US Open 2014: Roger Federer Defies Age, Shows Champion's Grit in 5-Set Thriller - UBITENNIS
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US Open 2014: Roger Federer Defies Age, Shows Champion's Grit in 5-Set Thriller

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TENNIS US OPEN – He was down two sets to none, and even Roger Federer thought the end might be near, that he could be knocked out of the U.S. Open, that his chances for that one last Grand Slam had vanished. Not that he would ever show it on the court. Art Spander for bleacherreport.com

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

He was down two sets to none, and even Roger Federer thought the end might be near, that he could be knocked out of the U.S. Open, that his chances for that one last Grand Slam had vanished.

Not that he would ever show it on the court.

There’s something that goes into the makeup of a champion, a blend that’s more mental than physical, a belief that if there’s a way to win, they’ll find that way. And on the other side of the net, the opponent somehow knows the same thing.

“I thought, ‘This is it,'” Federer said in his post-match declaration to a hooting crowd at Arthur Ashe Stadium. “But I’m going to go down fighting. And I stayed in the match and turned it around.”

For the ninth time in a career that has been called the best of any man in the history of tennis, Federer came back from a 2-0 deficit, as he rallied against a skilled but rattled Gael Monfils and roared off with a 4-6, 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, 6-2 victory Thursday night in their quarterfinal.

There was serious doubt that the match would reach a fifth set; Monfils had double-match point at 5-4 in the fourth. But as soon as it did, there was no question that even a few days past his 33rd birthday, Federer was going to survive, was going to reach the semis against Marin Cilic and (most likely) was going all the way to the final.

“I got momentum to some degree,” said Federer about a turnaround tennis people would not find surprising, given Roger’s steadiness and success and Monfils’ temperament and on-court theatrics.

“Obviously I started feeling better,” said Federer, and then alluding to Monfils’ squandered opportunity, added, “He’s feeling low.”

Federer is the No. 2 seed, a man long in years for a sport where most in the game begin to fade once they reach 30. But he’s very much in his element. He’s won the Open five times. He’s won Grand Slams a record 17 times. Been there, done that. In contrast, Monfils has never been there, and when it comes to the big ones, he doesn’t have the experience.

Novak Djokovic has replaced Federer at the top of the rankings. He beat Federer at Wimbledon, but it took five sets. And if Federer is no longer the very best, he remains one of them, calling down the echoes, altering his style, going to the net where he once stayed at the baseline.

Still, it isn’t tactics or strategy that makes Federer what he is, and what he was. It’s style. It’s grace. It’s taking advantage of every aspect, keeping your opponent off-balance, keeping yourself in the mix.

He is coached now by Stefan Edberg, one of the greatest employers of the serve and volley, hired by Federer because he knew the sport had changed, become younger and quicker, and he was neither.

In tennis, as in golf, the spectators cheer for the favorite, not the underdog. It’s a matter of familiarity, of personality. The sellout crowd of more than 23,000 cheered for Monfils—tennis people want matches, not mismatches—but it cheered louder and longer for Federer, who’s earned the support and appreciation.

“It was an incredible crowd,” said Federer.

Incredible is the word for Federer in night matches at the Open. He’s lost only one of them in 27 during his career. He came out Thursday night dressed in all black, the prince of darkness. Then, like the hero of a play on Broadway across the East River, Federer rode to the rescue. His own rescue.

“What was I thinking?” Federer asked rhetorically when questioned about dropping the first two sets. “I thought the finish line was far off.”

Federer admitted, however, that when Monfils whacked a service return by him at 30-40, he thought the match was over.

“I hit a great serve,” Federer would say. “He gets to it. No way. But it’s wide. It’s OK. It’s out. One of those moments. Lucky, I guess to some degree.”

His luck is his ability, his persistence. He knew what he could do. He knew what Monfils couldn’t do. In the fifth set of a French Open quarterfinal against Andy Murray this June, Monfils collapsed, losing 6-0. There are no secrets in sports.

“My game got better as the match went on,” said Federer. “I’m happy.”

He should be. Those who watch the U.S. Open should be. Roger Federer may not be what he used to be, but he performs like the champion he still is.

Article from bleacherreport.com

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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Andrey Rublev Reflects On Recent Struggles Ahead Of Monte Carlo Title Defence

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Andrey Rublev admits he continues to struggle to maintain his emotions on the court after his disqualification from a tournament earlier this year.

The Russian world No.6 hopes to get back on track after a disappointing American swing where he won just one out of three matches played. In Indian Wells, Rublev beat ex-No.1 Andy Murray before falling in straight sets to Jiri Lehecka. Then in Miami, he lost his opening match against Tomas Machac. 

“At Indian Wells, I was so focused on trying to control my movements that I was completely stuck,” the 26-year-old recently commented
“I had no energy left, I had no strength. And in Miami, I exploded. I could no longer control myself, my actions, my nerves. I felt paralyzed, I couldn’t move.”

As to why Rublev felt so paralyzed, he acknowledges it could be linked to an incident that happened earlier in the season. At the Dubai Tennis Championships he was defaulted from his semi-final clash against Alexander Bublik for unsportsmanlike conduct after he was accused of saying an obscenity in his native language at an official. He then successfully appealed against the penalty and retained the ranking points and prize money he earned, barring a fine of $36,400 for a code violation.

“Maybe what happened in Dubai remains in my mind,” said Rublev. 

Rublev’s focus now switches to his title defence at the Monte Carlo Masters. It is the only Masters 1000 event he has won so far in his career. 

“I feel better. These last two weeks I have been training a lot. But it’s one thing to train well, it’s another to play well in a match.” He evaluated of his current form. 

Rublev has yet to defend a Tour-level title so far in his career. Should he do so, he will become only the fifth player in the Open Era to win multiple Monte Carlo trophies. 

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