Federer moves through in Halle as Wawrinka is dismissed in London - UBITENNIS
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Federer moves through in Halle as Wawrinka is dismissed in London

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TENNIS – Roger Federer beat Ernests Gulbis 6-3 7-5 to get through to the quarterfinal of the Gerry Weber Open. Diego Sampaolo

After saving 2 break points in the 3rd game Federer converted his 2nd break point chance in the 6th game of the opening set for a 4-2 lead. He dropped just one point in his next two service games en route to winning the set with 6-3 in just 27 minutes.

In a tougher second set Federer made consecutive double faults but held his serve for 4-4. He earned three break points at 5-5. Gulbis saved the first two break points but dropped his serve for 5-6 after committing a double fault at 30-40. Federer served out for the match for 7-5. Federer has reached the quarterfinal in Halle for the 13th time in 13 appearances. This is surely one of his favourite events having won 7 titles here.

Federer will face Florian Mayer in the quarterfinals. The Swiss star won all 5 of their previous matches. Mayer beat Steve Johnson 6-3 7-6(4). Mayer fought back from 0-3 in the 1st set by reeling off 6 consecutive games to win 6-3. After  trading breaks in the 2nd set, they remained on serve forcing a tie-breaker where Mayer won 7-4 points.

Tomas Berdych, winner at Halle in 2007, eased past Borna Coric 6-3 6-2. The Czech player went down 0-30 on his serve but avoided the risk of a break by hitting two service winners. Berdych broke serve in the 4th game and held his next service games to close out in the 9th game with 6-3. Coric saved a break point at the start of 2nd set but Berdych eventually broke serve soon afterwards when Coric made yet another unforced error. Berdych got a double break in the next game before holding his next three service games, 6-3 6-2.

Ivo Karlovic fought back from a set down to edge Alexander Zverev 6-7(5) 6-3 6-3. The 1st set went on serve until the tie-break where Zverev got the mini-break and the set all on the same point. Karlovic broke serve three times to win the next two sets with a 6-7 6-3 6-3.

Anderson beats Wawrinka in the second round at Queen’s

Kevin Anderson battled past this year’s Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka 7-6(4) 7-6(11) in the 2nd round of the Aegon Championships at the Queen’s Club in London. The Swiss player lost his first match since his winning run in Paris two weeks ago.

Anderson held a break point in the 1st game of the match whereas Wawrinka held two set points at 6-5. However, neither converted on these opportunities. Yet Anderson took the win in the tie-break of the first set with 7-4.

Wawrinka saved a break point when he was down 2-3 in the 2nd set and neither player was again able to break serve. Thus, the match came down to the tiebreaker. Wawrinka saved 5 match points before sending a forehand wide on his lone set point. Anderson got the decisive mini-break for 12-11 and closed out the match on his 6th match point with his 22nd ace. Anderson scored his 4th consecutive win against Wawrinka including the three wins from part .

Anderson will face  Guillermo Garcia Lopez who knocked out in straight sets, 6-4 7-6(4) Alexsandr Dolgopolov the man responsible for dismissing Rafael Nadal in the previous round.

“I felt I was serving really well. Grass definitely helps a little bit especially on some of the wide serves. I felt a very good serving performance.  I just kept patient throughout. I found I was having quite a few chances on his serve. tt was a terrific match for me. He is a terrific player so it means a lot to me and to do on such a great makes it extra special. I feel like I play good tennis against him. I can take a lot of confidence from that and take that same sort of belief against some of the other top guys”, said Anderson

Despite his defeat, Wawrinka was happy with his match. “I did one big mistake. I think he is playing really well. He was going for his shots and going for the line without really a plan. Just going and putting a lot of pressure”, said Wawrinka

Giles Simon beat Thannasi Kokkinakis 6-4 6-2. The Frenchman converted on 4/6 of his break points

Milos Raonic, who is playing his first event after undergoing surgery to correct a nerve in his right foot, edged passed Richard Gasquet 6-4 6-7(5) 6-1. Raonic broke serve in the opening game of the 1st set and quickly jumped out to a 2-0 lead en route to winning the set 6-4. Gasquet won the 2nd set tie-break to draw level in the match. Raining took complete charge of the decisive set as he soon up 4-0 before taking it 6-1.

 

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Brazilian Rising Star Joao Fonseca Waives College Eligibility To Turn Pro

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Image via https://twitter.com/RioOpenOficial/

One of Brazil’s most promising young tennis players has made the bold decision to abandon a dream of his to play college tennis in America to turn pro. 

17-year-old Jaoao Fonseca was committed to playing college tennis at the University of Virginia but says professional tennis has called him in a way he couldn’t refuse. The rising star has played just two Tour-level events so far in his career and is currently ranked 343rd in the world. 

At last week’s Rio Open, he became the second-youngest player after Alexander Zverev to reach the quarter-finals of an ATP 500 event since the category was introduced. In his home tournament, the Brazillian beat Arthur Fils and Cristian Garin before losing to Mariano Navone.

“It was an incredibly tough decision for me and my family as I have been dreaming about living a college life in Charlottesville, playing the sport that l love with a wonderful team and coach, but, in the last months, professional tennis called me in a way that I simply couldn’t say no,” Fonseca wrote in a statement published on Instagram
“Although I will not be attending school, I think it is an extremely valuable and viable path for young players in their way to professional careers,” he added.

Fonseca has already enjoyed success on the junior circuit. Last year he was runner-up in the doubles tournament at the Australian Open boy’s event. Then at the US Open, he won his first Grand Slam junior title in singles. He is also a former ITF Junior World No.1 and is currently ranked second in the standings. 

The youngster has already been hailed by compatriot Beatriz Haddad Maia, who is currently ranked 13th on the WTA Tour. Speaking to reporters at the San Diego Open, she has offered her support to Fonseca if he needs it. 

“João is a nice person. He has a great future, if he keeps working hard and keeps doing what he’s doing. I think he has a very aggressive mentality and tennis.” She said.

“We sometimes text each other, but not that much. But I’m always following.. not only him.. but the Brazilians. I’m proud of what he’s doing. He has a long way and he needs to understand that it’s a marathon, it’s not a 100 meter race.’
“Tennis has its ups and downs. I wish him all the best, for sure. I’ll be here whenever he wants. I’m happy with what he’s doing.” 

Fonseca played at the Chile Open this week but lost in the first round to Thiago Agustin Tirante.

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Injured Alcaraz Pulls Out of Rio Open After Two Games

A sprained ankle a couple of minutes into his debut at the Rio Open forced top seed Carlos Alcaraz to abandon his match against Thiago Monteiro

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Carlos Alcaraz after the injury - Rio 2024 (photo Tennis TV)

For world no. 2 Carlos Alcaraz, this year’s Rio Open lasted two games: the Spanish champion had to retire on the score of 1-1 in the first set during his first-round match against Brazilian Thiago Monteiro due to a sprained right ankle suffered in the second point of the match.

In an accident somewhat reminiscent of the terrible one suffered by Zverev in the semi-final of Roland Garros 2022, Alcaraz’s right foot “got stuck”  in the clay as he returned towards the center of the court after returning from the left, and he immediately flew to the ground dropping his racket. The Spaniard immediately asked for a medical time-out, but as soon as he took off his shoe it was immediately clear that his ankle had already swollen.

After having a tight bandage applied, Alcaraz tried to continue the match, but just two games later he understood that it was not possible to continue so he shook hands with his opponent, abandoning the Brazilian tournament.

The match was played on a very heavy court due to the rain that had fallen heavily during the day. The organizers had been forced to cancel the daytime session and play could only begin around 7.30 pm local time, after the courts had remained under pouring water all day.

Alcaraz told the press present in Rio: “I think these things happen, especially on clay. It wasn’t a problem with the court, I hurt myself in a change of direction and this happens on this type of surface. I went back into the match to see if I could continue or not. I spoke to the physiotherapist on the court and we decided, together, that I would continue to see if the ankle would improve. It didn’t happen, so we preferred to be cautious and withdraw as a precaution.”

Considering that Alcaraz left the court on his own two feet and managed to wobble through a couple of games after the injury, it is quite likely that the injury he suffered is much less serious than the one that kept Alexander Zverev away from tournaments for over seven months. However, it will be necessary to verify whether it is just a sprain or whether tendons or ligaments have been involved. If this were to be the case, the prognosis could turn out to be longer, and this is happening less than two weeks before the start of the Sunshine Double in Indian Wells and Miami.

The Spaniard is scheduled to play an exhibition in Las Vegas on 3rd March against Rafael Nadal: it will be decided in the next few days whether to withdraw as a precaution for the first Masters 1000 of the season in Indian Wells.

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Can Jannik Sinner dodge the morning-after syndrome?

Very few players have managed to follow up their first triumph in a Major. Hewitt is the last new Grand Slam champion to immediately win an ATP title. Nadal, Djokovic and Federer all misfired, can Jannik Sinner do better?

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Jannik Sinner - Australian Open 2024 (photo: X @federtennis)

By Roman Bongiorno

“The morning-after syndrome,” as they call it. The list of great champions who have suffered from it – Carlos Alcaraz, Juan Martin del Potro, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Stan Wawrinka, Andy Murray, is impressive.  Some of the most illustrious names in our sport, the most successful ever. Yet, even for those who are legends, the match immediately after their first Grand Slam triumph is often an insurmountable hurdle.

The very young Spanish phenomenon, born in 2003, was the latest striking example. After winning the 2022 US Open and becoming the new world No. 1, Alcaraz managed to win just one set in his next two matches: he lost 6-7 6-4 6-2 in the Davis Cup against Felix Auger Aliassime, who was definitely on fire in that period, and was inflicted a 7-5 6-3 defeat by veteran David Goffin in his first match at the ATP 500 in Astana.

Mentally, it’ not easy. The most important triumph of one’s life, immediately to be put aside.  And go back to work. The media are quick to pounce on any slip, headlines hinting at signs of a career already over: “it’s gone to his head”, “he has made his money” etc.

Less than a year later, Carlos Alcaraz was once more a Grand Slam champion, beating Novak Djokovic in the final at Wimbledon.

Just think of tennis legends such as Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic, who fell victims to this serious syndrome. The former, after his triumph at Roland Garros 2005, stepped back on court on the green grass of Halle, losing in 3 sets to the world number 147 German Alexander Waske: 4-6 7-5 6-3. For many, that was a disastrous defeat foreshadowing a future that would not be as bright as it had seemed. Rafa told another story, by winning another 21 Grand Slam titles, on every surface.

The Serbian, on the other hand, thrived on the hard courts of Melbourne, just like Jannik Sinner. In 2008, after winning the title, he was engaged in Davis Cup against Russia. He did not finish his rubber against Nikolay Davydenko and retired at the beginning of the fourth set while trailing 2 sets to 1. In his first ATP tour appearance, in Marseille, after brushing aside Ivan Dodig, he was ousted in three sets by Gilles Simon. Over the following 15 years Novak Djokovic went on to become the has become the most successful player ever.

What about Roger Federer? After lifting the trophy won at Wimbledon in 2003, he moved to the home clay of Gstaad.  He survived the morning-after syndrome  after a fierce but victorious struggle in the first round with the Spaniard Marc Lopez, ranked No.190. Then he cruised till the final, but was defeated in a five set hustle 5-7 6-3 6-3 1-6 6-3 by Jiri Novak.

The morning-after did not spare Juan Martin del Potro. After his stunning victory over Federer at the 2009 US Open, he set foot on an ATP tennis court three weeks later in Tokyo. It was Edouard Roger Vassellin, 189th in the world, who spoiled the party, neatly defeating the Argentinian in two sets, 64 64.

Even “Ice man” Bjorn Borg, the man without (apparent) emotions, focused only on tennis and winning, lost the first match after his success at Roland Garros 1974. He was defeated in the first round in Nottingham by world No. 71 Milan Holecek from Czechoslovakia. Over the next years he definitely made up for that impasse on English lawns.

A rare bird at last, and not by chance does it come from Australia, a land which is ever so rich in unique species. Lleyton Hewitt, who in 2001 after steamrolling Pete Sampras in the US Open final, immediately won his next matches, two singles rubbers in the Davis Cup against Jonas Bjorkman and Thomas Johansson, and then went on to win in Tokyo by beating Michel Kratochvil in the final.

Jannik Sinner has been building up his success on gruelling feats. Sure he’s eager to be back on the Dutch indoor courts of Rotterdam where he enjoyed a brilliant run last year, only surrendering to Danil Medvedev in the final. Just one year ago the Russian seemed an impossible opponent to defeat. Now, in the last 4 challenges, Jannik has beaten him 4 times. The last one, in the final of the Australian Open.

Rotterdam could have been the stage for a rematch, but Medvedev has pulled out of the tournament. Jannik Sinner appears as a favourite, and is vying to close in on that third place of the rankings currently held by Daniil.

Jannik has set out on his mission. But even if he were to be defeated in the first round by an opponent ranked beyond the top 200, no one should dare cry failure. Italy at last has a Grand Slam winner, and he is not to be downplay him in case of first defeats.

Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye

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