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Will Federer Continue To Head To Net Against Nadal?

  • Posted: Jun 05, 2019

Will Federer Continue To Head To Net Against Nadal?

Swiss made 60 net approaches in his quarter-final with Wawrinka

Roger Federer is soon to come face-to-face with arguably the toughest test in tennis: playing Rafael Nadal on clay at Roland Garros. With an 0-5 record against the Spaniard on Parisian dirt, Federer will not only need to combat playing against a left-hander on Friday, but also consider whether he will continue to attack the net.

Nadal’s heavy topspin is notoriously difficult to volley against, but Federer’s impressive form at Roland Garros this year has been underpinned by his success at net. In his first four-set match of the tournament against Stan Wawrinka in the quarter-finals, the 20-time Grand Slam champion ventured to net 60 times, making almost double the number of approaches than in any of his three prior matches.

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Federer showed on Wednesday, in battling past Wawrinka 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4 that he is capable of coming to the net and beating a big, heavy hitter. Federer won 41 of 60 (68%) net approaches against his countryman.

Federer averages a 74 per cent success rate in his points at the net during this year’s clay-court Grand Slam championship, including a high of 83% (25/30) against Lorenzo Sonego in the first round. Overall, Federer has trusted his attacking instincts and won 129 of 175 points at the net (74%) in five matches.

“When it comes to the crunch like this, when you do come to the net, you have to do it with a purpose,” said Federer. “You can’t just do it because somebody told you to do it and you think it’s the right thing. You have to come in there believing.”


Round/Player Net Win-Loss/Pct. Result
1R: Lorenzo Sonego (ITA) 25/30 (83%) 6-2, 6-4, 6-4
2R: Oscar Otte (GER) 23/31 (74%) 6-4, 6-3, 6-4
3R: Christian Ruud (NOR) 21/27 (77%) 6-3, 6-1, 7-6(8)
4R: Leonardo Mayer (ARG) 19/27 (70%) 6-2, 6-3, 6-3
QF: (24) Stan Wawrinka (SUI) 41/60 (68%) 7-6(4), 4-6, 7-6(5), 6-4

In the 15 clay-court matches of their legendary 38-match rivalry, Federer has won only two clashes on red dirt in the 2007 Hamburg final (2-6, 6-2, 6-0) and in the 2009 Mutua Madrid Open final (6-4, 6-4). Both times, the Swiss won 67 per cent of his net points in the ATP Masters 1000 title matches – 18 of 27 in Hamburg and 24 of 36 in Madrid.

Speaking to Eurosport, a few days ago, the 37-year-old provided his tips for volleying success on clay courts.

“You have to have an idea of what you’re going to do, you don’t want to rush to the net without a plan,” explained Federer. “So you want to be able to figure out where the return player usually returns to and where you are going to serve. I think for those first two shots the anticipation is really important.

“The second point is the first step after the serve. Don’t hit the ball, look and run, you hit the serve and you run immediately. That is to gain that extra metre or two to get close to the net, because if you’re close to the net you have an easier volley. And then once you’re at the net you have got to be like a panther at the net! You want to be hungry and up there to win the point and not thinking ‘it’s a good idea to be at the net, but we’ll see what happens…’ No. You want to be up there trying to win the point.”

On Friday, Federer will need to draw upon all of his experience against left-handed Nadal, the 11-time champion with a 91-2 record at Roland Garros.

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French Open: Gordon Reid confidence boosted going into Roland Garros

  • Posted: Jun 05, 2019

Paralympic champion Gordon Reid hopes his part in Britain’s recent World Team Cup success can “switch” his year around going into the French Open.

The Scot has not reached a singles final in 2019, and has not got past the quarter-finals of a Grand Slam in singles since 2017.

Reid, 27, helped GB to World Team Cup victory last month – equalling GB’s best performance at the tournament.

“It was a really good week for my confidence,” he told BBC Sport.

“The last 12 months haven’t been great in terms of my form, but I feel like it just takes one event to switch that and this could be the one for me.

“Everybody’s level has raised, it’s tougher and tougher, and consistency is more important than it ever has been.

“Physically I feel in good shape, but mentally, psychologically, I need to work on a few things to get myself back to the highest level.”

Ranked eighth in the world, Reid will play Belgian world number four Joachim Gerard in the first round at Roland Garros, with the wheelchair singles tournament starting on Thursday.

“It’s a cliche, but there are no easy draws here,” said Reid, a two-time Grand Slam champion in singles.

“Jo is a good player. He made the final of the clay-court event (in Rue, France) we were at last week so he’s in good form, but I’ve had a couple of wins against him recently.

“It will be tough, but if I play well I’ve got a good chance.”

Reid will team up with Alfie Hewett – also a member of GB’s victorious World Team Cup team in Israel – in the men’s doubles, in which they will play Shingo Kunieda and Gustavo Fernandez first up.

In the singles, Hewett – who won Paralympic doubles silver with Reid in 2016 – will face Frenchman Stephane Houdet in the first round.

Hewett, 21, won the French Open singles title in 2017 and says his confidence has also been boosted before Paris.

On facing world number three Houdet, Hewett said: “We recently played each other in the World Team Cup, I came out victorious on that one.

“It was probably one of my biggest and strongest performances I’ve had in a long while so that was a confidence booster for me and something I needed.

“The whole week was quite the boost, playing the world number one Shingo and then taking down Gerard as well.”

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Katie Boulter to miss Nature Valley Open in Nottingham but hopeful of Wimbledon return

  • Posted: Jun 05, 2019

British number two Katie Boulter will miss the Nature Valley Open in Nottingham but hopes to recover from a back injury in time for Wimbledon.

The tournament begins on Monday, three weeks before the start of Wimbledon.

Boulter, 22, was named in the French Open draw before withdrawing, despite not having played since Britain’s Fed Cup win over Kazakhstan in April.

“Been getting stronger every day but unfortunately Nottingham is going to be too soon,” she said on social media.

“I’m so gutted, especially as this tournament is so close to my heart. Nothing beats playing back where it all started!

“However, I’m still really hopeful to be back for the grass-court season.”

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Take Our Federer-Nadal Quiz

  • Posted: Jun 05, 2019

Take Our Federer-Nadal Quiz

Test your knowledge ahead of the Roland Garros semi-final

How much do you know about the legendary FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal?

You may know that Nadal and Federer are set to compete in the Roland Garros semi-finals as the Spaniard pursues his 12th Coupe des Mousquetaires and the Swiss continues towards a second triumph on the clay in Paris. But do you know their Head2Head record on clay courts and how many times they have competed against one another at Roland Garros?

Need a little assistance? Check out these resource pages: 
FedEx ATP Head2Head | Every Match Ever Played

Click here to stay informed all year with tennis news from the ATP Tour.

Done with the quiz? Scroll back up to the top to see how you did!

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Konta playing better tennis than anybody, says Barker

  • Posted: Jun 05, 2019
2019 French Open – women’s semi-finals
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: Friday, 7 June
Coverage: Live text and radio commentary on the BBC Sport website and app.

Johanna Konta is playing “better tennis than anybody” and can win her maiden Grand Slam title at the French Open, says 1976 champion Sue Barker.

The British number one, 28, meets Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova in a last-four match pushed back to Friday by bad weather on Wednesday in Paris.

No British woman has reached the Roland Garros final since Barker won her only Grand Slam in Paris 43 years ago.

“Jo is playing the best tennis I have ever seen her play,” Barker said.

American great Billie Jean King agreed with Barker, saying Konta was now a better player than she was when she reached the 2017 Wimbledon semi-finals.

Konta, seeded 26th, has only dropped one set in her march to the semi-finals and produced a stunning performance to beat American seventh seed Sloane Stephens in Tuesday’s quarter-final.

Konta will compete in her third Grand Slam semi-final – on a third different surface – after also losing in the 2016 Australian Open last four.

She had never won a main-draw match at Roland Garros until this year.

“It is her mental approach to matches. She used to have a wobble in matches and sometimes let the other player back in, but she just hasn’t had that in any match,” said Barker, a former world number three.

“She dropped one set but even in that match she looked really good.

“I am really impressed that she is playing that well for the whole match. Her confidence must be sky high, hitting the ball that well and feeling it so well.

“She can go all the way here, I think she is playing the best tennis of anybody.”

Rain washed out Wednesday’s play in Paris, meaning the two remaining women’s quarter-finals will take place on Thursday.

Romania’s defending champion Simona Halep will play American 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova, with Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty facing American 14th seed Madison Keys.

Konta’s semi-final was pushed back to Friday to ensure both last-four matches are played on the same day.

King, a 12-time Grand Slam singles champion, says any of the women left in the draw are capable of lifting the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen following Saturday’s final.

“I don’t know if we have a favourite. I really do think it’s wide open,” said King, who has been announced as the ambassador for the revamped Fed Cup.

“Konta is in the best position she’s ever been because she’s had more experience, she’s won more.

“She’s really concentrating well and she’s hitting so big. Her serve’s big, her groundstrokes are big.

“She’s totally focused right now – she just needs to stay the way she is. But she’s going to have to think because of the creativity of Vondrousova.”

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Konta semi-final moved to Friday after Wednesday washout

  • Posted: Jun 05, 2019
2019 French Open
Venue: Roland Garros, Paris Dates: 26 May-9 June
Coverage: Live text and radio commentary on selected matches on the BBC Sport website and app.

Johanna Konta’s maiden French Open semi-final has been pushed back to Friday after rain washed out Wednesday’s play in Paris.

The British number one, 28, was set to meet Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova in the last four on Thursday.

But downpours on Wednesday meant the remaining women’s singles quarter-finals could not be played.

They will take place on Thursday instead, with both semi-finals now on Friday.

The weather in Paris is forecast to be brighter on Thursday with a chance of a brief shower in the afternoon.

However, more rain is forecast for Friday which has led tournament director Guy Forget to “study worst-case scenarios”.

One of the women’s semi-finals could be moved to Court Simonne Mathieu if a decision is made to use Roland Garros’ third show court alongside Chatrier and Lenglen in a bid to complete the matches.

Forget added it was possible the women’s final could be pushed back to Sunday, with the men’s final switching to Monday.

“It’s not what we hope, but if we have no other choice, then that’s what we will do,” he said.

Konta, seeded 26th, is bidding to become the first British woman to reach the French Open final since Sue Barker in 1976.

Romania’s defending champion Simona Halep was due to play American teenager Amanda Anisimova in their quarter-final on Wednesday, while Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty was scheduled to meet American 14th seed Madison Keys.

The rain also saw the two remaining men’s quarter-finals cancelled, meaning all four matches will be played from 11:00 BST on Thursday.

World number one Novak Djokovic plays German fifth seed Alexander Zverev, while Austrian fourth seed Dominic Thiem meets Russian 10th seed Karen Khachanov.

British pair Alfie Hewett and Gordon Reid are also set to begin their French Open wheelchair campaigns on Thursday, with the singles and doubles draws taking place later on Wednesday.

Hewett won the singles title in 2017, while Reid has twice won the doubles at Roland Garros.


BBC tennis correspondent Russell Fuller

This is the final Grand Slam which will ever be played without the luxury of a roof, and its absence certainly favours those in the bottom half of either draw.

The likes of Halep and Barty are likely to have to play three matches in three days to win the title.

The likes of Djokovic and Thiem face three matches in four days if they are to lift the trophy.

It’s not a huge disadvantage for the women, as they are used to playing back-to-back matches on the WTA Tour.

But it is more of an issue for the men, who play best of five sets in a Grand Slam. And as we have already seen this fortnight, those matches can sometimes last for over five hours.

French Open 2019 – Thursday’s order of play
Chatrier, from 11:00 BST: Simona Halep (3, Rom) v Amanda Anisimova (USA)
Not before 13:30: Novak Djokovic (1, Ser) v Alexander Zverev (5, Ger)
Lenglen, from 11:00: Madison Keys (14, US) v Ashleigh Barty (8, Aus)
Not before 13:30: Dominic Thiem (4, Aut) v Karen Khachanov (10, Rus)
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Federer & Nadal's 10 Best Quotes About Each Other

  • Posted: Jun 05, 2019

Federer & Nadal’s 10 Best Quotes About Each Other

Champions discuss their differences, rivalry and friendship

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal haven’t always let their racquets do the talking when they face off.

The two legends of the game have always had a healthy respect for each other. Check out their 10 best quotes on the matches and friendship that have transcended the sport.


“If he had played his best tennis, I would have had no chance. But that’s what happens in tennis. If a player like me plays at a very, very good level and a top player like Roger doesn’t play his best tennis, I can win.” – 2004 Miami Open presented by Itau

“If he is playing very good, I have to play unbelievable. If not, it’s impossible, especially if he’s playing with good confidence. When he’s 100 per cent, he’s playing in another league. It’s impossible to stop him.” – 2007 Nitto ATP Finals

“We have a great relationship all the time. Our relationship didn’t change a lot since the beginning because it was always very respectful. The only way the relationship has improved is getting closer we spend more time together, always being in the [ATP Player] Council, being on court, playing exhibitions together. I don’t think it’s a rivalry. All these important moments in tennis make you appreciate it more.” – 2010 Nitto ATP Finals

“When you go on court against Roger…I go on court knowing that I am playing against a player that is unbelievable. What happened in the past probably will not help me.  I take every match like a different history and every day is different.” – 2014 Australian Open

“It’s the combination of two different styles that makes the matches really special. Both of us have a different way to play tennis [and have] a lot of good success with these two different styles. I feel that this rivalry goes not only in the tennis world. People from outside of our world talk about it and that’s good for our sport.” – 2017 Australian Open

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“I just think he’s an incredible tennis player. He’s got shots that no other one has. When you have that, you are unique and special. Plus he’s got the grit. He’s got the mental and physical ability to sustain a super high level of play for years and for hours and for weeks. He’s proven that time and time again. He’s come back from many injuries time and time again. He made it seem easy, and it’s not. I think he’s been tremendous for the game. I have a lot of respect for him on many levels.” – 2017 Australian Open

“There are no draws in tennis, but I would have been happy to share this trophy with Rafa tonight.” – 2017 Australian Open

“It’s not gonna happen. We don’t have enough years left on the tour and we’re ranked too good that we play each other only in finals at the moment…can’t win them all against Rafa, to be honest. He’s too good of a player.” – Federer on whether he can take the lead in his FedEx ATP Head2Head rivalry with Nadal, 2017 Rolex Shanghai Masters.

“I think he’s definitely one of the guys that make me a better player. I don’t want to thank him for that, but he made me maybe rework my game and go back to the practice courts and think about what I could change. I think for that, I’m happy about the losses I took.” – 2017 Rolex Shanghai Masters

“I think we are very different personalities or maybe also player types. The way we go about it is very different, but yet we both find a way to excel…I think it all adds to the cool rivalry that we had. And then you add all the foundation stuff we have had, promotional things we have done for the tour, political things…it’s been quite a journey with Rafa side by side.” – 2019 BNP Paribas Open

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Rain Washes Out Wednesday Play At Roland Garros

  • Posted: Jun 05, 2019

Rain Washes Out Wednesday Play At Roland Garros

Two remaining men’s quarter-finals to be played on Thursday

Heavy rain in Paris forced quarter-final action at Roland Garros to be cancelled on Wednesday. Tournament officials announced the decision at 4:40 p.m. local time.

Two women’s singles matches had been set to get underway on the main show courts at 2 p.m. local time. World No. 1 Novak Djokovic, the 2016 champion, was then scheduled to face fifth seed Alexander Zverev in the second match on Court Philippe-Chatrier, while fourth seed and last year’s finalist Dominic Thiem would meet No. 10 seed Karen Khachanov in the second match on Court Suzanne-Lenglen.

You May Also Like: Preview: Djokovic v. Zverev, Thiem v. Khachanov In Roland Garros QFs

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Chang Popularised The Underarm Serve 30 Years Ago; Now Thiem Faces It

  • Posted: Jun 05, 2019

Chang Popularised The Underarm Serve 30 Years Ago; Now Thiem Faces It

Former Roland Garros champion reflects on his desperation shot 30 years later

Michael Chang wasn’t trying to start a trend when he hit the most famous underhand serve in the Open Era at Roland Garros 30 years ago. Chang, 17 and cramping, was trying to survive.

The American was facing three-time champion and World No. 1 Ivan Lendl in the fourth round, and the two were mired in a fifth set. Chang, serving at 4-3, 15/30, decided to do something different.

At the start of his service motion, he kept his racquet down, slipped the ball out of his hand and sliced an underhand serve. Lendl charged forward and smacked a forehand, but Chang won the point and changed the match.

“It created a very interesting element to the match and certainly made the battle, not only physical, but mental as well,” Chang told in Paris.

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The American went on to win the 1989 Roland Garros title, his first and only Grand Slam crown, beating Stefan Edberg in the final. Chang became the first American winner at Roland Garros since 1955 and remains the youngest Grand Slam champion.

But during his 16-year career, he never again hit an underhand serve, despite its success. “It actually never crossed my mind to ever use it again, strangely enough,” he said.

Others, however, have happily borrowed the trickery. Aussie Nick Kyrgios used it against Rafael Nadal en route to his Acapulco title in February, and last week at Roland Garros, Alexander Bublik deployed the tactic a few times against Dominic Thiem.

The servers rely on the element of surprise: just as they’re beginning their usual service motion, they jut out of their take back and drop the ball out of their hand. Catch a player off guard, and you can win the point, or, as Chang did, alter the match.

Kyrgios and Bublik weren’t struggling with cramps, though; they saw their opponents standing far beyond the baseline, nearly pressed against the back wall, and chose to start the point with a drop shot.

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To be honest, it’s a good choice against players like us who are that far behind the baseline,” Thiem said. “There is nothing bad about it. And I was prepared for that, so that was no problem.”

The 2018 Roland Garros finalist hasn’t practised racing forward, but he was expecting the serve against Bublik, who went to net 71 times (41/71, 57%) and tried to keep Thiem off rhythm during their second-round match.

“At least he didn’t hit me an ace, but I think he won two out of three,” Thiem said. “Some players do it well, him, Kyrgios. And against these guys you have to be prepared to sometimes make a sprint when you return.”

Roger Federer has thought about using it many times, and although he hasn’t yet, he supports the surprise shot.

Underarm is definitely a tactic, I believe, especially when guys are hugging the fence in the back… Why not try it?” he said earlier this year. “The problem is in practice, you never really try it. When you come out in the big stage in front of a full crowd, tricky to pull off.”

At Roland Garros, Federer added, with a smile: “Anything in the rules is OK.”

Thiem faces Russian Karen Khachanov for a place in the Roland Garros semi-finals on Wednesday. Although Khachanov, a 6’6” Russian known for his big game, hasn’t thrown in any underhand serves through four matches in Paris, the Austrian will be ready.

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