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300: Nadal Reaches Masters Milestone

  • Posted: Oct 16, 2015

With his speedy 6-2, 6-1 victory over No. 4-ranked Stan Wawrinka in Shanghai on Friday, Rafael Nadal notched his 300th career ATP Masters 1000 win (300-62), and now trails only Roger Federer (326-95) in that category.

When it comes to winning percentage at the ATP Masters 1000 events, Nadal (.828) is ahead of both Novak Djokovic (.817) and Federer (.774) on the all-time honor rolls.

But the Spaniard isn’t getting too caught up in the numbers these days. Having endured his first Slam-less campaign in more than a decade, and still seeking his first ATP Masters 1000 title of 2015, it’s all about progress, about measurable match-to-match improvement.

When the Shanghai Rolex Masters semi-finalist was asked if his results this week might serve as a breakthrough in an otherwise tough year for the 27-time ATP Masters 1000 champion, Nadal was quick to dismiss any short-term thinking.

“I don’t believe in drastic changes,” he cautioned. “One week is not going to change everything. I don’t believe that’s going to happen, especially for me. What I believe in is playing weeks in a row at a solid level, and that’s what I feel I am doing better and better. The important feeling is that you are practising well. I am enjoying it. I don’t have the problems that I had during the whole year in terms of controlling of my emotions on court. That’s allowed me to enjoy the practices, the competition.  I’m happy for that. I have the motivation to keep going.”

It wasn’t the first time during the Asian swing that the 29-year-old had referenced his on-court emotions. In Beijing, he confided that after many months of struggling with them, he was just beginning to play with a sense of calm again, “something that has been very difficult for me.” He later elaborated on the theme: “Not having control of my nerves or my emotion is like coming back from an injury. It’s not a physical injury, but a mental injury. And for me this is another challenge. I am working hard. I’ve never had such a long period of time without playing at the level that I wanted.”

All this comes as somewhat of a surprise. Fans have long relished the Mallorcan’s matadorian fist-pumps, but he has never been one to wear his heart on his sleeve in moments of doubt. If he’s been struggling on an emotional front, he’s sure done a good job of masking it.

“I think that’s a personal thing. Normally, I don’t like to talk about personal things,” he said. “I talk about my public things, and that’s a personal thing. But in terms of the work, trying to control your emotions, it’s something you need to work on every day.”

Beijing marked Nadal’s first hard-court final (l. to Djokovic) since Miami in 2014, and until this week he hadn’t defeated a Top-5 opponent in 16 months. Despite his assertion that he doesn’t prescribe to drastic changes, deep runs in back-to-back weeks in China show that he has indeed turned a corner of sorts and is now headed in the right direction.

“I am playing two weeks in a row in the final rounds. That’s a big improvement for me,” said Nadal, who’ll next face Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the Shanghai semi-finals. “In terms of confidence, in terms of my level of tennis, I am playing better.  I’m very happy for that because I am working so hard every day, with the right energy, I believe.”

ATP MASTERS 1000 WIN LEADERS (since 1990)







Roger Federer




Rafael Nadal




Novak Djokovic




Andre Agassi




Pete Sampras



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Klaasen/Melo Streaking In Shanghai

  • Posted: Oct 16, 2015

Raven Klaasen and Marcelo Melo stretched their winning streak to six by downing No. 3 seeds Marcin Matkowski and Nenad Zimonjic 6-2, 6-4 on Friday in Shanghai. The South African-Brazilian duo is attempting to win a second title in as many weeks after taking home the Tokyo crown last weekend. Klaasen/Melo won 95 per cent of their first serve points (23/24) and did not face a break point in the 53-minute win.

In the semi-finals, they will take on Rohan Bopanna and Lukasz Kubot, who eliminated Feliciano Lopez and Max Mirnyi 6-4, 7-5 in 75 minutes. The eighth seeds struck 11 aces and saved all three break points faced, while going two-for-11 on break chances on the Lopez/Mirnyi serve.

In the top half of the draw, No. 7 Daniel Nestor and Edouard Roger-Vasselin will face No. 5 Simone Bolelli and Fabio Fognini for a place in the final. Nestor/Roger-Vasselin bested Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 6-3, 6-4 in 63 minutes, while the Italian duo moved on without striking a ball when Pierre-Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut withdrew due to a Herbert back injury.

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Novak & Andy: The Rivalry

  • Posted: Oct 16, 2015

Andy Murray will face Novak Djokovic once again in the Shanghai semi-finals after toppling the Serb in the 2015 Rogers Cup final, halting the Serb’s eight-match win streak in the longtime rivalry.

Thus far in 2015, Djokovic earned a pair of March victories at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells and Miami, before Murray took him to five sets in the Roland Garros semi-finals. The Scot’s win in Montreal marked his first over Djokovic since Wimbledon 2013.

Overall, Djokovic owns a 19-9 edge in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series. looks at their previous meetings…

2015 Rogers Cup final, Montreal, Murray d. Djokovic 64 46 63
Murray notched his 11th win over a World No. 1 in toppling Djokovic for his third Rogers Cup title. The Scot extended his win streak in ATP World Tour Masters 1000 matches to 11 straight, capturing his 11th title at the level and second of the year (Madrid). Just two days after securing his spot at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals, he won tour-level crown No. 35.  

Murray was ultra aggressive from the outset, not yielding Djokovic much rhythm from the baseline, while making significant inroads in the Serb’s serve. After splitting sets, Murray surged to a 3-0 lead in the decider with an immediate break. Djokovic entered the match with a streak of 24 consecutive deciding-set wins at the Masters 1000 level and was poised to break back, but Murray held after a mesmerising 15-minute, 10-deuce fifth game, saving six break points for 4-1. He would miss a trio of match points on Djokovic’s serve at 5-2, but would not disappoint a game later, saving two break points and sealing the win after exactly three hours.

“To win this one was nice, especially the way the match went as well,” Murray said. “It would have been easy for me to let that one slip away. But I fought well and stayed calm in the important moments of the third set.”

2015 Roland Garros semi-final, Paris, Djokovic d. Murray 63 63 57 57 61
Murray pushed Djokovic to the brink in Paris, with the Serb closing in on completing the career Grand Slam. Needing two days to secure victory, the World No. 1 battled for more than three hours before rain and fading light halted their 27th FedEx ATP Head2Head encounter during the fourth set. Despite Murray snatching the overnight momentum after capturing the third, it was Djokovic who pulled away when play resumed on Saturday.

Murray’s mettle was on full display in forcing a decider, but his bid to record a seventh two-set comeback in Grand Slams was derailed. Djokovic, who punched his ticket to a ninth successive Barclays ATP World Tour Finals after defeating Rafael Nadal in the quarter-finals, extended his winning streak to 28 straight and moved to the doorstep of making major history.

“I don’t think I was lucky,” Djokovic said. “I think I was playing some great tennis yesterday. He found his game late in the third. I had many opportunities to finish the match in straight sets, but credit to Andy. It was a really tough match, over four hours all together, yesterday and today. No different from any other match that we played against each other. It’s always a thriller, always a marathon.”

2015 Miami Open presented by Itau Final, Miami, Djokovic d. Murray 76(3) 46 60
With his seventh straight win over World No. 4 Murray, Djokovic captured a fifth crown in South Florida and became the first player to complete the Indian Wells – Miami title sweep three times. The first set of the final was anything but straightforward, with both players tallying two breaks each before Djokovic clinched the tie-break. Murray temporarily turned the tide, taking the second set with a break to love at 5-4. Ultimately, Djokovic’s momentum, a culmination of his recent performances against Murray and his stellar start to the season, was too much for the Dunblane native to overcome in the final set.

“It was just a physical battle between the two of us that play similar game,” Djokovic said. “We haven’t served that well, so we haven’t had that many free points, as a matter of fact. With first or second serves, we needed to earn every single point, to work for it. That’s why this particular match was very tough.”

2015 BNP Paribas Open semi-final, Indian Wells, Djokovic d. Murray 62 63
Djokovic entered the 25th meeting between the two rivals with soaring confidence, and it would be reflected in a dominant victory over the Scot. The top seed was ruthless from the onset, finding his rhythm from the baseline immediately and using his agility to frustrate Murray.

Djokovic would surge to a 3-0 lead in both sets as Murray’s unforced error count rose. Murray pressed for a break back in the fifth game of the second set, but a pair of Djokovic service winners denied both chances. The Serb’s first match point came on Murray’s racquet at 5-2, which the Scot turned aside with an ace down the T. Djokovic would serve out the win on his fourth match point in the next game, prevailing after one hour and 28 minutes.

The World No. 1 and three-time Indian Wells champion returned to the final – his 31st at the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level – after hoisting the trophy the previous year (d. Federer).

“Even though it’s a straight set victory, I still had to earn it,” said Djokovic. “I thought that he didn’t play close to his highest level. He made a lot of unforced errors, especially from the forehand side. Low percentage of first serves in. That allowed me to obviously step in and be aggressive.

“I thought I played solid, with the right intensity from the beginning.  Good first serve percentage. Got some free points there in the important moments.”

2015 Australian Open final, Melbourne, Djokovic d. Murray 76(5) 67(4) 63 60
Novak Djokovic became the first player in the Open Era to win five Australian Open crowns and denied Andy Murray his third Grand Slam championship title in his fourth final at Melbourne Park. Djokovic has now won 38 hard-court titles for No. 3 in the Open Era list behind Roger Federer (57) and Andre Agassi (46). It was his fifth clash against Murray in a major final.

Murray fought back from a 1-4 deficit in the first set and led 4/2 in the tie-break before Djokovic mounted his own comeback. Both players exchanged service breaks in the second set, but it was Murray’s mental resilience that helped him into a 5-2 lead in the tie-break, including winning a 26-stroke rally. From an 0-2 deficit in the third set, Djokovic won 12 of 13 games to extend his winning streak to 10 matches against opponents in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Roy Emerson, a six-time Australian championship winner, was on hand to present Djokovic the Sir Norman Brookes Trophy.

Murray was bidding to become the first British man to win the Australian Open since Fred Perry in 1934. His run ensures he will return to the Top 4 of the Emirates ATP Rankings. Djokovic also beat Murray in the 2011 and 2013 finals.

2014 BNP Paribas Masters quarter-final, Paris, Djokovic d. Murray 75 62
Djokovic continued his push to finish 2014 as year-end World No. 1, ousting eighth seed Murray in the Paris quarter-finals. The top seed would go on to claim a third ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title in the French capital, having also prevailed in 2009 (d. Monfils) and 2013 (d. Ferrer). Djokovic fired 12 winners and just one ace over the one hour and 41 minute affair. After dropping the first set, Murray pounced early in the second for an early break advantage. The lead would be short-lived, however, as Djokovic broke back immediately and proceeded to reel off five straight games to secure the victory.

“The first set was very close,” Djokovic said after the match. “I had some a few break point opportunities and held my service games pretty well, then I got a crucial break at the end of the first. He was a break up in the second, but then he hit some double faults and allowed me back in. After that, I started swinging through and felt much better.”

2014 China Open semi-final, Beijing, Djokovic d. Murray 63 64
Djokovic, the No. 1 seed in Beijing, improved to a 23-0 in the Chinese capital and reached a fifth China Open final with a straight-sets victory over Murray. Murray rallied briefly in the second set, fighting from a break down to level at 4-4, but Djokovic’s defensive skills left the Dunblane native smashing his racquet in frustration as he capitulated on serve in the ninth game. Djokovic limited Murray to just seven winners and thwarted the Scot on four of his five break point chances in the encounter lasting one hour and 37 minutes.

“It was a two-set victory today, but still it felt like I had to work hard to win the points,” said Djokovic. “There was a lot of rally exchanges. [Andy] had a lot of chances to come back… Just in important moments I managed to play the better tennis.”

2014 US Open quarter-final, New York City, Djokovic d. Murray 76(1) 67(1) 62 64
Top seed Djokovic advanced to an eighth consecutive US Open semi-final after withstanding a withering challenge from Murray that ended after 1 a.m. at Flushing Meadows. The dramatic opening two sets on Arthur Ashe stadium featured eight service breaks and lasted two hours and 13 minutes before Djokovic asserted control in the second half of the match. The Serb fired 46 winners and broke serve seven times, sealing the win to become the seventh player to reach 50 US Open match victories.

“It was a very physical battle in the opening two and a half sets,” said Djokovic. “I didn’t expect anything less before the match knowing I was facing Andy. The last five times we’ve always gone over three, four hours.”

Novak & Andy: Matches 11-20 | Matches 1-10

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Djokovic Fine-Tuning Form in Shanghai

  • Posted: Oct 16, 2015

Defending Shanghai Rolex Masters champ Roger Federer was ousted in the opening round. Andy Murray, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka and Tomas Berdych all survived three setters in reaching the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, top seed Novak Djokovic appears to be knifing his way through the draw all but unopposed. Coming off his record sixth title in Beijing, where he surrendered just 18 games en route to the trophy, the Serb is playing with an energy-preserving potency rarely seen in the sport. With Friday’s 7-6(6), 6-1 elite-eight dispatch of Aussie Bernard Tomic, he has now won 15 straight matches and 18 straight sets dating back to his title run at the China Open.

How’s that for efficiency?

“There is no secret,” insisted Djokovic. “I guess it depends how do you feel on a given day, depends how well your opponent is playing, how well you’re playing. It’s a combination of things. You can’t just expect to win all the time very comfortably, but I’ve been doing that so for the last week and a half. Obviously, it’s giving me more confidence. Any time I come back to the court, I feel good and I start off well.”

Djokovic is a seeking his career-high 13th straight final since falling in the quarter-finals in Doha to start the year (l. to Ivo Karlovic). The last player to reach 10 or more consecutive finals in a season was Federer (11 in 2006, 17 dating back to 2005).

“I’m not going to go too much into what I’m doing because you want to keep some things for yourself and for your team,” said Djokovic. “Generally, most of the work that is done is done before I start a tournament. You’re just trying to keep this fine‑tuning and good feeling on the court. Obviously, it’s better to win comfortably in two sets than staying too long. Again, the result is not in your hand, but you can always do your best to prepare yourself for the battle and try to perform your best.”

It once seemed an impossible ask for Djokovic to surpass his output from 2011, a historic year in which he went 70-6 (.921) and claimed three of four majors. But he’s already 71-5 (.934) in 2015, having once again won three Grand Slams, in addition to ATP Masters 1000 events in Indian Wells, Miami, Monte-Carlo and Rome. And it’s only October. The 28-year-old’s claim that 2015 is his the best year of his career — something he began hinting at as far back as Wimbledon — is now becoming a reality.

“I don’t allow myself to really lose the concentration or commitment to any tournament because it’s my life,” he explained. “I have a responsibility not just towards myself but towards the team of people that travels with me. So I accept and approach every tournament equally professionally and serious.  I try to give my best anytime I’m on the court.”




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“As No. 1 of the world it’s another dimension of responsibility and attention that you have,” Djokovic added. “You need to be able to carry yourself well because everybody wants to win against you. You don’t want to lose. You want to go out on the court and fight for the wins as much as anybody else. That’s the way I’ve been brought up. Regardless of the category of the event that I’m playing in, I’m always going to try my best. I think that kind of approach allows me to motivate myself and to stand up each day and do repetitively things that I’ve been doing for so many years. In the end, I know it pays off.”

Could there possibly be any room for improvement at this point in his career, or is it just a matter of maintaining his level?

“I think it’s a combination of the two: maintaining the high level, the performance, the tennis I have right now, and also working on certain parts of the game that I think can be improved,” he said. “I was brought up that way and thought to always look for some room for improvement. I still believe there are shots in my game that can be better. I think that’s one of the things that keeps me going. It motivates me.”

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Berdych Stretches For Hot Shot

  • Posted: Oct 16, 2015

Pulled wide, Tomas Berdych comes up with backhand magic to sneak the point against the net-rushing Andy Murray in Shanghai. Watch live tennis at

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Nadal Surges Past Wawrinka Into Semis

  • Posted: Oct 16, 2015

Rafael Nadal’s growing confidence was clear for all to see as the Spaniard dismissed Stan Wawrinka 6-2, 6-1 on Friday to reach the semi-finals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters and claim his 300th win at ATP World Tour Masters 1000 level.

Nadal might not have received the test he expected from a tired Wawrinka, who toiled for almost three hours on Thursday to overcome Marin Cilic. But the left-hander, who reached the Beijing final last week (l. to Djokovic), took full advantage to race to victory in 63 minutes.

“Being in the semi-finals is a great result for me,” said Nadal. “I hadn’t played the semi-finals on hard court all year and now I am playing two weeks in a row in the final rounds. That’s a big improvement for me. In terms of confidence, in terms of level of tennis, I am playing better. Very happy for that because I am working so hard.” 

From 2-2 in the first set, Nadal reeled off nine straight games before Wawrinka chalked up a game in the second set to avoid a bagel. Having lost his past two contests with Wawrinka, Nadal improved to a 13-2 lead over the Roland Garros champion in their FedEx ATP Head2Head.

The 29-year-old Nadal has spoken of his desire to finish the 2015 season in the best form possible after some ups and downs during the campaign. As he looks to reach his sixth ATP World Tour final of the season, the Spaniard will face Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, whom he has beaten in eight of their past 11 meetings.

“It is a court that he likes to play on,” said Nadal. “The court is quick. He feels comfortable on these surfaces because he has a huge serve, very, very good forehand. He likes to hit the serve and then hit the forehand and go to the net. He’s a very competitive player. When he’s in the semi-finals it’s because he’s playing well. So it will be a very tough match. I hope to play well, keep doing like every day, playing a little bit better every day. I hope tomorrow to continue with that improvement.”

Nadal is chasing crucial points in the Emirates ATP Race To London as he looks to clinch one of the four remaining spots at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals. The Manacor native moved up to sixth in the year-to-date standings after last week’s run in Beijing and is looking to make up ground on fifth-placed Tomas Berdych, who lost to Andy Murray in the quarter-finals.

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Tsonga Holds Off Anderson To Reach Shanghai Semis

  • Posted: Oct 16, 2015

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is through to the semi-finals of the Shanghai Rolex Masters after edging Kevin Anderson 7-6(6), 5-7, 6-4 on Friday.

The Frenchman is bidding to reach his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 final since August 2014, when he defeated Roger Federer to win the Toronto title. In Saturday’s semi-finals he will face Rafael Nadal. Nadal leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 8-3, with Tsonga’s last win coming four years ago at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals.

It could have been very different for Tsonga, though, had new Top 10 member Anderson taken his chances in the first set. Trailing 3-6 in the first-set tie-break, Tsonga saved three set points as he reeled off five straight points to sneak the opener.

Anderson did not miss his opportunity in the second set, converting the only break point in the 12th game to level the match. Tsonga quickly regained the lead in the third set, though, breaking for a 2-1 advantage. The Frenchman fended off break back points in the fourth and sixth games before sealing victory in two hours and 41 minutes.

“It was a good match,” said Tsonga. “It was a good level, I think. We both played good tennis. I was really aggressive. I served really, really well today. I moved well. I’m just really happy to win today. It come at the good moment. It’s good to play like this.” 

The 29-year-old Anderson was looking to mark his first week in the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings by reaching his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final. The South African has a 42-21 record on the season, highlighted by winning his third ATP World Tour title in Winston-Salem (d. Herbert).

The 30-year-old Tsonga is through to the Shanghai semi-finals for the second time (also 2013). He is chasing his second ATP World Tour title in as many months, having triumphed recently at the Moselle Open in Metz (d. Simon). After the first three months of his season were hampered by injury, Tsonga has hit form in the second half of the year, reaching the semi-finals at Roland Garros (l. to Wawrinka) and the quarter-finals at the US Open (l. to Cilic).

“I am really happy to be back at the good level,” said Tsonga. “It’s good things for next year. The most important thing for me now is to stay healthy and continue to play and improve my game.”

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Tsonga Comes Up Good Under Pressure

  • Posted: Oct 16, 2015

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga comes up with a winning backhand pass as Kevin Anderson closes down the net in their Shanghai quarter-final. Watch live tennis at

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