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

Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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