Cilic Crowned US Open Champion, Ends Nishikori’s Historic Run

Marin Cilic Crowned US Open Champion, Defeats Kei Nishikori – Tennis – ATP World Tour //

Cilic© Getty ImagesMarin Cilic wins a career-best third title of the season.

Marin Cilic rose to the occasion Monday evening at the US Open. In a meeting between two first-time Grand Slam finalists, the 25-year-old Croatian ended Japanese Kei Nishikori’s historic run 6-3, 6-3, 6-3 to lift the US Open trophy.

The World No. 16, who had upset five-time champion Roger Federer in straight sets Saturday, became the first Croatian to claim a Grand Slam title since his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, triumphed in 2001 on “People’s Monday” at Wimbledon. He also became the first US Open champion ranked outside the Top 10 since a 17th-ranked Pete Sampras won in 2002.

“This is all hard work in these last several years, and especially this last year,” he said during the trophy ceremony. “My team has brought something special to me, especially Goran. We’re working really hard, but most important from all the things he brought to me was enjoying tennis and always having fun, and I think enjoyed my best tennis over here and played the best ever in my life.”

How The Final Was Won

Cilic celebrated his 300th match win and cemented his return to the Top 10 of the Emirates ATP Rankings, at No. 9, for the first time since 2010.

With his victory, Cilic also moved into a qualification position for one of the eight singles berths at the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals this November. He leapt eight spots, overtaking Nishikori at No. 5 in the Emirates ATP Race To London.

Serena Williams shocked to join legends on 18 grand slam titles

 

• Williams now level with Navratilova and Evert
• World No1 claimed sixth US Open title on Sunday
• Steffi Graf’s record of 22 is the next target
  • theguardian.com, Monday 8 September 2014 03.30 EDT
Serena Williams
Serena Williams won her 18th grand slam title, 12 months after her 17th which also came at Flushing Meadows. Photograph: Tim Clayton/Corbis

Serena Williams never imagined she would one day rank alongside Martina Navratilova and Chris Evert but by beating her friend Caroline Wozniacki 6-3, 6-3 in the US Open final, she joined the two greats of the 70s and 80s on 18 grand slam singles titles.

Steffi Graf’s Open era record of 22 is the next significant milestone, and there is no reason why Williams, 33 next month, cannot equal that in the not too distant future.

As well as the magical 18, Williams also won a third straight title at the same slam for the first time and claimed her sixth US Open crown, 15 years after her first.

“It means a lot to me,” she said. “I just could never have imagined that I would be mentioned with Chris Evert or with Martina Navratilova, because I was just a kid with a dream and a racket.

“Living in Compton [southern LA], this never happened before. And then it was eluding me for three tournaments. That’s a lot for me. I was really excited to get it. It was definitely [weighing] on my shoulders.”

The emotion for Williams was clear during the on-court ceremony as she struggled to hold back tears before being presented with an 18-carat gold bracelet by Navratilova and Evert to mark her achievement.

The world No1 moved to within one of the pair at Flushing Meadows 12 months ago but this year faltered surprisingly three times trying to get there.

At the Australian Open, French Open and Wimbledon she did not make it past the fourth round, and when she was whisked away from the All England Club after her bizarre doubles display – when she and sister Venus scratched after Serena had trouble getting her serve over the net – a US Open title looked a long way away.

Williams said: “I definitely did not think I was going to win a slam this year. And I even said: ‘I’m ready to start next year already. Let’s put this behind me.’ ”

Not only did Williams win the title, she destroyed the opposition, not dropping more than three games in any set.

Her friendship with Wozniacki remains firmly intact, though, and the pair were planning to celebrate and commiserate together on Sunday night – with the drinks on Williams.

They have grown closer this summer, with Williams helping Wozniacki to get over the shock of her split from the golfer Rory McIlroy during a week’s holiday together in Miami.

Wozniacki, who was playing in her second grand slam final five years after losing it to Kim Clijsters, had pushed Williams close in Montreal and Cincinnati last month.

Both began nervously but Wozniacki lost four of her first five service games and never looked like finding a way back.

The 24-year-old did manage to lift her game in the second set but so did Williams and the fact Wozniacki only managed to hit four winners – three of which were aces – compared to 29 for her opponent told the story of the match.

Wozniacki said: “When she’s on her game, it’s not fun to play her. She’s so strong. She has a good serve and she puts pressure on you straight away.

“I went out there and I was a little nervous. I had a game-plan in mind, but it was difficult at the start. I tried to push her back, but that really didn’t work for me. She really just stepped in and she was playing aggressive. She was playing better than me today.”

Wozniacki insisted the pair’s friendship did not affect the match and priased Williams’s phenomenal achievements.

“When you’re out there, we’re both competitors and we both want to win, so we’re both going to do anything possible to win the match,” said Wozniacki. “After the match, we’re friends again. It’s tennis. It’s a game. But off the court we still care equally as much about each other.

“I think her results and her career says it all: 18 grand slam titles. You don’t get that unless you’re exceptional in what you do. She is one of the greatest of all time. To have 18 grand slam titles and still be the person she is is really something very rare.”

Despite the disappointment of the result, it has still been one of the best tournaments of Wozniacki’s career and proof to herself that she can be a major player again.

She will return to the top 10 on Monday, and she said: “I have had a great two weeks here. I have played really well this summer. I have won so many matches. And Serena has stopped me three times.

“They say three times lucky. I was hoping for that today. I’m going to try four times lucky the next time. But I feel like I’m on the right path. Hopefully I can finish off the year strong and have a good start to next year.”

Makarova, Vesnina beat Pennetta, Hingis to win U.S. Open doubles title

Sunday, September 07, 2014 /by AP
The fourth-seeded Russians rallied from down a set and break to beat Hingis and Flavia Pennetta 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. (AP Photo)

The fourth-seeded Russians rallied from down a set and break to beat Hingis and Flavia Pennetta 2-6, 6-3, 6-2. (AP Photo)

NEW YORK (AP) — Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina won their second Grand Slam doubles title, ending Martina Hingis‘ run at the U.S. Open.

The fourth-seeded Russians rallied from down a set and break to beat Hingis and Flavia Pennetta 2-6, 6-3, 6-2 on Saturday night.

Playing doubles in her latest comeback from retirement, the 33-year-old Hingis was in her first major final since the 2002 Australian Open. She has won nine Grand Slam doubles titles to go with her five major singles championships.

”It was an incredible journey,” Hingis said.

Makarova and Vesnina also won the 2013 French Open.

Makarova was routed by No. 1 Serena Williams 6-1, 6-3 on Friday in her first major singles semifinal. She and Vesnina beat the Williams sisters in the quarters in doubles.

”Definitely, it was so amazing,” Makarova said. ”I’m just so happy. It was a great two weeks for me.”

Vesnina said she ran into Serena in the locker room Saturday morning and the 13-time major doubles champion asked if she was playing in the final that day.

”She looked straight at me in my eyes – she’s like, `Go for it, because you really deserve it,”’ Vesnina said, still a bit in awe.

With the crowd urging Hingis on, she and Pennetta thought they had broken to get the final set back on serve at 3-3, but the Russians challenged, and what had been called a winner was in fact out by about a millimeter. Makarova and Vesnina saved a total of three break points to hold, and they won the next two games to clinch the championship.

They remembered how they had two chances to serve out the match in this year’s Australian Open final but failed to do so, eventually losing to top-ranked Sara Errani and Roberta Vinci. This time, they ensured there would be no repeat.

Hingis returned to competition last year but lost in the first round of the 2013 U.S. Open with Daniela Hantuchova and this summer’s Wimbledon with Vera Zvonareva. She and Pennetta had played in three tournaments together leading up to the U.S. Open.

Federer saves match points, comes from two sets down to beat Monfils

Friday, September 05, 2014 /by
  • The second-seeded Swiss won 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 and will play Marin Cilic in the semis. (AP Photo)

    The second-seeded Swiss won 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 and will play Marin Cilic in the semis. (AP Photo)

    NEW YORK (AP) — Clearly frustrated by his play and opponent, Roger Federer whacked his racket on the top of the net after a missed volley. Moments later, he barked at the chair umpire: ”What’s wrong with you, man?”

    Not long after that, Federer found himself in the precarious position of twice being one point from defeat.

    Steady as ever, even at 33, Federer held on. Coming all the way back from a two-set deficit, and saving two match points along the way, Federer edged 20th-seeded Gael Monfils of France 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 on Thursday night to reach the U.S. Open semifinals for the first time since 2011.

    Frustrated by Monfils’ unpredictable style, flummoxed by the swirling wind, and missing shots he normally makes, Federer faced the two match points while trailing 5-4 in the fourth set.

    ”When I was down two match points, that’s when I wasn’t feeling so great anymore,” Federer said with a chuckle. ”I thought, `This is it. This is the last point, man. Go down fighting. Don’t miss an easy shot and let him have it.”’

    He got out of that hole, starting a five-game run that put the match in his control for the first time. It helped that Monfils’ quality of play dipped, including what wound up being a total of 10 double-faults.

    This was the ninth time Federer has won a match after dropping the opening two sets.

    ”I served well and stayed in the match and somehow turned it around,” Federer said. ”I was really starting to play better and better as the match went on. It was a great feeling.”

    Monfils was trying to reach his second career Grand Slam semifinal. Instead, Federer advanced to his 36th, ninth at Flushing Meadows. Five of Federer’s record 17 major singles titles have come at the U.S. Open, but he exited in the quarterfinals in 2012, and the fourth round in 2013.

    On Saturday, the second-seeded Federer will play 14th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia. The other semifinal will be No. 1 Novak Djokovic against No. 10 Kei Nishikori; their quarterfinal victories came Wednesday.

    Cilic wasn’t allowed to play in last year’s U.S. Open, forced to the sideline by a four-month doping suspension that he says he didn’t deserve. But Cilic reached the second Grand Slam semifinal of his career, and first since 2010, by beating sixth-seeded Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4) Thursday.

    ”I mean, it was a difficult period. I didn’t know when I’m going to start back. But (it) was also (a) good period for me,” Cilic said. ”I matured a bit more and I was working, day after day.”

    His quarterfinal ended hours before the other began, and Cilic probably assumed he would wind up facing Federer next.

    But that did not seem a certainty through the first 78 minutes of Federer-Monfils. That’s how long it took Monfils to shake off a twisted ankle and build a two-set lead, assisted by Federer’s 26 unforced errors in that span.

    Even that far behind, Federer said, ”I still thought the finish line was far for Gael. I knew I could play better tennis.”

    The air was swirling in the cavernous arena, rippling the players’ shirts and the giant American flag atop the stadium. In the early going, Monfils’ whiplike forehand was able to cut through the wind.

    Monfils is nothing if not one of a kind. In an era where some men, including Federer, have two coaches, Monfils goes without any. He’ll admit to tanking points, games or entire sets. He sips sodas during matches, including Thursday. He’ll go for a between-the-legs shot when a mundane forehand would do.

    As the clock was about to strike 11 p.m., Monfils held his match points as Federer served. On the first, Monfils had an opening for a backhand passing shot, but it flew long.

    On the second, Federer produced a forehand winner, and the crowd roared.

    After Federer held there for 5-all, Monfils had a letdown, double-faulting twice in a row to get broken. Soon enough they were in the fifth set – which began with another break by Federer.

    By then, he was on his way.

    ”You start feeling better, because you feel probably he’s a bit low right now after such a tough fourth set,” Federer said.

    Make no mistake, though. This was not easy. The turnaround might not have been possible for Federer a year ago, when he was dealing with a bad back and trying to figure out whether he should switch to a larger racket head.

    But now Federer, however old, is approaching his skills of old. He got to the finals at his previous four tournaments – including a loss to Djokovic in Wimbledon’s title match in July – the first such run by a 30-something since Ivan Lendl in 1990. One more victory, and Federer’s final streak will stretch to five in a row.

    Peng Shuai Advances to U.S. Open Semifinals

    Photo

    Peng Shuai, who is ranked 39th, eliminated 17-year-old Belinda Bencic in the quarterfinals at the U.S. Open on Tuesday, 6-2, 6-1 Credit Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    When the United States Open began, Peng Shuai said she did not relish being the highest-ranked Chinese player in the tournament, preferring it when Li Na is around, absorbing most of the pressure and attention from the Chinese fans who have become quite a cheering section at the Open in recent years.

    But with the third-ranked Li missing the tournament with a knee injury, Peng has leapt into the spotlight and soared through the draw, ousting the Swiss teenager Belinda Bencic in the quarterfinals Tuesday, 6-2, 6-1.

    In her 37th Grand Slam tournament, Peng, who is ranked 39th, was playing in her first singles quarterfinal at a major. She will face the winner of Tuesday night’s match between 10th-seeded Caroline Wozniacki and 13th-seeded Sara Errani in the semifinals Friday.

    Peng, 28, has enjoyed plenty of success as a doubles player, winning two Grand Slam titles with Hsieh Su-Wei.

    “It’s an amazing time for me,” Peng said after her match, apologizing as she choked back tears. “It’s a long time to play, a long time in my career. So many times I thought to give up, to stop playing. But my coach and my parents tell me to keep fighting, to keep playing and never give up, that this day would come.”

    Peng succumbed to none of those emotions during her matches, overpowering most of her opponents. She did not lose her serve against Bencic and has won 36 straight service games, stretching back to her second-round victory over Agnieszka Radwanska. She faced only two break points Tuesday, and had a mere 7 unforced errors to 17 winners.

    In doing so, she whisked Bencic out of the Cinderella role she had been settling into as she swept through an upset-filled women’s draw. Bencic, 17, was recalling memories of the last Swiss woman to tear around these courts as a teenager, Martina Hingis, not only because they share a home country but also because they share a coach: Hingis’s mother, Melanie Molitor.

    But since the days when Hingis won the U.S. Open as a 16-year-old in 1997, women’s tennis has become more of a power game, a pattern that foretold Peng’s domination of Bencic.

    Peng used every bit of her strength advantage, pounding winners down the line and giving Bencic no opportunities to swing the match to her advantage. Improving her strength is a way Peng said she has made strides as a singles player.

    “I know I have to get stronger and more fit for the two weeks,” she said. “And I tell myself to never give up.”

    Her breakthrough in singles comes just as her doubles partnership with Hsieh is ending. Despite their success, they came into this tournament saying it was their last Grand Slam event together, though they declined to say why they were breaking up. Peng said she had a new partner lined up, but she has not said who it is.

    Peng and Hsieh have been playing together since 2009 and reached the No. 2 ranking as a team, but they lost here in the fourth round to Kimiko Date-Krumm and Barbora Zahlavova-Strycova on Monday.

    The women’s doubles draw got another jolt in the quarterfinals Tuesday when Venus and Serena Williams lost, 7-6 (5), 6-4, to Ekaterina Makarova and Elena Vesnina of Russia. The ending came in particularly stunning fashion when Serena Williams double-faulted on match point, sending their opponents into a giddy celebration on the court.

    The 15-year-old CiCi Bellis, who stirred the main draw with her first-round upset of No. 12 seed Dominika Cibulkova last week, was hoping to ride that wave of momentum through the junior tournament, where she was the No. 1 seed. But she could not get past Natalia Vikhlyantseva of Russia and lost in the second round, 7-6 (9), 2-6, 6-1. She is still alive in the junior doubles tournament.

    Bellis seemed to bounce back from losing the tense first-set tiebreaker, where she fought off six set points, and dominated Vikhlyantseva in the second set. But after taking the allowed 10-minute break after the second set in the sweltering early afternoon sun, Bellis seemed to wilt in the third.

    Those early conditions did not seem to bother the American doubles team of Scott Lipsky and Rajeev Ram, who played the first match of the day at Ashe Stadium and beat Eric Butorac and Raven Klassen, 6-3, 7-6 (4), to advance to the semifinals. It helped that the first set lasted a mere 26 minutes and the match 1 hour 19 minutes over all.

    Photo Tour of Great Moments in US Open Tennis

    By Jeff Cooper

    1968: Arthur Ashe
    Arthur Ashe

    Arthur Ashe at the US Open in 1968

    New York Times Co. / Getty Images

    In 1968, Arthur Ashe wins his first of three majors, defeating Tom Okker 14-12, 5-7, 6-3, 3-6, 6-3 in the US Open final. 1968 was the first year of the Open Era and therefore the first year of the US Open, which was previously the US Championships. Ashe was the first African-American man to win a major title. He went on to win the Australian Open in 1970 and Wimbledon in 1975.
    1979: Tracy Austin
    Tracy Austin

    Tracy Austin at the US Open in 1979

    New York Times Co. / Getty Images

    In 1979, Tracy Austin wins her first major of two, defeating Chris Evert Lloyd 6-4, 6-3 in the US Open final. At 16 years and just shy of 9 months, Austin was the youngest US Open champion. She won the US Open again in 1981, but lost most of her prime playing years due to injuries.
    1988: Steffi Graf
    Steffi Graf

    Steffi Graf at the US Open in 1988

    Robert Riger / Getty Images

    In 1988, Steffi Graf completes a calendar-year Grand Slam, defeating Gabriela Sabatini 6-3, 3-6, 6-1 in the US Open final. Graf is one of only three women, along with Maureen Connolly and Margaret Court, to win the calendar-year Grand Slam, and her 22 major singles titles are second only to Court’s 24. Later in the year, Steffi won the Olympic gold medal in singles and thus became the only player of either gender ever to win a Golden Slam.
    1990: Pete Sampras
    Pete Sampras

    Pete Sampras at the US Open in 1990

    Rick Stewart / Getty Images

    In 1990, Pete Sampras wins his first of 14 majors, defeating Andre Agassi 6-4, 6-3, 6-2 in the US Open final. At just over 19, Sampras was the youngest US Open men’s singles champion. Pete would go on to win the US Open four more times, along with seven Wimbledons and two Australian Opens.
    1990: Gabriela Sabatini
    Gabriela Sabatini

    Gabriela Sabatini at the US Open in 1990

    Rick Stewart / Getty Images

    In 1990, Gabriela Sabatini wins her only major, upsetting Steffi Graf 6-2, 7-6 in the US Open final. Sabatini won 27 WTA singles titles and reached a career-high ranking of #3. Gabriela’s good looks and on-court success made her wildly popular in her native Argentina and the rest of South America.
    1991: Jimmy Connors
    Jimmy Connors

    Jimmy Connors at the US Open in 1991

    Getty Images

    In 1991, Jimmy Connors, ranked #174, gets a wild card into the US Open and makes an incredible run to the semifinals, highlighted by his win over Aaron Krickstein 3-6, 7-6, 1-6, 6-3, 7-6 in the fourth round on his 39th birthday. Connors lost to Jim Courier 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in the semifinals. Jimmy holds the all-time record for career singles titles at 109, eight of which were majors: one Australian Open, two Wimbledons, and five US Opens.
    1991: Monica Seles
    Monica Seles

    Monica Seles at the US Open in 1991

    Getty Images

    In 1991, Monica Seles caps off her first year of dominating women’s tennis as she wins her third major of the year, defeating Martina Navratilova, 7-6, 6-1 in the US Open final. Seles brought an unprecedented level of groundstroke power to the top of the women’s game and was by far the most successful player who used a rare two hands on both forehands and backhands. Even more unusual was Seles’s cross-handed lefty forehand, seen here, with her pushing hand below her pulling hand. Monica’s nine major titles include four Australian Opens, three French Opens, and two US Opens. She probably would have won many more had she not been stabbed by a deranged spectator in 1993.
    1997: Patrick Rafter
    Patrick Rafter

    Patrick Rafter at the US Open in 1997

    Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

    In 1997, Patrick Rafter wins his first of two majors, defeating Greg Rusedski 6-3, 6-2, 4-6, 7-5 in the US Open final. Rafter won the US Open again in 1998 and was the runner-up at Wimbledon in 2000 and 2001. Pat was one of the last great serve-and-volley players, coming in behind an outstanding right-handed twist serve that was especially effective against one-handed backhanders like Pete Sampras, whom he beat in the semifinals on the way to his second US Open title.
    2001: Andre Agassi
    Andre Agassi

    Andre Agassi at the US Open in 2001

    Clive Brunskill / Getty Images

    In 2001, Andre Agassi plays Pete Sampras in the US Open quarterfinals. Sampras wins 6-7(7), 7-6(2), 7-6(2), 7-6(5) in their best encounter and one of the greatest matches of either’s career. With both players at their highest level, neither’s serve is broken. Agassi completed a career Grand Slam, winning four Australian Opens, one French Open, one Wimbledon, and two US Opens.
    2004: Svetlana Kuznetsova
    Svetlana Kuznetsova

    Svetlana Kuznetsova at the US Open in 2004

    A. Messerschmidt / Getty Images

    In 2004, Svetlana Kuznetsova wins her first of two majors, defeating Elena Dementieva 6-3, 7-5 in the US Open final. Playing with an exciting mix of power on both sides and excellent quickness, Kuznetsova was the first Russian woman to win the US Open. Svetlana won Roland Garros in 2009 and has made the quarterfinals or better multiple times in all four majors.