Why Federer Isn’t Worried About ‘Insane’ Roland Garros Match Against Nadal At Wimbledon
Legendary duo set to meet at SW19 for first time in 11 years
It’s been more than a decade since Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have played at Wimbledon in the 2008 final, which today is still widely considered one of the best matches in history. But the pair has met far more recently — just more than a month ago, in fact — at Roland Garros, with Nadal triumphing in straight sets.
Federer doesn’t think that match holds much relevance heading into their blockbuster showdown at SW19, though.
“Not so much the French Open, I do believe. I feel like conditions were slightly different. It was so windy. It was just insane,” Federer said. “I haven’t heard it was going to be the same in a couple of days, so I hope not, even though that would be funny again.”
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Nadal won that match 6-3, 6-4, 6-2, with Federer unable to find many inroads against the Spaniard, getting broken six times in the match. Before that, Federer had won five straight FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings against Nadal dating back to 2015 Basel. Each of those five victories came on hard courts.
“Maybe [the] Australian Open final [is relevant]. Obviously, best-of-five set match, five sets. Then again, I don’t know,” Federer said. “It doesn’t matter anyway. Who cares. It’s about how has he played so far? How have I played so far? I hope it goes my way.
“It’s going to be tough. Rafa really can hurt anybody on any surface. He’s that good. He’s not just a clay-court specialist.”
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It’s been 11 years since the pair has competed on grass. They’ve met three times at Wimbledon, battling in the championship match at the All England Club from 2006-08. Federer emerged victorious on the first two occasions, while Nadal earned his first trophy on the hallowed London grass in 2008, defeating Federer in a match that Jon Wertheim detailed in a book called “Strokes of Genius: Federer, Nadal, and the Greatest Match Ever Played”.
“[He has] improved so much over the years on this surface. He’s playing also very different than he used to. [We] haven’t played each other in a long, long time on this surface. He’s serving way different. I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he’s serving, how much faster he finishes points,” Federer said. “It’s impressive to see how sort of healthy he’s stayed. A lot of them are saying, ‘Oh, it’s the end,’ by 2008. Similar to me in ’09. We’re still here. So it’s nice to play each other again.”
Both players have been strong at serve this fortnight. Federer leads the tournament having only been broken three times, and Nadal has only lost his serve four times. The Swiss star isn’t happy with one thing in particular, but is generally pleased with his game heading into the last four.
“I feel good on the court. Even if I’m down a set or down a break, no hurry there. I stay calm. I feel like I have the 1-2 punch sort of under control. I’m serving good. I’m going in phases in returning,” Federer said. “It’s been very different to play Berrettini in the last match where he’s serving big. I was chipping a lot today, I was coming over all the time. That obviously takes some getting used to.
“Overall I’m just very happy how I’m hitting the ball. Feel good off the baseline, too, which is clearly going to be important maybe for the next match.”
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Unseeded Barbora Strycova says she will have no fear when she bids to halt Serena Williams’ charge towards an 11th Wimbledon singles final on Thursday.
The Czech, at 33 the oldest first-time Grand Slam women’s semi-finalist, takes on the seven-time champion after Simona Halep plays Elina Svitolina.
“Of course, I don’t have as much power as Serena, but I have other weapons,” said Strycova, who beat Briton Johanna Konta in the quarter-finals.
“I have really nothing to lose.”
Among Strycova’s arsenal is an effective serve-and-volley game, honed in a way that will be familiar to many who loved the tennis of previous generations of players.
“I was playing at home against the wall, against the house, so I was kind of like playing with it,” she said.
“I love to play volleys, especially on grass. It’s working very well. When I’m confident, I like to play a lot of balls from the net. It’s my territory.”
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Strycova is, though, the overwhelming underdog against Williams, who is chasing a record-equalling 24th Grand Slam title and her first as a mother.
And, ominously, the American declared after her quarter-final victory over Alison Riske that she is feeling the best she has since January after being troubled by injury in recent months.
“This is the first time since Australia that I actually felt good,” said the 37-year-old, whose high-profile mixed doubles partnership with Andy Murray ended with a last-16 defeat on Wednesday.
“It’s been a really, really long year for me already, and hard year, because I’m usually not typically injured.
“I don’t know where I am. I do know I feel good. Now that I feel good, I can actually focus on training and technique and practice, something that I just literally haven’t been able to do a lot of.”
The pair have met three times before, with Williams winning every time including in the first round at Wimbledon in 2012.
But Strycova, who says her granddad took her to see the Wimbledon trophies in the museum as a two-year-old, is not dwelling on that record or Williams’ success here.
“When you go out there, you just focus on yourself and you focus how to beat that opponent, the way you want to beat her,” she said. “So I am not really scared to play her. I just really will try my best and I will fight as much as I can.”
Svitolina chasing first Grand Slam final
Ukrainian eighth seed Svitolina will be seeking to forget about the only other time she has met Halep, 27, at a Grand Slam.
The Romanian triumphed in three sets – taking the third 6-0 – in the French Open quarter-finals in 2017 with Svitolina having held match point in the second.
Svitolina, who is coached by Briton Andy Bettles, says a lot has changed since then.
“I think I’m a little bit different player now,” said the 24-year-old, who is appearing in her first Grand Slam semi-final after a major breakthrough last year when she won the prestigious end-of-season WTA Tour Finals.
“I’m playing free, I’m playing decent tennis. It’s the first time that we play in a semi-final, it’s going to be interesting for both of us.”
Halep, meanwhile, is banishing memories of her own, having lost her only other Wimbledon semi-final in straight sets to Eugenie Bouchard in 2014.
“I’m a different person,” said the 2018 French Open champion and former world number one.
“Everything changed. I have a lot of experience now. I’m more confident. I love grass – it’s first time that I have said that.
“I think it’s a big challenge for me, the next match. But I will take it like I took every match since I’m here. I’m relaxed. I’m happy. I’m motivated to win.
Bautista Agut Moves Bachelor Party To Wimbledon After Reaching SF
The Spaniard will play Djokovic in the Wimbledon semi-finals on Friday
Roberto Bautista Agut seems to have had little confidence that he was going to reach the latter stages of The Championships at Wimbledon.
Such was his conviction, that the Spaniard had scheduled his bachelor party for the latter part of the second week.
“I had planned to be in Ibiza right now,” the Spaniard said, after beating Guido Pella on Wednesday for a place in the quarter-finals. “We had everything organised already. My friends, six of them, are all there.
“It feels better to be here in London.”
The 31-year-old, who is set to marry his fiancée, Ana Bodi Tortosa, in November, will now prepare to play World No. 1 and four-time former champion Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals on Friday.
When asked what’s the bachelor party plan is now, Bautista Agut said, “I think they will fly [to London] on Friday.”
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Through to his first Grand Slam championship semi-final at Wimbledon, having missed out on competing at the grass-court major in 2018, he said, “This year I was really, really motivated to come here. I wanted to play a good tournament. Well, everything worked well.
“My shots are really, really flat. I like to take the ball early, to be solid. With experience of coming year by year to the grass, I really learn more about the movements on the grass. I feel I can play a solid game also from baseline and I can really develop the good things I do on the court here on grass.
Bautista Agut, whose previous-best finishes at Wimbledon were reaching the fourth round in 2015 and 2017, now lines up alongside Djokovic, Roger Federer and his fellow Spaniard Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals.
“It feels good to be next to them,” he said. “They are one of the best players in the tennis era. They are such good sportsmen, good tennis players. It feels very good to be next to them and to be part of the semi-final in this tournament.
“My shots are really, really flat. I like to take the ball early, to be solid. With experience of playing each year on grass, I have really learned more about the movements on grass. I feel I can play a solid game also from baseline and I can really develop the good things I do on the court here on grass.”
“Me and my mates realised that there is a Scottish guy playing tennis and it drew me back into the sport more than I had been in years.
“Me and a couple of guys started sending a few emails back and forth, knocking up some images and we had such a laugh…”
That was how Edinburgh-based graphic designer Nial Smith began one of the most unique chronicles of Andy Murray’s celebrated career.
Since then his parody poster images have gone public and viral, catching the attention of Murray, his family and the tennis world at large.
Here he talks us through the inspiration behind the images, Grand Slam-by-Grand Slam, finishing up with Wimbledon.
“I like to hijack each Grand Slam’s own national history and heritage. If I can do that and put Andy in it, that is good.
“At the 2016 US Open I did a theme of album covers. Andy shouts so much with his mouth open, that he was a shoo-in for Gene Simmons’ role on the front of this Kiss album cover.”
“The joke was that it would be unrecognisable if it was any other player apart from Rafael Nadal. He is so notable for pulling his pants out of shorts, you just know it is Rafa.”
“The Australian Open was where it took off in a way.
“Mad Muzz – a joke on 1979 film Mad Max – was the first one I put out in public for the 2012 tournament. That did not get much traction, but the following year I put out Crocodile Dunblane.
“Andy said that he enjoyed it and I think he ended up being asked questions about wrestling crocodiles in press conferences.
“We have such a sporting rivalry with the Aussies and they like to have a go back so I think that is why their press have taken it on. It went a bit mad after that, being in all the papers.
“The Australian Open is the hardest in some ways, there are less bands or films to riff on than with the other three Slams.
“I used a cover on computer game Grand Theft Auto, which is internationally known, for one of the tournaments and that did well. If you can nail the wording and the style of the font, that is a key part.
“I have wanted to do one with 1994 film Priscilla Queen of the Desert and Andy in full costume on top of the bus, but I have not quite nailed it yet.”
“There is a bit of change in these, in that I have tended to focus on art.
“Nineteenth century French artist Georges Seurat’s Bathers at Asnieres featuring Nadal for the 2016 tournament was a bit of a pun on the fact that Rafa had had to pull out before the third round with a wrist injury. This was him wistfully taking an early bath.
“The way that Novak Djokovic moves is very balletic so he was easy to put into Edgar Degas’ Rehearsal of the Scene.
“The Les Muzzerables one for the 2014 French Open initially had Ivan Lendl in it, but I had to change it after Lendl unexpectedly quit as Murray’s coach the month before.
“The crowd scenes take more time to do but they are fun because you can play around with the different caricatures of the players and the character names.
“There are lots of little details in there. You can see all the flags have been changed for the relevant ones, including the Scottish flag. The ancient racquets are in there as well. But it is the pun that makes it – Les Muzzables is just a bit daft.”
“This James Bond was a deliberate take on a very British hero just before his first title at Wimbledon in 2013.
“I went back to the 1970s feel of Bond rather than the darker Daniel Craig stuff, with Andy’s head on Roger Moore’s body and a mish-mash of every baddie in the past.
“In all these posters, I don’t know these guys from Adam, but I have created this idea of Andy as the hero, Roger as the cool, too-smooth for school guy, Rafa as the bull, this beast who will not give up and Novak is just the nemesis, the evil genius.
“Zoolander 2, featuring Djokovic’s then-coach Boris Becker as evil genius Mugatu, was one I did for the 2016 Wimbledon tournament.
“It did less well hits-wise. Maybe it was just a bit too made, but it was a pretty awful film if I remember rightly which can’t have helped!”
“Now Andy is restricted to doubles I have been looking at famous double acts, which has been fun. I did one with him and Feliciano Lopez as Withnail and I for Queen’s, while he and Pierre-Hugues Hubert worked well as Sherlock and Holmes ahead of Wimbledon.
“I haven’t had a chance yet to do something for him and Serena though.
“There is a bit of a different, downbeat tone now as we don’t know what his future holds, he could retire at any moment if he decides it is not working.
“I don’t know if I will continue after Andy stops playing but I enjoy the ideas. It is a fun way to spend my time when I am not earning money!”
A recap of every match Nadal and Federer have played…
The rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal has been arguably the most enthralling in the history of tennis and well over a decade after it began, it is still going strong.
Fans have waited 11 years for a Wimbledon rematch, and on Friday, they will get one. The two all-time greats will meet for the 40th time, their fourth at SW19, during the Wimbledon semi-finals.
Federer has won two of three at Wimbledon, but Nadal won their most recent – and most epic – taking their five-set 2008 Wimbledon final that is commonly known as the greatest match of all-time.
Federer, however, has made headway in their FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry in recent years by tallying up wins on quick courts, and grass is his favourite surface. The Swiss has won a record eight Wimbledon titles, while two-time champion Nadal is seeking his first final since 2011.
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“[We] haven’t played each other in a long, long time on this surface. He’s serving way different. I remember back in the day how he used to serve, and now how much bigger he’s serving, how much faster he finishes points,” Federer said. “It’s impressive to see how healthy he’s stayed. A lot of them were saying, ‘Oh, it’s the end,’ by 2008, similar to me in ’09. We’re still here. So it’s nice to play each other again.”
Here is a history of their 39 career meetings:
2019 Roland Garros SF, clay, Nadal d. Federer 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 The two hadn’t met on the Parisian clay since 2011, but for Federer, the time did little to improve his odds against the best clay-court player of all-time. The Spaniard, in blustery conditions, dismissed Federer for the sixth time (6-0) at Roland Garros and for the 14th time in 16 clay-court meetings.
Federer was playing at the clay-court Grand Slam for the first time since 2015, after missing the 2016 edition because of injury and skipping the next two clay-court seasons. He had beaten 2015 champion Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals as well, so the Swiss’ chances of challenging Nadal seemed high, even considering his opponent, who, at the time, was an 11-time Roland Garros champion.
But the Spaniard played his best match of the fortnight, never letting Federer into the contest by controlling his groundstroke length and neutralising Federer’s attacks to the net (17/35). The Swiss had no answer. “There is nobody who even plays remotely close to him,” Federer said.
Nadal would go onto beat Austrian Dominic Thiem and win his 12th Roland Garros title and his 18th Grand Slam crown, coming within two of Federer’s all-time record of 20.
2017 Shanghai Rolex Masters F, hard, Federer d. Nadal 6-4, 6-3 However hard it is to believe, Federer is still doing new things.
For the first time in the rivalry, the 36 year old defeated Nadal for the fifth time in a row, earning his tour-leading third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title of the season in Shanghai. Not only did he halt the momentum of the Spaniard’s 16-match winning streak, but maintained his hopes of finishing at No. 1 in the year-end Emirates ATP Rankings for the first time since 2009. Nadal could have gained a nearly insurmountable 2,760-point lead over his rival, but Federer instead closed the gap to 1,960 points as the season nears an exciting finale.
Despite World No. 1 Nadal arguably entering the match as the favourite after earning back-to-back titles at the US Open and the China Open and eliminating two Top 10 players in Grigor Dimitrov and Marin Cilic in Shanghai, it was Federer who came out of the gate firing, breaking in the first game of the match. The now two-time Shanghai champion broke twice more in the second set, and never faced a break point in the match to claim his third title-match victory over Nadal in 2017.
Perhaps Federer summed it up best.
“We didn’t think maybe we were going to have the year we did. I definitely didn’t,” Federer said. “Hopefully there’s more to come.”
Read Match Report & Watch Highlights
2017 Miami Open presented by Itau F, hard, Federer d. Nadal 6-3, 6-4 Federer might have said it best before he and Nadal faced off for the 37th time during the Miami final on 2 April: “Feels like old times.”
Few would have predicted that Federer and Nadal would have fought over one ‘Big Title’ in 2017, let alone a second. But both players steamrolled into the Miami title match, where Federer picked up where he left off the last time they met, during the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.
The Swiss right-hander, who also won the 2017 Australian Open final against Nadal, dominated on his serve in Miami, saving all four break points faced and winning 87 per cent of his first-serve points (34/39). During their first two FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings in 2017, Federer’s flat and much-improved backhand was the story.
In Miami, Federer’s forehand stole the spotlight. The fourth seed slapped 19 forehand winners, compared to 13 for Nadal. Federer left Miami with his third South Florida title, his third Sunshine Double and a tantalising question for fans to ponder: How long can one of the greatest of all-time keep up this stellar second act?
Read Match Report & Watch Highlights | How The Match Was Won
2017 BNP Paribas Open fourth round, Indian Wells, hard, Federer d. Nadal 6-2, 6-3 Channeling the same game plan that reaped the ultimate reward in the Australian Open final in January, Federer has put on a stunning display of aggression to defeat Nadal in the fourth round. Federer’s victory marked the first time he had defeated Nadal three times in a row in 36 FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, following his five-set triumph in Melbourne in January and a three-set win in the 2015 Basel final. It was the first time the pair had squared off before the quarter-finals since their first meeting in the 2004 Miami third round.
Federer came out of the blocks in a hurry against Nadal. The Swiss secured the opener 6-2, consistently finding his mark coming over the backhand to keep Nadal on the back foot. His fifth backhand winner of the first set was followed by an explosive wrong-footing forehand winner to bring up a break point on the Spaniard’s serve at 3-1. He secured the double break off a spectacular backhand return winner for 4-1 after 23 minutes. He would close out the opening set in style as he threaded back-to-back forehand winners to bring up two set points and sealed it on his first with a serve-volley winner after 34 minutes.
Determined to make a statement he would not go quietly, Nadal started the second set with authority, holding to love with a forehand winner and an ace out wide for 1-0. Federer’s aggression continued to gnaw at Nadal, however. His confidence surged further when he broke early for 2-1 and now redlining, the pressure from the 36-year-old Swiss was relentless. He held to love for 4-2 off an ace out wide and drew the error from a looping backhand.
Read Match Report & Watch Highlights
2017 Australian Open final, Melbourne, hard, Federer d. Nadal 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 For years, many tennis observers thought they’d never see this again: Federer and Nadal meeting in a Grand Slam final. The fans and analysts weren’t being pessimistic, either. It had been three years since Nadal had won 2014 Roland Garros and almost five years since Federer hoisted the Wimbledon trophy in 2012. But here the all-time greats and friends were, proving the doubters wrong once more.
Federer had surprised even himself by reaching the Melbourne final. He was playing in his first tour-level event in more than six months after taking the second half of 2016 off because of a lingering knee injury. Nadal, too, had missed the last five weeks of the 2016 season to rest his left wrist. But it was like old times again in Melbourne, with the level of tennis high from the start of their final.
During the first four sets, the players peaked at different times, with Federer starting hot but Nadal answering. In the fifth set, though, both legends were near their apex, and it looked like Nadal would take this 35th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting as he broke to start the decider. The 35-year-old Federer, though, would make his comeback even more special.
The Swiss fell behind 1-3 in the fifth set but reeled off the next five games, including two service breaks, to beat Nadal and claim his fifth Australian Open title and 18thGrand Slam crown in three hours and 38 minutes. The right-hander did it with his serve, 20 aces, and his backhand, which had been solid all tournament long and stood up to Nadal’s topspin forehand as best as it ever had. Federer flattened out his one-hander and delivered several cross-court winners against Nadal, which forced the Spaniard to stay home and limited his ability to run around his backhand.
The two have now won a combined 32 Grand Slam titles. At 35 years and 174 days, Federer became the oldest Grand Slam champion since Ken Rosewall, who won three major titles in 1970 and ’71 after celebrating his 35th birthday.
Read Match Report & Watch Highlights
2015 Swiss Indoors Basel final, Basel, hard, Federer d. Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 The long wait for one of the greatest rivalries of all time to be renewed finally ended, with Federer and Nadal drawn to clash for the ATP World Tour 500 series title in Basel. It had been 21 months since they last faced off on the hard courts of the Australian Open and both competitors were eager to notch another victory in the clash of titans. After more than two hours on court, it was Federer who claimed his sixth title of the season, seventh in his hometown and 88th of his career, clawing past his rival in a high-octane affair.
Predicated on an attacking mentality, both players looked to open the court and keep rallies short throughout. After splitting the first two sets, a Nadal double fault in the third game of the decider would give Federer a break chance to claim a potentially decisive break, but the Spaniard dispelled any such notion. He would win the battle, but the Swiss would win the war, grabbing the decisive break for 5-3 and serving it out a game later after two hours and three minutes on court. The former Basel ballboy out-aced Nadal 12-0 and struck 44 total winners. He converted on three of seven break points.
Read Match Report & Watch Highlights
2014 Australian Open semi-final, Melbourne, hard, Nadal d. Federer 7-6(4), 6-3, 6-3 Nadal and Federer had met on the same court exactly two years ago, when Nadal prevailed in four sets before losing out to Novak Djokovic in a near-six-hour finale. As they returned to Rod Laver Arena, it was with renewed hope for Federer that he might get his first Grand Slam win over Nadal since the 2007 Wimbledon final.
With Stefan Edberg in his corner and a larger racquet head paying dividends, Federer came into the semi-finals feeling confident on the back of impressive victories over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Andy Murray. With Nadal also struggling with a troublesome blister on his left palm, would this be Federer’s chance to reach his 25th major final?
In short, no. Nadal produced an awesome display, punctuated with remarkable passing shots, to which Federer had no answer. While Nadal excelled, he needed to, to combat the high level of aggression from Federer. The Swiss did not relent in coming to the net, despite often being thwarted by Nadal’s passing shots, and stepped in to hit over his backhand returns, instead of slicing them all.
But with Nadal looking to chase down Federer’s tally of 17 major titles, the Spaniard afforded Federer no mercy as he claimed the victory in two hours and 23 minutes, setting a final clash with Stanislas Wawrinka.
2013 Barclays ATP World Tour Finals semi-final, London, indoor hard, Nadal d. Federer 7-5, 6-3 Federer had won all four of their previous encounters at the season finale, most recently in the 2010 title match at The O2, but Nadal defeated the six-time champion in straight sets to reach his 14th final of a remarkable year.
After three straight service breaks, Nadal closed out a hold to love with his eighth forehand winner to end the 43-minute first set. Federer, who needed to be aggressive, struck 11 winners and committed 15 unforced errors in a high-quality opener. In the second set, Federer committed a forehand error in the fifth game to give Nadal the break. Nadal tightened up his game and at 5-3, created one match point opportunity at 30/40. Federer serve and volleyed, but Nadal’s backhand return was low enough to get Federer into trouble. He hit a backhand volley long to end the 80-minute encounter.
2013 Western & Southern Open quarter-final, Cincinnati, hard, Nadal d. Federer 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 In arguably their most riveting encounter since their 2012 Australian Open semi-final, Nadal outlasted Federer after three sets of high quality tennis. The Spaniard needed five match points to close out the 32-year-old Swiss, extending his winning streak on hard courts in 2013 to 13-0 and moving one step closer to a 37th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final.
Federer executed a highly aggressive game plan early on, which included topping many backhand returns and attacking the net with authority. He would capture the first set on a late break at 5-5 30/40, but Nadal would refuse to succumb to his rival, turning the tables late in the second set. As Federer’s unforced error count rose to 44, Nadal continued to apply pressure on his serve with deep angled returns with significant pace. The World No. 3 took an immediate lead in the third set, breaking for 2-0 and holding serve from there to the finish line. In a dramatic final game, Federer rallied from 0/40 and eventually saved four match points before Nadal rifled a forehand down the line to close it out.
Nadal improved to an overall record of 21-10 against Federer with the win, ending the five-time Cincinnati champ’s bid to repeat.
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Andy Murray and Serena Williams’ memorable Wimbledon run is over after they lost to top seeds Bruno Soares and Nicole Melichar in the mixed doubles.
Britain’s Murray, 32, and American Williams, 37, have illuminated SW19 with their blockbuster partnership but came unstuck in a 6-3 4-6 6-2 defeat.
The loss means the Scot’s Wimbledon return – almost six months after serious hip surgery – is over.
Now he must decide the next step as he ultimately hopes to play singles again.
On Tuesday, Murray said playing singles at the US Open in September looks “pretty unlikely” as he continues to take his recovery cautiously.
After their exit on Wednesday, the former British number one said: “I think I achieved a lot.
“I got on the court and considering the lack of matches, I did OK. The most positive thing is that my body felt good.”
Williams still has a chance of silverware as she plays Czech Barbora Strycova – British number one Jo Konta’s conqueror – in the singles semi-finals on Thursday.
The 23-time Grand Slam champion said she has “loved the support” from playing alongside Murray at the All England Club.
“Hopefully I can still have it,” she added.
“I think to play on this stage with Andy, who has done so well here for so many years, is literally just a lifetime experience. I’m so happy that I got to experience it.”
Serena was making me laugh out there – Andy Murray column
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‘Mur-rena’ out but plenty of positives for Sir Andy
Three-time Grand Slam winner Murray has spoken of his pleasure at being back playing competitively after having a hip resurfacing operation from which no player has returned to singles action.
Few would have thought they would see the 2013 and 2016 champion playing Wimbledon so soon and, despite seeing the chance of another title alongside Williams disappear, he will look back on the past month with plenty of positives.
Murray made a winning return by taking the Queen’s doubles alongside Spain’s Feliciano Lopez and has continued to look sharp for this stage of his recovery at the All England Club.
The partnership with Williams, christened by the pair as ‘Mur-rena’, has wowed the Wimbledon crowds but they could not recover after dropping their first set of the tournament against Soares and Melichar.
Dogged defending from Williams at the net ended in a volleyed winner on the way to a break point at 3-3, but the pair could not convert and were punished in the next game when Soares and Melichar broke for 5-3 and served out the first set.
A tight second set swung the way of Murray and Williams after Soares produced three double faults on what proved to be the final game.
The Brazilian, who used to partner Murray’s brother Jamie in the men’s doubles, made amends by sealing a break in the first game of the decider with a forehand winner placed in-between his opponents.
That proved key as the top seeds began to run away with the set, taking their first match point to reach the quarter-finals when Murray drilled a forehand into the net.
Murray and Williams continued to smile, however, as they left a packed court two to a standing ovation.
Djokovic Rides 10-Game Surge Into Wimbledon Semi-finals
World No. 1 is pursuing his fifth title at SW19
Winning 10 points in a row is impressive. Claiming 10 games in a row in the Wimbledon quarter-finals is on another level.
That is exactly what defending champion Novak Djokovic did on Wednesday, overcoming an early deficit against 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up David Goffin to beat the No. 21 seed 6-4, 6-0, 6-2 in one hour and 57 minutes.
The World No. 1 is into his ninth semi-final at the All England Club, tying Boris Becker, Arthur Gore and Herbert Lawford for the third-most trips to the last four here all-time. Djokovic is pursuing his fifth crown at SW19, and a victory at this event would also give him his fourth Grand Slam crown in his past five major tournaments.
Djokovic vs. Goffin Match Stats
Total Points Won
Djokovic’s only Grand Slam loss since the start of Wimbledon last year came at Roland Garros, where he fell in the semi-finals against Dominic Thiem. The 32-year-old has won 31 of his past 32 matches at the majors, emerging victorious in straight sets from 23 of those battles.
In the last four, Djokovic will face Spaniard Roberto Bautista Agut or Argentine Guido Pella. Bautista Agut, who holds a two-set lead in that match, has won two consecutive meetings against Djokovic, both of which came earlier this year, in Doha and Miami. Djokovic leads their rivalry 7-3.
Djokovic appeared in for a battle when Goffin broke for 4-3 in the opening set, striking the ball cleanly to make the Serbian uncomfortable in early baseline rallies.
The Belgian took a 30/0 lead on his serve in the next game, and hit a curling slice out wide, which upon review missed by just centimetres. Goffin then double faulted and on the next point missed an inside-in forehand long to let slip his momentum. Djokovic broke back with a forehand drop volley winner and never looked back from there.
Djokovic was unable to gain much advantage with his first serve in the opening set, winning only 63 per cent of points on his first delivery in the first set. But the rest of the way, the top seed won 88 per cent of his first serve points en route to taking a 6-1 FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against Goffin.
While in the early going Goffin was attacking Djokovic’s forehand well and hitting clean passing shots whenever he was able to draw the Serbian in, Djokovic slowly brought the match onto his racquet, playing controlled, attacking tennis and changing directions down the line seemingly at will, especially off the backhand side. During his 10-game winning stretch, the 32-year-old consistently placed his returns within just feet of the baseline, keeping Goffin on the back foot.
Did You Know? Djokovic has now won 70 matches at Wimbledon (70-10), becoming just the fourth man in the Open Era to reach the 70-win mark at the grass-court Grand Slam, joining Roger Federer, Jimmy Connors and Boris Becker.
In his latest BBC Sport column, Andy Murray discusses his blossoming partnership with Serena Williams in the mixed doubles and not playing against older brother Jamie at Wimbledon.
Playing alongside Serena at Wimbledon has been great fun so far and, as I joked after our first match, we are both younger siblings – so we are very competitive.
We want to have a few more days and matches playing together, hopefully until the final on Sunday.
I wouldn’t say anything has particularly surprised me about Serena as a player or a person, even though I didn’t know her particularly well before we played and we have not spent loads of time together.
But you expect someone who has been as successful as she has to be extremely competitive – and she is.
Even though it is mixed doubles, and her priority is singles, she goes out there and wants to win every point.
Her record speaks for itself and the more matches she plays, her performances and level will only increase.
We played better in our second-round match against 14th seeds Fabrice Martin and Raquel Atawo than we did in the first round, and I’m sure we will continue to improve as we get more matches under our belts.
We have put pressure on our opponents in all four of the sets we have played and created a lot of break-point chances, and I think as the matches go on we will get better at converting them.
What I think has worked particularly well so far is our returning games. Some of Serena’s returning – especially in our second match – was brilliant.
Martin is a really tall guy and was serving huge, but she put a lot of returns in play on the first serve and then she took big cuts at the returns on the second serve and was making a lot of them.
That is not an easy thing to do and she won’t have been used to returning serves of that size. And if you think how little she has been playing, the way she is picking that up is special. It’s not something everyone can do.
‘Wimbledon has been more relaxed this year’
Only playing in the doubles at Wimbledon is obviously different to playing in the singles and it has been a new experience for me. The tournament has been more relaxed.
I’ve enjoyed Wimbledon every time I’ve had the opportunity to play – it is just a little bit more stressful when you’re playing singles. When it is doubles you are sharing that load together, which helps.
One of the things that is tough to get used to on court in mixed doubles is the difference between the man’s serve and the woman’s serve.
Martin’s serve was getting up to 138mph and the ball is bouncing up around your head on the return. But when the woman is serving, it is a 30mph or 35mph difference and the ball is staying probably a metre to a metre and a half lower. That can be more challenging to keep the rhythm there.
However, the format is good fun and the crowd love to watch it.
You only see the mixed at the Slams really, but is a different format and one a lot of social tennis players play at local clubs around the country.
Serena and I shared a few jokes out there on Tuesday night – but we can’t reveal what they were, unfortunately, because some of the language was not repeatable!
I was feeling more relaxed than the first match and that was probably because Serena was making me laugh out there, and hitting some amazing returns.
We are playing again on Wednesday and I’m looking forward to that. The crowds have been brilliant so far and, hopefully, we can put on another good display.
No tinge of disappointment that Jamie and I won’t meet
Jamie losing in the mixed doubles earlier on Tuesday means we won’t play against each other here at Wimbledon.
It is a shame he did not do as well in the men’s doubles with Neal Skupski as he would have liked, and it is a shame I didn’t either after losing in the second round with Pierre-Hugues Herbert.
But it is everyone else who talks about us playing each other. It’s not like we are sitting there and texting each other, saying we could play each other in the third round of the men’s, or the final of the mixed.
That is not how sport works. Wimbledon is one of the toughest tennis tournament in the world and the best players are here, so it’s hard and we both know that.
Just because it is a good story for me to play against my brother it does not mean we are automatically gifted a passage through the draw.
Andy Murray was talking to BBC Sport’s Jonathan Jurejko at Wimbledon.
Wimbledon 2019 on the BBC
Venue: All England Club Dates: 1-14 July
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Nadal’s coach assesses Spaniard’s quarter-final showdown against Querrey
With eight men left in the draw and Wimbledon well into its second week, there’s a sense of anticipation and excitement in the air around the All England Club. Tuesday might be an off day in terms of tournament play, but there’s no respite for the remaining competitors. And while Aorangi Park might not be the beehive of activity it was just a few days ago, the atmosphere is just as electric in the practice area.
Rafael Nadal, a familiar figure on the practice courts when he isn’t competing on Centre Court or Court 1, is preparing for his quarter-final match against American Sam Querrey. Not one to ever take a training session lightly, the World No. 2 is as focused as ever as he takes instructions from his team. Once again, it’s the two-time Wimbledon champion’s serve that has the bulk of their attention. Despite not dropping serve since the second set of the second round, the Spaniard knows holding serve is crucial if he’s to continue his march toward a third crown at The Championships.
Overseeing Nadal’s practice session is coach Francisco Roig. On the eve of Nadal’s match with Querrey, Roig speaks with ATPTour.com about the high stakes that come with competing at this stage of the tournament and breaks down what Nadal must do to reach the last four at SW19 for the seventh time.
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Four wins and counting Rafa has set the bar high, even by his standards, through the first four rounds. He’s adapted well to playing on grass and is operating on all cylinders. By being aggressive, he’s allowed himself space to execute different approaches to each match. There’s no aspect of his game I can criticise so far. He has to be happy following the 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 win (over Joao Sousa in the fourth round).
“I feel like I’ve taken a step forward every day.” – Nadal, following his win over Sousa I’m pleased to hear him say this. The win on Monday bolstered his confidence. I’ve said this before: The first week of Wimbledon is always complicated. With the first round out of the way, the circumstances change. Every match is tense, but at this stage, Rafa has found his groove, and because of that, he’s enjoying himself. He’s controlling points and dictating matters. There are no holes in his game and that’s essential to grass-court play, where you can’t hide behind one strength and hope that takes you to the end. By realising he’s getting better with every match, he’s acknowledging that he’s in a good place in terms of his frame of mind.
Nadal has gone eight consecutive sets without facing a break point That stat reveals two things. One is that his serve, both the first and second, is holding up very well. Another is that his concentration is unwavering. Rafa understands the importance of staying on serve and how complicated things get when he drops serve. Avoiding distractions or lapses in concentration is key, even more so on this surface.
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What has changed through the first four rounds? The mindset. For some players left in the draw, this is new ground; they’re competing for a spot in their first Grand Slam semi-final. Players like Rafa, Roger and Nole have been here before; this is familiar territory and they’re used to reaching this stage of a major. As difficult as it is from this point forward, I’m positive Rafa can not only maintain the high level of play, but even raise it. He’ll have to shift into an even higher gear against Querrey and then possibly against Roger… There’s no room for error. He’s going into these matches with a lot of momentum, which is reassuring.
Four fast starts to open matches Break early, if possible, and break often. That goes with his aggressive approach on the court. Rafa is eager to catch his opponents with their guards down, to take them by surprise. When he’s most confident, Rafa is on the offensive beginning with the first point of the match. Each round will be more difficult than the last but Rafa isn’t going to switch tactics now; applying pressure from the outset and keeping opponents on the back foot is the key to success.
What do you expect from Querrey? We are expecting a very tough match. Concentration is essential and exploiting every opportunity is a must. We know Querrey: he’s a fantastic server and his forehand is potent. He’s also very mobile for a man his size. He also has a wealth of experience on grass. Overall, this is going to be a tough match. But I trust that Rafa will be at his best. If he can stay aggressive and dictate play, he’ll be victorious. He’s going into this match with a lot of momentum and even more importantly, he’s enjoying himself. This is a pivotal stage in the tournament, and Rafa’s ready.
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