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Federer: 'You're Just Happy To Make Shots And Not Look Ridiculous'

  • Posted: Jun 07, 2019

Federer: ‘You’re Just Happy To Make Shots And Not Look Ridiculous’

Swiss tips his hat to Nadal after semi-final loss

Roger Federer has played 1,472 ATP Tour matches and faced hundreds of opponents throughout his 21-year career. But after his Roland Garros semi-final loss to Rafael Nadal, his sixth to the Spaniard at this event, he admitted his clay-court battles against the 11-time champion are unmatched in difficulty.

“He makes you feel uncomfortable the way he defends the court and plays on clay. There is nobody who even plays remotely close to him,” said Federer. “I don’t even know who I need to go search for to go practice with somebody who plays like him. It’s just amazing how he plays from deep and then is able to bounce back and forth from the baseline.”

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The Swiss star powered into the semi-finals for the first time since 2012. Competing with a larger racquet head for the first time at the second major of the year, Federer’s backhand had more bite than in previous visits and allowed for even greater success in rushing the net. He won 127 of 175 net points (72.6%) in his first five rounds and went to the net 60 times in his quarter-final victory over Stan Wawrinka.

But Federer’s trips to the net on Friday had two things working against him. Not only does Nadal love a target, but brutal winds topping 39 miles per hour slowed his approaches and enabled the Spaniard to comfortably rip passing shots. Federer won just 17 of 35 net points on the day. 

Read: Will Federer Keep Rushing The Net Against Nadal?

“You get to a point where you’re just happy to make shots and not look ridiculous. It’s that bad,” said Federer of the swirling winds. “There is also no way to practice in these conditions. It’s all a mindset. It’s footwork…It was difficult, but I accept that. He played in an incredible way. He has incredible abilities on clay. I knew that ahead of time.”

Despite the loss, Federer can consider his clay-court season a success. Before the start of the clay season, the Swiss admitted being unsure if he remembered how to slide on the surface after not competing on it for three years. He finished it with a 9-2 record, only losing to Nadal and Dominic Thiem. Federer also amassed 1,080 ATP Rankings points during this stretch, cementing his position at No. 3 and moving him closer to catching Nadal at No. 2.

Read: Federer & Nadal’s History At Roland Garros

The always vocal Parisian fans showed their appreciation at having the chance to watch Federer for the first time since 2015, showering him with even more adoration than he typically received over the years on Court Philippe-Chatrier. The love from the crowd made the 20-time Grand Slam champion hint that his return to clay will become a staple in his final years on tour.

“I thought it was a great tournament. I really enjoyed it. Crowd support couldn’t have been better. Maybe one of the best ever in my entire 20-year career that I have been on tour at a Grand Slam,” said Federer. “They were always there for me, supporting me in practice, at the matches, on the grounds whenever I came and showed up. They were always happy to see me. So that was nice.

“I think I surprised myself maybe with how deep I got in this tournament and how well I actually was able to play throughout. Next year, just like with any other tournament, I don’t know. We’ll see what happens. But I definitely enjoyed the clay-court season and [Roland Garros], so that would help the chances to return to the clay. It’s not like it’s been a shocker. So from that standpoint, it’s okay.”

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Barty & Vondrousova bid for first Slam title in unlikely final

  • Posted: Jun 07, 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.

Australian eighth seed Ashleigh Barty and Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova, the world number 38, will bid to win their maiden Grand Slam title in an unlikely French Open final on Saturday.

Play between Barty and Vondrousova, 19, is due to start at 14:00 BST.

Barty, 23, who quit tennis to play cricket in 2014, described reaching a Slam final as “crazy”.

After becoming the first teenage Grand Slam finalist since 2009, Vondrousova said: “It is the best week of my life.”

Vondrousova has not dropped a set in the tournament and ended British number one Johanna Konta’s run with a 7-5 7-6 (7-2) win in their semi-final on Friday.

She has become the first teenage finalist at Roland Garros since Serbia’s Ana Ivanovic in 2007.

Vondrousova and Barty have the youngest combined age of two female Grand Slam finalists since the 2008 French Open when Ivanovic beat Dinara Safina.

The pair have met twice before in tour-level matches, Barty not dropping a set in victories on the grass in Birmingham in 2017 and the Cincinnati hard court last year.

  • Konta’s Grand Slam dream ended by Czech teen
  • Barty beats Anisimova to reach final

Barty aiming to cap her ‘incredible journey’

Barty’s first Grand Slam final comes almost three years to the day since she reappeared in the WTA rankings – at 623rd – after taking a break from the sport for more than a year to play professional cricket.

The Queenslander retired in 2014 and played for the Brisbane Heat in the women’s Big Bash after saying tennis was a “lonely sport”.

But she decided to return 17 months later and has since won four tour titles, including the biggest victory of her career at the Miami Open in March.

Now she is the first Australian woman to reach a first Grand Slam final since Sam Stosur at the US Open in 2011.

“It is crazy, it really is,” Barty said.

“It’s been an incredible journey the last three years. It’s been an incredible journey the last two weeks.

“I feel like I have played some really good tennis, some consistent tennis.”

Barty has the richer pedigree of the two finalists, having climbed into the world’s top 10 after reaching her first Grand Slam quarter-final on home turf in Melbourne in January.

Her exploits at Roland Garros mean she is assured of a ranking inside the top five when they are released next week, with the number two spot awaiting if she succeeds on Saturday.

Seven-time Grand Slam champion Evonne Goolagong Cawley was the last Australian woman to be ranked as high as second – in December 1976.

“My team and myself have worked so hard to put ourselves in these positions. Now we get to go out there and really enjoy it,” Barty added.

“That’s the only way to approach it is to go out and enjoy it, have fun, try and play with freedom.

“That’s ultimately when I play my best tennis and that’s what we are after in the final.”

Barty’s route to the final
Round one Jessica Pegula 6-3 6-3
Round two Danielle Collins 7-5 6-1
Round three Andrea Petkovic 6-3 6-1
Round four Sofia Kenin 6-3 3-6 6-0
Quarter-final Madison Keys [14] 6-3 7-5
Semi-final Amanda Anisimova 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-3

Vondrousova ‘never imagined’ reaching the final

Vondrousova had only reached the second week of a Grand Slam once before this tournament – at last year’s US Open – but has eclipsed that with her scintillating run at Roland Garros.

The left-hander has enjoyed a fine year after reaching the Hungarian Open and Istanbul Cup finals, along with quarter-final runs at more prestigious tournaments in Indian Wells, Miami and Rome.

Victory over Konta was her 15th victory on the clay this year, a tally only matched on the tour by the Briton and Croatian 31st seed Petra Martic – who Vondrousova beat in the Roland Garros quarter-finals.

“It’s amazing. I never imagined this, I’m just very happy with everything,” she said.

Vondrousova, who keeps opponents guessing by playing with plenty of variety, has won a tour-high 27 matches since January’s Australian Open.

If she beats Barty then she will climb to a career-high ranking of 11, with a place in the top 20 already assured.

“I’m having so much fun on court. I’m playing good,” said the Czech, who is the first teenage Grand Slam singles finalist since Caroline Wozniacki was runner-up at the 2009 US Open at the age of 19.

“It’s really amazing when you’re playing like this and winning all the matches. It’s huge.”

Vondrousova’s route to the final
Round one Yafan Wang 6-4 6-3
Round two Anastasia Potapova 6-4 6-0
Round three Carla Suarez Navarro 6-4 6-4
Round four Anastasija Sevastova [12] 6-2 6-0
Quarter-final Petra Martic [31] 7-6 (7-1) 7-5
Semi-final Johanna Konta [26] 7-5 7-6 (7-2)
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'We have hit rock bottom' – criticism as play suspended in Paris

  • Posted: Jun 07, 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.

World number one Novak Djokovic trailed Dominic Thiem when their French Open semi-final was suspended because of bad weather – a move that drew criticism on social media.

Austrian fourth seed Thiem led 6-2 3-6 3-1 when wind and rain halted play.

Former world number one Amelie Mauresmo said “we have hit rock bottom”, while many pointed out it had stopped raining with daylight left.

The women’s semi-final scheduling was also subject to negative comments.

“The tournament referee decided to halt the match because conditions were becoming more and more difficult (including gusts of wind of up to 90 kph),” said tournament organisers.

“There had already been two interruptions and the forecast predicted fresh showers in the hours to follow. This uncertainty led the referee to opt for an immediate postponement.”

Former players and tennis journalists tweeted their complaints about the decision to cancel play on Friday, with Britain’s Fed Cup captain Anne Keothavong branding it a “strange decision” and British former player Mark Petchey among those posting pictures of blue skies.

  • Nadal beats Federer to reach final
  • Konta has ‘no regrets’ after semi-final defeat
  • Live scores, schedule and results

Will the women’s final start on time?

The men’s semi-final will resume at 11:00 BST on Philippe Chatrier, three hours before the women’s final between Ashleigh Barty and Marketa Vondrousova is due to start.

French Open organisers explained the decision, saying: “The conclusion of this men’s semi-final is scheduled for midday tomorrow. The two players therefore have three hours to finish their match. That should be sufficient time to allow the women’s final to start on time.”

Scheduling at this year’s tournament was already under the spotlight after the women’s semi-finals were moved away from Chatrier to two other show courts when they were postponed from Thursday to Friday.

Britain’s Johanna Konta said she was “surprised” at her semi-final being moved out to the 5,000-seater Court Simonne Mathieu, which was barely a third full for her 7-5 7-6 (7-2) defeat by Vondrousova.

WTA boss Steve Simon had called the decision to move those matches “inappropriate and unfair”, while Mauresmo said it was a “disgrace”.

Djokovic drops first set of tournament in windy conditions

Djokovic, 32, is aiming to become the first man in the Open era to hold all four Grand Slam titles at the same time on two separate occasions, while Thiem, last year’s runner-up, is bidding to become the first Austrian player to reach a second Grand Slam final.

Both players had to play quarter-finals on Thursday after rain stopped play on Wednesday and the weather interrupted them again in the semi-final, the winner of which will play 11-time champion Rafael Nadal in Sunday’s final.

There were strong winds on Chatrier, whipping up the red dirt and at one point sending an umbrella flying across the back of the court.

Thiem, 25, who has never beaten a world number one at a Grand Slam, coped better with the conditions initially.

The Austrian’s powerful shots cut through the breeze, while Djokovic, playing in his first French Open semi-final since 2016, made repeated errors.

After being broken twice in the first set, Djokovic asked the umpire whose responsibility it was to decide whether it was too windy to continue, but play carried on and he dropped a set for the first time this tournament.

Play was then suspended because of rain with the score on serve in the second set. The break only lasted 10 minutes before the players were back on court.

Momentum then shifted Djokovic’s way as he got a break of serve, then held to level things at one set each.

Thiem went 3-1 up after breaking the 15-time Grand Slam champion’s serve in the third set but he was halted once more as the wind and rain worsened.

Djokovic and Thiem left the court at about 16:45 BST, with the decision to cancel play for the day taken about 40 minutes later.

At that stage there was bright sunshine and clear sky over Roland Garros, which lasted for about another 50 minutes before dark clouds returned.

However, the expected rain did not reappear until around 18:40 BST.

  • Relive Djokovic v Thiem so far
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'Excess Ambition?' No, Nadal Says It's About The Joy Of Sets

  • Posted: Jun 07, 2019

‘Excess Ambition?’ No, Nadal Says It’s About The Joy Of Sets

Spaniard pinpoints four reasons for his win over Federer

Rafael Nadal says it is “something very special” to reach his 12th Roland Garros final, after a 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over Roger Federer on Friday.

“[But] the day that I start thinking about if it’s incredible or not, will probably be the day to do another thing,” said the Spaniard, who has a 92-2 match record at the clay-court Grand Slam championship.

“What I have to do today is not think about if it’s incredible, because it’s a real thing for me. Even if it’s something I never dreamed about five, six, eight years ago, it’s happening today. And my goal is just try to keep going. It’s not about having excess ambition, but it’s about just trying to keep enjoying the things that I am doing.”

“I hope to have a lot of time to think about it when I stop my tennis career. Today is about just enjoying the day today. Of course, it has been a very important achievement for me. Being in final of Roland Garros again means a lot again and especially coming back from not an easy situation after all the injuries that I’ve had.”

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When asked about the keys to his victory over Federer, Nadal cited four key moments in the 39th FedEx ATP Head2Head meeting of their careers (24-15).

“First of all, winning the first set, and that’s always a great step forward. [The] second key moment was when I broke back against the wind… then breaking and winning my serve and then coming back from 0-2 [in the second set].

“And the last key moment was at 4-3 and coming back to 4-4. I was 15/30, then he had two Ads, and then there was an easy shot. I played a crosscourt passing shot and another one with a very high bounce. The position was more favourable for me and I was able to take the ball very fast. That gave me a winning shot.

“And then winning the next game, where he was leading 40/0, he could have broken my serve at 4-3. And if he doesn’t break your serve, you serve against the wind. So I moved from there to serving for the second set.”

Read: Five Key Stats To Nadal’s Win Over Federer

The 33-year-old, who will compete against World No. 1 Novak Djokovic or fourth seed Dominic Thiem in Sunday’s final, added, “I have won a very important victory in my eyes.

“There are no two people like Federer on this planet. Luckily, actually… We [have] played many times against each other. But these are matches where we can always find this small plus, this additional shot. And when I play against Roger, I always expect the best from him and I prepare myself accordingly to respond in the best way I can to his tennis.”

When asked if he thought it would be the last time he would play Federer at Roland Garros, Nadal said, “[It’s] a logical reality, because years are going by. We all have our small problems. We all have our age, which is increasing. I hope that it was not the last time yet. And I believe that him and I appreciate such matches. We live them with particular emotion after all that we have shared on the court. And it’s true that we are getting older, but at the same time, we are still in the semi-finals of the French Open. So if we are here, we don’t think about retiring.”

Last year’s finalist Thiem leads 2016 champion Djokovic 6-2, 3-6, 3-1 in their semi-final, which has been suspended due to bad weather and will resume on Saturday from 12 noon local time.

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'I can still reach Slam final' – Konta has 'no regrets' after French Open semi loss

  • Posted: Jun 07, 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.

British number one Johanna Konta has “no regrets” after her French Open semi-final defeat and believes she can still reach a Grand Slam final.

Her surprise run to the last four ended in a 7-5 7-6 (7-2) defeat by Czech teenager Marketa Vondrousova on Friday.

The 28-year-old had not previously won a main-draw match at Roland Garros.

“I’m proud of this past fortnight and working towards going one step better,” said Konta, who was appearing in her third Grand Slam semi-final.

  • Konta misses out on French Open final
  • Barty fights back to reach final
  • Nadal beats Federer to book final spot

Konta, seeded 26th, became the first British woman since Jo Durie in 1983 to compete in the French Open semi-finals.

She reached her first major semi-final at the 2016 Australian Open and did the same at Wimbledon the following year, losing to multiple Grand Slam winners Angelique Kerber and Venus Williams respectively.

These experiences meant she was the only player left in the Roland Garros last four to have reached that stage of a Slam singles previously, yet she missed vital opportunities as Vondrousova fought back from 5-3 down in both sets to win.

Nevertheless, it has been a successful clay-court swing for the Briton, who reached two WTA finals on the surface before her exploits in Paris, and will climb back into the world’s top 20 when the latest rankings are released next week.

“I didn’t regret anything I did there,” Konta said. “I feel comfortable with how I played and what I tried to do.

“I don’t feel like I came into this week trying to prove anything to anybody, including myself.

“I think what’s most pleasing is to play a lot of matches and I definitely did in this month. I’m really pleased with how many tough matches I was able to come through.”

Asked whether she can make the next step into a Grand Slam final, Konta said: “There is no reason why I cannot.

“I’m putting myself into positions. It’s either going to happen or it’s not.

“I still have a lot to be proud of. Even if I were to stop playing tomorrow, I have done a lot of great things in my career so far.

“I’m not at all disappointed in the player that I am or things that I have achieved.

“But equally, I’m just as hungry and just as motivated to keep going forward and to one day be in a position to be winning a major.”

Now the focus moves to the grass-court season – particularly Wimbledon, which starts on 1 July – with former British number one Durie warning the world’s best to “watch out” for Konta at her home Slam.

As well as her Wimbledon run two years ago, Konta has also reached finals and semi-finals at Nottingham and Eastbourne in recent years.

“She’s had this great run of form on what is probably her worst surface so she will feel great going on to the grass,” Durie, 58, said.

“Grass must be her favourite surface, every year she does well.”

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Empty seats – ‘it didn’t feel like a semi-final’

While she was more than satisfied with her performances here, Konta was less happy with the decision to move the women’s semi-finals away from the main Philippe Chatrier court after rain washed out play on Wednesday.

The 5,000-capacity Court Simonne-Mathieu was barely a third full for her match, while there were also plenty of empty seats on Court Suzanne-Lenglen for Ashleigh Barty’s victory over Amanda Anisimova in the other semi-final at the same time.

Asked if it felt like her two previous Grand Slam semi-finals, played on Melbourne’s Rod Laver Arena and Wimbledon’s Centre Court, she replied: “In terms of the surrounding and the occasion, probably not.

“Obviously, I’m aware in what match I’m playing and what round. But in terms of where we were, probably not.

“To be honest, I think the way it looks probably speaks for itself more than anything.”

The two men’s semi-finals were being played on Philippe Chatrier on Friday and organisers said they had chosen to hold the women’s semi-finals at the same time away from centre court earlier in the day “to respect sporting fairness”.

Tickets for both men’s semi-finals were sold to fans as separate sessions to be played on Chatrier on Friday, leaving Roland Garros with little room for manoeuvre as they tried to plan for heavy rain and strong winds forecast.

WTA boss Steve Simon called the decision “inappropriate and unfair”, while former world number one Amelie Mauresmo said it was a “disgrace”.

“If the organisers do not feel that [women’s semi-finals] are something that can be promoted and celebrated, then I think it’s the organisers you need to have a conversation with, not me, because I did my job and I did my job well,” Konta said.

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Zverev Takes Stuttgart Wild Card

  • Posted: Jun 07, 2019

Zverev Takes Stuttgart Wild Card

World No. 5 will be top seed at ATP 250 event

Alexander Zverev is starting his grass-court season in earnest. The World No. 5 will be the top seed at the MercedesCup in Stuttgart after accepting a wild card into the ATP 250 event, held at the Tennis Club Weissenhof from June 10-16.

Zverev has been in top form in recent weeks. He reached his second Grand Slam quarter-final at Roland Garros and won his first title of the season at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open (d. Jarry).

“I’m happy to again play the MercedesCup in Stuttgart. I’ve gained new confidence over the past weeks and hope to play some successful tournaments on grass,” said Zverev. “I love to play in front of my home fans in Germany.”

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This will mark Zverev’s 10th consecutive week in action. He’s been on the road since competing in Casablanca during the second week of April. The German has played in every available tournament week on this year’s ATP Tour calendar since Acapulco in late February.

Zverev is making his third appearance at this event and first since 2015. He made his Stuttgart debut in 2014, when it was a clay-court event held in July. The 22-year-old will also compete in the doubles draw alongside his brother, Mischa Zverev.

Rounding out the top four seeds in Stuttgart are Russians Karen Khachanov and Daniil Medvedev, and Georgian Nikoloz Basilashvili.

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Britain's Reid in French Open wheelchair final

  • Posted: Jun 07, 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.

Britain’s Gordon Reid came from a set down to reach his second French Open wheelchair singles final with victory against top seed Shingo Kunieda.

The former Australian Open and Wimbledon champion, 27, beat his Japanese opponent 2-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-2.

Reid will play second seed Gustavo Fernandez, who beat Briton Alfie Hewett, in Saturday’s final.

Hewett, 21, lifted the title in 2017 but lost 6-1 6-2 to Argentine Fernandez in this year’s semi-final.

All four players were on the same court for the doubles semi-final later on Friday, with Fernandez and Kunieda defeating the British second seeds 6-2 7-5.

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