Roger Federer: “Stefan is clearly a piece of the puzzle, so is my fitness coach, Severin, and everybody around me” - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer: “Stefan is clearly a piece of the puzzle, so is my fitness coach, Severin, and everybody around me”

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 4th of July. R. Federer d. M. Raonic 6-4, 6-4, 6-4. An interview with Roger Federer

 

Q. You chose not to serve at the toss?

ROGER FEDERER: Why did I do that? Yeah, I think wind was coming from that end, so I felt like I’d rather start from that end even though then your first service game is always going to be against the wind.

That’s why I said my first service game was important against the wind to hold. It wasn’t like blowing like crazy, but sometimes that can make a minor difference, you know.

 

Q. You returned to the Wimbledon final again. I think this is a positive sign for working with Stefan Edberg. What do you think about that?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, look, it’s going really well. My game’s back where I hoped it would be, you know, from one year ago. Things were difficult all of last year, most of the year, so I’m happy I worked hard off the court, you know, to get myself back into shape and back into contention for tournaments.

This year’s been very solid. I’ve reached a lot of semis and finals. I also got two titles already. So I think that really gave me confidence to believe that I could go a step further.

Stefan is clearly a piece of the puzzle, so is my fitness coach, Severin, and everybody around me. They make it possible for me to wake up every morning motivated, healthy, fit, and eager to play.

It’s clearly also a team effort to a degree.

 

Q. All fortnight we’ve been talking about Wawrinka, Kyrgios, Dimitrov, and Raonic as being ready to step up and smash open the old guard. Does today show that you aren’t quite ready to let go yet?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I don’t know. I don’t know who said it. I didn’t read any press here really, to be quite honest.

It was always going to be hard to get rid of all four guys at the same time, let’s just be honest. It was probably going to inevitably going to be one guy around, maybe two. Really, there’s none, it’s a big shock. That was the case in Australia. There was one left in the final; here is again two; at the French it was two.

From that standpoint, I said it before the tournament, it’s probably going to be one of the guys we expect to be in the finals. Novak did his end; I was hoping I was going to be the other one. So I’m very happy with that.

But Milos and Grigor both have been around for a while. It’s not like they came about just this year. They’ve been on tour for five, six years now, so it’s not somebody entirely new.

But with Kyrgios, he’s a totally different situation. We hope we have more of the Kyrgios type, you know, the teenagers coming through.

But I am happy to see that Grigor, Milos, all those guys are knocking on the door now more consistently. Also Nishikori and other guys.

We’ll just see how the year plays out, if one of those guys or a few guys can make it to the World Tour Finals at the end of the year.

 

Q. You said this week you don’t have any confidence issues to deal with anymore. How are you feeling now that you’ve gone through your semifinal in straight sets?

ROGER FEDERER: I mean, look, confidence is always a bit up and down, but it’s important to reach a certain level where you trust your game, you play and trust yourself in the big moments.

Then also physically, you know, you can do five sets, you can do seven times five sets. That’s what the mindset has to be before a Grand Slam. I felt this way before this tournament.

Especially now things get easier just because you know you have one match left. I have a lot of energy in the tank.

From that standpoint I clearly am very excited for the finals because that’s how you want to feel before a finals, totally energized and eager to play.

 

Q. How would you describe your history with Novak and the key aspects of your game and his when you play each other?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, we both like to be close to the baseline. We both like to take charge, especially on quicker courts. He has a wonderful way of either redirecting or taking the ball early, you know, taking pace from the opponent, even generating some of his own.

So I think that’s what makes him so hard to play. There’s not really a safe place you can, you know, play into. Like back in the day there was many guys where you just knew, Oh, this guy is a bit dodgy on the backhand. Let me play that and then build up the point from that.

Novak can hurt you down the line or cross court on both sides. He’s really improved now through the years. I’ve seen him come through the ranking. His forehand, his serve, his movement clearly is what stands out the most at this moment now. He’s really been able to improve that and make it rock solid.

I think for me it’s really important to stay aggressive against him. And especially here at Wimbledon it’s more simple how we need to play against each other. It’s not like on a slow court where you can maybe manoeuvre the other guy around so much.

I think on grass it’s a bit more straightforward and I think we’re both aware of that.

 

Q. If you had to summarize your history against each other in this long rivalry, how would you best describe it?

ROGER FEDERER: Athletic. It’s been good. I must say I’ve enjoyed the matches against him. We didn’t come through the rankings together, so I was established while he was coming up.

I think it was totally different for both of us. You know, we saw each other in a different light than we see each other today when we’re both ranked high, we both achieved a lot. Things have clearly changed over time.

But ever since he’s won Grand Slams and became world No. 1, it’s been a cool rivalry, in my opinion.

 

Q. All the other semifinalists seemed to have trouble with their footing today. You handled it quite well. Are you happy with the surface? Do you think it will be a factor in the final?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, I was watching the match, too, a little bit. It was unbelievable how much they were sliding around. Anyway, some players. We look at these matches sometimes of Novak or Grigor and any surface they just keep sliding. We were watching going, I can’t almost watch this, because you’ve got to be very confident in the slide in what you do.

I think they are the most extreme guys, besides maybe Monfils, of doing that. I think that’s as extreme as it’s going to get, as well.

When I came on court I realize it is somewhat slippery but normal, nothing major. Because I also thought it looks crazy slippery, but it’s clearly not. It’s a normal worn out grass court like it’s always been in previous years here at Wimbledon.

 

Q. You mentioned the love of the game. The fun factor, how much does that come into play in what you do, how successful you are, especially at this stage of your career? How much fun are you having and are you able to have fun?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah. Today I think I had to be very focused and concentrated, even after match point. Don’t get me wrong, I’m unbelievably thrilled to be in another final. I was very pleased the way I played today because it was always going to be a difficult match against Milos.

Yeah, the fun for me is being able to do it, at this age, with a family, with the team I have. We have a great relationship. I know so many people over time now on the tour, so it’s really something I really, really enjoy.

So the fun is not just after match point when you see somebody, it’s the entire package. I really enjoy it. For that matter, it makes everything so much more worth it.

 

Q. Among all your achievements, where would becoming the oldest male champion here in the Open era rank, were it to happen?

ROGER FEDERER: Is that a possibility?

 

Q. Yes.

ROGER FEDERER: Not so important (smiling).

I would know it if it would be really important to me, but it’s not.

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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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