Djokovic labours to recover form in Cincinnati
CINCINNATI, August 13
Novak Djokovic had to work hard to earn a win in his opening match at the Cincinnati Masters on Tuesday after crashing to defeat a week ago in a major US Open tune-up event.
The end of the contest which went for more than two hours was complicated as mist began to fall, with Djokovic up a break 5-4 in the final set.
The top seed eventually beat Frenchman Gilles Simon 6-3, 4-6, 6-4 to reach the third round, where he joined fellow Grand Slam winner Stan Wawrinka, who defeated German Benjamin Becker 6-3, 7-6 (7-5).
A week ago, Djokovic was reeling after losing in less than an hour in the Toronto third round to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, who went on to win the event.
But against Simon, the Serb world number one was never in serious danger early on but after losing the second set found himself facing break points from a charged-up opponent.
The Serb finally prevailed with a break for 5-3 in the third set.
Djokovic is bidding to complete a matched set of Masters 1000 titles, with Cincinnati the only one of nine he has not claimed.
Toronto winner Tsonga confessed that he hit the court completely exhausted as the Frenchman took a 6-1, 6-4 loss to Russian Mikhail Youzhny.
The world number 20 who beat Roger Federer in the Canadian final on Sunday, had been unable to train on Monday due to a late afternoon rainstorm which caused flooding around the grounds.
But the Frenchman said that it was the physical and emotional toll extracted by his winning week in Toronto that made the crucial difference.
“I gave everything last week. Before the match I believed I was able to play at a good level, but on the court I rganize it’s gonna be impossible. And it was. I gave my best and it was tough.”
Youzhny took full advantage of his weakened opponent, sending Tsonga out in the first round in just over an hour. Tsonga leaves the American Midwest after his third visit with only a 2011 win to his credit.
“I’ll take some rest and I will prepare for the US Open. The US Open will be a big challenge, but the Davis Cup will be important for me also after that. It’s going to be important to prepare all these events as good as possible.”
Fear of losing helps drive Federer’s title pursuit
CINCINNATI, August 13
Roger Federer is set to battle the fear factor as last weekend’s Toronto finalist prepares to make his start at the ATP Tour’s Cincinnati Masters tournament.
“The fear is always there from the first rounds regardless of how you approach a tournament,” said Federer, the winner of 17 Grand Slam titles and 79 trophies overall from 120 finals.
“A lot of things have happened in the last year for me, and I’m happy that most of it has been really positive.”
Five Cincinnati titles counts for little, with Federer admitting he was not pleased with his level at the weekend when he lost in the Toronto final to Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.
Federer hopes to prevent any chance of the same thing happening to him when he begins play in the second round against Canadian Vasek Pospisil.
“Because I’ve played last week, I’m just hoping to get through the first round just because I know how hard it is to transition with a day and a half of practice and then having to play a difficult best-of-three-set match,” he said.
“If I do win that first round, I have higher hopes to going really deep into the tournament and even winning it. But right now, the focus is getting through the first round. Seeing what happened to Jo, that’s not very good for me, either, when I see that happening,” he said. The 33-year-old has played seven finals this season while winning titles in Dubai and Halle. That is a marked improvement on his 2013, which was plagued by back pain and uncharacteristic poor form.
“It’s good fun this year. Winning is more fun than not playing or losing,” he said.
“It hasn’t always been an easy decision to play or not to play. I can’t be chasing rankings and tournaments and Davis Cup and you name it,” said the world number three.
“I really don’t play for any of the longevity records, to be honest. I play because I love to play. I still believe I can achieve a lot.”
Nadal still unsure of US Open title defence
MAJORCA, August 13
Spanish tennis star Rafael Nadal, who is recovering from a wrist injury, said he will decide latest by Saturday whether he can take part in the US Open to defend the title he won last year against Serb Novak Djokovic.
“My dream is being there and I will work for it,” said Nadal, who added he planned to see his doctors in Barcelona Tuesday for final examinations that will determine if the slight fracture in his right wrist has healed, reports EFE.
“If it has healed I’ll have to try and see how I feel when I train and Friday or at latest Saturday a decision will be made”, he said during the inauguration of a tennis and paddle club in his hometown, Manacor, on the island of Majorca on Monday.
However, “time is short and we’ll have to wait and see if it is enough or not”, the nine-time Roland Garros champion and World No.2 said, referring to the beginning of the US Open Aug 25.
Nadal hurt his wrist while training in Manacor and missed the masters 1000 tournament in Toronto which ended this weekend and the Western and Southern Open which is currently taking place in Cincinnati in the US.