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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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Brits Andy Murray and Cam Norrie Meet in the Second Round

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A look at Center Court at the Lindner Family Tennis Center (twitter.com/cincytennis)

On Monday, Andy Murray overcame another three-time Major singles champion, Stan Wawrinka, in a three-hour thriller.  In the second round, he meets the new British No.1 Cam Norrie, who reached his first Slam semifinal last month at Wimbledon.

 

WTA action is headlined by three matches between Slam singles champs, which includes world No.1 Iga Swiatek.  Also on Wednesday, Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Wednesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Andy Murray vs. Cameron Norrie – 11:00am on Center Court

Murray will be happy he had a day of rest after his emotionally and physically taxing match against Wawrinka.  He has compiled a solid record of 23-14 this season, with 2022 being his most active year since 2017, when his hip issues began.  But Norrie has taken his place as the top British male, and has really come into his own over the past 18 months.  Cam is now 38-18 this season, and has reached 10 finals since the start of last year.  Their only prior meeting occurred three years ago in Beijing, with Murray prevailing in a long, tight three-setter that lasted nearly three hours.  But three years later, Norrie is a much-improved competitor.  While playing your fellow countryman is often tricky, especially when they’ve been knighted, Cam should be favored to even their head-to-head.


Iga Swiatek (1) vs. Sloane Stephens (WC) – Not Before 3:00pm on Grand Stand

Swiatek is vying for her 50th win of the season on Wednesday, with 37 of those victories coming consecutively between February and July.  But since those 37 wins in a row, Iga is only 3-3, and suffered a frustrating loss last week in Toronto to Beatriz Haddad Maia 7-5 in the third after three hours of play.  Stephens continues to be a streaky player, as the 2017 US Open champion has gone on multiple winning and losing streaks of four matches or more throughout the year.  On Monday night, she crushed Alize Cornet 6-1, 6-0.  Sloane often plays her best tennis in American hard courts, and advanced to the third round or better of this tournament in seven straight appearances between 2012 and 2019.  These two Major champs have never played before.  Stephens could be primed for another win streak, and it would be understandable if Swiatek experienced a dip in her level after all the tennis she’s played this year.  Yet after dominating the tour for most of the year, Iga should still be favored.


Other Notable Matches on Wednesday:

Victoria Azarenka vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – It’s a two-time Australian Open champ against the reigning US Open champ.  Azarenka defeated Kaia Kanepi in three sets on Tuesday, while Raducanu easily prevailed over Serena Williams 6-4, 6-0.

Elena Rybakina vs. Garbine Muguruza (8) – It’s another two-time Major champ against the reigning Wimbledon champ.  Rybakina is 2-2 since her surprising run at The All-England Club, while Muguruza is a subpar 9-13 on the year.  They split two meetings last year, with Elena victorious in the more notable encounter, in the quarterfinals of the Tokyo Olympics.

Taylor Fritz (11) vs. Nick Kyrgios – Fritz started the summer by winning the title in Eastbourne, while Kyrgios was the champion in Washington.  This will be their first career meeting.

Rafael Nadal (2) vs. Borna Coric (PR) – Despite his injury issues, Nadal is a staggering 35-3 in 2022, and 20-1 on hard courts.  Coric missed a full year of action due to shoulder surgery, and is just 12-12 at all levels since returning.  Borna has won two of their four previous meetings, including six years ago at this event.


Wednesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Serena Williams Plays Emma Raducanu, Venus Faces Karolina Pliskova

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Serena Williams practicing on Monday in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

In what is expected to be the next-to-last event of her storied career, Serena Williams will play her opening round match on Tuesday.  And in a blockbuster matchup, she faces reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu.  Can the 19-year-old defeat the GOAT, or can Serena pull off one more high-profile victory before her career comes to an end?

 

Tuesday’s schedule in Cincinnati features many other top names as well.  Center Court alone also includes Naomi Osaka, Daniil Medvedev, Nick Kyrgios, and Venus Williams, who takes on Karolina Pliskova in a battle between two of the WTA’s all-time best servers.

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Tuesday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Karolina Pliskova (14) vs. Venus Williams (WC) – Second on Center Court

This will only be Venus’ third singles match of the season, as multiple injuries have hampered the 42-year-old in recent years.  Williams has only earned one singles win in the last 18 months.  Pliskova has struggled this season since a hand injury caused her to miss the first two months of 2022.  But Karolina had her best run of the season last week in Toronto, where she reached the semifinals, which included a three-set win over fourth-seeded Maria Sakkari.  Venus and Karolina played three times between 2015 and 2017, with Pliskova taking two of those three encounters.  Their most notable match was in the fourth round of the 2016 US Open, which Karolina won in a third-set tiebreak.  In 2022, Pliskova is a considerable favorite to prevail.


Serena Williams (DA) vs. Emma Raducanu (10) – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

This will only be Serena’s fourth singles match of the season, and she’s 1-2 since returning at Wimbledon.  Last week in Toronto, she made a tearful exit from the court after her straight-set loss to Belinda Bencic, as the Canadian crowd gave the 23-time Major singles champion a standing ovation.  With this mini-retirement tour being new territory for Serena, how will she react to what will be a boisterous American crowd on Tuesday?  She’ll surely feel nervous, but Raducanu will as well, as she likely assumed she would never get to play Serena.  Emma has understandably struggled since her shocking, life-changing run a year ago at the US Open, as she’s just 11-14 on the year.  But she’s still played a lot more tennis of late than Serena.  This match was originally scheduled for Monday evening, and reports indicated it was postponed until Tuesday due to an injury concern regarding Serena.  That’s advantage, Emma.  But as we’ve learned over the course of the last several decades, Serena is fully capable of willing her way to victory even when she’s far from her best.


Other Notable Matches on Tuesday:

Naomi Osaka vs. Shuai Zhang – Osaka is just 1-2 this summer, and was forced to retire last week in Toronto due to a back issue.  She is 3-2 against Shuai, though they haven’t played in nearly four years.

Nick Kyrgios vs. Alejandro Davidovich Fokina – Kyrgios has won 14 of his last 16 singles matches, and is on an eight-match win streak in doubles.  Davidovich Fokina is only 4-9 this season on hard courts.

Coco Gauff (11) vs. Marie Bouzkova (Q) – Gauff is now the new world No.1 in doubles, and is on the brink of making her top 10 debut in singles.  Bouzkova has claimed 18 of her last 22 matches at all levels. 

Mackenzie McDonald (WC) vs. Carlos Alcaraz (3) – McDonald was a finalist last year in Washington, but arrived in Cincinnati on a three-match losing streak.  Alcaraz was upset last week in an extended affair with another American, Tommy Paul.  Earlier this year at Indian Wells, Carlitos beat Mackie 6-3, 6-3.

Daniil Medvedev (1) vs. Botic van de Zandschulp – Medvedev needs to win at least two matches this week to ensure he maintains his No.1 ranking.  He’s 2-0 against van de Zandschulp, taking seven of their eight sets contested, all on hard courts.


Tuesday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Cincinnati Daily Preview: Major Champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka Square Off

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Andy Murray practicing this past week in Cincinnati (twitter.com/cincytennis)

For the second consecutive week, a combined ATP Masters/WTA 1000 event is being staged in North America.  This week, it’s the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, Ohio.  The singles draws in American’s heartland are loaded: the ATP draw features 14 of the world’s top 16, while the WTA draw features all 16 top-ranked players.

 

Most notably, Serena Williams will play what is assumedly the next-to-last event of her career, and will face reigning US Open champion Emma Raducanu in the first round.  And Rafael Nadal will play his first match since withdrawing from the Wimbledon semifinals due to his ongoing left foot issues.

Monday’s action is headlined by Major champions Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka, who will play each other for the 22nd time. 

Each day, this preview will analyze the two most intriguing matchups, while highlighting other notable matches on the schedule.  Monday’s play gets underway at 11:00am local time.


Stan Wawrinka (PR) vs. Andy Murray – Third on Center Court

Their rivalry dates all the way back to 2005, when Wawrinka defeated Murray in Davis Cup.  Their most prominent encounter took place in the 2017 Roland Garros semifinals, when Stan outlasted Andy in a five-setter that lasted over four-and-a-half hours.  And neither man has been the same since that grueling battle.  Just weeks later, Murray’s hip problems derailed his career, while Wawrinka would undergo knee surgery.  Both men have now battled multiple serious injuries over the last five years.  Overall Andy is 12-9 against Stan, and 8-4 on hard courts.  Murray has gritted his way to 22 victories this year, while Stan is only 3-7 since returning from foot surgery this spring.  Based on current form, as well as Murray’s history at this event, where he is a two-time champion, the Brit is the favorite on Monday.


Matteo Berrettini (12) vs. Frances Tiafoe – Not Before 7:00pm on Center Court

Berrettini returned from surgery on his right hand in June, and promptly went on a 12-match win streak.  However, he unfortunately missed Wimbledon due to testing positive for COVID-19.  And last week in Montreal, Matteo lost in the opening round, though that one-sided loss to Pablo Carreno Busta doesn’t look quite as bad after Pablo’s fantastic run to his first Masters 1000 title concluded on Sunday.  Meanwhile, it’s been a disappointing year for Tiafoe, who is only 20-17 and has suffered some painful losses.  At Wimbledon, he lost a four-and-a-half hour fourth round match to David Goffin despite having a two-sets-to-one lead.  And just last week in Montreal, Frances was up 4-0 in the third over Taylor Fritz before losing the last six games of the match.  Their only previous meeting occurred four years ago on clay in Rome, where Matteo was victorious in his home country in straight sets.  Can Tiafoe avenge that loss in his own home country?  Frances often excels during night matches in the United States, with his five-set win over Andrey Rublev at last year’s US Open serving as a prime example.  But Matteo has been the much stronger performer for a few years now, and his potent serve/forehand combo makes him the favorite.


Other Notable Matches on Monday:

Amanda Anisimova vs. Daria Kasatkina (9) – Anisimova has reached the second week of every Major this season, while Kasatkina has won 18 of her last 24 matches, which includes a title run this month in San Jose.  Amanda leads their head-to-head 2-0, and dominated Daria 6-2, 6-0 at the beginning of this year.

Jil Teichmann vs. Petra Kvitova – Teichmann was a surprise finalist here a year ago.  Kvitova is only 17-15 this season, though she did win a title on grass in June.  They’ve played three times since last year, with Jil claiming two of those three matches.

Denis Shapovalov vs. Grigor Dimitrov (16) – Shapovalov has now lost nine of his last 10 matches dating back to May.  Meanwhile it’s been over four months since Dimitrov has won more than two matches in a row.  Grigor is 2-1 against Denis, and 2-0 on hard courts.

Sloane Stephens (WC) vs. Alize Cornet – It’s been a streaky season for Stephens, with nine of her 11 victories coming at just two events.  Cornet has achieved two noteworthy results this season: reaching her first Major quarterfinal in Melbourne, and ending Iga Swiatek’s 37-match winning streak at Wimbledon.  This is their first career meeting.


Monday’s full Order of Play is here.

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