TENNIS ATP Monte-Carlo – S. WAWRINKA/R. Federer 4-6 7-6 6-2 An Interview with Roger Federer
Q. I’m sure you’re very disappointed.
ROGER FEDERER: Not so disappointed, no.
Q. But losing against Stan, your friend, partner in our Davis Cup team, that gives you some positive thought. Maybe it’s not so bad.
ROGER FEDERER: Exactly. You make it sound so bad, and at the end it’s not so bad.
I started from not so bad to a bit frustrated that maybe you don’t win it. Like you said, I think it’s one of the those finals that I could have won. But Stan, you know, was tougher at the end. I think he deserved it just a little bit more.
Clearly it would have been nice to win that second set tiebreaker. I didn’t necessarily play a bad one, but also at the same time I didn’t quite ever get into the lead where things went my way.
Of course, I’m very happy for Stan. It’s a huge win for him after winning his first Grand Slam this year, also to win his first Masters 1000. To take the opportunities when they’re there, that’s key in a tennis player’s career. So I’m very happy for him.
Q. Is it more difficult to play with the same usual intensity against a friend with whom you have played and practiced in the morning? Did you feel something was missing today in your will to come back?
ROGER FEDERER: No.
Q. How do you explain in the last eight serves of Wawrinka, you made only six points?
ROGER FEDERER: I think he served better. He definitely found his range. As the match went on, he started to feel more and more comfortable. I struggled to put him under pressure enough. I think it was a bit of both players: him raising his game, me maybe going down a notch.
I think it’s a big match, regardless of the opponent, because it’s a finals. Playing Stan just adds to the excitement in some ways.
The thing is just that you really know the patterns well of the other player. I know patterns well when I play Novak, Rafa, or Murray for that matter. Of course, they can surprise you to a degree, but it’s more surprising when you play somebody for the first time.
With Stan, we’ve practiced so much together and played each other also quite a lot, so I really know his patterns, he knows mine. Very rarely can we really, like on match point, hit a clean winner like that. Okay, he chased the line and it worked for him.
So many points end, you know, in overpowering or out maneuvering your opponent because you know the patterns so well. That’s the biggest change I felt in the match today against somebody I know so well.
Q. Can you explain why the third set got away from you? Your level dropped? Stan was more aggressive?
ROGER FEDERER: A bit of both. I don’t think I served quite so well early on in the third set. Like I said, I think he 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.
Maybe got into some bad starts to my service games which then allowed him to sort of open up a bit. I think clearly he was relieved as well winning that second set that gave him that extra belief or looseness to his shots which he was missing a little bit midway through the second, which was normal, because he was under pressure trying to stay in the match.
Q. For sure it is the first tournament on clay. After this tournament, looking to Djokovic and Nadal, who had some problems, do you think the players who go very well to Roland Garros is bigger now?
ROGER FEDERER: What’s bigger?
Q. More players, they can play better and win Roland Garros. You and Wawrinka could possibly be winners.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, but I still think we would have had an outside chance would we have lost first round. For me it doesn’t change. It’s still the same.
Nothing happened to Rafa really. He just lost a match, which happens. But he’s fine. I’m sure he’ll be his usual self again moving forward.
With Novak it’s a bit more of a question mark. If he’s in great shape, he’s clearly one of the big favorites with Rafa. Everybody else sort of comes after that.
I think we’re right there as well with Stan now. We’ve put ourselves in positions time and time again. This was one of those weeks we were able to capitalize on it. Stan did the same at the Australian Open. I did it in Dubai. It’s definitely a good start to the season for I think all four of us really.
I would have loved to have won a second title because I’ve come close a few times. That’s my next objective, that I get to the very end more frequently. But clearly I’m happy that the clay court season started so well for me.
Q. You play so much at the net. Is this a new key of the new Federer by Edberg or…
ROGER FEDERER: I mean, I think I’ve always tried to come in to a degree. When I started with Tony Roche, everybody thought I was at the net more. When I started with Paul Annacone, everybody thought I was at the net more. Now I started with Edberg, everybody thinks I’m at the net more.
You think back, I actually was at the net, more than other players. I think I’m continuing that trend. I must say I feel actually quite confident and good at the net. I’ve definitely gone through phases as well in my career where I didn’t just quite feel it at the net. But now I think when I’m coming to net, I’m choosing the right shots to come in. I’m reading the plays well. I’m moving well at the net, even though on clay it’s always a bit tricky with not having the grip so much like on the hard courts.
It’s something I definitely have to keep on doing. I can play from the back sometimes. I can hit flat sometimes. I definitely also have to mix it up by coming forward a bit more often.
Maybe I should have done it a bit more today. But I still think I played okay throughout this tournament and also in the match today.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French for Roger.
Q. You played a lot since the beginning of the season. Did you have less intensity at the end of the match because of it? Besides, what is your schedule now?
ROGER FEDERER: I’m going back home because I need to recuperate. I played with a lot of intensity during the past month and I’m happy that I can relax. I wasn’t able to do that after Geneva. I feel that I’m tired. My body feels strange and I need to sleep.
At the end of the third set, after the fifth day in a row of playing, I might have lacked that 2% that made a difference. But the credit is for Stan. He was able to stay in the match.
Q. From outside this final, it seemed a family party with the older brother playing against the younger brother. Everybody was giving back points to the opponent.
ROGER FEDERER: Well, it was, of course, a great pleasure to share this moment with Stan. As to the line calls and everything, it was just as it normally should be between players.
I didn’t feel frustrated. I was happy for Stan. I was congratulating him. As far as I’m concerned, I focused on myself. I didn’t look at Severin. I didn’t want anybody to feel uneasy. The important thing was that everybody agreed.
It was all right with me because I played so many finals already. I was relaxed. The important thing was that Stan had to feel comfortable. Before anything else, it was a tennis celebration on a beautiful court.
Q. Did you get enough information about what you had to work on?
ROGER FEDERER: In the beginning of the clay court season, you always work on many things. It is non stop. You’re reassessing your game all the time. It was good that Pierre was there. He was able to see live how I was moving on the court.
My tennis game is pretty good. Sliding was more difficult. It was slippery at times. But the more you play, the more you get used to it. I’m very happy with this week.
Q. You were saying you were tired. Are you still going to play Rome, Madrid and the French Open?
ROGER FEDERER: That’s the plan. It’s just after those five days and playing a lot the past month that I was feeling a bit tired after the second set. I still tried whatever I could to stay in the match.
The beginning of the third set was a bit tough. He was on the rise. I tried to start my engine again, and somehow I didn’t really succeed. But my schedule is open and the plan is to play Rome, Madrid and the French Open.
Q. Here you were not far from winning. Are you satisfied with that or do you really want to be able to go one step further and win it?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you must see the positive side. Try not to be disappointed or frustrated. What I see is that if I’m in that position again, if I keep trying as I did, at a certain point it’s going to go my way, like it did in my match against Jo.
If you feel good mentally, then things are going to turn out good. Winning a Masters 1000 is never easy anyway.
ATP RANKINGS UPDATE: Novak Djokovic, No.1 once more
After the US Open the Serbian champion reclaims top spot. Alexander Zverev is back in the Top 10
By Roberto Ferri
“Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion”
Rudy Tomjanovich coined this maxim just after his Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995. He was paying homage to Akeem Holajuwon. It perfectly suits the heart of Daniil Medvedev, who proved 99% of tennis fans in the world to be wrong, convinced as they were that he would lose the semifinal to former No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.
But his dream to win a second US Open, after his triumph in 2021, was shattered by another champion, whose heart and class is even greater: that’s Novak Djokovic, who affixes his seal on his return to No.1, equalling Margaret Court Smith’s record of 24 majors.
Djokovic dethroning Alcaraz is not the only change in the top 20: Sascha Zverev is back in the top 10 after almost one year and Ben Shelton, great protagonist of the Us Open, debuts in the top 20 best players in the world.
A few comments:
Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev and Alexander Zverev gain 2 positions.
Ben Shelton devours 28 positions.
Sinner, Tiafoe, Norrie and Dimitrov lose one.
Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov, runner up and semi-finalist respectively at the 2022 US Open, drop 4 positions.
One step forward for Fritz, de Minaur, Paul, Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz.
ATP NITTO FINALS
From 12 to 19 November the 8 best players of the ranking based on the points earned in the ongoing solar season will be playing the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.
Will Novak Djokovic succeed in winning a second straight title? He appears to be heading in the right direction.
Thanks to his triumph at the US Open the Serbian overtakes Alcaraz also in the Race to Turin.
Jannik Sinner holds fourth spot while Andrei Rublev overtakes Stefanos Tsitsipas and is now fifth.
The eighth position is occupied by Alexander Zverev.
Last year runner up, Casper Ruud is currently 10th. This means he would feature in Turin as a reserve.
ATP NEXT GENERATION FINALS
The Next Gen Finals, dedicated to the best under 21s, (8 effectives and 2 reserves) of the season will take place this year in Gedda, Saudi Arabia.
The 2022 winner, Brandon Nakashima, will not be defending his title, since he was born in 2001.
Taking for granted that Alcaraz and, most likely Rune, will be playing the ATP Finals, we have included in the chart the 12 current top under 21s.
Besides Ben Shelton, other 11 players have achieved their career highest this week.
We tribute a double applause to the four players who are making their debut in the top 100.
The 25-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 22-year-old Australian Rinky Hijkata and the Swiss next gen Dominic Stricker all reap the reward for their brilliant runs at the US Open. Seyboth Wild, the Brazilian who stunned Medvedev in the first round of Roland Garros leaps to No.76 after winning the Challenger in Como last week.
Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
COMMENT: Novak Djokovic Proves His Greatness At US Open
Love him, or hate him. But respect him.
No tennis player has ever been better than Novak Djokovic.
Even Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have to take their hats off to Novak, and admire him.
Now that Rafa and Roger have left Djokovic on his own stage at least for now, tennis fans love Novak.
DJOKOVIC WENT ONE STEP FURTHER
Djokovic’s performance on Sunday evening in the U.S. Open final was simply amazing. Daniil Medvedev also played his heart out, but Djokovic went one step further. He was sensational.
It was a thrill-a-minute three-set match. It lasted well into the night after starting at mid-afternoon. The second set alone lasted 104 minutes.
Djokovic was the winner, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3, but New York still loves 2021 champion Medvedev.
A FOURTH AND 24TH TITLE, AND A 24 TRIBUTE
At 36, the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion ever, Djokovic obviously has a special place in his heart for the number four. It’s the number of times he has won this tournament and the 24th time he has won a Grand Slam title.
The number 24 also was displayed prominently on the white jacket. Novak, his team members and family wore for the victory celebration as a tribute to the No. 24 jersey of deceased friend Kobe Bryant.
Djokovic lost his footing at least three times in the tight second set, stumbling to the surface once, apparently due to the length of the rallies.
Djokovic could look like he was almost completely wiped out of it physically one minute, and then play like Superman the next minute.
THREE POINTS MAY HAVE BEEN DECISIVE
Both men played great tennis, especially in the thrill-a-second second set in which Medvedev gained one set point in the 12th game before Djokovic recovered to force a tiebreaker.
Medvedev appeared to be in charge after out-playing Novak to win one of his drop shots to take a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker. The match may have been decided on the next three points, all won by Djokovic on errors by the 6-6 Russian.
The big question now is what happens next January in the Australian Open. Right now, Djokovic probably wants to play . . . and win what has been his favorite tournament as far as success. But things can change quickly for players in their mid-30s. Just ask Roger or Rafa.
James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.
Alcaraz Fell Victim To Unbeatable Medvedev
Carlos Alcaraz was no match for Daniil Medvedev in the US Open semi-finals.
A star had to fall. There was no other way.
This time, Carlos Alcaraz was the victim. Daniil Medvedev was unbeatable.
The 6-6 Russian was everywhere, playing almost perfect tennis in a 7-6 (3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Alcaraz.
So, one former champion went down while one advanced to Sunday’s final at the U.S. Open.
And then there was Novak Djokovic, another former champion headed for the title match.
U.S. OPEN WAS THE BIG WINNER FRIDAY
The U.S. Open couldn’t lose once Djokovic dominated young American Ben Shelton, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
Djokovic appeared to be content with just winning while getting the preliminaries over with. He seemed to be a little miffed by Shelton’s cockiness. There were no hugs or embraces when the match ended. Just a handshake.
Shelton has huge potential, but it’s going to take some time before he’s ready to join the likes of Djokovic, Medvedev and Alcaraz. He’s a better athlete than he is tennis player.
Novak is ready to go for a record 24th Grand Slam title.
Believe it or not, Medvedev will be playing in his fifth Grand Slam final.
Sunday should be a great day in Arthur Ashe Stadium, with two former champs, Djokovic and Medvedev, going against each other.
CAN COCO HIT WITH SABALENKA
The women’s final will be interesting. Can Coco Gauff compete with Aryna Sabalenka?
Sabalenka looked helpless against Madison Keys’ big strokes and serves in the first set of their semifinal on Thursday.
Sabalenka couldn’t win even one game in that set. She looked helpless.
But she obviously felt all along that she could beat Keys anytime she wanted. Or why else would the powerful Sabalenka go for broke on almost every shot? And it almost cost her.
Amazingly, Sabalenka waited almost to the final moments to decide to play within her game and stop the wildness.
Once Sabalenka decided to settle down and play to win, Keys went just the opposite way, similarly to her one-sided loss to Sloane Stephens in the 2017 U.S. Open final.
Keys appeared ready to win this time as she held a 6-0, 5-4 advantage over new world’s No. 1 Sabalenka, who seemed to be stumbling all over the court as she repeatedly hit wild shots in every direction.
Just like that, everything changed. Sabalenka started hitting winners everywhere as Keys reversed roles with Sabalenka. Not only did Sabalenka win the second set while dropping just one point in a tiebreaker, she stormed through a decisive 10-point third-set tiebreaker to win the match.
James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.
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