Roger Federer edges past Rafael Nadal to claim his 7th Swiss Indoors crown - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer edges past Rafael Nadal to claim his 7th Swiss Indoors crown

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Roger Federer in action against Rafael Nadal at the 2015 Swiss Indoors in Basel (image via nzz.ch).

Roger Federer has claimed his seventh title at the Swiss Indoors Open after battling past Rafael Nadal 6-3, 5-7, 6-3.

The match was the 34th meeting between the two players with Nadal currently leading the head-to-head 23-10. Despite trailing the head-to-head, Federer maintained a dominant record against the Spaniard on indoor surfaces, winning four out of their previous five matches.

The blockbuster clash began with two consecutive holds of serve. Nadal settled into the match immediately by displaying solid tennis as he comfortably consolidated the first game with a backhand down the line. In contrast Federer encountered greater difficulty in his opening service game after a double fault followed by a wild backhand resulted in Nadal grabbing the first break point of the match. The Spaniard was unable to convert as the Swiss top seed bounced back by saving the break point before levelling at 1-1. Federer was the first to strike in the match as he grabbed a crucial break during a long fifth game of the opening set. The 34-year-old squandered two break point chances before being successful with his third after he returned a forehand right onto the line, setting off a big cheer from his home crowd. Nadal had a chance to break immediate back, but it was saved after an outstanding forehand cross-court shot from Federer put the game back to deuce as he opened up a 4-2 lead.

After opening up the lead, the Swiss No.1 increased the quality of his game in what was a highly competitive opening set. With Nadal serving behind 3-5, Federer launched another attack. After an sudden injection of pace during a lengthy rally from Federer, Nadal returned the ball out to hand his rival three set points. The 34-year-old only required one of them after he took the set with a straightforward shot at the net. During the first set Federer won 68% of his first serves compared to Nadal who produced 47%.

Leading by a set, there was a fresh injection in Federer’s game as he produced a world class opening service game at the start of the second set, taking it to love. Nadal was able to end Federer’s three-game winning streak in the following game, but was still experiencing trouble against the Swiss players aggressive game play. After three games in the second set, an on court trainer was called for Nadal, who put some white tape on Nadal’s right knee. The purpose of the tape was to ease the pressure applied on to his knee. Throughout the week, Nadal has had his knee taped.

As the next couple games going accordingly to serve, there was little to distinguish between the two. Federer had a chance to lead 4-2 but failed to take advantage as Nadal edged his way back to keep his hopes alive in the match. With both players remaining consistent on their serve, Nadal’s biggest test in the occurred when he was serving to stay in the match at 4-5. The test was an easy task for Nadal, who level at 5-5 with a powerful forehand shot to the right of Federer. Despite the majority second set being about Federer’s dominating the rallies, a costly unforced error from the Swiss’ racket handed the Spinard a break point. The error was a serious blow to the Swiss hopes as Nadal broke to lead 6-5, silencing the home crowd. The opportunity seized by Nadal was taken advantage of as the world No.7 bossed Federer round the court, producing a smash of the net to take the second set. Throughout the second set Nadal produced just six winners compared to Federer’s twenty.

The enormity of the task was important for both men. Federer was bidding for a record 7th title in Basel whilst Nadal was seeking to win his first title on an indoor hard-court since the 2005 Madrid Open.

During the early part of the final set both players held their serve easily in a similar pattern to the first two sets. Nadal handed Federer a break point chance to lead 3-1, after a double fault before saving it with a strong passing shot as he held his nerve to move to 2-2. Nadal had a small chance in the 7th game as he lead Federer 30-15, two points away from breaking, but was unsuccessful as Federer hit his way out of trouble to nudge ahead 4-3. The closeness of the third set was finally ended in the following game following a costly unforced error at the net from the Spaniard gave Federer a chance to grab the critical break. Federer was able to break for a 5-3 lead after a second consecutive unforced error from Nadal. After exactly two hours Federer grabbed his first championship point with an ace down the centre of the court. The first match point was saved after a return from Nadal. Despite losing his first championship point, he had his second opportunity after some fantastic play at the net. The 17-time Grand Slam champion was successful on his second attempt after a deep shot forced Nadal to return the shot out.

After suffering six consecutive losses to Nadal, the triumph in Basel is Federer’s first win over the 29-year-old since the semifinals of the 2012 Indian Wells Masters. Basel is the fifth tournament where the 34-year-old has won the title seven or more times. The four other tournaments are Wimbledon, Cincinnati and Dubai, where he has won the title seven times, as well as Halle where he has won eight.

The loss means that Nadal is still yet to win an indoor hard-court title since 2005. Speaking to the after his defeat, he thanked the crowd for their support.

“This week there has been a huge support, a little bit less today but I understand”. Nadal joked with the Swiss crowd.
“Many thanks for everybody making me feel special this week and I hope to be back this week”.

The title in Basel is the 88th title in Federer’s career. Speaking in his native language Federer paid tribute to his team.

“It has been a fantastic week, thank you to all my team for all of your hard work”. He said.
“It is always a highlight of my season coming to Basel”.

2015 is the seventh year in Federer’s career where he has won six of more titles within a season.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid

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Poland’s top player on the ATP Tour is not giving up on his dream of winning a medal at the Olympic Games despite recently undergoing a medical procedure.

World No.7 Hubert Hurkacz suffered a knee injury during his second round clash at Wimbledon against France’s Arthur Fils. In the fourth set tiebreak of their clash, Hurkacz dived for a shot but landed badly on his knee and required on-court medical attention. He then played two more points before retiring from the match. 

In a social media post published on Wednesday, the  27-year-old confirmed he underwent a procedure on his knee earlier this week but didn’t provide any further details.  Although Hurkacz has stated his intention to play at the upcoming Olympic Games in Paris, where the tennis event will be held on the clay at Roland Garros. 

“I had a knee procedure this Monday, but I’m feeling better already and my team and are dedicating extensive time each day to the rehab process.” He wrote on Instagram. 

“It’s a dream for every athlete to represent their country at the Olympics, and I want to make sure I am fully fit and ready before making the final decision to step on court. The aim is not only to participate, but to win a medal for my country.”

So far this season Hurkacz has won 34 out of 48 matches played on the Tour. He won the Estoril Open in April and was runner-up to Jannik Sinner in Halle. 

The Olympic tennis event is scheduled to begin a week Saturday on July 27th. Poland is yet to win a medal in the event but expectations are high with women’s No.1 Iga Swiatek also taking part. 

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.

MEDVEDEV APPLIED ENDLESS PRESSURE

Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.

NOVAK DIDN’T LET INJURED KNEE STOP HIM

Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.

MUSETTI WASN’T THE SAME

Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.

NOVAK THE VIOLINIST

The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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