Thursday, April 25, 2019

Top ATP players sound off on ATP Finals moving to Turin in 2021

The announcement that Turin, Italy, will host the ATP Finals from 2021-2025 has been met with excitement from the biggest names in tennis. Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Kevin Anderson, Borna Coric and Fabio Fognini all expressed their support for the year-end championships moving to Pala Altipour Stadium, Italy’s biggest indoor sporting arena.

“Exciting new chapter for the ATP Tour,” wrote Federer on Facebook. Djokovic, World No. 1 and President of the ATP Player Council, said in a statement that the ATP Finals is “a tournament that has historically moved around and so I’m very excited to see it move to Turin from 2021. It’s still a few years away but I know that the players will be very excited to compete there, and I also hope to be part of what will be a very special event.”

Fognini, Italy’s top-ranked player, said the country will take advantage of the chance to host another major sporting event and rally behind the ATP Finals.

"This moment for Italian tennis is quite good. We have the most important tournament of the year here in Italy,” said Fognini. “I played at the ATP Finals for doubles [in 2015] and everyone is happy to be there and enjoy it. I’m happy that our country gets a chance to improve what is already the best tournament of the year.”

Anderson, who reached the semi-finals in his ATP Finals debut last year, tweeted that “last year was one of the best moments of my career so far. Congrats to Turin and hopefully I get to play there some (or all) of those years."

Turin was selected in an extensive international bid process that began last August and included more than 40 cities worldwide.

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

Surging Roger Federer slides into Clay defending 0 points

After winning his 100th career ATP title in Dubai, and following that up by reaching the Indian Wells final, Roger Federer capped a phenomenal five-week hard-court run on Sunday, beating John Isner to lift his 28th career Masters 1000 title in Miami.

“I felt like I was playing with a plan out there today and everything worked really well,” Federer said after his 6-1, 6-4 victory over the defending champion. “I got off to a good start, playing well on my service games, and on the return I feel like I picked the right moments.”

Since his earlier-than-expected fourth round loss at the Australian Open to Stefanos Tsitsipas, the Swiss has now won two of the three tournaments, and 15 of the 16 matches, he’s played. Federer's finish to the year's early hard-court season has propelled him to No. 1 on the year-to-date Race to London.

“This is why I’m still playing, to hopefully win big titles like here in Miami, one of the biggest ones we have on the tour,” Federer said. “Wins like this show me that the process I’m going through is the right one—the team, all the off-court work, all the practice sessions—it gives me a really good feeling.”

Now, Federer will try to carry that winning feeling into the clay-court season, a stretch he hasn’t played in years. The 37-year-old hasn’t played a tour-level match on clay since 2016, when he fell to Dominic Thiem in the third round of Rome; he hasn’t played Roland Garros since 2015, when he fell to Stan Wawrinka in the quarterfinals.

Because of that, though, Federer has absolutely zero points to defend for the entire clay-court season. The current leader in the Race to London should also make inroads in the overall tour rankings.

“Knowing I’ve had such a great start to the season on hard courts takes a lot of pressure off for the clay,” Federer said. “I really want to go into the clay playing pressure-less, pressure-free. If things don’t go well, then I can say maybe that was expected, and if they do go well, then I’m definitely excited. And then when the stakes get really important, I might be able to play some nice tennis on clay again.”

Though most of his success has come on the faster surfaces, Federer has had excellent results on clay in the past. The 2009 French Open champion has also finished runner-up four times at the clay court Grand Slam, in 2006, 2007, 2008 and 2011—losing them all to Rafael Nadal. Six of his 28 Masters 1000 titles have also come on clay: four in Hamburg, before the tournament was downgraded to an ATP 500, and two in Madrid.

“The clay is going to be a really interesting challenge for me,” he said. “With my fitness coach, my No. 1 question is, ‘Where are we going to start?’ I don’t know what he’s got planned for me, but I know it’s not going to be the same stuff we’ve done for hard courts, so it’s interesting from that standpoint.

“I did grow up on clay, but I don’t know how good I can still be after not playing on it for three years.”

The 20-time Grand Slam champion will kick off his clay-court campaign in Madrid, in early May.

“I have four or five weeks off now. First, my body needs a rest. I was telling my team the last couple of days that my body was screaming, ‘Can I please have a break?’ Because I’ve been playing every day for the last four weeks now. It’s been a lot of tennis for me, and I’m looking forward to a break!”

Everyone else, of course, is looking forward to his return.