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Tour report: February wins for Federer, Nadal, Venus and more

Roger Federer at the World Tour Finals
by Alexandra Willis
Tuesday 4 March 2014

Who's been winning what where in February? Wimbledon.com reports...

As March arrives and tennis moves Stateside for Indian Wells and Miami, the sport's protagonists unite at the same venue for the first time following what went down in Melbourne. As a result, the results and reasonings from tennis in February tend to get overlooked. 

But one of the quietest months of the calendar has, in 2014, featured most of the tour's famous faces across a series of countries and continents, many of them keen to hit the American hard-court season match-fit rather than simply gym or practice fit. 

Rafael Nadal, for example, who had played three tournaments on the way into Indian Wells last year, limited himself to just one this year, in Rio de Janeiro, but came out with the title. 

Roger Federer showed more of the new racket and Stefan Edberg effect in his impressive form in Dubai, beating Novak Djokovic in the semi-finals, and then coming back from a set down to beat Tomas Berdych and claim his 78th singles title. Leap-frogging John McEnroe, Federer is now third in the all-time title list, behind Ivan Lendl (94) and Jimmy Connors (109). His sixth title in Dubaim the result means Federer continues his record of having won at least a title a year since 2001.

Andy Murray also continued his comeback from back surgery by playing Rotterdam and Acapulco, reaching the semi-finals of the latter before losing out to eventual champion, and one seemingly finally coming fully into his own - Grigor Dimitrov. The Bulgarian beat Kevin Anderson in nearly three hours, and moves another step closer to the top 10 as a result. 

"Belief is the only thing that kept me going today," said Dimitrov, who had been on court till 2:30am the night before to beat Murray in the semi-finals. "I didn't think I was going to come back after last night's match. I'm really happy. This title means a lot to me." 

And Marin Cilic, returning from his suspension for a failed drugs test, has made the most of his return, winning Zagreb, Delray Beach and reaching the Rotterdam final, results inspired by Goran Ivanisevic's influence, he says.

“I feel very confident in my game now, but there is still room for improvement,” said Cilic, who has served 247 aces in 22 matches, more than any other player in 2014. 

Serena Williams, meanwhile, may not be playing at Indian Wells this week and next, but she will still be in the conversation, registering her 178th and 179th weeks as the world No.1, and passing Monica Seles's lifetime total in the process. The achievement will lift her to fifth on the all-time list, behind Steffi Graf (377), Martina Navratilova (332), Chris Evert (260), and Martina Hingis (209). 

"I never dreamed of this," Williams told wtatennis.com. "I remember when I passed her on the Grand Slams list it was really huge for me, because when you grow up watching someone and you're thinking, 'Oh my God, oh my God, they're so awesome,' to then be on their level is just pretty amazing."

Sister Venus meanwhile continues to defy her advancing years, winning the title in Dubai, Australian Open finalist Dominika Cibulkova grabbed Acapulco, and the rapidly improving Simona Halep triumphed in Doha. 

"Everything is falling together pretty much, is all I can say," Venus said after winning her biggest title in four years. 

Another one to watch is Japanese No.1 Kurumi Nara, who won her first title in Rio, breaking the top 50 in the process. 

"It's really amazing. I try not to think about being No.1 in Japan. I really just try to focus on my game and my tennis every day. I just try my best every time and now I have my first WTA title. I'm so happy right now," she told wtatennis.com.

With two months of the year down and nine to go, tennis has been ticking along quite nicely. Now's the time when it starts gathering some pace. 

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