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ATP Basel: Main draw released, Federer starts with Kukushkin

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Federer is a six time winner in Basel

Federer is a six time winner in Basel

 

 

The draw for one of the two events in the penultimate week of the season has been released, and unsurprisingly Roger Federer and Stan Wawrinka are the top two seeds in a tournament flooded with big names.

The event in Basel marks essentially the home event for both Federer and Wawrinka, with Federer having won the title six times, including last year’s event, where he defeated David Goffin in straight sets. Wawrinka has never won the Swiss Indoors.

Federer will start against Mikhail Kukushkin, a player who he has not dropped a set to in their previous two meetings. Philipp Kohlschreiber could prove a tricky customer in the second round, if the German can negotiate a qualifier. Federer could meet last year’s beaten finalist David Goffin as early as the quarter-finals this year. The Belgian starts against the unseeded Andreas Seppi.

Second seed Wawrinka faces Ivo Karlovic, who recently became the official record holder of aces since the ATP began collecting the data. The tall Croat has only defeated the French Open champion once in five attempts. Wawrinka could face Richard Gasquet in the quarter finals. The Frenchman beat the Swiss in an enthralling Wimbledon quarter-final in July.

Third seed Rafael Nadal is scheduled to face Wimbledon 2013 conqueror Lukas Rosol, before a potential second round encounter with Grigor Dimitrov, who starts against Sergiy Stakhovsky. Nadal is in Wawrinka’s side of the draw, with that a possible semi-final.

John Isner will face Ernests Gulbis in a rematch of the Vienna second round meeting that saw Gulbis emerge victorious. Should Isner prevail, he could face a fellow American in Jack Sock, who starts against a qualifier.

Kevin Anderson faces an interesting task. He faces young up and comer Borna Coric, who suffered a disappointingly early exit in Moscow at the hands of Evgeny Donskoy.

Swiss wildcards Henri Laaksonen and Marco Chiudinelli face Donald Young and Marin Cilic, as they look to take advantage of their singles opportunities.

Basel Main Draw:

[1] Federer-Kukushkin
Qualifier-Kohlschreiber
Troicki-Baghdatis
Seppi- [8] Goffin

[4] Anderson-Coric
[WC] Laaksonen-Young
Qualifier-Sock
Gulbis- [6] Isner

[7] Cilic- [WC] Chiudinelli
Gabashvili-L. Mayer
Stakhovsky-Dimitrov
Rosol- [3] Nadal

[5] Gasquet-Vesely
Thiem-Qualifier
Dolgopolov-Qualifier
Karlovic- [2] Wawrinka

 

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Dominic Thiem First Through To ATP Finals Semis After Epic Win Over Djokovic

For the second time in his career, Thiem has battled back from a set down to upset the former world No.1.

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LONDON: Dominic Thiem has become the first Austrian player in history to reach the semi-final stage at the ATP Finals after fighting back against world No.2 Novak Djokovic in a classic encounter.

 

In what was an enthralling nighttime clash, the world No.4 produced some of his best play to recover from a set down to prevail 6-7(5), 6-3, 7-6(4), over the second seed after more than two-and-a-half hours of pulsating play. A turnaround from three years ago in the same tournament when it was Djokovic who won after losing the opening tiebreaker. This time around Thiem prevailed with the help of 50 winners. 32 of those coming from his forehand side.

“This was one of the most special matches. It is what I have practiced all of my life for.” Thiem said during his on-court interview. “It’s a really big one (win) in front of an amazing atmosphere against a real legend of our game. So I couldn’t be happier. Also, I qualified for the semifinals which is the best.”

Thiem has been a player of nightmares for the world No.2 in recent months. Despite trailing their head-to-head (3-6), the Austrian had won three out of their four most recent meetings. Including a clash at a windy French Open back in June. Once again Djokovic struggled to tame his rival during what was a rollercoaster opener at The O2 Arena

It was the six-time champion who struck first after breaking for a 3-1 lead. However, that advantage swiftly disappeared due to an emphatic response from Thiem in the following game as he fought back to draw level. The cat and mouse chase between the two continued as both players refused to buckle as they each won their mini battles on the court. Paving way for a tiebreak.

In an encounter of fine margins, it would be one single shot that proved fatal to Thiem. At 5-5 in the tiebreaker, a forehand sailed long to hand his Serbian nemesis set point. An opportunity Djokovic seized with the help of a 123 mph serve to end what was 65 minutes of pulsating play from the two. Handing him his ninth consecutive tiebreak win on the ATP Tour since Wimbledon.

The comeback

Dominc Thiem (Aut)

Despite the blunder, Thiem continued to antagonize Djokovic in the match. Breaking straight away in the second set en route to a 3-0 advantage. Much to the bemusement of the 16-time grand slam champion, who made numerous glares of frustration towards his camp. There was no let-up in the Thiem comeback as he rallied to level the match a set apiece.

The fightback continued to draw admiration from the London crowd. In the decider, it was another blistering forehand from Thiem that broke the Djokovic serve right away. As cries of anger continued to erupt from the five-time champion, the exchanges of breaks continued. Thiem’s first chance of serving the match out at 6-5 ended in disaster after he hit an array of errors. Nevertheless, he refused to go away. Fighting back from a 1-4 deficit in the decisive tiebreaker to stun Djokovic. Prompting the 26-year-old to drop to the floor out of sheer jubilation and exhaustion.

“I was in the zone from the first point on. Even when I served for the match, 6-5 in the third set, I was playing obviously the best returner in the game.” Assessed Thiem. “I didn’t worry too much and I was focusing on the tiebreak. Coming back from 1-4 was also a little bit of luck but in general, it was unbelievable. A match I would never forget.” He added.

Djokovic now faces a showdown against Roger Federer if he wishes to reach the last four of the tournament. The last time he failed to progress beyond the round-robin stages was back in 2011. Excluding the 2016 edition, he missed due to injury. Visibly disappointed with the outcome of his match afterward, he still paid tribute to his rival.

“He was unbelievable, and in some stages, it was just incredible that he was just literally smacking the ball as hard as he can and he was going in.” He said of Thiem.
“This today was unbelievable. But whether he can keep that up every match, if he does, chapeau There is not much you can say. For sure, he’s playing great tennis.”

As a result of the latest match, Italy’s Matteo Berrettini cannot progress beyond the round-robin stage and will finish bottom in the group.

Standings after two matches

MATCHES SETS GAMES
[1] THIEM W W 4-1 33-16
[2] DJOKOVIC W L 3-2 28-22
[3] FEDERER L W 2-2 23-23
[4] BERRETTINI L L 0-4 12-25

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Revenge And Redemption On The Mind Of Roger Federer Ahead Of Djokovic Clash

They say time is a healer, but has Federer recovered from that Wimbledon final yet?

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It was the outcome that many tennis fans wanted at the ATP Finals, but not necessarily Roger Federer.

 

The chances of the Swiss maestro reaching the semi-finals of the event hangs in the balance ahead of his final round-robin match. Where he will take on nemesis Novak Djokovic. Whilst their head-to-head look deceivingly close at 26-22 in favor of the world No.2, it has been four years since Federer has won a match.

Twice the 38-year-old loss to the Serbian last year in Cincinnati and Paris. Then in July, he was ousted in a marathon encounter at Wimbledon where he failed to convert two championship points.

“I’m excited about playing against him. I’m excited to see how he’s going to play tonight (against Thiem), as well. It’s definitely going to give me some more information about what to expect.” Federer previewed about meeting No.49.
“But other than that, I think I need to focus on my game, what I do best. And regardless of what I need to do, I just hope I play well.”

A lot of happened since their Wimbledon encounter. Earlier this week Djokovic believes his rival will not be mentally affected by what happened at The All England Club. Hailing him as ‘one of the greatest players to ever hold a racket.’ Although Federer is human and undoubtedly there will be some kind of scarring.

“I think we both can take away some confidence from that match. Him obviously a lot. Me maybe a tad bit less.” Federer explained.
“It’s good for me to play him again, and maybe that all helps to get a chance to get him back or whatever it is, but at the end of the day, I’m here for the World Tour Finals and not because of the Wimbledon final.” He added.

This week has so far been a turbulent experience for the 20-time grand slam champion, who lost to Thiem on Sunday. An almost identical scenario to 12 months ago why he lost his opening match to Kei Nishikori before progressing to the semi-finals. Losing to eventual champion Alexander Zverev.

One has to wonder if his losing starts to the London extravaganza is linked to his decision in recent years to reduce his schedule on the tour. Therefore limiting his match play. Excluding the Laver cup, Federer has played two tournaments since the US Open. One of which was in Basel when he won his 103rd tour title.

“I don’t necessarily think I’m a player who now needs a million matches to feel good on that day, but it’s true with every place you go to, it probably takes you two days, five days, three matches to feel perfect.” He admits.
“In the beginning, everybody feels a little bit uncomfortable, and that’s no different for me. It’s just getting used to the conditions, the flight of the ball, the ball pressure, the altitude, whatever comes with it.”

Should Thiem defeat Djokovic on Tuesday evening, he will qualify for the last four. Leaving the two members of the Big Three to fight it out for the other remaining semi-final spot in their group. A mouthwatering prospect for the event organisers.

A breakdown of the rivalry

By tournament

Grand Slams: Djokovic leads 10-6
ATP Finals: Djokovic leads 3-2
Masters 1000: Djokovic leads 11-9
ATP 500 events: Federer leads 4-2
Davis Cup: Federer leads 1-0

By year

YEAR

DJOKOVIC

FEDERER

2006

0

2

2007

1

3

2008

1

2

2009

3

2

2010

1

4

2011

4

1

2012

3

2

2013

2

0

2014

3

3

2015

5

3

2016

1

0

2017

0

0

2018

2

0

2019

1

0

 TOTAL

26

22

 

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Roger Federer Revives Title Hopes With Win Over Berrettini At ATP Finals

The 20-time grand slam champion has returned back to winning ways in London.

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LONDON: Roger Federer has kept his chances of winning a record seventh title at the ATP Finals alive after downing debutant Matteo Berrettini in straight sets.

Federer, who hasn’t won the season-ending event since 2011, held his nerve to oust the Italian 7-6(2), 6-3. Recording his second win over the world No.8 this season.

 

The victory was by no means a walk in the park for the 38-year-old, who was pushed to his limit during certain stages of the match. Nevertheless, he still managed to prevail with the help of 24 winners to 27 unforced errors. Converting all three of his break point oppotunities.

“I’m very happy with how I played,” Federer said during his on-court interview. “Matteo was always going to be difficult with the big serve. If you don’t get the read and the ball back in the way you want it to you’re going to be in trouble.”

After suffering a loss to Dominic Thiem on the opening day of the tournament, Federer’s clash with Berrettini was critical to his future presence in the event. Out of his 16 appearances in the ATP Finals, only once had he failed to win two matches in the round-robin stage. That was back in 2008 when Berrettini would have been just 12-years-old.

“There is no reason to be too down on yourself. We came here to play three matches and give it all we have.” The Swiss player explained. “It was a big goal of the season to come here and qualify.”
“There are plenty of ways to get rid of that loss. Just hanging out with your kids for me, so that’s what we did.”

Unlike their one-sided encounter at Wimbledon a couple of months ago, Federer faced tougher resistance from his Italian rival at The O2 Arena. Who didn’t make his top-10 debut until last month. The opening set consisted of both players matching each other game-by-game with no break point opportunities occurring until 35 minutes into the match. When the world No.3 has a chance to clinch the set 7-5, but failed to convert.

Eventually, the brick-wall resistance from the Italian subsided in the tiebreaker. A Berrettini forehand error rewarded the Swiss his first mini-break as he rapidly raced to a 4-1 lead. Finally, in control of the proceedings, Federer continued to capitalize on the mistakes from across the court, one of which rewarded him the 7-6 lead.

The breakthrough seemed to have flustered his younger rival, who started the second set with a nightmare service game that featured four consecutive unforced errors. Enabling the six-time champion to tighten his grip on the match to a set and a break lead. Continuing to weather the storm, Federer maneuvered himself to the win. Sealing victory on his second match point after a Berrettini drop shot backfired on him.

“He was doing really good in the first set. I think the beginning of the second was key.”

Federer’s presence in the semi-finals of the event now lies with the result of his upcoming showdown with Novak Djokovic on Thursday. It will be the 49th meeting between the two tennis giants with the Serbian leading their head-to-head 26-22. Their last match was in the Wimbledon final which Federer lost in the decisive tiebreaker after failing to convert two match points.

“He’s one of the greatest players ever to hold the racquet,” Djokovic said of Federer earlier this week.
“His ability to recover after big losses and, you know, cope with the pressure in tough moments on the court has been phenomenal over the years. I have tons of respect for him.”

Federer hasn’t lost to an Italian player on the tour since Andreas Seppi back at the 2015 Australian Open.

 

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