ATP Cincinnati - Roger Federer: “I'm very happy having won all those three‑set matches lately. Clearly it also takes its toll” - UBITENNIS
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ATP Cincinnati – Roger Federer: “I'm very happy having won all those three‑set matches lately. Clearly it also takes its toll”

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TENNIS ATP CINCINNATI – 14th of August 2014. R. Federer d. G. Monfils 6-4, 4-6, 6-3. An interview with Roger Federer

 

Q. Was that a particularly satisfying win, considering some of the noncharacteristic emotion that you showed?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, I mean, I’m just happy the way I’m playing right now. It was much better than the last couple of matches.

I was hitting good forehands, you know, not making so many mistakes, returning better. So there was a lot of positives out in the match today. Sometimes frustration, but sometimes that’s what Gaël does to you.

I felt I lost opportunities in the second to close him out, but he hung tough and stayed in the match. So a big credit to him for a good spell there.

I was able to pick it up a little bit again in the third, so I’m really happy with the match.

Q. I was wondering, matches that you feel you should be able to close out in two that actually go three, does that impact at all the amount of time you spend hitting the next day?

ROGER FEDERER: Well, last year I did just because I needed practice. I needed to get the rhythm back. I just needed to be out there, you know, more than now.

Now it’s really managing the matches, recovering in between them. So playing two or three set matches doesn’t matter at this point. The warmup is always going to be around 20, 25, 30 minutes, and no more than that.

Q. Now that you’ve been playing with this racquet for like eight months, do you have a sense of how it’s helped refine or, you know, improve your game? Also, is there any area where you feel like you’re still trying to find your path with it?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I mean, it sure takes some time, you know, there’s no doubt about that.

I definitely think I’m serving higher first serve percentage and I’m finding easier power. From that standpoint I think that’s a big help, to be honest.

With the slice, in the beginning I did feel the older racquet did feel better on the slice, so I worked on that, as well. But now I feel like I have control on it. I feel like I’m hitting slices on it, so I feel like that’s improved.

The backhand I think overall has been better just every day. You know, I feel like I have easier control on the backhand.

On the topspin also finding easier angle. But then again, you don’t want to overdo it now just because the racquet does help you and you start playing the wrong way and now you want to go backhand to backhand on every point. That would be a mistake for me to do as well for me all the time.

And then on the forehand, I think the flat one I think I was doing a bit better with the old one. I think that one still requires a little bit of practice, but that’s why I think I was so particularly happy with today’s match.

I did hit a lot of flat forehands and also key forehands on crucial moments, which gave me the win at the end and I kept moving forward. So that’s why I really do believe every week, every month that goes by I’ll get even more comfortable with the racquet.

Q. Do you think it would be difficult for you to go back to that racquet now after this eight month period?

ROGER FEDERER: Not really. It would be a change again. It would feel different. I played so long with it and so well with it that deep down it probably feels maybe most comfortable, because I played those thousand matches with it.

Q. Coming from Toronto, I think before the tournament started you said that you were a little bit tired. At this point going through the matches, getting through them, making the quarterfinals, is this what you expect from yourself physically now, that you can kind of come into a tournament maybe not feeling 100%, you know, gas in the tank and still can put together this sort of effort and get this sort of results so far?

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think that’s what you’ve got to be able to do. When you don’t feel so well or when you’re tired or when you’re not so confident, that’s how you end up winning tournaments and turn the confidence and your play around.

I’m talking about a high level now, because I did make the finals last week but it wasn’t entirely satisfying the way I played in the finals and all of that.

But I’m very happy how I’m winning three setters now. When it comes to crunch time I’m really able to find a way, you know, to beat Pospisil or now also Monfils today, or then Ferrer, Cilic, and all these matches.

So I’m very happy having won all those three set matches lately. Clearly it also takes its toll, but I must say I’m feeling quite okay now. I think the body has gotten used to the hard courts.

Now tomorrow I feel like I can play more freely. I know there is always something to lose and all that, but I feel because I have played so much I don’t require extra tennis right now. If I do win, it’s great.

It’s one of those matches I can maybe play with my confidence now because tonight was a good match and I will play in similar conditions tomorrow night against Murray, which I think is always a good challenge for me.

Q. Over the years you played Rafa and Novak so many times, but you have also played Andy so many times. You have him next. I was wondering if you could talk about your long term rivalry with him.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I saw the rise with Andy like I’ve seen with most guys because I’m older than most these guys. I remember I played him in Bangkok first time in the finals and he was very disappointed after he lost.

I remember that was a bit odd because he wasn’t the favorite at all, but he was so disappointed and so angry. In a way I thought that was good because he expected more from himself.

It shows you probably, you know, the mind of a champion really, somebody who really wants to achieve big things. He thought he could, which he definitely could.

Other than world No. 1, he’s achieved everything he ever wanted probably at this point, so I think he’s had a wonderful career. He’s improved a lot as a player, as well. Physically he’s in great shape. That’s, I think, something that’s always in your control as a player. He’s made the most out of that, which I think is very impressive. Juniors can look up to him for that.

And then, you know, from being a retriever like Monfils is or was, he’s really been able to also be an offensive player. I think we saw again in the match today how he just stands in on the second serve against somebody of Isner’s caliber. There is nobody who serves bigger second serves than he does, and he is able to stand in and not move back.

In the olden days he would have gone back and played from back there and tried to find a way from there. I think he’s really made a lot of positive changes in his game, and I think that’s why.

Then he also was able to move up the rankings and win all these Masters 1000s and Grand Slams.

Q. This will be your first time playing him since he started working with Amélie Mauresmo. I don’t know how much you have seen of him in the past month, if you’ve seen differences in his game. She sort of had much more variety compared to like maybe what…

ROGER FEDERER: Really? I didn’t see him play enough, I must say. I wish I could tell you I did. I saw some of it at Wimbledon, but he was crushing everybody until all of a sudden he lost to Dimitrov.

I thought he was going to beat Dimitrov at Wimbledon, so there you go. I don’t know much about tennis, as well (laughter).

And then last week, yeah, I didn’t see the match at all when he played Tsonga. Here, yeah, like three points in the breaker in the third today, o there you have it.

Really, I haven’t seen him play much. From that standpoint I’m probably going to go further back in my mind. Probably Australia, you know, and think of that match, how I played against him, because I actually played really well against him there.

I know he wasn’t at his best, but I was really able to put the hammer down and play aggressive tennis and take time away from him.

So I hope on these quicker courts as well I can maybe replicate a bit of that, as well. We’ll see.

Q. With this trend of all the former champions coaching some of the top players today, do you think it’s fair to expect the echos of their games to show up in these current players’ games? Like for you, people said Edberg came to net so now Federer is going to come to net. Is it that black and white?

ROGER FEDERER: No, I totally disagree. I think the press gets lured into that too quickly. I worked with Paul Annacone before and people thought the same. I actually didn’t come in that much more.

There is so much more to a coaching relationship than just being totally inspired but just how the    I mean, you’re your own player and you already have your own DNA, so you can never duplicate somebody.

Actually, as a junior you should never do that. You can learn things and pick certain things, but the last thing you want to do is like do the exact same thing like somebody else because it usually just doesn’t work for you as a player.

So I think when a coach comes in, gives a different angle and different mindset and that makes you feel more comfortable and new input, I think that’s what it’s about.

Then if it is moving forward or if it is for a special purpose, like when I started working with Tony Roche, it was really my wish that he would improve my volleys. That was why I started working with him. Clearly many more things came with it, but with Tony Roche, yes, there I had a proper idea that I wanted to again play more offensive tennis when I started working with him.

Q. At one point you hit the ball over the net as if you were LeBron James.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, okay (laughter).

Q. Really aggressive. I loved it.

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, no, I’m happy you liked it. I liked it, too (laughter).

Q. Here in Ohio, LeBron James is…

ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I got some hang time there. I was like, Wooo. It was good for the pictures. I would have liked to put my knees up more but I didn’t want to miss the smash and look like a fool in the end.

I preferred to be in a straight line and keep balance and make the smash. I clocked it well. We had some good shots out there, him as well. I’m happy I got a couple as well. I think it was a really entertaining match for everybody.

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Denis Shapovalov Handles Opelka To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round

The Canadian managed to get past his 6ft 11 American opponent in a match that lasted over three hours.

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Denis Shapovalov - Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Denis Shapovalov is into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 23rd seed Reilly Opelka 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes on Margeret Court Arena.

 

The Canadian hit 39 winners and served 10 aces while limiting Opelka to just 17 aces. In contrast the American finished the match with a costly 46 unforced errors as Shapovalov booked his spot in the second week of the tournament.

” I think I did a really good job against Reilly (Opelka) today and I took a lot of my chances and managed to get a read on his serve,” said the world No.14.

Both players were doing a good job early on when it came to holding serve and at 3-3 it was the Toronto native who had three chances to break. On his third opportunity broke serve with his trademark backhand winner.

However, that break didn’t last long for Shapovalov as he struggled to consolidate the break and ultimately gave the break right back with a poor service game and it was back on serve at 4-4.

The first was decided by a tiebreaker and Shapovalov got the crucial break to take a 3-1 lead in the breaker which was enough for him to take the first set.

The second frame was much like the first with both players holding serve until 3-3 when Opelka broke serve. He was able to consolidate and serve out the set to level the match.

The third set stayed on serve until 3-2 and the momentum swung back in the Canadians favor. He got the break of serve this time using his forehand to great effect and served out the third to take a two sets to one lead.

Just like the third set the fourth set had no breaks until 3-2 when again the number 14 seed broke Opelka serve again and that break of serve was enough for him to serve out the match and the win.

After the match in his post-match interview, he was asked how he was able to limit his opponent to just 17 aces in the match.

” It’s never easy against Reilly (Opelka) but I am happy I was able to pull through and make it to the next round”. He said.

Shapovalov will face the number three seed Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon

For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (Manuela Davies/USTA)

Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.

 

The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.

The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.

It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.

The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.

The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.

The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.

For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.

Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.

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‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open

Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.

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World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.

 

The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.

“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.

Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.

“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.

A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.

O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.

“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”

Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.

“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”

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