Roger Federer Does Not Shine But Beats Tomas Berdych in Straight Sets in ATP Finals Debut - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer Does Not Shine But Beats Tomas Berdych in Straight Sets in ATP Finals Debut

Ivan Pasquariello

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Roger Federer beats Tomas Berdych for the 15th time, winning by 6-4 6-2 in his debut match at the O2 Arena for the ATP World Tour Finals. Despite a shaky start, the Swiss takes advantage of Berdych’s nerves in the first set and outplays the Czech in the second to collect his victory number 49 at the ATP Finals. The Swiss is also presented with two awards on court at the end of the match.

 

 

At his 14th appearance at the ATP World Tour Finals, Roger Federer collects victory number 49 beating Tomas Berdych in straight sets by 6-4 6-2 in 1 hour and 9 minutes. The Swiss doesn’t shine in his debut at the O2 Arena and takes advantage of a bad day from the Czech on his forehand. Federer doesn’t hit a volley until half an hour into the match, failing to show the brilliant progression he has got his fans accustomed with. The Swiss manages to find his best rhythm in time to close the match in straight sets, becoming increasingly more devastating on his forehand in the second set. As soon as the Swiss manages to put Berdych’s backhand under pressure, the Czech starts to fall into the trap, feeling pushed to close the rallies faster and ending up committing a whole lot of unforced errors. It is Federer’s 15th win against Berdych in 21 matches played against the Czech.

A winner in 2003-04, 2006-07 and 2010-11 at the ATP World Tour Finals, Federer has to play like he did in the second set against Berdych to make sure he can survive the Round Robin action with no hassle. At the end of the match, Federer was presented on court with the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship Award and the ATPWorldTour.com Fan’s Favourite Award. Roger’s coach Stefan Edberg steps on court with ATP’s CEO Chris Kermode to present the Swiss with the awards. It is the 11th time that Federer wins the Stefan Edberg Sportsmanship award, the 13th time in a row he wins the fans’ favourite award.

https://twitter.com/tennis_photos/status/666005753032024068

It’s the perfect ending to Federer’s first night out in London. The tournament has officially started and the Swiss has shaken off his first nerves.

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MATCH REPORT

Roger Federer (SUI) b. Tomas Berdych (CZE) 6-4 6-2 in 1 hour and 9 minutes

 

O2 Arena – London
RR ATP World Tour Finals 2015

Damian Steiner (Argentina)  – Chair Umpire

The crowd is obviously not so shyly rooting for Roger Federer as he gets the warmest welcome on court of the day.

 

Tomas Berdych starts the match serving, after winning the toss.

 

THE FIRST SET

 

Berdych plays two strong first serves to hold serve to 15 as Federer hits a backhand return wide. The Swiss tries immediately to put pressure on Berdych’s forehand, but Tomas stays consistent. Federer starts his match on serve with two consecutive double faults at 0-15, to go 0-40 right away. Berdych attacks on Federer’s backhand on a tender second serve, and breaks at his first chance to go up 2-0.

 

Federer has a chance to get right back into the set as he leads 0-30 on Berdych’s serve in the third game. The Czech hits a backhand in the net and faces his first 3 consecutive break points in the match. Federer breaks with a backhand drop shot winner to come back at 1-2.

 

Roger now looks more for Tomas’s backhand, but most importantly has found his first serve. The Swiss holds to love to tie the score at 2-2. Strong at the baseline, Federer has another chance on Berdych’s serve at 0-30, after winning a 20-shot baseline rally forcing the Czech into hitting a forehand in the net. Berdych commits a terrible forehand unforced error on an open court, allowing Federer with 2 break point chances at 15-40. The Czech saves the first with a first serve, on the second Federer plays a short return on which Berdych attacks with a deep forehand. Berdych closes the game with an ace to lead 3-2.

 

Federer starts the 6th game with his first ace of the match. Up 40-30 the Swiss hits his 3rd double fault in the match. The Swiss insists on Berdych’s backhand using his serve and holds to tie the score at 3-3. The Swiss has only won 2 points on his second serve up to this point, with a winning percentage of 28%. Too low for the Swiss, who struggles to find his rhythm on serve.

 

It is now Berdych who manages to dictate the rallies with his forehand, attacking on Federer’s backhand, pushing the Swiss to finish the rallies with a series of forced errors. The Czech holds to 15 and leads 4-3. Federer plays his first volley of the match on a second serve, hitting a backhand volley in the net. Despite the lack of progression, Roger fires a forehand winner and closes the game at 15, to keep the equilibrium going at 4-4.

 

Berdych starts to feel the nerves as he serves at 4-4, so much so that he plays a disastrous 9th game. The Czech kills an airborne forehand in the net to trail back 0-30, then fires another forehand wide to face three break points down 0-40. Another unforced error on his forehand, hitting an easy shot in the net, sets Berdych with a lost serve. Federer breaks to serve for the set up 5-4.

 

Serving for the set, Federer hits three first serves, including an ace, to lead 40-0. On the first set point, Berdych wins the rally with a forehand winner. On the second set point the Czech hits a forehand long. After 38 minutes Roger Federer wins the first set by 6 games to 4.

 

Federer had 8 winners and 7 unforced errors in the set, compared to Berdych’s 6 winners and 10 unforced errors.

 

THE SECOND SET

 

Federer wins the best point of the match at the net, after lobbing Berdych and closing the rally with a forehand volley winner. The Swiss starts to have fun and mixes up pace and shot-making. Roger gets to break point at 30-40 thanks to a backhand drop shot return winner. Berdych hits another forehand in the net and gets broken in the first game as Federer leads 1-0.

 

The Swiss holds easily, finally more aggressive with his forehand, to lead 2-0. Federer has another chance on Berdych’s serve, up 15-30. The Czech comes back to have a game point, but hits a backhand long to set the score to deuce. As Federer attacks with his forehand, Berdych is pushed off court and faces another break point at 40-A. Federer insists on Berdych’s backhand, to open up the court and force Berdych to hit out with his forehand. Tomas misses a forehand wide, and calls for the first challenge of the match. Hawk-Eye confirms the call and Federer breaks to lead 3-0.

 

Federer insists on using the drop shot, winning most of the points. The Swiss holds serve to love and leads 4-0 in the set as the match approaches its finish line.

 

On a first serve hit by Berdych at 30-30, Federer calls his first challenge, but loses the point. The Czech attacks on Federer’s backhand to close the game and trail back at 1-4. In the 6th game, Federer plays aggressive with his backhand to open up the court. The Swiss closes the game with a backhand cross-court winner at 40-30 to hold serve and lead 5-1.

 

With Berdych serving to stay in the match, Federer tries his first SABR return of the match, ending up losing the point at the net with a backhand volley finishing long. Berdych manages to stay alive, holds and sends Federer to serve for the match at 5-2.

 

Federer starts the game with a double fault, then gets to 15-15 closing the point at the net with a forehand volley winner. With two strong serves on which Berdych can’t return, Federer has his first 2 match points at 40-15. Berdych plays a fantastic point, closing with a drop backhand volley. At his second chance, Federer comes at the net and closes the match with a chopped forehand winner after 1 hour and 9 minutes.

Berdych has now a 0-6 record at ATP Finals openers.

 

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Novak Djokovic Undecided Over Playing Australian Open, Slams Speculation Over His Vaccination Status

The tennis star says he is ‘irritated’ by some players’ passive attitude to the potential conditions related to the next Grand Slam and has accused the media of spreading fear related to the COVID-19 vaccination.

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Novak Djokovic during a Men's Singles championship match at the 2021 US Open, Sunday, Sep. 12, 2021 in Flushing, NY. (Andrew Ong/USTA)

World No.1 Novak Djokovic says he has concerns over potential rules which may be implemented on players travelling to the Australian Open next year and is not ruling out the possibility of not attending the Grand Slam altogether. 

 

Djokovic, who has won the Melbourne major more times than any other male player in history, has accused some of his peers of not being interested enough in the topic and just accepting any conditions which may be implemented. In an interview with Blic newspaper, the Serbian said he is ‘irritated’ with what he brands as disinterest among players and believes there needs to be more unity on the Tour. 

“I am following the situation around Australia and as far as I understand, the final decision of the Government of Australia and Tennis Australia will be in two weeks, so it is the first or second week of November,” said Djokovic.

“I do not believe that the conditions will change much in relation to what we already know. As was the case this year, there will be plenty of restrictions. What I heard from my manager who is in direct contact with people from the Federation of Australia is that they are trying to improve conditions for everyone. Both for those who have been vaccinated and for those who have not been.”

One of the most worrying issues for the 20-time Grand Slam champion is the prospect of having to be isolated upon arrival in Australia if somebody on his flight tests positive for COVID-19. At this year’s Australian Open dozens of players have to spend 14 days in quarantine after coming in contact with a positive case. Should such rules be implemented again next year, he faces a dilemma of whether to risk going or not. 

“Put a professional athlete in that kind of quarantine so he can’t get out of the room, and then expect him to play on some level, really … Not to mention the increased risk of injury, of which there were many, including me at this year’s Australian Open. If such conditions remain, I think that many players will think very well whether they will go or not.” Djokovic commented. 

Frustration over vaccination obsession 

Novak Djokovic at the 2021 US Open (Garrett Ellwood/USTA)

One of the most uncertain aspects relates to the fate of unvaccinated players wanting to play at the tournament. Recently the Victorian government issued a health mandate requiring essential workers, including athletes, to be vaccinated. Sports minister Martin Pakula recently told the Sports Entertainment Network that he is unsure if unvaccinated players will even be allowed in the country. That decision will be made by the national government who will likely implement extra restrictions on those players should they get the green light. 

Djokovic, who tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020, has previously said he disagreed with the concept of being forced to have a vaccination but has dismissed suggestions that he is an anti-vaxxer. Pressed by Blic about his current vaccination status, he refused to reveal it and instead hit out at the media for their obsession with it.

“Considering all that, I still do not know whether I will play in Melbourne,” he said. “There is excessive speculation, from the media as well, which bothers me a lot. I have not spoken too much (on vaccination) because everyone was making assumptions based on something I have said a year ago,” he argues.

“Not only in sports, but in the world in general, I am disappointed with the discord being made between the vaccinated and unvaccinated people. If we discriminate against someone because a person wants to make a decision for themselves, whether they want to get vaccinated or not, I think that is horrible… Media is putting pressure on a lot of people. At this moment, there are too many things that are not clear, too much information that is not valid, and then they turn out to be valid, then they are not again. Everything is changing.”

The 34-year-old has also accused the media of ‘spreading fear and panic’ and he does not want to be part of the ‘storm.’ Branding their attitude to the subject as ‘unfriendly.’  

“I have my own stance,” he said. “I won’t disclose whether I am vaccinated or not. It is a private matter, I think it is inappropriate to ask a person that. Too many people allow themselves the freedom to ask and then to judge. Whatever you say – I have, I have not, maybe, I do not know or I am thinking about it – they will use it against you.

“I think the media is spreading fear and panic and I do not want to take part in driving people against each other. I feel that the general media attitude is unfriendly so I do not want to give anyone the reason to write about me. Your editors can take what I have just said and turn it into a scandal. I do not want to be a part of that storm.”

Whilst Djokovic’s Australian Open presence is in doubt, there is clarity concerning his plans for the rest of this year. After taking a break following his loss in the final of the US Open to Daniil Medvedev, he is set to return to competition at the Paris Masters which will start on November 1st. He will also play the ATP Finals in Turin followed by the Davis Cup. 

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Lost Shoes Fails To Stop Cameron Norrie From Becoming First Brit To Win Indian Wells

Heading into the biggest final of his career, the Brit and his team launched a search party to find the missing pairs of shoes.

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Image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN

Cameron Norrie has capped off his breakthrough run at the BNP Paribas Open by fighting back from a set down to win his first Masters 1000 title at the age of 26.

 

Norrie, who had never won a main draw match at the tournament until this year, beat Nikoloz Basilashvili 3-6, 6-4, 6-1, to become the first ever player from Britain to win the tournament. Going one step further than Andy Murray, Tim Henman and Greg Rusedski who have all settled for runner-up in the past. In the final Norrie broke his opponent five times and hit 10 winners past him. It is the second time this year he has beaten Basilashvili on the Tour following their meeting in Rotterdam.

“What an incredible week I’ve had here,” said Norrie. “It was just a strange match. It was over quite quickly, and then the last kind of set I was expecting it to be longer. He made a couple errors towards the end.’
“I still don’t really know what I’m experiencing. It was an amazing couple weeks and I’m so happy with how I treated all the occasions, all the big moments, all the matches. I’m so happy, so pleased to win my biggest title.”

The triumph occurs during what has been a breakthrough season for the 26-year-old who is a former No.1 American collegiate player. Indian Wells was his sixth Tour final of 2021 and he has now won 47 matches. The only other player to reach six finals this year on the men’s Tour is Novak Djokovic.

Heading into the title match in Indian Wells, Norrie encountered a peculiar setback to his preparations after three pairs of his shoes went missing. Something which also happened to compatriot Andy Murray during the tournament.

“Every day I left my shoes on top of the locker. I think someone, I don’t know who it was, maybe someone from the cleaners or something last night, came through and they threw the three pairs of shoes that I had away,” he said.
“I looked all day. I had everyone looking. I don’t know what the people have against the Brits with stealing the shoes, but I didn’t manage to get them back.
“Yeah, it was just difficult. Luckily, I didn’t have a wedding ring attached [unlike Murray],” he added.

Norrie admitted the incident did partly distract him during what was the biggest final of his career because the new shoes ‘felt a bit heavy.’

“A couple times I was just thinking about it, probably not the best thing. You don’t want to be thinking about your shoes. At one point I said, All right, these are the shoes I got, I’m just going to focus on what I can control right now. I wore them in a little bit, and it came good in the end.”

Looking ahead to the coming weeks, Norrie is now in with a shot of qualifying for the year-end ATP Finals in Turin. He has moved to tenth in the race with 2830 points. Although one of those players ahead of him, Rafael Nadal, will not be playing in the event due to injury. This time last year Norrie was ranked outside the top 50.

“I’m playing Vienna, Paris, and Stockholm, the last three events indoors. It would be nice to make it (to the ATP Finals), but I’m going to keep going, keep taking care of what I can and handling what I can. We’ll see how it goes,” he said.
“I’m looking forward to the indoor season. I really like the courts. I’ve never really made a deep run in one of those tournaments, but I always play well. I always lose tight matches. Hopefully those can swing in my favor this year.”

Norrie has made his top 20 debut this week and is currently ranked 15th in the world.

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‘Nothing Is Impossible’ – Paula Badosa Eyes WTA Finals Spot After Clinching Indian Wells Title

The former teenage tennis prodigy aims to end her season on a high after a fairytale run in the Californian desert.

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Paula Badosa - image via https://twitter.com/BNPPARIBASOPEN

Spain’s Paula Badosa outlasted Victoria Azarenka in a marathon encounter to win the biggest title of her career to date at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.13 battled on the court for more than three hours before prevailing 7-6(5), 2-6, 7-6(2), over the two-time champion. Throughout the rollercoaster final Badosa had to battle back against Azarenka, who at one stage served for the match during the third set. Overall, she saved 10 out of 17 break points faced and won 52% of her service points. Badosa closed out the match by winning five out of the nine points played with outright winners in the final tiebreaker.

“It was a really tough match. I think it was a really good one, as well, because she played at an amazing level. I think I had to rise high level every set. In the final third set I think I played my best. It was the only option if I wanted to win, so I’m really proud of it,” said the new champion.
“It was like a roller coaster mentally, emotionally. It was my first final in a 1000. I had a lot of emotions,” she added.

Badosa has become the first Spanish woman in history to win the Indian Wells title and only the second in history to ever contest a final after Conchita Martinez. Her run to the trophy saw her impressively defeat four top 20 players en route, as well as Azarenka. Earlier in the tournament she defeated Coco Gauff, Barbora Krejčíková, Angelique Kerber and Ons Jabeur.

“The first thing that I’ve learned this week is that nothing is impossible. If you fight, if you work, after all these years, you can achieve anything,” she said.
“Sometimes you have tough moments. In my case I have been through tough moments. I never stopped dreaming. That’s what kept me working hard and believing until the last moment.”

The 23-year-old was widely tipped to be a star of the women’s game at a young age after lifting the French Open girls’ title back in 2015. However, that expectation weighed heavily on her shoulders with transitioning to the pro Tour proving to be a stern challenge. It wasn’t until four years after winning the junior Grand Slam title that she cracked the top 100. Since then, she has been rapidly rising on the Tour.

Badosa is not the first and probably won’t be the last teenage prodigy to be bombarded with high expectations from a young age. Asked to offer advice to others in a similar situation, she stressed the importance of having a support team.

“People think that when you’re a good junior, next year you have to be a top-20 player or top-10 player. You have a lot of expectations. People wait a lot of you, put a lot of pressure on you,” she commented.
“I think the key is to have a good team and to work day by day, to not listen a lot, and to make it simple. Sometimes we complicate things.”

Now with the Indian Wells title under her belt, Badosa has a serious shot of being able to qualify for next month’s WTA Finals in Mexico which will only feature the eight highest-ranked players in the race. She is currently eighth in the race.

“I wasn’t even thinking about that at the beginning of the week,” Badosa said of the season-ending event.
“I think I started thinking about that when I was maybe in the quarterfinals or something like that. I didn’t want to see it, but I start thinking about it. At the beginning it was impossible for me to think about that. When I saw the draw, it was a really tough one. It was tough for me to think I could win this tournament.”

Indian Wells is only the second WTA title Badosa has won in her career after the Serbian Open back in May. She will rise to a ranking high of 13th on Monday.

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