News & Current Affairs

September 9, 2008

Superb Federer ends Murray dream

Superb Federer ends Murray dream

Andy Murray

Murray will rise to a career-high ranking of four in the world

There was no change of momentum early in the second set, Federer firing a vicious cross-court forehand in game one and repeating the trick to break for 2-0.

A humiliatingly swift defeat looked on the cards for the Briton, who appeared to be struggling with a knee problem, but he got a foothold in the match when Federer’s level finally dropped in game three.

Murray pounced with a big cross-court forehand and a powerful backhand drive that Federer could not control at the net, and the Scot finally had a break of serve.

The match appeared well and truly on when a couple of loose errors saw Federer slip 0-40 down again at 2-2 but he continued with his attacking policy and, thanks in part to one dubious line call, he managed to escape.

And the relentless pressure applied by Federer eventually paid off when he broke to love to take the second set in game 12, making a lunging backhand volley, a successful chip and charge, a thumping smash and a running pass.

It was irresistible stuff from the champion and he swept into a 5-0 lead in the third set before Murray staged a late rally to cut the deficit with his second break of the day.

But it only delayed the inevitable and Federer put the British number one out of his misery on his second championship point, winning an epic rally with a smash that Murray could not return.

“I had a great tournament but I came up against, in my opinion, the best player ever to play game the today,” said Murray.

“I got the better of him the last two times and he definitely set the record straight today. I’ve learnt I’ve got a lot of improving to do if I want to win one of these things.

“I love playing in front of this crowd – it’s been the best time of my life.”

By Piers Newbery

Roger Federer was at his brilliant best as he won a fifth straight US Open title and ended Andy Murray’s hopes of a first Grand Slam crown in New York.

Murray, 21, had been trying to become the first British man since Fred Perry in 1936 to win one of the four major singles titles, but he was outclassed.

Federer stormed to a 6-2 7-5 6-2 victory in one hour 51 minutes at Flushing Meadows.

The Swiss now has 13 Grand Slam titles, one behind record holder Pete Sampras.

Federer joins Sampras and Jimmy Connors as a five-time winner of the US title in the Open era, but neither American won in five successive years.

He is also the first man ever to win five consecutive titles at two Grand Slams – the US Open and Wimbledon.

“It definitely feels great,” said Federer afterwards. “After this year, to take this home is incredible. It means the world to me.

I had a great tournament but I came up against, in my opinion, the best player ever to play the game today
Andy Murray

“I’m not going to stop at 13 – that would be terrible! I congratulate Andy – he’s done great these last two weeks. I’m sure we’re going to see a lot more of him in the future.”

Murray was playing in his first Grand Slam final and came into the match on the back of a first-ever win over world number one Rafael Nadal.

But the confidence the Scot carried from that landmark victory soon took a battering as Federer opened in spectacular fashion.

Having failed to win a major title so far this year, and having lost his number one ranking to Nadal, the second seed had been desperate to arrest his slide.

And after approaching his best in beating Novak Djokovic in the semis, Federer was at the top of his game from the start of the final.

Murray had to stave off a break point in game three but could not repeat the trick two games later, a double fault and two errors handing Federer the advantage.

The champion’s confidence was obvious as he moved 4-2 clear with an outrageous forehand drive volley on the run, before more brutal forehands forced another break in game seven, and he wrapped up the set in 26 minutes.

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August 20, 2008

Nadal heads seedings for US Open

Nadal heads seedings for US Open

Rafael Nadal

Nadal has won two Grand Slams this year

Rafael Nadal will be the top seed at a Grand Slam for the first time in his career at next week’s US Open following his elevation to world number one.

Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic follow him, with Scot Andy Murray seeded sixth. Ex-world number one Lleyton Hewitt has pulled out with injury.

Ana Ivanovic is women’s top seed, with Jelena Jankovic, Svetlana Kuznetsova and Serena Williams next.

The singles draws for the tournament will be announced on Thursday.

Nadal officially became the new world number one on Monday, ending Federer’s record reign of 237 successive weeks.

Federer was the top seed at the last 18 majors.

Murray will be looking to overcome his disappointing early exit from the Beijing Olympics and rediscover the form that took him to success at the Cincinnati Masters.

The British number one’s best effort in New York was in 2006 when he reached the fourth round.

Hewitt will miss the rest of the season after having arthroscopic surgery on a long-term hip problem.

“Surgery was always the last resort, but unfortunately that’s what it came down to,” the 27-year-old Australian said.

“I am also shattered that I can’t lead the Australian Davis Cup team in Chile (in Santiago from 19-21 September) in our bid to rejoin the world group, and hope that the boys can still come through with a great win.

“I am looking forward to playing again in January in my home country, and using that as a springboard to compete at my best again on the world stage for at least a couple of more years.”

The most notable absence on the women’s side is world number six and 2006 champion Maria Sharapova, who announced earlier this month that she is missing the event to recover from a shoulder injury.

August 14, 2008

Federer hit by shock Olympic loss

Federer hit by shock Olympic loss

Roger Federer’s disappointing season continued as his hopes of winning Olympic gold in the men’s singles were ended by an inspired James Blake.

Blake had not beaten the top seed in eight previous attempts but won their quarter-final 6-4 7-6 and will play Fernando Gonzalez in the semi-finals.

Second seed Rafael Nadal will play Novak Djokovic in the other semi-final.

Spaniard Nadal beat Jurgen Melzer 6-0 6-4 and Djokovic, from Serbia, defeated Gael Monfils 4-6 6-1 6-4.

In the other quarter-final 12th seed Gonzalez, who is from Chile and claimed the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympics, cruised past Frenchman Paul-Henri Mathieu 6-4 6-4.

I know I can beat the best in the world on my day and I proved it
Federer’s conqueror James Blake

Federer, who will lose his world number one ranking to Nadal on Monday, made a number of unforced errors and will need a dramatic reversal in fortunes if he is to successfully defend his US Open title later this month.

“It’s a big disappointment obviously. The Olympics was one of the goals of the season for me. So obviously the quarter-finals is not going to do it,” he said.

“But I’ve still got to look forward to the US Open. I still have that and then the Masters Cup in Shanghai to really do well now and try and save my season.

“I think James played well. I can only really say how well he played. I’ve played him on many occasions, but I think this was the best I’ve seen him.

“I’m happy for him. I hope he can go all the way now.”

Blake, the world number seven, had won only one set in his previous matches against Federer, but he unnerved the five-time Wimbledon champion with a near faultless service game and an aggressive forehand.

“I always believed in myself,” said Blake. “I’d lost to him eight, nine, 10, 50 times, I don’t know how many, but I had the feeling it could be my day.

“He didn’t play a good first game and that put me up straight away. I played loose and free and I always fancy my chances on the 5-4 game.

“I know I can beat the best in the world on my day and I proved it.”

The 28-year-old broke Federer when the Swiss was serving to stay in the first set and then broke again early in the second to take a 3-0 lead.

Federer, who was struggling with his serve and forehand, broke back in the fifth game to take the set to a tie-break only for Blake to win it after racing into a 4-1 lead.

Federer was due to play in the doubles quarter-finals with Stanislas Wawrinka later on Thursday against the Indian pair of Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupathi but the match was postponed because of rain.

August 4, 2008

Superb Murray wins Masters title

Andy Murray won his first title at the elite Masters Series level with a stunning victory over world number three Novak Djokovic in Cincinnati.

Courtesy BBC

Murray repeated his defeat of the Serb at last week’s Toronto Masters, beating his fellow 21-year-old 7-6 (7-4) 7-6 (7-5) in two hours and 23 minutes.

He needed six match points to seal victory after failing to serve out the match at the first attempt.

The win will see Murray ranked at a career high six in the world on Monday.

“It’s huge because to win these tournaments is tough nowadays,” said Murray afterwards.

“I’ve played five days in these conditions and had eight or nine matches in the last couple of weeks. But I’ve put in the physical work and it’s paid off.”

Djokovic enjoyed a fantastic win over world number one in waiting Rafael Nadal in the semis and went into the final with a 4-1 record against Murray.

I got very nervous and he was hitting the ball really big but I hung in well
Andy Murray

But that solitary win for the Scot came only nine days ago and was evidence of the significant leap he has made in recent months.

It was the Briton who started the better and he cranked up the pressure in game five, forcing a break point, before earning another chance two games later.

The Serb held him off but as the set progressed it seemed a matter of when, rather than if, Murray would force the break, all the while holding his own serve with ease.

Despite not being taken past 30 on serve the Scot still required a tie-break but he remained ice cool, breaking immediately and consolidating with a huge ace.

A couple of wild Djokovic forehand errors saw Murray reach the changeover at 5-1 and he wrapped up a commanding set when the Serb sent a backhand long.

Murray finally let his level slip at 1-1 in the second set and, after two crunching forehand winners saw off the immediate danger, he went long with a backhand on the third break point to hand Djokovic the lead.

It did not last long.

The Australian Open champion double-faulted on the first point of the following game and immediately handed back the break, looking suitably disgusted with himself.

606: DEBATE
BBC Sport’s Piers Newbery

Murray stepped up a gear in game eight, moving to break point with a forehand winner and taking it when Djokovic netted a smash after some breathtaking scrambling from the Scot.

But with the title in his sights, Murray played his first edgy game of the day, throwing in two double-faults and missing four match points before Djokovic broke back.

It could have been a shattering blow for the Briton but he held on as the confidence flowed through Djokovic and managed to force a second tie-break.

Murray led 4-2 at the changeover after Djokovic double-faulted but was pegged back to 4-4, at which point the Scot won an epic rally with a fizzing backhand winner.

He finally earned a fifth match point with following another Djokovic double-fault but failed to make a return.

The sixth chance to seal victory came on his own serve and, finally, Murray secured a landmark win with a thumping volley.

“I got very nervous and he was hitting the ball really big but I hung in well,” said Murray.

“It was tough for both of us and there were a lot of long rallies. Your legs really burn out there and they were some of the hardest conditions of the year.

“But I stayed calm throughout and didn’t waste any energy – especially when I went behind in a couple of matches.

“In the past maybe I’d have let that get to me but now I’m playing top players on a regular basis and I’m better equipped.”

The Scot now heads to Beijing to represent Great Britain in the Olympic Games before moving on to the US Open.

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