Federer v Monfils in the Open quarters - UBITENNIS
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Federer v Monfils in the Open quarters

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The last of the Round of 16 matchups were quite exciting as they provided a nice mix of styles and a lot of great tennis for fans. Roger Federer (2) continued his domination of Spanish players not named Rafael Nadal as he overcame the tough charge from Roberto Bautista-Agut (17) in straight sets 6-4 6-3 6-2. Gael Monfils (20) is again striking the balance between great tennis and mental stability on court as he upset Grigor Dimitrov (7) also in straight set 7-5 7-6 7-5.

 

Federer and Monfils will play each other for a 8th time with Federer leading the head-to-head 5-2 but they have been 2-2 in their last four meetings. Interestingly enough, the only major they have met is at the French Open where Federer has a 3-0 record. Federer described Monfils, “[H]e’s got easy top 10 potential, you know. He’s a great mover. He’s got a wonderful serve, really, which nobody really talks about because of his athletic movement which stands out so much, you know. His issues have really been just his fitness and his setbacks he’s had because of injury. Then sometimes, you know, maybe not wanting to play sometimes because of reasons only he can explain.”

In order to face Monfils, Federer had to first get past Bautista-Agut who he was playing for the first time. Federer was aware of the challenges that the Spaniard provided as he noted that “He hasn’t got the biggest game but he’s consistent. He’s fast. He can adapt. So he’s got things that can make you feel uncomfortable, I must say. He can absorb pace well.” However, Federer seemed well adept to handling him as he raced out to a 5-2 lead. Things got complicated somewhat as Federer was broken serving for the set. He regained his focus and took it 6-4 in 43 minutes. In the 2nd set, Federer again broke early for a 3-1 lead. He saved break point on his serve as he continued to press the issue going for his shots particularly up at net. He closed out the set at 6-3. In the 3rd set, with both the crowd and momentum clearly in his favour, Federer broke Bautista-Agut twice to win the match 6-4 6-3 6-2 in near two hours.

What was most impressive about the match from Federer was his willingness to come forward. He was up at net 52 times and won the point on 32 of those occasions. His serving was not at its best but it was working well enough. He only got 57% of his first serves in, winning 78% of those points with a measly 51% on his 2nd serve. He had 36 winners and 25 errors which included 8 aces and 5 double faults.

Monfils too had a straight sets victory but it was far from routine against Dimitrov. Monfils has been playing spectacular tennis throughout this tournament particularly in the 3rd round when he defeated 12th seed Richard Gasquet in straight sets. Monfils took on Dimitrov for the 3rd time in their career, 2nd time at the US Open. From the beginning of the match it was clear that Monfils came out to play serious tennis. Always accused of being distracted on court, Monfils played a complete and focused match. He secured the crucial break in the 11th game of the 1st set and served it out for 7-5. Dimitrov was not making it easy for Monfils but in the big moments, the Bulgarian was unable to step up his game to gain the momentum. He broke for a 4-2 lead in the 2nd set but was broken in the 8th game to level the set. Things were pushed to a decisive tiebreaker where despite leading 6-3 points, Dimitrov allowed Monfils to fight his way back into it and take it 8-6 points and with it a 2-0 sets lead.

In the 3rd set, Dimitrov failed to convert on two break opportunities. They remained on serve until the 12th game when Dimitrov was serving to push the set into a tiebreaker. On match point, the only break point chance that Monfils saw in the set, Dimitrov double faulted to hand Monfils the win in straight sets, 7-5 7-6 7-5. “[I]t was a very poor match for me … Didn’t play as close to the way I wanted to, and I think it was a great stage for me to come out on there on the center court and perform my best … Of course I have to give credit to Gaël that he played a really good match, but I also did a lot of unforced errors and that cost a lot. 6-3 in the tiebreak, I had all odds on me. And it was just poor shot selection. Eventually I didn’t execute at the right time.”

There was not much to separate the two in this match and as Monfils mentioned that it was partially luck that saw him through this match. “I’m happy I think because I played good. I think I played solid. I think I hit better the ball day after day; served better. I keep like simple thing in my head, so obviously is working. Then it’s luck. To be honest, look at set point. I hit one of the worst dropshots I ever hit and he hit a frame. It’s pure luck, you know, to haven’t drop a set. So you need to have it sometime, and I hope I will have more.”

Monfils went on to speak about playing Federer, “[H]e’s definitely the legend of the tennis, you know. I think right now he’s the greatest tennis player we ever had, and for me it’s always challenging to play against him … I think I play tennis for, to play against a big legend, big court, show time. That’s what I train for. That’s why every day I wake up and I wish I could play those matches” Monfils along with Djokovic are the only players in the men’s quarterfinals who have not dropped a set en route to this stage.

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Davis Cup: Great Britain Handed Wildcard For 2022 Finals, Qualifiers Draw Announced

The Davis Cup Qualifiers draw was announced with Great Britain and Serbia handed a wildcard to next year’s finals.

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Great Britain and Serbia have been handed a wildcard for the 2022 Davis Cup Finals as the qualifiers draw was announced.

 

As this year’s Davis Cup comes to a conclusion, plans for next year’s competition have been put in place.

Although it is still unclear if the Finals will be held in Abu Dhabi next year, we do know which four countries have qualified for the year ending competition next month.

Russia and Croatia will contest the 2021 final, therefore earning themselves an automatic spot in next year’s finals.

However joining them will be two wildcards and they have been given to Novak Djokovic’s Serbia who reached the semi-finals this year as well as Great Britain.

To the surprise of many there was no wildcard for Spain, who are hosting the final this year, further indicating that next year’s competition is unlikely to take place in the country.

Spain join a whole host of other top nations such as Germany, France, USA, Canada and Australia in March’s qualifiers.

Spain will host Romania for a place in next year’s finals while France and USA have been given home ties against Ecuador and Colombia respectively.

Here is the full draw for the qualifiers which will take place on the 4th and 5th of March:

France v Ecuador

Spain v Romania

Finland v Belgium

USA v Colombia

Netherlands v Canada

Brazil v Germany

Slovakia v Italy

Australia v Hungary

Norway v Kazakhstan

Sweden v Japan

Argentina v Czech Republic

South Korea v Austria

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Iga Swiatek Working With Agnieszka Radwanska’s Former Coach After Recent Coaching Split

Iga Swiatek has made some coaching changes ahead of the 2022 season.

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Iga Swiatek will start working with Agnieszka Radwanska’s former coach Tomasz Wiktorowski on a temporary basis after splitting up with her long term coach.

 

The Pole announced the news on Instagram yesterday that she and Piotr Sierzputowski had split up after five years working with each other.

Swiatek had achieved ultimate success with Piotr having won Wimbledon Juniors, reaching her first WTA final in Lugano and the most important achievement of winning her first grand slam title at Roland Garros.

However the 20 year-old now feels its time to move on ahead of the 2022 season, “I’ve started my pre-season, but today I would like to tell you something significant,” Swiatek wrote on Instagram.

“After more than 5 years I’ve decided to finish my cooperation with my coach Piotr Sierzputowski. This change is really challenging for me and this decision wasn’t easy, either… As tennis players we meet on our path a lot of people who contribute great value into our work and, often, into our life too, because we spend almost the whole year on tour together.

“I found out that sometimes in our professional life we need changes to develop more, evolve and meet other people with whom we’re going to create a cooperation for the next stages of our development. 

“I would like to thank you Coach for everything that you did for me. We gave each other so much and I hope that we’ll continue to grow and develop with this experience we’ve gained together. I owe you a lot and truly appreciate the time we’ve spent together. All those years enabled us to be in the place that we are now. 

“I suppose you may have questions about what’s next. I have everything I need to be able to work and I would like to focus on my pre-season without any outside pressure. I hope you’ll understand it.”

https://twitter.com/Sierzputowsky/status/1467456169161678851

Although the news comes as a surprise given that Swiatek was the only woman to reach the last 16 of every grand slam 2021, it is always better for players to change coaches at the end of the season rather than mid-season.

Swiatek’s long-term replacement is yet to be discovered however the Pole has appointed former coach of Agnieszka Radwanska, Tomasz Wiktorowski as an interim replacement according to TenisKlub.Pl.

Wiktorowski was there for most of Radwanska’s successes and knows the polish tennis system well so will have a good working replacement with Swiatek.

The former Roland Garros champion is now starting preparations for the new season as she looks to win a second grand slam title at the Australian Open.

The first grand slam of the season in Melbourne will start on the 17th of January.

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‘Proud’ Barty Reflects On 2021 Season Ahead Of Pre-Season Preparations

Ash Barty has reflected on a great 2021 season as she looks forward to more success in 2022.

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Ash Barty (@BNPARIBASOPEN - Twitter)

World number one Ash Barty has reflected on her 2021 season as she prepares for next season with a tough pre-season schedule ahead.

 

It was another successful season for the world number one who ended the year as the world’s best player for the third year in a row.

Barty claimed her second grand slam title by winning Wimbledon having also won a bronze medal at the Olympics and claiming regular tour titles on clay and hard courts.

As a result the Australian won Queensland athlete of the year and spoke to Tennis Australia about winning the award and her off-season preparations, “It was an honour to win the Ashley Cooper Medal,” the world number one told tennis.com.au.

“I’m a proud Queensland athlete, so being recognised in my home state is always special. It’s definitely been nice to have some time at home after such a long year.

“I did feel rested until preseason started a few weeks ago! I’ve still been training every day but have managed to have quality time with family and friends. I’ve been working hard on and off court, doing everything I possibly can to get ready for January. The first few weeks of preseason are always tough physically.”

Having achieved so much at just 23 years old, Barty is definitely proud of her season as she looks to win more grand slam titles on a competitive WTA circuit in 2022.

Regardless of her status Barty is always trying to show good personal qualities and is looking forward to competing well next season, “I am proud I was able to finish the year at No. 1, especially after the challenging and unpredictable season,” Barty admitted.

“Being away from home for so long was really tough for not only me but my whole team, everyone made sacrifices which I’m very grateful for. We went into 2021 knowing it was going to be an adventure and it definitely was, I wouldn’t change it.

“Being the world No 1 is something I am very proud of, but my ranking doesn’t change the way I am. I try and be a good person and do the right thing, regardless of the number next to my name.”

Barty will look to kick off her season in the best possible way when she looks to capture her first Australian Open title when the event takes place on the 17th of January.

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