From Roger Federer’s Fight To Kyrgios’ Chance: Five Things To Follow At Indian Wells - UBITENNIS
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From Roger Federer’s Fight To Kyrgios’ Chance: Five Things To Follow At Indian Wells

It is showtime in the Californian desert and there is plenty at stake for the best players on the ATP Tour.

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Roger Federer (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

The 44th edition of the BNP Paribas Open provides an opportunity for the usual protagonists to continue their dominance on the men’s tour. With defending champion Juan Martin del Potro sidelined by injury, players will be battling it out for 1000 ranking points as well as $1,340,860 in prize money for the winner.

 

Here are five things to follow in the men’s draw this year.

Federer’s fight to stay in the top five

The day after winning his 100th title at the Dubai Tennis Championships, Roger Federer flew straight out to the Californian desert for his next challenge. The 37-year-old re-entered the top five this week, but faces a tough task in the coming weeks holding that position.

Seven out of the top 10 players on the ATP Tour are defending 45 or less points, however, for 2018 runner-up Federer he is defending 600 points. Meaning an early loss in the tournament will open the door for the likes of Kei Nishikori and Kevin Anderson to overtake him. To prevent this happening, the Swiss player needs to reach at least the quarter-finals this year to have a chance of staying in the top five.

This year is Federer’s 18th appearance in the Indian Wells main draw. A five-time champion, he has won 62 out of 74 matches played (84% winning rate). The last time he failed to reach the quarter-final stage was back in 2010.

How did the current top 10 fair in Indian Wells last year?

Ranking
Player
Age
2018 result
1 Novak Djokovic 31 Round two
2 Rafael Nadal 32 Withdrew
3 Alexander Zverev 21  Round two
4 Roger Federer 37 runner-up
5 Juan Martin del Potro 30 Champion
6 Kevin Anderson 32 Quarter-finals
7 Kei Nishikori 29 Withdrew
8 Dominic Thiem 25 Round Three (retired)
9 John Isner 33 Round two
10 Stefanos Tsitsipas 20 Round two

Can anybody defeat Djokovic?

Novak Djokovic will return to action for the first time since winning the Australian Open in January. The world No.1 is the only player in history to win every Masters 1000 tournament at least once. Since his resurgence on the tour last summer, Djokovic has won five titles (three grand slams and two Masters).

During that time Djokovic has looked unbeatable during certain tournaments, but has also suffered defeats. Losing to Karen Khachanov in Paris last year, followed by Alexander Zverev at the ATP Finals. His only defeat so far in 2019 was to Roberto Bautista Agut in Qatar. Despite those losses, Djokovic remains the huge favourite heading into the event. He also has a prime opportunity to strengthen his number one ranking with only 10 points to defend from last year.

Should the Serbian prevail, he would tie Rafael Nadal’s record of 33 for most Masters 1000 titles won in the Open Era. Djokovic would also claim a record sixth Indian Wells title.

The Next Gen challenge

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As the first Greek player in history to break into the ATP top 10 this week, 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas will be hoping for a strong run. Defending only 25 points, the Australian Open semi-finalist made his debut in Indian Wells last year. Going out in the second round to Dominic Thiem. Tsitsipas will be seeded ninth in the draw.

Alexander Zverev is the only member of the Next Gen contingent to win multiple Masters 1000 titles. Furthermore, two out of those three trophies have occurred in North America. The German recently settled for runner-up at the Mexican Open to Nick Kyrgios. Zverev’s record at Indian Wells is far from spectacular after winning just four matches between 2016-2018. It is only of one two Masters events where he is yet to reach the quarter-finals.

Other next Gen players to look out for include Alex de Minaur, Denis Shapovalov and Frances Tiafoe. 18-year-old Felix Auger Aliassime, who is the youngest player in the top 100, has received a wildcard into the main draw.

Next gen players in the top 100 (ranked by age)

Ranking
Player
Age
58 Felix Auger-Aliassime 18
25 Denis Shapovalov 19
10 Stefanos Tsitsipas 20
24 Alex de Minaur 20
66 Ugo Humbert 20
94 Casper Ruud 20
3 Alexander Zverev 21
35 Frances Tiafoe 21
46 Taylor Fritz 21
59 Reilly Opelka 21
61 Jaume Munar 21

Will Nadal maintain his strong record?

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It has been six years since Rafael Nadal last triumph in Indian Wells. Overall, he has won 50 matches in the tournament to date since making his debut back in 2003. To put that into perspective, Indian Wells if his third most successful Masters event in terms of wins after Monte Carlo (68) and Rome (56).

The 11-time French Open champion is seeking to reach his second final of the tour in 2019. His current win-loss record the season stands at 7-2. He has won at least one ATP title every year since 2004.

“I know that the season is long. My first priority, more than winning titles or not, is to be happy. To be happy, I need to be healthy. I’m going to do the things that give me a better chance to be healthy more than anything. That’s the priority. If I am healthy, I am competitive, I am happy, I have the chance to win tournaments.” Nadal told reporters following the Australian Open final.

So far in his career, Nadal has achieved nine wins over top 10 players in Indian Wells.

Will Nick Kyrgios exceed or implode?

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After a stellar performance last week, some are regarding the unpredictable Nick Kyrgios as a threat to the draw. The Australian defeated three top 10 players on route to winning Acapulco. His first ATP title since January 2018.

“It’s hopefully an example for people who are struggling and getting in some places you don’t think you can get out of. If I can do it, you can do it,” Kyrgios said following his triumph. “I was really down and out and didn’t know what I was going to do, but you have a week like this and things can change.”

Consistency has been an Achilles heel for the 23-year-old in recent months. Besides being hampered by numerous injury issues, Kyrgios has been criticised throughout his career for his controversial attitude on the court. The most recent being from Nadal, who said he lacks ‘respect.’ Something that was heavily disputed by Kyrgios himself.

“I need to be way more disciplined, way better professionally and do the right things,” Kyrgios admits.

A player that likes the big stages of the sport, it remains to see how Kyrgios will fair. It was at the 2017 edition of Indian Wells where he stunned both Zverev and Djokovic on route to the quarter-finals. Kyrgios missed last year’s tournament due to injury.

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Angelique Kerber Splits With Rainer Schuettler After Eight Month Partnership

Angelique Kerber has parted ways with Rainer Schuettler after an eight month partnership which ended in Wimbledon disappointment.

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Angelique Kerber (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

Three time grand slam champion Angelique Kerber has split with her coach Rainer Schuettler after an eight month partnership. 

 

It’s been a topsy-turvy year for the German so far after reaching the finals in Indian Wells and Eastbourne as well as being 11th in the Race To Shenzhen rankings.

However after losing in the first week of all three of her grand slams so far, last year’s Wimbledon champion has decider to end her partnership with Rainer Scheuttler.

The 31 year-old made the announcement on Twitter as she admitted it was a tough decision to make but a necessary one to make, “Moving forward, it’s never easy to change – especially when you work with great people like Rainer,” Kerber said.

“But for now, we’ve decided that it’s the right time for a fresh start. He has become a friend and I‘m thankful for his hard work & dedication in the last months.”

A couple of days ago, Kerber also said it was time to embrace the challenges moving forward as she looks to improve her sluggish form ,“This time of year feels very different compared to last year, but it’s still part of the same journey,” Kerber explained on Twitter.

“Whether you‘ve won or lost the last match- it‘s done, it‘s over and it can‘t be changed. It‘s about the lessons you learn from both outcomes that will determine your path. 

“There have always been ups and downs, twists and turns in my career that I accept as part of my story as an athlete. Even more, I‘ve learned to deal with it and embrace the challenge moving forward.”

Although Kerber and Schuettler have become good friends, the results never really translated when it really mattered most as Kerber couldn’t keep her focus on the big occasions.

A very brave decision to do it more than half way through the season though as Kerber looks to finish the season strong in a frustrating year.

Next for the former world number one is the Rogers Cup in Toronto, which starts on the 5th August.

 

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Johanna Konta Speaks About Charity Work Ahead Of Second Half Of Season

Johanna Konta talks about her work with charity as she looks to end the season strong.

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Johanna Konta (@the_LTA - Twitter)

Johanna Konta has spoken about her charity work as she prepares for the final grand slam of the season. 

 

It has been an encouraging 2019 so far for the Brit after reaching the finals in Rabat and Madrid as well as reaching the last four at Roland Garros.

Although that was met with disappointment and criticism at Wimbledon after her quarter-final exit to Barbora Strycova, Konta is looking to continue the momentum in the American summer.

However for now, the world number 15 is taking her mind off tennis to focus on her charity work and in particular tackling homelessness.

Recently Konta visited the prime minister on the subject and spoke to the WTA Website about why she feels passionately about homelessness, “Homelessness has always been a big thing that’s close to my heart, that I want to help,” Konta said.

“I met a young lady called Kenny, who has come through Centre Point and it’s through them that she’s got her shift here with The Clink.”

The Brit is an ambassador for the charity CentrePoint, who support young homeless people in London since 1969 as homelessness has been a big problem in the UK.

The Clink provided catering for the event an 10 Downing Street, which was about bringing young people who are at risk of violence and helping them talk to businesses and role models to see how they can not take to crime.

On her visit, Konta explained why it was a dream come true to go to 10 Downing Street, “I feel like you’re walking through history, especially as you walk up the stairs and you see all the Prime Ministers through time. It’s inspiring and I feel very lucky.”

Next for Konta is the Rogers Cup in Toronto, which starts on the 5th of August as she prepares for the final grand slam of the year at the US Open.

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Wimbledon Day 13 Preview: The Gentlemen’s Final

In a championship match with significant GOAT implications, Roger Federer plays for a record-extending 21st Major, as Djokovic defends his title and vies for his 16th.

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Roger Federer (@Wimbledon - Twitter)

By Matthew Marolf

 

In 25 days, Roger Federer will turn 38 years of age. Remarkably, here he is in his 31st Major final, and his 12th at The All England Club. His most recent Slam final came 18 months ago in Australia, where he defeated Marin Cilic in five sets. Playing the French Open last month for the first time since 2015, and advancing to the semi-finals on his worst surface, provided Roger with considerable confidence. After falling to Rafael Nadal in Paris, he avenged that loss here on Friday in a thrilling semi-final. But in order to win his ninth Wimbledon, he’ll need to do something he’s never done before: defeat both Nadal and Djokovic at the same Grand Slam event.

One year ago, Novak Djokovic arrived at SW19 ranked outside the top 20. After holding all four Majors at once, he hadn’t claimed another in over two years. But a semi-final victory over Nadal would propel Djokovic to win three consecutive Slams. He’s now the definitive world No.1, and looks to pull within four Major titles of Federer, and within two of Nadal.

Novak Djokovic (1) vs. Roger Federer (2)

This is their third time playing in the gentlemen’s singles final. In 2014, Djokovic pulled out the win in five sets, a turning point in Novak’s career having lost his last five Major Finals outside of Australia. A year later, Djokovic prevailed in four. Overall Novak has the slight edge in their head-to-head 25-22, and has taken eight of their last 10 meetings. At Majors, Djokovic leads 9-6, and hasn’t lost to Federer at a Slam in seven years, which was their first Wimbledon matchup in the 2012 semi-finals.

Both men needed three sets and about three hours to win their semi-finals, though Federer’s match against Nadal was the tighter and more draining affair. For Roger, coming back less than 48 hours later to play the other GOAT contender, who is also nearly six years younger than Federer, is a huge ask. But if Roger plays with the same energy he did on Friday, he has a shot. He’ll need to serve even better than in the semi-finals, as he faces the best returner in the game.

The crowd could play a critical role here. They’ll undoubtedly be raucously behind Roger, and we saw on Friday against Roberto Bautista Agut how bothered Novak can get by crowds cheering for his opponent. He receives it as disrespect, though he often seems to thrive on it. But Novak would be wise to not outwardly mock the Centre Court audience today, as it will only increase their enthusiasm for Federer. On paper, Djokovic is a solid favourite. There’s no real weakness in his game, and the best-of-five format plays to his advantage, especially if this goes the distance.

However, we saw on Friday the magic Roger is still capable of on Centre Court. He’ll know this may be one of his last chances to win a Major, though will that inspire him or unsettle him? We saw Serena Williams tighten up under similar circumstances yesterday. While I don’t think this will be a blowout like the ladies’ championship match, Djokovic will be too much for Federer to overcome in the end. Novak will be joining Simona Halep at the champions ball on Sunday evening.

Other notable matches on Day 13:

In the ladies’ doubles final re-scheduled for today due to the length of the gentlemen’s doubles final, singles standouts Su-Wei Hsieh and Barbora Strycova (3) vs. Gabriela Dabrowski and Yifan Xu (4), who upset the defending champion in the semi-finals.  Singles semi-finalist Strycova would become the new doubles No.1 with a win today.

In the mixed doubles final, which has unfortunately been bumped to No.1 Court, French Open champions Ivan Dodig and Latisha Chan (8) vs. 42-year-old Roberto Lindstedt and Jelena Ostapenko, who is a former junior champion here, and was a singles semifinalist a year ago.

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