Roger Federer To Try For A Ninth Championship At Halle - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer To Try For A Ninth Championship At Halle



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By Cheryl Jones

Going home is often anticipated by sorting through a good many emotions. Many of the memories are comforting, others not so much. Saturday afternoon was an affirmation of the shear comfort that Roger Federer must have brought with him when he took the court in Gerry Weber Stadion facing a young Russian by the name of Karen Khachenov in yet another semi-final match where he has so often been propelled into the final. It’s kind of like his home away from home.

The GWO is celebrating its twenty-fifth anniversary this year, and more than half of those years have seen Federer in play on the final day of the tournament. Thirteen times Federer has been able to move forward to vie for yet another championship. It seems as if he could call this place home. Halle has been a haven of positivity for the Swiss maestro. He has been the champ here eight times. The tournament has always won, too. A few years ago, the Weber’s signed the superlative player to a “lifetime” contract that guarantees he will play here until he retires from the game.

His match with the youthful Russian opened play on Saturday. It began a bit after one in the afternoon and it wasn’t exactly a decisive win, but a win nonetheless. It must have been gratifying, for the former champ. It was a 6-4, 7-6 contest that was settled with a tiebreak in the second set, leading to a nearly audible collective sigh of relief by fans and the GWO sponsors alike.

After the match, he spoke with the media, and said, “I mean anything is good as long as I win today and get a chance to be in the final because you don’t want to lose in the semis and have ‘sort’ of a great run and then not get a chance at the title.” He earned that opportunity with some great tennis and really some of the mediocre type, when he did his dance before a before a packed house that absolutely adores him, and he’s not even German. (The GWO is in Westfalia, Germany where Volkswagon Buses often began their long lives cruising the highways everywhere in the world.)

Because Khachanov just turned twenty-one in May, he has spent most of his tennis life looking up to Federer who will be thirty-six in a bit over a month. (That looking up metaphor is somewhat of a misnomer because the Russian player is stocky and 6’6” tall and Federer is a svelte 6’1”, but when the GWO first welcomed the Swiss man, Khachenov wasn’t yet attending elementary school.) Fortunately, tennis isn’t basketball or even American football and in reality, size doesn’t matter much.

There was a real give and take on the court today. Federer took hold of the first set after a service break in the fourth game, where he went on to play steady tennis to make it 6-4 in his favor for that first set. Having watched “Federer tennis” for most of his long and illustrious career, there may be a glitch in his game these days, but then again, maybe not. Many of his shots seemed to be more of – just get the ball back over the net selections, which is rather like I play – instead of the carefully planned returns that could be recalled from his more youthful career, when nearly all of his shots were like magic. It almost always looked as if he was hitting the proper mark in order to encourage the ball to give him a sure winner in the long run.

Khachanov is now ranked thirty-eighth in the world. It’s the highest he’s ever been and reaching the semifinals in Halle should elevate the ranking a bit higher still. He was knocked out of Roland Garros by a determined number one in the ATP rankings, Andy Murray, in the Round of 16. (It seemed then that a bit of honing could produce a seriously competitive game when I watched two of Khachanov’s early round matches in Paris.)

Many people have compared his game to Marat Safin’s because of his size and playing style. If that were the case, it would seem that he is a bigger and more refined version of the wisecracking Russian star who once purposely pulled his tennis shorts down – on court – to reveal his tighty-whiteys. There was none of that today. The match was one hundred percent tennis; no theatrics; no broken racquets; no need to be a lip-reader of naughty words – just world-class tennis.

Most everyone agrees that the classiest of tennis players in today’s game is Roger Federer. He has always earned the respect of his peers, fans and journalists alike. It isn’t all about tennis for him. He has a family and because he seems to have performed everything in a big way, he even fathered children two-by-two. He is Dad to two boys and two girls. The elder twins are daughters who will be eight years old in July. His sons turned three in May. Lest one believe that he is merely busy with his family and tennis, there is more. He is one of the most admired men in the world. The Roger Federer Foundation was formed in 2003. It focuses on supporting community driven initiatives to increase the quality of education in South Africa and Switzerland and the foundation has invested more than twenty-eight million dollars since its inception.

Today wasn’t just about Roger Federer or Karen Khachanov. There was another semifinal match. That one saw a young German, Alexander Zverev defeat Frenchman, Richard Gasquet, 4-6, 6-4, 6-3. The twenty-year-old Zverev has a very good chance to thwart Federer’s quest for another championship in Halle.

Reflecting on his own career, Federer recalled it as a ride “big new wave coming in” with the likes of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray. Tomorrow could be an example of yet another set of waves that may continue on for Federer, or be strong enough to carry the lanky young German, Zverev closer to the perfect wave and a victory at the Gerry Weber Open.


Wrist Injury Threatening To End Holger Rune’s Olympic Dream



Holger Rune will have a second medical opinion on Monday before deciding if he is fit enough to play at the Olympic Games, according to his team. 

The Danish world No.17 recently retired from his quarter-final match at the Hamburg Open due to a knee injury. The hope at the time was that his withdrawal would be just a precautionary measure ahead of the Olympics. However, he is also dealing with a second issue that appears to be more serious.

According to TV 2 Sport, Rune has been struggling with a wrist issue and underwent a scan on Sunday which his mother Aneke says ‘doesn’t look promising.’ Aneke is also the manager of her son’s career. Rune’s Olympic dreams now rest on the outcome of a second medical expert that he will visit tomorrow who has a better understanding of the sport. 

“Unfortunately, it does not look promising after the first medical opinion after the review of the scan of the wrist,” Aneke Rune told TV 2 Sport.

“We are waiting for two tennis-specific doctors who will give a second opinion tomorrow (Monday). Tennis wrists look different from regular wrists, so we’ll hold out hope for one more day.” 

Rune is one of three Danish players entered into the Olympic tennis event along with Caroline Wozniacki and Clara Tauson. The country has only won one medal in tennis before which was at the 1912 Games when Sofie Castenschiold won silver in the women’s indoor singles event. 

So far this season, the 21-year-old has won 27 matches on the Tour but is yet to claim a title. He reached the final of the Brisbane International and then the semi-finals of three more events. In the Grand Slams, he made it to the fourth round of the French Open and Wimbledon. 

It is not known when a final decision regarding Rune’s participation in Paris will be made.

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Hubert Hurkacz Undergoes ‘Knee Procedure’ Ahead of Olympic Bid



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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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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