Roger Federer Set For One Of The Biggest Challenges Of His Career At French Open - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer Set For One Of The Biggest Challenges Of His Career At French Open

Will the former world No.1 defy the odds and win the Roland Garros title?

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Roger Federer (photo by Gianni Ciaccia)

Even for somebody who has won a record 20 grand slam titles, the prospect of Roger Federer triumphing at the French Open this year would stun many.

 

It was less than a month ago that the Swiss player return to competitive tennis on the clay after a 1090-day absence. In recent years he has chosen to skip this period of the tour due to either injury problems or wanting to rest his body ahead of his beloved Wimbledon. A tournament he has won more times than any other man in history.

Federer’s reasoning for returning back to the French Open for the first time since 2015 was that he didn’t want to miss the opportunity. To look back on his career and regret that he didn’t return to Roland Garros. The tournament where he made his debut in the main draw of a grand slam back in 1999.

“Once the decision was upon me again for this year, if I would have skipped the clay again, I think I would have felt like that’s not the right decision.” Federer explained during the Madrid Open. “I would have always felt regrets not being on the clay in 2019 because my knee problem is far enough away now.’
“It feels good to be back on the clay now and I enjoy it to be honest.”

So far in his clay-court return, the 37-year-old has won three out of five matches played on the dirt in 2019. In Madrid, Federer looked in good shape against both Richard Gasquet and Gael Monfils, before losing in the quarter-finals in Dominic Thiem. The following week was more of a disappointment for the Swiss. In Rome, he reached the last eight of the tournament before being forced to withdraw due to a leg injury. A far from ideal situation for somebody preparing for a major.

“I’m fully recovered,” Federer commented about his leg issue earlier this week.
“I’m incredibly happy to be returning to Roland-Garros; I haven’t played the French Open in three years.”
“The audience’s expectations are high, but I’m trying to calm things down because I feel it’s going to be hard. But things went well for me in Rome and Madrid so I am really very satisfied.”

It could be argued that should Federer win in Paris, it would be one of the greatest achievements of his career. During an era where the French Open has been largely dominated by rival Rafael Nadal, Federer’s only triumph was a decade ago in 2008. He hasn’t featured in a final there since 2011.

Earlier this month, world No.4 Dominic Thiem warned against ‘underestimating’ Federer on the clay. Even if he has had a lengthy absence from the surface. During a brief discussion Ubitennis had with Thiem in Madrid, he said that he ‘guessed’ only Nadal was better than him. Something world No.1 Novak Djokovic would rightfully dispute.

Federer himself has dismissed the motion that his rivals are undervaluing him on the tour. This season he has already won titles in both Dubai and Miami. Belonging to a group of only five men to have won multiple titles so far in 2019.

“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.”

As the second oldest player in the top 100, there was speculation that Federer’s return to the clay could be the start of his farewell tour. During his career, he has spent 310 weeks as world No.1 and claimed 101 titles on the ATP Tour. The second highest of all-time after Jimmy Connors record of 109.

“I do not think about a specific time. There is a lot of speculation on this subject, but that’s not true.” He commented about potential retirement during an interview with the Gerry Weber Open.

The French Open will get underway on Sunday. Federer will be seeded third in the draw and it will be his 18th main draw appearance in the tournament.

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Roger Federer On Davis Cup And Olympic Plans For 2020

The 38-year-old has provided some insight about his schedule for next year.

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World No.3 Roger Federer has played down the chances of him playing in next year’s Davis Cup finals despite having representatives from Kosmos contact his team.

 

Federer is the only member of the Big Three to not be playing in this year’s team tournament, which has undergone a controversial revamp. For the first time in its 119-year history, the finals will take place over one week and feature 18 teams playing in a neutral location. The ties will feature two singles matches and one doubles in what will be a similar format to that of the football World Cup.

Efforts have been made to try and persuade the Swiss Maestro to play in the event. Gerard Pique, who is the founder of Kosmos, recently told Eurosport that attracting Federer to the event is one of his top priorities. Kosmos is the key financial backer of the Davis Cup revamp.

“Our main objective now is to see if he can play in 2020 if Switzerland qualify and he can join us and play Davis Cup.” Pique told Boris Becker on Eurosport.
“This would be great news, but right now as you can understand we are really focused on this event for this year because it will be the first time and want everything to be perfect.”

However, trying to get the Swiss player on board isn’t as easy as that. The 38-year-old once said the new structure has been made for ‘the future generation of players’ and not him. He has also warned against the Barcelona F.C player turning the event into the ‘Pique Cup.’ A term that bemused the Spaniard.

“It’s normal that he (Pique) has to say that. Regarding wildcards you can always talk like that. It is also normal for him to be questioned over and over again and to talk to my management from time to time.” Federer told the Swiss newspaper Tages-Anzeiger.
“But I do not necessarily plan on doing that, I do not necessarily have to play the Davis Cup. There are also no talks in progress, although in between it has been generally discussed.”

Since 1999, Federer has represented Switzerland in 27 Davis Cup ties. Although his last appearance was back in 2015. Along with Stan Wawrinka he helped guide his country to their first and only title in the tournament in 2014.

ATP Cup and Olympic duty

The new ITF-backed Davis Cup is facing rivalry from the ATP, who has brought back their team tournament for the first time since 2012. The ATP Cup is set to launch in January and will take place across three cities in Australia. The event has a prize money pool of $15 million and up to 750 ranking points up for grabs.

“I just hope that the Davis Cup Finals and then the ATP Cup will go well. Then you sit together and see how it goes on. Whether there should be these two cups forever, or whether there could be changes that would do the tennis good.” Said Federer.
“34 of the top 35 have confirmed for the ATP Cup, it also takes place on a good date. The Davis Cup should not be happy.” He added.

It also remains to be seen if Federer will play in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games. Under current rules a player is required to play a certain number of Davis Cup ties within an Olympic cycle, which he hasn’t. However, he can potentially enter via appeal or a wild card. Something he will likely get.

“I planned 2020 season till Wimbledon so far, I already brought The Olympics up in the Team, they said, it‘s your decision, it‘s your career, I also talked with Mirka about it, I have a feeling that I will make a decision very soon.“

Federer, who is a four-time Olympian, hasn’t played an event in Japan since winning the 2006 Tokyo Open. Although he could be persuaded to return to the country in the near future by his sponsor Uniqlo. A Japanese clothing manufacturer that signed a 10-year deal with Federer worth millions.

Federer at the Olympic Games
-Sydney 2000 – fourth place in the singles
-Athens 2004 – reach round two in both singles and doubles
-Beijing 2008 – win Olympic gold in the doubles with Stan Wawrinka. Lost in the quarter-finals of the singles tournament.
-London 2012 – clinches a silver medal in the singles.
-Rio 2016 – did not play

In the immediate future, Federer’s focus is on the Laver Cup, which he co-founded. The third edition of the event will take place this weekend in Geneva, Switzerland.

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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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