Roger Federer Stumbles Into US Open Third Round With Erratic Five-Set Win Over Youzhny - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer Stumbles Into US Open Third Round With Erratic Five-Set Win Over Youzhny

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Roger Federer (zimbio.com)

Sometimes it doesn’t matter how you win as long as you win. This was the case for Roger Federer as he struggled past Mikhail Youzhny 6-1, 6-7(3), 4-6, 6-4, 6-2, in the second round of the US Open.

The 19-time grand slam champion headed into the match with high expectations after a lacklustre start to his New York campaign. Two days earlier, he was pushed to five sets by rising star Frances Tiafoe, exposing vulnerabilities in his current form. Leading into the final major of the year, he pulled out of Cincinnati due to a back issue.

It was expected that Federer would hit back at critics with a solid display over Youzhny. A player who he had previously defeated 16 times and had only ever dropped four sets against. Instead, he left himself facing more scrutiny after a roller coaster performance featuring 59 unforced errors as well as 59 winners.

“I’m better than the first round, so I’m happy.” An upbeat Federer said during his press conference. “This match wasn’t about the back, which is good. This is more just a grind. I felt different, completely different, the way it played and everything. But I’m really, really happy I got through”
“These five-set battles are actually quite a lot of fun. I feel quite warm up by now.”
He also added.

In the first 20 minutes he raced to a 5-0 lead without breaking a sweat against a former top 10 player. Youzhny struggled to settle down, producing 13 unforced errors throughout the opening set. The Russian did manage to get onto the scoreboard, but it did little to deter Federer from sealing the 6-1 lead.

Everything appeared to be going well for Federer heading into the second set, but his inconsistency from earlier in the week returned to haunt him. A sluggish start allowed Youzhny to break for a 2-0 lead before the second seed restored order by pushing ahead to 5-3. Ability was not the problem for Federer, it was the error count. A backhand into the net combined with a forehand shank allowed his Russian rival to break back and later take proceedings into a tiebreaker.

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It was only appropriate that Federer should be punished for his patchy display. Youzhny illustrated shots reminiscent of the time he was world No.8. Hitting the ball deep and firing some some stunning forehand winners. The surge enabled him to grab the tiebreaker and only his fifth set against Federer in his entire career.

The turn of the tides cast a cloud of silence over the Arthur Ashe stadium with fans trying to comprehend what was going on. Federer’s stellar start to the match turned into disarray with Youzhny carefully edging his way through. The third set saw the world No.101 win 33 points, but 17 of those were due to a Federer error. The army of loyal fans kept cheering their Swiss leader on, but it wasn’t for him to win. It was for him to draw level. Something that he failed to do in the third set.

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Six games away from suffering his worst-ever performance at Flushing Meadows, Federer spurred himself on with outbursts of ‘Chum Jetzt.’ The swiss-german version of the phrase ‘come on.’ He then managed to bring himself back into contention when a Youzhny backhand slammed into the net, prompting a euphoric roar in the audience and gifting Federer the break. Still he failed to maintain the lead, dropping serve again before forcing a decider with the help of a backhand error from his Russian rival on set point.

Youzhny’s investment in the match took its toll on his body as he cramped towards the final stages of the match. Dramatically falling on the court after one point. It was a gigantic effort that concluded in an anticlimactic way. A double fault on break point that elevated Federer to a 4-2 lead, two games from victory. His 80th US Open win was then secured with a smash at the net. Prompting Federer to raise his arms in celebration.

“It’s hard to watch, but unfortunately that’s how it is.” Federer commented on Youzhny’s cramps. “I was feeling it for Mikhail. We go back to the 98 juniors here, where we played the doubles against each other. It’s nice to see we’re still playing. We played a bunch of times and this was probably our best match.”

Two tough matches, one happy Federer

Despite the roller coaster journey into the third round at Flushing Meadows, Federer is unfazed by it all. Reflecting on his lead up to the tournament, the 36-year-old stated that he will improve as the tournament progresses.

“I see things very positive right now because the preparation hasn’t been its best.” He explained.  “A big compromise, I might struggle early on.  Still hope to get through the early rounds somehow, preferably in three sets, maybe four, maybe five.”
” I’m pretty confident that I’m only going to get better from here. That’s a good thing.

Starting a grand slam with back-to-back five-set matches for the first time in his career, Federer will next play 31st seed Feliciano Lopez. A player he has a 12-0 head-to-head record against. Lopez defeated compatriot Fernando Verdasco in four sets.

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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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