EDITORIAL: My First Encounter With Roger Federer - UBITENNIS
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EDITORIAL: My First Encounter With Roger Federer

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Roger Federer (SUI) waves to the crowd as he leaves the court after being defeated by Hubert Hurkacz (POL) in the quarter-final of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 9 Wednesday 07/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Ben Solomon

I will always remember the first time I had the chance to ask Roger Federer a question at a press conference. 

 

Trying to get to grips with the reality of tennis journalism, seven years ago I travelled to Madrid in what was the first-ever international event I have worked at as a member of the media. Luck was on my side when my first taste of covering a Federer match in person was his meeting with the notorious Nick Kyrgios. The hype surrounding the match was high and it lived up to expectations with the Australian ousting Federer 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-6(12). 

At the Caja Magica, the venue of the Madrid Open, Federer walked into his press conference visibly frustrated with his narrow loss. I wanted to ask him to reflect on his performance which is a pretty standard question from a journalist. This was the first time I had spoken directly to a member of the Big Three. As it got nearer to my turn, my hands started to feel sweaty and suddenly my mind went blank. I still managed to ask Federer my question, but it was certainly not the most coherent. As the transcriber pointed out when she wrote the word ‘Indiscernible’ instead of my question. You can only imagine my horror when I saw that. 

In the aftermath, two things came to my mind. The first was that I hoped one of the most prestigious tennis players in the world don’t think I am an incompetent journalist. The second was why did I react the way I did? After all, I have no personal connection with Federer and he is a person like anybody else. Albeit one that is very good at tennis. 

This was the first time I understood the influence an athlete can have on somebody without them even knowing. What sets Federer and a small handful of other players apart from the rest is that they have become more than an athlete. In a way, they are a brand that many aspire to be linked to in some way. Whether that is wearing clothing with Federer’s trademark RF logo, trying to imitate his forehand or something else. 

It is impossible to put an exact number on how influential Federer has been on the sport but he has without a doubt boosted the sport’s growth. Something rivals Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal deserve credit for doing as well. 

Growing up in the UK as a tennis fan who played the sport recreationally, Federer was the player who the majority aspired to either imitate or be like. Admittedly, part of this was due to the mass marketing of the Swiss Maestro. But for me, Federer was always the person I had fond memories of watching at Wimbledon on my TV. When the Brits failed to go the full distance, there he was triumphing on the grass.

On reflection, my admiration for Federer as a youngster explains my reaction in Madrid when tasked with asking him a question. I wouldn’t go as far as saying Federer is my ultimate idol as there are many in the sport I have great respect for. 

When I learned that Federer was retiring, I felt a lot of sadness. Once again he has set off my emotions without even knowing he has done so. I am sure many others can relate to this. 

The influence world-class athletes can have on ordinary people like me is truly remarkable. 

I hope one day I will cross paths with Federer whilst on my tennis travels. Maybe next time I can ask him a question that the transcriber can write down…..

No guarantee though! 

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‘A Long Time Coming’ – Injury-Stricken Hyeon Chung Ready To End Two-Year Absence

The player who ended Kei Nishikori’s seven-year reign as the No.1 Asian in men’s tennis is ready to start his comeback.

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Hyeon Chung at the 2019 Australian Open (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

South Korean trailblazer Hyeon Chung has vowed to give all he has when he returns to the court to play his first Tour match in two years at the Korean Open later this week. 

 

The 26-year-old was tipped to be the next Asian tennis sensation after achieving a series of milestones at a young age, including winning the 2017 Next Gen Finals and reaching the semi-finals of the 2018 Australian Open. Becoming the first and only player from his country to do so. At his best, he has been ranked as high as 19th in the world before injury resulted in him falling down the standings and eventually being forced to take time away from the sport. 

A troublesome back issue has sidelined Chung from action with the rehabilitation process not going entirely to plan. He hasn’t played since losing in the second round of qualifying to Renzo Olivio at the 2020 French Open. 

Chung’s hiatus from tennis is set to end on Wednesday when he plays in the first round of the men’s doubles tournament at Olympic Park Tennis Center in Seoul. He has joined forces with compatriot Kwon Soon-woo who recently scored his first-ever win over a top 20 player by defeating Felix Auger-Aliassime in the Davis Cup. 

“It has been a long time coming,” Yonhap News Agency quoted Chung as saying at a pre-tournament press conference Monday. “I am just happy to be back. I don’t know how well I am going to play, but I’ll give it my best shot.”

The reason why Chung has chosen to start his comeback on home territory is that he feels more ‘mentally and physically relaxed.’ Although for the moment his return to playing singles tournaments isn’t on the cards. 

“This is a part of the path back to my better days. I didn’t want to push myself too hard this week,” he explained. 
“I am usually a calm person. I felt rehab comes with the territory of being a professional athlete. “I was just hoping I could come out of the rehab a stronger person.” He added

It remains to be seen how the former top 20 star will fare when he takes to the court. However, he says his past difficulties have helped him appreciate the sport more. 

“I used to take tennis for granted, but now, I am grateful for a chance to just set my foot on the court,” said Chung. “I’ve been training hard for the past two months or so. I’ve been having so much fun that I even wanted to eat and sleep right on the court.”

In the first round, Chung and Kwon will play Hans Hach and Treat Huey. 

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Should Roger Federer Become A Super Coach? Djokovic And Murray Give Their View

The Swiss Maestro ended his record-breaking career at the Laver Cup on Friday but what is next for him?

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Roger Federer (SUI) celebrates after defeating Cameron Norrie (GBR) in the third round of the Gentlemen's Singles on Centre Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 6 Saturday 03/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

As Roger Federer enters into the world of retirement after playing on the Tour for 24 years, some are wondering what he might do next. 

 

The opportunities in front of the 21-time Grand Slam champion are pretty extensive. He remains one of the highest-paid athletes in the world with Forbes magazine valuing his endorsement pay between 2021-2022 at $90M. He is an investor in the start-up shoe brand On which is already valued to be worth millions. Some of his sponsorship deals include Barilla, Credit Suisse Group (ADS), Mercedes-Benz, Rolex, Switzerland Tourism and Uniqlo. 

In a way, Federer could easily decide to do nothing in the future considering he has already made his millions in the sport. One report estimates that the 41-year-old has earned an incredible $1.1BN throughout his career before taxes and agent fees. 

Although, Federer has previously said he has no intention of disappearing from tennis in the future and hopes to remain involved in some capacity. How he plans to do this is unclear but one option could be to enter into the world of coaching. Something other greats of the sport such as John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl and Boris Becker have all done.

“I think that Roger can offer a lot. I mean, it’s logical to expect him to be able to share so many useful and valuable things with anybody, really. I mean, if he ever would consider doing that, I’m sure that he’s going to bring a lot of positive things to the improvement of that player, whether male or female, in every aspect on and off the court, I’m sure,Novak Djokovic replied when asked by reporters about the possibility of Federer becoming a mentor.
“He’s undoubtedly one of the greatest players to play the game the way he played it, with his style and effortlessly. You know, people probably think that he was a god-given talent, but he always talks about the amount of time that he would have to spend working on perfecting the game so it looks easy.
“I respect that, and I know what he has to go through in order to execute the shots that seem easy but are actually very difficult to do.”

Throughout the Laver Cup, Federer was seen speaking with his teammates about match tactics. One of the unique qualities of the competition is that players can exchange advice among themselves whilst playing. Similar to that of on-court coaching on the WTA Tour but in a more casual manner. 

Weighing in on the debate, former world No.1 Andy Murray believes a possible challenge Federer faces if he goes into coaching is teaching those who are not as naturally talented as him. 

“I’m sure if he was to coach one day, which he obviously doesn’t need to, he’d pick players that I’d imagine he’d be motivated to be coaching in the big matches and helping there,” Murray said.
“The one thing that is I think difficult when you are as talented and have as many options as him is to remember that not everybody can do the things that he did. Sometimes he might see a shot and be, like, oh, maybe, you know, he should have played that one.
“He had the ability to play everything and he had so many options at his disposal that that’s the challenging thing also as a coach sometimes. But look, he’s great on the side. He watches a lot of tennis. He loves the game.”

It remains to be seen what Federer will do next after taking a well-deserved break from the sport. He will continue his involvement in the Laver Cup which his Team8 management company co-founded. Although there is one area of tennis he has no intention of going into. 

“Not really keen to go into politics, to be honest, in this way,” Federer said. “Did some of it (he was a member of the ATP Player Council), was good in moments, but also sometimes not the best, you know.
“I need to step away from it and then maybe take a different direction. If I can be of any help, not an official role, I’ll always be there. An official role at the moment, I don’t see that.”

Federer ends his career with an extraordinary 30 Guinness World Records to his name.

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Novak Djokovic ‘Worried’ By Wrist Issue After Laver Cup Defeat

The reigning Wimbledon champion has addressed concerns about his current fitness.

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NOVAK DJOKOVIC OF SERBIA PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO

Novak Djokovic is hoping that the discomfort he has been experiencing in his wrist is due to a lack of match play after suffering a straight sets loss at the Laver Cup. 

 

Djokovic fell to Felix Auger-Aliassime on the final day of the three-day event which saw Team World stage a valiant comeback to claim the title for the first time. During the match, he appeared lacklustre on court and it was visible that he had some discomfort in his right wrist. Djokovic was also seen flexing his arm during his doubles match on Saturday but on the same day, he crushed Frances Tiafoe 6-1, 6-3.

“I have been struggling with my right wrist for the last four/five days, to be honest. I have been keeping it under control. The two matches yesterday probably had an effect. Today was not easy. I couldn’t serve as fast or as accurately as I would like to,” the 21-time Grand Slam winner told reporters on Sunday. 
“Could be (due to) not playing almost three months of matches, and then conditions here (at The O2) are such that the balls are really big and slow. You always have to generate a lot of wrist action and speed, which could be the case why I have been feeling soreness in my right wrist.”

The setback comes as the former world No.1 is set to play his first singles tournament since Wimbledon at the Tel Aviv Open later this week. Djokovic missed the entire North American swing as he was unable to enter the region due to being unvaccinated against Covid-19. 

As it currently stands, the Serbian still has every intention of travelling to Israel should his body allow him to do so. It will be the first time he has played a competitive match in the country in his career. 

“I am not worried about my level, but I am a bit about the wrist. I am going to try to take care of it with my physio, to be ready for my first match in Tel Aviv,” journalist Sasa Ozmo quoted Djokovic as saying in his native language.

This year’s Laver Cup marked the end of Roger Federer’s career. A long-time rival of Djokovic’s whom he has beaten in 27 out of their 50 Tour meetings. Despite his departure from the sport, Djokovic states that he has no intention of following the same path anytime soon. 

I don’t feel yet so old, to be honest, for my tennis career to finish,” he said.
“I still feel my body is serving me, is listening to me well. That’s the key I think when you get to 35-plus.”
“I’m not playing as much as I played few years ago. I want to peak at the best tournaments, biggest tournaments in the world, which are Grand Slams and some of the biggest ATP events, playing for my country,” Djokovic later added.
“That’s what gives me the most motivation and inspires me to play the best tennis. I really want to keep going. I don’t have the ending of my career on the horizon at the moment.
“I just want to keep going as long as I feel good and I can compete with the youngsters, that I could be one of the candidates to win Grand Slams.” 

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