After 13-Month Break, Roger Federer’s Other Challenge Is Getting Reacquainted With The Rules - UBITENNIS
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After 13-Month Break, Roger Federer’s Other Challenge Is Getting Reacquainted With The Rules

Even one of the most decorated players in history has trouble remembering some of the protocols.

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Roger Federer (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Just over an hour after his opening win at the Qatar Open Roger Federer told reporters ‘it feels like I have been away longer’ but it isn’t due to either his previous injury or the pandemic.

 

The 39-year-old Swiss required more than two hours to see off Dan Evans in what was his first competitive match since January 2020. Impressively, he produced 13 aces compared to no double faults, as well as hitting multiple winners from both his forehand and backhand side. Earning him his first victory on the Tour in over 400 days.

Those cheering the Swiss Maestro on were paying close attention to how his body would hold up after undergoing two surgical procedures on his right knee last year. Federer also was intrigued to see how he would fair but there was another challenge for him in the match – remembering some of the rules.

“I forgot to take the towel, I forgot to bring the towel and then the shot clock is still not something that is embedded in my system,” Federer said afterwards.
“I’ve played too long without the shot clock. Then I also forgot the warm-up was four minutes because I was hitting with Dan and then next thing I know after 30 seconds he was already at the net volleying. I was like ‘why is he hurrying so much’ and then I looked at the clock.”

Some of these rules were already in existence prior to Federer’s injury-related absence but some were not. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic there has been various changes in order to help minimise social contact. One of them includes not allowing ball kids to pass carry player’s towels. Something many have called to be stopped prior to the pandemic.

“There were a lot of times where I had to look at the scoreboard again to make sure it’s a change of ends time or not because there’s a lot going through my mind at the moment,” the 20-time Grand Slam champion explained about his thought processes during matches.
“I would ask for the towel and then realise they could not bring it to me because the rules are different. It feels like I have been away longer than I already have been.”

Ironically the biggest positive for Federer might not be his win over Evans but the fact he managed to last on court for a significant period of time without faltering or showing any physical problems. He had been eager not to rush his return to the Tour with him opting to skip the Australian Open because ‘he wouldn’t be ready in time.’ The cautious approach is a trend that will continue over the coming weeks. Instead of playing in the first Masters 1000 event in Miami, he will conduct a training block instead prior to the clay season.

“If you cannot play for two-and-half hours you cannot come back. It’s that simple. I think a lot of questions are being asked and you have to test yourself in practice. The other thing is that nobody is going to do the running for you, so you have to do it yourself. I think in tennis that gets a little underestimated,” Federer explained.
“Overall, I’m really happy. There are a lot of things I can still improve on but overall I’m incredibly happy. I said before the tournament if I lose 6-2, 6-2, I am equally happy than sitting here (in the press room) at 7-5 in the third.”

As for his recovery following his latest match, Federer indicated the current status of his health by saying he ‘doesn’t feel’ the need to take painkillers. Although he hasn’t done so for months anyway. Instead, he will conduct his ‘old-school’ recovery process ahead of Thursday’s quarter-final clash with Nikoloz Basilashvili in Doha.

“You’re talking to an old-school guy,” he said. “I have done one ice bath (in his life) and I didn’t like it. So I’m not going to do that again.
“I don’t just take painkillers for fun. I only take them when I really have to. Don’t feel like that’s the case tonight. I haven’t taken painkillers probably in, whatever, nine months, I guess, ever since the surgery was over. So from that standpoint, I’m really healthy.
“So just have to grab some food. I’m going to stretch or take a shower first because we’re not allowed to shower on-site, and then I’m going to stretch and take a massage and sleep in and then warm up properly tomorrow. Very simple.”

SEE ALSO ‘Certain Parts Were Not Quite There’ – Dan Evans Reacts To Playing Federer

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French Open Chief: Roger Federer Would have Won Multiple French Open Titles If It Wasn’t For Nadal

Guy Forget also predicts how far the 39-year-old could go in the draw this year.

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The decision by Roger Federer to play at the French Open is the most logical step ahead of Wimbledon, according to tournament director Guy Forget.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam champion hasn’t played a competitive match on the surface since June 2019. Last year he missed most the season due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic. So far this year he has only played in one tournament which was at the Qatar Open where he reached the semi-finals.

Federer will return to the court next week at the Geneva Open in his native Switzerland. It is the only event he will play before heading to Roland Garros. An event he had only played in once out of the past five editions. Forget, who is a former top 10 player himself, believes the match play is exactly what Federer needs.

“That Roger comes to play Roland Garros seems logical to me. This will allow him to play, and especially to test himself. Clay is a surface that requires you to be precise in your movements. The better Federer is at Roland Garros, the better he will be at Wimbledon,” he told reporters earlier this week.

The Swiss Maestro has only won the French Open once in his career which was back in 2009. Although he has reached the final on four other occasions. It was at the 1999 French Open where he made his main draw debut in a major at the age of 17. Overall, 11 out of Federer’s 103 ATP titles have been won on the clay.

However, Forget believes Federer would have won many more French Open titles if it wasn’t for the formidable Rafael Nadal. A player who has won more ATP trophies on the dirt than any other player in history, including 13 at the French Open alone.

“If Rafael Nadal hadn’t existed Federer would have had at least 5 or 6 titles at Roland, I’m sure of that.” Forget commented.
“Regarding this edition, I think it can happen that he could go into the second week.” He added.

Federer has lost to Nadal in all six of their meetings at the French Open – four times in the final and twice in the semi-finals. He trails their overall head-to-head 16-24.

The French Open will get underway on May 30th.

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Nadal survives three-set marathon with Shapovalov in Rome

Rafael Nadal saved match points to edge out Denis Shapovalov in Rome.

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Rafael Nadal (@atptour - Twitter)

The King of Clay needed three sets and over three hours to claim the win and avoid an upset.

 

Rafael Nadal needed three hours and 27 minutes to beat the Canadian Denis Shapovalov 3-6, 6-4, 7-6 at the Italian Open in Rome hitting 29 winners while his counterpart hit 46 unforced errors in the loss.

To everyone’s surprise it was the world number 14 who came out with the faster start earning two breakpoints in the first service game of the match with a stunning forehand winner.

He would break to take an early 1-0 lead and continued to have momentum earning another break and the Spaniard found himself staring at 3-0 defecit.

At 4-1 the world number three would get one of the breaks back but it wasn’t enough as the Toronto native would break one more time at 5-3 on his fourth breakpoint of the game to take the first set.

Once again we saw some really strong play from the Canadian in the beginning of the second set we saw history repeat itself when the world number 14 held serve and get the early break this time with his powerful forehand.

Nadal was fighting to stay in the set and the match and managed to earn a breakpoint but it was quickly saved with a big ace from Shapovalov. The very next game the Canadian had a chance to get another break but this time the Spaniard would deny him the opportunity.

After the world number three held serve he went on the attack looking to go back on serve and after three chances would get the break back. He would end up winning five games in a row and would take the second set to send it to a decider.

The third set remained on serve until 2-1 when the Canadian had a chance to break and he would take to jump out to a 3-1 lead. The break didn’t hold as Nadal came storming back the very next game breaking the world number 14 to love and equaling the set at 3-3.

The set and the match would ultimately be decided by a tiebreaker and in that breaker is when the Spaniard would take over winning it 7-3 to book his spot in the quarterfinals.

He will next face either Alexander Zverev or Kei Nishikori on Friday for a spot in the semifinals.

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Novak Djokovic Moving Into A ‘Good Trajectory’ After Reaching Rome Quarter-Finals

Novak Djokovic admitted that he is on a good trajectory after reaching the last eight in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@atptour - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic has said that he is on a ‘good trajectory’ after moving into the Rome Quarter-Finals.

 

The world number one moved into the last eight in the Italian capital with a comfortable 6-2 6-1 victory over Alejandro Davidovich Fokina.

Despite being broken in the first game, Djokovic rallied back to break on five occasions as he cruised past the Erratic Spaniard.

After 1 hour and 11 minutes, Djokovic’s overall game was too much for Davidovich Fokina as the Serb progressed to his 15th quarter-final in Rome.

After the match in his on-court interview the top seed admitted he is on a good trajectory as he builds momentum towards Roland Garros, “I thought I played well,” Djokovic told the ATP website.

“He started well and broke my serve in the first game. I made some errors, but I managed to break back right away and establish the control and consistency on the court. I think from the back of the court I was just a bit more solid than him.

“He made some unforced errors and double faults in key moments, which obviously helped me get that necessary break forward. I thought I played better, at least 20 or 30 per cent better, than I did against Fritz a few days ago. I am on a good trajectory and hopefully tomorrow will be even better.”

The real test for Djokovic will come tomorrow when he faces top 10 opposition in the last eight.

It will either be Monte-Carlo champion Stefanos Tsitsipas or Madrid finalist and home favourite Matteo Berrettini next up for the world number one.

Djokovic was well aware of the form either of his possible opponents are in heading into tomorrow’s showdown, “My next match will be against a Top 10 player, so it is going to be a battle,” Djokovic explained.

“Both of these guys are in great form. Tsitsipas won Monte-Carlo and Berrettini is just coming off the final in Madrid. I am obviously going to do my best to win that match, whoever I play against.”

In the other result in Rome today, Reilly Opelka reached the quarter-finals with a 7-6(6) 6-4 win over Aslan Karatsev.

The American hit 18 aces as he will now face Felix Auger-Aliassime or Federico Delbonis on Friday.

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