TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – 19th of January 2015. R. Federer d. Y.Lu 6-4, 6-2, 7-5. An interview with Roger Federer
Q. Number 1001. Did you ever think you’d get there after you gotten 1000?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I was hoping it would happen in Australia. I’m very pleased to make this one here tonight. You know, winning first round, it’s always a bit of a relief. I thought I played good. So it was nice to get 1001 here now tonight. We’re not going to talk about this every single match now, right? Let’s just keep it to this one (smiling).
Q. Do you think personality-wise it lends well to succeed for a player, say, if they’re outgoing on court it’s easier to face a pressure point, where someone who is introverted might have to work a little bit harder to succeed?
ROGER FEDERER: Good question. I’m not sure. You would think an introvert is not ready to take huge risks, but then again he might be very thoughtful and play very well-constructed points, won’t go for the silly shot. So I guess it really depends what kind of game you have. But I like the idea when you’re young and you’re fearless, you give it a shot and just go big and take it away from your opponent. That’s kind of how I felt, how I did it sometimes. Yeah but, you know, it didn’t always work. If you look, Lleyton, who wasn’t quite like that, he was more constructive in his points. He had much more success early on. So I don’t know.
Q. You’d class yourself as an intro or extrovert?
ROGER FEDERER: Extrovert probably I’d say.
Q. One year ago you said in the press conference prior to the tournament you came here with the back hurting to some point. This year you suffered some hurt in the back in the World Tour Finals in London. How did you manage to keep the pain at bay from a medical standpoint, the treatment you received, and so on?
ROGER FEDERER: After London?
ROGER FEDERER: And Davis Cup?
ROGER FEDERER: I had the doctor take a train from Lille Saturday night after the Stan match. I called him up and asked him if he could come see me. When I woke up he was there, which was great because it’s not far away. I hardly could get out of bed. Yeah, he had a look at me. I don’t know, can’t even run so can’t play clearly. I was like, Are you sure? Can’t we wait? He was like, I don’t know. You can’t run so you can’t play. So, anyway, number one, what we did was just let it heal, just do basically nothing except some very minor treatment just so it relaxes the most. It took two, two and a half days, three days until I could run again. And then clearly I was taking medication, heavy ones. Just got back in time. Basically Wednesday night when I went for a hit in Lille, that was the first time I felt like in that afternoon I could run basically. So that’s when I decided, If you can run, you can play. That’s my feeling. And I was happy that I somehow managed to play.
Q. I’m sure you’re well aware what happened to the Swiss franc the other day.
ROGER FEDERER: Yes, I am very well aware.
Q. What do you make of it? How does it affect you?
ROGER FEDERER: Does it mean I’ve got to win now (smiling)? Yeah, I mean, clearly, I don’t know, it definitely had a big impact all around the world, right? Yeah, Switzerland’s an interesting place. It’s small but quite powerful in some ways. Clearly it had an impact on me, too, no doubt about it. Things were going up all the time, so it’s normal have it reset. But the way it was done, maybe there were some question marks behind that because nobody saw it coming. I’m not the expert, so I don’t know exactly what you want me to tell you. Yeah, I guess for export or tourism it’s not ideal, but we’ll see how we’ll adjust to it now. Still think it’s a wonderful place to visit, so please come.
Q. Talk about risk taking in tennis. Is that a skill in itself, to know what to go for? Do you enjoy risk taking? Does it sometimes get a little boring when there aren’t any challenges or risk-taking situations?
ROGER FEDERER: Yeah, I think the most important thing in taking risks is that you actually believe in what you’re trying to do, that you’re 100% committed; 80% commitment is not enough. As you’re running up to the ball or trying to take the ball early, if you have a little bit of doubt that it’s not the right play, it’s funny enough, you’ll fail every single time. You just have to believe and visualize beforehand what’s going to happen. You see the play happening in your mind just before you hit it, and then you have the best chance of making it work. I think that commitment with the risk taking is the right one, and then knowing of what score you’re going to take the risk. Is it at Love-30? 30-All? Love-30? 40-Love? Love-40? It’s a totally different ballgame. What the best players usually do is they play the score very well. That’s something that comes with experience, but I also will experience sometimes I feel you start to play safer or the percentages more. That can become a bit boring. I always try to keep a young mind because I feel my game needs that risk taking, that committed play. Clearly when I’m confident, I can do it much easier.
Q. Novak’s forehand match point shot against you was possibly the greatest risk shot against you. What was one or two of your greatest successful high-risk shots?
ROGER FEDERER: I have no idea. Zero idea. I played too many points and so many times I have had to take a big chance and guessed the right way, and I did. Just felt it. Maybe match point against Sampras. Felt like he was going to slide it wide. I was just waiting there. I believe that clearly he was going to go T with an ace for sure. I gave him that and leaned the other way. Maybe that one sticks out.
Q. You may remember that article from David Foster Wallace years ago in the New York Times where described you as a religious experience, and then I read, a human beings reconciliation with the fact of having a body. What do you think? Do you recognize yourself? An exaggeration?
ROGER FEDERER: Just a slight exaggeration (laughter). But I guess in sports we have a tendency to — there’s no end. You know, it’s just so unbelievable sometimes, like it’s never been seen before. So I’ve been through this entire phase where I got so many compliments, you just thought, Wow, this is the best feeling in the world. But very quickly you get the feeling as well that not everything’s so great sometimes when you don’t play very well. I’ve been on both sides. That’s why I have no problem accepting criticism, because I’ve gotten so many compliments over the years. It’s part of the game. But clearly some unbelievable pieces have been written about me, about tennis, about other players. It’s interesting to read them. Sometimes just slightly exaggerated, but everybody can judge that the way they want.
Team World One Win Away From Victory in Laver Cup
Team World take a huge 10-2 lead over Team Europe heading into the final day
After losing the first four editions of the Laver Cup, Team World look set to win the event for a second time as the event reaches its conclusion tomorrow.
Team World Captain John McEnroe was thrilled with the day’s results but warned against complacency: “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. The job’s not done but we’re pretty close.”
American duo Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe both earned straight sets wins over Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz, while Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton beat Hurkacz and Gael Monfils.
“I want to play well for the guys,” said Tiafoe after his singles victory. “I played really well tonight. Just being in a team environment is so foreign to us as tennis players, it’s such an individual sport.”
After winning his third singles match in three appearances at the Laver Cup, Fritz was also motivated to do well:
“Yesterday, all the guys played really well. I felt that and wanted to come out on court and show what I can do. That definitely motivated me. Any type of team environment, I feel like it always elevates my game. I feel like my record in team events is really strong because I have a team cheering for me. I get pumped up. I’m excited to play for them. It just adds more pressure and fire to it. I think I play better in those situations.”
The doubles was a typically dynamic and feisty affair, and after the match Shelton was full of praise for his partner:
“It’s amazing, when you play with a guy who serves and returns like Felix, is as athletic as him, and goes back for the overhead as strong as him, it’s a fun time,” said Shelton. “We call him ‘Laver Cup Felix’ because he turns into something special this week, just glad I got to share the court with him at least once.”
Auger-Aliassime returned the compliments: “The best comes out of me when I’m playing not only for myself but for team-mates. Ben carried me through the end of that match, it was tough for me to get it done.”
Casper Ruud, meanwhile, beat Tommy Paul for Europe’s only points so far.
Matches on the final day are worth three points each – meaning that Team Europe would have to win all four remaining matches to prevent Team World from winning the trophy.
T. Fritz def A. Rublev 6-2, 7-6
F. Tiafoe def H. Hurkacz 7-5, 6-3
F. Auger-Aliassime & B. Shelton def H.Hurkacz & G. Monfils 7-5, 6-4
C. Ruud def T. Paul 7-6, 6-2
ATP RANKINGS UPDATE: Novak Djokovic, No.1 once more
After the US Open the Serbian champion reclaims top spot. Alexander Zverev is back in the Top 10
By Roberto Ferri
“Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion”
Rudy Tomjanovich coined this maxim just after his Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995. He was paying homage to Akeem Holajuwon. It perfectly suits the heart of Daniil Medvedev, who proved 99% of tennis fans in the world to be wrong, convinced as they were that he would lose the semifinal to former No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.
But his dream to win a second US Open, after his triumph in 2021, was shattered by another champion, whose heart and class is even greater: that’s Novak Djokovic, who affixes his seal on his return to No.1, equalling Margaret Court Smith’s record of 24 majors.
Djokovic dethroning Alcaraz is not the only change in the top 20: Sascha Zverev is back in the top 10 after almost one year and Ben Shelton, great protagonist of the Us Open, debuts in the top 20 best players in the world.
A few comments:
Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev and Alexander Zverev gain 2 positions.
Ben Shelton devours 28 positions.
Sinner, Tiafoe, Norrie and Dimitrov lose one.
Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov, runner up and semi-finalist respectively at the 2022 US Open, drop 4 positions.
One step forward for Fritz, de Minaur, Paul, Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz.
ATP NITTO FINALS
From 12 to 19 November the 8 best players of the ranking based on the points earned in the ongoing solar season will be playing the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.
Will Novak Djokovic succeed in winning a second straight title? He appears to be heading in the right direction.
Thanks to his triumph at the US Open the Serbian overtakes Alcaraz also in the Race to Turin.
Jannik Sinner holds fourth spot while Andrei Rublev overtakes Stefanos Tsitsipas and is now fifth.
The eighth position is occupied by Alexander Zverev.
Last year runner up, Casper Ruud is currently 10th. This means he would feature in Turin as a reserve.
ATP NEXT GENERATION FINALS
The Next Gen Finals, dedicated to the best under 21s, (8 effectives and 2 reserves) of the season will take place this year in Gedda, Saudi Arabia.
The 2022 winner, Brandon Nakashima, will not be defending his title, since he was born in 2001.
Taking for granted that Alcaraz and, most likely Rune, will be playing the ATP Finals, we have included in the chart the 12 current top under 21s.
Besides Ben Shelton, other 11 players have achieved their career highest this week.
We tribute a double applause to the four players who are making their debut in the top 100.
The 25-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 22-year-old Australian Rinky Hijkata and the Swiss next gen Dominic Stricker all reap the reward for their brilliant runs at the US Open. Seyboth Wild, the Brazilian who stunned Medvedev in the first round of Roland Garros leaps to No.76 after winning the Challenger in Como last week.
Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
COMMENT: Novak Djokovic Proves His Greatness At US Open
Love him, or hate him. But respect him.
No tennis player has ever been better than Novak Djokovic.
Even Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have to take their hats off to Novak, and admire him.
Now that Rafa and Roger have left Djokovic on his own stage at least for now, tennis fans love Novak.
DJOKOVIC WENT ONE STEP FURTHER
Djokovic’s performance on Sunday evening in the U.S. Open final was simply amazing. Daniil Medvedev also played his heart out, but Djokovic went one step further. He was sensational.
It was a thrill-a-minute three-set match. It lasted well into the night after starting at mid-afternoon. The second set alone lasted 104 minutes.
Djokovic was the winner, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3, but New York still loves 2021 champion Medvedev.
A FOURTH AND 24TH TITLE, AND A 24 TRIBUTE
At 36, the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion ever, Djokovic obviously has a special place in his heart for the number four. It’s the number of times he has won this tournament and the 24th time he has won a Grand Slam title.
The number 24 also was displayed prominently on the white jacket. Novak, his team members and family wore for the victory celebration as a tribute to the No. 24 jersey of deceased friend Kobe Bryant.
Djokovic lost his footing at least three times in the tight second set, stumbling to the surface once, apparently due to the length of the rallies.
Djokovic could look like he was almost completely wiped out of it physically one minute, and then play like Superman the next minute.
THREE POINTS MAY HAVE BEEN DECISIVE
Both men played great tennis, especially in the thrill-a-second second set in which Medvedev gained one set point in the 12th game before Djokovic recovered to force a tiebreaker.
Medvedev appeared to be in charge after out-playing Novak to win one of his drop shots to take a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker. The match may have been decided on the next three points, all won by Djokovic on errors by the 6-6 Russian.
The big question now is what happens next January in the Australian Open. Right now, Djokovic probably wants to play . . . and win what has been his favorite tournament as far as success. But things can change quickly for players in their mid-30s. Just ask Roger or Rafa.
James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.
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