Will Roger Federer Save The ATP Finals? - UBITENNIS
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Will Roger Federer Save The ATP Finals?




At the ongoing ATP Finals in London, Roger Federer is the only Grand Slam champion remaining in the competition. The lack of superstars is certainly affecting the tournament. Besides Roger, Grigor Dimitrov is probably the player with the biggest talent and personality.  


Roger Federer (zimbio.com)


LONDON – On Tuesday night Roger Federer booked his semifinal spot at the ATP Finals with a three-set win over Sasha Zverev. This is great news for the tournament organizers whose hopes for a Federer-Nadal blockbuster match were shattered when the Spaniard withdrew from the event with a knee injury on Monday. “Fedal” materialized four times this year with Roger prevailing in all four occasions and a fifth battle between the two legends at the season-ending championships would have been an extraordinary event for the entire tennis world.

Federer came into the ATP Finals with only four losses in 2017: One of those losses came at the hands of Sasha Zverev in the Canadian Open final during the summer. Roger got revenge against the young German with a see-saw win in the second round-robin match of their group. The Swiss maestro captured his 51st win of the season and advanced to the semifinals which will be played on Saturday. On Thursday Roger will play an irrelevant match against Marin Cilic, who is already eliminated from the competition after dropping his first two round-robin matches.

Roger’s presence in the final stages is key for the credibility of the tournament. After Nadal’s withdrawal and Cilic’s elimination, Federer is the only Grand Slam champion remaining in the competition. This is one of the poorest editions of the ATP Finals in terms of great champions battling for the title. Perhaps a few younger contestants will eventually become great champions and there is certainly a changing of the guard looming all over this year’s event, but when 12 of the top 20 best players in the world are sidelined with injuries, the depth of the competition is certainly devalued.

I asked Federer about the injuries that are affecting most of the top players in his post-match press conference. “If we were 10 years younger, we would do much better,” Federer said. “Most of us are now 30 or older. Back in the days a lot of great players such as Edberg and Sampras retired as soon as they turned 30. Not everybody can play until 36 years old and it is somewhat normal to nurture a few injuries in your thirties and take longer breaks in order to efficiently go through rehabilitation and completely heal. As for players like Nishikori and Raonic, I am not quite sure about their problem. I am not very familiar with left wrist injuries because I don’t play with a two-handed backhand. Del Potro broke his wrist three times. I simply think that you have to learn how to better manage your schedule as you get older. Some players do the exact same things for 15 years before allowing themselves to take a break and hit the reset button.”

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A French reporter also asked Roger about his decision to skip the Paris-Bercy Masters and sabotage his chances to finish the year as the world No. 1: “I don’t have any regrets. Physically I couldn’t really compete, and I don’t know how many matches I could have won there. I would have compromised my chances to do well here in London,” Roger explained.

Federer is the only superstar left in the competition. Carreno Busta is taking Rafael Nadal’s place, but he’s not even close in terms of skills and popularity. Thiem and Goffin are also in the Spaniard’s group: They are two genuine and well-mannered guys with plenty of tennis talent – the Austrian is more powerful, while the Belgian is more of a finesse player. But unfortunately, none of them are selling out arenas yet. The player with the biggest personality in their group is Grigor Dimitrov, who not only is a super-talented tennis player but also a lady-killer off the court.

As for Federer’s group, the lack of quality players is even more evident. On Thursday Zverev and Sock will play for a spot in the semifinals, while Cilic is already eliminated. Zverev shows some quality tennis at times, but his inconsistency is still preventing him from becoming a great player. He was able to reach the No. 3 spot in the rankings due to the injuries and consequent absence of the top five ranked players of 2016, but he still has a lot of growing to do.

The 1998 Hanover edition was one of the most disappointing ATP Finals in history, when one of the groups was composed of Albert Costa, Alex Corretja, Greg Rusedski and Tim Henman. The tournament was eventually won by Carlos Moya, who defeated Corretja in the final. During the 2002 edition in Shanghai, Agassi withdrew after only one match and was replaced by Thomas Johansson, who joined players such as Jiri Novak, Juan Carlos Ferrero and Lleyton Hewitt in a lackluster competition. The 2003 edition in Houston had a group composed of Coria, Moya, Roddick and Schuettler, who is as ordinary as Carreno Busta in this year’s event. The most surprising outcome occurred in 2009, when Davidenko prevailed over Del Potro in an unexpected final.

(Article translation provided by T&L Global – Translation & Language Solutions – www.t-lglobal.com )


Laver Back In the Conversation For Greatest Player?

Daniil Medvedev thwarted Djokovic’s Calendar Year Grand Slam ambitions and is ready to take over as the best in the game.




Who’s the greatest player ever?


How about Rod Laver, the owner of two Calendar Grand Slams?

Or what about Rafa Nadal, the owner of 21 major singles titles (including Olympic Gold)?

Or what about 20-20-20-Laver?


Since Novak Djokovic failed in his bid to win a Calendar Grand Slam on Sunday, I nominate the last of the three possibilities. 20-20-20-Laver sounds like a winner.

For Djokovic just to enter the conversation was a major achievement, and that was spurred by the Serbian’s bid for a Calendar Grand Slam.

Daniil Medvedev ended that conversation on Sunday, at least for now, with his straight-set 4-4-4 dismantling of Djokovic in the U.S. Open final.


As 2021 turned out, it was a really disappointing year for Djokovic, even though he won the year’s first three Grand Slam events. Most players would be out celebrating if they won three Grand Slams in one year.

The loss to Alexander Zverev in the Tokyo Olympics ended Novak’s Golden Grand Slam. And then Medvedev took care of the Calendar Grand Slam talk and the possibility of Djokovic breaking a 20-20-20 deadlock with Nadal and Roger Federer.

So, what’s next? I doubt that Novak is planning to skip the Australian Open in January. Even that one won’t be easy for Djokovic as a result of what has happened in late summer.


Djokovic has practically owned the Australian Open with nine titles in Melbourne, and eight of the last 11. But Medvedev and Zverev will be major obstacles for Djokovic in Melbourne, along with Stefanos Tsitsipas.

The Australian Open isn’t likely to be a picnic for Novak, even if Federer and Nadal skip the trip. If so, Federer and Nadal will be leaving the Australian Open in capable hands.

Things should start heating up by the quarterfinals Down Under.

By the way, Djokovic is 34 years old. That’s about the age Nadal started having trouble winning Grand Slams.


Medvedev beat Djokovic at just about everything he tried on Sunday. Djokovic was never in the game on serving competition or powerful forehands.

Those areas belonged to the 25-year-old Russian.

And movement? On this day, Medvedev had a picnic. The 6-6 first-time Grand Slam winner was everywhere with his amazing quickness. Djokovic couldn’t put a dent in his baseline defense.

Medvedev even out-did Djokovic in the Serbian’s usually solid drop shot department, pinning  even more disappointment on Novak.

Novak even caused a ball girl to change directions during the match as he swung his racket near the surface in  frustration after losing a point. Later, he punished his racket by smashing it into the court and destroying it.


The key to the relatively easy win for Medvedev was his serve. He was a perfect 15-for-15 on first-serve points in the opening set.

Medvedev obviously had little trouble with his serve until he was ready to end the match. With Medvedev owning a match point at 5-2 in the third set, the crowd tried to help Djokovic. Only then when the crowd got into the act of trying to break Medvedev’s attention did he double-fault twice in a row before netting a forehand to give Djokovic the game.

But in the final game of the match, Medvedev was ready for the crowd attack, although he double-faulted another match point away before ending the match with a big serve out wide for a 6-4, 6-4, 6-4 victory. Djokovic managed only to hit the bottom of the net with his backhand return.

And suddenly, the tall Russian looks like the best player in the game.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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Raducanu Proved She’s The Better Player

The British sensation shocked the tennis world – can she keep it up in the coming years?




They played in the largest tennis stadium in the world.


They were teenagers. They achieved a dream early in their careers.

It just as easily could have been a junior championship a year earlier in their careers.

Only a few people would have been watching then. Such an event might not even have drawn newspaper coverage.


This meeting was much bigger and more important. The two participants would be $2.7 million richer between them before the day ended. They would become famous the world over, at least for now.

But this was Saturday, 9/11/21.

Real life now sets in. There probably are at least 100 other players in the world who are just as outstanding as Emma Raducanu and Leylah Fernandez. Yet, most of them will never be involved in a Grand Slam singles final.


What Raducanu and Fernandez accomplished will never be forgotten, always listed in tennis annals.

England will always be proud of its new Grand Slam champion. At long last, Virginia Wade has company.

And Canada will never forget its feisty Grand Slam runner-up.

They stood the test while other more touted and talented players buckled at the knees. High-ranked players crumbled at the thought of losing to a mere teenager.

Next time, that advantage probably won’t exist.


Raducanu and Fernandez played the final like the teenagers they are.

Raducanu came close to making it a one-sided result when she held match point twice with a 5-2 lead in the second set. But Fernandez did not give up on her left-handed game that Raducanu had conquered before in the junior ranks.

After losing both points and the game to make the match closer, Raducanu fought off a pair of break points in the next game before making good on her third match point for a 6-4, 6-3 victory.

The British 18-year-old generally outplayed the 19-year-old Fernandez most of the 111-minute final. Raducanu had more firepower on her serve and ground strokes.


Raducanu played like a tour veteran, even if it was only her fourth tour-level event. It was her 10th straight win without dropping a set, counting her three wins in qualifying just to get into the main draw. No women’s qualifier before even had advanced to a Grand Slam final.

She has the game to win consistently on the tour, but probably not strong enough to challenge the Top 10 players and Grand Slam titlists right away. She’s now no longer under the radar. Everyone wants to beat a Grand Slam champion.

This may have been just a one-shot opening that Raducanu took full advantage of to win a Grand Slam title.  Just in case the road ahead gets bumpy, she might want to be thrifty with the $1.8 million payday.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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Novak Djokovic Was Pushed To An Amazing Performance

Zverev fell just short of beating the world N.1, and now Medvedev is the last obstacle still standing on his path to a Calendar Year Grand Slam




Novak Djokovic was simply amazing Friday night.


True, he made a few mistakes against Alexander Zverev, but not when they counted most.

Zverev also was superb, but his mistakes came when they counted really big.

For those reasons, Djokovic is getting ready to play for the unthinkable. No one had thought much about a Calendar Grand Slam until back in June when Djokovic shocked the tennis world with a victory over Rafa Nadal at the French Open.

By the time Wimbledon came around without Roger Federer and Nadal in the field, the odds were high that Djokovic actually could achieve a Calendar Grand Slam. And then he won Wimbledon and in the process turned the race for most Grand Slam titles into a 20-20-20 battle.


When Federer and Nadal pulled out of the U.S. Open, all of Djokovic’s goals except a Golden Grand Slam when he lost to Zverev at the Olympics were in play.

Nearly two weeks later, Djokovic is one victory away from breaking out of the 20-20-20 deadlock as well as completing a rare Calendar Grand Slam.

Zverev pressed Djokovic into playing his very best to escape with a 4-6, 6-2, 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 victory in the U.S. Open semifinals. Only a cold start to the fifth set chilled Zverev’s hopes of spoiling Novak’s dreams.

Even after losing the first five games of the fifth set, Zverev still came close to making things interesting by winning the next two games and going to 30-30 in the eighth game.


Zverev’s improving game, and his big strokes and serves probably were enough to make Novak hope he won’t have to face Zverev’s hard balls again in January at the Australian Open.

That leaves only Daniil Medvedev between Djokovic and immortality.

Medvedev will have to be at his best to beat Novak. The slender 6-6 Russian can’t afford even a brief meltdown if he is to take Djokovic to the wire.

Medvedev appeared to be in awe of Djokovic when the two met in  this year’s Australian Open final.  Djokovic won that one easily in straight sets.


Medvedev’s game is a piece of work. He is completely unpredictable.

His whip forehand is one of the best shots in tennis. He backs it up with incredible movement.

It all depends on whether Medvedev can stick with Novak until the end. If Medvedev is still there, Novak likely will feel the heavy legs from his 214-minute bout with Zverev.

Not even Djokovic can out-move Medvedev. And the Russian’s uniquely quick serve has plenty of pop. He is due to win a Grand Slam.

But Medvedev will have to pull off a miracle against one of the smartest and slyest players tennis has ever seen if he is to win this U.S. Open.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award as the tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspapers. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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