US Open: Murray Struggles To Beat Haase In First Round

Andy Murray progressed to the second round of the US Open with victory over Robin Haase in four sets despite struggling with a bout of cramp.

Murray seeded eighth, won 6-3 7-6 (8-6) 1-6 7-5 in three hours and eight minutes inside a sweltering Louis Armstrong Stadium.

He made his way through the first two sets in comfortable fashion but began to feel the strain when Haase won nine straight games in the third and fourth sets.

Haase, the world number 70, had looked capable of handing the Scot his first opening-round defeat at a Grand Slam since 2008 when he won nine straight games.

But despite cramping, and choosing not to sit down at the changeovers, Murray twice recovered from a break down in a wildly unpredictable fourth set that saw both men ailing in the New York heat.

“I started cramping at the beginning of the third set, at the front of my quad and then in my forearm,” said Murray.

“It was not particularly comfortable and I just tried to hang around as long as possible and managed to get through.

“I was in a good position at 2-0 up but I didn’t know whether to go for it at the beginning of the third set or conserve energy and go for it in the fourth.

“It wasn’t easy for Robin either.”

Murray had come back from two sets down to beat Haase at Flushing Meadows in 2011, a year after he had lost to Stan Wawrinka on the same court in what was his last Grand-Slam defeat before the quarter-final stage.

The Scot goes on to face German qualifier, Matthias Bachinger, who beat Radek Stepanek 6-3 6-2 6-2.

In the women singles, second seed, Simona Halep, had to come back from a set down to defeat Danielle Collins 6-7 (2-7) 6-1 6-2 in the first round of the US Open.

Collins threatened to cause a major upset at Arthur Ashe Stadium when she dominated the opening-set tie-break against the French Open finalist.

But Halep, who served seven double faults, managed to turn things around and win the next two sets comfortably to set up a second-round meeting with Jana Cepelova, who defeated Maria Teresa Torro Flor 2-6 7-5 6-1.

Sixth seed, Angelique Kerber, was also pushed to three sets before coming through to clinch a 6-2 3-6 7-5 win against Ksenia Pervak, who may have closed out the upset if not for her 56 unforced errors.

Agnieszka Radwanska, who is seeded 4th had a much easier route through to round two as she thrashed Sharon Fichman 6-1 6-0 in just 47 minutes.

Golf: Tiger Woods Parts Ways With Coach

Tiger Woods has parted ways with his coach, Sean Foley, after a miserable year beset by injuries and a winless run in major championships.

Woods started officially working with Foley at the 2010 US PGA Championship and, during their four years together, won eight times on the PGA Tour.

The 14-time major champion both gained and lost the world No.1 ranking during that time and did not win another major, amidst struggling with several injuries.

Thirty-eight year old Woods, in a statement on his official website, praised Sean for being an outstanding coach during their years together.

“I’d like to thank Sean for his help as my coach and for his friendship. Sean is one of the outstanding coaches in golf today, and I know he will continue to be successful with the players working with him.

“With my next tournament not until my World Challenge event at Isleworth in Orlando, this is the right time to end our professional relationship.”

Woods added he would not be appointing a replacement any time soon: “Presently, I do not have a coach, and there is no timetable for hiring one.”

Foley also commented in the statement released by Woods, saying: “My time spent with Tiger is one of the highlights of my career so far, and I am appreciative of the many experiences we shared together.

“It was a lifelong ambition of mine to teach the best player of all time in our sport. I am both grateful for the things we had the opportunity to learn from one another, as well as the enduring friendship we have built. I have nothing but respect and admiration for him.”

Woods is currently sidelined with a back injury and his decision to part with Foley comes shortly after he announced he would be taking a four-month sabbatical from the sport in order to recover.

The golf star missed the cut at the PGA Championship this month, a week after withdrawing from the World Golf Championships event in Akron, Ohio, with injury.

He missed the Masters and US Open while recovering from March 31 back surgery, and finished joint 69th at the British Open.

Roger Federer Sets Eyes On US Open Victory

US OpenSwiss Tennis legend, Roger Federer, is gearing up for a successful outing at the US Open.

The World number 3, having lost the Wimbledon final earlier in the year, again finished as the runner-up in Toronto before going on to win the title in Cincinnati.

A back injury has made 2013 a difficult year for Federer but the 17-time Grand Slam champion insists his injury problems were over and he hopes to challenge for the title in New York.

“I was scared to have another setback, and so it was just not as clear-cut and simple as it is this year,” Federer, who won his five US Open titles in consecutive years between 2004 and 2008, is quoted as saying by The National.

“This year I played a lot of good matches. Not just Toronto and Cincinnati, but really from the first week on I have always played really nice tennis.

“You almost forget how to lose to a point and confidence rises. You’re back to winning ways again and everything seems so simple. I’m looking forward to this tournament, because I really feel like I can play a great tournament. I hope I can show that on the court this year.”

Defending Champion, Rafael Nadal, would not defend his US Open title after pulling out of the tournament with a wrist injury. This paves the way for World Number One, Novak Djokovic, and Federer to stake a claim for the title.

Djokovic, who beat Federer in the Wimbledon final in five sets earlier in the year, is the generally acknowledged favourite to win the 2014 US Open, but he did not sound like it in his last pre-tournament press conference on Saturday.

“When Rafa is not around it changes everything,” Djokovic said. “But, on the other side, we have all the other best players in the world here.”

It is expected that Djokovic would be more concerned by a likely quarter-final meeting with the man who stopped him in the final in 2012, British Andy Murray. Although the British has acknowledged Roger Federer as a major threat.

He believes Federer is in sparkling form and would not be surprised to see the Swiss win the US Open.

Federer faces 29-year-old Australian Marinko Matosevic, the world number 77, in the first round.

Tennis: Nadal Pulls Out Of US Open With Injury

nadalWorld Number One, Rafael Nadal, has pulled out of the US Open the US Open because of an injury to his right wrist.

Nadal suffered an injury to his right wrist at home in Mallorca on July 29 whilst practicing for the US hard court season and he was advised by doctors to wear a cast for two to three weeks but the problem forced him to miss the Rogers Cup in Toronto and the Cincinnati Open.

The defending champion had hoped to recover in time before August 25, when the US Open gets underway at Flushing Meadows but announced on his Facebook page that he would not defend his title due to the injury.

Nadal said: “I am very sorry to announce I won’t be able to play at this year’s US Open, a tournament in which I’ve played in three consecutive finals.

“I am sure you understand that it is a very tough moment for me since it is a tournament I love and where I have great memories from fans, the night matches, so many things.

“Not much more I can do right now, other than accept the situation and, as always in my case, work hard in order to be able to compete at the highest level once I am back.”

The problem is a new one for Nadal to deal with after long-running battles with his knees. Though he plays left-handed, he has a double-handed backhand.

Nadal has not competed since he was beaten by Australian teenager, Nick Kyrgios, in the fourth round at Wimbledon on July 1.

He announced late last month that he would not be defending either his Rogers Cup title in Toronto or his Western & Southern Open crown in Cincinnati.

The World Number One has reached the final in his last three appearances at Flushing Meadows and on each occasion, he played Novak Djokovic.

He beat the Serbian in 2010 and 2013, and lost to him in 2011. Nadal missed the 2012 US Open because of a knee injury which kept him on the sidelines for nine months.

He won his 14th Grand Slam title on the clay of Roland Garros in May this year, but his pursuit of Roger Federer’s record 17 trophies will go on hold until the Australian Open in January, at least.

It is only the fourth time in the Open era, which began in 1968, that the reigning US Open men’s champion has been unable to defend his title.

Nadal’s absence means in-form world No 3, Roger Federer, who won the Cincinnati Masters on Sunday,would be seeded second behind Djokovic.

 

Serena Williams Wins Fifth US Open Title

Serena Williams repeated as U.S. Open women’s champion by holding off a battling Victoria Azarenka of Belarus 7-5 6-7(6) 6-1 in a windblown final at Arthur Ashe Stadium on Sunday.

Williams bounded in a series of joyous jumping jack leaps after Azarenka’s backhand sailed long on the second match point of a thrilling, two-hour 45-minute final that earned her a fifth U.S. Open singles title that took her total to 17 grand slams.

The big-hitting American, who turns 32 later this month, became the oldest U.S. Open women’s winner since tennis turned professional 45 years ago, eclipsing Australian Margaret Court, who was 31 years and 55 days when she won the title in 1973.

The triumph moved Williams to within one grand slam singles crown of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova for a tie for fourth place on the all-time list behind Court (24), Steffi Graf (22) and Helen Wills Moody (19).

It had looked like it was going to be plain sailing for Williams after she won a difficult first set, boosted by a late break in the 11th game for a 6-5 lead and then served out a love game before racing to a 4-1 second-set lead.

Williams, who earlier looked confounded by the gusty wind that affected service tosses and the direction of bounces off groundstrokes and was muttering to herself between points, finally settled into a rhythm in the second set.

“The wind was unbelievable,” said the champion. “And it just got worse and worse and it never let up. But at this point you have to play under any circumstance.”

She claimed the 4-1 lead after Azarenka double-faulted three times in the fifth and her U.S. Open repeat looked a certainty as she begun to find her range on her imposing service game that saw her serve broken only twice in six previous matches.

But Azarenka was not ready to capitulate.

“I think it was raising from the first point, the tension, the battle, the determination,” the second seed said about the quality of the match. “It was really kind of like boiling the water. It felt from every point, it was raising the level.”

‘GREAT MATCH’

The Belarusian showed her fight and took advantage of a string of Williams errors to break right back for 4-2 and rode that momentum.

Twice Williams served for the match, at 5-4 and again at 6-5, but Azarenka rose up to break the American’s serve and force a tiebreaker.

Williams took a 3-1 lead but Azarenka won five of the next six points to seize a 6-4 advantage and sent the match to a third set when Williams belted a backhand long to lose it 8-6.

“I think I got a little uptight,” Williams said about squandering her chances. “I wasn’t playing smart tennis. (But) you have to keep fighting for everything.”

The third set stayed on serve until the fourth game when another double fault, her seventh of the match, sank Azarenka and handed Williams a 3-1 lead.

With the stadium crowd roaring their support for the home favorite, the American broke Azarenka two games later for good measure to make it 5-1 before she claimed victory when the Belarusian sent a backhand long on the second match point.

Williams blasted 36 winners in the match against 17 for Azarenka, and blasted nine aces against just two for the Belarusian, who won an impressive 10 of 15 points at the net when she stepped up the pressure on Williams.

“Victoria, you played unbelievable,” said Williams at the trophy ceremony.

“What a great match and what a great person. Vika is such a great opponent, she’s such a great fighter. It was never over until match point,” added Williams.

The top seed collected the $2.6 million top prize and pocketed an addition $1 million bonus for having won the U.S. Open run-up series of tournaments.

Azarenka said she had been beaten by the better player.

“It is a tough loss. But the best player deserves the win today. I gave it all again this year,” said Azarenka, who lost 7-5 in the third set to Williams in last year’s final.

“We gave it everything we got.”

In the men’s doubles final, Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek were convincing winners over Alexander Peya and Bruno Soares.

The India-Czech pairing of Paes and Stepanek dominated the title match to record a 6-1 6-3 victory over their Austria-Brazil rivals.

Paes, 40, won his third U.S. Open doubles title and eighth major doubles title of his career. It was Stepanek’s second major doubles win after claiming the 2012 Australian Open with Paes.

Stepanek, 34, said the win enabled them to qualify for an important goal.

“There is one thing we would like to achieve, and that’s winning the world championships at the end of the year, because that’s the trophy which is missing in Leander’s showcase,” the Czech said.

Croatia made a clean sweep of the junior singles titles when Borna Coric and Ana Konjuh posted victories at Flushing Meadows.

The fourth-seeded Coric beat Australia’s Thanasi Kokkinakis 3-6 6-3 6-1 in the boys’ final before second-seeded Konjuh beat U.S. wildcard Tornado Black 3-6 6-4 7-6(6).

Coric, 16, said the U.S. Open would be his last junior tournament.

“I’ve won the slam” he said about his Sunday victory. “That was the goal at the beginning of the year.”

Coric has been named to Croatia’s Davis Cup team for the tie next week against Britain at Umag.

US Open: Women’s final postponed to Sunday

Saturday’s US Open women’s singles final between Serena Williams and Victoria Azarenka has been postponed until Sunday because of forecast heavy rains and storms in New York, organisers announced.

“The weather forecast for this evening is calling for storms with heavy rain and high winds,” said a tournament spokesman.

“Due to the severe weather forecast, session 25 featuring the Women’s Singles Final will be postponed until Sunday, September 9, 2012. We will confirm the start time for the Women’s Final by 7:00 p.m. ET (2300GMT) this evening.”

Play on Saturday had already been delayed by 90 minutes following heavy rain and a tornado warning which had been issued for the New York area.

Messi wins Excellence Sports Award

Barcelona striker Lionel Messi has won the Excellence in Sports Performance Yearly Award (ESPY) for Best International Athlete.

The diminutive Barcelona star ended the 2011-12 season with a club record 73 goals, and helped his side to victories in the Spanish Supercopa, European Super Cup, the Club World Cup and the Copa del Rey.

The Argentinean skipper was fit throughout the season and that is the reason why he has managed to give out 63 appearances for both club and country. During these appearances, the Argentinean star has managed to score 80 goals and gave out 25 assists as well.

He played almost all the matches during this season and furthermore took part in the World Cup qualifying matches and the friendly games which the Argentinean national team played.

He also won the European golden boot, scoring 72 goals for the Spanish giants, Barcelona.

Though Messi could not help Barcelona win the Champions League or the Spanish La Liga, he was still the top scorer in both competitions. He was able to score 50 goals in the league, and scored 14 in the Champions League to be crowned as the golden boot for both tournaments.

Messi won the award for ‘Excellence in Sports Performance’, an award which was started back in the year 1993 after fans voted him of ahead of Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo and reigning US and Australian Open tennis champion Novak Djokovic and female golfer Yani Tseng to the prestigious honour, presented by sports broadcaster ESPN

Messi is the latest in a long line of sporting greats to receive the ward, including the likes of Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Usain Bolt.