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Federer: I Don't Fear Lefties Anymore

  • Posted: Feb 25, 2019

Federer: I Don’t Fear Lefties Anymore

Seven-time Dubai champion reflects on adapting to playing lefties

Roger Federer battled past Philipp Kohlschreiber on Monday in three sets to reach the second round of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. In the second round, he faces another challenging opponent in left-hander Fernando Verdasco, who has long had one of the best forehands in the sport.

“I don’t fear the lefties anymore like I did in my teenage years, so that’s good,” Federer said. “I think that’s because I was able to improve my game. Every player tries to play to your weakness or tries to make you play bad. No different with Verdasco.”

One of tennis’ greatest rivalries is between Federer and a left-hander: Rafael Nadal. At one point, the Spaniard led their FedEx ATP Head2Head series 23-10 (Nadal now leads 23-15).

But Federer has long been one of the world’s best players against left-handed opposition. According to his FedEx ATP Win/Loss Record, Federer is 125-36 against lefties in tour-level matches heading into his clash against Verdasco. That means that 64 per cent of Federer’s defeats against lefties have come against Nadal. While that may seem like a lot of losses against one left-hander, Federer currently ranks seventh in the Open Era in the category, at 77.6 per cent. Nadal has the best record against lefties, triumphing 86.5 per cent of the time.

Best Records Against Lefties In The Open Era

 Player  Winning Percentage  Player  Winning Percentage
 1. Rafael Nadal  86.5%  5. Mats Wilander  79.4%
 2. Pete Sampras  84.1%  6. Jimmy Connors  79.3%
 3. Andy Roddick  81.1%  7. Roger Federer  77.6%
 4. Boris Becker  80.4%  8. Lleyton Hewitt  77.3%

“I’ve played a few other lefties in the past, as well. I always thought it was hard to play left-handed servers because their strength goes into your weakness, your strength goes to — I don’t know. It just doesn’t work properly against the lefties,” Federer said. “For a one-handed backhand player, I have a great record against left-handed players. Obviously Rafa has caused me the most problems throughout. That’s because of the level of play he’s able to achieve.”

The good thing for Federer is that he has won all six of his FedEx ATP Head2Head battles with Verdasco. It doesn’t hurt that they’re playing in Dubai, where the 37-year-old has triumphed seven times and enjoys great support from the crowd.

“I do notice it. I do feel crowd support. They were doing the wave to cheer me up today because I was down in the score in the second set… Usually they do it when I’m in the lead,” Federer said. “They were chanting my name, so I took it as a positive. I can’t complain. I get amazing crowd support basically everywhere I go. That’s a real treat. I thought I was maybe at my peak in 2012. I couldn’t become more popular or get more crowd support. It has gotten better even from then on.”

That support is something that never gets old for the Swiss.

“Definitely one of the big reasons why I’m still playing is to feel the crowd, to get close to them, try to hit good shots, try to put on a show,” Federer said. “Tonight maybe was not quite that, but I’m still around, so I get a second chance on Wednesday.” 

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Roger Federer beats Philipp Kohlschreiber at Dubai Tennis Championships

  • Posted: Feb 25, 2019

Roger Federer needed three sets to beat fellow veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber at the Dubai Tennis Championships.

Federer cruised through the deciding set to win 6-4 3-6 6-1 against the 35-year-old German in his first match since his Australian Open last-16 exit.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion, 37, has never lost to Kohlschreiber, winning all 14 of their meetings.

Federer is again going for a 100th ATP singles title after moving on to 99 at the Swiss Indoors in October.

Federer, now ranked seventh in the world, is second in terms of all-time ATP victories, with only American Jimmy Connors in front of him on 109.

He is going for a record eighth title in Dubai, which has served as his off-season training base for several years.

Earlier this month it was confirmed he will make his return to clay – having not played on the surface since 2016 – at the Madrid Open in May.

Meanwhile, Russian fourth seed Karen Khachanov and Canadian seventh seed Milos Raonic suffered first-round defeats against unseeded opponents on Monday.

Khachanov, 22, lost 6-4 6-1 to Georgian world number 19 Nikoloz Basilashvili, while Raonic, 28, was beaten 6-4 5-7 6-4 by Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

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Federer Fends Off Kohlschreiber, Begins Chase For 100th Title

  • Posted: Feb 25, 2019

Federer Fends Off Kohlschreiber, Begins Chase For 100th Title

Second seed to face Verdasco for a spot in the Dubai quarter-finals

Roger Federer began his chase for tour-level title No. 100 on Monday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, defeating German veteran Philipp Kohlschreiber 6-4, 3-6, 6-1. The Swiss now leads Kohlschreiber 14-0 in their FedEx ATP Head2Head series.

But the 37-year-old’s first match since his loss in the fourth round of the Australian Open to Stefanos Tsitsipas was not easy. While Federer looked in control early, breaking in the first game of the match and using that advantage to storm through the first set in 30 minutes, he was forced into a third set against Kohlschreiber for just the third time at an ATP Tour event. Ultimately, Federer forced an error with a strong cross-court forehand to break in his first return game of the decider and he held on to emerge victorious after one hour and 36 minutes.

Federer has only lost his opening match at a tournament once in the past 20 months, with that defeat coming in Miami last year against Thanasi Kokkinakis. Seven-time Dubai champion Federer now holds a 49-6 record at the ATP 500 event.

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Early on, Federer dominated play with his first serve. He put Kohlschreiber on the back foot straight away, and only lost one first-serve point in the first set. But Kohlschreiber broke in his first return game of the second set, and began to put more pressure on the Swiss by placing his first-serve returns deeper in the court. That helped Kohlschreiber push Federer back, giving the German more chances to dictate play and force the 99-time tour-level champion to defend.

But the Swiss counter-punched well at the start of the third set to break Kohlschreiber and hold for 3-0, and Federer never looked back. While Kohlschreiber saved one break point at 1-4 with a beautifully angled backhand off of a drop volley, he could not avoid going down a double-break.

Federer hit a backhand passing shot straight at Kohlschreiber on his next opportunity, forcing an error before holding to love to clinch his victory. The 6’1″ right-hander is trying to become just the second player in the Open Era to lift 100 tour-level trophies (after Jimmy Connors, 109).

The second seed will next face Spaniard Fernando Verdasco, who battled back to defeat qualifier Thomas Fabbiano 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Like with Kohlschreiber, Federer holds a lopsided FedEx ATP Head2Head series lead against Verdasco having triumphed in all six of their previous matches. The Swiss has won 13 of the 14 sets he has played against the 35-year-old left-hander, including a straight-sets victory in their most recent meeting, also in Dubai, four years ago.

While Federer survived the first round in Dubai for the 13th time in his 14th appearance, two seeds were upset on the first day of action.

World No. 12 Karen Khachanov suffered his fourth first-round defeat of the season, as Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili ousted the fourth-seeded Russian 6-4, 6-1 in 70 minutes. Basilashvili has enjoyed plenty of success at ATP 500 tournaments, winning his first two ATP Tour titles at this level last season in Hamburg and Beijing. The World No. 19 will next face defending champion Roberto Bautista Agut or wild card Ramkumar Ramanathan.

German Jan-Lennard Struff surprised seventh seed Milos Raonic 6-4, 5-7, 6-4. Raonic had an overhead just a few feet from the net to save match point, but the former World No. 3 hit the smash down into the net. Struff will play for a spot in the quarter-finals against Hungarian Marton Fucsovics, who beat Bosnia and Herzegovina’s Damir Dzumhur 6-1, 7-6(5).

Did You Know?
– Federer has only lost once in his first-round match in Dubai. That defeat came 11 years ago against then-World No. 11 Andy Murray.
– With Khachanov and Raonic’s losses, the only seeded player remaining on Federer’s half of the draw is sixth seed Borna Coric.

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Zverev Explains Why He Is Excited For Acapulco Return

  • Posted: Feb 25, 2019

Zverev Explains Why He Is Excited For Acapulco Return

Second seed faces qualifier Popyrin in the first round

No player finished the 2018 ATP Tour season on a higher note than Alexander Zverev. The 21-year-old became the youngest player to win the Nitto ATP Finals since Novak Djokovic in 2008. Zverev was also the first German to triumph at the season finale since Boris Becker in 1995.

But Zverev fell short of earning his best performance at a Grand Slam last month in Melbourne, losing to former World No. 3 Milos Raonic in straight sets in the fourth round of the Australian Open. In his first tournament since, the Abierto Mexicano Telcel presentado por HSBC, the second seed is eager to return to winning ways. Zverev is pursuing his 11th ATP Tour title.

“Every player has played more than me, basically. But I’m looking forward to it,” said Zverev, who faces qualifier Alexei Popyrin in the first round. “I’m looking forward to really getting going now because it’s a busy schedule with the Masters [1000] series coming up [in Indian Wells and Miami] and also on clay I have a very busy schedule,” Zverev said. “It’s very exciting.”

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Two days before the Australian Open, Zverev turned his ankle during practice. While the World No. 3 says he has not fully recovered, and he still tapes the ankle, the German is happy that he gave it time to heal to allow himself the best chance to recover.

“I had to take Rotterdam off, unfortunately, and I was with a doctor that I’ve seen for a long time already,” Zverev said. “I hope it’s going to get better, and I hope I’ll be pain-free very shortly.”

It certainly doesn’t hurt that Zverev is returning to action in Acapulco, where he is staying in a house that is 20 metres from the beach. While Zverev is fully focused on the tennis, the setting is an added bonus.

“I go every morning to the beach. I enjoy the water a lot. I think this place is in a way a holiday,” Zverev said. “We do obviously practice a lot. I’ve been practising four hours a day. But in a way this is still holidays for us and we enjoy being here.”

Did You Know?
Zverev competed in Acapulco for the first time last season. The German lost to Juan Martin del Potro in the semi-finals.

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