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Bertens upsets world number one Halep to win in Cincinnati

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2018

Kiki Bertens held off a championship point to upset world number one Simona Halep and win the Cincinnati Masters.

The 26-year-old world number 17 came from behind to defeat Halep 2-6 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 in two hours and five minutes.

Romania’s Halep, 26, has now lost three finals in Cincinnati having previously missed out in 2015 and 2017.

“I cannot find the words for this moment,” said Bertens, who becomes the first Dutch winner at a singles WTA/ATP hardcourt tournament since 2006.

Bertens’ victory – the biggest of her career – ends a nine-match winning streak for Halep, who triumphed at the Rogers Cup in Montreal, Canada, last week.

It also marked her 10th defeat of a top-10 opponent this season as she beat French Open champion Halep for the second time in five meetings.

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A clinical Halep dominated the first set, taking just half an hour to take the opener 6-2.

And despite the second set quickly swinging in the favour of underdog Bertens, who opened up a 4-1 lead, she then scored just two points as Halep levelled the score at 4-4.

The set went to a tie-break and, after scoring four points in a row, Bertens later saved championship point before taking the set.

The Dutchwoman once again went 4-1 up in the decider, as Halep conceded 10 successive points, before closing out the match.

“I was a little bit tired, but it was an amazing week,” said Halep.

“Kiki really deserved this title. I have lost three finals here but maybe I’ll be able to win one in the future.”

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Cincinnati Masters: Jamie Murray and Bruno Soares win doubles final

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2018

Britain’s Jamie Murray and Brazilian Bruno Soares won their second doubles title of August with victory in the Cincinnati Masters final.

Murray and Soares beat Colombians Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 4-6 6-3 10-6 in one hour and 25 minutes.

It was their first ATP Masters 1,000 title as a pair.

Murray and Soares won the Washington Open two weeks ago for their third victory this year, having defended their Acapulco title in March.

Scot Murray. 32. and Soares, 36, have won nine titles since they joined forces in 2016, including the Australian Open and US Open.

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Roger Wary Of The 'Real Novak'

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2018

Roger Wary Of The ‘Real Novak’

Djokovic leads Federer 23-22 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series

Since lifting his eighth unique ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy at the 2013 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters, Novak Djokovic has stood one title away from becoming the first man to achieve the Career Golden Masters. For the second time since that victory in the Principality, the 31-year-old is just one win away from achieving that feat by winning the Western & Southern Open. But, as was the case in 2015, Roger Federer stands in the way.

Three years ago, Federer defeated Djokovic for the third time in Cincinnati’s championship match (also 2009, 2012) without dropping a set to claim the title. The seven-time champion will be aiming to extend his unbeaten record in Cincinnati finals by winning his 15th consecutive match at the Ohio-based event.

View FedEx ATP Head2Head for the Western & Southern Open & vote for who you think will win! 
Federer vs. Djokovic

Despite meeting on 45 occasions in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series (Djokovic leads 23-22), the great rivals will face off for the first time in 31 months on Sunday. And that has Federer excited.

“What’s nice about this, it’s like fresh,” Federer said. “It’s not like we have played in the last few weeks and everybody knows what to expect. A lot has happened since [our last meeting] with injuries both of us have been fighting, and we both came back strong again.”

In their last meeting at the 2016 Australian Open, Djokovic defeated Federer in four sets to reach his sixth final at the opening Grand Slam of the season.And while it will present challenges for the Swiss in today’s final, he is happy to see his great rival back from an elbow injury and playing some of his best tennis like when they met 2 1/2 years ago in Melbourne. 

“When they asked me in Indian Wells and Miami to judge Novak, I was, like, It’s not real Novak. He was just coming back, and he came back too soon. Same at the Australian Open. That one wasn’t quite the 100% Novak we know he can be.

“Look what happened after the French. Everything turned. He could have won Queen’s, should have won Queen’s, maybe. Ends up winning Wimbledon and he’s back in another final. It looks like he hasn’t missed any tennis at all over the last few years.”

Both men will be keen to end their relative title droughts at Masters 1000 level. Djokovic last achieved success at the level two years ago at the Rogers Cup, while Federer’s most recent triumph came at the 2017 Rolex Shanghai Masters. Djokovic (30) and Federer (27) will also be eager to narrow the gap on all-time Masters 1000 title record holder Nadal, who won his 33rd title at the level last week in Toronto.

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Bidding to win his 70th tour-level trophy, Djokovic will need to find his best level in the championship match. The five-time runner-up is yet to win a set in a Cincinnati final. Only three men have lost five or more finals at a tour-level event without winning the title, with Andy Murray and Nadal both sharing the same record at the Australian Open and Miami Open presented by Itaú, respectively.

Since his arrival at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in May, Djokovic has clinched victory in 26 of his 30 tour-level matches. But the Wimbledon champion has been pushed all the way in Cincinnati. After a straight-sets win over Steve Johnson in the first round, Djokovic has needed deciding sets in each of his four encounters against Adrian Mannarino, Grigor Dimitrov, Milos Raonic and Marin Cilic.

Competing for the first time since his quarter-final exit to Kevin Anderson at Wimbledon, Federer has continually impressed on serve this week. The 37-year-old has held each of his 43 service games en route to the final, facing only five break points along the way.

But Federer has been significantly tested. The 98-time tour-level titlist came to within two points of defeat at 6-7(2), 6-6 (6/6) against countryman Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals before clinching victory in three sets. Four of Federer’s nine sets this week have required tie-breaks.

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With title runs in his two most recent appearances in 2014 and 2015, Federer’s last loss at this event came in 2013 to eventual champion Nadal at the quarter-final stage. Federer, who began his career with a 1-4 record in Cincinnati, has lost just four of his most recent 49 matches at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.

Can Djokovic finally complete his set of Masters 1000 trophies or will Federer, once again, deny Djokovic in the championship match to extend his unbeaten record in Cincinnati finals?

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Murray/Soares Close On Maiden Masters 1000 Triumph

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2018

Murray/Soares Close On Maiden Masters 1000 Triumph

Fourth seeds to face Cabal/Farah for the title

After a thrilling Saturday of doubles action in which the competitors played both the quarter-finals and semi-finals at the Western & Southern Open, veteran pairs Jamie Murray/Bruno Soares and Juan Sebastian Cabal/Robert Farah will meet on Sunday for the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title.

Murray and Soares won eight of the final nine points of a Match Tie-break to defeat sixth seeds Jean-Julien Rojer and Horia Tecau 6-7(7), 6-2, 10-6. The Scottish-Brazilian team now lead the Dutch-Romanian duo 3-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. 

Murray and Soares, who have captured eight tour-level titles together, including two Grand Slam championships, are pursuing their maiden Masters 1000 triumph. They own a 29-13 record this campaign, lifting trophies in Acapulco and Washington. Earlier Saturday, they defeated fifth seeds Lukasz Kubot and Marcelo Melo 7-5, 6-7(6), 10-6.

In the final, they will face seventh seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who ousted Philipp Kohlschreiber and Fernando Verdasco 7-6(5), 6-4. That was the only match of the day for the Colombians, as they got a walkover into the last four when Nikola Mektic and Alexander Peya withdrew due a Peya elbow injury. 

Cabal and Farah earned their first Masters 1000 title earlier this year at the Internazionali BNL D’Italia. In the semi-finals, they beat Murray and Soares in a Match Tie-break to even their series at 2-2. The No. 3 team in the ATP Doubles Race To London will move up to second regardless of Sunday’s result.

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Novak & Roger: The Rivalry

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2018

Novak & Roger: The Rivalry

A recap of every match between Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer…

Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will meet for the 46th time in the final of the 2018 Western & Southern Open. The pair most recently clashed 31 months ago, when Djokovic triumphed in the Australian Open semi-finals en route to his sixth championship victory in Melbourne.

The Serbian now leads the pair’s electric FedEx ATP Head2Head series 23-22. Their rivalry features the second-most matches played in the Open Era; only Djokovic and Rafael Nadal have faced off more often, with 52 battles.

Here’s a look at their 45 previous meetings…

2016 Australian Open semi-final, hard, Djokovic d. Federer 61 62 36 63

World No. 1 Djokovic moved through to his sixth Australian Open final after producing a masterful display to defeat Federer in two hours and 19 minutes. 

The Serbian saved three of the four break points he faced, while breaking the Swiss five times. Incredibly, Djokovic won a higher rate of points on his second serve (66%) than Federer did on his first delivery (61%).

“I think against Roger, these first two sets have been probably the best two sets I’ve played against him overall I think throughout my career,” said Djokovic. “I’ve had some moments against him in sets where I’ve played on a high level, but this was a different level than from before. I’m just very, very pleased that I was able to perform the way I did from the very beginning till the end.”

2015 Nitto ATP World Tour Finals final, hard, Djokovic d. Federer 63 64

Djokovic completed his argument for one of the greatest seasons of all time on the ATP World Tour, capping a historic campaign with a record fourth consecutive Barclays ATP World Tour Finals crown. It was déjà vu with their second meeting of the week at The O2 in London, coming on the heels of Federer’s 7-5, 6-2 triumph in Group Stan Smith play.

Djokovic, who improved to 18-1 at the Final Showdown over the course of his four straight title runs, won his 11th title of 2015 and 59th overall at the tour-level.

In their previous meeting, Federer successfully controlled the baseline and found success on Djokovic’s first serve – winning 49 per cent of points. But the Serb was too steady in the final and Federer’s 31 unforced errors were too much to overcome. Djokovic secured a pair of breaks in the first set – in the third and ninth games – and claimed the lone break in the second set to seal the victory.

“I’m obviously very proud to have these achievements with my team,” said Djokovic during the trophy ceremony. “It’s been a long season, but the best of my life. Without their support and my family, I wouldn’t be where I am. I’m just trying to cherish every moment at this level. As a kid growing up, you dream to be at tournaments like this and fighting for the biggest trophies in sport.”

2015 Nitto ATP World Tour Finals round robin, hard, Federer d. Djokovic 75 62

After four losses in six match-ups with the World No. 1 in 2015, six-time champion Roger Federer defeated Novak Djokovic 7-5, 6-2 in round-robin action at the Nitto ATP World Tour Finals. Federer’s straight-sets victory, coupled with Kei Nishikori’s three-set 7-5, 3-6, 6-3 decision over Tomas Berdych, meant he qualified for the Group Stan Smith semi-finals. 

The Swiss broke their FedEx ATP Head2Head deadlock and moved ahead 22-21 with the victory. Djokovic, who tied the series with a four-set win in the 2015 US Open final, has never had more victories than Federer in their rivalry, which dates back to the ATP Masters 1000 Monte-Carlo in 2006.

Both players looked sharp early on, especially on serve, but Federer seized the momentum, taking the opening set 7-5 in 44 minutes. He would keep rolling in the second set, totaling 19 winners and a like number of unforced errors in closing out the match in one hour and 17 minutes.

Federer won 75 per cent (27 of 36) of his first-serve points, and converted four of eight break-point opportunities. Djokovic had been riding a 23-match win streak since falling to Federer in the Cincinnati final.

2015 US Open final, hard, Djokovic d. Federer 64 57 64 64
A three-hour rain delay could not stop Djokovic from capping the 2015 Grand Slam season with his third such title of the year and 10th overall. Djokovic won his second US Open crown, overcoming Federer in four sets under the lights on Arthur Ashe Stadium. The World No. 1 Serb’s 10 major titles made him the eighth player to win double digit crowns.

Djokovic was forced to battle against the Swiss second seed as well as the pro-Federer crowd that included a bevy of celebrities, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Hugh Jackman and Bradley Cooper. Under the watchful eye of Eva Asderaki-Moore, the first female chair umpire to preside over a US Open men’s singles final, the World No. 1 took a tumble in the opening set. Playing on with a scraped knee and elbow, the Serb prevailed to win the opening set, snapping Federer’s winning streak of 28 sets, the third-best of his career.

Djokovic entered the match with a 13-1 record against Federer when winning the first set, while Federer was 0-3 against top-ranked players in major finals. In the end, neither trend would change. After splitting the second and third sets, the Serb secured an immediate break in the first game of the fourth set and appeared to have the match in hand after snatching a second break for 5-2. But like he has done his entire career, Federer would not go down without a fight.

The second seed got one of the breaks back with an aggressive return game, capped by a slick drop shot approach after pushing Djokovic well behind the baseline with deep forehands. Federer would consolidate for 5-4 and had a sniff at completing the stunning comeback with two break points at 15/40 to draw level. Djokovic was too clutch when it mattered most, surviving three break chances in the final game to emerge victorious and hoist his second US Open trophy and 10th at the Grand Slam stage.

Djokovic gave credit to the 34-year-old Federer, stating that “he’s still improving and keeps on going.” “I have tremendous respect for Roger and what his game [presents] to me and any other player,” said the World No. 1, who has bagged three majors in the same season for the first time since 2011. “It’s been an incredible season. Next to [the] 2011 season, probably the best of all my life,” said the Serb, adding that he’s enjoying it more now because he’s a husband and a father. “[It] makes it even more sweeter.”

2015 Western & Southern Open final, hard, Federer d. Djokovic 76(1) 63
The top two seeds were locked at 20-20 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series going into the final as Djokovic was bidding to win his first title in Cincinnati and complete a Career Golden Masters. The Serb had won their three previous meetings, but Federer’s aggressive mentality in cruising through the main draw saw him full of confidence for Sunday’s final against the World No. 1.

The Swiss won 40 per cent of return points entering the encounter and pressed for an early break immediately. Djokovic saved a trio of break points in the third game and another after a six-minute fifth game. The opener would proceed to a tie-break, where Federer would snatch an early mini-break and power through to take the first set, 7/1 in the tie-break. Federer would continue applying pressure on the Djokovic serve as the match progressed, surging to a 3-0 lead in the second set after the top seed double faulted to hand the initial break to the Swiss. He would hold serve to the finish line, striking 32 winners and seven aces in total to win his seventh ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in Cincinnati.

“I tried to really mix it up on his second serve and I was hoping to serve good enough myself to keep me out of trouble,” Federer said during an interview with ESPN following the match. “He had that one bad game at the beginning of the second set, which made the difference in the match.

“I’ve seen Novak adapt to my play over the years and he’s also improved a lot. His movement and his backhand and forehand are always so solid. There aren’t many errors coming out of his forehand wing now. Our rivalry has definitely evolved.”

Novak & Roger: Matches 31-40 | Matches 21-30 | Matches 11-20 | Matches 1-10 

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Federer Sets Djokovic Blockbuster For Cincy Crown

  • Posted: Aug 19, 2018

Federer Sets Djokovic Blockbuster For Cincy Crown

Swiss is 7-0 in Cincinnati finals

He’s been the king of the ‘Queen City’ for more than a decade, and now Roger Federer is one win from reclaiming his Cincinnati throne.

Federer booked a blockbuster championship clash against Novak Djokovic after defeating David Goffin on Saturday at the Western & Southern Open. He moved past the Belgian when his opponent retired due to injury at 7-6(3), 1-1.

Facing Goffin for the first time since suffering a semi-final loss at last year’s Nitto ATP Finals, Federer restored order in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, which now stands at 7-1. Goffin stopped play after 63 minutes, with Federer serving at 1-1 40/30 in the second set. 

Federer extended a slew of Cincy streaks with the victory. He has now held serve in 96 consecutive service games and owns 14 straight match wins at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 event. Moreover, the Swiss has claimed 17 of his last 18 sets played.

Few players have enjoyed the run of dominance that Federer has in Cincinnati. He enters the championship with a 7-0 record in finals. It marks the second Masters 1000 tournament in which he has reached eight title matches, along with the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

More to come…

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