Roger Federer: “Once he did have a letdown physically I was able to capitalize on that” - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer: “Once he did have a letdown physically I was able to capitalize on that”

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 2nd of July. R. Federer d. S. Wawrinka 3-6, 7-6, 6-4, 6-4. An interview with Roger Federer

Q. After the disappointments of last year, what does this year mean to you reaching yet another semifinal at Wimbledon?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, there was a lot on the line today playing against Stan, you know. Quarters sort of shows the direction on how you’re playing and all these things.

I’m really pleased to have come through. Like you said, last year was a major disappointment for me because I always see Wimbledon as one of my main goals of the season, side-by-side with rankings and some other highlights that I choose that there are for me.

I try to be in the best possible shape, so last year was rough. I was very disappointed. Went back to the practice courts. Didn’t have any options left at that point.

So I’m happy that one year later I’m back in the semis and with a chance to go further.

 

Q. You’re playing either Raonic or Kyrgios. Yesterday Kyrgios said you were his big idol, it would be a dream come true to meet you. Do you have a similar story when you met your big idol?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I did have that moment here on Centre Court in 2001 when I played Sampras. That was my big moment. It was my first time on Centre Court. It was my first and only time I ever played against Pete. Huge occasion. Five sets. Had it all, you know.

I’m happy we never played after that, you know, so that one remains the only one for me.

Clearly I’d like to play against him, too. He came to Switzerland to practice with me actually the week before Rome I think it was. We had a great time together. Had good intensity. I already thought he was playing unbelievably at the Australian Open.

It was nice to see how he works and how he plays in the practice. I think he’s going to rise up the rankings. It’s not hard to predict because he will during this tournament or afterwards. It would be cool playing here in the semis with the ranking he has. It’s an amazing story.

We like these kind of stories from time to time in the tennis world, a youngster coming through the rankings so quickly.

 

Q. Is it more difficult playing against a friend and a compatriot, or are you able to shut that out when you’re on court?

ROGER FEDERER: I was thinking about it midway through the match actually. I was like, Oh, I’m playing Stan kind of thing. It hit me midway through the second set.

So, yeah, I mean, it goes in phases. You need some energy to push yourself. You want to win the match. You don’t necessarily want to beat him, but you want to win the match. So that’s the odd part. It plays its role during the match.

I still felt I was able to focus well and play as good as Stan allowed me to play, because he was playing really well right out of the gates. He came out and was crushing the ball, forehand and backhand and even serve, so it was very difficult for me.

I’m happy that throughout the matches we’ve played against each other I didn’t have a huge problem playing against him, even though it is unusual playing a friend and unusual playing especially a compatriot.

 

Q. I think Novak was saying on TV the other day he asked you about being a father, becoming a father. Is that the case? What did you tell him?

ROGER FEDERER: I told him what he wanted to know. Just answered his questions.

 

Q. What did he ask you?

ROGER FEDERER: That’s a conversation between him and me.

No, he just asked me how life was on the road, how it is to be a dad. I think it’s what like every dad, soon to be dad goes through. You want to get some information, something you can wrap your mind around. I think he’s super excited. He’s very happy. I’m very happy for them.

So he’s going through that period, which is so cool. I think it’s some of the best moments now leading into it, and then right after where I am now. If he can ask anybody, it’s me clearly.

Yeah, I was happy to share my things with him that worked well and didn’t work well for me in the past.

 

Q. What do you make of the period we’re in right now where there are these young guys on the rise and the four of you who have dominated the majors for nine years still in a position for competing for those?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it’s exciting, you know, for the game to see new faces like Kyrgios, now Raonic or Nishikori, you name it. There’s been a few guys knocking on the door now. Still don’t have enough teenagers like I would hope we had.

It’s just hard breaking through. The points, you fetch them from semis on, not really quarters anymore like it used to be. So it’s hard I think for a youngster to win or be consistent over three, four, five matches in a row where the big points are.

But other than that, I think it’s good times in tennis right now. There’s a lot of excitement. Stadiums are always pretty much full on Centre Court, which is great. Seems a lot of press traveling the world to see what’s going on.

I’m really happy playing in this time really.

 

Q. Once you get to the semifinals do you relax a bit because it’s been such a big tournament, or do you step up the pressure because the matches get bigger?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, it’s a different situation because I played back-to-back days. I’m really looking forward to a day off tomorrow. Good thing yesterday was that I finished early. Really I felt like it was half a day off afterwards.

Now it’s late. I don’t have much rest today other than sort of really treatment, get through the press, have dinner, and then go to bed really.

So tomorrow’s a big day for me where I can let it all sort of sink in a bit, you know, like what’s been going well for the last nine days or so and what do I need to do to get to the finals.

I can really prepare well. It’s a comfortable place to be. I must say, I know there’s pressure, but the confidence is there. You know there is a chance now to go a step further because you trust your game. That’s where I am right now. I’m really excited about the next couple days now.

 

Q. You move very well and you serve very well. In the end it was hard. Stan was really fighting for the last points. How is your confidence? In Monte Carlo he came back and won the match. Did that go through your mind because he was fighting so hard?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, in Monaco he got better as the match went on. Here he really came out of the blocks unbelievably strong. I think he had some physical issues at some point midway through the third maybe. It was more visible. He wasn’t like cranking his serve as much anymore, he wasn’t hitting as hard and moving as quick as he was in the first couple.

So from that standpoint I was able to take advantage of that, which is very important. Even though he did have breakpoints back at the end of the fourth, it was just still good to have that break lead. Even if he would have come back it would have been 5-All and still I didn’t have the back against the wall yet.

I mean, I was calm to a degree. I was nervous, too, that he would get back in the match. Then you don’t know if all of a sudden the adrenaline gets him back into the match entirely. But difficult have the upper hand for most of the match.

Once he did have a letdown physically I was able to capitalize on that, which was important today.

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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