Indian Wells Media Day: Radwanska Talks Food, Federer Unfazed By Draw - UBITENNIS
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Indian Wells Media Day: Radwanska Talks Food, Federer Unfazed By Draw

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By John Horn (@sportshorn)
Indian Wells, CA

Every year media from around the world gather in a small room at the BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells as the ATP & WTA parade in the top players competing at this years tournament.

One after the other in no particular order, players gather at a small table and field all sorts of questions on a variety of topics. From on court to off court, positives and negatives, politics and drug tests and even questions about food.

Here are some of the best responses to the questions the players faced on Wednesday

Simona Halep:

On changing one rule in the sport of tennis

“To start the year a little bit later to have a New Year’s party at home”

On her coach Darren Cahill

“He is too relaxed for me. Sometimes I get pissed that he is too relaxed and he looks like he doesn’t care when I lose but he tries just to keep me positive”

On good friend Petra Kvitova:

“I sent her a message and today (Wednesday) is her birthday. She’s trying to come back. We miss her, I’m sure she will come back. She is okay”

Agnieszka Radwanska:

On how her life is these days

“I’m just getting old. Indian Wells reminds me of my birthday. I don’t feel old though”

On her love of American restaurant chain The Cheesecake Factory a place she visits every year while at this tournament

“Of course it’s a tradition. 10th year at the Cheesecake Factory” (Q: What’s the best cheesecake ) “Oreo

On Eugenie Bouchard going on a Twitter date with fan

“To be honest, some of the people want to be on the radar all the time some of them not. I am not the one that would do something like that. Her choice”

Svetlana Kuznetsova:

On the world class chefs who have restaurants here on the Indian Wells grounds for both the fans and players

“I think it’s great, it means that the tournament is huge. They allow us to eat their great food. I was just having lunch in the players area and I just got four boxes of sushi and it cost me $80.00 (US) and I was like what? But I’d rather pay for quality food”

On what it’s like being a Russian in America these days

“In Russia we have every second joke is about Trump…like Trump being sent to here by Putin.

That Putin sent Trump to be the President of the United States.”

On her tattoos

“Tattoos are very personal thing it’s the worst thing to ask someone (smiling)”

Kei Nishikori:

On whether it’s more difficult to be a tennis star in Japan or in Great Britain like Andy

“Well, he’s doing better so it’s a different story (laughs). If I lived in Japan I would go crazy, for sure. I wouldn’t be at this type of level”

Andy Murray:

On the “Group of Death” bottom quarter of the draw

“Amazing, amazing draw really. I’ve never seen anything like that, one of the toughest sections of a draw of all time. It’s exciting for tennis fans, there will be some good matches early on in the tournament. There’s even guys like Verdasco in there, dangerous dangerous players like that, it’s definitely tough on the guys that are down there”

Karolina Pliskova:

On turning down photoshoots or sponsor events

“I usually say no to everything (laughing) I don’t need this stuff. I do a few press conferences after some wins and that’s it. It’s my choice”

On whether she dreamt of doing magazine shoots as a young player

“I was not raised this way, I just want to play good tennis for me that’s the main goal I just don’t need to be on every magazine”

Roger Federer:

On the ”Group of Death” bottom quarter of the draw

“First message I got was Dudi Sela or Stéphane Robert and I’m like ‘okay fine.’ Then I heard that Rafa was in my section and I was like ‘okay.’
“And then that maybe Novak’s in my section and I’m ‘okay fine,’” he said smiling. “It doesn’t matter. I’ve gone through so many draws. I came here to Indian Wells to play against those guys, so it doesn’t matter if it’s the semis, the finals or actually a fourth round….I think it’s good for me to play those guys early. I look forward to it.”

On whether he has seen anything like that portion of the draw

“I’ve definitely had a lot of tough draws. I remember playing, in 2004, in Dubai after winning against (Marat) Safin in the finals of the Australian Open. I played him in the first round in Dubai because he was still unseeded. That was tough, that was probably tougher than Dudi Sela – Stéphane Robert.”

Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal were not on hand for today’s media session. Both players are expected to speak on Thursday ahead of their first matches at Indian Wells.

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ATP Finals: Zverev Enchanted London, Djokovic And Federer Disappointed

Ubitennis director Ubaldo Scanagatta breaks down this year’s ATP Finals with a list of the most remarkable storylines.

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  1. In my opinion, this year’s ATP Finals turned out to be a mediocre tournament, failing to produce any memorable matches. Sometimes a few matches might not be spectacular, but at least they can produce drama. This year we didn’t get any drama at all. Cilic-Isner was the only match out of 15 to be decided in a third set, even though none of the two players reached the semifinals.
  2. All of the matches – including the final – seemed to be uninspired. As soon as one player jumped to a lead, his opponent did very little to turn the match around and continued to play very poorly.
  3. Nevertheless, the tournament could go down in the history books as Sasha Zverev’s first big title just when nobody expected him to win. Who knows how many big titles the young German will win in the future.
  4. Zverev is only the fourth player to defeat Federer and Djokovic in the same tournament. Nalbandian achieved the double at the 2007 Madrid Masters, Murray defeated both the Swiss and the Serb at Wimbledon during the 2012 Olympics, while Nadal had the best of his two rivals in Hamburg and at Roland Garros in 2008. To say that Zverev achieved an incredible feat is an understatement and his future is certainly very bright. He might also become a little more likable. He definitely took a step in the right direction throughout the weekend, keeping his composure and showing good sportsmanship when a very pro-Federer British crowd started booing him at the end of their semifinal match.
  5. Zverev captured his first ATP title in St. Petersburg in 2016, but his first memorable win took place at the Masters 1000 event in Rome in 2017. His maiden Italian Open title will probably be remembered in the same way we all remember Stefan Edberg’s first title in Milan in 1984 or Federer’s first victory also in Milan in 2001. The Swede went on to win a total of 41 titles in his illustrious career, while Roger has captured a staggering 99 titles so far.
  6. While Zverev deserves all the credit for playing an impeccable final despite being only 21 years of age, Djokovic was the shadow of the player that dominated his younger rival 64 61 on Wednesday. On his way to the final, Djokovic never dropped serve and only conceded 32 points in 36 service games. At some point in the final, he was broken three consecutive times. Unrecognizable.
  7. In their round-robin match on Wednesday, we witnessed the opposite situation: After Zverev failed to capitalize on two break-points at 4-4 in the first set, he started missing left and right. From 1-1 in the second set, the German won only three points for the rest of the match.
  8. The final of the year-end championships was contested 19 times by two players who previously faced each other in the group stages. 10 of those 19 finals have been won by the player who lost the round-robin match. Zverev was unaware of this strange coincidence before the match and when a reporter asked him about it, he joked: “Well, next time I’ll remember to lose a match in the round-robin stage.” Djokovic wasn’t obviously as happy about the outcome: “You would think that the player that won the first match in the round-robin should have a psychological advantage and play with more confidence. I knew that he would have changed something and played better. As for me, I played below my best level, especially compared to all the matches that I played during the week.”
  9. The final will be remembered more for producing an upset and giving us a young champion than for the quality of play. After Djokovic won 35 of his last 37 matches, nobody thought that he could lose to Zverev. The bookmakers paid Zverev’s win at 6 – an unbelievable odd.
  10. Looking back at recent finals that were contested at the year-end championships, very few have been appealing and interesting. The last remarkable final was played in 2012 when Djokovic defeated Federer 76 75. When the final used to be a best-of-five match, we had memorable clashes in 2005 when Nalbandian prevailed over Federer 67 67 61 62 76, in 1996 when Sampras defeated Becker 36 76 76 67 64 and in 1994 when Sampras once again had the best of Becker 46 63 75 64. The 1993 final when Stich defeated Sampras 76 26 76 62 was also a good match, even if the court speed in Frankfurt was so fast that the serves were sometimes too dominant. A legendary final was certainly played by Becker and Lendl at Madison Square Garden in New York in 1988, when the German captured the last point with a shocking net cord after a gruelling 36 shot rally: 57 76 36 62 76 was the final score in Becker’s favor. Another memorable final was won by Lendl over Gerulaitis 67 26 76 62 64, with Ivan saving a match-point in the third set. McEnroe-Ashe in 1978 saw John prevail 63 67 75, while Vilas defeated Nastase 76 62 36 36 64 on the Kooyong grass in 1974.
  11. Speaking of Lendl, Ivan captured the year-end championships 5 times and contested an astonishing 9 finals. He qualified for the championships for 12 years in a row between 1980 and 1991, winning 39 out of 49 matches. Djokovic and Connors qualified 10 times, Nadal 14 times (even if he withdrew in 5 occasions) and Federer 16 times.
  12. The three matches that Novak Djokovic lost since Wimbledon are great advertisement for the Next-Gen ATP Finals. He lost to Tsitsipas in Toronto, Khachanov in Paris-Bercy and Zverev at the ATP Finals in London.
  13. The Next-Gen Finals in Milan offered better and more interesting matches than the ATP Finals in London. The level expressed by Tsitsipas and de Minaur in the Milan final was higher than most of the matches that were contested at the O2 Arena, even if the shorter sets, tie-breakers at 3-3 and no-ad games are almost a different sport.
  14. Which was a better match: The semifinal between Zverev and Federer or the final between Zverev and Djokovic? It’s hard to say. Zverev played a better match in the final. Djokovic probably played worse than Federer. The what-ifs are certainly not the best way to analyze a match, but had Federer captured the second set, I believe that he would have ended up winning the match.
  15. Zverev was brilliant in his speech during the trophy presentation. He thanked the sponsors, chair umpires, line judges and ballkids. At that point, I started thinking that he could have mentioned the ballkid who accidentally dropped a ball mid-rally in a crucial moment of the semifinal against Federer. I think the organizers should have brought the same ballkind back for the final as well.
  16. I used to truly love doubles and I would have probably followed the doubles event if an Italian team had qualified. Instead I didn’t watch it at all. Shame on me.
  17. Sasha Zverev is the first German year-end champion in 23 years, since Boris Becker defeated Michael Chang. Boris won six Grand Slam titles and was world No. 1 for “only” 12 weeks. I think that Zverev will eventually achieve more than Becker in the future. He will also win more and probably spend less money than his legendary countryman. Unlike Boris, he will be more careful with women, but I doubt that he will become more popular. Will Sasha win a Slam in 2019? Yes and no, but he will certainly be one of the favorites, especially after his win in London.
  18. The most recurring question is: Will Roger Federer qualify for next year’s ATP Finals and win another Slam? In my opinion, he will qualify for London as I don’t think that there are eight better players than him. I also think that he will not win another major title. Best-of-five tennis is probably going to take a toll on him, even if he could keep his hopes high on grass with a favorable draw.
  19. Nadal will be the favorite at Roland Garros once again. He could win his 12th title in Paris, but I don’t think that he will capture a major title anywhere else.
  20. Had Djokovic not showed a certain mental fragility in his final loss at the year-end championships, I would have said that the Serb could be a strong candidate to capture the calendar year Grand Slam in 2019. These last two or three losses against rising Next-Gen stars put a few doubts on my mind.

 

Ubaldo Scanagatta

(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions – www.t-lglobal.com )

 

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ATP Finals Day 7 Preview: Will It Be A Dream Showdown Between Djokovic And Federer?

The top four seeds have advanced out of the round robin stage, and will fight for the trophy this weekend in a single elimination format.

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Saturday’s semifinals feature two of the greatest players of all-time, who have dominated this tournament for a decade and a half. Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic have combined to win this event 11 of the last 15 years. Standing in their way of playing for another championship on Sunday are two men who have advanced to the semifinals of the ATP Finals for the first time. One is a 32-year-old veteran in his first year qualifying for this event. The other is a 21-year-old who is likely playing in his first of many championship weekends at this event.

Roger Federer vs. Sascha Zverev

Alexander Zverev (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

Federer and Zverev have an intriguing history. Federer took their first match, on clay at the 2016 Rome Masters. A month later, Zverev pulled off the upset in the Halle semifinals on grass. A year later at the same event, Roger prevailed in a final that lasted less than an hour. Just weeks later, Sascha won in the final of the Rogers Cup on a hard court. And one year ago at this event, Federer was victorious in a three-set round robin match. Since they’ve alternated wins thus far, perhaps it’s Zverev’s turn to win today.

“It’s going to be a very difficult match. I mean, him (Federer) on this surface, an indoor court, he’s an unbelievable player.” Said Zverev. “I’ve Played him a few times in all different conditions, all different surfaces.”

While Federer got off to a very slow start this week, he has upped his level with each match, as he has gotten more comfortable with the playing surface at the O2. Now into his fifteenth semifinal at this tournament, Roger is 10-4 at this stage. But I’m more curious to see how Zverev performs on Saturday. He’s yet to breakthrough to the latter stages at a Major, yet this is a huge opportunity to advance his career at the biggest non-Major tournament of the year.

“I’m happy I gave myself the opportunity. I’m happy that I’m raising my level of play throughout this week. This is what I hope to do.” Federer commented about his run to the last four.

The crowd will likely play a considerable role, as London loves Federer and will be extremely vocal in supporting him as we’ve seen all week. How will Sascha respond to the crowd, the significance of the match, and his opponent? Well he showed a lack of resilience on Wednesday, as he completely went away after dropping the first set to Djokovic. And as Gigi Salmon pointed out on ATP Tennis Radio, Zverev has looked pretty spent this week at the end of a long season. I suspect Zverev will be motivated on Saturday, and he’ll keep the scoreline close, but I still like Federer’s chances to advance to his 11th final.

Novak Djokovic vs. Kevin Anderson

Novak Djokovic (photo by Alberto Pezzali)

As far as official ATP matches are concerned, Djokovic is 7-1 against Anderson, with the South African’s only victory coming the first time they played over 10 years ago in Miami. However, Anderson did get the best of Djokovic at the Laver Cup this past September, in a match decided by a 10-point final set tiebreak. Djokovic has defeated Anderson three times in London, though all three matches took place at the All England Club. Of course Novak easily dispatched of Anderson in this year’s Wimbledon final, following Kevin’s near-seven-hour semifinal with John Isner. Their best previous meeting was at SW19 in 2015, when Djokovic came back from two sets down to defeat Anderson in five. Most recently, Novak won in straight sets last month in Shanghai. If you count the Laver Cup, this is their fourth meeting in 2018.

“He has played some big tennis throughout this year. It’s definitely his best season.” The current US Open champion said of Anderson. “The last couple of years he has been playing his best tennis. He continued doing that throughout the tournament.
He’s serving well, playing well and being aggressive. I know what to expect.”

Djokovic is the only man to go undefeated in this week’s round robin play. He’s yet to drop a set, and has truly been at the top of his game with first-rate returns and unrivaled movement around the court. Novak is averaging just above five unforced errors per set thus far at this tournament, with a total of only four double faults in six sets played. During one stretch of Friday’s match against Marin Cilic, Djokovic won 31 straight points on serve, as highlighted by Steph Trudel on Twitter. Bottom line: Novak is giving his opponents nothing to work with. While Kevin Anderson played well in his first two round robin matches, he was thoroughly outplayed by Federer on Thursday night. The slow-bouncing hard court at the O2 will only allow Djokovic extra time to handle Anderson’s power. And considering Novak is 5-1 in the semifinal round of this event, this should be smooth sailing for Djokovic to reach his seventh championship match at the ATP Finals.

 

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Zverev Defeats Isner to Advance to Semi-Finals of ATP Finals

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London, England

The youngest player in the eight man field at the ATP Finals in London is into the Final Four. Alexander Zverev fired 18 aces to defeat John Isner 7-6 (7-5), 6-3 in the he their final Round-Robin singles matches of the tournament.

The 21-year old Zverev with two wins and just two sets lost advanced into the Semi-Finals out of the Guga Kuerten Group. Marin Cilic, who will play his final Round-Robin match on Friday night can not catch Zverev even if he defeats Novak Djokovic tonight as he has already lost three sets. Isner has been eliminated losing all three contests.

Zverev was firing on all cylinders in the match hitting 25 winners and making just 10 unforced errors. He out-aced his American opponent by eight, something you don’t see very often. He also won 75-percent of his points on first serve and he lost just one of 11 points at the net in the match.

“I don’t think anybody matches up well against John, to be honest,” said Zverev. ” It’s always one or two points that decide the match. We have had so many tight matches. This is only the second time that has gone to two sets.”

The two players went back and forth in the opening set, both players nearly untouchable on serve. Through the first ten games of the match each player combined for 13 aces and lost just a total of 11 points on serve.

Isner’s best chance to make something happen came at 6-5 when he hit a huge crosscourt forehand for a winner setting up set point. But then Zverev’s ninth ace of the match followed by two more big serves sent the first set into a tiebreak.

At 5-5 Isner tried to sneak into the net after returning a Zverev second serve but the young German came up with a forehand shot that the big 6’10 American could not handle. Shortly thereafter, Isner then fired a forehand into the net and the set belonged to Zverev.

In the second, the 6’6 Zverev continued his hot serving. On two separate occasions he fired three straight aces to capture service games. He got the only break of the set when he was up 4-3. A shank forehand from the 33-year old and then a good second serve return low to Isner’s backhand side gave him a chance to close out the match. Moments later he did. The match ending on an Isner backhand return which sailed long.

Zverev finished second in Group B behind Novak Djokovic. He will face Roger Federer in the first of Saturday’s Semi-Finals at 2pm local time.

“It’s obviously great getting to the semifinals,” said Zverev. “But the tournament isn’t over. I am in the semifinals. There’s only good opponents left. There’s only the best in the world. I’m playing Roger tomorrow, which is going to be a very difficult but hopefully very nice match. We’ll see how far I can go.”

As for Isner’s take on the match: “I think he was pretty dialed in on his serve, which was of course very important. A lot of times with me it comes down to a few points here or there. I had the one breakpoint, and he aced me. That’s a credit to him. That’s why he’s ranked what he’s ranked, 4 or 5 in the world. He was better.

@Sportshorn

 

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