2014 Monte Carlo Master 1000: Wawrinka wins the Battle of the Swiss - UBITENNIS
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2014 Monte Carlo Master 1000: Wawrinka wins the Battle of the Swiss

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TENNIS – Just in case tennis fans had any doubts about the legitimacy of Stanislas Wawrinka’s ascendancy to the top 3 in professional tennis and whether he has the goods to be a real contender for tennis supremacy, they have all been quieted as Wawrinka convincingly took out his countryman Roger Federer 4-6 7-6(5) 6-2 to claim the 2014 Monte Carlo Master 1000 title. Cordell Hackshaw

Just in case tennis fans had any doubts about the legitimacy of Stanislas Wawrinka’s ascendancy to the top 3 in professional tennis and whether he has the goods to be a real contender for tennis supremacy, they have all been quieted as Wawrinka convincingly took out his countryman Roger Federer 4-6 7-6(5) 6-2 to claim the 2014 Monte Carlo Masters 1000 title. Wawrinka and Federer share a lot in common besides the obvious occupation and citizenship. They are amongst the few husbands/fathers currently on tour, they share coaching staff and they have shared victories together; most famously their 2008 Beijing Doubles gold medal and quite recently their Davis Cup tie win for a place in the semifinals. Despite all this, it has always been Wawrinka fighting for prominence when coupled with Federer. It is hard to argue against this case after a passing glance Federer’s impressive resume. Federer has a 13-1 head-to-head record against his compatriot. However, 2014 has seen the Wawrinka stock rising exponentially. With his impressive wins over Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal to claim his maiden major title in Australia earlier this year, his “heroic” effort in Davis Cup last week and today with his first Masters Series 1000 title win, Wawrinka has done what many have thought as being impossible; he has stepped out from the shadow of Federer to claim the solo spotlight. Wawrinka has proven with this win that he is the genuine Swiss No 1.

The match started out rather tentative. It had that feel of awkwardness somewhat similar to when the Williams Sisters play each other; indecisive crowd, stilted atmosphere and neither player looked to be taking an aggressive stance on court. Wawrinka would later state, “It’s always special to play Roger. We know it’s always a strange match, especially being in the final here. He’s my best friend on the tour. We respect each other so much.” However, it was Federer who took the early lead in the opening set when Wawrinka pushed his forehand long in the 5th game to give the elder Swiss the first break. Federer despite slipping and falling several times, was sure footed about his game as he took the set 6-4. Wawrinka was not playing badly but it seemed as though nerves got the better of him and the more experienced Federer capitalized.

The second set saw Wawrinka racing to an early lead of 2-0 but he was quickly broken at love by Federer and one thought that Federer was going to run away with the match. However, there were no more breaks of serves in the set and soon the players found themselves in the 2nd set tiebreaker which would be the pivotal point of the match. It was here that Wawrinka took complete charge of the match and never looked back. With heavy serving and precision plays, Wawrinka took the mini break and this was all the momentum that he needed. He took the breaker 7-5 points and the set. There was no stopping the current Australian Open champion as he dominated in the decisive set. Wawrinka seemed super charged and almost superhuman as he could do no wrong. He would only drop 3 points on serve in the set winning an impressive 13/14 (92%) 1st serve points won. He was a completely different player from the two previous sets as he broke Federer in successive service games to put the title within grasp at 4-0. Federer had absolutely no answers for any of Wawrinka’s tactics as he was struggling to win points. The 17-time major champion was able to hold serve in the 5th and 7th game but he could do no more as Wawrinka closed out the set 6-2 to take his first Masters 1000 title.

As with his Australian Open final’s victory, the overall stats do not reveal the true prowess of Wawrinka on court. Federer had more 1st serves in (66% to 58%) and had a better break point conversion (66% to 48%) than Wawrinka. The differences in the other areas were negligible though Wawrinka was clearly more effective on 2nd serve than Federer. Wawrinka won 56% compared to Federer’s 44%. What the statistics do not show is how well Wawrinka played the big points. What the stats cannot show is how Wawrinka completely bossed Federer around in the 3rd set and so completely raised his level that Federer looked pedestrian. Make no mistake Federer was out muscled on court. Federer could not contend with the weight of shots from Wawrinka and could not get himself into the court to make his life easier. Federer, himself spoke of the 3rd set saying, I think he [Wawrinka] really found his range and started to hit bigger, deeper. He didn’t miss that many second serve returns anymore. He gave me a couple cheap points in the first couple sets which he later on really didn’t give me anymore. So it made it tougher for me.

Wawrinka’s victory means that he retains the 3rd spot in the ranking and distances himself from Federer who would have taken the spot had he won the title. It should also be a confidence booster for Wawrinka as he gets into the full swing of the clay court season. This year, he is 6-0 against top 10 players and there is no doubt that his name is up there as possible contender for the Roland Garros title. The top players would do well to not underestimate Wawrinka from here on end. As for Federer, the questions of retirement are no longer being asked of him but one has to wonder if he can really sustain the high level of play required to win these big titles anymore. He is still able to put himself in title contention but he cannot summon the strength to get over the last hurdle. This is his second Masters 1000 finals for the year and the second time he won the 1st set but unable to win a second. He last won a major and Master’s title in 2012 (Wimbledon and Cincinnati respectively).This was his 4th appearance in the Monte Carlo finals and once again he came away empty-handed. Nonetheless, this is the Roger Federer and he too should not be underestimated particularly this year.

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Nick Kyrgios Slams Thiem Over Defence Of Controversy-Stricken Adria Tour

The world No.40 has accused the Austrian of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to understand his view.

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Australian star Nick Kyrgios has continued his public criticism of the Adria Tour by taking aim at two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem.

 

The 25-year-old has repeatedly hit out at the exhibition event, which Thiem participated in. Organised by world No.1 Novak Djokovic, the event took place in Belgrade and Zadar before it was scrapped following an outbreak of COVID-19 among both players and coaching staff. Djokovic, Grigor Dimitrov and Borna Coric all got infected. The outbreak came after the Adria Tour was criticised for a lack of social distancing and players attended various public events together. Although at the time, all of their actions were done in accordance with local regulations. Something the Serbian Prime Minister now admits was a mistake.

However, Thiem has called out Kyrgios over his vocal criticism of fellow Adria Tour competitor Alexander Zverev. The German attended a party in southern France less than a week after the COVID-19 outbreak despite issuing a statement saying he would go into self-isolation.

“It was his mistake, but I don’t why a lot of people want to interfere. Kyrgios has done a lot of mistakes. It would be better for him to come clear instead of criticising others,” Thiem told Tiroler Tageszeitung.

Continuing to defend the actions of his fellow players, Thiem also jumped to the defence of Djokovic. Who has been under heavy criticism over the event with some going as far as questioning his position as president of the ATP Players Council.

“He didn’t commit a crime. We all make mistakes, but I don’t understand all the criticism. I’ve been to Nice and also saw pictures from other cities. It’s no different from Belgrade during the tournament. It’s too cheap to shoot at Djokovic.”

The comments have now been blasted by Kyrgios, who stands by his previous criticism of players. Accusing Thiem of lacking an ‘intellectual level’ to see his point of view.

“What are you talking about @ThiemDomi? Mistakes like smashing rackets? Swearing? Tanking a few matches here or there? Which everyone does?” Kyrgios wrote on Twitter.
“None of you have the intellectual level to even understand where I’m coming from. I’m trying to hold them accountable.”
“People losing lives, loved ones and friends, and then Thiem standing up for the ‘mistake,'” he added.

The COVID-19 pandemic has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide and some players have voiced concerns over travelling to America which has recently seen a rise in cases. On Wednesday Alexi Popyrin became the first player to say he won’t play the US Open due to health concerns.

The ATP Tour is set to resume next month but it is unclear as to what events Thiem and Kyrgios will be playing in.

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Roger Federer Eyeing Olympic Glory At The Age Of 39 In 2021

The Swiss tennis star isn’t ready to step away from the sport just yet.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer has vowed to play at next year’s Olympic Games in Tokyo after undergoing two surgeries on his knee.

 

The former world No.1 hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January. Since then he had twice undergone arthroscopic surgeries which is a minimally invasive procedure that is used to diagnose and treat problems with the joints. Federer announced shortly after having the procedure done for a second time that he will not be returning to the Tour again this year.

Despite the setbacks, the 38-year-old has vowed to return to action at the start of 2021 with Olympic glory one of his main targets. He is already a two-time Olympic medallist after winning gold in the men’s doubles back in 2008 followed by silver in the singles draw at the 2012 London Games.

“My goal is to play Tokyo 2021. It’s a wonderful city. I met my wife in my first Olympics in 2000. It’s a special event for me,” Federer said on Monday during the launch of ‘The Roger’ shoe with Swiss brand ON.
“I had two surgeries and I can’t hit at the moment, but I’m very confident I will be totally ready for 2021.
“I do miss playing in front of the fans, no doubt. Now, I think if tennis comes back we know it won’t be in a normal way where we can have full crowds yet.”

Federer will be 39 when he returns to action, but is yet to speculate as to when he may close the curtain on his record-breaking career. He is currently the second oldest man in the top 200 on the ATP Tour after Croatia’s Ivo Karlovic, who is 41.

Besides the Olympics, the Swiss Maestro is also setting his eye on Wimbledon where he has claimed the men’s title a record eight times. However, he hasn’t won a major title since the 2018 Australian Open. The Grass-court major has been cancelled this year for the first time since 1945 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Of course I miss Wimbledon, of course I would like to be there currently playing on Centre Court for a place in the second week,” he said.
“Clearly, one of my big goals, and that’s why I do recovery work every day and work so hard, and why I’m preparing for a 20-week physical preparation block this year, is because I hope to play at Wimbledon next year.”

Even though he is not playing for the rest of the year, Federer incredibly still has a chance of qualifying for the ATP Finals due to recent changes in the rankings calculations. Due to the pandemic, players are now allowed to use their best results at 18 tournaments based on a 22-month period instead of 12 months. Something that could enable him to remain inside the top eight until the end of 2020 depending on how his rivals fair.

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ATP Announces 22-Month Ranking System To Support Players Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Parts of the changes have been done to help support those who prefer not to or can not travel to tournaments due to safety concerns.

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The ATP Tour has revised their calculations for this year’s ranking system with the governing body admitting that the new changes could also be applied in 2021 amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Players on the men’s Tour have been given a wider period where they can select their best tournaments to determine their ranking. Prior to the suspension of competitive tennis, male players were allowed to select their 18 best performances in tournaments within a 52-week period. This has now been expanded to 22 months (March 2019-December 2020). Although they are not allowed to use the same tournament twice.

In a press release the ATP says their new measures allows ‘flexibility and fairness’ with players on the tour. Furthermore, it has been designed with the possibility of the rules continuing into 2021 should the ongoing pandemic continue to disrupt the Tour in some degree. Outlining their objectives, the ATP says one of their goals is to protect those who ‘cannot or prefer not to compete in 2020 due to health & safety.’ A point recently raised by Australian player Alexei Popyrin who has voiced concerns about playing at the US Open.

“There are talks regarding the US Open but I really don’t want to go with the situation in America right now,” Popyrin said at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown over the weekend.
“But we have to see if we would be forced to go because of ranking points.
“If the ranking points won’t be frozen, then most of us would be forced to go play cause our ranking will drop and we wouldn’t have any say in it.
“But if the rankings are frozen, then I am staying here.
“I will stay in Europe where it’s safe with my family.”

As a result of the changes, it remains to be seen if this will have any effect on other players concerning their decision to play at the New York major which will be held behind closed doors for the first time in history. Some parts of America have reported a surge in COVID-19 cases with 52,228 New Cases being reported on July 5th.

Under the new calculations, no player will have less ranking points than what they currently have at present. The ATP rankings have been frozen since March 16th but will resume on the Monday after the first tournament in the revised calendar concludes.

There are exceptions to the new 22-month ruling. Qualification for the ATP Finals will still be based on 52 weeks because the event is classed as an ‘additional tournament.’ Therefore it doesn’t count as one of the 18 key events to determine a player’s ranking. Points from last year’s tournament will drop off on November 9th after the Paris Masters. The reason for doing so is to make the chances of qualifying more fair. Furthermore Challenger and ITF events will also be based on the 52-week rule because ‘events are scheduled on a one-year basis and do not have consistent spots in the calendar.’

The ATP Tour is set to resume at the Citi Open in Washington during the second week of August.

A full FAQ of the new ranking system can be read here.

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