Top seed Roger Federer was to carry a 35-match win streak against Germans into yesterday’s final at the Stockholm Open when he faced what was surely to be a nervous challenge from Florian Mayer.
The powerful Swiss No. 2 put himself into position for a 64th trophy as he defeated longtime rival Ivan Ljubicic 7-6 (7/5), 6-2 in their semi-final. Mayer, ranked 47th and without a title, was to play his third career final after a fighting 4-6, 6-4, 7-6 (7/3) defeat of Finn Jarkko Nieminen. The Swiss--German Federer last lost to a German player when Nicolas Kiefer beat him in Halle in June 2002. Federer was trying to lift a trophy in an 18th different country as he played in Scandinavia for the first time in a decade.
“I’d love to win, I’ve never won a title in Sweden, that would be something special. But it’s good to win one in any case. It’s a good feeling to walk off court as a winner,” he said.
Federer, who has won only two of six finals this year, would love to start lifting that average as he enters the final stretch of the current campaign.
“It would be nice a to win a third title, another would be great. I’ve had an amazing run in the past winning 24 straight finals. Maybe this can be the start of another streak,” he said.
Challenger Mayer was seeking a huge upset when he faced Federer standing 0-2 in their series.
“The confidence is obviously in my favor,” Federer said. “But he has nothing to lose. He will come out aggressive. I’ve played him a few times and managed to beat him.”
Federer improved his record against Ljubicic, his good friend from Croatia, to 13-3 and has won their last ten meetings.
“It’s been good all week,” Federer said. “I started with a first win in under an hour and they just got tougher since that. I’ve only had three matches so far and there’s not been a lot of tennis played.”
Ljubicic admitted there was little he could do once the Swiss got up a head of steam.
“I played OK, but trying to come back in the second set was tough. He relaxed once he won the first set and just played better, it got a lot tougher for me,” Ljubicic said.
Mayer admits he faces a huge deficit in the final.
“I have nothing to lose. I was a little tired today, physically and mentally,” Mayer said. “But I fought hard, I played for the line on match point and had a bit of luck. After losing the second set I was able to come back in the third.”
STAFF WRITER, WITH CNA, SEOUL
Taiwan’s Lu Yen-hsun won the Samsung Securities Cup in Seoul, South Korea yesterday by trouncing Kevin Anderson of South Africa 6-3, 6-4 in the final.
After defeating Florent Serra of France 6-3, 6-4 in the semi-finals the previous day, Lu, currently ranked No. 39 in the world, downed Anderson in straight sets. Anderson is the world No. 66.
The 27-year-old Lu climbed to No. 39 in the world — the highest ranking of his career — after picking up valuable points in the Shanghai Masters in China earlier this month.
The Samsung Securities Cup is on the Challenger Tour of the ATP and is played on outdoor hard courts. The tournament has been held annually in Seoul since 2000.
Fourth seed Marcos Baghdatis of Cyprus performed a dramatic comeback in the third set to oust unheralded Denis Istomin of Uzbekistan 6-4, 6-7 (5/7), 7-6 (7/2) on his way to the final of the Kremlin Cup on Saturday.
Baghdatis started with an immediate break, keeping his narrow lead throughout the first set to lift himself one set up.
No big serves were made in the second set, which went to a tiebreak. Istomin, 24, was just a bit more accurate to level at 1-1 after 1 hour, 35 minutes.
In the third, Baghdatis suddenly lost his nerve and produced a catalogue of errors, allowing Istomin to break twice from the start.
The 25-year-old Cypriot fought tooth and nail and broke back twice to pull the scores level, forcing a tiebreak, which he won to make his third final this season.
“I started the third set pretty bad ... but fought up to the end,” Baghdatis said. “Fortunately, I won. I’m happy and I’ll try to play better tomorrow.”
In the earlier semi-final, Viktor Troicki of Serbia saw off Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas in straight sets 6-3, 6-3 on his way to the final.
The opponents traded breaks from the start, before the 24-year-old Serbian broke in the sixth game to gain a one-set advantage.
In the second set, Troicki moved up a gear to take three consecutive games from the seventh to win the set, the match and a pass into his first ATP final of the year.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said that he had called in the “third umpire” as he announced that recreational cricket would be allowed to resume next weekend. In a radio interview earlier on Friday, Johnson angered thousands of club cricketers by saying that the amateur game was still not safe to play amid the COVID-19 pandemic because of issues surrounding communal teas and dressing rooms. “It’s the teas, it’s the changing rooms and so on and so forth. There are other factors involved that generate proximity which you might not get in a game of tennis,” he said. Johnson had already
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Taipower on Sunday charged to their third straight win and took over first place in the Taiwan Football Premier League as previous leaders Taichung Futuro suffered their first defeat of the season, while Hang Yuan rallied from two goals down to complete a thrilling 3-2 victory over National Taiwan University of Sport (NTUS). Heading into the 10th round of matches, unbeaten Taichung Futuro led the league with 21 points, but they fell to their first defeat of the season, a 1-0 loss to Tatung at the National Stadium in Kaohsiung. In a match in which both defenses were on top and there