ATP Monte-Carlo, interviews Federer: “It was a tough day at the office. I'm happy I found the way to tough is out.” - UBITENNIS
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ATP Monte-Carlo, interviews Federer: “It was a tough day at the office. I'm happy I found the way to tough is out.”

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TENNIS ATP Monte-Carlo – R. FEDERER/J. Tsonga 2-6, 7-6, 6-1 An Interview with Roger Federer.

Q. You must be happy with the way you got through that. Two points from defeat. Get out of jail, so to speak.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, not only was it close in the breaker, but I think I was down 6 5, Love 30 maybe. A tough point at 15 30 as far as I remember with a half volley backhand defense kind of thing. It wasn’t looking good there. Clearly was quite frustrating for a long period of time, you know, missing all those breakpoints.

It was a tough day at the office. I’m happy I found the way to tough is out.

 

Q. What sort of explanation do you give to yourself when you are on court and you miss all those breakpoints? Do you get more and more nervous?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, it clearly gets more difficult as you go along because I really should have broken in the first three or four, I don’t remember exactly. I don’t remember what happened when, but when I had the dropshot early, then I think twice actually I had a dropshot opportunity which he played, I got to quite easily, and I didn’t win the point on one of them. It’s how did I get to missing that many?

I think it started that I should have never not broken that early. Then it got into that habit of, okay, he’s always going to be defensive on the breakpoint and I’m not going to be able to find a way to start the point neutral. That was a problem for me and something I need to fix for the next match if it happens again.

 

Q. Tsonga was saying the conditions changing seemed to favor you more in the third set, to which Stan responded with a sarcastic message on Twitter. What do you make of that, that supposedly the conditions suited you?

ROGER FEDERER: I don’t think it was that much of a change, to be quite honest. I mean, it did go through phases and it definitely got cooler rather than warmer. That’s logical.

But I don’t think, like, you know, there was any wind change or any crazy, like, quickness change in the way it played. I just think it got later in the day.

We played in those conditions a million of times. I think conditions were quite nice out there from the start of the match till the finish. Not too much wind. The ball wasn’t bouncing all over the place.

For both of us at times it was quite frustrating that we weren’t playing better. I don’t think our best matched up sometimes. When he was playing well, he was in the lead. Finally when I got the lead, I was dominating.

 

Q. You’re a very confident player. Were you surprised the way the third set went? You kept your focus and confidence. You just kept winning games.

ROGER FEDERER: Well I figured, like, winning that second set was tough for Jo. It was good for me. I just thought it was really important to hold my first service game, not kind of like play a nothing game and get down a break, then sort of give him the lead right away again. It was my opportunity to be in the lead for the first time in the match.

Then I really believed that eventually I was going to come through. It’s not possible to go through that many breakpoints. I was playing good enough to make the break and then serve my way home. That’s exactly kind of what happened.

It wasn’t just all negative, you know. The important thing was to carve out the positive stuff in my mind even midway through the first set, midway through the second set when things got tough.

I definitely think Jo didn’t serve as well or as hard as he could have in the third set. I don’t know why that is. But I took advantage of that at the end. That’s all that matters for me right now.

 

Q. It’s obviously frustrating when you have all those breakpoint chances. Were you happy with your composure? You didn’t let it show it was getting to you.

ROGER FEDERER: I was frustrated. Let’s be honest. I did chuck a ball out of the stadium. I did scream sometimes. I was aggravated to a degree, but not to the extent where I totally lost it.

I was not actually playing poorly or terribly. I was just taking wrong decisions sometimes. That kind of matched up sort of with Jo’s genius play sometimes, and his erratic play as we know it.

For me, I was just hoping my game was not going to go down because I was missing breakpoints. So I was very happy with the composure overall. That got me home at the end, I think.

 

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French, please.

Q. This is your fourth time in the semifinals. What does that mean for you to be in the semis of your first clay court tournament of the year?

ROGER FEDERER: It helps you feeling more relaxed for the following Masters 1000 tournaments because you don’t have to run after your first victory on clay. It helps you knowing where you stand. You have information about what you need to work on. Also you can be more relaxed and play without pressure which is pleasant because we often are under a lot of pressure.

I know here I am not the most favored player. But I know tomorrow might be an opportunity for a good performance for me. There’s nothing guaranteed, but I’ll try.

 

Q. Two Swiss players are in the semis here. This shows that Swiss tennis is experiencing a very good period.

ROGER FEDERER: Yes, indeed, it’s fabulous. When Stan made it into the top 10 in Rome in the finals, that was already a great moment. But now we’re 3 and 4, so in the draws we are far apart, and this is good because we have more opportunities of having one of us going further in the tournament.

What Stan has been doing during the past six or nine months is extraordinary. On my side, after my problems last summer, I am now back in better shape.

 

Q. What do you think of the semifinal coming up, either Novak or Garcia López?

ROGER FEDERER: I know Garcia López very well. He will play from the baseline. He will move well and slide well. I know what to expect against him. If it is Novak, we know he moves very well and he serves better than Garcia López.

If I play Garcia López, the match will be in my hands. If I play Novak, the match will be in his hands.

But playing Novak in Indian Wells and Dubai gave me information that I can use. I can prepare well for a possible match against Novak.

ATP

Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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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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