TENNIS ATP MONTECARLO R. FEDERER/R. Stepanek 6‑1, 6‑2. An interview with:ROGER FEDERER
THE MODERATOR: Questions in English, please.
Q. 52 minutes. Pretty good first match for you.
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. A bit surprised how well it went. Then again, it’s hard to serve through the opponent. I was able to get a lot of returns back into play. On clay, when you have the upper hand from the baseline, it’s kind of hard to get out of it.
I think that’s kind of how it was for Radek today. I had a good start to both sets, then I was solid on my own service games. The next thing you know, you’re in the lead and you can hit freely.
It was clearly a good match to start my claycourt campaign.
Q. I do not know if it’s true or not, but apparently your tennis scheduling depends on some possible birth in the next month. Is that true? You may go to Rome or Paris depending on that, or it has nothing to do with that?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, we got to see what’s going to happen. I mean, there’s no date there that is going to be for sure or not. So we’re just waiting.
Q. Will it change?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, of course. It’s a priority for me trying to be there, trying to support my wife. Of course, I’ve played enough tennis matches. Missing a tournament or missing a match wouldn’t change anything for me.
As we don’t know when it’s going to be yet, I’m happy playing at the moment.
Q. Would that include a Grand Slam if it happened then? You’d pull out?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, let’s talk about it when it would happen. At the moment we hope it’s not going to be that way. If it is, that’s what it is, you know.
Q. Can you talk about your next Czech opponent, Rosol.
ROGER FEDERER: Rosol, surprising the way he came through. But then again we know he can play good tennis. He’s dangerous. He takes big cuts at the ball. On clay, on a slower surface, sometimes you get more chances to hit the ball big.
I think playing Stepanek, who also plays flat and tries to play aggressive, puts him in at least the same, you know, frame of mind for playing against Rosol now next.
I didn’t see his matches here, unfortunately. I think at this point, early in the clay court season, I just have to focus on my own game, make sure I play solid and tough, use the sliding to the advantage that I can. Otherwise, you know, kind of remind yourself that it is, after all, a tennis match, and you have to try to come forward to close at the net and not wait for mistakes by the opponent.
You can do that sometimes on the clay, but I’m still figuring that out as we start the claycourt season.
Q. One question that is even more difficult to answer. In six months you have to play Davis Cup against Italy. Can you elaborate a bit what that means that you’re back in the Davis Cup, if there is any expectation bigger in Switzerland because of that?
ROGER FEDERER: You say what?
Q. If you play Italy, what that means for you.
ROGER FEDERER: Clearly we’re excited that Italy won so we get a chance to play at home. It’s big for the fans and the Federation, clearly, being able to make more money. They pay a lot of money over the years for trips. Like now they’re playing Fed Cup in Brazil. It’s good for them.
Especially back‑to‑back ties in Switzerland, it clearly is going to have a bit more euphoria around the tie and the competition.
We’re happy we were able to win against Kazakhstan. It was a big relief at the end. Clearly playing at home, being able to choose the place and the surface, I think favors us even more against Italy now. But we’re aware that every tie has to be played.
At this point, like I said after the Sunday in Geneva against Kazakhstan, I hope we’re both going to be healthy and give ourselves the best chance to win.
It’s always an interesting tie. I’ve played Italy twice before in my career, in Neuchetal and in Genoa. It’s always been good ties, friendly ties.
I think this one is going to be more special because there’s going to be much more on the line this time around.
Q. Place and surface, could be Basel on grass?
ROGER FEDERER: No (laughter). I tell you the answer, I don’t think it’s going to happen. But you never know.
I think it’s going to be more or less indoors. That’s my feeling. It’s just safer. If outdoors would have been an unbelievable advantage for us, then we would pick outdoors. Otherwise September in Switzerland is a bit of a gamble.
Most likely we’ll go back to indoors. It’s just a feeling I have.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French.
Q. Why did you add this tournament to your schedule? How was it for the first match on clay?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, you are automatically entered into the Masters 1000s, but I waited because I didn’t want people to buy tickets counting on my presence if I was not going to come. I wanted to be honest with the spectators.
Also I know here it is easier to expect a wild card. I wanted to wait also after playing so much tennis to make sure I wouldn’t have any physical problems before I made the final decision.
I’m happy I’m here now. I arrived on Monday only, which is a bit late, but I needed time home after traveling so much. I wanted to stay away from the media.
This week I want to focus on tennis.
Q. So the transition to clay was not a problem?
ROGER FEDERER: I believe nowadays we no longer have this transition as we had before. Everybody knows how to play from the baseline. It’s more or less the same than on hard courts except for the sliding.
But many players are able to play well on clay now. We have more and more smaller countries, like Finland, Serbia, which play more on clay. Also European countries do well on clay. Before it was more the U.S. and Australia with grass and hard courts.
So it’s different now. The only little difference is the sliding and the bounces. You just have to learn how to use the sliding to your advantage. Otherwise the timing of the game is more or less the same.
Q. You are now at your best level physically again. Did you think you could play that well?
ROGER FEDERER: It’s a very good result today. I played solid. As soon as this season started, I was able to win against the best players. So after that period where I had a new racquet and a pain in my back, I’m very happy now that I’m doing well. But, of course, I also expect this from myself. So I’m just trying to keep up that rhythm.
I feel free physically and in my mind. I’m eager to play, I’m eager to practice. I want to play good points. I’m no longer afraid that the rally will last too long. This was getting in the way of my game last year, whereas now I can really enjoy myself.
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EXCLUSIVE: International Tennis Federation Sheds Light On Coronavirus Fight
Ubitennis has been in contact with an official from the governing body about the threat the worldwide virus poses to the sport.
The International Tennis Federation (ITF) has told Ubitennis that health and safety of both players and fans is ‘paramount’ as they continue to deal with the evolving threat posed by Covid-19 (aka Coronavirus).
Tennis tournaments have been disrupted worldwide by the illness, which has claimed the lives of more than 3000 people. Although experts estimate that the death rate from Covid-19 is roughly 1% with the elderly and people with pre-existing medical conditions most at risk. Numerous outbreaks around the world have resulted in various ITF, WTA and ATP events getting cancelled or postponed across South Korea, China and Japan. Meanwhile, the final of the Bergamo Challenger was also recently cancelled due to northern Italy being placed on a lockdown.
As experts try to conjure up with a solution to the outbreaks, sporting organisations have been placed under pressure to do what they can to minimise the disease spreading. Heather Bowler is the Executive Director of Communications for the ITF in London. In an email exchange with Ubitennis.net, she stressed that the ITF is taking a ‘case by case’ approach to dealing with the impact of Coronavirus on their events.
“The ITF is constantly monitoring the data and information from the relevant authorities about the evolution the virus and reviews the situation on a daily basis. The situation is different in each country.” She said.
“We monitor WHO notifications, review travel restrictions issued by national authorities and consult with security and medical experts to monitor the situation daily. Decisions about specific events continue to be made on a case by case based on at this time.”
The organisation is responsible for all tournaments that don’t fall in the jurisdiction of either the ATP or WTA. This includes Davis/Fed Cup ties, junior tournaments and the Olympic tennis competition. There has been doubts concerning the Tokyo Olympics going ahead on time, but organisers remain determined that this will not be the case.
Italy has one of the biggest outbreaks of Coronavirus. At least 79 people have died, according an update from the country’s civil protection agency on Tuesday. At present there will be at least 10 ITF singles tournaments taking place from now until the end of April there. Four men’s, four women’s and two juniors. All of the professional tournaments will be hosted in Santa Margherita Di Pula, Sardinia. Meanwhile the junior events are set to be played in Florence and Salsomaggiore Terme (Northern Italy).
Despite the threat, the latest stance is that the ITF has no restrictions implemented on those participating in forthcoming events in Italy. Something that could change in the coming weeks.
“We are monitoring the situation on a country by country basis but have not imposed restrictions on players participating in Italian events.” Ubitennis is told.
Italy is expected to host their most prestigious tennis tournament, the Internazionali BNL d’Italia Rome, in May.
The uncertainty caused by the Covid-19 outbreak places player’s in an uncomfortable position with many planning months in advance of what their schedule will be. For those ranked outside of the top 100, any last-minute changes will likely result in extra costs and panic about where to play instead.
“If a player makes the decision to withdraw from a tournament citing concerns about COVID-19 they will not be fined.” Bowler stated.
There are ongoing conversations between the ITF and the other governing bodies of tennis concerning the ongoing crises. At present their advice is based on information provided by the World Health Organisation in relation to certain countries. Should it deteriorate any further, there is a chance the ITF could make adjustments to their ‘global policy.’
“We are in regular communication with the ATP and WTA. Currently, the evolution of the virus remains specific to each country and decisions relating to events are made on a case by case basis.” The ITF reiterated.
“We are constantly monitoring the situation and the data provided by WHO, as well as the policies and travel restrictions issued by relevant national authorities, together with advice from expert medical and security advisors. Should the situation evolve and the need arise, we will review a global policy.”
How the ITF could review their global policy is unclear. Although in a worse case scenario, it could advise players against playing in certain countries all together if it was deemed that the threat posed was too substantial.
No fans allowed
This weekend will see countries battle it out in the Davis Cup for a place in the 18-team finals later this year. One of those ties, however will be played in mostly silence with no spectators. Japan will host Ecuador in the city of Miki. In a bid to minimise the Coronavirus threat, organisers have decided to suspend mass gatherings of people. Something that has been seen at other sporting events in the country, which is set to host the Olympics in August.
“Health and safety is paramount. We will make the necessary decisions according to the notifications of the relevant authorities and our expert medical and security advisors. The Japan vs Ecuador tie at the Bourbon Beans Dome in Miki, Japan on 6-7 March will be played without spectators. This decision was taken in consultation with the JTA (Japanese Tennis Association) following advice from Japan Sports Agency and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.”
The problem with Covid-19 is the unpredictability at present. It is thought illness originated from a market in Wuhan, which illegally trades wild animals. As experts get to grip with the science behind the illness, the world of sport is left patiently waiting and hoping for a solution sooner rather than later. Especially for the world of tennis, which hosts numerous top tennis tournaments across Asia during the final quarter of the season.
Despite the mayhem, Bowler is confident that the ITF has the relevant resources to deal with whatever occurs in the future.
“We have dealt with many issues that have had widespread impact and most have their specificities. When dealing with such occurrences, we ensure that we monitor the data closely, remain in close contact with the relevant authorities, constantly monitor and provide information, and, in consultation with the relevant experts ensure we are in the best position possible to make the right decisions about our course of action.” She concluded.
Covid-19 Impact on Tournaments
ATP Challenger Tour
-Anning, China (Week of 20 April 2020) – CANCELLED
-Seoul, South Korea (Week of 27 April 2020 – postponed to August)
-Busan, South Korea (week of 4 May 2020 – postponed to August)
-Gwangju, South Korea (Week of 11 May 2020 – postponed to August)
-Madrid, Spain (Week of 23 March 2020) postponed to October following ATP’s agreement to the club’s request.
-WTA Xi’an Open (April 13-19) CANCELLED
-WTA Kunming Open (April 27-May 3) CANCELLED
-China withdrew from competition in February
-Japan to play Ecuador without spectators
EXCLUSIVE: Daniil Medvedev On His Saudi Arabian Debut, No.1 Dreams And Russia’s Olympic Ban
The US Open finalist sat down with Ubitennis earlier this week.
Within the past 12 months Daniil Medvedev has gone from a promising future prospect to one of the top players in the world of men’s tennis.
Up until June this year the 23-year-old was yet to crack the top 10, win a Masters title or reach the second week of a grand slam event. Then shortly after the conclusion of the Wimbledon championships, Medvedev enjoyed an emphatic period of success to achieve all three of those milestones. Within a three-month period he reached six consecutive finals at tournaments ranging from ATP 250 level to a grand slam. Enabling him to peak at a high of fourth in the world back in September.
Unfortunately for Medvedev, his surge came at price towards the end of his season. Losing in the first round of the Paris Masters and then all three of his matches in his ATP Finals debut. Something he blames on mental tiredness.
Not to be disheartened by the loss, the Russian is back on the court this week. He is one of eight players participating in the brand new Diriyah Tennis Cup. An exhibition tournament in Saudi Arabia, which has on offer $1 million for the champion.
“I do think in the middle of a pre-season a tournament like this is good. You can’t just practice for four weeks without knowing how your game is at the moment. Last year I also participated in one in France (Open de Caen).” Medvedev told Ubitennis.com about his decision to play.
“This is how we (my team) decided to do the preparation this year and are going to see how it works out.”
Kicking off his campaign on Thursday against Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, Medvedev enjoyed an emphatic start. Disposing of his rival 6-3, 6-1, in less than an hour. Whilst the prize money is undoubtedly an appeal for all of those taking part, the Russian sees this week as a golden opportunity to evaluate his game.
“It is going to be important to see how my game is right now in the middle of the pre-season. To see what I need to improve more, what I need to work more on with my team.” He explained.
“Obviously after my last season, I have a lot of big expectations for 2020, but first of all I need to stay lucid and take it all match-by-match.”
Given his recent breakthrough, Medvedev is being mentioned as a potential candidate to one day claim the world No.1 position. Since 2004 only four players have managed to hold the honour – Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. To add to the pressure, former player Marat Safin has backed his compatriot to achieve the milestone in the future. Safin will be the captain of the Russian team in the ATP Cup, which Medvedev is participating in.
“I believe he can be number one in the world.” Safin told Russian media earlier this week. “His all-around game… we just need to work on certain small things.”
Despite the backing, Medvedev is staying grounded about the prospect. Insisting that he isn’t ‘obsessed’ with the world No.1 ranking. At present, he is more than 4000 points adrift from Nadal in the ATP standings.
“I have been thinking about it (the No.1 spot) since I was six-years-old, but the thing is that I’m not obsessed with it,” said Medvedev. “For example, if I was 40 and during my career, I achieved a best ranking of number two in the world, It would not change my life completely.’
“Of course working hard and playing so many tournaments you want to achieve the best ranking possible.” He added.
With his eyes on the grand slams next year, 2020 also gives Medvedev the chance to make his Olympic debut. However, it isn’t as simple as that. Earlier this week the Russian sporting federation was banned from major sporting events by the World Anti-Doping Agency (WADA) due to various violations. An investigation found that the Russian Anti-doping agency (RUSDA) deliberately tampered with athletes samples to hide positive tests.
The ITF notes that Russian tennis has never been linked to the controversy, however, players such as Medvedev will be under sanction. Unless the ban is overturned, they are only allowed to play at the event as neutral athletes.
“To be honest as a tennis player it is a little bit tough to talk about these things because I live in Monaco and we get tested in every country around the world. From 20 to 30 doping tests.” Medvedev states.
“I know what happened, but I don’t know how to react to it because I’m not in this (the Russian) federation.”
Asked if he will still play in the Olympics, which will be held in Tokyo, Medvedev cautiously replied ‘I think so.’ Although he is far from certain in doing so.
“Looking at this decision, it’s disappointing that me as a Russian player, who hasn’t nothing to do with this, will have to play without a flag. It is a little bit strange for me. I don’t know why this decision was made exactly so I don’t know if it was the right decision.” He concluded.
Medvedev ended 2019 with 59 wins on the ATP Tour. More than any other player this year.
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