Age-Defying Roger Federer Downs Nadal To Seal The Sunshine Double In Miami - UBITENNIS
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Age-Defying Roger Federer Downs Nadal To Seal The Sunshine Double In Miami

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Roger Federer has become the oldest man in history to win the Miami Open after overcoming Spain’s Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-4, in the final.

The 37th meeting of the two tennis icons sent Miami into a frenzy with the Tennis Center at Crandon Park nearing maximum capacity. The occasion was an opportunity for the seemingly ageless Federer to clinch his third victory over the Spaniard is as many months for the first time in his career. Meanwhile, Nadal was a win away from clinching a title that has eluded him throughout his entire career. It was the mouth-watering clash that many dreamt of and an outcome that Federer would have never imagined six months ago.

“For me the dream continues. It’s been a fabulous couple of weeks here in Miami. Indian Wells was beautiful as well, but the atmosphere here in Key Biscayne is very special.” Said Federer, who hit a total of 29 winners in the match.
“It really is a beautiful stop on the tour and I hope it’s going to be a successful tournament for years to come.” He added.

Resuming their rivalry at the place where it began 13 years ago, both players were able to illustrate their superiority in the match with some supreme shot-making. As the Miami humidity rose to 75%, making the balls bounce lower, chances came and went for both men throughout the opening set.

Federer’s tactic of pushing his rival around the court was matched by Nadal’s stern forehand. Seven break-point chances came and went (three for Nadal and four for Federer) before a breakthrough occurred in the eighth game. Enduring another tightly contested game, a blistering Federer forehand return rewarded him another chance to break. Finally, the 18-time grand slam champion seized his opportunity as Nadal failed to return a Federer shot. Fighting for the 5-3 lead, the closeness between the two eroded. Serving for the opening set, Federer strolled to the lead with the help of a serve out wide.

On the verge of the sunshine double, there was an inevitable burst of excitement in the Federer camp. Still, it was a far from certain outcome given who he was playing. Once again the two men were inseparable due to the resilience in their service games. Federer’s start to set two saw him win 12 consecutive points on his serve as Nadal claimed 12 out of 15 on his.

Twice Federer had a break point to lead by a set and 4-3 before he was pegged back by a highly animated Nadal. Despite the heavy investments of the Spaniard, it failed to derail the inevitability of Federer’s win. A stroke of luck thanks to a dead net cord aided the Swiss to hit a winning lob on route to a break point chance for 5-4. It was a task he passed with flying colours after a backhand down the line force his rival to produce an unforced error. The luck of the tennis gods continued to be on the side of the 35-year-old after a mishit landed in, rewarding him championship point. Serving for ATP title No.91, Federer sealed victory with a swift serve down the line that his opponent returned out.

Praise for Nadal

Extending his winning streak against Nadal to four, Federer spoke of the nostalgia surrounding their latest encounter. It was a third round meeting in the 2004 tournament that started one of the greatest rivalries the sport has ever seen.

“I’m happy we’re both here together. I enjoy playing against you, this is where it all started for us in 2004 when you were a little boy and grew into a big man, A strong man. We had some epic matches on the years, which I didn’t always enjoy, but mostly we had some great battles over the years.” Federer said in a tribute to Nadal.

Federer has now won three out of the four tournaments he has played this year. At the start to the season he returned to the tour after a six-month hiatus due to a knee injury. Since then he has won his 18th major title at the Australian Open, 90th ATP title in Indian Wells and sealed the sunshine double in Miami.

“It’s an amazing start to the season. I think it’s one of the best comeback on the tour after a long injury.” Runner-up Nadal said about the Swiss players resurgence.

Minimal plans for the clay

Following his Miami win, the 35-year-old provided an update about his intentions for the clay swing of the tour. In recent weeks, speculation has mounted about how many tournaments he will play prior to the French Open.

“I probably won’t play any clay court event except the French (Open). I need a rest. My body needs healing.” He told ESPN’s Brad Gilbert.

Out of Federer’s 91 titles, 11 of those have occurred on the clay. His last title on the surface occurred at the 2015 Istanbul Open in Turkey.

This year’s French Open will start on May 29th.

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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