ATP Monte-Carlo Interviews Federer: “I think it's one of the those finals that I could have won. But Stan was tougher at the end.” - UBITENNIS
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ATP Monte-Carlo Interviews Federer: “I think it's one of the those finals that I could have won. But Stan was tougher at the end.”

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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

Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

 

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

 

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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Matteo Berrettini Looks To Draw Inspiration From Jannik Sinner

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner ahead of his comeback to the ATP tour.

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(@TheTennisLetter - Twitter)

Matteo Berrettini is looking to draw inspiration from Jannik Sinner as Berrettini is continuing his recovery from his injury.

 

The former Wimbledon finalist has had a horrible run of injuries which has seen the Italian fall down the rankings as he is now at 124 in the world.

After suffering a horrible injury at the US Open during his match with Arthur Rinderknech, Berrettini was looking to make his return at the Australian Open as he was set to face Stefanos Tsitsipas in the opening round.

However just before the match, Berrettini withdrew as he decided to delay his comeback to the tour as he will aim to return to the court as soon as possible.

If Berrettini needed any inspiration then Jannik Sinner’s triumph at the Australian Open could be that much needed spark as the Italian beat Novak Djokovic on his way to capturing a first Grand Slam title.

Speaking an interview Berrettini explained that he is still not 100% and admits he is looking to draw inspiration from Sinner’s form, “I’m better, but I’m not yet 100%,” Berrettini was quoted by Tennis Infinity as saying.

“The goal is to play the whole season, and without these setbacks which are destroying my body and my head. Sinner did a miracle. I will also use this energy for my tennis. I was happy with what Jannik said.

“We have a good relationship, which has strengthened in recent months. We are different but similar. We are pursuing the same dream.”

Berrettini will hope Sinner’s success will have a positive influence on his recovery and quicken his return to the tour as the former world number six aims for a successful return to the tour.

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