Roger Federer Ends Djokovic’s Year-End No.1 Bid With Vital Win At ATP Finals - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer Ends Djokovic’s Year-End No.1 Bid With Vital Win At ATP Finals

The 20-time grand slam champion has avenged his Wimbledon loss to reach his 16th semi-final at the season-ending event.

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LONDON: Roger Federer has recorded his first win over Novak Djokovic in four years after downing the world No.2 in their winner-takes-all clash at the ATP Finals on Thursday evening. 

 

The eagerly anticipated meeting between the two tennis icons failed to live up to expectations as a more dominant and solid Federer prevailed 6-4, 6-3. Ending his five-match losing streak against the world No.2, who lacked the usual firepower in his game. In total Federer hit 23 winners to five unforced errors as he converted three out of his seven break point opportunities.

“It was a great atmosphere, against a great opponent here in London at The O2.” Said Federer. “It is definitely special. Right from the beginning, I played incredibly and I knew I had to because that is what Novak does. I was able to produce, it is definitely magical.”

Thursday saw the continuation of one of the most prestigious rivalries in the history of tennis. Heading into the match Djokovic boasted a 26-22 stronghold and hasn’t lost to his nemesis since doing so at the same tournament four years ago. Their 13-year rivalry is the second-longest in the Open Era.

Recent history has seen the Serbian dictate Federer on the court. Coming back from two match points down to defeat his rival in the Wimbledon final earlier this year. However, this time around it would be Federer who would prove to be the dominator. Reading the Djokovic serve like a book he placed his rival under pressure from the onset.

It would be one lackluster Djokovic service game that would prove pivotal to the outcome of the opening set. Two double faults combined with Federer’s ability to hit the ball deep to the baseline enabled the Swiss maestro to break three games into the match. Sending the largely pro-Federer crowd into hysterics. Even more impressive from the world No.3 in the opener was the fact he dropped just three points behind his serve (16/19) against somebody deemed as one of the best returners in the game.

Clinching the opening set has proved decisive in the head-to-head between the two players. Before this week, all 13 of their most recent meetings have been won by the person who clinched the opener. It would be no different at The O2 Arena. Federer continuoued to dominate Djokovic, who seemed bothered by his elbow at times. This time it was five games into the second set when the six-time champion pounced. Capitalizing from yet more errors from across the court.

The anticlimactic encounter ended after just 72 minutes of play in the British capital. It would be another Djokovic shot into the net that would elevate the Swiss played in the semi-finals of the tournament.

“There was a lot riding on this match. I came out great, served great and had great anticipation. It worked to perfection tonight and hopefully it won’t be the last time (against Djokovic).” Federer evaluated of his latest win.

The triumph by Federer has also had a significant impact on the year-end race. Rafael Nadal has secured the year-end No.1 spot for the fifth time in his career. Djokovic had to win the tournament to take the honor way from the Spaniard.

“Of course that was a big motivation also for the end of the season.” Djokovic told reporters during his press confrence. “I mean, every time you step on the court, you know there is something on the line, I mean, at least on the highest level in tennis.’
“I feel pressure and excitement all the time, every single match, especially if I play against the best players in the world.”

It remains to be seen who Federer will play in the semi-finals on Saturday. There are two possible players he could face depending on how the other group of matches fair on Friday. He will take on either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Rafael Nadal.

“I’m happy to stick around.” Said Federer.
“Hopefully I will go a step further than last year. I lost to Zverev who was unreal, that was tough.”
“I will watch some (tennis) tomorrow and then get ready.” He added.

Federer is the most successful player at the ATP Finals with 59 wins under his belt. That is 20 more than his nearest opponent Ivan Lendl.

 

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Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon

For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime (Manuela Davies/USTA)

Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.

 

The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.

The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.

It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.

The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.

The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.

The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.

For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.

Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.

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‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open

Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.

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World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.

 

The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.

“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.

Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.

“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.

A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.

O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.

“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”

Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.

“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”

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French Player Tests Positive For COVID-19 Hours After Australian Open Defeat

The world No.40 was preparing to leave the country.

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Image via https://twitter.com/HumbertUgo/

Ugo Humbert is in quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 following his first round loss at the Australian Open on Tuesday.

 

Humbert, who was the 29th seed in the men’s draw, is understood to have produced a positive result during a routine procedure players have to conduct before they leave the country. It is unclear as to if he is currently suffering from any symptoms.

Humbert crashed out of the tournament to compatriot Richard Gasquet, who won their match 3-6, 7-6(4), 7-6 (3), 6-3, in three hours and 18 minutes. Gasquet also tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Australia earlier this month but was given the all clear to play at Melbourne Park following a negative test. There was a 15-day period between the 35-year-old announcing on Twitter he had the virus and his first match against Humbert.

“I was tested positive on my exit test yesterday and I’ll stay one more week in isolation in Australia,” Humbert wrote on Instagram.
“Thanks for your support and see you soon.”

The 23-year-old has started his season by winning one out of four matches played. Prior to the Australian Open, he scored one of the biggest wins of his career by defeating Daniil Medvedev at the ATP Cup in the group stages. However, following that victory he suffered losses to Alex de Minaur and Matteo Berrettini.

Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Humbert’s positive test.

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