ATP Monte-Carlo Interviews Wawrinka: “When you win a match like this, it's only one or two points, especially in the tiebreak” - UBITENNIS
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ATP Monte-Carlo Interviews Wawrinka: “When you win a match like this, it's only one or two points, especially in the tiebreak”

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TENNIS ATP Monte-Carlo – S. WAWRINKA/R. Federer 4-6, 7-6, 6-2 An Interview with Stanislas Wawrinka.

Q. A great day for you and Swiss tennis. How would you analyze the match?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Well, I think at the beginning we were both nervous. The first set we were not moving so well because we were hesitating a lot, looking at each other both. But he did better than me. He was serving a little bit better.

Then for me was important to fight with myself. It’s never easy to play him   especially in a final.

But I did see I was playing good tennis. It was few little change to take the advantage. I start to play more aggressive, trying to push him more.

Yeah, when you win a match like this, it’s only one or two points, especially in the tiebreak. But I think I did a great tiebreak. I was serving big and being really aggressive.

Then I took the advantage at the beginning of the third set. I saw that he was a little bit tired. Me, I was playing better and better, especially moving better.

 

Q. What happened when you got the warning? Normally in the match you were relaxed, or tense and relaxed at the same time. Not many ‘C’mons’ because too much friends or what?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I did get the warning for stupid word, so was not like a big, big problem for me. I was trying to find the solution to play better tennis, not to be too much nervous.

It’s always special to play Roger. We know it’s always a strange match, especially being in the final here. He’s my best friend on the tour. We respect each other so much. I’m just trying on the court to win the match. Before and after, we still very good friend. During the match, we just try everything to win.

Today I’m really happy to take that one.

 

Q. How much confidence does your performance not just today but this week give you for the remainder of the clay court season?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: A lot, for sure. I can see that when mentally I’m there and I’m fighting, I can play tennis, I can beat all the player. That was important for me after Davis Cup to play well, to be ready for a tough match, to be ready to fight with myself.

But I did amazing job. I’m really happy after winning my first Grand Slam to win a Masters 1000 so quick. I didn’t expect. When I came here, for me it was more like a test. I knew I was playing good tennis, but I didn’t expect to win because the draw was so strong.

Yeah, again, I can see that when I’m moving well, when I’m there fighting with myself, strong with myself, I can beat all the players.

 

Q. After Australia, you were in the U.S., you had a few tough matches. But the match in Davis Cup that you won, it seems that was a turning point for you to be in this position. How do you feel about that? Do you feel more confident?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I feel great. Winning Grand Slam, first Grand Slam, it’s never easy after because a lot of things change. I did only two tournaments so so. I did lost two matches not that great.

But Davis Cup was really important for me. It’s always the goal for me to play well in Davis Cup. Playing at home, playing with Roger, playing against Kazakhstan, we knew we were favorite, but it was tough for me, especially the first two day.

After I was happy with the win. I was happy with the Sunday. It was good for me mentally to go straight to the clay and to come early here straight after Davis Cup and to be ready for the first tournament on clay.

 

Q. This year you won your first Grand Slam, your first Masters 1000. What changed in you, in your mentality, to be a good player, to be a winner?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Well, it already change last year when I start to first make my first quarter in French Open, final in Madrid, my first semifinal in US Open. I start to realize I be able to beat all the players. That’s what I am doing this year and I’m doing well.

I’m surprised where I am, but I’m not surprised when I see how I play on the court, how I move, the way I’m winning those match.

 

Q. For a long time we talked about the top four. Can we now talk about the top five with you?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I just think the big four will always be the big four: Rafa, Novak, Roger and Murray. They won all the tournaments since many years and you cannot change that.

Now it’s a little bit different. Last year Roger was struggling a little bit. Murray, his back, it’s tough for him to come back. The ranking is different, but the statistics are the same: they won all the tournaments since many years.

 

Q. Did Magnus Norman say to you something special about clay? Did he say to you, You have to do this special on clay, you can win Roland Garros, something like that?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: We start last year with Magnus. The first few days was on clay before Estoril. We start to practice there. For sure he’s saying few things different than on grass or on hard court.

But it’s all about the work we’re doing together. We’re not expecting to win tournament after one week of practice. We doing every day a good job. We trying to focus on every day to practice well, to try to win every matches. That’s it.

I won my Grand Slam on hard court, so doesn’t mean that I can only play on clay. I won my first Masters 1000 here on clay. I grown on clay. For me it’s easy to come back on clay and to play well on clay. I need one or two days and I know that my level is there.

 

Q. About clay and the movement, it seems you embrace it. Is that easy for you?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Yeah, clay, it’s natural for me. It’s easy. I’m always happy to come back on clay. It’s always easy. As I say, I need one or two practice and I feel great on clay. I feel I can slide well, I can use the position, I can use my spin, I can use the power from the back. I can stay really back and come back to the court.

It’s really easy and normal for me to play on clay court. Maybe that’s why I’m playing great tennis.

 

THE MODERATOR: Questions in French, please.

 

Q. On the court you were talking about overcoming a barrier. Can you tell us which ones and how you did it?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: I’m experiencing the best emotions ever during the past year or so. It’s incredible. This is why I’ve been practicing all those years. It’s to live those moments.

Today it was a personal challenge. Playing against Roger is always very special. He is the one who is really able to mix it up. For me, winning a match is already complicated, but against him it’s even more difficult. He always had that advantage on me. He’s used to those situations. That why the beginning of the match was a bit tough. But it was for both of us.

I saw he was tense, too. We were looking at each other. But then I was able to lead and use the conditions today. They were good for me. I was able to block his backhand by being aggressive, and I was able to control the rhythm of the match.

I believe that was the difference.

 

Q. With your good results here on clay, you will be a favorite in the French Open. How are you going to deal with that?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Well, before that there’s Rome and Madrid. After this I believe I’ll be top three. I play well on clay. It’s normal that I would be a favorite for the French Open, but I don’t think so because I’m very far from players like Rafa, Novak and Roger.

Anyway, I will not change anything in the way I approach the tournaments.

 

Q. This final was different from any other final. You didn’t seem to be enemies on the court. Roger was so happy to be able to congratulate you immediately after the match.

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Yes, this is pretty rare in sport, in a very selfish and very individual sport, not just tennis. We are friends. We are not enemies on the court. We are there to try to win, but we have a lot of respect for each other. We don’t overdo it.

Before the match we had lunch together. After the match we were laughing together in the locker rooms. That’s why also we did well in the Olympics because we did that together.

 

Q. If you’re more confident, is it okay for you to start thinking you might be the next No. 1?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: No, I’m too far from that right now. The No. 1 this year last won two Grand Slams and five Masters 1000s in a year. You have to win almost every tournament you play to be No. 1. So when I will play Rome or Madrid, I’ll think about trying to go as far as I can in the tournament and nothing else. Anyway, it’s too early in the season to tell.

 

Q. Are you thinking about your game on grass?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: Although I don’t have my best results on grass, it’s a surface I always liked. I might have better results this year because I will prepare well for this with Magnus, and I’m not afraid of that surface. I believe it’s a nice challenge.

 

Q. You’re saying you’re far from the top players, but don’t you think you can beat them?

STANISLAS WAWRINKA: When I go into a match against them, I always think I can beat them. I’m on the court to win. Now I’m more consistent and I have better results, but I still can’t compare myself with Rafael Nadal or Novak Djokovic. My career is different.

I have my own career. I’m happy with my career. I’m just trying to do well.

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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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Andrey Rublev Reflects On Recent Struggles Ahead Of Monte Carlo Title Defence

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Andrey Rublev admits he continues to struggle to maintain his emotions on the court after his disqualification from a tournament earlier this year.

The Russian world No.6 hopes to get back on track after a disappointing American swing where he won just one out of three matches played. In Indian Wells, Rublev beat ex-No.1 Andy Murray before falling in straight sets to Jiri Lehecka. Then in Miami, he lost his opening match against Tomas Machac. 

“At Indian Wells, I was so focused on trying to control my movements that I was completely stuck,” the 26-year-old recently commented
“I had no energy left, I had no strength. And in Miami, I exploded. I could no longer control myself, my actions, my nerves. I felt paralyzed, I couldn’t move.”

As to why Rublev felt so paralyzed, he acknowledges it could be linked to an incident that happened earlier in the season. At the Dubai Tennis Championships he was defaulted from his semi-final clash against Alexander Bublik for unsportsmanlike conduct after he was accused of saying an obscenity in his native language at an official. He then successfully appealed against the penalty and retained the ranking points and prize money he earned, barring a fine of $36,400 for a code violation.

“Maybe what happened in Dubai remains in my mind,” said Rublev. 

Rublev’s focus now switches to his title defence at the Monte Carlo Masters. It is the only Masters 1000 event he has won so far in his career. 

“I feel better. These last two weeks I have been training a lot. But it’s one thing to train well, it’s another to play well in a match.” He evaluated of his current form. 

Rublev has yet to defend a Tour-level title so far in his career. Should he do so, he will become only the fifth player in the Open Era to win multiple Monte Carlo trophies. 

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