Dominic Thiem Feels Federer Is Being Underestimated In Madrid, But Does He Agree? - UBITENNIS
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Dominic Thiem Feels Federer Is Being Underestimated In Madrid, But Does He Agree?

In his comeback week to the clay, should the 20-time grand slam champion be considered a serious contender on the surface?

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Roger Federer (photo by Roberto Dell Olivo)

MADRID: This week might be the first time Roger Federer has played a clay-court tournament in almost three years, but Dominic Thiem has vowed to take nothing for granted.

 

The Austrian will be the next test for the Swiss Maestro at the Caja Magica on Friday. Thiem is currently on a seven-match winning streak after triumphing at the Barcelona Open. Where he defeated Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals. He already has a win over Federer this year after triumphing in Indian Wells to claim his maiden Masters title at the age of 25.

With all things considered, it is fair to say that Thiem has a strong chance of victory in his upcoming match. However, he refuses to get carried away when it comes to locking horns with the most decorated grand slam singles champion in the history of men’s tennis.

“I think a lot of people underestimate him on the clay. He’s an unbelievable player. Only Rafa is better, I guess. I need to invest 100 percent to have a chance of winning.” Thiem told Ubitennis in Madrid.

Thiem’s view does raise a valid point. Has Federer’s credentials on the clay been forgotten? It is true that he has endured a lengthy absence from the surface, but he knows how to play on the clay. So far in his career, he has won 11 titles on the dirt. Six of which were at Masters level and one at the 2009 French Open.

Shortly after his gripping win over Gael Monfils, Federer was asked if he agreed with Thiem’s view about being underestimated by others.

“I don’t think anybody’s really underestimating me because I’m not coming back from an injury. I’ve had a good start to the season this year.” Said Federer. “It is pretty fast here in Madrid and I’ve won here in the past, so I guess players maybe know I don’t have that much clay court tennis in me in the last few years, but that doesn’t make me less dangerous to be quite honest.”

In their head-to-head Thiem leads the world No.3. Impressively scoring wins over him on the grass, hard court and clay. A rare achievement that is matched by only a select few players in the sport.

“I’m not the favorite against him. I think it will be a pretty open match.” Thiem previewed. “If we both play well as we did in Indian Wells, it going to be a great battle. If I play slightly worse, he is going to win it for sure.“

Meanwhile, Federer has hailed the achievements of his younger rival. However, when it comes to the ultimate test on the clay for him, the honor still belongs to Nadal in his eyes.

“Thiem has been playing great. Recently, winning Barcelona and also Indian Wells. I also saw what he could do on the slower, harder courts, not that I needed him to prove his point. But I think beating Rafa in Barcelona is a feat in itself. I still believe that Rafa is the measuring stick and not Dominic.” He stated.

The match between Thiem and Federer will take place, not before 17:00 local time on Friday.

List of ATP Finals Federer has played on the clay

Win May 2002 German Open, Germany Masters Clay  Marat Safin 6–1, 6–3, 6–4
Win May 2003 Bavarian Championships, Germany International Clay  Jarkko Nieminen 6–1, 6–4
Loss May 2003 Italian Open, Italy Masters Clay  Félix Mantilla 5–7, 2–6, 6–7(8–10)
Loss Jul 2003 Swiss Open, Switzerland International Clay  Jiří Novák 7–5, 3–6, 3–6, 6–1, 3–6
Win May 2004 German Open, Germany (2) Masters Clay  Guillermo Coria 4–6, 6–4, 6–2, 6–3
Win Jul 2004 Gstaad, Switzerland International Clay  Igor Andreev 6–2, 6–3, 5–7, 6–3
Win May 2005 German Open, Germany (3) Masters Clay  Richard Gasquet 6–3, 7–5, 7–6(7–4)
Loss Apr 2006 Monte-Carlo Masters, Monaco Masters Clay  Rafael Nadal 2–6, 7–6(7–2), 3–6, 6–7(5–7)
Loss May 2006 Italian Open, Italy Masters Clay  Rafael Nadal 7–6(7–0), 6–7(5–7), 4–6, 6–2, 6–7(5–7)
Loss June 2006 French Open, France Grand Slam Clay  Rafael Nadal 6–1, 1–6, 4–6, 6–7(4–7)
Loss Apr 2007 Monte-Carlo Masters, Monaco Masters Clay  Rafael Nadal 4–6, 4–6
Win May 2007 German Open, Germany (4) Masters Clay  Rafael Nadal 2–6, 6–2, 6–0
Loss Jun 2007 French Open, France Grand Slam Clay  Rafael Nadal 3–6, 6–4, 3–6, 4–6
Win Apr 2008 Portugal Open, Portugal International Clay  Nikolay Davydenko 7–6(7–5), 1–2 ret.
Loss Apr 2008 Monte-Carlo Masters, Monaco Masters Clay  Rafael Nadal 5–7, 5–7
Loss May 2008 German Open, Germany Masters Clay  Rafael Nadal 5–7, 7–6(7–3), 3–6
Loss Jun 2008 French Open, France Grand Slam Clay  Rafael Nadal 1–6, 3–6, 0–6
Win May 2009 Madrid Open, Spain (2) Masters 1000 Clay  Rafael Nadal 6–4, 6–4
Win Jun 2009 French Open, France Grand Slam Clay  Robin Söderling 6–1, 7–6(7–1), 6–4
Loss May 2010 Madrid Open, Spain Masters 1000 Clay  Rafael Nadal 4–6, 6–7(5–7)
Loss Jun 2011 French Open, France Grand Slam Clay  Rafael Nadal 5–7, 6–7(3–7), 7–5, 1–6
Win May 2012 Madrid Open, Spain (3) Masters 1000 Clay  Tomáš Berdych 3–6, 7–5, 7–5
Loss May 2013 Italian Open, Italy Masters 1000 Clay  Rafael Nadal 1–6, 3–6
Loss Apr 2014 Monte-Carlo Masters, Monaco Masters 1000 Clay  Stan Wawrinka 6–4, 6–7(5–7), 2–6
Win May 2015 Istanbul Open, Turkey 250 Series Clay  Pablo Cuevas 6–3, 7–6(13–11)
Loss May 2015 Italian Open, Italy Masters 1000 Clay  Novak Djokovic 4–6, 3–6

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Mikhail Kukushkin beat Italian Next Gen star Jannick Sinner in St. Petersburg

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Mikhail Kukushkin beat 18-year-old Italian Next Gen rising star Jannick Sinner 6-3 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 40 minutes. Kukushkin fended off nine of the eleven break points he faced.

 

Sinner, who turned 18 last month and received a wild-card to take part at the next November’s ATP Next Gen Finals in Milan, did not convert three break points in the first game, but Kukushkin saved them to hold his first game.

Kukushkin, who won his only title in St.Petersburg in 2010, was the first to break serve in the fourth game to open up a 4-1 lead. Sinner earned three break points but Kukushkin fended them off. Sinner saved a break point in the eighth game but Kukushkin served out the opening set on his first set point.

Kukushkin went up a break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead, Sinner converted his second break-back point to draw level to 2-2. Kukushkin got a break lead for the second time but Sinner rallied from the break down for the second time to draw level to 4-4. Sinner earned set point at 5-4 to force a decider, but Kukushkin saved it to draw level to 5-5. Kukushkin got a mini-break in the tie-break to win the tie-break 7-4.

Adrian Mannarino, who won his first ATP Tour title in s’Hertogenbosch, beat Stefano Travaglia 7-5 6-2 after 1 hour and 19 minutes. Travaglia held his first two service games at love and broke serve to open up a 4-1 lead. Mannarino converted his first break-back point for 3-4. Both players held their serve to draw level to 5-5. Travaglia saved a break point, but he made two double faults to drop his serve in the 11th game for 5-6. Mannarino served out the first set on his first point.

Travaglia saved a break point at the start of the second set, but Mannarino converted his second chance.

Travaglia earned two break-back points in the second game but did Mannarino saved them to open up a 2-0 lead. Mannarino went up a 3-0 lead. The Frenchman saved a break point in the sixth game to race out to a 5-1 lead and sealed the win on his first match point.

 

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‘Looks Like He Should Be Suspended’ – Pat Rafter Questions ATP’s Management Of Nick Kyrgios

The former world No.1 is the latest person to speak out about the controversial player.

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Nick Kyrgios, Steve Johnson, 2019 US Open
Photo Credit: Andrew Ong/USTA

Two-time US Open champion Pat Rafter has cast shade on the governing body of men’s tennis over their management of Nick Kyrgios’ behaviour on the tour.

 

The Australian world No.27 had been facing a potential suspension by the ATP over a series of controversies. However, he has received no ban as of yet. During the Cincinnati Masters he was fined $113,000 for eight violations committed during his match against Russia’s Karen Khachanov. Ranging from unsportsmanlike conduct to walking off the court without permission.

A couple weeks later during the US Open Kyrgios accused the ATP of being ‘corrupt’ before clarifying his statement 24 hours later. Arguing that there are double standards in the game when it comes to some players.

Now the subject of an investigation, 46-year-old Rafter has questioned why Kyrgios has not been suspended from the tour yet.

“I don’t understand why it hasn’t happened,” Rafter said during the launch of the ATP Cup.
“There is obviously something else going on behind the scenes. I don’t know.
“On paper it looks like he should be suspended, to me.”

On the other hand, some would argue that banning the 24-year-old would be counterproductive. Despite his antics, Kyrgios has managed to become a household name in the sport. He also has the talent to challenge the best players in the world. In the past, he has defeated Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Although Rafter believes there is a fine line.

“That’s the other thing. He draws a crowd,” Rafter said.
“But at what stage do you say the crowd is more important? Or are you trying to uphold a certain standard or protocol for players to adhere to.”

Previously tennis legend Rod Laver was reportedly another person to speak in favour of handing Kyrgios another suspension. His first took place at the end of 2016. During an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald, Laver was quoted as saying ‘whatever they have done hasn’t worked so far, so maybe a suspension is the only answer.’

Whilst it looked as if the tennis legend backed punishing Kyrgios, he has since taken a different tone. In a recent interview with a Swiss newspaper, Laver said he was misquoted when talking about Kyrgios.

“I did not say that, I was misquoted by the Sydney Morning Herald.” He told Aargauer Zeitung.
“This was then misunderstood by others and went around without anyone talking to me to verify that statement. It’s true what I said to FOX Sports: I said Nick should not be banned.”

Kyrgios will return to action on Friday where he is taking part in the Laver Cup.

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ATP Cup Draw Places Andy Murray On Collision Course With Federer

Details of where Murray, Federer, Djokovic and Nadal will play their first matches of 2020 have been announced.

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Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray has been placed in the same group as Swiss rival Roger Federer for the revamped ATP Cup which will get underway in January.

 

The draw for the team event was formally made on Monday at the Sydney Opera House with former players Lleyton Hewitt, Pat Rafter and John Newcombe among those attending. A total of 24 countries will take part in the competition across three different Australian cities. Unlike the traditional Davis Cup, $15 million in prize money and up to 750 ranking points will be up for grabs.

“It’s great for tennis,” Newcombe said at the draw.
“What a showcase, to be able to showcase the best players in the world representing their country.”

It will be in Sydney where Murray will lock horns with the world No.3. Both have been drawn in Group C along with Belgium, who will be headed by David Goffin. Another team will be added to the group in the future. Murray is on the comeback from a second hip operation and is currently ranked outside the top 400. The upcoming event could be his first chance to play Federer since 2015.

Novak Djokovic will start his campaign in Brisbane. Making it the first time he has played an ATP event in the city since 2009. Paired with Dusan Lajovic, the duo has been placed alongside South Africa and France in Group A. The other group playing in Brisbane will feature both Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas. Two players who at times do not see eye-to-eye on the tour. They have been placed in Group F along with Canada and host nation Australia.

In Perth Rafael Nadal will be headlining the field and hoping to lead Spain to glory. The US Open champion will face early opposition from both Japan and Georgia. Nadal hasn’t won a title of any kind in the country since his triumph 10 years ago at the Australian Open.

The groups

Brisbane Perth Sydney
Group A Group F Group B Group D Group C Group E
Serbia Germany Spain Russia Switzerland Austria
France Greece Japan Italy Belgium Croatia
South Africa Canada Georgia USA Great Britain Argentina
TBD Australia TBD TBD TBD TBD

At present every member of the world’s top 10 has committed to playing in the event. The ATP Cup is the first team event to be placed on the ATP Calendar since the World Team Cup, which ended in 2012. In the new event, the top eight teams from the group stages will qualify for the quarter-final stage in Sydney. Each tie will feature two singles matches and one doubles.

The return of the competition has shaken up the tennis schedule in Australia. Both the Brisbane International and Sydney International have become women-only events. Meanwhile, the once prestigious Hopman Cup has come to an end after more than 20 years.

The ATP Cup will take place between January 3rd-12th.

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