TENNIS ROLAND GARROS 2014 – Roger Federer’s pre-tournament interview.
Q. How, if at all, has the birth of your new sons changed your routine preparation, affected anything at all when it comes to tennis for you?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, not much, you know, to be honest. They sleep that much that I don’t feel bad yet going out of the room and coming back. It’s almost the same situation.
Yeah, no, so things are fairly normal. Clearly there is a bit more happening and there is a bit more you can do if you want to, but Mirka takes care of most of it.
Of course, you know, I hold them as much as I can, but I clearly also want to go out and about with the girls. Routines are pretty much the same, really.
Q. You did not have a lot of preparation, not the usual amount of clay matches as you’re accustomed to coming here. How do you feel about your game and how do you feel in terms of preparation for this tournament?
ROGER FEDERER: Well, I’m not sure if I have played less than in previous years on clay, because sometimes I didn’t play in Monaco. So then I also had a couple of events.
So I think it’s about what I usually always have before the French Open. The only difference is that, you know, I didn’t play a lot in the last couple of weeks. That’s usually the weeks sort of I play either I play or I play better or my best.
But playing well in Monaco was helpful in the sense that when I went to training I knew what I needed to work on. Clearly was very exciting times. For me, I feel like I’m in good shape. I know where my game is at. I’m not worried that, you know, maybe like you say that maybe there is not enough matches, all of that.
I have actually played really a lot already this season, so it also has its positives.
Again, because I was home and it gave me more time to train, I think, you know, I have become again a touch stronger in the last few weeks and months really, which was important after the year I had last year that I do take those opportunities when I have them to work very hard.
Then now after Rome it was more just staying in the rhythm and relaxing again before Paris and Halle and Wimbledon. It’s an important stretch now for me, and I don’t want to come into this tournament, you know, uninspired or tired or. That will be the worst thing.
So for me it’s really about being fresh mentally more than anything at this point.
Q. Do you feel like strong physically then, or you’re approaching the tournament just like to have more rhythm and…
ROGER FEDERER: No. I mean, I feel very strong, actually. I always hoped that around March, April time this year I was going to be feeling strong again, that I was able to catch up on the lost time I had last year.
And that’s how I feel. It’s been really solid in practice; no setbacks in matches; I have been able to back them up time and time again.
So, yeah, I’m very confident if I need to go, you know, deep in a match or play tough matches, you know, in a row.
So we’ll see also how it’s going to be with the weather. I heard it’s going to be quite difficult, especially the first week with the amount of matches there are to be played. It’s clearly also going to have an impact on the matches.
Q. I know that the French hasn’t started yet, but I want to ask you one question looking ahead to Wimbledon, and in particular Andy Murray going there to defend his Wimbledon title. What was it like for you going back to defend your first Wimbledon title? How do you think it will be for Murray?
ROGER FEDERER: I enjoyed it. Clearly there was pressure, as well, trying to defend, but I felt more pressure trying to win the first one in 2003.
I came off losing the first round the year before at Wimbledon and also here at the French Open that year.
So when I came into Wimbledon in 2003, I was just so happy to be already in the semis, so happy to be in the finals, and then when I won it was a dream come true.
Following year, you try everything you can, but I was a touch I guess more relaxed, but I was also more confident that I could do it because I also had won the Australian Open previously.
I think Murray is going to manage it well, you know. I think it’s just important for him that now he finds, you know, a very good game in the next few weeks. He already seems to make improvements as he goes along, so I think he’s probably where he kind of wants to be.
As long as he’s mentally free, I think that’s what he needs to be right now. Clearly he needs to be healthy, but that goes without saying.
THE MODERATOR: Questions in French, please.
Q. Do you believe this tournament is open, or do you think, as usual, it’s going to be between you and some very few others?
ROGER FEDERER: For the title, you mean? Well, I believe the favorite will have their say, of course. Of course surprises can happen, like in every tournament. There are very many good players with very small differences between them.
We have seen some surprises this year already with Stan, for example, in Australia. But in the French you need to play a lot. You get worn out. Some matches are really a trap. You can’t really rely on your serve to get out of it.
So I think maybe the best ones will be in the end of the tournament.
Q. What memories do you keep from the first match you played here against Pat Rafter in ’99? It’s been a long time.
ROGER FEDERER: It’s a great memory. I was very happy to be in the final draw. I had a wildcard, and I was very happy with this wildcard. You know, when you’re young and you play a big tournament like the French Open, if people think you have talent and it’s good to give you a wildcard, it’s great. I played on the Lenglen Court against Rafter. It was fantastic for me. I even won the first set.
At the time you even got bonus points if you beat top 50 or top 10 players, so I was trying to get those points. I mean, I knew I wouldn’t end up winning the match. But it’s like a carrot you give to a donkey, you know, but it was great.
Rafter was also one of my favorite players when I started playing on the tour, with Pete Sampras, and I was very happy I was able to play them on the tour.
Q. They say it’s going to rain a lot this week. Do you need to prepare differently because of that? Do you think matches can be very long, can have rain delays?
ROGER FEDERER: We try to practice in the rain. Of course we know they’re going to close down the courts, but there’s no special preparation for that. It’s the same for everyone.
The only thing is the way you manage those rain delays. Sometimes the rain starts at a very bad moment either for you or for the opponent or for the spectators, at the worst moment of the match. So this is the first week you just need to win those matches one way or another, however you do it. Even if it’s not a good game, never mind.
Like last week in Rome it was very windy, and the only thing you have to do is try your best and win that match. I was not able to do that against Chardy last week, and here it’s going to be the same with the rain.
And if you’re able to manage your way through, it’s great. But even if it’s not good tennis, it doesn’t matter.
Q. I believe you were asked this a thousand times. You changed your racquet. What can you say about that? Stan said you got used to it; it was good for your confidence.
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, that racquet gives me more power and makes it easier. I have more margin because it’s a bigger racquet, and also on my backhand when I topspin it’s better, and when I slice or I put a lot of effect on the ball, sometimes the ball flies a little bit.
At the start I was a little bit surprised, but I saw that, in fact, it was very easy for me to change racquets after all those years. Now I’m very happy because I can play very well with it.
I believe it’s very simple to play with this racquet. With the older one, I needed to struggle with it every day. So I have no regrets.
Q. Jo Tsonga was top 5 two years ago. Now it’s more difficult for him. Do you believe there is a difference between the Jo you played last year and Jo you played in Monte Carlo recently?
ROGER FEDERER: I could have lost. It’s like here last year he played very well against me. He was extremely aggressive. He was very confident, and confidence is very important for all players.
But particularly for a player like Jo, because he likes to take risks. He likes to step into the court. Of course he had changes with his coaching, his management during the past years, and I understand this might have an impact.
But I really hope he will be able to do something great here. I hope I don’t have to play him. I don’t know if he’s on my side of the draw. But I hope it’s going to go well for me.
Intriguing Team-Ups Lure Eyes Doubles’ Way. Will They Stay For The Problems, Too?
Will the recent surge in high-profile double partnerships have any impact on the long term future of the discipline?
In one of his press conferences at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Andy Murray said he would not be playing the US Open. His announcement came a day or so after his initial declaration that he would be playing only the two doubles events in the final Major of the season. A few things came out of Murray’s remarks. The first and the obvious was that the former world no. 1 was ready to give it his all (yet again) to play singles. The second, the understated aspect, was that doubles while seeming easy vis-à-vis singles required just as much focus, if not more. Then, there was a third.
In tennis’ continuity though, the relevance of the doubles game is not a recent epiphany. However, the last few tournaments of the 2019 season that featured some eclectic partnerships – Stefanos Tsitispas and Nick Kyrgios, Andy Murray and Feliciano Lopez, the Pliskova twins, Andy and Jamie Murray, and so on – has made doubles slightly more prominent than singles.
Singles has become monotonous with the same set of players making it to the final rounds. On the other hand, doubles has brought in more verve to the existing status quo of the Tour, with each player’s individuality adding to the dynamics of the team. After his first outing as Kyrgios’ doubles partner at the Citi Open in Washington in July, Tsitsipas pointed this out.
“It’s the joy of being with a person who thinks differently and reacts differently. I would characterise him (Kyrgios) as someone who likes to amuse. I’m very serious and concentrated when I play, but he just has the style of speaking all the time. It’s good sometimes to have a change,” the Greek had said.
These changes – as seen with Murray’s recent decision – may not extend for a longer period. The culmination of these short-term team-ups does – and should – not mean the end of the road of doubles piquing attention, per se. At the same time, these transitory partnerships also reroute the discussion back to the financial side of the doubles game.
In a recent interview with Forbes, Jamie Murray – a doubles specialist – shared how conducive it had become for players to take up doubles as the sole means of a tennis career these days, as compared to in the past.
“Because the money is always increasing in tennis, it is a much more viable option to go down the doubles route a lot earlier than previous generations. Before, people would play singles and then when their ranking dropped, they played an extra few years of doubles. Now it is a genuine option to start off much younger and have a career in doubles,” the 33-year-old said.
Despite Murray’s upbeat attitude, these increases have not exactly trickled towards doubles, especially at the Slams including the upcoming edition of the US Open. For 2019, the USTA showed-off yet another hike in the prize-money coffer. The men’s and women’s singles champions will be awarded $3.8 million. In comparison, the men’s and women’s doubles teams winning the respective title will get $740,000. This sum gets further diluted for the mixed-doubles’ titlists who will get $160,000 as a team.
This is the third and final takeaway that emerged from Murray’s US Open call. For several of these singles players, intermittent doubles play is an option. For those who play only doubles, that is the only option they have. The doubles game requires similar effort – travel, expenses and fitness – the costs continue to outweigh the benefits. These momentary team formations are a gauge revealing the disparity of tennis’ two sides, visible yet obliviated beyond tokenism.
Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career
Russian wild card Svetlana Kuznetsova edged top seed this year’s Roland Garros champion Ashleigh Barty 6-2 6-4 in the semifinal of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career.
Two-time Grand Slam champion Kuznetsova, who is now ranked world number 153, scored her third win against top 10 players this week after beating former US Open champion Sloane Stephens and Karolina Pliskova.
Barty missed her chance to regain world number 1 spot from Naomi Osaka, who was forced to retire from her quarter final.
Barty earned the first break of the match in the second game of the opening set, when Kuznetsova netted a backhand. Kuznetsova broke back in the third game with a smash winner and earned another break at 2-2 when Barty netted a backhand. Kuznetsova hit a return winner to build up a 5-2 lead. Barty asked a medical time-out to treat he right leg. Kuznetsova held serve at 15 to close out the opening set after 30 minutes.
Kuznetsova went up a break in the first game of the second set. Barty won just three points on return in the second set. Kuznetsova closed out the second set with three winners in the 10th game.
“I am really happy. I am not really an analyzing person, but on my intuition, I am doing so much better, not repeating so many of my mistakes, just playing smarter and wiser now. It’s been so many different things when I was off, so I just enjoyed time off. Honestly, I was not missing at all the travelling and all the stress when you play tournaments, but now I have missed it and I feel good. I feel joy staying here and being here. It definitely helped me to have some time off to see other things outside tennis”, said Kuznetsova.
Kuznetsova set up a final against Madison Keys, who beat Sofia Kenin in straight sets. The Russian 34-year-old veteran player has qualified for her first final since last year, when she beat Donna Vekic in Washington.
“Madison is extremely tough. When she is on fire, it is really hard to play against her. It’s going to be a difficult match-up”, said Kuznetsova.
David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati
David Goffin beat Richard Gasquet 6-3 6-4 on an overcast afternoon to reach the first Masters 1000 final of his career and his 13th title match at ATP Tour level at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati. Goffin has dropped just one set en route to the final.
Goffin is returning to his best form this summer under the guidance of former Swedish player Thomas Johansson. He reached the final in Halle and his first quarter final at Wimbledon. He received a walkover after Yoshihito Nishioka was forced to withdraw from the match due to food poisoning.
The Belgian player started the match with two consecutive holds before breaking at love to open up a 4-1 lead with a backhand winner down the line.
Goffin held his next service games to seal the opening set 6-3. Gasquet earned an early break to open 2-0 lead, but Goffin won five of the next six games with two breaks. The 2017 Nitto ATP Finals runner-up served out the win at love in the 10th game after 1 hour and 16 minutes, as Gasquet sent his backhand long.
Goffin reached the semifinal in Cincinnati last year, but he was forced to retire due to an arm injury.
“I am very happy. It’s a tournament I like and I have played the best tennis in the past few years. I am really happy to reach my first Masters 1000 final here. It’s a great moment for me.”
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