AP Photo

Federer beats Nadal in 3 sets to take Swiss Indoors title

Leave a comment

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) Roger Federer mastered Rafael Nadal in their first meeting in almost two years to win the Swiss Indoors final 6-3, 5-7, 6-3 on Sunday.

The top-seeded Federer ended a five-match losing streak against Nadal, including the last time they played for a title in May 2013.

With the match finely poised in the deciding set, Federer hit a series of ground strokes for winners and broke Nadal’s serve for a 5-3 lead.

Federer created his second match point with a backhand volley winner and clinched it when Nadal’s service return flew long.

Nadal still has a 23-11 career hold over Federer, including 14-7 in tournament finals.

Federer’s sixth title this season is also the seventh of his career at his hometown event in Basel.

The Swiss Indoors, where Federer was once a ball boy, is now the fifth tour event he was won at least seven times. He has eight titles at the Wimbledon warm-up tournament in Halle, Germany.

Federer dominated the first half of the match, finding the lines with his ground strokes and commanding at the net, but he was broken at 5-5 in the second set and Nadal forced a third.

The old rivals had not faced each other on court since Nadal won an Australian Open semifinal in three straight sets in January 2014. Their previous title match was another Nadal victory at the Rome Masters 2 1/2 years ago.

Federer broke Nadal for a 3-2 lead, creating the chance with a backhand passing shot and taking it with a fierce forehand winner.

Federer clinched the set with four straight points on Nadal’s serve, sealed by a forehand crosscourt winner.

The Swiss even stepped up his intensity to start the second set, needing just a few strokes to win the opening game.

Nadal again called for the trainer at a changeover, as he did in a semifinal victory over Richard Gasquet, and had his right knee taped.

The third-seeded Spaniard saved a break point midway through the set and soon unleashed his best shot of the match – stretching to fire a low forehand winner down the line.

Nadal broke for a 6-5 lead after Federer’s backhand briefly faltered, and served out the set.

In the deciding set, Nadal found a stunning backhand crosscourt winner to save a break point when trailing 2-1.

Venus ready for return WTA Finals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

SINGAPORE (AP) Venus Williams returns to the year-end WTA Finals for the first time since reaching the 2009 final, and the fifth time overall, starting on Sunday in Singapore.

Williams joins top-ranked Simona Halep of Romania, second-ranked Garbine Muguruza of Spain, third-ranked Karolina Pliskova of Czech Republic, fourth-ranked Elina Svitolina of Ukraine, sixth-ranked Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark, seventh-ranked Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia and ninth-ranked Caroline Garcia of France.

They’re all pretty special,” said Williams, of her career appearances in the year-end competition. “It’s the end of the year. Only Top 8 get here. It’s definitely something well earned.”

At 37-years-old, Williams is the third oldest player to qualify for the year-end championships behind a 39-year-old Billie Jean King in 1983, and a 38-year-old Martina Navratilova in 1994.

Williams is the oldest player in this draw with 27-year-old Wozniacki the next oldest.

Having played since 1995, Williams has seen the women’s game advance, saying: “The competition is so much greater. It’s a beautiful change, in fact.”

In 2008, Williams won the WTA Finals title, going 3-0 in the round-robin, and defeating Vera Zvonareva of Russia in the final.

She was also was a semifinalist in her first two appearances in the finals, in 1999 and 2000.

Williams reached two Grand Slam finals this season at the Australian Open, where she lost to what turned out to be an already pregnant younger sister, Serena, and at Wimbledon, where she fell to Muguruza.

Every player but Garcia has a possibility of playing themselves into the year-end No. 1 ranking depending on their result this week. Williams has ranked No. 1 for 11 weeks of her career.

In the round-robin, Williams is situated in the White Group with fellow big-hitters Muguruza and Pliskova, who both ranked No. 1 at some time during this season, and French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko.

Williams opens the competition against Pliskova on Sunday. The two are tied at one match apiece in their head-to-head.

She holds a 3-2 winning record over Muguruza and is 1-0 over Ostapenko.

“I think my group is more aggressive style players in the group and the other one is more defending,” Pliskova said. “I just like to play better these players.

“I start with Venus tomorrow, so I beat her once from match point and once I lost very close match. This one is open.”

Goerges ends 6-year title wait with victory at Kremlin Cup

AP Photo
Leave a comment

MOSCOW (AP) Julia Goerges ended her six-year wait for another WTA singles title Saturday with a 6-1, 6-2 victory over Daria Kasatkina in the Kremlin Cup final.

Goerges cruised to victory against her Russian opponent, who was ranked one place below her at 28th.

The German swept the first five games of the first set before Kasatkina could even get on the board.

Kasatkina put up more resistance at the start of the second, forcing three break points in Goerges’ first service game, but couldn’t convert them and was broken next game.

Goerges is now 3-7 in career singles finals, with her last title in Stuttgart in 2011. Before Saturday’s match, she had lost six straight finals, including three in the space of two months this summer.