Roger Federer Wins Record 20th Major Title At The Australian Open Amid Roof Argument - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer Wins Record 20th Major Title At The Australian Open Amid Roof Argument

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Under the roof of the Rod Laver Arena, Roger Federer has become the first man in history to win a 20th grand slam title after defeating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, at the Australian Open.

In what was a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon final, Federer was pushed to his limits both mentally and physically. Having a seemingly one-sided lead wiped away by some warrior-like tennis produced from his rival. Nevertheless, the 36-year-old managed to prevail in the 183-minute encounter. Hitting 24 aces, 41 winners and 40 unforced errors. A stark contrast to Cilic’s winner-error ratio of 45-64.

“I’m so happy,” an emotional Federer said after the match.  “Winning is an absolute dream come true. The fairytale continues for us, for me. After the great year I had last year, it’s incredible.”

Drama off the court

Prior to the encounter, officials sparked outcry after deciding that the final should be played under the roof, despite no rain occurring. Former players Greg Rusedski and Pat Cash both slammed the move by saying that it gave Federer the edge.

“One guy warms up indoors, other warms up outdoors before the finals. Roof is closed.” Rusedski wrote on Twitter.
“This is so wrong for a GS final which is an outdoor event, which means you should have to deal with the elements. So far one sided. I hope Cilic can get back into the match.”

The Australian Open hit back by saying the roof was close in accordance with their heat policy. Although the ambient temperature didn’t go over 40 degrees, which is part of their guidelines. In a statement, they later admitted that the decision was due to the ‘discretion of the referee.’

Federer undeterred

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Despite the argument off-court, it had little impact on Federer’s start to the match. From the onset it was one-way traffic in his favour. The 36-year-old settled into his 30th grand slam final almost instantly. Breaking Cilic twice at the start of the match to seal the opening set in just 24 minutes. Nerves were visible in Cilic’s game as he produced 12 unforced errors compared to Federer’s tally of three. On top of that, the Swiss player dropped just two points behind his serve.

It wasn’t until the second set where Federer got tested. Former US Open champion Cilic had two opportunities to break for a 2-0 lead, but was denied by more tenacious play from the world No.2. From then on, there was little to distinguish between the two as Cilic continued to gain momentum. The Croat battled his way to a set point opportunity at 5-4 following a Federer double fault, but failed to convert. Still undeterred, Cilic secured his the breakthrough in the tiebreaker when a blistering forehand shot elevated him to two more set points. It was on the second where he prevailed after hitting a smash at the net.

With history at stake, Federer managed to regain his stronghold in the match during the third. A Cilic backhand crashed into the net to reward Federer a trio of chances of break for a 4-2 lead. He did so on his second attempt after another error from his rival. Prompting a huge roar of ‘come on’ from the Swiss player. The two sets leads was then sealed with an ace out wide.

Nudging towards a record-equaling sixth Australian Open title, nerves began to unravel Federer. Enabling a resurgent Cilic to illustrate why he remains one of the most prominent players in men’s tennis. Displaying shots reminiscent of his run to the 2014 US Open title, the Croat dismantled the Federer serve with ease to force proceedings into a decider. Prompting an eruption of cheers from his fans in the crowd.

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The tension inside the Rod Laver Arena reached its peak as history beckoned for whoever won the final. Once again, Federer got the lead in the cat and mouse chase by breaking for a 3-0 lead in the decider. This time the lead was enough to get him over the finish line. A Cilic forehand smashing into the net secured him another break to move him to a game away from history. Serving for grand slam title No.20, he achieved the milestone with a perfectly placed 140 km/h serve out wide. Prompting tears and jubilation from both him and his camp.

” I’d like to thank Marin, another great tournament. World No3, that’s a hell of an achievement.” Federer said in tribute to his opponent.

As tears fell down the face of the Swiss Maestro, he continued to praise those that has supported him. His team, his family and his fans.

“To all the fans. You fill the stadiums, you make me nervous, you make me go out and practice. I just want to thank you for everything.” He said.
“To my team, I love you guys.”

Runner-up Cilioc can seek some comfort  in his Melbourne run. On Monday he will rise to third on the ATP Emirates rankings in what will be the highest position in his career. He is also one of only two players from his country to contest three major finals after Goran Ivanisevic.

“It was an amazing journey for me. It could have been the best two weeks of my life. I had the chance at the beginning of the fifth but he played a great match.” Said Cilic.
“My team have been unbelievable for the last two weeks. We started this year amazingly well and hopefully we can reach more finals and lift more trophies!”

Federer is only the third man to win a sixth Australian Open title. Following in the footsteps of Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic.

https://twitter.com/rogerfederer/status/957589116027375616

 

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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