Roger Federer: “This was just a steppingstone to many more great things in the future” - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer: “This was just a steppingstone to many more great things in the future”

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 6th of July. N. Djokovic d. R. Federer 6-7, 6-4, 7-6, 5-7, 6-4. An interview with Roger Federer

 

Q. I’d like to know what do you think about this match, if you think you played better than those two finals that you won versus Murray and versus Roddick? In my opinion, the level of the match today was probably better. I don’t know if you agree.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I cannot agree just because it’s totally different matchups, you know. With Roddick it was more of a serving contest; with Murray it went from outdoors to indoors, so much on the line, so much pressure. He’s a different player to Novak entirely that I can’t really compare.

I thought the match was a good one, you know. I thought it had everything for fans to like, I think. The swing of momentum in the first set, him coming back in the second, you know, staying even in the third, all the back and forth in the fourth set, and then the drama of the fifth.

From that standpoint, I thought it was an interesting match. The level I thought was good. I don’t feel I necessarily played my absolute very best because I couldn’t break for over three sets. For me that was disappointing.

But I thought Novak played well in those areas and on his serve and make sure that he didn’t have any letdowns there.

No, I thought it was a great match and I enjoyed to be a part of it.

 

Q. It was a high-quality match. Maybe men’s tennis is getting better and better. What do you think is the resemblance of those new guys coming compared to the four of you that have been there for so long?

ROGER FEDERER: The resemblance?

 

 

Q. Maybe I am saying the wrong word. How can you describe the up-and-coming guys compared to the four of you that are up there now?

ROGER FEDERER: We all made the breakthrough much earlier than most of the guys. Not just a match here or there. I mean, I can’t put myself in the league of Rafa because he was one of the best teenagers we ever had besides Bjorn Borg.

I wasn’t that guy. I was, I guess, better at 21, 22 or 20. That’s when I started to make my rise.

So there’s not that many young guys. There’s really only one teenager in the top 100 and we wish we had more. The other guys we’re talking about are all 22, 23 and have been already on tour for five years.

Nevertheless, it’s exciting. But you cannot compare them to Rafa, Novak, or Murray, who were incredibly good already at a young age.

 

Q. Can you describe what it’s like coming back from the almost dead a few times in this thing? What was going through your mind, the kind of fortitude you had to have to keep battling?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I just kept going, you know. I couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t breaking Novak’s serve or actually creating opportunities. You know, I think it’s one thing not to break. That can happen if the other guy plays well in the big moments and all that stuff.

But it was really not creating enough opportunities to put Novak under pressure, you know.

It’s really only until the fourth set when I was down a break that I started to understand more how to return him, which was a surprise for me because I’ve played him that many times.

I think, like I mentioned before, he was doing a good job on his serve, making a lot of high first-serve percentage, staying aggressive from the baseline, not making any easy errors, all that stuff.

I kept believing and kept, you know, and kept trying to play offensive tennis. I’m happy it paid off in some instances. As you can imagine, I’m very disappointed not being rewarded with victory.

But it was close, you know. Novak deserved it at the end clearly, but it was extremely close.

 

Q. What does go through your mind when you see Mirka and your family there? What was your switch in terms of returning Novak’s serve and putting pressure on him later in the match?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I just felt like I changed, you know, the way I approached the return, then also how I played the rallies from the baseline because I felt like there was opportunities and options for me to do different things.

You know, but for some reason it never ended up being 15-30, 30-All, putting Novak under pressure enough, so he could always free serve, free swing, and take chances on his second serve.

Yeah, so I felt like that was my biggest problem really overall. I think that’s where I lost the match. I served well myself throughout. I feel like if I would have returned better or would have understood it earlier or if he would have helped me out just a little bit things could have been quite different, you know, today.

But, like I said, credit to him for, you know, doing it also for as long as he did, until the fourth when things got a bit crazy, you know.

Like I said, it’s wonderful playing in front of not family because they weren’t there till the very end, but it’s nice sharing that moment with friends and family on such a big stage really.

 

Q. Rightly or wrongly, many tennis fans will be wondering whether that could be the last time they see you in a Wimbledon final. Do they have a point, or does a performance like that give you renewed belief in yourself as you go into the 30s?

ROGER FEDERER: You could have asked me exactly that question in 2003.

You don’t know. Totally the unknown. That’s the disappointment of an Olympic result, of a World Cup result, Wimbledon result, whatever it is. You’ve just got to wait and see.

There is no guarantee that you’re going to be ever there again or not. Or maybe there’s much more to come. It’s really impossible to answer that question.

I’m very happy to see that with feeling normal I can produce a performance like I did the last two weeks. That clearly makes me believe that this was just a steppingstone to many more great things in the future.

 

Q. How much did you feel like you had the momentum in the fifth set, and how big a moment do you think the breakpoint he saved was?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I thought it was an even match in the fifth. I didn’t feel like unbelievable momentum in the fifth. It was big, you know, to get it.

I think once he held once or twice I think that was important for him, but it also was important for me not to be broken, because that’s exactly when one of the players can have a letdown. I don’t think we both had that.

So it went, I don’t know, step for step for both of us. I do believe I had my chance there when I had breakpoint. Maybe if I make the pass and make him hit a dink volley, I mean, you know, I would have liked to see what would have happened.

But credit to him to hit the big first forehand, hit another big forehand, follow it to the net, and be brave on it. I tried the same, to come to net, when it really mattered. Unfortunately at the very end he got me.

It was a tough finish, but it was extremely close.

 

Q. What is the most positive thing that you bring back home after a final like this: The fact that you’re physically fit again, no problems with the back? You served fantastic?

ROGER FEDERER: You know, I think that’s it. To be able to play consistent great solid tennis with some really nice things to look back on, you know. Good emotions again, even though it was rough at the end clearly.

Very happy to see that I can do it week for week, match for match, you know, point for point. It’s all right there.

It’s been a very positive last couple of weeks for me when I won Halle as well. I’m looking very much toward a vacation and working out hard again to get myself in shape for the American summer.

 

Q. You have a positive attitude in the match. You did lose, but you lost on your own terms in a way because you kept coming in and you tried to create opportunities. Do you feel like that?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I did feel that way. You know, I mean, I think Novak tried as much as he could to play offensive, as well. I don’t think he can play much more offensive than he did, and still I felt like he was on the edge of things, as well.

So from that standpoint I’m very pleased with the way things went throughout the match, you know. So I thought it was a high-quality match and it was good stuff from both players out there. I think clearly we both walk away happy from here. I mean, him more happy than I am.

But still, I’m happy overall.

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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?

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Cincinnati Open, Western and Southern Open, Andy Murray, Feliciano Lopez
Photo Credit: ATP Tour Twitter

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.

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Svetlana Kuznetsova upsets Ashleigh Barty in Cincinnati to reach the 42nd final of her career

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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.  

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David Goffin reaches his first Masters 1000 in Cincinnati

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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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