TENNIS – World Number 46 player Andreas Seppi from Italy upset four-time Australian Open Roger Federer in four sets with 6-4 7-6 (7-5) 4-6 7-6 (7-5). The Sud-Tyrol player broke a 10-match losing streak against Federer, whose dream to reach his 11th consecutive semifinal at the Australian Open came to an end. The last time Federer lost in the third round in Melbourne dates back to 2001 when he lost against Arnaud Clement. Diego Sampaolo
Seppi recorded his first win against a World Number 2 since he defeated Rafael Nadal in Rotterdam in 2008 and put an end to his 23-match losing streak against a top-10 player. It was the first time that Seppi beat Federer after losing in the previous 10 head-to-head matches.
Seppi, who reached the fourth round in Melbourne two in 2013 when he lost against Jeremy Chardy, played one of the greatest match of his career. He saved seven of Federer’s ten break point chances and hit 50 winners. He converted on three of his five break point chances to go up 2-0 on sets, while Federer had problems with his serve early in the match.
In the first eight games of the match Seppi did not face any break point chances The Italian player broke Federer to love to take a 5-4 lead before fending off three break point chances in the following game to clinch the first set with 6-4.
Both Federer and Seppi traded breaks at the start of a roller-coaster second set. Seppi got the break in the third game but Federer broke straight back in the next game. The Italian got the break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. Federer broke back to draw level to 5-5. Both players held serve and the set came down to the inevitable tie-break where Seppi prevailed with 7-5 to go up 2-0. Federer got a mini-break earl in the breaker to pull away to a 4-1 lead but Seppi broke back. Seppi drew level to 5-5 with a forehand volley before taking the 6-5 lead. Seppi, who had one just a set against Federer in the previous 10 head-to-head matches, sealed the second set to go up 2-0
Seppi saved a break point in the opening game of the third set before Federer broke serve in the third game in the attempt to claw his way back from a 0-2 deficit for the 10th time in his career. He won the third set 6-4 to force the match to the fourth set.
Seppi saved a delicate break point in the opening game of the fourth set. From then on the set went on serve. Neither Seppi nor Federer managed to earn a single break point. In the 11th game Seppi lost a very long rally of 24 shots at 5-5 but he managed to force a tie-break in the fourth set with two aces. The breaker started with a trade of mini-breaks Federer committed a double fault at 3-3. Federer had two chances to earn a set point but he lost two points on his serve to go down 5-6. Seppi hit an inside-out forehand winner to earn a match point at 6-5 in the tie-break of the fourth set. He struck a forehand slice down the line to wrap up the match. He celebrated the greatest win for an Italian player in a Grand Slam and the finest win in his career. Seppi is the fourth Italian player to beat the Swiss Maestro. The last Italian to beat the Basel legend was Filippo Volandri in Rome in 2007. The other three players who beat Roger were Gianluca Pozzi in the 1999 Davis Cup, Davide Sanguinetti in Milan in 2002 and Andrea Gaudenzi in Rome in 2002.
Federer made 55 unforced errors, including 17 in the first set.
Seppi scored his second win against a Swiss star after taking a famous victory over Stan Wawrinka in Rome in 2011. Before today Seppi had reached the fourth round in his 39th appearances in a Grand Slam Tournament. Seppi dropped to outside the top-40 last year but he started the 2015 season on a high note reaching the semifinals at the Qatar Open in Doha earlier this month. In the first two rounds at the Australian Open Seppi beat once again Denis Istomin in five sets in the first round and Jeremy Chardy in the second round.
Seppi set up an intriguing fourth round match against Australian rising star Nick Kyrgios who beat Tunisian sensation Malek Jaziri (the first player from this country to reach the third round in a Grand Slam tournament) in straight sets with 6-3 7-6 6-1. Kyrgios won the previous match against Seppi in the second round at last year’s US Open in straight sets.
Kyrgios, who famously beat Rafa Nadal in the fourth round at Wimbledon last year, won the first two matches at this year’s Australian Open against Federico Delbonis in a five-set thrilling first round match and Croatian giant Ivo Karlovic in the second round.
“To beat Roger first time, especially in a Grand Slam, best of five, is a special moment for me. At the beginning I just went on the court to enjoy the match and to play my best tennis and I did because I was playing Roger. You never feel comfortable playing against Roger but I was focusing on my service game. I didn’t have many chances on his serve. Especially after the first set I was hitting the ball very well.I start to believe that I can do more. I think it was very important to win the second set tie-break. It worked out pretty well. I went in the court to enjoy the moment. You don’t play every day on Centre Court in a full stadium in a Grand Slam against Roger. I was pretty calm from the beginning. It was the match where I felt more comfortable in my life with my emotions.I think that helped me for sure in the end of the match a lot. I can’t remember well what Roger told me. I think he said: Unbelievable last point. Congratulations, something like that”, said Seppi.
Seppi reached the fourth round in a Grand Slam in the 2012 Roland Garros when he went up 2-0 on sets against Novak Djokovic at the 2012 Roland Garros before the Serb fought back to win in the fifth set.
“I wasn’t thinking about anything. I was very calm. I really enjoyed the atmosphere out there. I was not thinking I was leading two sets to love or tow sets to one. It was going to the end, so just if I could do that any time, it would be great. This win means a lot for my career. It’s the first time I beat him, I beat once Nadal in Rotterdam when he was Number 2 in the world. It was also a big win. I never went close against Roger. I never had the chance. To have this win in my career is for sure something big. It’s tough to say that I believed before the match that I could beat Roger. When the match went on, especially in the middle of the first set or after the first set, I started thinking I could win. When the match was getting close I started to believe that I could win, otherwise I didn’t win this win. Now I Know that I can handle some very difficult moments or some big pressure. Maybe I am a little bit more mature on court. I know I know myself a little bit better. It’s for sure a big confidence for the upcoming matches.
Seppi was asked if he had the chance to speak to Simone Bolelli who was beaten by Federer in four sets in the previous match.
“I didn’t ask any advice or anything. I didn’t talk to Bolelli really. It’s tough to ask some advice because you know how Roger plays. You know him well. I just watched the first set yesterday. Bolelli played a great set but I didn’t watch the rest of the match. ”, said Seppi
“I think Roger is still playing because he believes he can win another Grand Slam. He is a great player. I think that not many people thought that last year he could almost go again Number 1 in the world. I think he has good chances to win another one”
Federer did not look comfortable in the first two sets but admitted in the post-match interview that it was just a bad day at work
“It was just a bad day. I wish I could have played better, but clearly it was tough losing the first two. I had chances to get back into it but I let it slip. I guess I won the wrong points out there today. I knew how important that second set tie-break was, so clearly that hurt, losing that one. The end wasn’t pretty. It wasn’t easy to play with the shadow. But it was the same for both of us. It was just a disappointing loss.We had some good matches in the past. He hits a good ball, forehand and backhand, so that I knew that on a quicker court where he gets more help on the serve it was potentially going to be more tricky. I felt for some reason yesterday and this morning that it was not going to be very simple today. Even in practice I still felt the same way. I was just hoping it was one of those feelings you sometimes have and it’s totally not true and you just come out and play a routine match. It was a mistake. I know the strength of Seppi, especially after he beat Chardy, who I know can play very well. I was aware of the test and was well prepared. I couldn’t play my best tennis today. It was definitely partially because Andreas played very well. I felt that maybe rhythm was missing. I feel like very often and then. I come out and play a good match. Sometimes you feel too good and then you play a horrible match. The practice to me doesn’t mean a thing anyway. I was aware that this could be a tough match, so I wasn’t mistaken this time around. It was just an overall feeling I had today out on the court that I couldn’t really get the whole game flowing. Was it backhand ? Was it forehand ? Was it serve ? it was a bit of everything. At the same time I got broken in the last couple of sets. The second set I only got broken once. I was hanging in there. It’s just when it counted the most somehow it just ended up going his way. I think that was because overall I wasn’t feeling it quite as well. I had to play it a little bit passively at times when normally I would play aggressive. It was just a tough match for me”, said Federer.
Asked if the defeat was due to the grueling end of the 2014 season where Federer clinched his first Davis Cup and if the Australian Open came in a bit of a rush, the Swiss star said. “I was actually very happy that it was the way it went because it allowed me to stay within the rhythm and take the break after the Australian Open. I was playing very well in practice. I was playing very well in Brisbane. I was playing great in the practice leading into the tournament. I don’t want to say that I peaked too early, but I was definitely hitting the ball very well. I will have a look at it but I don’t think I did anything wrong honestly. I wanted to go to India. I wanted to go back to Switzerland for Christmas. I practiced as hard as I possibly could. I can’t do more than that. The year ended late, but one week later than normal. At the end of the day, honestly, I am confident that what I did was the right thing.
“I was able to iron out things a bit and I was able to play much more solid at the back end of the match. It just broke me to lose that second set and actually the fourth. I should win it too. Just a brutal couple of sets to lose there.”
Alexander Zverev Deserves More Respect According To Boris Becker
According to Boris Becker, Alexander Zverev deserves more respect from tennis journalists.
Boris Becker has claimed that Alexander Zverev deserves more respect despite Zverev failing to live up to his potential at Grand Slams.
Zverev has only reached one Grand Slam final in his career despite being a regular inside the world’s top ten as well as performing at regular ATP events.
This season Zverev played a limited schedule after recovering from an ankle injury but still managed to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.
However most critics have been loud when judging Zverev’s career as it was looking likely that he would be a regular Grand Slam champion.
The German has failed to live up to expectations but former Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes Zverev deserves more respect.
Speaking to Eurosport Becker also said that Zverev’s father being the coach is a more than successful approach when it comes to the former US Open finalist’s career, “In my opinion, he doesn’t get enough respect from the tennis experts internationally,” Becker explained.
“They’re all talking about the young three or four, but don’t give Zverev, Medvedev or Rublev enough respect. He’s playing with his fist in his pocket a little bit, wants everyone show that he is not a thing of the past, but that his best time is yet to come.
“Surely his father knows best what is good for his son, but if you look into the box at the competition, you can also see changes.”
Becker has followed Zverev for most of his career so knows that the best is yet to come from the German.
Alexander Zverev will look to prove himself next season when he starts his 2024 season when he represents Germany at the United Cup.
Juan Carlos Ferrero Analyses Key Areas For Carlos Alcaraz’s Development
Juan Carlos Ferrero has outlined the next steps in Carlos Alcaraz’s development.
Carlos Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero has analysed the key areas for the Spaniard’s development heading into the 2024 season.
The former world number one’s season has come to an end after a successful year which saw him win the Wimbledon title as well as winning two Masters 1000 titles.
Alcaraz capped off an incredible season by reaching the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
However there is a long way for the Spaniard to go if he wants to consistently go toe-to-toe with Novak Djokovic.
Speaking to Marca Alcaraz’s coach Juan Carlos Ferrero spoke about the Spaniard’s development and said that Alcaraz is too emotional, “Be more regular in games, not open doors. Sometimes there are mistakes and it is something that we have to improve a lot,” Ferrero commented.
“Although it is true that he opens doors, he always competes well and at the highest level. He knows it, the other day he already said that Novak doesn’t give you one. He has to improve his decision making and he will achieve that with experience. Carlos is very emotional and that sometimes helps him and other times not so much.”
It’s clear Alcaraz’s high-quality is there but to consistently do it against Djokovic is another task altogether as the Spaniard looks to go from strength-to strength next season.
One area that is clearly a priority for Alcaraz is physical conditioning especially considering what happened against Djokovic at Roland Garros earlier in the season.
Ferrero said that will be a clear focus heading into 2024 but couldn’t guarantee that Alcaraz will play a tournament before the Australian Open, “Because of the year and the fatigue he has been in, what he needs is rest and disconnecting for 8-10 days with his friends,” Ferrero stated.
“From there, the thinking must go back to working really hard, strong and well to start very strongly in Australia. One can never be sure of that. Sometimes you play a tournament and it doesn’t go well, you left home too early. There are many ways of thinking.
“This year we haven’t played Australia and he finishes number two. That means there is no urgency to play a tournament early. Carlos is a player who enters competition quickly, you don’t usually see him without rhythm.
“Although it is true that he becomes more dangerous from the round of 16, from the quarter-finals. I am confident that the two exhibition matches and the training sessions will help us play a good tournament.”
Alcaraz will be looking to play the Australian Open which starts on the 15th of January after the Spaniard missed last year’s tournament due to a leg injury.
Australian Open Chief Confident Nadal Will Play But Kyrgios’ Participation Uncertain
The tournament director of the Australian Open says he is ‘certain’ that Rafael Nadal will play at the Grand Slam even though the Spaniard has yet to outline his comeback plans.
Craig Tiley told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday he hopes to receive some clarity over Nadal’s intentions in the next couple of weeks but is confident he will play. However, the tennis official had previously claimed in October that the former world No.1 had already committed to play in the event before his team denied that statement.
Nadal, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, hasn’t played a Tour match since his second round defeat at the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury. He was originally expecting to take an eight-week break but the recovery didn’t go to plan and he ended up having surgery. In May he confirmed that he will take an extended break from the sport to heal his body and admitted that retirement next year is a possibility.
“Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day because he’s a massive drawcard for us,” the Reuters News Agency quoted Tiley as saying.
“He wants to play, he’s obviously planning on playing. It all depends on how he pulls up.
“Hopefully in the next week or the next two weeks, we get some specific confirmation of that. I’m certain Rafa will be here because he’s not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago.”
Earlier this month Nadal confirmed that he intends to return to the Tour but admits that he will continue to experience a degree of pain. Although he has yet to give any information about which tournament he will begin his comeback at. The 2024 season begins during the first week of January.
“I’m well, training, and happy. I’m at a good stage of my life,” atptour.com quoted Nadal as telling reporters in Barcelona.
“Until now I didn’t know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will. I’m still not ready to say when, but I’m able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good.’
Will Kyrgios play?
Another player Tiley is eager to welcome back is home player and former Wimbledon Finalist Nick Kyrgios who has only played one Tour-level match this season due to injury. He underwent knee surgery in January and then tore a ligament in his wrist during the summer. As a result, the Australian currently doesn’t have an ATP ranking due to his inactivity.
“We have spoken to Nick, and he obviously wants to do the best he possibly can to give him the best chance to play in January,” Tiley said of Kyrgios.
“Whether he’s playing, whether he’s doing something else, Nick will be here in January and to get him to play will be great. But we’ve got to take it as it comes and he’s got to make sure he takes care of his health …”
Kyrgios recently worked as an analyst for the Tennis Channel during this year’s ATP Finals in Turin and gave a brief update on his ongoing recovery during a segment.
“After last year, I had such a great year, and I’m so hungry to get back out there,” the 2022 Wimbledon finalist commented.
“So I’m doing everything I can to get back out there. Obviously, you know how injuries are every day, just doing the rehab, doing the gym work.”
The Australian Open will begin on Sunday 14th January. Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka are the defending champions.
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