Aug 292017
Nadal, Osaka shine as rain causes US Open havoc

Rafael Nadal took his US Open first-round record to 13-0 but Japanese teenager Naomi Osaka stole the headlines by knocking out defending champion Angelique Kerber as torrential rain caused more than 50 matches to be shelved Tuesday. As players ran for cover from drenched outside courts where just 90 minutes of action was possible, and only three matches completed, Osaka’s big-hitting game flourished under the roof of Arthur Ashe Stadium. The world number 46, born in Japan to a Haitian father and Japanese mother, won 6-3, 6-1 as sixth seed Kerber became the first US Open women’s defending champion to lose in the first round since Svetlana Kuznetsova in 2005. World number one Nadal, meanwhile, began his campaign for a third US Open title with a 7-6 (8/6), 6-2, 6-2 win over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic. The 31-year-old Spaniard recovered from 3-5 down in the opening set against the 85th-ranked Lajovic, who has never won a match in New York. “When I was down in the first set, I just tried to be there as he was playing well and controlling the points,” said French Open champion Nadal, who is chasing a 16th major. “But the end of the first set was very important. I got the break back and after that, everything changed.” Osaka, who surrendered a 5-1 final-set lead on the same court in losing to Madison Keys in the third round 12 months ago, fired 22 winners as Kerber went tumbling out of the world’s top 10 as [Read More…]

Jul 262017
Novak Djokovic out for season with elbow injury

Novak Djokovic receives medical attention on court at Wimbledon – AFP  BELGRADE: Twelve-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic will miss the rest of the season with an elbow injury, he announced on Wednesday. The Serbian was forced to retire from his Wimbledon quarter-final against Tomas Berdych earlier this month because of the problem, and will now sit out of next month’s US Open. In a live Facebook video post from Belgrade, the former world number one said that after suffering from the injury for a year-and-a-half, “I have made a decision to not play any competition, any tournaments” for the rest of 2017. “Unfortunately this is the decision that had to be made at this moment. Wimbledon was probably the toughest tournament for me in terms of feeling the pain that has escalated,” he said. Between mid-January 2015 and June 2016, Djokovic won 17 of his 22 finals played in 24 tournaments. It seemed nothing could interrupt his dominance of world tennis. But since winning the French Open last year to complete his Career Grand Slam, he has failed to claim another major title. He crashed out of the Australian Open in the second round and the French Open in the quarter-finals.

Jul 202017
Three Wimbledon ties face fixing probe

LONDON: Wimbledon came under the microscope on Thursday with three matches at this year’s tournament set to be investigated for possible match-fixing, according to the Tennis Integrity Unit. Two qualifying matches at Roehampton and one from the main Wimbledon draw triggered some bizarre betting patterns and are to be examined further, said the anti-corruption body that polices professional tennis. “These will be assessed and reviewed in keeping with the TIU match alert policy below,” the TIU said on its website.The TIU’s match alert policy means that the unit checks on irregularities such as strange betting tendencies, but it insisted the alerts are not evidence of match-fixing. One match from June’s French Open will also be looked at — just four of 53 alerts received by the TIU since April, although the majority came from matches at the lower level Challenger and ITF Women’s tours. —AFP

Jul 152017
Ageless Venus eyes historic title

Venus Williams bids to become the oldest Grand Slam champion in Saturday´s Wimbledon final LONDON: Venus Williams believes her big game experience will prove decisive as the American star bids to become the oldest Grand Slam champion in Saturday´s Wimbledon final against Garbine Muguruza. At an age when her contemporaries have long since retired, Williams is playing some of the best tennis of her glittering career and she can cap her remarkable renaissance on Centre Court this weekend. Back in the All England Club final after an eight-year absence, the 37-year-old hopes to become both the oldest Wimbledon and major winner since the Open era began in 1968. “There´s times where maybe you aren´t as relaxed as other moments, but it´s about handling it. I know how to do that a lot better,” said Venus ahead of her 16th major final. “For me it´s just about betting on myself every time. When I look across the net, I don´t think it´s the right mentality to believe in that person more than me.” Earning a sixth Wimbledon title, nine years after she last lifted the Venus Rosewater Dish, must have seemed like an impossible dream for Williams when she battled an autoimmune disease that left her fatigued and threatened to force her out of tennis. Yet, in the twilight of her career, Venus has hit a rich vein of form over the last 12 months. She was Australian Open runner-up in January to sister Serena, only to have her life thrown [Read More…]

Jul 122017
Venus stands in way of Konta's history bid

Johanna Konta has history in her sights as the world number seven bids to become the first British woman to reach the Wimbledon final for 40 years when she faces her childhood idol Venus Williams on Thursday. Konta displayed nerves of steel in her pulsating 6-7 (2/7), 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 quarter-final victory over world number two Simona Halep on Tuesday. The 26-year-old is the first British woman to make the Wimbledon semi-finals since Virginia Wade in 1978 and a victory over five-time champion Williams would make her the first Briton into the women’s final at the All England Club since Wade won the title in 1977. Born in Australia to Hungarian parents, Konta didn’t move to the UK until she was 14, but regardless of her heritage she has been adopted as one of their own by the Wimbledon fans. Now a resident of the sleepy seaside town of Eastbourne, the historic significance of her Wimbledon run, and the crowd’s reaction to it, has been an eye-opener for Konta, who until this fortnight could have walked unrecognised down any street in the country. “I’ve dreamed of success in every slam but I think it makes it more special because it is home,” said Konta, who was ranked outside the top 150 only two years ago. “I do get that home support, which I don’t get anywhere else. In that sense, I guess it makes it that much sweeter. “In terms of the home support, I feel very excited and very [Read More…]

Jul 102017
Wimbledon heavyweights braced for ?Manic Monday?

LONDON: For the first time since 2011, the top four men´s seeds have reached the Wimbledon last-16 with Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal taking centre-stage on ´Manic Monday´. The four stars have shared the Wimbledon title since 2003 when Federer won the first of his seven trophies at the All England Club. Djokovic has claimed three with defending champion Murray and Nadal winning two apiece. It´s the kind of domination that looks unlikely to end Monday when the fourth round takes place. Murray, who has battled hip pain, is the only one of the ´Big Four´ to have dropped a set in the first week. He faces unpredictable Frenchman Benoit Paire who is in the last-16 for the first time. “He has very good hands, moves well, takes a lot of chances, goes for his shots,” said Murray who has a 1-0 career lead over Paire. Murray has not lost at Wimbledon before the quarter-finals since 2006. Murray faces unpredictable Frenchman Benoit Paire who is in the last-16 for the first time Djokovic takes a 1-0 career edge over unseeded Adrian Mannarino of France into his last-16 clash, with that win coming at Wimbledon in straight sets in the second round last year. Former coach Boris Becker praised Djokovic for his first week performances after fears that the Serb had lost his love for the sport after losing all four Grand Slam titles he held last year. “Boris knows me very well. So he´s right when [Read More…]

Jul 082017
Gritty Kerber advances, clings onto top ranking

LONDON: Angelique Kerber was on the brink of losing the world number one ranking on Saturday before the German scraped into the Wimbledon last-16 with a tense 4-6, 7-6 (7/2), 6-4 victory over Shelby Rogers. In order to retain top spot in the WTA rankings, Kerber has to return to the Wimbledon final 12 months after losing the title match against Serena Williams. The 29-year-old was on the verge of crashing out in the third round after losing the first set and falling a break down in the second against American world number 70 Rogers. But Kerber, who won the Australian and US Opens last year, battled back to level the match in a second set tie-break before edging through in the decider. Kerber faces Spanish 14th seed Garbine Muguruza, another former Wimbledon runner-up, for a place in the quarter-finals. If Kerber, who regained the top ranking from Serena in March, fails to make the final she will surrender pole position to Romania’s Simona Halep or Czech Karolina Pliskova. Agnieszka Radwanska, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Coco Vandeweghe, Magdalena Rybarikova and qualifier Petra Martic also won their third round ties. Sam Querrey took one game to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in a match suspended on Friday due to bad light, while Grigor Dimitrov made it through after opponent Dudi Sela pulled out — the 11th retirement at the championships. Querrey and Tsonga’s match was called off at 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (7/5), 1-6, 6-5, with the French 12th seed not wanting to serve as the [Read More…]

Jul 072017
Kvitova ready to press restart after attack

LONDON: Her Wimbledon dream may have ended sooner than she had hoped, but Petra Kvitova said on Friday she was ready to press the restart button after an attack that could have ended her playing career. The twice Wimbledon champion suffered badly damaged tendons in her left hand after she was attacked by a knife-wielding intruder in her home in the Czech Republic in December. But despite spending three months without touching a racket, Kvitova played in the French Open and won her first tournament back on the grass in Birmingham — leading some to tip her for a fairytale tilt at a third title at the All England Club. However, the dream came to an end on Wednesday with a second-round loss to 95th-ranked American Madison Brengle.“I am home sooner than I wanted to be, but you know what? I reached my goal, to play tennis again, to play tennis at Wimbledon and to compete in the sport I love,” Kvitova wrote on Instagram on Friday. “The last six months were difficult but now I can push restart.”She told reporters after her defeat she was hoping to get back to her traditional preparation schedule ahead of the US Open, which begins in late August, to make up for the lost six months on the tour. “This is only the beginning of my new journey and I will come back stronger. See you next year, my dear Wimbledon,” she wrote, with a photo of her sending a kiss to the [Read More…]

Jul 052017
Murray, Nadal through, heartbreak for Kvitova

Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal and Venus Williams breezed into the third round at Wimbledon on Wednesday, while fellow former champion Petra Kvitova tumbled out. Williams, Kei Nishikori and Johanna Konta had to grind their way into the last 32, while new mum Victoria Azarenka continued her comeback bid for Grand Slam glory. Dustin Brown, the dreadlocked German with Jamaican roots, knocked out Nadal in the second round two years ago at the All England Club. However, world number one Murray was not caught out by his extrovert drop shots, racing to a ruthless 6-3, 6-2, 6-2 victory on Centre Court. “Once I got the break in the first set, I felt the momentum was with me. I started to see the shots he was going to play a little but quicker and that allowed me to get to some of the drop volleys,” the British star said. Next up for Murray is a clash with colourful Italian 28th seed Fabio Fognini. Fourth seed Nadal, fresh from winning a historic 10th French Open, had a comfortable ride against fellow left-hander Donald Young of the United States, the Spaniard winning 6-4, 6-2, 7-5. He faces Russian 30th seed Karen Khachanov next. “I’m happy now, it’s great to be back in the third round without losing a set,” Nadal said. “I take it easy now, just trying to enjoy every moment. I’m having a great season.” Kvitova feeling sick Two-time champion Petra Kvitova, the bookmakers’ title favourite, lost 6-3, 1-6, 6-2 to Madison [Read More…]

Jul 032017
Murray, Nadal aim to bury Wimbledon doubts

LONDON: Defending champion Andy Murray and fellow two-time winner Rafael Nadal take centre stage on the first day of Wimbledon on Monday, keen to deliver early hammer blows to any doubts over their title aspirations. Top seed and world number one Murray opens proceedings on Centre Court insisting a hip problem will not prevent him from dispatching Kazakh lucky loser Alexander Bublik. The weekend news that the 30-year-old Scot is to become a father for the second time will also be an extra incentive to make it a tournament to remember. Nadal, the champion in 2008 and 2010 and a three-time runner-up, missed last year´s championships because of a wrist injury. Since making the final in 2011, he has lost to opponents outside the top 100 on four occasions. Australia´s John Millman, his first round rival on Monday, is the current 137. Elsewhere on the opening day, former world number one Victoria Azarenka plays her first Slam since becoming a mother while two-time champion Petra Kvitova is sure to receive a warm Centre Court welcome as she steadily rebuilds her career after being attacked by a knifeman in her home last December. Murray is looking to become the first British player — man or woman — to defend a Grand Slam title since Fred Perry won Wimbledon from 1934-36. Meanwhile, Bublik, the world number 134, is making his grass court debut. Murray, who has a 29-0 record against players outside the top 100, insists his recent hip problems are behind [Read More…]