TENNIS – Roger Federer beat defending champion Novak Djokovic in straight sets with 7-5 6-2 in 75 minutes in the semifinal of the Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters setting up the first ever all-Swiss final against Australian Open champion Stan Wawrinka at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. Diego Sampaolo
Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic met for the 34th time in their career. Before today’s match the Swiss won 17 head-to-head clashes against the Serb including two matches played on the clay surface of the Monte-Carlo Country Club.
The first set went on serve until 4.4 when Federer went up 30-0 on Djokovic’s serve before earning the first break point of the match but Djokovic saved it to go up 5-4 in the first set. In the 10th game Djokovic created two break points on set points at 5-4, 40-15 but Federer managed to save them with a fantastic drop shot.
In the following game Roger went down 0-40 on Djokovic’s serve but he clawed his way back to break serve for 6-5 before closing out on the first set point with an ace after 50 minutes. In this game Federer produced a spectacular backhand stop-volley.
Unfortunately Djokovic was affected by a wrist injury which hampered him during the second set. Federer broke serve twice in the third and in the fifth games to cruise to a easy 6-2 on the first match point after 74 minutes to reach his fourth final in the Principality. In the third game Federer converted his first break point. In the fifth game Federer earned two break point chances. Djokovic saved the first break point but Federer converted it at the second opportunity when Djokovic sent a backhand wide.
He was unopposed in the second set where he dropped just five points on serve.
“It was just a match to forget for me”, said a very disappointed Djokovic. “It’s unfortunate that when you are playing at this level against Roger, something else is taking away all your energy and effort. This injury has been present for the last 10 days but I tried not to think and talk about it. I did everything I could really. I was on the medications every day. I was doing different therapies and injections. At the end of the day the semifinals are a good result for me. From the end of the first set and the whole second set every shot was pain, especially with the serve. I am not trying to take away from Roger. He deserves to be in the final. I am just very disappointed I was not able to give better effort”, said Djokovic
“I did not want to pull out because people then start talking different things about me and my withdraws. I am going to go and see doctors tonight and tomorrow I will have another MRL to see if anything has changed in the seven days since I had the last one. The good thing is that I don’t need to have surgery. I don’t have any rupture or something like that. I just need rest now”, said Djokovic.
In his previous three finals at the Country Club Federer lost three times in a row against Rafa Nadal in 2006, 2007 and 2008. He will be chasing the 22nd Master 1000 title and the first since his last triumph in this category of tournaments since Cincinnati 2012.
With this win Federer broke Djokovic’s 13-match winning streak which included the Indian Wells-Miami double. The Serb’s dream to win five consecutive Master 1000 titles after Shanghai, Paris Bercy, Indian Wells and Miami came to an end. Before Monte-Carlo only two players Nadal and Djokovic had won all the Master 1000 Tournaments since the start of 2013 but tomorrow a Swiss player will break the Djokovic.Nadal duopoly.
Wawrinka won the first semifinal against David Ferrer in straight sets with 6-1 7-6 (7-3).in one hour and 29 minutes. Wawrinka dominated the first set cruised to 5-0. Ferrer, who ended a 17.match losing strike against Rafa Nadal on clay in the quarter final, won his first game of the first set after 29 minutes. The second set came down to the tie-break where Wawrinka stormed out to a 4-0 lead before converting his second match point at 6-3 when Ferrer hit a backhand into the net.
Federer will chase his 22nd Master 1000 title and his first ever Monte-Carlo crown, one of the very few titles missing from his trophy cabinet. Wawrinka could add his first ever Master 1000 title to his Grand Slam win at the Australian Open last January. The Lausanne player already played in two Master 1000 finals finishing runner-up to Novak Djokovic in Rome 2008 and to Rafa Nadal in Madrid 2013
Federer has won 13 of his 14 previous matches against Wawrinka and their last 11 matches but this year’s Australian Open champion took his only win against the 17-time Grand Slam champion on the Monte-Carlo clay in 2009.
Federer will chase his second win this year on tour after winning in Dubai. He will lay his second Master 1000 tournament after losing at Indian Wells against Djokovic in three sets.
If Federer wins tomorrow’s final he will overtake Wawrinka returning to World Number 3 in the ATP Ranking but it will not be easy as Wawrinka reached the final without dropping a set in the whole tournament.
“For me it’s a bit of surprise to be in the finals again of a tournament this year, especially the first on clay. I feel like I have put in the performance to be there. I gave myself the opportunity this week. I am very happy with my play. Now I set up my dream final against Stan It’s very very exciting time for Swiss tennis and Swiss fans. It’s incredible that we are in the final together. It’s so rare that we are able to have this moment together on a centre court. This is very special, especially with the way Stan has been playing in the past few months, It’s nice living a moment like this together in a final. It’s really wonderful. It’s going to be a wonderful day tomorrow”, said Federer.
“I saw that Nole was struggling at one point. For me it was just making sure that from my side I was playing a good, solid, tough match with some defensive play sometimes, but mostly trying to stay on the offensive as much as I could. I was able to deliver on my side, which was the key”, said Federer.
Federer and Wawrinka met for the last time in Monte-Carlo five years ago. Wawrinka won his only head-to-head clash with his compatriot. That match took place just a few days after Federer’s marriage to Mirka.
“I remember that the conditions were rainy similar to those we will experience maybe tomorrow. Five years ago I was on my honeymoon. I married on Saturday and I came over here and played against him on Thursday. Stan played well. It was one of the matches I never go into it. Stan was better.”
French Tennis Star Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Shares His Experiences With Racism
The grand slam finalist opens up about what it for like being the only ‘half-breed’ in his school as well as other problems he has experianced.
Former top 10 player Jo-Wilfried Tsonga has become the latest sporting figure to speak out about his personal struggles with racism in the wake of mass protests gripping America.
Dozens of cities in the north American country have been placed under overnight curfews following violent demonstrations that have resulted in various injuries and looting. The outcry started when an unarmed black man called George Floyd died whilst being arrested. Video footage showed that a police officer was leaning on his neck which resulted in him dying from asphyxia, according to a private post-mortem paid by his family.
The incident has sent shockwaves throughout the world with various top names speaking out against the use of disappropriate force against minority groups. Speaking about the situation, Tsonga said that racism is a problem everywhere before sharing some of his own personal experiences.
“This type of behaviour that we see frequently in the United States, but that’s on another scale, is repeated continuously throughout the world, is unbearable for me,” he told radio station France Info.
“Such an event removes the consciences of everything and shows how necessary a change is.’
“The non-acceptance of the difference and racism, as well as other issues, such as sexuality, religion or sexual orientation, continue to be used as an excuse to commit atrocities.”
Growing up the 35-year-old said he was singled out as a youngster for being a half cast. His mother is white and father is black. The problems he encountered took place both during and outside of school. Tsonga was born in the French town of Le Mans, which is famous for its annual 24-hour Motor sport race.
“Since I was a child I have had to regularly experience racial discrimination and inappropriate comments,” he said.
“I was the only half-breed in my elementary school, so you can imagine what was happening.’
“All of them were nicknames, insults, I had to bear that when I was a teenager I was continually stopped on the street asking for my papers, people who met me covered their bag as if they was afraid I was going to steal from them and they wouldn’t even let me pass in some places when I went with my friends.”
Whilst nowadays France has grown to be a much more tolerant country like many others, incidents such as the one involving Floyd proves that there is still much more needed to be done. As for Tsonga, he hopes his son Sugar, who was born in 2017, will not go through the same as him.
“There are still a lot of people who make offensive comments without realizing it because discrimination is so ingrained that for many it is not even so. But there are words that can hurt a lot. I have had a hard time finding my place and my identity; I just hope that my son doesn’t feel like a stranger wherever you go,” he concluded.
Tsonga is the last Frenchman to contest a grand slam final at the 2008 Australian Open. So far in his career he has won 18 ATP titles and peaked at a ranking high of fifth back in 2012.
Juan Martin Del Potro Splits From Coach
The tennis star has announced a big change to his team.
Former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro is on the hunt for a new coach after agreeing to end his collaboration with Sebastian Prieto to continue focus on his rehabilitation from injury.
Del Potro has been working alongside Prieto since 2017 and achieved a series of career milestones under his guidance. Including winning his maiden Masters 1000 title at the 2018 BNP Paribas Open and reaching a ranking high of third in August that same year. Their decision has been made to allow Prieto to focus all of his attention on Juan Londero. Another Argentine player who is currently ranked 62nd in the world.
“I want to share that I have agreed with Sebastian Prieto to end our partnership, so that he can work with Juan Londero, while I continue my rehab process,” Del Potro said on Twitter.
“I’m very thankful to Piper for all of these years together. He is a great coach and even a better person. All the best!”
45-year-old Prieto is a former ATP player who peaked at a ranking high of 22nd in the doubles. During his career, he won 10 Tour titles with all of those occurring on the clay. He also reached the quarter-finals of the men’s doubles tournament at the 2003 French Open.
It is currently unknown as to who will be taking over as Del Potro’s new coach. The former grand slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match since last June due to a serious knee injury. At the Fever-Tree Championships in London, he fractured his right kneecap and was forced to undergo surgery to repair it. The second time he had to undergo that procedure within as many years after also suffering a similar injury at the 2018 Shanghai Rolex Masters.
Del Potro is currently undergoing rehabilitation and it is unclear as to when he will be able to return to the Tour again. All professional tennis tournaments have been either suspended or cancelled until at least July 31st due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although both the US Open and French Open are hoping to go ahead as planned.
So far in his career, the 31-year-old has won 22 ATP titles and earned almost $26 million in prize money. Earning more money than any other player from his country in the history of the sport.
Novak Djokovic On Why He Didn’t Post Details Of Lockdown Training
The Serbian tennis star has shed some light on his recent training routines as he outlines plans for a Balkan tennis tour.
World No.1 Novak Djokovic has been training almost daily since the world of tennis came to a halt due to the COVID-19 pandemic but opted to keep his activities out of the limelight to avoid any potential backlash from fellow players.
The ATP Tour has been suspended since March due to the Pandemic with officials hoping to restart the sport in some capacity during the summer ahead of the US Open. Nevertheless Djokovic, who started 2020 by winning 18 matches in a row, has been able to continue practicing in Marbella. He and his family were staying in a house located next to a tennis court.
Speaking with Serbian reports on Monday, the 17-time grand slam champion admitted that he didn’t want to ‘anger’ others by posting updates on social media of him training. Showing that he has been able to stay active more than other players during the lockdown.
“I had the opportunity to train almost every day during coronavirus because we stayed in a house next to a tennis court. I played a lot of tennis on a hard surface, but I didn’t upload anything on the net so as not to anger other players,” he told The Telegraf.
“I started recently on clay, I had two training sessions here, I feel good physically. I was quite active, I followed my program. Of course, the intensity decreases because I was not preparing for tournaments.”
With uncertainty surrounding when the Tour may start again, numerous countries have created their own domestic tournaments. In Djokovic’s case, he is the founder of his own event that will be played across the Balkan region. The Adria Tour is set to take place between June and July with three top 20 players set to participate. Besides Djokovic, Alexander Zverev and Grigor Dimitrov are also taking part.
“I started the whole idea of the project and I communicate every day with TSS (Serbian Tennis Federation) and the company that organizes all this,” said Djokovic.
“The current international competitions, ITF and ATP will not happen before the first of August, and even that is uncertain. Afterwards, I will have time again if things resume on a hard surface in America, because I will have a month to prepare for the continuation of the season.”
Should it all go to plan, the clay-court tournament is set to be played in Belgrade (Serbia), Zadar (Croatia), Montenegro and Banja Luka (Bosnia and Herzegovina). Although it has been confirmed that the locations of the Bosnian and Montenegrin events are still not fully confirmed with the possibility of Sarajevo hosting one leg of the tour. Sarajevo hosted the 1984 Winter Olympics.
Prior to the Tour suspension, Djokovic was unbeaten in 2020. He started the season by winning three consecutive titles at the ATP Cup, Australian Open and Dubai Tennis Championships. Those triumphs enabled him to earn prize money of $4,410,541. He also earned just over $70,000 from playing doubles so far this year.
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