovic recaptured his spark and has since added a quartet of majors to his overall tally, which now stands at 16.

While the world number two remains in a tight battle with Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer in the race for most Grand Slam titles won, Djokovic believes what currently drives him in the sport is something deeper than that.

“You need to constantly give yourself fuel from the source, whatever the source is,” Djokovic said at the Mubadala World Tennis Championship exhibition event in Abu Dhabi, where he secured third place with victory over Karen Khachanov on Saturday.

“I think it’s always about finding that purpose, and the reason, the meaning of actually playing. For me, especially in the last couple of years, it’s not only about winning a tennis match or a trophy.

“It had to be something greater than my own achievements. Something that would be related to legacy, something that would really be inspiring the lives of others, particularly kids.”

Federer holds the men’s all-time record of most majors won, with 20, and Nadal is breathing down his neck with a total of 19.

Djokovic is younger than both of them though, and has a shot at closing the gap on his two rivals.

“That’s a goal,” said Djokovic, when asked if he is fuelled by breaking records.

“I’m motivated by breaking my own records and moving my own boundaries and that”s something that motivates me to compete.

“I do love to play tennis so I do like to be on the practice court. But competitive tennis is different. In order to compete to be a professional tennis player and to compete at the highest level, you really need goals, daily goals, monthly goals, yearly goals.

“So I do have them, as everyone else. Of course, I’m aware of the privilege that I have to fight for history and to be able to possibly achieve even greater things and that’s something that drives me of course, alongside other things.”

Djokovic will begin his 2020 season by representing Serbia in the ATP Cup in Australia.

He remains midway through his pre-season preparations, and leaves Abu Dhabi with one loss, to Stefanos Tsitsipas, and one win over Khachanov.

“I got what I came here for, two good matches,” he said on Saturday.

Meanwhile, Khachanov is hoping to find consistency in the new season following a see-saw 2019.

The Russian former top-10 player has added Swedish coach Fredrik Rosengren to his team, to work alongside Vedran Martic.

The 23-year-old is also a new dad, having welcomed his son David with his wife, Veronika, three months ago.

“Fatherhood is treating me very well. I think you become more mature because you have a responsibility not only for yourself but for the whole family, so that’s one of the biggest steps,” said the 17th-ranked player.

AFP

Top 30 Player Involved In Tennis Betting Scandal – Reports

People play table tennis at a park in Beijing on December 14, 2019. NOEL CELIS / AFP

 

More than 135 tennis players, including one ranked in the ATP top 30, are implicated in an international betting scandal, German media reported Sunday.

According to a joint report by daily newspaper Die Welt and broadcaster ZDF, the players are subject to a cross-border investigation involving both the FBI and European authorities.

Among the indivuals allegedly involved is a male player in the top 30 who has won three ATP tour titles, the report said.

“We are talking about an Armenian betting mafia network which is spread across seven countries in Europe and has manipulated on a large scale,” Belgian state prosecutor Eric Bisschop told ZDF.

He added the scandal involved hundreds of small bets on fixed games, wracking up profits of tens of thousands of euros in each case.

ZDF and Die Welt also spoke to Argentinian former player Marco Trungelliti, a whistleblower who claims to have been contacted by match-fixers.

“There are pros in the world top 50 who have fixed games. It happens at all levels,” Trungelliti said.

AFP

Tsitsipas Beats Thiem To Claim ATP Finals Title

Greece's Stefanos Tsitsipas poses with the winner's trophy after winning the men's singles final match on day eight of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 17, 2019.
Greece’s Stefanos Tsitsipas poses with the winner’s trophy after winning the men’s singles final match on day eight of the ATP World Tour Finals tennis tournament at the O2 Arena in London on November 17, 2019.

 

 

Stefanos Tsitsipas battled back from a set down against Dominic Thiem to win the ATP Finals title on Sunday, emphatically staking his claim as the leader of the next generation of aspiring global superstars.

The Greek 21-year-old, who won, 6-7 (6/8), 6-2, 7-6 (7/4)  is the youngest champion since Lleyton Hewitt in 2001 and the fourth first-time champion at the season-ending event in as many years.

It is Tsitsipas’s third title of the season and comes a year after he was crowned champion at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan.

He has charmed the crowd at London’s O2 Arena all week and earned his place in the final with an impressive straight-sets win against six-time champion Roger Federer.

“I can’t sum up my emotions right now,” said Tsitsipas. “It’s amazing to be remembered as the 2019 champion. It is a dream come true and the best way to end this match.

“I did get nervous at some points in the match but I managed to forget about how I felt and I had momentum in the tie-break which was really tight.

“My fighting spirit and me constantly trying to push myself to do better got me there in the end.”

Defeat is a bitter disappointment for Thiem, who won five titles this year, including the Indian Wells Masters, and reached a second successive French Open final.

There was little to choose between sixth-seed Tsitsipas and Austria’s world number five Thiem in the first set as a total of five break points went begging.

Both players had impressed on serve during the tournament, with Tsitsipas’s figures especially striking — 44 service games won out of 47 leading into the final.

In an inevitable tie-break Tsitsipas saved a set point at 5/6 but Thiem clinched his second set point with a powerful serve that the Greek returned into the net.

Tsitsipas breaks

But Tsitsipas regrouped and within minutes Thiem, who beat his opponent in three sets in the Beijing final last month, was under pressure, spraying a forehand wide to concede first break of the match.

Tsitsipas held with ease and then produced a forehand down the line to break again, with Thiem threatening to unravel. Tsitsipas had won 12 out of 14 points in the set.

Thiem, who like Tsitsipas plays with a single-handed backhand, stemmed the tide but could make little impression on his opponent’s serve and lost the set 6-2.

Thiem was rocking again at the start of the deciding set. He saved two break points in the first game but looked increasingly shaky and was broken to trail 1-2.

The Greek was now well on top but out of nowhere Thiem was level at 3-3 after Tsitsipas put a backhand wide.

The Austrian was now playing with much more confidence, unleashing a series of blistering winners and edged ahead 5-4 after another service hold but the rest of the set went with serve.

In the deciding set tie-break Tsitsipas took a 4-2 lead but was pegged back to 4/4.

But on the next point Tsitsipas earned a mini-break, giving him the chance to serve out for the match and he made no mistake, closing out the biggest victory of his career.

Tsitsipas has competition among his peers as the new generation attempt to dislodge Federer, Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, who have dominated the men’s game for the past 15 years.

World number four Daniil Medvedev won two Masters titles this year and reached the US Open final while Alexander Zverev was in London defending the title he won last year.

But Tsitsipas, who has beaten every member of the “Big Three” in 2019, will go into the new season with the belief he can take the next step towards the apex of the men’s game.

 

AFP

Thiem into ATP Finals Semis As Djokovic And Federer Face Shootout

 

 

Dominic Thiem produced a scintillating display of attacking tennis to beat Novak Djokovic and qualify for the last four at the ATP Finals on Tuesday, leaving the Serbian facing a shootout against Roger Federer.

In the standout match so far at London’s O2 Arena, the Austrian fifth seed took the fight to the world number two, recovering from losing the first set to triumph 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 7-6 (7/5)

Earlier, Federer put himself back in the mix at the end-of-season event with a 7-6 (7/2), 6-3 win against Italian debutant Matteo Berrettini in their round-robin clash.

Federer and Djokovic will face off on Thursday in a repeat of this year’s Wimbledon final to determine who else will progress from Group Bjorn Borg.

Thiem was forced to play high-stakes tennis against the 16-time Grand Slam winner, taking the breath away with some of his inside-out forehands and single-handed backhands

Forced to play at his limit, he hit 50 winners compared with Djokovic’s tally of 27 but also racked up 44 unforced errors.

“This was really one of these special matches, what I’ve practised all my life for, all my childhood for,” Thiem said.

“Really epic one in an amazing atmosphere, beating a legend of our game. And also I’ve qualified for the semi-finals, which is the best.

”Coming back from 1-4 (down in the deciding tie-break) was a little bit of luck, but it was an unbelievable match and one I’ll never forget. Novak is the best player in the world and I had to do something special.”

In a captivating first set the players swapped a break apiece but Djokovic, a five-time ATP Finals champion, edged the tie-break.

Undaunted, Thiem broke his opponent at the first opportunity in the second set and, with Djokovic’s error count climbing, went on to level the match.

Thiem also drew first blood in the decider but cracked in the sixth game as Djokovic levelled the match and appeared to have engineered a switch in momentum.

The Austrian successfully challenged at 30-30 in the 10th game after his forehand was ruled out, preventing a match point for Djokovic and he toughed it out to level at 5-5.

He then broke Djokovic to love to earn a chance to serve for the match but stumbled and the decider went to a tie-break.

Still the drama was not finished. Thiem slipped to 4-1 down but battled back to win it on his second match point when Djokovic dumped a forehand into the net.

Federer stays alive

Third seed Federer had put himself under the cosh by losing his opening round-robin match to Thiem.

The six-time champion was not at his fluent best on Tuesday but ultimately had too much for his Italian opponent.

The Swiss upped his game to take the first set tie-break comfortably and broke immediately at the start of the second set to leave the big-serving Berrettini with too much to do.

Federer was asked after his win against Berrettini whether his defeat to Djokovic at Wimbledon had left emotional or mental scars.

“We’ll find out, but I think it’s all flushed away from my side,” said the Swiss.

“A lot of water has gone under the bridge since then.”

Djokovic is hunting a sixth ATP Finals title to pull level with Federer’s record and is also seeking to pip Rafael Nadal to the year-end number one ranking.

On Monday, top seed Nadal lost his opener in Group Andre Agassi to defending champion Alexander Zverev while Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Daniil Medvedev.

France Crush Australian Dreams To Win Fed Cup Final

France’s Caroline Garcia (R) talks with Kristina Mladenovic during the doubles match against Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur of Australia in the Fed Cup final tennis competition between Australia and France in Perth on November 10, 2019. Tony Ashby / AFP

 

A jubilant Kristina Mladenovic and Caroline Garcia led France to its first Fed Cup title since 2003 on Sunday, winning a deciding doubles rubber to crush Australian dreams 3-2.

In the last tournament played under the current format, the pair kept their focus at Perth Arena to overcome Ashleigh Barty and Samantha Stosur 6-4, 6-3, denying the home team their first crown in 45 years.

It was France’s third title and first since they beat the United States 16 years ago, piling more misery on seven-time champions Australia who have now lost all nine of the last Fed Cup finals they have appeared in.

Mladenovic and Garcia, who won the 2016 French Open doubles title, bounced back from going an early break down in the first set to expose Stosur’s weaknesses, with the veteran out-of-sorts and making too many mistakes.

World number one Barty, stunned by Mladenovic in a singles rubber earlier Sunday, did her best to keep Australia in the hunt, but the French pair were clinical, racing to victory as their team-mates went wild.

“I’m the proudest man on the planet right now, I’m so proud of my girls and my team. They deserve it because they fought for a long time for this title,” ecstatic France captain Julien Benneteau said courtside.

“For sure I am going to have a lot of beers now.”

The final marked the last Fed Cup played under the current format, with an overhaul next year seeing 12 nations compete in a six-day event in Budapest.

That will mean an end to home ties and the atmosphere they bring, with the 26,951 fans turning up over two days in Perth the second-highest Fed Cup attendance on record after Roland Garros (30,000) in 2005.

The doubles clash was set up by Ajla Tomljanovic hauling the home team back into the tie by beating France’s Pauline Parmentier 6-4, 7-5.

She came on court after 40th-ranked Mladenovic upset Barty 2-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/1) in an epic.

Croatian-born Tomljanovic, in her Fed Cup debut for Australia, had been thrashed 6-1, 6-1 by Mladenovic in the opening singles rubber on Saturday.

But captain Alica Molik kept faith with her and she bounced back to beat Parmentier 6-4, 7-5.

“Really glad I got a second chance today and got the win and kept us in,” said the Australian. “The team has been unbelievable all week and it is such a privilege to play for you guys.”

Earlier Barty, who has been in scintillating form, whipping Garcia 6-0, 6-0 on Saturday after winning the WTA Finals in China last weekend, crashed in a classic.

“From my point of view I fought as hard as I could and I hope that I did my team proud and all Australians proud. I fought with everything I had left,” said Barty.

Barty started where she left off after the “double bagel” of Garcia on Saturday, breaking Mladenovic’s first service game with a net volley to extend her streak to 15 games this weekend.

But Mladenovic held serve to end the Barty run and it became a closer affair before the Australian began forcing errors to take the first set.

Barty saved five break points in the opening game of the second set, but Mladenovic finally worked a first crucial break with some quality passing shots, with a forehand long from Barty giving her a 5-4 lead.

She held her nerve to serve out the set.

Mladenovic, who beat Barty on clay in Rome earlier this year, was on a roll with the French star breaking then holding for a 3-1 third-set lead.

Stung, Barty rallied for 3-3 but the errors again crept in and the set ultimately went to a tense tie breaker where Mladenovic triumphed.

“I just kept believing because I felt I was out there fighting and giving her a hard battle. I’m just so proud how I kept pushing and obviously won the game,” said Mladenovic.

Federer Drops Out Of Inaugural ATP Cup For Family Reasons

Swiss Roger Federer returns a ball to Australian Alex De Minaur during their final match at the Swiss Indoors tennis tournament in Basel on October 27, 2019.
FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP

 

Roger Federer has withdrawn from the ATP Cup, a new team competition to be held in Australia in January, citing “family reasons”.

“It is with great regret that I am withdrawing from the inaugural ATP Cup event,” Federer said in a statement.

“When I entered the event last month, it was a really difficult decision because it meant less time at home with the family and a fully intense start to the season.

“After much discussion with both my family and my team about the year ahead, I have decided that the extra two weeks at home will be beneficial for both my family and my tennis.”

The world number three, 38 years old, withdrew on Monday from this week’s Masters 1000 tournament in Paris, two hours before the start also saying he needed to rest.

The ATP Cup organisers tweeted: “@rogerfederer announced that he would not play the #ATPCup for family reasons and therefore Switzerland was removed” from the competition.

The ATP Cup is a new competition which competes with the revamped Davis Cup and will be held in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney from January 3-12.

“It pains me to not be a part of the most exciting new event on the calendar,” Federer said.

“But this is the right thing to do if I want to continue to play for a longer period of time on the ATP Tour.”

“For my Australian fans, I look forward to seeing you all at the Australian Open, fresh and ready to go.”

The Davis Cup will be held November 18-24 in Madrid but Switzerland did not qualify.

Federer will next play at the ATP Tour Finals in London, which get underway on November 10.

France-Born Nigerian Star, Hemery, Indian Lady Bhatia Win Lagos Open Tennis 2019

Representative of Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwolu-Olu, Executive Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Kweku Tandoh (left) presents Men’s singles trophy to Calvin Hemery from France.

 

The 2019 Lagos Open Tennis Championship ended on Monday with France-born Nigerian player, Calvin Hemery and Indian Riya Bhatia winning the men and women’s singles respectively.

The finals, which was shifted 24 hours because of heavy downpour in Lagos metropolis on Sunday, was the climax of the second leg of the ITF World Tennis Tour at the Lagos Lawn Tennis Club, Onikan.

Frenchman Hemery won the tournament back to back as he was the winner of the first leg. Interestingly, his opponent in Monday’s final was the same Bosnia Herzegovina opponent Aldin Setkic, who he defeated in the first leg.

The final was an easy one for Hemery as Setkic retired when the game result was 4-2.

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To Hemery, whose father is from Edo State, winning the ITF World Tour was a thing of joy for him, adding that he felt elated with the support he received from Nigerian fans, which he described as one of the rallying forces that propelled the victory.

The women’s singles final was a tough match for the winner, Indian Riya Bhatia, who was stretched in the three sets thriller by opponent from Slovenia, Nastja Kolar. The crucial match ended 7-5,1-6,6-3.

Bhatia described her opponent as a good player, adding that it took her determined effort to win the match.

The Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Sanwolu-Olu, who could not physically present at the finals was represented by Dr. Kweku Tandoh, the Executive Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission and the Director General, Mr. Oluwatoyin Gafar.

Dr Tandoh who represented the Governor gave kudos to the finalists, most especially the winners. He praised, on behalf of the State government, the Local Organising Committee LOC headed by Chief Pius Akinyelure for putting up a good organisation of the competition. He wished all the players safe journey to their respective destinations.