ATP Monte-Carlo – S. WAWRINKA/M. Raonic 7-6, 6-2 An interview with Stanislas Wawrinka.
Q. Looks like you’re really quite comfortable here. Milos is a tough opponent.
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Is or is not?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I was going to say, if this guy is not a tough one…
The match was tough. I think I play a great match. I was really focused on my serve to be really aggressive from the first shot, to make him move, to make him work every balls.
The match can change completely. He was up two times with a mini break in the tiebreak. It’s never easy to play him. He’s a big server. He’s strong. He’s tough to play. He can play fast.
Now, I just think that I play a solid match.
Q. With your break right away in the second set, things went smoothly. I have the feeling that he couldn’t play up to his level against you.
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: You know, I just think I show him every point that the match will be tough for him. Even in the first set he was staying with me. He was close to win the tiebreak. But it was a tough set for him because he had to play his best, he had to always try something.
I just feel strong from the baseline. I feel good physically. I know that on clay courts if I play my best tennis I can beat those guys. I know it’s never easy, but I’m really happy the way I did today.
Q. Which part of your game do you think you have to improve to reach your best level in this moment?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I’m still working a lot on my game outside the tournament. I’m trying to still improve my forehand, trying to still work on the serve. It’s the same thing I’m doing since many years. Maybe that’s why I’m so good now. During the last four, five years I didn’t change. Like when things went wrong, I focus on what I want to improve, try to be more aggressive, but not be extreme, to be tough with myself every time.
I know on clay I have a little bit more time. It’s better for me. I can always make one more shot.
Yeah, I still trying to improve a lot of part of my game.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French, please.
Q. Do you think a match like today’s match shows the gap there is between players coming up like Raonic or Dimitrov, and you and the best players, the top players?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Well, I believe Raonic has improved considerably since a year ago or so. He’s winning many matches. Although he lost today, Milos has improved a lot. He won more matches than before. He used to give up in those matches, and he doesn’t do that anymore.
Today I pushed him. The first set was the decisive set because he had to fight extremely hard to stay in that set. He reached the semis in Miami. I believe he is really improving a lot in the last year.
Q. After Indian Wells and Miami where you had a little letdown, you seem to have recovered your best form.
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Well, since I’ve been here I have cleared up my head. The Davis Cup also helped me. It helped me, especially now that Roger is playing in the team. I had very positive conversations with my coach and now I know exactly what I’m looking for.
I know I am supposed to be among the favorites, but every time I play a match I am in the state of mind of a challenger who is trying to win an additional match.
Q. You will play either Federer or Nadal next round. What do you think?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I think the further you go in the tournament, the better players you’re going to have to play.
Rafa would be perfect for me because it would be a good test to know where I am right now and what I have to work on. And Roger, though I beat him last year, he seems to be in better shape this year.
Q. Can we say clay is the surface you have in your heart more than any other?
STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Let’s say that on clay there are fewer players that scare me. Of course, the hard court season is longer so I have more results on that surface. But on clay I’m not afraid of the other players, and that is a positive point for me, especially if I am confident.
Felix Auger Aliassime Goes The Distance To Win First Match In Rome
The Canadian was pushed to three sets in his opening match by Filip Krajinovic.
Felix Auger-Aliassime is into the second round of the BNL D’ Italia Masters in Rome after beating his Serbian opponent Filip Krajinovic in three gruelling sets 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.
The marathon encounter saw the Canadian hit 45 winners and 12 aces en route to victory. Avenging his loss to Krajinovic at the same tournament last year. His win-loss for the season now stands at 13-8.
” It’s always a tough match against him and I was happy I was able to win today,” the world No.20 said afterwards.
It was Krajinovic who got off to a fast start earning a breakpoint on the Montreal natives opening service game of the match and broke to take an early 1-0 lead. The Canadian responded at 2-1 earning his first two breakpoints of the match and breaking with a solid forehand winner to get the break back and go back on serve. At 3-2 the world number 20 had a chance to take the lead but it was saved by the world number 36. Nevertheless, he would go on to break for a 5-3 lead before serving out the match.
Auger-Aliassime started the second set with confidence and broke the Serb’s opening service game. It stayed on serve until the world number 20 was serving for the win when he ended up getting broken to level the set at five. The very next game the Montreal native had three looks at a breakpoint but again was denied and the second set would be decided by a tiebreaker.
The tiebreaker stayed on serve until 4-4 when Auger Aliassime managed to get the crucial break but squandered it the following point and gave his Serbian opponent a chance to serve it out which he did following a double fault.
The third and decisive set was a roller-coaster with the Canadian holding his opening service game and than having three more breakpoints which he would convert to take another early 2-0 lead. Krajinovic would respond once again earning a breakpoint the following game and getting the break back to go back on serve until 3-3 when the Serb had his first chance to take a lead in the third set but the Canadian would come up with a huge point to save it.
The next game Auger-Aliassime would have a look at another breakpoint and this time would convert to take a 5-3 and serve for the match but struggled to close it out and the world number 36 broke serve once again.
With the Serb serving to stay in the match the Canadian increased his game to another level and managed to earn two match points. Sealing his first match win in Rome with a huge forehand winner down the line.
After the match in his post match press conference Auger Aliassime spoke about how he was able to overcome the adversity of having two chances to serve it out.
” You have to believe and be resilient at times, I wanted to win badly so I dug deep and I found a way so I am happy that I was able to find a way with all the circumstances,” he said.
Auger Aliassime will next face the number eight seed at the tournament Diego Schwartzman. The Argentine currently has a 1-0 lead in their head-to-head with their last meeting coming last October in Cologne, Germany on a indoor hard court.
Alexander Zverev and Tim Puetz reach the semifinals in the doubles tournament in Madrid
Alexander Zverev followed up his win against Rafael Nadal in the singles quarter final with a 6-4 3-6 10-5 win alongside his teammate Tim Puetz against Denis Shapovalov and Rohan Bopanna.
On Saturday Zverev and Puetz will take on Marcell Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, who beat Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.
Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic battled past Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 10-7. Mektic and Pavic are bidding for their sixth title in 2021 and their Masters 1000 trophy after winning in Miami and Monte-Carlo. The Croatian team set up a semifinal clash against this year’s Munich BMW Open finalists and Singapore Open champions Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, who edged past Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek 6-3 3-6 10-5.
Five Takeaways From Men’s And Women’s Rome Draws
Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Bianca Andreescu all return to Rome next week.
Here are five things to take away from Men’s and Women’s singles draw from Rome.
Next week is the start of the next stop on the road to Roland Garros as the ATP and WTA tour heads to Rome next week.
The Italian capital will host a star-studded line-up as Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep look to defend their titles.
With another week of stacked ATP and WTA draws here, let us take a look at the five key points to take from this week’s draws:
- Nadal Set For Zverev Rematch
Rafael Nadal could have a rematch with Alexander Zverev again in Rome next week as has already faced a mixed start to the clay court season. A quarter-final defeat to Andrey Rublev in Monaco was followed by a Barcelona title before losing to Zverev in the Madrid quarter-finals this week. It looks set to be another week where Nadal could face the tall German, whom he has lost on three consecutive occasions to. Before Nadal can get to Zverev, Nadal may have to overcome Jannik Sinner and Casper Ruud, two rising stars who are capable on this surface.
- Serena Handed Good Draw On Tennis Return
Next week will see Serena Williams return to a tennis court for the first time since her Australian Open semi-final defeat to Naomi Osaka. Having had her physical struggles since the end of last season, Serena now competes in a limited schedule but will be keen to boost her Roland Garros chances next week in Rome. The 23-time grand slam champion could face Roland Garros semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska in her first match before Belinda Bencic stands in her way of a rematch with Osaka in the last eight.
- Djokovic Looks To Avenge Recent Clay Losses
After winning the Australian Open in January, Novak Djokovic would have wanted a better clay-court season than he has had after being knocked out by Dan Evans in the third round in Monaco and an epic semi-final loss to Aslan Karatsev in Belgrade. After taking Madrid off, Djokovic looks to build momentum and may have to face Dan Evans again this week in his first match. The likes of Grigor Dimitrov and Stefanos Tsitsipas await Djokovic en route to the last four where Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev will wait for the Serb.
- The Barty Party Looks To Roll On
Ash Barty is silencing the critics week by week and proving why she deserves her world number one ranking after winning Miami, Stuttgart and reaching the final in Madrid. In two of those three tournaments mentioned Barty would have played Aryna Sabalenka in the final. Although that won’t be happening in the final, she could face the Belarusian in the quarter-finals in Italy as a fairly comfortable draw has presented itself for the Australian. Barty’s first opponent will be either Martina Trevisan or Yaroslava Shvedova.
- Bianca Andreescu Returns
After suffering an injury in the Miami final and testing positive for COVID-19 in Madrid, Bianca Andreescu looks to finally settle into a clay-court season as she returns in Rome. The tricky Canadian will start off against Anastasija Sevastova or Jil Teichmann before facing Petra Kvitova. If Andreescu can negotiate the first two rounds then a dream match with Simona Halep could await in the last eight. As for Halep her Rome campaign could start against Angelique Kerber.
Here is the full ATP and WTA draw:
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