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Indian Wells Day 14 Preview: The Men’s and Women’s Finals

We may not have gotten Federer/Nadal yesterday, but today we get two fresh and intriguing matchups in the singles finals.

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Roger Federer (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)
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Roger Federer (4) vs. Dominic Thiem

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Of course the career statistics between these two are vastly different. Here’s just one example: this is only Thiem’s third Masters 1,000 final, while this is Federer’s 49th. But an important statistic in this match-up is their career head-to-head, as they’ve split their four previous meetings. Federer has won both hard court matches, while Thiem prevailed on clay, and surprisingly on grass. They last played at last November’s ATP Finals, in a round robin match which Roger won in straight sets. Yet as Darren Cahill highlighted on ESPN in the US, the indoor court in London plays much differently than the slower and grainier court in Indian Wells. It’s also been cooler than usual this year in the desert, making for even slower conditions. That all plays to Thiem’s favor, who likes to have extra time to set up his big swings.

 

“It’s always something special to play him and also something special to compete in a Masters 1000 final. It’s only my third one. I have pretty bad stats in those finals.” Thiem said.
“I know it’s going to be very tough, but same time, I will give everything to hopefully win my first (Masters) title.”

Federer will enjoy hearing that Sunday will be the hottest day yet of this fortnight. When Thiem is on, he’s capable of out-hitting just about anyone. And his hard court play has improved dramatically over the past 12 months. With a win today, Thiem would surpass Federer in the rankings, taking over the No.4 spot. A year ago in the Indian Wells final, Federer was upset by another player going for their first Masters 1,000 title in Juan Martin Del Potro. Roger lost that emotionally-charged final despite having match points. While another upset in this final is entirely possible, I like Federer’s chances to avenge his loss here of a year ago. Roger is the more in-form player, as he’s on an 11-match win streak. He hasn’t dropped a set in this tournament, and only lost his serve once on the way to this final. And like the women’s final, experience on this stage may play a significant factor.

“He is a very interesting player, like Stan (Wawrinka).” Federer commented of Thiem whilst talking with Swiss media. “He can play from the back and in the court. His one-handed backhand has a lot of topspin and a lot of power, and he resembles Stan. He plays a little bit more with Slice and tends to get too passive at times.”
“I’m a big fan of his.” He added.

Quick facts

  • Federer is targeting his 101st ATP title and a record sixth in Indian Wells
  • Thiem is bidding to become the 67th person to win a Masters title since the category was introduced back in 1990
  • Federer has saved 15 out of 16 break points he has faced on route to the final
  • The winner of the match will also claim the world No.4 spot, which is currently held by Federer
  • Federer is bidding to become only the third player in history to win a 28th Masters 1000 title. Following in the footsteps of Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic
  • Thiem is the first Austrian – man or woman – to contest a final in the history of the tournament

 

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Fabio Fognini To Undergo Arthroscopic Surgery On Both Ankles

Fabio Fognini is to have surgery on both ankles as he aims to extend his tennis career when the ATP Tour returns.

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Fabio Fognini (@ASB_Classic - Twitter)

Fabio Fognini will undergo Arthroscopic surgery on both ankles in Italy today after re-injuring them in training. 

 

The Italian took to social media to announce that he will have the surgery on both his ankles immediately as he looks to take advantage of Tennis’ hiatus.

In the post Fognini revealed that this is not a new problem he has been suffering from, “I’ve been having a problem with my left ankle for three and a half years now, it’s an issue I’ve learned to cope with,” Fognini explained.

“Then my right ankle started playing up in the past two years as well. I had hoped the various issues would go away during my two months break from the game because of the lockdown but, when I resumed training they were still there. 

“After medical examination and a long discussion with my team, I decided to have arthroscopic surgery on both ankles. I believe it is the right thing to do while the tour is on this enforced break.”

This is big news for the Italian, who is now 33 years-old and with his time on the tour running out this is a big risk but a risk worth taking in order to increase his longevity.

The timing couldn’t have been better for the world number 11 as he looks to take advantage of the hiatus in the tennis calendar and get himself fully ready for the 2021 season.

Since turning pro 16 years ago, Fognini has won 9 ATP singles titles and been a grand slam champion in doubles with his flamboyant style remaining consistent over the years and will look to continue this form after surgery.

Meanwhile a decision on the US Open is expected to be made in the next couple of weeks as the tournament organisers are hoping to still hold the tournament on the 31st of August.

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Australian Tennis Great Passes Away Aged 83

Ashley Cooper is one of only 11 men in history to have won three grand slam titles within the same year.

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Women’s world No.1 Ash Barty has led tributes to multiple grand slam champion Ashley Cooper, who passed away on Friday.

 

Cooper was one of the sports best players in the years leading up to the birth of the Open Era. He was declared the world’s best amateur player in 1957 and 1958. It was during 1958 where he really stood out by winning three out of the four major tournaments within the same season. Something only 10 other players in the history of men’s tennis have been able to achieve. Cooper also achieved success in the doubles by winning another four grand slam titles. In the Davis Cup he led Australia to a 3-2 victory over America in the 1957 final.

Whilst his achievements occurred during the 1950s, Cooper did sort of have a taste of what it was like to place in a major event during the Open Era after featuring in the main draw of the 1968 French Open. He progressed to the second round after his opponent retired before withdrawing from the tournament without playing a single point.

After retiring from the sport, he maintained his links with tennis. Working alongside Tennis Queensland with their player development and was on the Board of Directors for Tennis Australia.

“Ashley was a giant of the game both as a brilliant player and an astute administrator and he will be greatly missed,” said Tennis Australia CEO Craig Tiley.
“His contribution to the sport went far beyond his exploits on the tennis court. His rich legacy includes the magnificent Queensland Tennis Centre, a project he was passionate about, nurturing the development from the very beginning, and resulting in the return of world-class international tennis to Brisbane.”
“Ashley was also the most humble of champions and a great family man. Our hearts go out to his wife Helen and his family, along with his wide and international circle of friends, including so many of our tennis family.”

Paying her own tribute, French Open champion Barty took to Twitter to send her sympathy to Cooper’s family. Last year she was presented with the Ashley Cooper Medal at the Queensland Tennis Awards. The highest individual honour that can be issued by the organisation named in after the tennis great.

Rod Laver, who is one of Australia’s greatest tennis players of all time, described Cooper as a ‘wonderful champion’ in his tribute.

“So sad to hear of Ashley’s passing. He was a wonderful champion, on and off the court. And what a backhand! So many cherished memories. Farewell my friend. My thoughts are with Ashley’s wife, Helen, and his family.” Laver wrote on Twitter.

The have been no details released on the exact cause of Cooper’s death, but it has been reported that he has been battling ‘a long illness.’ He was 83-years-old.

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Novak Djokovic aims at breaking Federer and Nadal Grand Slam records

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Novak Djokovic told US program In Depth presented by Graham Bensinger that he wants to break all Grand Slam records and play for many years. The Serbian player is the third best ever player with 17 Major titles behid Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19).

 

“I believe that the journey chooses you and not the other way around and I know that I still have things to do in sport. At the same time, they are not the only things that motivate me, what really feeds me is the desire to keep growing. I can achieve all feats and become the greatest in history maintaining on the courts”, said Djokovic.

The Serbian legend said that he does not set set any limits. He was still unbeaten before the suspension of the season due to the coronavirus pandemic. His winning streak includes a record of 18 consecutive match wins and a 21-match win streak dating back dating back to the Davis Cup Finals last November. He beat Roger Federer in the semifinal and Dominic Thiem in the final to clinch his 8th Australian Open title. He became the third man to win 8 titles at a Grand Slam tournament. Last February he saved three match points against Gael Monfils in the semifinal before beating Stefanos Tsitsipas in the final in Dubai.

 “I don’t believe in limits. I think limits are just illusions of your ago or your mind. I definitely want to go on for a long time but I know that at the same time I have to maintain the right principles and the routine to maintain the health and well being of my body, mind and soul”, said Djokovic.

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