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Wimbledon Final: It’s Federer Versus Cilic

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Roger Federer on Friday evening qualified for the prestigious Men’s Singles of Wimbledon final holding on Sunday. It will be his 11th Wimbledon final duel and will be playing against Croatia’s Marlin Cilic for the eighth time ever.

To get to the final, the 36 year old Federer beat the 2010 runner-up, Tomas Berdych 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4), 6-4 in the semi-finals. AP quoted Federer as saying: “It’s great, but it doesn’t give me the title quite yet.

That’s why I came here this year,” Federer said. “I’m so close now, so I just got to stay focused.”

He has won every set he’s played in six matches, and while he did not exactly dominate against the 11th-seeded Berdych, Federer was never in much trouble.

On Sunday, Federer will face 2014 U.S. Open champion Marin Cilic, who reached his first Wimbledon final by eliminating 24th-seeded Sam Querrey of the U.S. 6-7 (6), 6-4, 7-6 (3), 7-5 with the help of 25 aces and some terrific returning.

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“This is his home court,” Cilic said about Federer, “(the) place where he feels the best and knows that he can play the best game.”

Since equalling Pete Sampras and William Renshaw (who played in the 1880s) with a seventh trophy at Wimbledon in 2012, Federer has come this close before to No. 8. But he lost to Novak Djokovic in the 2014 and 2015 finals.

Here comes another chance. Federer would be the oldest man to win Wimbledon in the Open era, which dates to 1968; as it is, he’s the oldest finalist since Ken Rosewall was 39 in 1974.

“I mean, I don’t see anything that would indicate really Roger is getting older or anything like that,” said Berdych, who wore sneakers with a silhouette of Djokovic’s face on the tongue because his own usual shoes were uncomfortable. “He’s just proving his greatness in our sport.”

Also noteworthy: This is Federer’s second major final of 2017. After losing in the Wimbledon semi-finals last year, he took the rest of 2016 off to let his surgically repaired left knee heal. He came back fit and refreshed and won the Australian Open in January for his record-extending 18th Grand Slam title and first anywhere in four years.

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“Giving your body rest from time to time is a good thing, as we see now,” Federer said. “And I’m happy it’s paying off because for a second, of course, there is doubts there that maybe one day you’ll never be able to come back and play a match on Centre Court at Wimbledon. But it happened, and it’s happened many, many times this week.”

And most of the 15,000 or so people in attendance were pulling for him. That was evident throughout Friday, from the cries of “Go, Roger!” to the roars of approval and thunderous applause that greeted some of his best efforts on a day when he was not necessarily at his vintage, wondrous best.

The down-the-line forehand passing winner that landed right on the opposite baseline in the second set, leaving Berdych slumping his shoulders. Or the no-look, flicked backhand winner several games later that not many players would even try, let alone manage to do.

Or the way he extricated himself from a sticky situation down 3-2 in the third, facing break points at 15-40: 107 mph (173 kph) ace, 116 mph (187 kph) ace, 120 mph (194 kph) service winner, 119 mph (192 kph) ace. In the very next game, he surged to a 4-3 lead by breaking Berdych. That was pretty much that.

“I was able to come up with the goods when it mattered,” Federer said.

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The No. 7-seeded Cilic was not able to do that in the opening tiebreaker against Querrey, the first man from the U.S. in any major semi-finals since 2009.

At 6-all, Cilic seemed distracted by a delay of a couple of minutes when a spectator who appeared to feel ill was helped from her seat and out of the stands. When action resumed, Cilic flubbed two backhands to cede the set.

But from there, he steadied; handling Querrey’s big serves rather well. A trio of superb returns earned a key break in the fourth set, the last a massive forehand off a 79 mph (127 kph) second serve that drew a shanked backhand and a yell of “No!” from Querrey.

The next test for Cilic is the toughest of all: beating Federer at Centre Court. They met in the Wimbledon quarterfinals last year, when Cilic took the opening two sets and even held a match point before Federer came all the way back to win, improving to 6-1 head-to-head.

That lone win for Cilic was by straight sets in the semi-finals in New York three years ago, on the way to his one major title.

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“I still know that it’s a big mountain to climb,” Cilic said. “Roger is playing maybe (some) of his best tennis of his career at the moment.”

 

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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African Games

Nigeria’s last African Games medal to come from tennis

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Nigeria’s last African Games medal to come from tennis

Nigeria’s second position at the African Games is already sealed as the curtain falls on the delayed Accra 2023 tonight. As usual, Egypt are the runner-away leaders with an amazing 52 gold medals more than that of second-placed Nigeria.

Overall, Egypt have 187 medals as against Nigeria’s 121 as at close of competition on Friday night.

This Saturday, there are contests in just three disciplines – Cricket, Tennis and Volley ball. Nigeria will be involved in only women’s final, playing against Egypt.

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Tennis

Former Nigerian Ace, Odizor Cries For Tennis Revival –

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Former Nigerian Ace, Odizor Cries For Tennis Revival -

Former tennis player, Nduka Odizor is saddened by the state of the sport in Nigeria and wants those saddled with the responsibility of administering the sport to wake up to their primary duties of developing the game.

Nduka “The Duke” Odizor as he was fondly called during his playing days blames the retrogression of tennis in the country on a lack of continuity and consistency on the part of the Nigeria Tennis Federation.

Odizor started playing tennis as a school boy in Benin city, Edo State and went on to feature in the national sports festival and the national tennis team as a teenager.

He was part of Nigeria’s Davis Cup team and represented Nigeria at the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, South Korea.

He won several singles and doubles titles in Lagos and at the popular Ogbe Hard Court in Benin City.

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He went on to win international tournaments in Taiwan, Mexico, Dallas, New York, Tokyo, Sydney and other cities.

At the peak of his tennis career, Odizor reached the fourth round of the Wimbledon Open in 1983 and was the only Nigerian to play on centre court at the All England club.

He featured in the U.S Open, the French Open and Australian open and was rated number 52 in the ATP world ranking in 1984.

Despite his vast experience, expertise, exposure and knowledge of the sport as a former player and member of important global tennis organisations, Odizor is yet to impact the administration of tennis in Nigeria.

He said he made several efforts with the intentions to administer Nigerian tennis but was never welcomed.

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“I made moves and I tried to help, but the bad system in Nigeria would not welcome people like me who know and understand the game but not ready to play dirty politics.

“It’s been difficult to get into the tennis federation because those of us who are based overseas have been shut out. You wouldn’t believe that several years after being voted into office, nobody in the Nigeria tennis federation has reached out to me to seek my contribution. it’s a shame.”

Odizor who had a part of his secondary school education at the famous New Era secondary school in Benin City, featured and won titles at the Ogbe Hard Court tournament in Benin.

The once popular and glamorous tennis championship has been extinct for many years, but Odizor is keen on collaborating with the Edo State Government to resuscitate the event.

“It will be quite busy for me this year, because I had a meeting with Edo State Governor, Godwin Obaseki and we are making plans to restart the Ogbe Hard Court Tennis Championship in Benin.

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“Besides that, I will be running and funding at least six different tournaments in all the geo-political zones of Nigeria and that will be my little way of helping Nigerian tennis”

 

 

Duke Odizor established a tennis foundation in 2004 which he runs from his base in Houston, the United states and his office in Abuja and Asaba in Nigeria. Through the foundation, Odizor returns to Nigeria often to hold tennis clinics and teach Nigerian children how to play the game.

 

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Tennis

WINNERS EMERGE FROM IKOYI CLUB/SEVEN-UP SECONDARY SCHOOL LAWN TENNIS COMPETITION

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After an intense five days of technical tutoring and competition, winners have emerged from the maiden edition of Ikoyi Club Lawn Tennis competition for Secondary Schools in Lagos State, sponsored by a leading soft drink manufacturing company, Seven-Up Bottling Company.

ThankGodAdakole from Falomo Senior High School defeated another School mate two sets to one, to grab the Male senior category trophy, Ozioiza Yakubu from Gilbrata Secondary School emerged the Female Single Senior category winner.

Ohunene Yakubu also from Gilbrata went home with the female junior category medal,while Silas Isaac a JSS 3 student from Master Moulders Secondary defeated another public school player to win the Male Junior Category.

Various participants that got to the quarter and semi -finals were given award of encouragement, while coaches and other officials were recognized for their efforts and contribution to the success of the competition.

The competition which was targeted at developing talents and training the trainers had over 240 students male and female from the public and private secondary schools in attendance as well as senior tennis coaches with the support of National Tennis Federation.

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Speaking at the closing ceremony, Chairman Tennis Section, Ikoyi Club, Abimbola Okubena noted that, participation of players and coaches was outstanding as the aim of the competition and clinic was met.

One of the greatest score of the five day competition was the train the trainer session which focused on shaping the technicality of the tennis coaches.

He added that, there will be follow up on the clinic to sharpen the young star on technicality, game rules and overall flair for the game. As they are the future of tennis development in Nigeria.

Okubena, appreciated tennis federation and Seven-Up bottling for their various contributions toward the actualization of the maiden edition of the competition. ‘The competition is expected to expand to all secondary schools in Lagos next edition’. Abimbola stated.

Boys’ single winner, ThankGod Adakole, speaking on behalf of the winners applauded Ikoyi club for the idea and seven-up for giving a lead to developing young talents that will propel tennis game appreciation.

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The Ikoyi Club was established as a European club in 1938 in Ikoyi, Lagos. It occupies approximately 456 acres of land. In the subsequent years, the club merged with the Lagos Golf Club. Besides the golf course, the club also has many sports and relaxation amenities for members and their families.

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