TENNIS – ATP Monte-Carlo R. Federer/ L. Rosol 6-4, 6-1. An interview with Roger Federer
Q. How would you judge your game today? It started off a little bit difficult but then got smooth.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think you summed it up. I think it was a bit rocky in the beginning. I was able to find my way into the match. After four games you usually kind of know what’s going to work, what’s not going to work.
At the end I think I had good variation. I also came to the net some. I was effective on breakpoints. My first serve started to work better. So I just think it was a more difficult start to the match.
I thought Rosol was going to play much more aggressive early on than he did, and he didn’t. I was expecting the rallies to be shorter. When they extended, I made too many mistakes.
As long as I found a way to turn it around and stay calm, it was good. So I was very pleased.
It’s clear for me that not every match can be like the one I had yesterday. It’s not realistic. A match like this is sometimes what you need, as well, get that little fright going early on.
Q. How special is it for you to be here after not playing here the last few years?
ROGER FEDERER: It’s nice. Look, I’ve always considered playing in Monaco. Sometimes it was the good preparation. Sometimes I didn’t feel like it’s what I needed. I needed to work, stay home and do a proper buildup.
This year I don’t need necessarily a buildup because I was able to work hard in the off season in December. I’m going to have another buildup I guess after Wimbledon.
So I’m going to work hard after this tournament. Sometimes getting on the clay early is also something you’re looking for so you actually know what you really need to work on and practice. Whereas if you don’t play this tournament, an early clay court tournament, you just think what you need for what’s to come. I’m not saying sometimes you work on the wrong things, but it’s nice getting some information and playing with the other top players on the tour.
So I’m happy to be back. I kind of enjoy this tournament. It’s quite busy, a lot of people. It’s kind of stressful being on site. That’s why I try to escape as quickly as I can.
Q. You played Tsonga many times, different surfaces. Are you looking forward to the match tomorrow?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I think I’ve seen Jo play different kind of quality matches lately. So not quite sure he’s going to play, how aggressive, how passive. I’m going to have to have a bit of an open mind when it comes to that.
I didn’t play a very good match against him at the French last year. That was a bit of a disaster for me. On the other side, I played a really good match against in the Australian this year. So kind of excited to see what’s going to happen this time around.
I think he did a good job of being tough through the second set today. I think as much as Fabio kind of went away, I still think it’s his credit as well to put Fabio into that position, and he started to play actually really well and really aggressive.
I think Jo played the semis here last year, so he’s played here well in the past. I have to make sure I play aggressive myself and not become too passive just because we’re on clay.
Q. Do you see him as an inconsistent player? He lost to a 112th ranked player in Davis Cup recently. He’s a Grand Slam finalist. Do you see him as a bit inconsistent?
ROGER FEDERER: Look, he had a change in coaching, as well. I’m not quite sure what exactly they’re working on, if it’s a work in progress at the moment, if they’re telling him to do quite a few things differently. From that standpoint, I guess he only knows and he can only answer that question.
I mean, he’s still at a high level. I think at the moment he’s just missing that big tournament where he goes deep and beats some of the top ranked players. That’s maybe not quite what he’s been able to do as of late.
Losing against a guy ranked outside of the top 20, top 50, top 100, at the end of the day that doesn’t tell me much, as long as he can play up. He’s put himself into that position again now. That’s why it’s an important match for him and for me tomorrow.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.
Q. Did you follow the match between Jo and Fognini? What do you think about it?
ROGER FEDERER: Saying he lost 17 points in a row is totally unfair to Jo. You can’t put everything on Fabio’s side. You have to show some respect for Jo, who played well. It is not as if Fabio didn’t play any more.
Q. The question was rather about Fabio’s behavior.
ROGER FEDERER: We see that too rarely on the tour nowadays because now the game has become extremely professional. Seeing players who seem not to care about anything is something that doesn’t exist anymore. I believe it shows we are humans. I can relate to him, and I believe it shows we are not machines.
Q. You’re saying that the game now does not allow players to show some strong personality and be good at the same time?
ROGER FEDERER: I believe having a strong personality is not the problem. The rules are more severe. You throw your racquet or you say a word you shouldn’t say, you get a fine. But this doesn’t mean that if you don’t do that you have no personality.
More personality is your capacity to concentrate because, after all, the show is the tennis shots, not the discussions with the umpire. And with Hawk Eye, it’s almost absolute. There’s no more discussions with the umpire.
When I started playing, there was a lot of communication between the player and the umpire that no longer exists today. So you can have a strong personality and keep focused.
Q. You played 15 times against Jo. You are far ahead in the head to head. Last time was on clay in the French Open. Do you feel vulnerable right now?
ROGER FEDERER: I feel good. It’s just the beginning of the season. Both of us had the same preparation. We played indoors and we played two matches on clay. So it’s fair. I’m playing well, but I don’t know how he’s going to play.
Our match in Australia, I played good. But in the French Open, I missed that match and he played very good. So I will try to play like in Australia and he’s going to try to play like in the French Open.
I will try to use the clay to my advantage. But I don’t know what weather we will have, whether it’s going to be sunny or windy.
I’m glad he won today because it was not easy against Fognini. He put himself now in a position to go further. In Masters 1000 tournaments, the toughest thing is to go through those first rounds, and now he really is in a position of making that next step. Normally it’s after the first three rounds that we start playing better.
American No.3 Reilly Opelka Blasts ‘Shocking’ ATP Cup
The new event has been described as unfair and a embarrassment by the American.
With the Davis Cup currently under close scrutiny this week, one player on the tour have turned his criticism to a brand new team event coming to the tour in 2020.
Reilly Opelka has launched a verbal attack on the ATP Cup, which will get underway in January. The event features 24 teams playing in three cities across Australia. Unlike the Davis Cup, both prize money and ranking points are available. Many of the world’s top players have already confirmed their intention to play in the event. Although one noticeable absence will be Roger Federer.
“The ATP Cup is pathetic. I think it’s shocking on behalf of the ATP for them to pass that and allow that.” The 22-year-old told reporters in Madrid.
“It’s pretty embarrassing, actually. It’s pretty bad for the sport. It makes it (the tour) more top-heavy than it already is.”
The teams for the ATP Cup are determined by the ranking of the country’s highest ranked player. However, with only two singles players allowed to play in each team some countries find themselves in a tough spot. Once being America, who currently has eight players in the top 100. Opelka argues that due to the rules of the competition, the distribution of ranking points is unfair.
“I’m 35 in the world. I’m not going to play because I’m the second- or third-highest ranked American, and only the top two guys play.” He stated.
“It counts as an additional 19th tournament. So every player gets 18 tournaments on their ranking card. So you have to take your top 18 results, those go for your ranking. Those that play ATP Cup gets a 19th. So it’s unfair, there’s not equal opportunity for everyone.”
Opelka used the example of Moldova playing in the ATP Cup as one of the reasons why he is frustrated. The country has qualified due to the ranking of their top player Radu Albot, who is currently ranked 46th in the world. However, Moldova’s second highest ranked player is outside the top 800.
Fortunately concerning the Davis Cup, the former Wimbledon junior champion has a much more favourable view. This week is the inaugural week-long finals, which has encountered some blips already. The most being the schedule of the event with some ties now finishing until as late as 4am.
“I’m a fan of the new format. Maybe making it every two years or every three years would be I think the next step in the right direction.” Opelka concluded.
“Tennis players are pretty good at that. You don’t really know when you’re going to play matches. You can go really long, or you can go really quick. We’re used to being on standby.” He added.
This week is Opelka’s debut in the Davis Cup.
Serbia beats France 2-1 to secure spot in Davis Cup quarter final
Serbia qualified for the quarter finals at the Davis Cup at the Caja Magica in Madrid with wins in both singles matches by Filip Krajinovic over Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Novak Djokovic over Benoit Paire.
In the opening match Filip Kajinovic beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 7-5 7-6 in 1 hour and 48 minutes to give Serbia a 1-0 lead.
Krajinovic dropped two points on his first serve and earned his first three break point at 3-3 before breaking serve in the 11th game after a loose forehand from Tsonga. The 27-year-old Serbian player sealed the opening set 7-5 with a service winner.
Tsonga fended off three break points in the opening game of the second set. The Frenchman earned his only break point chance on return at 2-1, but Krajinovic saved it to draw level to 2-2. Both players held serve in the next eight games to set up a tie-break. Krajinovic earned the crucial mini-break on the 12th point to close out tie-break 7-5.
World number 2 Novak Djokovic cruised past Benoit Paire 6-3 6-3 in 70 minutes to secure the qualifying spot for Serbia in the quarter final.
Djokovic saved two break points in the first match of the opening set. The Serbian player earned a break in the eighth game and sealed the opening set 6-3 on his third set point.
Paire dropped his serve in the third game of the second set after a backhand down the line winner from Djokovic. The Serbian star hit a return winner at 5-3 to set up a quarter final clash against Russia on Friday.
Last week’s ATP Finals champions Pierre Hughes Herbert and Nicolas Mahut beat Janko Tipsarevic and Viktor Troicki 6-4 6-4. Herbert and Mahut broke serve in the fifth game to seal the opening set 6-4. Tipsarevic and Troicki broke serve in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Herbert and Mahut got the break back in the fifth game. After saving a break point in the eighth game Herbert and Mahut earned the decisive break in the ninth game and closed out the match on his first set point.
Serbia set up a quarter final against Russia, who qualified as one of the two-best-placed group runners-up by clinching second spot in Group.
Jack Sock and Sam Querrey take late-night decisive doubles clash over Italy
The clash between Italy and the USA came down to a decisive doubles match at the Caja Magica in Madrid after Fabio Fognini and Taylor Fritz won their respective singles matches.
Fabio Fognini beat Relly Opelka 6-4 6-7 6-3 after 1 hour and 54 minutes to give Italy a much-needed win to the Italian team.
Fognini earned an early break at 1-1 after two errors from Opelka and dropped just five points in five service games. Fognini did not face a break point to close out the first set 6-4 in 33 minutes.
Both players stayed neck and neck setting up a tie-break. Opelka earned a mini-break to take a 5-3 lead in the tie-break and earned three set points. The US player sealed the first set point, but Opelka converted his second chance 7-4.
Opelka saved the first break point with an ace, but Fognini converted his second chance with a forehand passing shot in the second set to take a 2-0 lead. Fognini dropped just three points to build up a 5-2 lead. Fognini served out the win on his first match point to give Italy a 1-0 win.
“I am tired for sure because it was tough. One of the things I did today was my serve, don’t ask me why. I am surprised about that”, said Fognini.
Taylor Fritz came back from one set down to beat Matteo Berrettini 5-7 7-6 (7-5) 6-2 in the second match. Berrettini saved a break point in the second game with a forehand down the line and a service winner. In the fifth game Fritz saved two break points in the fifth game. Berrettini broke serve in the 11th game to take a 6-5 and sealed the first set on his first set point.
In the third set both players stayed neck and neck til the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. In the seventh game Fritz saved a break point. Berrettini held his serve at love. Fritz closed out the second set at 6-5 after 51 minutes.
Berrettini saved two consecutive break points in the first game of the third game. Fritz rallied from 0-30 down to hold his serve for 1-1. Fritz broke twice in the third and fifth games to race out to a 5-1 lead. Berrettini saved a match point and held his serve for 2-5, but Fritz sealed the win on his second match point.
“Playing for my country is all the motivation I need. I just kept digging, kept fighting. It was really close. I lost the first set by close margin, and I told myself to tough out the second set like I know I can do, and my aggressive and fitness carried me through the third”,said Fritz.
Jack Sock and Sam Querrey came back from a set down in the decisive doubles match to take a 6-7 (4-7) 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 to give the USA a 2-1 win. The doubles match ended shortly after 4 am and was one of the latest finishes to a match in tennis history. The USA finished second in the Group F behind Canada, who secured the first spot with their wins over Italy and the USA earlier this week. Neither team was able to earn a break in the first two sets. Italy broke serve to take a 3-1 lead. Sock and Querrey broke back immediately before earning the decisive break at 4-4. The US team served out the win after 2 hours and 30 minutes.
“Reilly played a great match and Taylor came out in in a tough position knowing he needed to win. To get the doubles means a lot”, said Querrey.
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