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Roger Federer Champion At Gerry Weber Open

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Federer won a record ninth title in Halle (zimbio.com)

By Cheryl Jones

Roger Federer still has it. Sunday, in the singles final at the Gerry Weber Open, he faced a young German who has really shown promise – Alexander Zverev. In a mere 53 minutes, it was apparent that Federer had studied the shot making capabilities of Zverev and he then capitalized on the chinks in the young man’s game. There was consistency in Federer’s shots from the moment the first ball passed over the net. The Swiss maestro was on fire!

On paper, it seemed as if the twenty-year-old lanky young German could be a match for the seasoned Federer who is thirty-five. For example, before the final, the tournament tallies revealed that Zverev served 47 aces to Federer’s 27. Zverev had 69% of his first serves land where they were supposed to land and he then won 86% of the points associated with them. Federer had 63% of his first serves fall on target and he won 81% of those points. Actually, all the way around, it was an almost even comparison of statistics. But that didn’t matter in the long run. As with any sport, the only thing that does matter is the final numbers on the scoreboard. When the clock made its final tick of the match, the score was 6-1, 6-3 and it gave the Swiss maestro his ninth win at the Gerry Weber Open.

A few years ago, it seemed as if Federer’s game was faltering when he had to deal with a spate of maladies that included back and knee problems.  He began 2017 with an unheard of win at the Australian Open where he won his 18th Grand Slam title. (It also gave him the distinction of being the second oldest Slam champ of the Open Era. Ken Rosewall is still the reigning oldster with wins at the 1970 US Open and the 1971-72 Australian Open.) Soon after Australia, Federer won a couple of ATP 1000 events to backup his phenomenal return to competitive tennis – BNP Paribas Open at Indian Wells and the Miami Open Presented by ITAÙ. (He chose to skip Roland Garros to work on his grass court expertise.)

It was the fifth game of the first set before Zverev managed to chalk up his first winning game. Federer was masterful in his inclusion of numerous drop shots that forced Zverev to abandon his baseline stance where in the past he has contended with issues concerning the success of his returns. It was definitely an issue in his earlier matches in Halle. It’s as if he cannot make his lengthy frame follow his legs toward the ball, let alone have the ability to then make contact with it. (One of my sons is the same height as Zverev and even though he is much older, there was a lanky stage in his development until his body filled in the lines that his skeleton had provided.) Today, he was no match for the man whom many claim to be the greatest tennis player, ever.

The Gerry Weber Open was celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary. (That’s the Silver one according to those who keep track of that sort of thing.) It might just be that the silver this time out could be the equal to gold for the tournament and for Federer who has often gone on from Halle to take the Wimbledon title, too. That could make eight titles there, just one behind his now nine here at the Gerry Weber Open. But, that is only speculation.

The audience who had filled every useable seat in the arena watched a masterful tennis exhibition the likes of which won’t be duplicated any time soon. Federer is always gracious beyond compare. He blazed through a young man’s game that has the promise of much more than a ho-hum career. Zverev slipped on the grass near the net in the third game of the second set. Federer made sure his opponent was not injured and as soon as the German had regained his bearings the match moved on without a complaint or a glitch of any ilk from either player.

After the match, Zverev said, “I think Roger is playing really, really well. I think going into Wimbledon he’s going to be probably the favorite to win the whole thing. So, credits to him. He played an unbelievable match. Of course, I could have played better but he didn’t really let me play my best tennis. He mixed with the ball a lot. He played very aggressive. I think he deserved to win.” There are those who can predict greatness in the making and if they had spoken to Zverev today after the match, they may have offered a prediction that put ditto marks under a long ago guesstimate for Roger Federer’s career. Wimbledon is waiting to welcome Federer and Zverev and, as always they are hoping the best man will win.

For those lucky enough to have followed the career of a young fellow from Switzerland there was satisfaction today that was almost personal. Greatness isn’t an anomaly that ebbs and flows with the tide. With Federer, it is a part of who he is. It is almost as if his heart is buoyed by the hearts of those who admire his tennis prowess as well as his magnanimous persona. It’s a package that many strive for, but few in life are ever granted the possession of.

The Gerry Weber Open had a winner today. But with Roger Federer’s victory, the entire community that surrounds Halle won. Federer’s ninth victory on the final Sunday of the Gerry Weber Open not only awarded him another trophy, but it underscored the hope of those that follow tennis intently that the best is yet to come.

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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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