ATP-WTA Cincinnati: Andy Murray Wins As Injured Novak Djokovic Retires; Maria Sharapova Outlasts Jelena Jankovic

Scores, news and updates from the biggest combined US Open Series event, the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

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WTA Cincinnati Final: Maria Sharapova Outlasts Jelena Jankovic In Dramatic Three-Setter

CINCINNATI -- No. 4 seed Maria Sharapova took care of some unfinished business Sunday evening at the 2011 Western & Southern Open.

Sharapova, who had two match points against eventual champion Kim Clijsters in the final of the 2010 tournament, defeated No. 13 seed Jelena Jankovic 4-6, 7-6(3), 6-3 in the final of the 2011 event, edging out the title in a dramatic match that finished in two hours, 53 minutes.

Sharapova started the match the sharper of the two, winning four games in a row to race out to a 4-1 lead in the first set. But after a dispute with chair umpire Kader Nouni about how much time Sharapova was taking between points on return, Jankovic found her rhythm, and reeled off seven straight games, winning the first set 6-4, and taking a 2-0 advantage in the second.

But Sharapova gritted her way through, overcoming 27 unforced errors in the second set, taking it 7-6(3) in a tiebreak.

The third set started with both women returning far better than serving, resulting in six straight breaks to get the final frame to 3-3. Sharapova stopped the breakage holding for 4-3, and with Jankovic unable to follow suit, Sharapova finished off the final by holding again for 6-3.

The win moves Sharapova to first place in the WTA race rankings, meaning that she has had the most successful 2011 (rankings-wise) of any player on the WTA Tour.

Despite finishing runner up, the week is likely more important for Jankovic.

SBN: Overall you have to be pretty happy with your week here in Cincinnati, making the final as the 13th seed who no one was really looking at as a favorite going in.

Jelena Jankovic: Yeah, but you can never know. I'm pretty unpredictable. As you guys can know. I can always be its dark horse.

Um, yeah, I mean, if somebody told me I was going to play a final here, you know, I would right away sign the paper, because I wasn't doing well and lost in the first round in Toronto the week
before and haven't played matches since Wimbledon. So I was kind of, you know, rusty and didn't feel really comfortable and confident with my game.

I mean, you get that when you play a lot, when you keep winning matches, and that's what
happened to me here. I started off the tournament, got a couple rounds, and with each match I was getting better and better and my level of tennis was getting higher and higher.

I feel good about my game now. Obviously I can improve and get better. There are things that, you know, I've done well and haven't done well. But I will just work, work hard, and I look forward to playing my next tournament and playing, you know, obviously the US Open, which is my, you know, goal to do well out there, which is the most important one.

With other top players struggling with inconsistency and injury (and Serena Williams' absence to start the year), Sharapova's place atop the year-to-date 2011 rankings seems fitting. I asked her about her year, (and she sort of answered me after getting some solid mocking in).

SBN: With this title,and your previous title in Rome, and your Wimbledon final, you're now No. 1 in the year in the rankings race. Talk about how your year is going, obviously pretty well so far.

Maria Sharapova: You just answered your own question right there. (Laughter.) Is that a journalist mistake?

SBN: Probably.

Maria Sharapova: Obviously, to follow up on your answer (laughs), yeah, it's been a great year so far. It can always be better and can always be worse. So I'm definitely proud that I've gone further and better than I did last year.

It means a lot to me after a disappointing loss here last year. Of course to be in that position in the race it's always nice, because it's pretty much from the beginning of the year. So to be up there, it's nice.

Indeed. It's nice.

Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .


ATP Cincinnati Final: Andy Murray Wins After Injured Novak Djokovic

CINCINNATI -- Early on in the men's singles final of the 2011 Western & Southern Open, it was clear that No. 1 Novak Djokovic was not at full strength.

Facing No. 4 Andy Murray, Djokovic was out of energy and without power almost from the very first ball. Murray broke Djokovic's serve in the first game, leaving the Serb's head hanging early on. Though Djokovic broke back to level the set at 3-3, his visible fatigue even early in the match made it tough to think he would have much of a shot of winning.

And when Murray broke Djokovic right back with a 42-stroke rally on break point, the writing seemed to be on the wall.

After Murray finished off the first set 6-4, the trainer came out for Djokovic, working on his shoulder while Djokovic grimaced.

After being broken twice in the first three games of the second set to trail 0-3, Djokovic pulled the ripcord, retiring and giving Murray the seventh Masters/1000 title of his career.

Less than a minute after Djokovic retired, biblical rain poured down over the stadium. Had Djokovic waited, he likely would have been able to take advantage of a break of an hour or so.

Largely because of how the match finished, Murray was subdued in victory. He said he could tell that Djokovic's serve and forehand were impaired by the injury early in the second set.

"I knew it when I broke him in the first game. I thought that was when it became obvious," he said afterwards.

Djokovic, who had not lost a match on hard courts all year, loses for only the second time this year (albeit with an asterisk), dropping his 2011 record to a pauperly 57-2.

"It's unfortunate that I had to finish this way. I apologize to the tournament; I apologize to the people who came here today to watch the match. I really tried. Didn't make sense for me to continue," Djokovic said after the match.

Djokovic said that his serve and forehand (especially his running forehand) were most affected by his shoulder injury. He added that his shoulder has bothered him for 10 days, that he has not had an MRI or any other diagnostic test to determine what exactly is wrong with it.

"The reason is shoulder pain," Djokovic said when asked for the reason why he withdrew. "I just could not serve. I served an average 90 miles per hour the first serve, and I could not play forehands.
You know, I could have maybe played another couple of games, but what for? I cannot beat a player like Murray today with one stroke."

But Djokovic does not expect the injury to affect him in New York, where he will look to become the fifth player since 2004 to win three Grand Slam titles in one year.

"I am confident that I can recover and be ready for US Open," he said.

Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .


WTA Cincinnati: Maria Sharapova, Jelena Jankovic Advance To Final

CINCINNATI -- After their respective wins in Saturday night's semifinals, No. 4 Maria Sharapova and No. 13 Jelena Jankovic will meet Sunday at 4 p.m. (on ESPN2) in the final of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati.

Sharapova, the 2010 runner-up in Cincinnati, booked her spot in the final first, defeating compatriot No. 2 Vera Zvonareva 2-6, 6-3, 6-3. Sharapova had a difficult time finding any sort of rhythm on her groundstrokes in the first set, making errors early in points and allowing Zvonareva to dictate play. But she found her rhythm after a visit from coach Thomas Hogstedt between the first and second sets, and with some improved serving, dug out the second and third sets.

Jelena Jankovic, the 2009 champion in Cincinnati, had a somewhat easier time in her semifinal, beating No. 9 Andrea Petkovic 7-6(4), 6-1. Petkovic partially tore her meniscus in her quarterfinal match against Nadia Petrova, and worried that she had re-injured her ACL, an injury that had kept her out for eight months in 2008. But though her leg was thoroughly mummified with tape, Petkovic played and moved well, forcing Jankovic to play some of her best tennis to win the first set. Jankovic cruised in the second set, showing vintage form with the combination of defense and counter-punching shotmaking that took her to WTA No. 1 in 2008.

The final between Sharapova and Jankovic should be a fun one. Sharapova leads their head-to-head 5-1, and the pair's animosity toward one another dates back to their childhood days playing at Nick Bolletieri's academy in Florida.

The normally long-winded Jankovic had little to say when I asked about her history with Sharapova, giving her shortest answer of the night by some length.

SBN: You have a great record against a lot of top players, the Williams Sisters especially, but Maria is not a player you have a very good record against. You two go back a long way. Can you talk about your history with her and what's made it so difficult for you to win against her in the past?

Jelena Jankovic: Yeah, actually we haven't played against each other for a while now. I mean, she's playing very well in this moment. It's going to be a tough match. I want to try my best. I want to try to play my best tennis. We'll see. Hopefully it'll be a good match.

Maria Sharapova, who once sarcastically remarked "is her last name Jankovic?" when Victoria Azarenka took a dubious injury time out, said slightly more about one of her oldest rivals.

SBN: You could play Jelena Jankovic tomorrow, which you mentioned before. I know you've had in your past a lot contentious matches with her. Can you talk about your history with her and how playing her is different than playing another player for you?

Maria Sharapova: Yeah, if she wins, like I said, we haven't played against each other for a while, so it'll be nice to compete against one another. We've known each other since we were very young. We grow up in Florida together in the same sort of group. Going back in the juniors, we played a lot of the matches against each other and we had many battles.

And here we are, you know, on professional tennis level. So, yeah, I think we know each other's game quite well. It's good to see her back at this stage. She's a great player. She was No. 1 in the world, so it's no joke.

Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .


ATP Cincinnati Semifinals: Tomas Berdych's Shoulder Injury Puts Novak Djokovic Into Final

CINCINNATI -- No. 8 seed Tomas Berdych retired after losing the first set of his semifinal 7-5 to No. 1 Novak Djokovic.

Berdych broke Djokovic in the seventh game of the set, and held to take a 5-3 lead. But after Djokovic held for 5-4, Berdych received a medical timeout, and the end of his tournament did not seem far off.

Berdych had previously received treatment for his shoulder after his quarterfinal win over Roger Federer, so the withdrawal was not a big surprise to anyone, Djokovic included.

Q: How surprised were you by Berdych retiring?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I wasn't [surprised] because I knew. We know what's going on. I knew before. We have a similar issue there but he has it more serious, so it's unfortunate. You know, I hope he recovers well for US Open.

But, look, usually these things happen, due to the tough schedule and every day playing under tough conditions.

After his quarterfinal, I had asked Tomas Berdych if he planned on continuing on in this tournament despite the injury, with the start of the US Open less than two weeks away.

SBN: You said your first concern is to be 100% healthy for tomorrow. With the US Open coming up, if you're not at 100% do you plan on pulling out?

Tomas Berdych: This is too early to be deciding this. I have a lot of time to work on the shoulder, to relax, have a good sleep. Tomorrow I still have time to go warm up and see how it is and still decide. Definitely now I'm not going to be saying anything what's going to come up.

My priority is to get healthy and play because it's a good chance. I am in the semis, and that's where I want to be, and playing well. So I want to take this advantage and we will see.

After his loss against Djokovic, Berdych added that if his match against Federer had gone into a third set, he would have likely retired. Berdych said that it had not yet been determined what exactly was wrong with his shoulder, and that he hoped to be ready for his first US Open match.

Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .


ATP Cincinnati Semifinals: Andy Murray Breaks Through Mardy Fish

CINCINNATI -- Scottish No. 4 Andy Murray defeated top American (and No. 7) Mardy Fish 6-3, 7-6(8), to book a spot in his second career final of the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio.

Murray came out of the blocks far sharper than did Fish, breaking Fish in his second service game and not looking back. Fish hit 10 unforced errors off his forehand in the first set, compared to only five winners.

Despite the ease with which both men normally hold serve, the second set turned surprisingly break-ful. Fish was broken in the opening game of the set, but then broke Murray for the first time in the match the very next game. After each held for 2-2, the pair traded four consecutive breaks, then four consecutive holds to force a thrilling tiebreak, which Murray won 10-8.

As the second set wore on both players seemed bothered by injury, with Mardy Fish fiddling with the bruised heel that caused him to pull out of Washington, and Andy Murray rubbing his left hamstring. Fish seemed slightly hampered by his injury during play, while Murray moved as well as ever.

Fish was asked about the disparity between Murray's actions between points and performance during points after the match.

Q: When Andy's on the other side grabbing his hamstring between points acting injured, but the plays fantastic side to side shots, how does that affect you?

Mardy Fish: Not much. Look, it's deep into a tournament, deep into the year. Everybody's got something going on.

It's sort of a rope a dope type play, but it's not the first time I played him.

Murray did not bring up any specific physical ailments (including his leg) when he spoke after the match.

SBN: Your moods seemed to change as the second set wore on. You started off almost giggly (for you), and then shifted to screaming and your box a lot. Is that because the match is getting frustrating?

Andy Murray: I was struggling physically. That's frustrating for me, because that's something I haven't struggled with for quite a long time. When you're kind of in control of a match and then you start to physically get a little bit tired, it becomes frustrating, because rather than concentrating on just playing the match, which I was in the first set, you start thinking about the physical side, which you shouldn't really be having to.

So that's why I was getting frustrated. I'm glad I managed to finish it off in two sets.

SBN: Just fatigue, or something more specific?

Andy Murray: I don't know exactly what it was I felt. Like right now I don't feel that tired, I don't feel that drained. My legs just need to get stronger. I've not played that many matches at all since Wimbledon. I think it's just getting back to playing matches in these conditions at that intensity,

because the first set there was a lot of long rallies, long points.

Yeah, I thought it was a pretty intense match, especially the first set and towards the end.

Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .


Serena Williams Withdraws From Cincinnati Due "Right Big Toe Injury Aggravation"

CINCINNATI -- Serena Williams withdrew from the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati Wednesday before her scheduled second round match against Samantha Stosur, citing a "right big toe injury aggravation."

Williams had missed her scheduled practice session in the morning, and her withdrawal was announced shortly thereafter.

It's a totally reasonable decision for Serena to make, and in many ways it's surprising that she came to Cincinnati at all. Having already played (and won) 12 matches on hard courts this already this summer in Stanford and Toronto, Serena has plenty of preparation under her belt for the US Open. And she was clearly not at her best in her first match in Cincinnati, a 6-3, 7-6(5) win over Czech qualifier Lucie Hradecka.

Caution with an injury to her foot (which had previously kept her out for almost a year) is smart. After her initial injury, Serena underwent surgery to keep her toe from being "droopy."

Serena confirmed in her post-withdrawal press conference that the injury was related to the one she suffered in Munich in July of 2010, when her foot was injured by broken glass.

SBN: Is this related to the injury that you suffered in Germany, with the glass in your foot, at all?

Serena Williams: It is, but not nearly as extreme. It's just a bit of an aggravation because I think I've been pounding it a lot and playing a lot.

Though few think it is a bad decision for Serena, the withdrawal this week did raise some eyebrows, given the upcoming wedding this weekend of her good friend Kim Kardashian to  New Jersey Nets power forward Kris Humphries.

It seemed worth asking if her newly cleared schedule this weekend allowed her to make the wedding after all.

SBN: I've heard that one of your friends, Kim Kardashian, is getting married this weekend. Are you planning on attending that now?

Serena Williams: I hadn't. I mean, now that I have time I probably will. I hadn't thought about it, so...

Her eyes as I asked the question indicated something slightly different than what her mouth answered.

Chosing a wedding over a third US Open warm-up tournament isn't a problem, really. Just wear smart shoes, Serena. Between your foot injury at a restaurant in Munich and Kim Clijsters' injuring her ankle dancing at her nephew's wedding, tennis has had more than it's fair share of injuries recently that never would have happened if everyone just wore hiking boots all the time.

Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .


Caroline Wozniacki Upset By American Wild Card Christina McHale

CINCINNATI -- Embattled WTA No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki suffered her third straight loss and second straight straight-set defeat in her first match at a tournament, defeated by American wild card Christina McHale in 6-4, 7-5 on the Grandstand court.

Wozniacki, who received a bye into the second round because of her ranking, also lost her first match last week in Toronto, falling to Italian Roberta Vinci by the same score, 6-4, 7-5.

Wozniacki has only won one of her last five matches, a first round win at a post-Wimbledon clay court tournament in Bastad (during which Alize Cornet's cell phone rang on match point).

Wozniacki managed to play most of the match on her own terms, extending rallies with high, looping forehands. But McHale's consistent ability to generate pace and lack of indecision made the difference for the 19-year-old from New Jersey, who served out the match for the biggest win of her career.

Rory McIlroy, who is here in Cincinnati with Wozniacki, watched the match from behind the baseline, sitting near Caroline's coach and father Piotr Wozniacki.

After the match, a tearful Caroline Wozniacki was comforted by Serena Williams, whom Wozniacki later called "one of the sweetest girls on the tour."

Wozniacki generally remained unrattled and somewhat defiant during her presser.

SBN: Do you think there is anything that's changed in your game? You've lost more matches recently than you have in the past. Is there anything in your game that's slipped at all?

Caroline Wozniacki: It happens. You have good paths and you have some rough paths, but, you know, it's okay. I'm going to come back and I'm going to win a lot of matches as well in the future.


SBN: Do you think there is anything that's changed in your game? You've lost more matches recently than you have in the past. Is there anything in your game that's slipped at all?

Caroline Wozniacki: It happens. You have good paths and you have some rough paths, but, you know, it's okay. I'm going to come back and I'm going to win a lot of matches as well in the future.

SBN: This has been a different week for you because you've had all that attention around Rory McIlroy being here with you. Was that difficult for you to adjust to?

Caroline Wozniacki: No, I mean, I didn't think about it really, to be honest.

SBN: You don't think it changed any of your mindset or preparations this week?

Caroline Wozniacki: No.

Despite the early losses, Caroline Wozniacki's spot atop the WTA rankings should be safe through the US Open.

Note: The upset also marks the second consecutive year (and third time in fourth years) in Cincinnati that the top seed on the women's side was knocked out of the tournament on the Grandstand court by a player who did not receive direct entry into the tournament. In 2010, top seed Jelena Jankovic was ousted by qualifier Akgul Amanmuradova. In 2008, wild card Jamea Jackson advanced past top seed Marion Bartoli when Bartoli retired in the second set after losing the first.

Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .


ATP Cincinnati: No. 11 Andy Roddick Implodes In First Tour Match Since Wimbledon, Falls To Philipp Kohlschreiber

CINCINNATI -- American No. 2 Andy Roddick lost his first match of the US Open Series Monday night in Cincinnati, falling to Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-7(5), 7-5, 6-1 at the Western & Southern Open in Mason, Ohio.

Since he made it to the semifinals in Cincinnati last year, the loss will drop Roddick's ranking outside the top 20, where it has not resided since 2002.

The match was Roddick's first in over a month due to an oblique injury suffered in practice after Davis Cup, an injury that forced him to pull out of tournaments the previous two weeks in Washington and Montreal.

Roddick's bursts of frustration as the match turned in Kohlschreiber's favor played a more important role in the match than it has in most any other match. After blowing his break advantage in the second set and being broken twice to eventually lose the set 7-5, Roddick cracked a racquet in frustration, and received a receiving a code violation warning for racquet abuse. After going down 30-40 on his serve in the second game of the third set, Roddick sent a ball flying into the stands, and was given second code violation (for ball abuse), one that carried with it a point penalty that cost him another break.

Roddick was furious, and berated chair umpire Carlos Bernardes. His game fell off even further from that point, broken another time in the third set, eventually losing it 6-1.

After the match, Roddick showed moments of contrition.

"Soon as I did it I want it back," Roddick began.

But then he retreated somewhat.

"I can't blame him, but I'm sitting here turning a six week injury into a three week injury, rehabbing eight hours a day, and a split second decision he interjects himself and it's done. It's so frustrating."

But then he took the blame again.

"I certainly accept what I did. I put him in a bad situation out there."

But then Roddick compared tennis unfavorably to pro wrestling.

"But I do think it's stupid in tennis that I mean, in football if someone throws a helmet on the sideline, it's there helmet. We wonder why we lose our ratings battles to the WWF, Monday Night Raw."

But more than angry at the umpire, it was clear in the end that Roddick was annoyed at himself most of all.

I was just disappointed. Equal parts mad and also disappointed in myself. My team also, we've been trying to get back and I do that. You know, it's essentially a long uphill battle from there. So I was pretty mad at myself.

With his ranking dropping so far so fast, questions about his potential to ever regain the position he held in the past are sure to get louder . Things could turn around for Roddick next week in Winston-Salem or the week after that at the US Open. But if he continues to fall, if he finds himself in unseeded territory  at the Australian Open, you have to wonder if he'll even show up.

Mardy Fish said in Washington last week that he still considers Roddick to be the "alpha male" of American tennis. But with so many other men clearly exerting their dominance while Roddick falters, it's hard to know how much longer that feeling will last.

Stay tuned to SB Nation's coverage of the 2011 US Open Series at as well as on Twitter, @DailyForehand .

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