Sunday, January 21, 2018

Roger Federer eases into the quarter finals at Australian Open

 First day match of the tournament

Like player, like coach. In 2002, Roger Federer beat Attila Savolt in the second round of the Australian Open. On Monday, Federer knocked out Hungary's Marton Fucsovics, who's coached by Savolt, to reach his 14th Australian Open quarter-finals 6-4, 7-6(3), 6-2.

Federer has now won 12 consecutive sets as he looks to stay on track to defend his Australian Open title. He made a bit of history as well on Monday. The 36-year-old Federer became the oldest man to reach the Melbourne quarter-finals since Ken Rosewall (43 years, 59 days) in December 1977, and Federer extended his Open Era record by reaching his 52nd Grand Slam quarter-finals.

The second seed will next face Tomas Berdych in the quarter-finals. Federer leads their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 19-6, including all four matchups at the Australian Open (2008, 2009, 2016, 2017), and has won their past eight contests.

"We have had some good ones over the years," said Federer. "I'm looking forward to playing against him. He seems in good shape, and I'm happy he's over his back issues that he also had at the end of last year. That's a good thing."

Most Australian Open quarter-final appearances (Open Era)


No. of appearances

Roger Federer


Stefan Edberg


Rafael Nadal


Novak Djokovic


Ivan Lendl


John  New Combe

Active players in bold.

Fucsovics hardly lied down for Federer, though. The 25-year-old Hungarian was playing in his first Grand Slam fourth round, and he wasn't intimidated by the moment, particularly in the first two sets. The right-hander saved seven of 10 break points for the match against Federer, who showed a bit of everything against Fucsovics, including relentless defence and aggressive offence.

“I thought he was playing really clean, solid,” Federer said on court after the match. “Credit to him for playing a great tournament."

But Fucsovics, who had previously played best-of-five set practice matches with his opponent in Switzerland, couldn't touch Federer's serve. The second seed conducted a clinic with his racquet on Rod Laver Arena. His serve numbers by set:

First Set: 80% (20/25)
Second Set: 88% (28/32, including 18/18 on his first serve)
Third Set: 71% (17/24)

Federer, speaking about their previous practice match experience, shed some light on how the meeting in his home country helped him in the fourth-round encounter. "He was not completely the unknown opponent that maybe people thought he was," said Federer.

"When you play multiple sets in a short period of time against somebody, you start to understand their strengths and weaknesses a little bit. The goal for me was really trying to be focused on my own game and take it to him and play tough, but he hung with me for a long time, so it was a good match."

The five-time champion never faced a break point, and although he'll want to shore up his play during break points – three for 10 – the Swiss will happily take another straight-sets win.

Most Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances (Open Era)


No. of appearances

Roger Federer


Jimmy Connors


Novak Djokovic


Andre Agassi


Ivan Lendl


Rafael Nadal


Andy Murray


Friday, January 19, 2018

Roger Federer sweeps aside Gasquet to reach 2nd week of Australian Open

If second seed Roger Federer is feeling any pressure to defend his 2017 Australian Open title this fortnight, he certainly is not showing it. The Swiss right-hander won in straight sets for the third match in a row on Saturday evening, ousting No. 29 seed Richard Gasquet 6-2, 7-5, 6-4.

“My head’s still spinning from the match point where I got so lucky so I’m just trying to get over that one,” Federer said with a laugh on court after the match. “I think I was able to maybe stay a little bit more on the offensive than he was and maybe I was protecting my own serve a little bit better than him, I don’t know. But the second set was tight, the match was close."

A year after Federer won the title despite coming directly off a six-month layoff due to injury, the Swiss is attempting to tie the record currently held by Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic of six Australian Opentitles.

To Gasquet’s credit, the Frenchman battled until the end. Federer appeared in cruise control serving at 4-2 in the third set. But the 14-time ATP World Tour titlist found some of his best tennis to save three game points and break back, before playing a solid service game of his own to even the set at 4-4.

But true to his good form, Federer found a way to bounce back and on his second match point in Gasquet’s next service game, scrambled to reach a Gasquet volley, flicking a backhand passing shot down the line to clinch the victory on his second match point.

"I was hoping I could play at that level. No, I'm very happy that I was able to rise to a level that I needed to beat Richard," Federer said in his press conference. "It was tough. The score shows it, as well. I could have done it maybe a bit faster. At the same time I'm happy to have done it the way it happened. I was pleased. I think I had some good shots."

Federer won 80 per cent of his first-serve points and knocked 42 winners past his opponent to advance. But he was not the only one on Rod Laver Arena who showed good tennis — Gasquet struck 27 winners on the evening.

"I enjoy when we have good points. I like to see, I don't know, the way he saved match point. The first one was a backhand down the line. Feels like he can do that in his sleep," Federer said. "I admire that. I take pleasure out of him making that shot even though for a second I thought that this could have been the match point I had and end up losing the match. That really went through my mind. But I do take pleasure out of his shot-making, my opponent's shot-making, because I know how much hard work has been put into it."

The 36-year-old will next face Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, who defeated World No. 93 Nicolas Kicker 6-3, 6-3, 6-2 in one hour, 56 minutes. The fourth-round matchup will be the first FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting between the pair.

Fucsovics, who is at a career-high No. 80 in the ATP Rankings, arrived at Melbourne Park without a main draw Grand Slam victory in three attempts. That has not stopped him from winning his three matches thus far, though. The 25-year-old, competing in his first Australian Open main draw, broke six times and captured 59 per cent of points in the match to triumph.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

Roger Federer backs Novak Djokovic in call for higher prize money at Grand Slams

ROGER FEDERER has called for the Grand Slams to start paying tennis stars fairer prize money.

Pay among the lower-ranked tennis players has been brought into question this month by Novak Djokovic who wants to see more done to level the playing field.

The Serbian has called for a union of players to ensure a fairer distribution of prize money in the sport.

And Roger Federer has welcomed the changes, insisting an adjustment of the earnings at Grand Slams is long overdue.

“Yes, they could definitely pay more, no doubt about it,” the Swiss said after his second-round win over Jan Lennard-Struff at the Australian Open.

“But we don’t need to talk about that right now in the third round or second round of a tournament.

“They know that. We’re not partners. We’re just players. It’s always hard to rally.

“We had a good agreement, in my opinion, that made the Grand Slams happy, the players pretty happy. Seems like that has run its course.

“The moment that happens, there’s not the same increases any more, so players have to rally, get back together again, put in the effort.

“The Grand Slams know that. They will only react when we do so. We’re ready to do it. It’s going to be the same process over and over again.

“It’s a bit boring, to be honest, always having to ask for stuff. If you look at the revenue, the sharing process, it’s not quite where it’s supposed to be.

“But, look, you can’t go from here to right there in a day. We know that.

“We just hope they realise and they do appreciate us maybe more all the time and not just in waves, you know what I mean?

“But it’s all good. We have good contacts with the Slams. It’s all good. But it’s going to be a never-ending story.”

Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Roger Federer eases into 3rd round on a scorching day at Aussie Open

Roger Federer Tumblr

Roger Federer barely put a foot wrong on Thursday night as he continued his quest for a sixth Australian Open trophy, which would represent his 20th Grand Slam championship crown.

The defending champion knocked out Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 6-4, 6-4, 7-6(4) in one hour and 56 minutes on Rod Laver Arena, in the final match of the day, completed in 30°C temperatures.

"I've practised with him [Struff], and played against him in doubles and singles," said Federer, in an on-court interview with former World No. 1 Jim Courier. "You know he can serve 215 or 220 [kilometres per hour] for five hours, so that's what you have to be ready for. I had to protect my own serve and get the break with a good defence.

"It wasn't easy. There's an expectation on the underdog, but it was a good match and I wish him the best for the season."

Federer, making his 19th appearance at Melbourne Park, will look to maintain his momentum on Saturday against Richard Gasquet, the French No. 29 seed, in the third round. Gasquet proved too strong for Italian World No. 217 Lorenzo Sonego 6-2, 6-2, 6-3. Federer leads Gasquet 16-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

Federer wasn’t troubled by No. 55-ranked Struff in the first two sets – breaking serve at 2-2 in the first set, then at 3-3 in the second set – before the German started to make inroads. Struff came within one point of taking a 4-1 lead in the third set, only for Federer to regain his focus.

The second seed broke back immediately in the fifth game, then, at 5-6, struck three straight aces to force a tie-break.

At 36 years of age, Federer is looking to become just the second player to win three Grand Slam championship titles after turning 35, following in the footsteps of all-time great Australian Ken Rosewall.

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Roger Federer begins Aussie Open title defence in fine form

 Interesting outfit this year, can't wait to see his day match one

Defending champion Roger Federer started his 2018 campaign for a sixth Australian Open crown on Tuesday night with a confident performance on Rod Laver Arena.

The World No. 2, who is competing in his 19th tournament at Melbourne Park, defeated Aljaz Bedene of Slovenia 6-3, 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 40 minutes. The Swiss star is now 88-13 lifetime at the first Grand Slam championship of the year.

Federer will next challenge Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff, who hit 45 winners, including 19 aces, past wild card Soonwoo Kwon of South Korea in a 6-1, 6-2, 6-4 victory in 77 minutes.

If it is up to Federer, fans can look forward to seeing the 36-year-old play again during the evening session on Thursday. The Swiss star said that while the tournament will make the decision, he'd prefer to maintain a rhythm as far as his schedule goes.

"I'll ask for a night match just because I played night tonight," Federer said. "It's just easier, to be honest, rather than going from night to day to night to day to night to day. It's also good for the rhythm, the feel on the court."

Federer had plenty of rhythm against the Slovenian, as he broke Bedene's serve in the fourth game in the first set and won 16 of his 20 first-service points, including three straight love holds. The 36-year-old seized control of the match with a break at the start of the second set to leave Bedene winless in six appearances in Melbourne.

Asked in his post-match press conference about the return of six-time Australian Open champion Novak Djokovic, who was victorious in his first match since retiring in the quarter-finals at 2017 Wimbledon, Federer said he was not surprised to see his great rival in good form.

"I do maybe think if you put Rafa[el Nadal], myself and Novak together, I think because we have margin maybe against a lot of the players normally, when we do come back, we can find that level," Federer said. "Even though we're not feeling good, we can still find a way and eventually play good again, whereas others would struggle early on and it becomes more difficult."

Federer is attempting to retain his Australian Open trophy one year after beating four Top 10 players in the ATP Rankings en route to his first Grand Slam title in more than five years (2012 Wimbledon). He would go on to win two majors (Australian Open, Wimbledon) and three ATP World Tour Masters 1000s (Indian Wells, Miami, Shanghai) among seven total trophies in 2017.

"I am hoping for another good year," said Federer, who has won 19 Grand Slam championships. "I am not sure it will go that well because I'm a year older, Rafa's looking in tip-top shape and othernguys are coming back.

“Last year was a fairytale and I can't control everything. I am hoping to stay healthy and give myself chances and hope to play my very best in the big matches."

Monday, January 15, 2018

Roger Federer an underdog in Melbourne no more

Roger Federer was, somewhat unbelievably, an underdog entering the 2017 Australian Open — seeded 17th after missing six months due to injury.

But the Swiss did the seemingly impossible, shocking himself and the world by ousting four Top 10 players in the ATP Rankings to claim his first major trophy since 2012 Wimbledon. He trailed Kei Nishikori 0-5 in the first set of their Round of 16 encounter before winning in five sets. He fell behind 1-3 in the deciding fifth set of the final against Rafael Nadal. No matter, Federer still found a way to triumph despite his last official tournament prior to that coming at 2016 Wimbledon.

“It was more of a 'let's see what happens' kind of tournament,” Federer said on Sunday. It just so happens that it turned into one of the best of his career. “It was the tournament of the year for me, no doubt about it.”

But now, whether Federer agrees with it or not, he is back in his usual favourite status, arriving at Melbourne Park as the second seed for 2018’s first Grand Slam.

“Having no expectations was so nice after all these years always having expectations, like now this year again,” Federer said. “With age, I feel like, you know, I play down my chances just because I don't think a 36-year-old should be a favourite of a tournament, it should not be the case. That's why I see things more relaxed, you know, at a later stage of my career.”

And while Federer may play down his chances, he might be the only one to do so. At 36, the right-hander led the ATP World Tour with seven titles in 2017, including two Grand Slams (Australian Open, Wimbledon) and three ATP World Tour Masters 1000 triumphs (Indian Wells, Miami, Shanghai).

Federer dominated on hard courts especially, winning 91 per cent (40-4) of matches on the surface. There were only two other players who earned 40 or more victories on hard court — David Goffin (43-17, 72 per cent) and Nadal (40-9, 82 per cent).

Thanks to those efforts, the Swiss even has an outside chance at leaving Melbourne with the No. 1 ATP Ranking — he would have to retain the title with Nadal failing to advance to the quarter-finals. It would be the first time he held the top spot since the week of 29 October 2012.

But while there are many things that have been impressive about Federer’s resurgence, one thing stands out — the 36-year-old is having an absolute blast.

“I've always enjoyed it. Do I enjoy it more now? It's unfair if I say yes, because I felt like I loved the time when I was coming up and playing my heroes from TV. I mean, that was extremely cool. It's like a little boy in the candy store back in the day,” Federer said. “When I was No. 1 in the world, winning all these tournaments, that was a lot of fun, too.

“Now it's different. Now I have a big family. I have a lot of friends that travel the world with me. I get to see familiar faces again at all these events because I've made so many friends over the course of my career… It's definitely great times. Is it the best ever? I'm not sure. It's definitely a lot of fun right now.”

And while Federer has fun, nobody in Melbourne will enjoy facing him this fortnight. The 19-time Grand Slam champion begins his quest for major title No. 20 against Aljaz Bedene on Tuesday evening on Rod Laver Arena.