Queen's: Why Injury Was The Best Thing To Ever Happen To Gilles Muller - UBITENNIS
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Queen’s: Why Injury Was The Best Thing To Ever Happen To Gilles Muller

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LONDON: On a lukewarm Friday afternoon at The Queen’s Club, Luxembourg’s Gilles Muller extended his winning streak to seven matches after disposing of former champion Sam Querrey 6-4, 7-6(5).

Engaged in the battle of the big servers, Muller was forced to draw upon his wealth of experience. Coming through the first set with the help of one poor service game from Querrey, the second was a test of nerves. After 11 games with no break point occurring, Muller was on the verge of allowing Querrey back into the match. Twice the American had set point at 6-5, but both of those were saved by Muller’s variety in his game.

A familiar trend followed in the tiebreaker with opportunities coming and going. Twice the Luxemburg player dropped serve before coming back. The roller coaster encounter began to frustrate Querrey, who handed out match point to his rival after misjudging a return of serve. Victory was then sealed with a delicate Muller volley at the net.

“I think on grass everything goes so fast, and I feel like even when you don’t play well you can still stay in the match with your serve.” He said following the match.
“I think what makes the biggest difference is that the big points, you kind of feel like you’re always taking the good choice on important moments like I did on break point today. If you look at the whole match there was almost no break chances for both of us.”

At the age of 34, Muller continues to rise up the rankings. It all started in January when he claimed the Sydney Open title. It was an emotional experience for him and his family. 16 years had gone by without him claiming a single ATP trophy. It was a moment of celebration, but it also took him into unfamiliar territory.

“When I got it (Sydney title), it was tough, to be honest. The first weeks after that were kind of a lot of questioning in my mind. So what do we do now? It’s something you work for for so long, and then basically you reach that goal, so what are we doing now?”

Injury heartache to title joy

Now he has two tour titles to his name after triumphing at last week’s Rosmalen Championships in the Netherlands. It wasn’t always easy for the 6’2” player, who produced a total of 12 aces in his match today. During 2013 he was forced to end his season in June due to a troublesome elbow injury. The absence results in him spiraling down the rankings and drifting further away from his top-20 dream. Returning to action the following year, his desire to win was no less as he climbed 320 places within a 12-month period.

Muller is not the only one to draw positives from an injury break. The most significant is that of Roger Federer, who won the Australian Open in January title after a six-month injury absence. Like the Swiss player, Muller is ironically thankful for being injured.

“You can see in Roger, it’s kind of the same example. He took a couple months off and was able to work very hard, which he never did probably before in all his career. So that was very good for me, actually.” He explained.
“(It’s) strange to say, but that injury was probably the best thing that happened to me.”

It isn’t just an injury that has attributed towards Muller’s surge. It is also fatherhood. It is usually the parents that inspire the child, but not in the case of the 34-year-old. Who dreams of playing on the biggest stages of tennis with his two sons watching with pride.

“One thing that always kept me going was my two boys at home. I always dreamt of playing in front of them and them seeing me play the big tournaments.” He explained.

A lot of focus concerning players rise in the rankings circulates about their physical preparation and fitness. Muller and others prove that this isn’t always the case. Sometimes absence makes the heart grows fonder, which is exactly what happened to Muller’s motivation when out injured in 2013. The world of tennis is never black and white.

Muller will play Marin Cilic in Saturday’s semifinal for a chance to reach his ninth ATP final. Five out of those eight previous finals occurred after his injury setback.

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Roland Garros 2024: ‘Proud’ Iga Swiatek Seeks Consistent Improvement

Iga Swiatek continues to find improvement despite her dominance ahead of her Roland Garros opener.

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Ubitennis/Francesca Micheli

Iga Swiatek had admitted she is ‘proud’ of her clay court season but is seeking consistent improvement over the rest of the season.

The world number one is aiming for a third consecutive Roland Garros title and heads into Paris in dominant form.

Titles in Madrid and Rome with two contrasting wins over Aryna Sabalenka means she is the overwhelming favourite heading into the fortnight.

Speaking ahead of her opening match Swiatek spoke about how she is a better tennis player from 2022 and how proud she is of her clay court season so far, “I think I’m a better player because I just grew and I worked hard during the past two years,” Swiatek explained in her press conference.

“I feel like I’m progressing, so I guess I should be a better tennis player. Comparing the results, or my feelings, two years ago it was all kind of new for me, and I think I won so many matches also because nobody really expected it.

“When the streak started, I wasn’t even second in the rankings, so I think other players were also unprepared maybe for my game sometimes. Now it’s different. Now they are prepared, and I feel like I keep having a target on my back, because I’m No. 1. So I think actually I’m more proud of what’s happening right now and winning all these titles this year already has shown that we are going on the right path.”

Despite her recent dominance, Swiatek isn’t resting on her laurels as she continues to seek improvement.

The Pole has been working on several areas on her game including the serve as she has become a more aggressive player over the last couple of years.

Swiatek spoke on the changes she has made with her coach as she seeks more consistent improvement, “Changing the technique, I think it allowed me to serve faster. We worked on my placement as well, so it got better for sure. I feel like I have more options when I’m serving,” Swiatek told the Roland Garros website.

“As you could see in Rome, for example, I had many situations when I was a break point down, and I was able to kind of save the game with my first serve. So this tournament showed that we are going in the right direction. Next goal is to keep my serve at a consistent level throughout the whole season. We’ll see how that’s going to go.

“But I think overall my coach from the beginning had a great idea about my serve. The other thing is me implementing it, so we are working hard for the movement to be smooth and to get muscle memory, so even under the biggest pressure and stress, I’m going to be serving the same way.”

Swiatek will begin her campaign against qualifier Leolia Jeanjean in her opening round match on Monday with potentially Naomi Osaka awaiting in round two.

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Roland Garros 2024: Practice Makes Perfect For Carlos Alcaraz In Roland Garros Title Bid

Carlos Alcaraz is looking to overcome the pain barrier as he searches for Roland Garros glory.

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Carlos Alcaraz is bidding for a first Roland Garros title but the Spaniard will need to overcome the pain barrier in order to achieve his goal.

The world number three enters this year’s tournament with mixed preparations having suffered an injury during practice in Monte-Carlo.

Alcaraz failed to play in Barcelona, where he was defending champion, before exiting Madrid at the quarter-finals stage to eventual winner Andrey Rublev.

Despite Alcaraz’s lack of fitness, the Spaniard will feel he has a good chance of achieving a special landmark as he has the opportunity to win 75% of the career Grand Slam.

Speaking ahead of the fortnight Alcaraz admitted he is feeling better but needs to change some psychological feelings when hitting the forehand again, “I’m feeling better. At least I can practise, hit balls without pain. That’s a really good point for me,” Alcaraz explained in his pre-tournament press conference.

“I’m not feeling any pain in the practices when I step on the court. But I’m still thinking about it when I am hitting forehands. Probably I’m gonna say I’m a little bit scared about hitting every forehand 100 percent. So I have to change it in my first match.”

Roland Garros holds a special place in Alcaraz’s heart having had good memories and matches in the past with the Spaniard reaching the semi-finals last year.

Now Alcaraz is aiming to win his maiden title in Paris as he continues his development at an elite level.

The Spaniard spoke about how special Roland Garros is and spoke about how wide open this year’s tournament is given the form and fitness of Novak Djokovic and Jannik Sinner, “Right now, I don’t see a clear favourite to win the tournament, but there is a wide range of players who can do it,” Alcaraz explained.

“It’s Roland-Garros and it’s a really special tournament. Everybody wants to do good results here. This tournament is one of the main reasons that I’m practicing every day. I want to be a better player, to be able to win these kinds of tournaments.”

Alcaraz starts his Roland Garros on Sunday against lucky loser J.J. Wolf.

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Tomas Machac Stuns Novak Djokovic To Reach Maiden ATP Final In Geneva

Tomas Machac is into his first career ATP final after stunning Novak Djokovic in Geneva.

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Tomas Machac is into his first ATP final after defeating Novak Djokovic 6-4 0-6 6-1 in Geneva.

The world number one seemed to be struggling physically throughout the contest as Machac earned the biggest win of his career.

After trailing 4-1 in the opening set, Machac played aggressive tennis against a sub-par Djokovic to win five games in a row and take the opening set.

In the second set Djokovic was back to his brilliant best as he won six consecutive games to level the match at one set all.

However the Serb was clearly struggling with his fitness and conditioning as Machac secured the biggest win of his career, reaching a first ATP final.

Speaking after the match Machac was lost for words as he looks ahead to Saturday’s showdown, “I have no reaction right now, I just fought for every ball,” Machac told the ATP website.

“When you play against Novak you just hope. You just try to play your best and see what it looks like. I am looking forward to playing in a final for the first time.”

As for Djokovic, the Serb is yet to reach a final this year and will need to get his form back on track as he prepares to begin his Roland Garros title defence against Pierre-Hughes Herbert.

Meanwhile Machac will play either Casper Ruud or Flavio Cobolli in the final.

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