Three Things We Learned Following Roger Federer’s Return To Clay - UBITENNIS
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Three Things We Learned Following Roger Federer’s Return To Clay

It was a good day at the office for the 20-time grand slam champion, but how much should be read into his latest win?

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Roger Federer (photo by Roberto Dell Olivo)

MADRID: As far as comebacks go, it was pretty much a fairytale for Roger Federer at the Caja Magica on Tuesday evening.

 

Playing his first competitive match on the clay since May 12th, 2016, the 36-year-old disposed of Richard Gasquet in just 52 minutes. Sending out warnings to the rest of the field there. The movement was good, drop-shots was timed well and he won almost three quarters (73%) of his service points. Inevitably there was also signs of rust and mistakes, but there was a lot for Federer fans to celebrate.

After his glory, Federer covered a wide range of topics during his press conference in Madrid. Including his return to clay, renewing his rivalry with Nadal and his prospects at the upcoming French Open.

With a lot of information to process, here are three things Ubitennis has learned from the 36-year-old.

1. He didn’t exactly miss the clay

When you return to playing on a surface for the first time in almost three years, one would assume that it is because you missed it. However, for Federer, it is a somewhat different scenario.

“Not too much, to be quite honest with you. I’d love to tell you, I miss it so much.” He commented about his absence from clay.

So why did he chose to return? For the 20-time grand slam champion, it was more about having no regrets than anything else. Sensing that if he chose to skip it for a later year, it may come back and haunt him in the future.

“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.” He explained. “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.”

Federer’s hiatus began in 2016 when injury forced him out of the French Open that year. 12 months later he opted to rest in order to aid his longevity on the tour. The world No.3 is currently the second oldest player in the top 100 after Ivo Karlovic. He also took a break in 2018 for the same reason.

“I didn’t really miss it because I was enjoying myself at home and having a good time and again, looking at the longevity.”

2. He wants to take on Nadal

Perhaps the best indication of how his current game is on the dirt is by taking on Rafael Nadal. The most successful clay-court player of all-time who has the nickname ‘king of clay.’ So far they have both locked horns 15 times of the surface with Federer only winning twice – Hamburg 2007 and Madrid 2009.

“I remember back to the (2009) final here in Madrid as one of my good matches on clay, no doubt about it. I think he (Nadal) was pretty tired as well. I played solid.” He reflected.
“Of course, I would love to play on clay against him again, even though I know it’s a tough challenge and all that.”

The first meeting between the two occurred when Nadal was 18 back in 2004. A year later was the first of their clashes on the clay, which the Spaniard won in four sets at Roland Garros.

“It would be nice to have played him at the beginning of his the career on clay and also at the very end and see how it all plays out.” He said.
“If I said I don’t want to play him on clay, I think then I would have made a mistake to be on the clay in the first place because he is the measuring stick for all us players.”

In Madrid this year, the two can only clash if they both progress to the final.

3. The French Open will be a whole new ball game

In the wake of his clinical performance against Gasquet, the chatter has begun over Federer’s French Open chances. The only grand slam he has failed to win multiple titles at. His sole triumph occurred a decade ago in 2009. He is also a four-time finalist at Roland Garros.

“I think Paris is going to be very different.” The former world No.1 previewed. “You’ll have to play differently, have a different approach, different mindset. But I think here in Madrid you can definitely come in with a hard court mindset, to some extent.”

Unlike other events during this time of the year, Madrid is unique due to its altitude. Meaning the ball travels faster than it would at other events on the clay. It is for this reason why Federer is under no illusion that he remains an outsider at the upcoming grand slam. Besides Nadal, rival Novak Djokovic is also bidding to win his fourth consecutive major trophy in a row.

“I haven’t been there in so long, but everything at sea-level plays differently. So that’s why I know Madrid is not Paris and then, of course, I don’t know how the conditions are going to be exactly, I haven’t played with the balls over there. There’s going to be a switch in ball manufacturers as well, so we have to see.”

Federer resumes his Madrid Open run on Thursday against either Gael Monfils or Marton Fucsovics.

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The Trial Has Ended: David Ferrer Is Now A Head Coach Of Alexander Zverev

The former French Open finalist is set to become a regular face on the men’s Tour once again but in a differnt capacity.

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By Emil Evtimov

David Ferrer is the new head coach of Alexander Zverev alongside his father Alexander Sr. The news was revealed by the world No.7 after his win against Felix Auger-Aliassime at the Ultimate Tennis Showdown in Nice.

 

In the beginning of July Zverev announced that he and Ferrer will work together on a trial basis for two weeks in Monte Carlo. Now the German confirmed that the former world No.3 and Roland Garros finalist will be on his side as a coach at least until the end of the year. 

“The trial period is over. We are together. We understand each other great and now we are a team,” said Zverev.

Ferrer won’t be the first prominent name in team Zverev. Previously the three-time Masters 1000 champion worked with Juan Carlos Ferrero and Ivan Lendl. Since the end of his relationship with Lendl, Zverev has been trained mainly by his dad.

“David and my father are both my head coaches now. My dad doesn’t get any younger. Both are extremely important for the team.”

For Ferrer this will be the first coaching experience. His playing career ended in May 2019 during the ATP Masters 1000 in Madrid with his last opponent on the court being none other than Zverev.

For quite a long time Zverev was considered the big star from the young generation but in 2019 was a bit overshadowed by players such as Stefanos Tsitsipas and  Daniil Medvedev.

The German began 2020 with a great performance at the Australian Open reaching the semifinals where he lost to Dominic Thiem in four sets.

Zverev is on the entry list for the first tournament after the pandemic – the Western & Southern Open which will be staged in New York to create a “protective bubble” for the US Open. The 23-year old talks also about the Grand Slam tournament, saying he would prefer it not to happen, although he is going to play at this point.

“It is a bit crazy to play the US Open now. I would prefer if it would not happen and we just restart in Europe. Because of the pandemic it is not the right time to fly. But when they host the open – what shall we played do? Especially when everyone plays’ it is about ranking points, too. At this point I didn’t think about withdrawing. If everyone reacts within hygiene rules and it will be similar to the NBA bubble it could work out.”

Zverev was one of the tennis players most criticized for his behaviour during the pandemic. The reason was his participation in the Adria Tour where he and his colleagues weren’t following the social distancing rules very strictly. The German gave a negative test for COVID-19 after finding out about the positive test of Grigor Dimitrov. He promised to be in quarantine for safety reasons but was seen partying a few days after. This caused a criticism from Nick Kyrgios, as well as a Twitter war between the Australian and German legend Boris Becker.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas opens up: “I Wasn’t Sure If I Was Good Enough”

Stefanos Tsitsipas reflects on how hard it was in the beginning of his pro career.

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BY EMIL EVTIMOV

 

In the latest instalment of “Behind the Racquet” world No.6 Stefanos Tsitsipas has shed light on the personal struggles he encountered whilst breaking into the sport.

Tsitsipas had a great 2019 season, climbing from N.15 to N.6 at the end of the year after winning the Nitto ATP Finals, as well as two ATP 250 tournaments in Estoril and Marseille. He also reached the final of the Madrid Open.

However, life wasn’t always so easy for the charming Greek. In his “Behind the Racquet” post, he recalls the times when he was playing Futures while doubting that he was good enough to play professional tennis. He admitted he was feeling “very lonely” and not having many friends on the ATP tour.

Here is the Tsitsipas story in the “Behind the Racquet”:

“In 2018, I broke into the Top 15 and was seeded in Grand Slams. That’s when I understood my potential. In the beginning, I traveled with only my dad. Now, I travel with my dad, mom, and three siblings. I’m the main source of income for my family. 

I have hobbies that keep me interested in different aspects of life. These activities keep me creative and are reflected in my tennis game and presence on court. Sometimes, I post things on my social media that not many people understand. These posts express my inner creativity. I’m just trying to be different from the rest. I put Stefanos’ twist on life. I am philosophical, I come from a country with a history of philosophy and I don’t know if I was Pythagoras or Socrates in my previous life, but I wouldn’t mind being either one. 

There was a time when I wasn’t doing well. I started to play futures and was doubting myself. I wasn’t sure if I was good enough to play professional tennis. My country was going through hard times. Greece was on the verge of bankruptcy. The entire population was suffering. My father’s siblings were unemployed and couldn’t feed their families. People looked at me like I was the one ruling the country and they thought I was part of the problem. 

I felt isolated. I wasn’t home to see what was going on because I was traveling. I needed support. My mental coach shared his wisdom and inspired me. Then I said to myself, ‘You’ve dedicated your entire life to tennis, you can’t just give up. You’ve got to keep going.’ I play tennis to prove that my country has a great history and can achieve success. Tennis is a very introverted sport and we face everything alone. We have a team that follows us all over the world but I have spent countless sleepless nights on my own. All the traveling and competing causes a lot of stress and I grew very lonely.

I was an introverted child and I didn’t have many friends. When I first started playing on tour, I thought I would develop friendships but it turned out to be the opposite. Most players keep to themselves. I feel like players don’t want to become friends because they think someone will grab a secret from you to beat you. I guess they’re just too serious about the whole thing. Friends would make traveling less lonely.”

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Roger Federer enjoys calm year ahead of the 2021 season

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Twenty-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is happy to enjoy a calm year ahead of the 2021 season. The Swiss legend admitted in an interview to Sportpanorama on the Swiss channel SRF 2 that he has not started his preparation for the 2021 Olympic Games in Tokyo, where he will be bidding to his first Olympic singles gold medal. 

 

Federer started the 2020 season with a semifinal at the Australian Open. He saved seven match points in his five-set quarter final against Tennys Sandgren before losing to Novak Djokovic in the semifinal. Last February he underwent arthroscopic surgery for a right knee injury and ended the 2020 season to give time to his body to recover. 

“I have not started mental preparations for the Tokyo Olympics. When you have been on the tour for 20 years, you are happy to have a more calm year. We have so many matches and competitions that whenever you take a break you know that someone else is winning in that time. That’s why it is extremely difficult to say. I take a break. Everyone is now forced to have a break and I think that 90% of the players are thinking: fortunately I can have a break. Tennis is constant and nonstop. You could not really prepare for Tokyo as there would have been 20 tournaments before. They are also very important, even though maybe not as important as the Olympics, which have another significance. We have many big events. That’s why the preparation just starts three months in before. You have the block in tennis with French Open, Wimbledon and Olympic Games. It depends on which surface it is even though in tennis it’s classic on hardcourt in Tokyo. Everyone can play on hardcourt, but you have to specially prepare for clay and grass”, said Federer. 

Federer has enjoyed spending time with his family in the past few months. 

“For the first time in twenty years I have been at one place for five and six years. Of course I enjoy it. We have been incredibly careful and have not seen my parents and friends. We took everything serious which is the right way as it’s not been over yet. That’s why I did not do any interviews and keep distance in everything I do. That’s very important for us. When you are having an injury you can’t do much anyway and have more calm moments at home. You don’t have the stress of the next competition and match, you don’t have nerves, you don’t have the strain from travelling and having a jet-leg, you are not tired. You can enjoy your family life way more”. 

Federer hopes that the Olympic Games in Tokyo will take place in 2021. The Swiss Maestro will be bidding to win his first olympic singles gold medal after the title he won with Stan Wawrinka in the doubles tournament in Beijing 2008. 

“Unfortunately I was injured in Rio and now the Games were postponed, I had the feeling I always took a lot with me away from the Olympic Games. First to be part of it, then with the goal to get a medal, maybe even a Gold one. That’s a completely differerent situation how you enjoyed the Olympic Games. I am curious how Tokyo will be. I hope it will take place. We are one year away but there are voices who say: maybe it’s too early until we have everything under control. I am hopeful all will be good. I think I can speak for both of us when I say that in our position is a goal, otherwise you wonder why you even go there in the first place. I think something is possible. Whether this will be in singles, doubles or mixed. I don’t know yet what I am going to play. I think I would have a chance in singles. At a tournament everything is possible. It’s another story over a whole season but at one tournament many things are possible. At the situation I am in right now i have to honestly say that I would be glad to participate. When I am 100% fit I would be happy to get a medal. When I won’t have one, I would be disappointed but I know that I gave everything and I can look proudly. Tokyo has been great. It was another experience and I could participate at another Olympic Games. My family will be with me just like in London. It’s already a success for me when I am at 100% and can participate, but a medal should be the goal”, said Federer. 

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