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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Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win

Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.

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Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.

“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”

The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.

Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.

This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.

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Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells

The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…

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Denis Shapovalov (CAN) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.

 

It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.

Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.

” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.

Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.

In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.

Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Sidesteps Question Over Vaccination Status

The Greek also jokes that he will be having less bathroom breaks in Indian Wells due to one particular reason.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas has declined to confirm if he has received a COVID-19 vaccination despite previously saying he planned to do so later this year.

 

The world No.3 was questioned about the vaccination during his pre-tournament press conference at Indian Wells on Wednesday. Earlier this year Tsitsipas came under fire after saying he doesn’t see a reason why somebody his age needs to be vaccinated and expressed concerns over the potential side effects. He also added that young people catching COVID-19 is a good thing as it helps build up their immunity. Prompting criticism from various people, including a spokesperson for the Greek government.

However, in recent weeks Tsitsipas has changed his stance on the issue and recently told Antenna TV that he will have his first dose by the end of this year. When asked by a reporter in Indian Wells if he has had it yet, the French Open finalist declined to answer.

I’m sorry but I’m not able to provide any of my medical records,” he said.

Player vaccination rates in tennis are becoming a growing issue amid reports that the Australian Open may only allow fully vaccinated players to participate due to a health mandate which has been implemented by the local government. There is yet to be a formal announcement by Tennis Australia regarding their entry requirements. However, The Age newspaper reports that there is a ‘strong likelihood’ that only vaccinated players will be allowed entry by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

Tsitsipas’ immediate focus is on this week’s BNP Paribas Open where he is the second seed behind Daniil Medvedev. Speaking about the conditions, the 23-year-old joked it was ‘very dry’ and therefore he will be having less bathroom breaks during matches. Referring to the recent criticism he has received from some of his peers over the timing of breaks he takes.

“It’s very dry here,” Tsitsipas said.
“That is good for me because I sweat less, which makes for less bathroom breaks, which makes for less complaints. So a very good sign so far,” he added with a smile.

The hope for Tsitsipas is that he will be able to build on his recent experience at the Laver Cup where he helped Europe secure their fourth consecutive title. The event provides players with the opportunity to work alongside each other in a team format. Something Tsitsipas relished but he is ready to get back to singles duty.

“I think team competitions are necessary for our sport and we don’t get to be united a lot,” he said. “We always kind of focus on ourselves and our things and environment and that is what you usually see on Tour. Players doing their own thing. Not much socialising.
“At the Laver Cup, we all get to have dinners together and all get to hang out with each other. Of course, though, we all have our competitiveness and if we get stuck around we might share too much with one another, that is the mentality behind it.”

Tsitsipas is yet to win a main draw match in Indian Wells. He will start his 2021 bid against either qualifier Roberto Marcora or Spain’s Pedro Martinez.

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