Roger Federer and Li Na take the singles titles at the Western & Southern Open 2012.
By Benjamin Snyder, special to EmiratesUSOpenSeries.com
CINCINNATI - The last ball has been struck at the Western & Southern Open and the champions announced. Roger Federer and Li Na are the winners in singles, while Horia Tecau and Robert Lindstedt joined Andrea Hlavackova and Lucie Hradecka as the doubles champions.
Here are some of the highlights recorded straight from the mouths of the men and women who won and lost over the course of the week at the Lindner Family Tennis Center.
Roger Federer was the winner over Novak Djokovic in a historic match featuring the first time that the World No. 1 and World No. 2 battled for the title at the Western & Southern Open. With the straight-set victory, he becomes the first man to claim fives titles in Cincinnati.
"It's great coming back here," he said. "I've been able to win five. It's obviously incredible because I remember the first few here I struggled. Now looking back it's just unbelievable."
For Li Na, who beat Angelique Kerber in the women’s final, the win was her first title on Tour since the 2011 Roland Garros after making three previous finals this season. "Last night, I really want to win the title for first one," she said. "You know, because this year I got three time in the final, but I never won one title."
She added, "So I was really hungry for the title."
In men’s doubles, the team of Horia Tecau and Robert Lindstedt claimed a breakthrough by taking home their first ATP Tour Masters 1000 title together. In the semifinals, the duo defeated the London gold medalists Bob and Mike Bryan.
"We played really well yesterday. We came out with a game plan and we executed well," said Tecau. "First time for me that I'm beating the Bryans, so it's very rewarding to beat the best doubles team in the world and get my first Masters title here in Cincinnati."
It wasn’t all winning at the Western & Southern Open, of course. Petra Kvitova, who was looking to claim her second Premier-level title of the week, having won in Montreal on Monday, tried to dissect her loss to Angelique Kerber in the semifinal match on Saturday night. "I think that I knew tactics and I knew what I have to play, but my body was not really ready for the shots and for the tactics," she said.
"Maybe that's why I was a little bit crazy on the court. Yeah, I think that it was everything together," she added. "Yeah, it was close but still far away."
Venus Williams found winning form this week by making it to her first semifinal on Tour since 2010. Her younger sister Serena, who lost in the quarterfinals to Angelique Kerber cheered her on through her semifinal match. "She said, ‘Come on, break her.’ I'm like, ‘I'm going to try,’" said Venus. "And I did try to break her, but I just couldn't break her that time."
Agnieszka Radwanska, the top seed of the tournament, lost in the quarterfinals, too, and reflected on her chances of one day claiming the World No. 1 ranking. The Polish player, a runner-up at Wimbledon, had a shot at taking the distinction by winning in Cincinnati and New Haven next week.
She explained what would need to happen to become the world’s top female player. "Well, I think winning some more matches," she said, laughing. "That would help, don't you think?"
Serena, meanwhile, also showed off some of her comedic skills in press conferences throughout the event. She deadpanned after her straight sets loss to Kerber, "I felt really good going out there today, much better than my other two matches," she said. "False alarm."
Players got to talk about other aspects of life as an athlete besides winning and losing. Andy Murray talked photography after being shocked by Jeremy Chardy of France in his third round match.
"I had a lady come up to me in Panera Bread yesterday and she said to me, she said, ‘You look much better in person than you do behind the camera. I don't know if I like them that much,’" he recounted. "I don't think when you're playing in sort of 100 degree heat on the tennis courts is when you're looking your best."
A couple of young Americans had the chance to sound off about their home major, the US Open, which begins next week. The gregarious teenager Sloane Stephens, who advanced to the third round at the Western & Southern Open as a wild card, talked about the atmosphere at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.
"So I think going to the US Open and just having everyone cheering for you," she said, "and everyone wanting you to do well and hug and lick you and just, you know, be around, touch you, like even when you're sweaty."
Madison Keys, who successfully qualified into the main draw at the Western & Southern Open before losing, made the second round of the major last year. She hopes to reclaim that form again. "I would love for it to happen again," she said. "It was a great experience, and I can't wait for another one to come along."