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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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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