Rafa Nadal breaks down in tears as he wins US Open to close in on Roger Federer’s all-time Grand Slam record

9 Sep

Rafael Nadal was in tears as he won his 19th Grand Slam title with a thrilling five-set victory over Daniil Medvedev in the US Open final.

The Spaniard was full of emotion after his New York triumph saw him close to within one major title of Roger Federer’s record tally of 20.

Nadal was made to work hard for his fourth US Open triumph

Nadal had led by two sets and a break, but he needed to halt a stunning comeback from Russian rebel Medvedev to win an epic showdown 7-5 6-3 5-7 4-6 6-4.

The 33-year-old admitted he feared he had blown his chance of victory, saying: “Did I think I might lose? Of course, when you have break point against in the beginning of the fifth, losing the last two sets, you are in trouble.

“But I really try to avoid this thought. I always believe that I going to keep having chances. That’s the way that I approach.

“It’s different in his position after two sets to love and break for me, it’s human that he had that feeling. But I always was in front of the score until the end. Is difficult for me to think I am going to lose.

“Of course, I was in trouble. But I played a not very good game at the 3-2 of that third set.

“At that moment things looked under control, but then Daniil increased a lot and changed a lot of things.”

Nadal is showing no signs of slowing down at 33

Most men's Grand Slam singles wins

Roger Federer – 20

Rafael Nadal – 19

Novak Djokovic – 16

Pete Sampras – 14

Roy Emerson – 12

Medvedev’s brave efforts earned him praise from the crowd. The hot-headed Russian, playing in his first grand slam final, had previously been public enemy number one in New York.

He had been jeered by those in the stands throughout the fortnight after he flipped them the middle finger during the third round.

After that match the 23-year-old had goaded the paying public, saying the boos had helped him win the match.

Yet when he launched his unlikely counter-attack it was like Rocky in reverse, the fans around a packed Arthur Ashe suddenly chanting his name.

Medvedev went from villain to hero in New York

Afterwards Medvedev said to the crowd: “I want to talk about you guys. Earlier I said it in a bad way, now I mean it in a good way. It’s because of your energy that I’m here in the final.”

He later added: “It was amazing match. It’s an amazing story.

“In the third set I was thinking ‘OK, in 20 minutes I have to give a speech. What do I say? Something like that.

“So I was like, ‘OK, OK, just fight for every point, don’t think about these things’. It worked out not bad.

“Was I close to winning? Yes, one set away. I mean, had break points at 5-4. I will remember everything of it.

“I will be disappointed with the result, but I will be happy with the way I played the whole summer, the whole US Open.”

Serena Williams loses fourth Grand Slam final in a row as Bianca Andreescu claims US Open triumph

8 Sep

Serena Williams’ bid to break the women’s all-time Grand Slam singles titles record suffered a blow on Saturday as she lost in straight sets at the US Open final.

Canadian teenager Bianca Andreescu claimed her first Grand Slam title in New York as she swept aside the 37-year-old American.

Williams was widely expected to brush aside 19-year-old Andreescu, playing in her first Grand Slam final, to bring up her record-equalling 24th major title.

But, for the fourth time of asking since she returned to the sport after giving birth, Williams fell at the final hurdle, Andreescu shocking a packed and partisan Arthur Ashe Stadium with a 6-3 7-5 win.

Serena Williams was beaten by Bianca Andreescu at the US Open final
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Williams had lost acrimoniously at the same stage here last year to Naomi Osaka, as well as in the last two Wimbledon finals, as she desperately attempts to match Margaret Court’s all-time record.

The American’s footwork, and her first serve, deserted her for most of the match until, at 5-1 down in the second set and facing championship point, she mounted an unlikely comeback.

But Andreescu, who was not even born when Williams won her first US Open title in 1999, stood up to her illustrious opponent and held her nerve for a famous win.

The youngster has enjoyed a rapid rise, climbing from 208 in the world this time last year, when she lost in qualifying, to a projected place in the top five.

Bianca Andreescu claimed her first Grand Slam title
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Andreescu is now the first Canadian grand slam champion and the first woman to win here on their main draw debut.

With her close friend Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, watching with her mother, husband and coach, Williams began well enough with an ace, but successive double faults at deuce gave Andreescu a break in the opening game.

A fierce exchange of volleys at the net was won by Williams and seemed to wake her up as she got on the board for 2-1.

But, by the time the score reached 4-2, Andreescu was the one cranking up the pressure and, as one winner flashed past, Williams turned to her box, swinging her racket in frustration.

Williams somehow survived five break points and in the next game forced one of her own.

Andreescu wriggled out of that with an ace and then promptly broke to close out the opening set before racing into a 2-0 lead in the second.

Williams got back on serve, though, needing four break points and a lucky net chord to finally lay a glove on her opponent.

Even that did not faze Andreescu, who pounced on more misfiring serves and broke straight back.

Serena Williams is still searching for her 24th Grand Slam title
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Leading 5-1 and with the finishing line in sight Adreescu understandably tightened, Williams saving a championship point before twice breaking back as the crowd volume increased to ear-splitting levels.

At 5-5 Andreescu managed a gutsy hold and then brought up two more championship points, seizing her chance with the second of them, a clubbing forehand winner for a remarkable victory.

Novak Djokovic says fight with fan gave him ‘extra motivation’ to beat Denis Kudla in US Open match

31 Aug

Novak Djokovic believes a fight with a fan gave him the motivation to defeat Denis Kudla in their US Open match.

The Serb has been been hampered by a niggling shoulder injury which forced him to arrive late for his pre-match practice session and has reduced his chances of claiming his fourth title at Flushing Meadows.

Djokovic had a pre-match spat with a fan

After beginning his warm-up, the world No.1 appeared to become embroiled in a heated discussion with a match-goer.

Djokovic eventually breezed through the encounter, winning 6-3 6-4 6-2 to set-up a last 16 clash with Stan Wawrinka.

Have a look at the footage below…

“Just had a little chat,’ said  Djokovic in his post match press conference when asked about the incident.

“To have a drink,’ he added. “I liked the guy. I’m going to buy him a drink. “We’ll keep it between us. But he definitely helped me. He doesn’t even know, but he did help me.”

Pressed on what the fan said to him, Djokovic added: ‘Well, if you have the video, you’ll hear I guess. “As I said, I’m not going to talk about it. I think he did me a favor. Even maybe he didn’t want to do me a favor, he did me a favor, big favour.”

US Open: Serena Williams beats Maria Sharapova inside an hour as Konta and Evans also reach second round

27 Aug

Serena Williams triumphed over Maria Sharapova in a US Open first-round contest as one-sided as their 15-year rivalry.

Williams, the 23-time grand slam champion, has now won 20 of their 22 meetings following a thumping 6-1 6-1 victory.

It was the pair’s first encounter since January 2016, and was all the more eagerly-anticipated after Williams pulled out of a scheduled meeting at last year’s French Open through injury.

Williams made light work of Sharapova in New York
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Sharapova is nowhere near the player who beat Williams in the 2004 Wimbledon final – and also won their next match the same year – but despite the scoreline she did not play at all badly.

The Russian, 32, got a healthy 73 per cent of her first serves in. One fierce cross-court winner on the run even had Williams applauding.

But Sharapova could barely lay a glove on Williams, who turns 38 this month and remains tantalisingly within touching distance of Margaret Court’s record of 24 major titles.

Victory was wrapped up when a Sharapova return floated long after only 59 minutes.

Elsewhere, Johanna Konta had some A-list backing as she battled into round two.

Avengers star Tom Hiddleston, currently starring in Betrayal on Broadway, was in the British number one’s box following a chance meeting in New York.

And after two hours the end game arrived for Russian Daria Kasatkina as Konta progressed 6-1 4-6 6-2.

Konta is already Britain’s sole representative in the women’s singles after Harriet Dart bowed out.

Konta beat Daria Kasatkina and now faces Margarita Gasparyan in round two
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Londoner Dart, who came through three rounds of qualifying to reach the main draw for the first time, lost 6-3 6-1 to Romanian Ana Bogdan.

Dan Evans became the first British male through after a four-set win over Adrian Mannarino of France.

The British number two, who reached the third round on his last visit to Flushing Meadows three years ago, triumphed 6-4 6-3 2-6 6-3 in a shade over three hours.

Cameron Norrie followed Evans onto Court 10 but could not follow his fellow Brit into round two.

The 24-year-old saved two match points before taking French qualifier Gregoire Barrere into a fifth set, and then twice served for the match.

But Barrere forced a tie-break and Norrie bowed out after a gruelling four-hour marathon, 7-6 (4) 6-4 4-6 6-7 (5) 7-6 (2).

Andy Murray beaten by brother Jamie in quarter-finals of Cincinnati Masters as Scot’s dabble with doubles ends in defeat

17 Aug

Andy Murray’s dabble with doubles ended in defeat as the two-time Wimbledon champion was beaten by brother Jamie in the quarter-finals of the Cincinnati Masters.

The siblings were facing each other for only the second time in their professional careers, and Andy and Feliciano Lopez went down 6-7 (5) 7-5 10-4 to Jamie and fellow Briton Neal Skupski.

The Murray brother’s faced each other for the first time in their careers

“It was tough, not the most enjoyable match. The atmosphere kind of felt a bit flat on the court which I think is in some ways normal in those sorts of matches,” Andy Murray told reporters.

“But it was fine, and I’m happy Jamie got through. You want to go out there and compete and play as well as you can, but you’re not getting the same enjoyment out of serving an ace or hitting a great return as you might be in other matches.

“Obviously we tried to do our best but it wasn’t enough today.”
The defeat all but spells the end of Andy Murray’s sojourn into doubles on the day he announced he would not play the men’s or mixed events at the US Open later this month.

Having taken up doubles to feel his way back into top-level tennis following career-saving hip surgery, the 32-year-old Scot won the Queen’s Club title with Lopez and enjoyed a run to the last 16 at Wimbledon in the mixed doubles with Serena Williams.

The former world number one will now concentrate on resuming his singles career at next week’s ATP event in Winston-Salem, after losing on his return to singles 6-4 6-4 to Richard Gasquet in Cincinnati on Monday.

Just a couple of weeks after playing together in the doubles at the Citi Open, the Murray brothers faced off for the first time since their only previous meeting, in Montreal in 2015, where Jamie and John Peers beat Andy and Leander Paes.

Murray’s dabble in doubles ended in defeat
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Skupski, possibly feeling some pressure playing in such vaunted company, dropped his opening service game with a double fault to give Andy Murray and Lopez an early advantage.

But then Andy Murray’s serve was broken for 4-4, with Lopez enduring a horror show as he dumped two simple volleys into the net and sent an overhead long.

Lopez got his act together in the tie-break and a Skupski volley floated wide to hand the Queen’s champions the first set.

Some scintillating rallies enthralled an increasingly full Grandstand Court as the second set went with serve until, at 5-5, Lopez double-faulted on deciding point and Skupski served out to level the match.

In the match tie-break Lopez, who appeared to have tweaked a muscle in his serving arm, double-faulted twice to gift Jamie Murray and Skupski five match points.

Defeat was confirmed when Andy Murray netted a forehand as his brief dalliance with doubles came to an end.

Andy Murray reveals he will NOT play singles at US Open despite comeback at Cincinnati Masters

13 Aug

Andy Murray has confirmed he will not play singles at this year’s US Open.

There were suggestions the three-time Grand Slam winner would play at Flushing Meadows following his return to singles action in Cincinnati.

Murray’s return to singles action ended in defeat
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However, the Briton revealed after his straight sets defeat to Richard Gasquet that he will not take part at the final major of 2019 as he’s not ready play five-set matches.

Instead, Murray intends to play in both the doubles and mixed doubles, just as he did at Wimbledon last month.

He made his singles return after a seven-month absence as the former world number one shook off a little ring rust against the Frenchman.

The 32-year-old Briton’s first-round showdown against Gasquet at the Western and Southern Open resulted in a 6-4 6-4 reverse, but the outcome was only part of the story, with Murray attempting to revive his career after hip surgery.

Now pain-free and having returned to competitive action in doubles earlier this year, the Scot started slowly as he struggled to find a first serve and had to contend with Gasquet’s determination to test his mobility at every opportunity.

In the event, Murray lost the match but showed flashes of his best form as he warmed to his task.

The twice Wimbledon and Olympic champion, who feared in January that his career could be over, surrendered his service in the opening game and came within a point of a 3-0 deficit before rallying to lead 3-2.

However, Gasquet tested him to the full, including with a series of drop shots, before taking the first set 6-4.

The second set started in much the same fashion – the Frenchman establishing a 2-0 lead – but Murray repeatedly threatened to break while holding his own service with increasing confidence, before eventually succumbing 6-4 once again.

Gasquet denied Murray a fairytale return
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Novak Djokovic vs Roger Federer FREE live stream: Wimbledon final – talkSPORT coverage, TV channel and start time

13 Jul

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic go head-to-head in the 2019 Wimbledon final today as the tennis superstars look to add to their legacies with another crown at SW19.

Reigning champion Djokovic beat Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in a four-set semi-final clash and will go into the final as favourite.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic go head-to-head in the Wimbledon final today

But Federer produced one of the best displays of his career to see off great rival Rafa Nadal in the final four.

The two living legends of the game have won 12 Wimbledon titles between them but who will come out on top in 2019?

Djokovic vs Federer: Date and start time

The Wimbledon final will take place on Sunday, July 14 and, as always, action will commence on Centre Court at 2pm.

That’s 3pm in both Serbia and Switzerland.

Djokovic vs Federer: On talkSPORT

There will be extended coverage of the final on talkSPORT and talkSPORT 2 throughout the day and to tune in, click here of the live stream or click the radio player below.

Djokovic vs Federer: TV channel and live stream

The showpiece match will be live on BBC One with build-up coverage commencing at 12.45pm.

BBC is free on TV and online for all UK viewers with a TV licence and to live stream the match, head to the BBC iPlayer.

In Switzerland, SRG hold the rights while viewers in Serbia can watch Wimbledon on RTS and Sport Klub.

Simona Halep claims Wimbledon title by storming past Serena Williams in straight sets

Djokovic vs Federer: Head-to-head

Djokovic edges Federer 25-22 in the head-to-head stakes and also lead his rival on the grass 2-1.

Both times the pair have met in Wimbledon finals, the Serb has run out winner, while Federer picked up his victory in the 2012 semi-final.

Novak Djokovic beat Roger Federer in the Wimbledon final in 2015

Djokovic vs Federer: What has been said?

Novak Djokovic: “I don’t see this as my job or as my work. I’ve done enough in my career so I can, you know, stop tennis, professional tennis, at any time. But I don’t do it for those reasons.

“My first reason is because I really enjoy it. I still do. I have support from my family. Of course, I am looking to make history in this sport.

“Of course, I would love to have a shot at as many grand-slam titles as possible. Those are probably the top goals and ambitions. Next to that is the historic number one, which is not so far away.”

Roger Federer: “It’s the same like going into a Rafa match. I think the moment you’ve played somebody probably more than 15 times, especially in recent years also a few times, there’s not that much more left out there.

“I’m excited about the game against Novak. We’ve played each other so, so much. I don’t mind that, I think it’s more of a clear game plan.

“Especially we had a great match against each other in Paris just recently. I hope we can back it up from there.”

Simona Halep wins first Wimbledon title as Romanian crushes Serena Williams in under an hour

13 Jul

Simona Halep produced a sensational display in her first Wimbledon final to blitz to the title and keep Serena Williams waiting again for Grand Slam number 24.

The 27-year-old’s rapid 6-2 6-2 victory makes her the first Romanian to win a singles title at SW19 and added to the French Open crown she claimed last summer.

Halep wasted no time and raced to a straight sets victory
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This is the third time since Williams’ return last spring from the birth of her daughter that she has been one victory away from finally equalling Margaret Court’s all-time record for slam singles titles.

But, as she had against Angelique Kerber here 12 months ago and Naomi Osaka in New York, Williams once again fell short, seemingly unable to put thoughts of history out of her mind.

Williams was horribly out of sorts
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Enormous credit, though, must go to Halep, who showed herself to be not just one of tennis’ great defenders, chasing down everything Williams could throw at her, but also a strong attacking force.

The Duchesses of Cambridge and Sussex had front row seats in the Royal Box, the latter desperately hoping to see her close friend Williams have her moment.

But it was Halep’s day, the Romanian needing just 56 minutes to race to victory, dropping to her knees when Williams’ final forehand hit the net.

“I knew that I have to be aggressive, being 100 per cent for every ball, that I don’t have to let her come back to the match because she’s so powerful and so strong,” said the 27-year-old, who won her first slam title at the French Open last summer.

“She knows how to manage every moment. So I knew that I have to stay there, which I did pretty well today. I’m very sure that was the best match of my life.”

Halep celebrates beating Williams at SW19

Halep, the first Romanian to win a Wimbledon singles title, walked into her post-match press conference with her member’s badge pinned proudly to her top.

“I wanted this badly,” she said. “When I started the tournament, I talked to the people from the locker room that my dream is to become a member here. So today it’s real and I’m really happy.

“I met (chairman) Philip (Brook). He told me, ‘Any time you want, you can come, have dinner, have lunch, playing a little bit of tennis’. I will come for sure.”

By reaching the final, Halep had fulfilled the dream of her mother Tania, who was watching along with other family members from the stands.

“It was my mum’s dream when I was about 10, 12,” said Halep. “She said if I want to do something in tennis I have to play the final of Wimbledon. So the day came.”

Lifting the Venus Rosewater dish was beyond the dream, and something Halep admitted she did not think she would be able to achieve until this year, when she suddenly found her feet on grass.

Philip Brook, Chairman of AELTC presents Halep with a lifelong AELTC membership

The occasion proved too much for Tania when she was reunited with her daughter afterwards

“She didn’t say anything because she was crying,” said Halep. “I just hugged her and I kissed her. I just told her that we’ll talk later.”
Halep, who also took inspiration from the presence of the Duchess of Cambridge in the Royal Box, had only won one of her previous 10 matches against Williams.
One of the keys, she revealed, was not thinking about the woman across the other side of the net.
“I didn’t think at all against who I play,” she said. “I’ve always been intimidated a little bit when I faced Serena. She’s an inspiration for everyone and the model for everyone.
“Today I decided before the match that I’m going to focus on myself and on the final of a grand slam, not on her. That’s why I was able to play my best, to be relaxed, and to be able to be positive and confident against her.”

The statistics were remarkable. Halep was more dominant on serve than Williams, who is regarded as the best server in the history of women’s tennis, and made only three unforced errors compared to 25 for her opponent.
She led 4-0 after only 11 minutes and, although Williams raised her level, Halep was equal to it, defending superbly but turning defence into attack in devastating fashion.
Williams was full of praise for Halep, saying: “She played out of her mind. It was a little bit ‘deer in the headlights’ for me. Whenever someone plays like that you just have to take your hat off and nod your head.”

Halep was superb but this also was not a good performance from Williams, who had looked to be hitting peak form but could not get her feet moving or find clarity of thought.

“I just was trying different things,” she said. “Today nothing really helped. But I also made way too many errors for a lot of stuff to work.”

Roger Federer beats Rafael Nadal to reach Wimbledon final against Novak Djokovic

12 Jul

Roger Federer gained his revenge 11 years on with victory over great rival Rafael Nadal to reach a 12th Wimbledon final.

A rematch of their classic 2008 title decider, won in five pulsating sets by Nadal, had been anticipated more than any match for years at the All England Club and it did not disappoint.

Roger Federer of celebrates overcoming Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon
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The final stages were packed full of extraordinary tension and drama, with Nadal saving four match points but, after three hours and two minutes, it was Federer, a month shy of his 38th birthday, who clinched a 7-6 (3) 1-6 6-3 6-4 victory and the chance to take on Novak Djokovic on Sunday.

Should he win, it would give the ageless Swiss a ninth Wimbledon title and take him to 21 grand slam trophies, three ahead of Nadal and six clear of Djokovic.

This was Federer and Nadal’s 40th meeting, a clash of styles and personalities that dates back 15 years and continues to capture the imagination like nothing else in sport.

Nadal had won 24 of their previous 39 matches and 10 of 13 at the slams but victory for Federer in the 2017 Australian Open final had shown him that he could win again when it mattered most.

It was a rematch of their classic encounter in 2008 at Wimbledon
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Indeed, Nadal had not beaten Federer on a surface other than clay since 2014, ending a run of five straight defeats in the semi-finals of the French Open last month.

But the 33-year-old has played on grass without pain in his knees for the last couple of years and had looked in fine fettle throughout this fortnight.

The Spaniard’s serve had been particularly impressive – he went into the match having served more aces than Federer – and the first set was notable for how few rallies there were.

Federer was getting significantly more returns in play, though, and in the tie-break that paid dividends.

The 33-year-old showed no signs of slowing down
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Nadal was twice an early mini-break up but Federer won the final five points to take first blood, his backhand, so often the bellwether of his chances against his great rival, purring like a vintage sports car.

Had he taken one of two break points in the third game of the second set, he might have pulled away, but the engine began to misfire a little and Nadal raced through the next four games to level the match.

Federer needed to re-calibrate, and he did, holding serve comfortably at the start of the third set and then dialling right back in to break for 3-1.

He won the game on a ding-dong point at the net, Nadal grimacing in frustration at having been unable to get the ball past his opponent.

Former England captain David Beckham watched on from the Royal Box
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Nadal had two chances to break straight back but Federer saved them, the master attacker showing his rival that he, too, can defend as if his life depended on it.

The crowd roared their approval as he held for 4-1 and one break proved more than enough, Federer finishing an almost perfect set with a tally of 15 winners and two unforced errors.

It was Nadal looking short of answers but the fist pump towards his box when he held serve to open the fourth set showed that he would do everything he could to try to find them.

But, despite being nearly five years younger than his opponent, it was he who seemed to have lost the spring in his step and Federer took another step towards the finish line with a break for 2-1.

Fans were treated to another classic between the two greats of the game
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Nadal had been irked by being seeded lower than Federer despite his higher ranking and he screamed at himself when another chance to apply real pressure went begging in the sixth game.

So often he has been able to rouse himself to new heights at the most important moments but here the moments of magic were coming from the other end.

When Nadal saved two match points at 3-5, it seemed like this contest may have a twist reminiscent of 2008, and the final game was virtually a match in itself.

A shanked smash betrayed Federer’s nerves but he held firm to save a break point and kept pushing forward when Nadal produced two of his best points of the match to save two more match points.

On the fifth chance, Nadal’s resistance finally ran out, Federer raising his arms skywards as a last, desperate backhand flew long.