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2014 ATP Finals: How the players rated

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TENNIS 2014 ATP FINALS – With the ATP Finals over it is time to rate the performances of the nine players who took part in the tournament that was rather disappointing. The only highlight was the all-Swiss semifinal. From London, Paul Sassoon

The 2014 ATP Finals had an unexpected and underwhelming ending with Federer forced to withdraw because of injuries, but it has left a lot of speculation and unanswered questions. How injured is the Swiss? Is he trying to save himself for the Davis Cup? And what happened between Federer, his wife Mirka and Wawrinka? The first two questions will be answered next weekend in Lille but the answer to the last one is probably never come out.

The tournament was disappointing for the most part and the exhibition match that ended it is probably a fitting show end with. Let’s look at how the players performed:

Novak Djokovic (A-), The serb won his fifth Master title and secured the end of year number one position in the ATP rankings, so overall a really good week for him. In the whole event he only dropped one set in the semifinal against Nishikori. He lost that set because of a drop in concentration when he took issue with the crowd that applauded his double fault on break point. As I wrote at the time, the applause was more due to the fans wanting to see a longer match rather than against the world number one. Nole’s tennis level is probably worth an A+ but that gesture towards the fans after that double fault is something that a world number one like him should not do. It wasn’t anything major, especially because he did apologise later.

Roger Federer (B+), The Swiss also deserved more for his performances on court, but the ending was not the best. He was fantastic in the three Round Robin matches and he took part in one of the best matches of the year in the semifinal against Wawrinka. I couldn’t give him an A, not because he didn’t play the final, after all we cannot assume that he just wanted to save his back for the Davis Cup, he retired only three times in his career prior to yesterday, so he should have at leas the benefit of the doubt, but because he didn’t come into the press room to talk with the media. Some further explanations were necessary and the speculation going on now is also a result of not having a press conference.

Stan Wawrinka (B-), Stan the man played a fantastic semifinal and deserved to play in the final against Djokovic. That match was easily the highlight of the tournament, but at the end of the day he did miss four match points and he should have been able to finish Federer off before the final set tie-break as he was in control of the match. Had he played better in the Round Robin matches I would have put his performance on the same level as Federer’s.

Kei Nishikori (C+), It was a good performance in his first ATP Finals. Reaching the semifinals at the first attempt is always a great feat. Also he has been the only player capable of taking a set from the Serb. The disappointing par twas that bagel he received in the last set of the semifinal, he should have been able to win at least a game as he had the chance to do so at the start of the set.

David Ferrer (C), There is no better example of a real professional player on tour than David Ferrer. He came to London as an alternate and just spent four days training and taking care of a back problem, but when he was called in to replace Raonic he played a good match, fighting for three sets against Nishikori despite the fact that he had no chance of qualifying for the semifinals

Tomas Berdych (D), Same old story for the Czech player. He has the talent to be competing at the very top for the big titles on tour, including this one, but he has never been able to really challenge for the trophies that matter. Again he seemed to be happy to be here and far too content of being behind the top players. He needs to try something different as time to leave his mark is running out.

Andy Murray (D), I was expecting more from him. His run in the last couple of months was probably too much and he arrived in London with an empty tank. Still he should have done better than winning just one match and he should have avoided the humiliation of losing 6-0, 6-1 against Federer. He gets some extra marks for coming to the rescue of the ATP accepting to play an exhibition match with Djokovic and a doubles with McEnroe, Cash and Henman with only a couple of hours notice and for no money at all.

Milos Raonic and Marin Cilic (F), It was their first time at the ATP Finals, but that is not enough of an excuse for such poor performances. Nor is the slow court that penalises the serve. If you want to be a top ten player and stay there for some time you cannot depend only on the serve, there must be a plan B. I hope they will learn from this experience and come back better prepared in the future.

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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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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