Friday, May 31, 2019

Roger Federer into the 2nd week at Roland Garros

On paper, Roger Federer’s 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(8) win against #NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud to reach the fourth round at Roland Garros was nothing out of the ordinary. But for the 37-year-old Federer, who shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon, it was a trip down memory lane.

When the Swiss first competed in the Roland Garros main draw, Ruud, now 20, was just five months old.

“I feel that my 20 years on the Tour went too fast almost,” Federer said. “I like to think about Florence in '98 or the juniors before, because I had a lot of pleasure. When you play against people like Casper Ruud, you ask, ‘How was it at the time?’ When I started on the Tour he was hardly born.”

In fact, Federer admitted before facing the 20-year-old that he actually knew more about the Norwegian’s father, former World No. 39 Christian Ruud, than he did about Casper. Christian reached the third round at 1999 Roland Garros, which was Federer’s first major main draw.

“Many people have memories which count a lot for your life, for your daily life, especially when you see an old pal talking about what you lived in the past and you think about what's coming up with him or with your family for the future,” said Federer, who is competing at the clay-court Grand Slam for the first time since 2015. “But I guess it's mainly due to the fact that I didn't come here for many years. I started here about 20 years ago. It's probably due to Casper Ruud.”

Federer's Milestone Grand Slam Matches

Grand Slam Match




No. 1

1999 Roland Garros

First Round

l. to Pat Rafter

No. 100

2005 US Open

Second Round

def. Fabrice Santoro

No. 200

2009 Roland Garros


def. Juan Martin del Potro

No. 300

2013 US Open

Third Round

def. Adrian Mannarino

No. 400

2019 Roland Garros

Third Round

def. Casper Ruud

Federer’s two-hour, 11-minute victory against the younger Ruud came in his 400th Grand Slam match. The 20-time major champion is now 345-55 at the majors. Nobody else has won 300 matches at the Slams in the Open Era.

“It's true I played many matches in Grand Slam tournaments, and it's even more pleasant to do this in Roland Garros, because I have a lot of records, milestones from Wimbledon or the US Open. But doing anything at Roland [Garros] is very special, because I played a lot here. It was my first Grand Slam where I was in the main draw,” Federer said. “It's the closest one to Basel, and this counts, as well. 400 is still a lot, eh? Because I played many matches. My 1,000th [tour-level] victory touched me a lot, moved me.”

Federer is now 7-1 since his return to clay at the Mutua Madrid Open. The third seed had not played on the surface since the 2016 Internazionali BNL d’Italia. And he has not dropped a set through three matches at Roland Garros, losing serve just twice.

“I'm very happy. A few months ago I didn't know what to expect with anything, really. At this point, now I know where my level is at. I still don't know exactly where my absolute best is, but I feel like it could be there. Maybe not. I'm happy to find out,” Federer said. “I'm happy I'm putting myself in a position like this in a fourth round of the French Open after not having played [here for] so many years here. I think for me the first goal has been reached by getting this deep into the tournament, and knowing where the game is at, knowing where the fitness is, the mind.

Federer will try to reach the quarter-finals here for the 11th time in his past 12 appearances (since 2005) when he faces Argentine Leonardo Mayer, against whom he holds a 3-0 FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead.

“I'm very pleased how I'm feeling and how I'm playing, and still trying to stay true to playing freely and with nothing to lose, even though I know I will be the favourite in the next game,” Federer said. “But regardless, I'm going to try to play as free as I can.”

Hasn't played French Open in 4 years and is into the round of 16. I would say Roland Garros is going well for Fed. 

Wednesday, May 29, 2019

Roger Federer rolls into round 3 at Roland Garros

 I don't know what's going on in this pic but I love it

Roger Federer doesn't know a lot about his third-round opponent, #NextGenATP Norwegian Casper Ruud. In fact, he might know more about Christian Ruud, Casper's father and coach who ended his career at the 2001 Roland Garros, the eighth Slam Federer played.

“I know probably more about his dad than about him. Even though I never played him, the father,” Federer said. “I know that [Casper has] improved a lot in recent years, and I think he plays very well on the clay. Again, I haven't seen him play a whole lot. But for any 20-year-old to be on the big stage, playing a top guy, on a centre court, that's what you dream of."

Federer coasted into the third round on Wednesday as he continued his Roland Garros return without dropping a set 6-4, 6-3, 6-4 against Germany's Oscar Otte.

The third-seeded Swiss, making his first appearance in Roland Garros since 2015, won 75 per cent of his service points, including the same percentage on his second offering, and was never challenged against the 25-year-old German, No. 144 in the ATP Rankings. Federer saved all four break points faced.

“I must say I feel really good, considering I haven't played here in that long. Especially if I think back a few weeks and months ago before Madrid, didn't know how successful I was going to play or how I was going to feel on the clay,” said Federer, who played in Madrid and Rome before Roland Garros.

“The clay-court season has been, it's been busy, and it's nice this way. So I hope I can keep it up. Next round is definitely going to be tougher.”

Ruud made his first third round at a Grand Slam by beating Italy's Matteo Berrettini 6-4, 7-5, 6-3. The 20-year-old Ruud, playing at a career-high No. 63, made the fourth round at the ATP Masters 1000 event in Rome earlier this month (l. to Del Potro) and improved to 13-5 on the season with the straight-sets win against Berrettini.

“Today, by the scoreline against Berrettini, seems like he did his work, and he deserves to be in the third round. I will take him very seriously,” Federer said.

Ruud has matched his Grand Slam win total this week and has yet to drop a set in beating Berrettini and 2014 semi-finalist Ernests Gulbis of Latvia.

“I didn't kind of expect myself to win in three straight sets, but I played very good tennis when I had to the most, especially toward the end of both first and second set,” Ruud said of his second-round match.

“Now I'm playing one of the greatest champions ever of this sport on Friday, so I'm just super excited for it. I can play loose and free. I have nothing to stress about or think too much about.

“But of course I will be a bit excited and nervous, but I will just look at it as a great opportunity and a privilege to be able to play Roger.”

Sunday, May 26, 2019

Roger Federer makes successful return to Roland Garros

Everyone is hating on the outfit saying it looks like a UPS man's uniform, but I don't mind it

Roger Federer is back. After a three-year absence, the 2009 champion returned to Roland Garros on Sunday with a straightforward 6-2, 6-2, 6-4 win against Italian Lorenzo Sonego. The Swiss broke five times and hit 36 winners to get off the court in less than two hours.

“Because there has been some pressure in the beginning, obviously some nerves, many people wanted to know how it was going to be for me, how I was going to be back.

“There has been a lot of attention lately with my return. When I started the match, I started it well, so it shows that the pressure is not acting on me,” Federer said.

“I was right away playing well on the centre court here in Roland Garros. The duration of the match wasn't a problem. No problems with my body before or after the match. And then I have... two-and-a-half days... it's ideal for me for the start of the tournament.”

Federer missed 2016 Roland Garros because of injury and chose to skip the 2017 and 2018 clay-court swings to prepare for the grass-court season.

But he's returned to the European swing with success this year, making the quarter-finals in both Madrid and Rome, although he pulled out of the ATP Masters 1000 tournament in Rome because of a leg injury, a decision Federer later described as “precautionary”.

“Now I'm very happy I took that decision, because I enjoyed Madrid, I enjoyed Rome. I'm happy to be here. The reception I got today was crazy, was really nice to see a full stadium for a first round like this. It was a beauty. So I'm very, very happy,” Federer said.

The Swiss won his only Roland Garros title 10 years ago, beating Swede Robin Soderling in the final to complete the Career Grand Slam. He made the quarter-finals in 2015, falling to countryman Stan Wawrinka. Federer will next meet German lucky loser Oscar Otte, who beat Tunisian Malek Jaziri 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-0.

Also in the 37-year-old's sixteenth of the draw is 17th seed Diego Schwartzman, who battled past Hungarian Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 3-6, 7-6(7), 2-6, 6-2 in three hours and 41 minutes. The Argentine has found his form this month, reaching his first Masters 1000 semi-final in Rome, where he pushed World No. 1 Novak Djokovic to three sets.

Schwartzman, last year's Rio de Janeiro champion, also beat clay-court stalwart and current World No. 4 Dominic Thiem in straight sets in Buenos Aires this February. The 5'7" right-hander will next face countryman Leonardo Mayer, who cruised past Czech Jiri Vesely 7-6(3), 6-3, 6-0 in two hours and nine minutes.

Friday, May 17, 2019

Roger Federer withdraws from Rome with a leg injury

Roger Federer has withdrawn from the Internazionali BNL d’Italia ahead of his quarter-final against eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday due to a right leg injury.

Federer, a four-time runner-up at the Foro Italico in Rome, booked his place in the last eight by saving two match points in the third set tie-break of Thursday night’s win against Croatian Borna Coric.

But it was Federer's second match of the day because rain washed out play on Wednesday. Earlier Thursday, the Swiss beat Joao Sousa in straight sets. In total, Federer spent nearly four hours on court.

“I am disappointed that I will not be able to compete today. I am not 100 per cent physically and after consultation with my team, it was determined that I not play. Rome has always been one of my favourite cities to visit, and I hope to be back next year,” Federer said.

The 37-year-old was making his first appearance in the Italian capital since 12 May 2016 because he skipped the 2017 and 2018 clay-court swings. He is next scheduled to compete at the season's second Grand Slam event, Roland Garros, which begins Sunday 26 May. Federer has not played at Roland Garros since 2015.

I had a feeling this might happen after yesterday's craziness of back to back day matches. I hope this is just Roger wanting to rest so he can do well in Paris in a week. 

Thursday, May 16, 2019

Roger Federer pulls double duty & saves 2 match points to reach Rome quarters

Roger Federer successfully fled danger once more on clay on Thursday, saving two match points against Borna Coric to advance 2-6, 6-4, 7-6(7) and reach the quarter-finals of the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome.

Coric had two match points at 6/4 in the tie-break, including one on his serve, but the 22-year-old Croatian dumped a forehand approach into the net on his first try, and Federer escaped the next point with a service winner. The Swiss moved on when Coric couldn't handle a backhand volley, and he will now face reigning Next Gen ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas in the last eight.

“The first set was really difficult, for me at least. I really struggled to see the ball. There was a lot of shade on the court… and he did well, he’s a very steady player. I couldn’t chase the lines very well so I couldn’t hit any winners, but I really tried to play in a way where I was not going to just lose it. I gave him a chance to win, and he didn’t so I took it at the end,” Federer said.

Federer also saved two match points last week against Frenchman Gael Monfils to reach the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals. Federer, however, then lost two match points against Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals.

“It was very tight. I got very lucky again today already like in Madrid. It’s nice to get lucky I guess sometimes. I’ve lost a lot of heartbreakers throughout the years so it’s nice to win these and the atmosphere was fantastic. People were going crazy. It’s exactly how you want the atmosphere to be,” Federer said.

Coric had won two of their past three FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings, at the Gerry Weber Open in Halle and the Rolex Shanghai Masters. But Federer gained a 3-2 advantage in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series in February by winning their Dubai semi-final in straight sets. Their third-round matchup on Thursday, Federer's second match of the day, was their first meeting on clay.

The Croatian played aggressively against the 28-time ATP Masters 1000 champion, employing the same game plan that led to success against Federer last year. But the Swiss found his way into the match, breaking Coric in the 10th game to take the second set and squeaking by in the tie-break as the home fans celebrated the match – and another chance to see Federer in Rome.

The 37-year-old made his first appearance in the Eternal City since 12 May 2016 earlier Thursday when he beat Joao Sousa of Portugal 6-4, 6-3 to reach the third round. Rain washed out all play that was scheduled for Wednesday, and Federer, along with others, had to win two matches in one day to make the quarter-finals.

Coric, however, was one of four players who reached the third round before the deluge. He beat Brit Cameron Norrie in straight sets on Tuesday evening. But Federer had recent experience in double duty, having won two matches in one day last August at the Western & Southern Open in Cincinnati, and he did it again in Rome.

Tsitsipas defeated home favourite and Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion Fabio Fognini 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 12 minutes. Earlier in the day, Tsitsipas defeated another Italian in 17-year-old Jannik Sinner, also winning that match in straight sets.

The #NextGenATP Greek had never reached a clay-court Masters 1000 quarter-final prior to making the final last week in Madrid. But the 20-year-old has now accomplished the feat two weeks in a row. Last year, Tsitsipas had to qualify at the Foro Italico.

Tsitsipas did well to neutralise the Italian as Fognini attempted to control the baseline. The three-time ATP Tour champion broke Fognini four times and won 81 per cent of his first-serve points.

Tsitsipas and Federer have contested both of their FedEx ATP Head2Head meetings this year, with the Greek triumphing in four sets in the fourth round of the Australian Open and the Swiss star bouncing back to beat Tsitsipas in the Dubai final.

Roger pulled a Houdini for the second time in a week. Let's hope his match against Tsitsipas will have a different result than the one he had against Thiem in Madrid. 

Roger Federer makes successful return in Rome

It was as if he was never away. Roger Federer, competing in Rome for the first time since 12 May 2016, advanced in straight sets Thursday to begin his return to the Internazionali BNL d'Italia, the season's third and final clay-court ATP Masters 1000 event.

The Swiss broke three times to beat Portugal's Joao Sousa 6-4, 6-3 and please the thousands of fans inside Campo Centrale who had waited three years, three days – and a soaked Wednesday – to see the 28-time Masters 1000 champion return to the Eternal City. Federer, along with Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal, was scheduled to play on Wednesday but a complete washout pushed back his opening match to Thursday.

The Swiss was sliding around the red dirt in Rome, comfortably hitting forehand winners and drop shots, including when he broke Sousa in the seventh game of the opener. The four-time Rome finalist carried his momentum into the second set, breaking to start and again in the ninth game. Federer saved all seven break points he faced.

“I'm happy we got to play a good match. I think it's a slippery court here, I must say. It's tough to play I think for all the players. Every clay court plays slightly different: Monaco, Madrid, Barcelona, here, Paris. I think when it's a bit nicer weather here, it slides a lot,” Federer said. “I came out of the blocks well, had a good feeling. Didn't get broken. That on clay in a first round is a good sign.”

The third seed will next face Croatian Borna Coric later Thursday in what will be their sixth FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting and second of the season. Federer leads the series 3-2, which includes his Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships semi-final victory in February.

Coric is one of only four players who had reached the third round before Wednesday's washout. The Croatian beat Brit Cameron Norrie 6-2, 6-2 on Tuesday evening.

“I think, like any other practice day when you play twice a day, you finish the first session, take a shower, eat something, relax, get ready for the next one,” Federer said. “The good thing is that this one was not very physical. I think it gives me some good information. I believe it's going to be similar conditions in the match this afternoon.

“The interesting thing is I played today, he didn't. Is that an advantage? Is that a disadvantage? I don't know. Borna is tough. I lost to him a couple times last year. He played really good against me in Halle, Shanghai. Regardless of the surface, I know it's going to be tough.”

Elsewhere, eighth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas got off to a strong start in his 6-3, 6-2 second-round win over Italian wild card Jannik Sinner in 87 minutes. Sinner recovered from 0-3 in the first set, but the World No. 263 was broken twice in the second set.

Tenth-seeded Italian Fabio Fognini completed second-round play at 5:35 p.m. local time with a 7-6(6), 6-3 win over Radu Albot of Moldovia. Fognini, who now plays Tsitsipas in the third round later on Thursday, had one set point at 5-4, with Albot serving at 30/40, and then saved a set point at 5/6 in the first set tie-break.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Roger Federer happy to be back in Rome

In the end, coming to Rome for the first time since 2016 was an easy decision for Roger Federer, a four-time finalist at the ATP Masters 1000 event.

Would Federer rather practise in five-degree weather in Switzerland, or play matches at one his favourite cities in the world, in front of thousands of passionate Italian fans?

“I've just come from practising for five weeks after Miami. I think I was playing well in Madrid, so I just said, again, 'Let's come to Rome,' a city I like so much as well. There would be excitement, more excitement than me coming to a practice court in Switzerland. I thought that would be nice,” Federer said, smiling.

“Honestly, I love to play matches. Regardless of what happens here, I just think it's good for me to play matches at this stage.”

The 37-year-old last played at the Internazionali BNL d'Italia in Rome in 2016, falling to Dominic Thiemin the third round. Federer also lost to Thiem last week in the quarter-finals of the Mutua Madrid Open, where Federer ended his three-year absence from the surface.

After the loss on Friday, Federer said he was unsure if he'd play in Rome. But he made up his mind quickly, posting a video on social media on Saturday in which he confirmed his presence.

“I'm very happy to be here. I'm pumped up to play well. I mean, my excitement couldn't be bigger,” Federer said. “The moment I landed in Rome yesterday, I was so happy to be here. I love this city. Always enjoyed playing in Italy. It's probably the country I've played the most junior tennis in. Coming down from Switzerland to the clay courts was always a logical junior trip. They have very strong junior tournaments here. I love being here, especially in this city as well.”

Rome is one of only two Masters 1000 tournaments that Federer has not won, in addition to the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters. The Swiss reached the Rome final in 2003 (l. to Mantilla), 2006 (l. to Nadal), 2013 (l. to Nadal) and 2015 (l. to Djokovic).

Despite his long break from playing on clay, Federer said, he felt little rust during his return to the surface last week in Madrid.

“I think it always goes back to the fact that I did grow up on this surface. Sliding is something I actually enjoy doing. The problem is, like, the more time I spend on clay, maybe sometimes the more excited I get playing on the surface, start sliding around too much instead of actually moving sometimes like on the hard courts and only sliding when really required,” said Federer, who will face #NextGenATP American Frances Tiafoe or Portugal's Joao Sousa in the second round.

“I think this week, then next week in Paris, it's going to be interesting to see how I play the points, how I do it all. In Madrid, like we said, conditions were extremely fast, so you could play serve and volley, you could come to the net. Here maybe it's easier to play drop shots, easier maybe to go backhands up the line. On fast courts it's maybe not so simple to do that at will.

“I must say also in practice in Switzerland I felt good right away. Very happy where I'm at, to be quite honest. I was a bit surprised that it went as easy as it did.”

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Roger Federer may decide to play the Italian Open in Rome after Madrid exit

ROGER FEDERER has revealed he may compete at the Italian Open after his shock inclusion in today’s draw.

Federer listed the Madrid and French Opens as his only clay-court tournaments.

But the Swiss star crashed out of the Madrid Open to Dominic Thiem in the quarter-finals earlier today.

And the 37-year-old then admitted he may make a shock appearance in Italy next week.

“No [I have not yet pulled out of the Italian Open], that is why I am in the draw,” he said.

I couldn’t make the decision before the game and I had to wait and see how this match plays out today.

“If it was going to be 6-0, 6-0 or 7-6 in the third. Winning or losing it all matters.

“It was a difficult path for me to take the decision, that’s why I’m in the draw.

“I will probably only decide on the weekend.”

Federer has been handed a difficult draw in Rome as he could face Denis Shapovalov in his opening match.

Arch-rival Rafael Nadal is also in the same half of the draw.

World No 1 Novak Djokovic is a potential final opponent.

Roger Federer projected route to Italian Open final


3R-Cecchinato/De Minaur




Saturday, May 11, 2019

Roger Federer will play Halle as his only warm up tournament before Wimbledon, no Stuttgart

ROGER FEDERER has axed the Stuttgart Open and will only use one grass tournament to prepare for Wimbledon this year.

Federer crashed out of Wimbledon in the quarter-finals last year as he ran out of steam.

The Swiss star reached the final of both the Stuttgart and Halle Opens in 2018 and the two weeks of gruelling tennis took it’s toll.

At 37 years old, Federer is no spring chicken and cannot play at such a high level for weeks on end.

So he has decided to only participate in Halle this time out - meaning he will vacate his Stuttgart title.

“I am not signing for Stuttgart,” Federer said after crashing out of the Madrid Open to Dominic Thiem.

“I just thought it was a lot of grass-court tennis last year.

“I just felt like only Halle was better for me.

“That’s the plan.”

Earlier this week, Stuttgart Open tournament director Edwin Weindorfer believed he could tempt Federer to take a wild card.

But those hopes have now been dealt a bitter blow.

"It's very simple. Roger decided he wants to wait how the situation is in Paris,” Weindorfer told Tennis World USA prior to Federer’s decision.

“We have a wild card reserved for him, we also have a wild card for Rafa if he loses early in Roland Garros.

But we have decided for a different strategy.

"Our goal is to have Roger playing in 2020 and if he wants to play in 2019, we would make a deal between us.

“The relevant thing is not the appearance fee but if he decides to play a second grass-court tournament as he did in the previous years, competing in Stuttgart and Halle.”

Friday, May 10, 2019

Roger Federer feels good on clay despite squandering match points in loss to Thiem in Madrid


Roger Federer says he is happy with his clay form, despite missing two match points in a Mutua Madrid Open quarter-final loss to Dominic Thiem on Friday. It was his first red-dirt tournament for three years.

“I feel very good about my game,” admitted the three-time former Madrid champion, shortly after losing 3-6, 7-6(11), 6-4 at the Caja Magica. “I thought I had some good matches here, especially the last two [against Gael Monfils and Thiem]. [The] first one [versus Richard Gasquet] was good to get into it. Obviously, Gael and Dominic are tough on the clay, so it was a good battle. I feel good on the clay right now.”

The Swiss recorded the 1,200th match win of his career on Thursday by saving two match points against Monfils, but could not convert match points at 7/8 and 9/10 in the second set tie-break against Thiem on Friday.

“[It’s] frustrating, clearly,” said Federer. “Losing with match points is the worst, so that's how I feel. But nevertheless, if I take a step back, it's all good.

“I had a great week. People couldn't have been friendlier to me. I thought I played good. I have good memories from this place, so of course I can see myself coming back, but I don't know at this point.”

Federer, who features in next week’s Internazionali BNL d'Italia draw, admitted he will make a decision on his participation at the Foro Italico in Rome over the weekend.

“I couldn't make the decision before the game so, unfortunately, I had to wait and see how this match played out today… I wanted to keep options open and that is why I'm in the draw. I'll probably only decide on the weekend.”

Federer, a winner of two ATP Tour titles this year at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships (d. Tsitsipas) — his 100th career crown — and at the Miami Open presented by Itau (d. Isner), now has a 20-3 match record on the season.

He did a lot better than I thought he would, but as I've previously stated Thiem is just unstoppable on clay at the moment. 

I might even go as far as saying he's better than Nadal. Something tells me Thiem & Nadal will duke it out for the second week in a row (unless Tsitispas or Djokovic spoil the party).

Thursday, May 09, 2019

Roger Federer forced to battle past Mofils for a place against Thiem in the quarters of Madrid

Roger Federer completed the 1,200th match win of his illustrious career in dramatic fashion on Thursday for a place in the Mutua Madrid Open quarter-finals.

The Swiss superstar saved two match points to become the second player in the Open Era to hit the milestone, joining American Jimmy Connors (1,274), with a 6-0, 4-6, 7-6(3) victory over No. 15 seed Gael Monfils of France in two hours.

Monfils won just nine points in the first set, but he found his rhythm to lead Federer 4-1 in the second, prior to the Swiss coming within one point of a 5-4 advantage and a chance to serve for a historic milestone. Monfils countered to take a 4-1 lead in the decider, before Federer started his own comeback in a tense finale on Manolo Santana Stadium.

Federer saved the first match point on a second serve at 5-6, 30/40, attacking the net to finish the point with a smash winner. He saved a second match point, two points later, when aggression off his forehand kept Monfils off balance. Federer was continually forced to rely on a second serve and attacked the net to create the error.

In the deciding set tie-break, their first since the 2010 Rolex Paris Masters that Monfils won, Federer took a 3/0 lead and maintained his service advantage for a 20th victory of 2019 (20-2 overall). The 37-year-old is now also 87-0 in matches where he has won a set 6-0.

The three-time former Madrid champion, playing his first tournament on clay in three years, will now prepare to face fifth-seeded Austrian Dominic Thiem, runner-up at this ATP Masters 1000 event for the past two years. Thiem leads Federer 3-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series, including victory in the BNP Paribas Open final in March.

Fourth seed Federer recovered from 15/40 in his first service game, and by the end of the 18-minute first set had struck seven winners.

The crowd, desperate to see a contest, was rewarded in the second set when Monfils sparked into life after holding serve — with an almighty roar — in the first game. The greater weight of shot helped Monfils to break Federer with a forehand winner en route to a 3-0 lead.

Two consecutive double faults cost Monfils at 4-3 and gifted Federer a way back into the pair's 14th encounter. Monfils' game faltered considerably, but he kept in control to save a break point with a serve and volley winner at 4-4, 30/40 and, in the following game, clinched the set when Federer hit a forehand long.

Monfils carried the momentum into the third set, opening up a 3-0 lead. But Federer capitalised on fatigue from Monfils in the seventh game, recovering to 3-4 with a stunning backhand return winner with his opponent heading to the net.

At 5-5, double faults once again hurt Monfils and terrific anticipation from Federer at 30/30 earned him a break point. Monfils was living dangerously, but two forehand winners shifted the pressure to Federer.

Earlier on Thursday afternoon, Thiem pushed his winning streak to seven matches by beating Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion Fabio Fognini 6-4, 7-5 to reach the last eight at the Caja Magica.

What a topsy-turvy match this one was, but I suppose if you're gonna get your 1200 tour match win might as well do it in dramatic fashion right Roger?.  

I don't have high hopes of Roger winning against Thiem  next (he's like Nadal 2.0 at the moment on clay) he did just beat Nadal in Barcelona after all, but you never know in tennis Rog might have a really good day. 

Tuesday, May 07, 2019

Roger Federer makes successful return to clay in Madrid

Australian Open Facebook

He sure didn't look like a man who hasn't played on the surface in three years. Roger Federer sped past Richard Gasquet 6-2, 6-3 in only 52 minutes on Tuesday at the Mutua Madrid Open, showing no rust in his first clay-court match since 12 May 2016.

The Swiss broke Gasquet once in each set and raced through his service games, much like he did en route to his 28th ATP Masters 1000 title at the Miami Open presented by Itau in March, the last time Federer competed on the ATP Tour.

“I'm very happy to be back on clay. Super happy to be back here in Madrid. The crowds and the ovation I got before and after the game were great. It really makes you feel like that was the right choice to come to Madrid, so that felt good,” Federer said. “The first game went well. I didn't think Richard was at his best, far off. But from my side, it was a good match.”

The Swiss was gliding on the red dirt and thinking clearly with his shot selection. He offered a couple “Are you kidding me?” drop shots, including one during a service return, to close out the opening set. Federer finished with 28 winners to 20 unforced errors.

Gasquet, who was playing in only his second tour-level match of the year after undergoing groin surgery on 18 January, recovered well in the second set, stretching Federer wide during rallies. But the Swiss' attacking tennis was too much for the Frenchman, and Federer won the final two games to improve to 18-2 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series and has won their past 22 sets.

"It was nice seeing [Gasquet] back after so many months being away from the Tour with injury. I think for both of us it was a special match being back here in Madrid," Federer said.

"[Crowd was] great. It's been wonderful. I think, always in Spain, I've been well-received over the last decade or so just because of my rivalry with Rafa and all the other Spanish players, like Ferrer and so forth. So the people really know me. They followed my matches closely for so many years. They heard me speak, and they feel like they kind of know me. So then when I come to their markets, I think they appreciate it, and so do I. Full house, special atmosphere, so I appreciate it."

Federer skipped the clay-court season the past two years to rest and prepare for the grass-court swing, during which Federer has won 18 titles, including eight Wimbledons. But the 37-year-old decided in January that he'd be sliding on the red dirt this European clay-court season, and so far so good. The fourth seed will next face Hungary's Marton Fucsovics or France's Gael Monfils. Fucsovics won more than half of his second-serve points and beat David Goffin 6-4, 7-5.

Barcelona Open Banc Sabadell champion Dominic Thiem advanced when American Reilly Opelkaretired down 7-6(2), 3-6, 0-1 (lower back). Thiem, the fifth seed and two-time finalist, will face the winner of Aussie John Millman and Italian Fabio Fognini. Millman swept Steve Johnson of the U.S. 7-6(5), 7-6(5), and Fognini, the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters champion, knocked out Brit Kyle Edmund 6-4, 6-3.

So happy to have this man back on the red dirt.  And what a way to start!. ♥

Saturday, May 04, 2019

Roger Federer back on clay and back to world #3 on Monday

Roger Federer is back on clay.

The Swiss superstar is set to compete on the red dirt for the first time since 2016 Rome next week at the Mutua Madrid Open, an ATP Masters 1000 tournament. The 37-year-old, who recently triumphed in Miami, had his first clay-court hit of the season on 15 April, and his first practice at the Caja Magica on Friday.

Federer has long enjoyed success in Madrid, winning the title three times. In 2006, he lifted the trophy when the tournament was played indoors on hard courts, and he also was victorious on clay in 2009 and 2012. The 101-time tour-level champion holds a 35-8 record at the event, reaching the final five times. He also owns an 8-5 record here against opponents inside the Top 10 of the ATP Rankings.

The World No. 4 will be the fourth seed at the second clay-court Masters 1000 tournament of the season. Federer will learn his draw on Saturday at 11:30am local time.

- Editor's Note: An earlier version of this story incorrectly said that Federer was World No. 3 and would be the third seed in Madrid. Federer will be seeded fourth in Madrid. He will rise to World No. 3 on Monday when he passes Alexander Zverev, who drops the 250 points he earned 12 months ago by winning the 2018 Munich title.