Roger Federer Praises Nemesis Novak Djokovic Ahead Of Return - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer Praises Nemesis Novak Djokovic Ahead Of Return

The world No.5 speaks about his rivalry with the Serbian, as well as his curiosity about playing his first event during what he describes as ‘COVID times.’

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Swiss tennis great Roger Federer believes his rivalry with Novak Djokovic has helped him to become a better player over the years.

 

The 20-time Grand Slam champion has described the world No.1 as ‘one of the greatest’ in the history of the sport during a question and answer session organised by Qatar Tennis on Saturday. Federer has played Djokovic 50 times on the ATP Tour with five of those being in a major final. Including the 2019 Wimbledon Final which Djokovic won after saving two match points. He currently trails their head-to-head 23-27 and lost their most recent clash in the semi-finals of the Australian Open last year.

“I enjoy playing against him. I really feel like we get the best out of each other,” Federer said of Djokovic.
“We have different playing styles, (so) it almost depends on the day, which court we’re playing on and how the matches have been leading up to that match.’
“Against the best players you know you have to bring your best game. Otherwise, it will not be enough. Especially against somebody like Novak who can go into a mode where he is not going to miss (a ball).”

The 39-year-old says one aspect of what makes the Serbian such a formidable force in tennis is the variety of his game and approach to matches. Djokovic clinched his 18th major title last month in Melbourne as he closes in on the Swiss Maestro’s all-time record. Rafael Nadal, who is the other member of the Big Three, also has 20 major titles to his name.

“He can defend very well and be aggressive, he has a very good balance. That’s why he is one of the greatest players ever,” Federer explained.
“It has been a pleasure to play against him and he’s one of the players who have made me a better player. It’s great to have him in the game.”

Since their first Tour clash at the 2006 Monte Carlo Masters that have played each other almost every year with the exception being in 2017.

The comeback

It has been a year since Federer last graced his presence on the ATP Tour due to a right knee injury which required two surgeries in 2020. He will kick-off his comeback at the upcoming Qatar Open which he won a record three times before but the last triumph was back in 2011. The tournament is being run by Karim Alami who coincidentally lost to Federer in the quarter-finals of the 2000 Olympic Games.

“I am very excited to be back. The first time I played was in 2003 and it was a great tournament for me. I got a taste of this region that I didn’t know very well to be honest,’ the world No.5 said.
“I’ve seen the city grow tremendously over the last 15-18 years. It’s a wonderful tournament. I feel like the fans have always been wonderful in Doha as well.”

Besides the challenge of returning back to form, Federer also has to get used to playing during an era dominated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Various events have been forced to take place without fans or make last-minute adjustments due to the virus.

Qatar is no exception to those events and have tightened up their rules regarding health and safety. Visitors to the WTA Qatar Open, which takes place a week prior to the men’s, are required to use a contact tracing app, undergo temperature checks and wear masks at all times. The number of spectators has been capped at 20% of its normal capacity.

“I’m curious as to how it is going to be because I haven’t played for over a year during these COVID times. But I hope there will still be some sort of atmosphere,” said Federer.

For Federer he believes the key to coping with the new measures is adaptability. Something he says he and his peers have learned over the years.

“I’m preparing myself to be in a bubble in Qatar for the first time in my life and being away from my family. I’m just trying to focus on the mindset and what I can expect. I’m feeling that if I tell myself what to expect then it is easier also getting ready for it,” he continues.
“I think preparing for it and being flexible and I think that we learn quite often as tennis players. You want to be flexible to the weather, to missing a flight, not being able to train or not sleeping well because you have a stomach ache.”

Federer will be the second seed in Doha b behind Dominic Thiem. He will play his first match against either Jeremy Chardy or Dan Evans.

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Nikoloz Basilashvili survives scare in Sardinia

The third day of the Italian 250 event saw a trio of seeded players secure their places in the quarter-finals.

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A strong Mediterranean wind was not enough to blow away Nikoloz Basilashvili at the Sardegna Open as he came through a tense 3-setter against Slovakian qualifier Jozef Kovalik.

 

The fourth seed’s typically aggressive style at times threatened to prove his undoing in Cagliari. A topsy-turvy encounter in blustery conditions was ultimately defined by the marathon tenth game in the deciding set, Kovalik missing five match points as his opponent’s serve just about held firm. Basilashvili then immediately broke himself, going on to complete a 4-6, 6-4, 7-5, victory.

He will take on Jan-Lennard Struff in the quarter-finals. The fifth seed overpowered Britain’s Liam Broady 6-4 6-2, a much-improved performance from the German after his nervy first-round slugfest with Joao Sousa.

Qualifier Broady, whose strong start to the year has seen him reach a career-high ranking of 152, started well. He broke the fifth seed in the second game, but Struff was able to respond immediately before going on to take the first set 6-4. The Brit faded in the second set, Struff’s superior ranking showing as he overpowered his opponent with some brutal forehands and booming serves. If both men bring their best form, his match-up with Basilashvili on Friday should be an entertaining encounter.

https://twitter.com/TennisTV/status/1379725700949770242

Elsewhere, Aljaz Bedene defeated Egor Gerasimov 6-4, 7-6(5). Fresh from an impressive win over Guido Pella in round one, qualifier Gerasimov would have had high hopes to progress further, facing an opponent ranked only 22 places higher. It looked good for the Belarussian as he edged a break ahead early on, but the ever-reliable Bedene reeled off three games in a row to take the first set. A similarly tight second set looked to be going Gerasimov’s way when he stormed to a 4-0 lead in the tie break, but Bedene once again took charge, winning 7 of the next 8 points to book a spot in the next round.

His opponent there will be second seed Taylor Fritz, who enjoyed a relatively easy ride in the final match of the day. He breezed through the opening set against Andrej Martin 6-2, looking strong in his first outing on clay in 2021. The players traded two breaks each in the second set before Fritz took the tie break 7-4. This week is the first tournament Fritz is playing as American No.1 after recently overtaking John Isner.

https://twitter.com/TennisTV/status/1379857536912924675

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Roger Federer Set To Start Clay Campaign In Madrid

The world No.7 will be back on the Tour shortly as he seeks his first title since the 2019 Swiss Indoors.

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20-time Grand Slam champion Roger Federer is set to return to competitive tennis later this month after being included in the entry list for a key Masters 1000 tournament.

 

The former world No.1 is currently down to play the Madrid Open which will start on April 30th and takes place over 10 days. Federer returned to the Tour at the Dubai Tennis Championships last month in what was his first tournament in over a year due to a knee injury which required two operations. In Dubai he reached the quarter-finals before losing to Nikoloz Basilashvili who went on to win the title.

Since then the Swiss maestro has returned to the practice courts to “work his way back out on tour,” according to his agent Tony Godsick. Federer has already confirmed that he will play on the clay this season but admits that it is because he has little choice. The 39-year-old has already stated that his goal is to be in top shape in time for the grass-court swing which starts after the French Open.

“What comes before the grass courts are the clay courts,” Federer told reporters on March 11th. “So I have no choice but to play on clay if I want to play matches.
“The clay could be good or bad for me. I will only know in practice, but I don’t think it’s going to be bad. I assume I will play some clay.”

It isn’t the first time Federer has started his return to the clay in Madrid. In 2019 he played his first match on the surface in almost three years at the tournament after skipping the clay-court season the two previous years.

Also on the Madrid entry list is Federer’s rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal who both missed the Miami Open. Dominic Thiem is also set to play in the tournament after he recently announced a delay to his return to professional tennis because he isn’t ready to compete yet.

The Madrid Open has been largely dominated by the Big Four (including Andy Murray) for more than a decade. Since 2008 only one player outside of the quartet has won the title which was Alexander Zverev back in 2018. Last year’s edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Rafael Nadal Will Be Ready For Start Of Clay Season, Says Doctor

A member of Nadal’s team has issued some encouraging news.

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Rafael Nadal (image via twitter.com)

It appears that Rafael Nadal’s recent woes are behind him as he looks to get back on track at next week’s Monte Carlo Masters.

 

The 34-year-old hasn’t played a tournament since his loss to Stefanos Tsitsipas in the quarter-finals of the Australian Open earlier this year. Throughout the first quarter of the season Nadal has been troubled by a back problem which he first picked up in Melbourne. The injury forced him to pull out of both the Rotterdam Open and Miami Masters. Overall, he has played just five matches so far in 2021.

Nadal will be looking to regain momentum on his beloved clay. A surface which he has won 60 ATP titles on, including a record 13 French Open trophies. According to his doctor, Ángel Ruiz-Cotorro, the world No.3 is ‘training well’ at present.

“He is training well, he is training hard. His goal is clay. First is Monte Carlo and his final goal is Roland Garros. It is clear,” Cotorro told RTVE.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion will be seeking his 12th title in Monte Carlo in what is a tournament record. He has won three out of the four past editions with the only exception being Fabio Fognini who won the title in 2019. Last year’s tournament was axed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Looking further on in the calendar, Nadal is expected to play tournaments in Barcelona, Madrid and Rome before the French Open which is set to start in May. Although it is possible that his commitments could change. A member of the French government has also admitted that it is possible that Roland Garros could be delayed for a second year in a row due to the pandemic but no such change has been formally announced.

So far in his career Nadal has won 86 ATP titles and earned more then $123 million in prize money. He is only the fourth player in the Open Era to have won 1000 or more matches on the men’s Tour.

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