Roger Federer Believes Djokovic Has ‘Room To Improve’ Ahead Of Meeting No.46 In Cincinnati - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer Believes Djokovic Has ‘Room To Improve’ Ahead Of Meeting No.46 In Cincinnati

The 20-time grand slam champion gives his assessment of his Serbian rival ahead of their first clash since 2016.

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Former world No.1 Roger Federer admits that he is intrigued to see how Novak Djokovic finishes this season as he continues his resurgence on the tour.

At the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati, Federer will take on Djokovic for the first time in two years after both players came through their semi-final matches. Federer moved into the showdown after his opponent, David Goffin, was forced to retire during the early stages of the second set due to a shoulder injury. Meanwhile, Djokovic battled past former champion Marin Cilic 6-4, 3-6, 6-3.

“A lot has happened since (our last meeting) with injuries, both of us have been fighting, and we both came back strong again. So I think that’s what’s nice about this time around with Novak.” Federer previewed about the upcoming final.

Their last meeting was on the hardcourt’s in Melbourne at the Australian Open where Djokovic prevailed in four sets to move ahead 23-22 in their head-to-head. Since then, Federer missed six months of action due to a knee injury in 2016. Then a year later Djokovic experienced his own misfortunes with a elbow injury that sidelined him from the tour. Djokovic also underwent a operation on his elbow earlier this year.

Both men have staged an emphatic return to the tour. Highlighted by Djokovic‘s impressive run on the grass which saw him claim the Wimbledon title. Since then, the Serbian world No.10 has won 17 out of 19 matches played on the tour.

“When they asked me in Indian Wells and Miami to judge Novak, I was, like, It’s not real Novak, then.” Federer explained.
“He was just coming back, and he came back too soon. Same at the Australian Open. That one wasn’t quite the 100% Novak we know he can be.
“I don’t look at that kind of match like what could he be struggling with, because if you give him time, he’ll fix that.”

Route to the final

FEDERER
R1: Bye
R2: 6-4, 6-4 Peter Gojowczyk
R3: 6-2, 7-6 Leonardo Mayer
QF: 6-7, 7-6, 6-2 Stan Wawrinka
SF: 7-6 1-1 RET David Goffin

DJOKOVIC
R1: 6-4, 7-6 Steve Johnson
R2: 4-6, 6-2, 6-1 Adrian Mannarino
R3: 2-6, 6-3, 6-4 Grigor Dimitrov
QF: 7-5, 4-6, 6-3 Milos Raonic
SF: 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 Marin Cilic

The upcoming final is set to make Cincinnati history regardless of the winner. Federer is yet to lose in the final of the tournament with a perfect 7-0 record. Should he win again, he would be the first person to win the title for an eighth time. Meanwhile, if Djokovic prevails, he would become the first player to win all nine Masters 1000 titles since the series was introduced in 1990.

“I think it gives him a lot of confidence, as well, winning all those three-setters now, because in Indian Wells and Miami, what I saw there was a tired Novak, which was very rare to see that.” Federer commented about his rival.
“But that’s why it wasn’t real. He hadn’t had enough practice yet. Still coming fresh off his injury.
“I think he’s playing much better tennis now, much more solid off the baseline. I mean, I still think he’s got room to improve. Will be interesting to see how he finishes the year.”

When pressed further by the media about what specific areas Djokovic needs to improve, Federer refrained from mentioning any specifics.

“Just everything, like, a little bit of everything. I don’t know what it is exactly, but it could start with the serve, could start with whatever it may be. Transition game, I don’t know.” He said.

Federer’s respect for his rival is one that goes both ways. Shortly after his win over Cilic, Djokovic spoke about his rivalry with the Swiss player. Which started 13 years ago at the 2006 Monte Carlo Masters.

“The rivalry with him and him personally has influenced the evolution of my game.” Djokovic said during his press conference.
“It would be the greatest challenge in Cincinnati, without a doubt, and many tournaments, especially here, because he’s been dominating this tournament historically. He won against me several times in finals.”

Heading into the final, Federer is yet to be broken in the tournament. Winning all 43 of service games. Meanwhile Djokovic has won 55 out of 68 played.

The men’s final will take place after 16:00 local time (21:00 GMT) on Sunday.

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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