Tennis News

From around the world

Why This Superfan Gives Federer ‘The Jaanu Treatment’

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

As Roger Federer prepares to return to the ATP Tour in Doha next week after 13 months on the sidelines, we’ll bring you the stories of two superfans today and tomorrow who personify how much the tennis world has missed the Swiss legend. Today we begin with India’s Sunita Sugita.

When customers who walk into Sunita Sugita’s shop in Kolkata, India hear yelling and screaming coming from the back room, they know there must be a Roger Federer match going on. Ms. Sugita runs a textile business, The Masspoint, supplying fabrics to designers, and her regular clients know not to disturb her when she’s busy worshipping and exhorting Federer from afar in her office during his matches.

For Sunita, Federer matches are sacred and her relationship with Roger is a passionate one. She sometimes calls out “come on my jaanu”! which is akin to “come on my dear [or my darling]” in Hindi. [Ms. Sugita also has pet nicknames for Federer’s rivals, but let’s just say that they don’t get the jaanu treatment.]

Her face lights up at the mention of Roger, whom she says is her hero and role model. Ask her how many times she’s told Roger Federer she loves him in person and she laughs hysterically. “So many times,” she says, beaming. Query Sunita on how much money she has spent watching Roger play more than 100 matches around the world and she laughs even more.

“I cannot calculate it all,” she says. “But it’s always worth it.”
Her sisters once questioned how much money she spent following Federer to Dubai, London, Basel and other tournaments. “Roger is my passion, he’s my idol,” she told them. “I’m going to spend all my money on him.”

Ms. Sugita, single and in her 40s, was a badminton champion in university but didn’t take up tennis until four years ago. Of course, she learned how to hit a one-handed backhand in honour of Federer. Sunita has followed tennis for years — before she became obsessed with Roger around 2003, she was a fan of Pete Sampras, Stefan Edberg and Boris Becker. But her devotion to those stars can’t compare to her love for the 28-time ATP Masters 1000 champion.

She didn’t spend her hard-earned money traveling to their matches, nor did she wake up in the middle of the night to watch them play as she does for Federer. And she never consulted a guru to find out what was wrong with their games during slumps, as she did for Roger years ago when he was struggling. [The guru suggested Roger wear emerald, so she presented him with a lucky emerald ganesha at a tournament in 2012.]

“There is something so special and charming about him,” she says. “His game is there of course, the grace with which he plays. When you meet him, there is something that pulls you to him. You just get attracted to him, the way he treats us, he makes you feel like you are a part of his extended family.”

Sunita Sugita has attended more than 100 Roger Federer matches around the world.

After camping out to see Federer for the first time at Wimbledon in 2008, she’s gone back nearly every year since. “I literally couldn’t stop shaking the first time I saw him on Centre Court,” she recalls.

Ms. Sugita has two Federer tattoos — one depicting the RF logo on her back, the other a rendition of Roger’s signature on her right arm. She picked up the latter after Federer won the Australian Open in 2017, which is one of her favourite Federer titles. In fact, she treasures that unexpected win so much that she’s been watching the final five games of the match nearly every night during the pandemic.

Federer inspired Ms. Sugita to start her own charity — SIIFF [Some Immensely Inspired Roger Federer Fans] — which provides assistance to impoverished ball kids at her tennis club. Through this charity, she met Indian doubles players Vishnu Vardhan and Sriram Balaji, who got her an all-access badge for a day at Wimbledon in 2018. By this point, she had already encountered Federer outside practice courts and arenas around the world, but always with scrums of other fans around. On this occasion, she got to see her jaanu and take a photo with him in an area restricted to fans.

“Roger was shocked to see me in a players’ area,” she recalls, laughing.

But her favourite Federer moment occurred in Basel in 2012 at the Roger Federer Fan Club day, when Roger stunned her by remembering her name after she presented him with a Swiss cowbell she made with messages of support dangling from it.

“I almost collapsed when he called me by my name,” she recalls. “I don’t remember what I said to him. I was speechless. He remembered my name!”

Ms Sugita says that it has been difficult to have no Federer matches to watch during such a challenging time for her country and the world. But she cares about Roger so deeply that she felt relieved when he announced that he wouldn’t be playing again in 2020. “I didn’t want him travelling at a time like this because I don’t want him to catch coronavirus,” she says. “It was a relief to know that I didn’t have to worry [about Roger getting sick] for the rest of the year.”

Sunita has had plenty of time during India’s lockdowns to put in perspective what Federer has meant to her. “I will live with all the moments and memories I’ve shared with him,” she says. “That’s what I realised in the lockdown. I’m so glad I’ve had a chance to follow my dream and my passion.”

She’s certain that Federer is going to come back to the Tour with a roar and is confident that he’ll eventually break Jimmy Connors’ record of 109 tour-level titles. Ms. Sugita says she’s learned to cope with Federer’s losses, but she still cries. And she lives with the cold reality that someday her Swiss superhero will retire. But she says she’s made peace with it all because Federer has already given her and other fans so much joy.

“He has given us everything he has,” she says of her jaanu. “It’s not just about numbers, there is so much more to Roger than the number 20 [majors]. I don’t want to cry when he retires, I want to celebrate him.”

Source link

Why Nishikori Changed His Service Motion

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

Kei Nishikori has climbed as high as No. 4 in the FedEx ATP Rankings, competed in the Nitto ATP Finals four times and lifted 12 ATP Tour titles. But at 31, the Japanese star is still willing to change his technique.

After beating Alex de Minaur on Wednesday to reach the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament quarter-finals, Nishikori admitted that he has been tinkering with his service motion.

“I did it after elbow surgery [in October 2019] and last December. I was working with Max [Mirnyi], Michael [Chang] and a Japanese coach as well,” Nishikori said. “I tried to look again with my serve and I needed more power, but less use of my shoulder. I was hurting my shoulder too, last year.

“I don’t feel 100 per cent yet, but I think it’s on the way. I was hitting good serves the past two matches, today and [in] the first round, so I’m happy with my serve now.”

In the first round, Nishikori’s serve was especially impressive against seventh seed Felix Auger-Aliassime. Nishikori did not get broken against the Canadian, who struggled physically in the second set. The Japanese star won 85 per cent of his first-serve points against Felix.

Nishikori’s refined motion is meant to reduce the pressure on his shoulder. In the past, before exploding up to the ball, he would drop his racquet backwards with his forearm so that the strings were nearly parallel to the court. The Japanese player “wasn’t 100 per cent sure” about addressing that, but he spoke to his coaches and moved forward with changing his form.

“Because of my history of injury, I feel like I still need to change something if I have time and if I have the chance. I’m really open to anything,” Nishikori said. “Of course it’s not easy, it’s going to take some time. I still feel like it’s not there yet. But for my body, I will do anything that makes it better.”


The World No. 45 will play Dusan Lajovic or Borna Coric for a spot in the semi-finals. There are no seeded players remaining in the top half of the draw, which could provide Nishikori an opportunity to reach his first ATP Tour final since winning the Brisbane title in 2019.

“Usually I don’t see the draw, so I don’t usually know who I’m going to play next,” Nishikori said. “Daniil was the hottest player for sure in this tournament and I would say Stefanos, too. I think those two are a little bit different and Andrey Rublev, too. But still, [in the] Top 100, everybody can beat a Top 10 player, I would say. There is going to be some gap between [the] Top 50 and Top 10, but still I think anybody can beat anyone right now. It’s going to still be tough.” 

For now, the Japanese star is happy to be playing well. The former World No. 4 has looked impressive against two of the sport’s top young talents in Auger-Aliassime and De Minaur.

“I’ve been having a really tough time with injury and [I’m] happy to be in the quarter-finals [in] this tough tournament,” Nishikori said. “I just need to keep going and be ready for the next match.”

Source link

Kecmanovic Rallies In Buenos Aires For First Win Alongside Nalbandian

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

Miomir Kecmanovic rallied from a break down in the third set on Wednesday to beat Thiago Monteiro 5-7, 6-3, 6-4 in the second round of the Argentina Open.

“It was a tough match,” Kecmanovic said. “I’m happy that I played well and that I was able to come from behind and win in the end, so that’s a good thing.”

One week ago, the Serbian lost his first clay-court match of the season at the Cordoba Open against Juan Manuel Cerundolo. The Argentine, who triumphed against Kecmanovic in three sets, went on to win the tournament.

“I don’t think I had that bad of a week last week,” Kecmanovic said. “The guy won in the end, so I guess that makes it a little bit better.”


Wednesday’s victory was Kecmanovic’s first with former World No. 3 David Nalbandian on his team. The fourth seed is happy with the progress they have been making.

“I think we’ve been working good and I’m happy that it’s showing results,” Kecmanovic said. “I’m really happy to have someone as experienced as David to help me out. I think nothing can happen overnight, so we just need some time to work on stuff.”

Albert Ramos-Vinolas continued his impressive run of form by defeating fellow lefty Dominik Koepfer 7-5, 6-4. The Spaniard reached the final last week in Cordoba.

Also advancing to the quarter-finals was seventh seed Laslo Djere. The Serbian eliminated home favourite Federico Delbonis 7-6(1), 6-3 in just more than two hours.

Source link

Murray: ‘I Learn A Lot From A Match Like Tonight’

  • Posted: Mar 04, 2021

After his 7-5, 6-2 loss to Andrey Rublev at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, Andy Murray discussed the lessons he can learn from playing one of the best players on the ATP Tour as he continues his recovery from hip and pelvic injuries.

The 2009 champion, who claimed his first tour-level victory of the year in the first round against Robin Haase, went toe-to-toe with the World No. 8 before the Russian claimed a crucial break at 5-5 and charged to victory. The former World No. 1 expressed his belief that playing matches like these — against the elite players on the ATP Tour — will help him in his bid to improve his level and achieve great success at future tournaments.

“I want to be playing at this level because I learn a lot from a match like tonight,” said Murray. “The issues and the mistakes that you make get amplified more at this level… It is getting that balance right between getting enough matches and then also playing at a level where I am able to learn and pick things up as quickly as possible. I do feel tonight there were some good, positive signs there. Just when it mattered, I wasn’t good enough. I will need to improve.”

The key moment of the match came at 5-5, when Murray dropped his serve from 30/0. Rublev pushed the three-time Grand Slam champion behind the baseline with aggressive forehands and capitalised on two double faults to claim the first break of the match.

Murray was unable to convert two break points in the following game and Rublev raised his level in the second set. The 46-time tour-level titlist admitted that the frustration he felt from his missed opportunities late in the first set may have carried into the second set.

“I lost my serve from 30/0. I hit two double faults and a bad forehand. To me, that is just not good enough,” said Murray. “When you are playing one of the best players in the world in those moments, if they come up with something great to win those points you come off [the court] and say it is understandable. I felt in that moment at the end of the first set that I blew it a bit. I had 15/40 in the next game to break back and I think I messed up a little bit there as well.

“In the second [set], he was much better than me. No question about that. I think at the end of the first set, I messed up… I am not used to making those errors in those moments and I am finding that quite frustrating and I am finding myself mentally looking back on those moments a little bit too much, which maybe affected me a bit in the second set. There were some good things in there and I am disappointed because I messed the end of the first set up. I probably should have won the first set.”

Despite his disappointment, Murray took time to find positives in his performance. For almost an hour, the 33-year-old held his own from the baseline against a player who has won 17 consecutive matches at ATP 500 events.

“I thought I moved well for the first hour or so,” said Murray. “He is one of the bigger hitters on the Tour and, in the first set, I didn’t feel like he was getting too many free points from the back of the court. He was having to work hard to get the ball through me. I thought that was positive.”

Murray is not the only high-profile star attempting to rediscover his form after surgery. The Brit shared his thoughts on long-time rival Roger Federer’s upcoming return to the ATP Tour at next week’s Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha. Federer will be making his first appearance since the 2020 Australian Open. Since that event, the 20-time Grand Slam champion has undergone two surgeries on his right knee.

“I just want to get out and compete and just enjoy doing what I am doing. I imagine Roger would be the same,” said Murray. “I am sure he has been training hard and is excited to get back out there and compete. I am sure in time, providing that his body is good, that he will play top-level tennis again because he is that good. Even if there is a slight drop-off physically for him, I would back his skill against most players. I am sure he will be fine.”

Source link

A Win & A Donation For The Tsitsipas Brothers

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2021

Stefanos Tsitsipas and Petros Tsitsipas earned a win in more ways than one on Wednesday in Rotterdam.

The Greek brothers defeated last week’s Singapore Tennis Open champions, Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, 6-2, 6-3 to reach the second round of the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. The victory doesn’t just send them to the second round, though. It benefits children.

After winning his singles match against Egor Gerasimov on Tuesday, Stefanos said that for each tour-level doubles match he wins with his brother, he will donate 3,000 euros to Mazi gia to Paidi (Together For Children), whose mission is, “to provide immediate and effective support to children, families, and individuals with disabilities who are in need”.


“That’s for a great cause and also winning, it’s a great thing. The more we win, I really don’t have a problem donating,” Stefanos said on Tuesday. “I donate anyway, but I think that’s an extra reason to push ourselves to want to do better.”

This was the brothers’ first tour-level win together. Entering the match, Stefanos had lost 16 of his past 17 doubles matches, with his one victory coming at the ATP Cup, when Greece’s Spanish opponents retired after one game.

There were two upsets elsewhere in the draw. The Tsitsipas brothers’ next opponents, Henri Kontinen and Edouard Roger-Vasselin, a first-year duo, defeated top seeds Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah 4-6, 6-3, 11-9. The Finnish-French team saved two match points to oust the Colombians.

In a quarter-final clash, Frenchmen Jeremy Chardy and Fabrice Martin eliminated third seeds Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot 6-4, 6-3. Chardy and Martin saved the three break points they faced.

Top Seeds Survive In Buenos Aires
Top seeds Austin Krajicek and Franko Skugor nearly fell victim to the upset bug on Wednesday at the Argentina Open, but they rallied past Pablo Andujar and Jaume Munar 2-6, 6-3, 10-8. The American-Croatian duo will next play Argentine wild cards Francisco Cerundolo and Federico Coria, who eliminated Nicholas Monroe and Artem Sitak 3-6, 7-6(3), 10-7.

Romain Arneodo and Benoit Paire, who reached the final last week in Cordoba, were defeated early in Buenos Aires. Oliver Marach and Luis David Martinez saved two match points before defeating Arneodo and Paire 6-4, 3-6, 11-9.

Source link

Ronaldo's Backhand: Does This Look Familiar?

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2021

Football legend Ronaldo doesn’t need to convince anyone of his skills on the pitch. But on Wednesday, the Brazilian showed he has talent in another sport, too: tennis.

The two-time Ballon d’Or winner posted a photo on Instagram of his one-handed backhand, to which Brazilian doubles star Marcelo Melo commented, “Wawrinka copied the backhand for sure!” Former World No. 3 Stan Wawrinka has one of the best backhands in the world.


View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Ronaldo (@ronaldo)

Stan Wawrinka
Stan Wawrinka hits a one-handed backhand at Roland Garros in 2020. Photo Credit: Peter Staples/ATP Tour
Ronaldo has long attended tennis events, including the Mutua Madrid Open, the Rio Open presented by Claro and Roland Garros. According to Melo, “He loves tennis, always come to Madrid. He plays okay, actually.”

Ronaldo, Federer
Ronaldo meets with Roger Federer in Madrid in 2006. Photo Credit: AFP/Getty Images
There were plenty of people impressed with Ronaldo’s form. Iker Casillas, a Spanish goalkeeper, wrote, “Pensaba que eras @Rafael Nadal”, which means: “I thought you were Rafael Nadal.”

Patrick Mouratoglou, Serena Williams’ coach, who also advises Stefanos Tsitsipas among others, commented, “Love that! One-handed backhand is the ultimate tennis shot!”

Source link

Rublev Downs Murray, Reaches Third Rotterdam QF

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2021

Andrey Rublev overcame an early test to beat Andy Murray 7-5, 6-2 on Wednesday and reach his third quarter-final at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam.

The Russian fired 24 winners and committed just 12 unforced errors to win regular baseline battles with the former World No. 1. Rublev’s victory extends his consistent record at this event in recent years. The World No. 8 also reached the quarter-finals at the ATP 500 in 2018 and 2020.

“It was a really tough match,” said Rublev. “We had a lot of rallies. With Andy I cannot rush, I cannot play my usual style of game where I am hitting every ball. I need to slow down, I need to mix [my shots and] wait for the right ball because Andy is really great at defence. He makes you play tough balls that are not easy to attack.”

Rublev has won 17 straight matches at ATP 500 events. The 23-year-old is attempting to capture his fourth straight title at ATP 500-level. Rublev claimed the trophy in each of his final three ATP 500 appearances of 2020 (Hamburg, St. Petersburg and Vienna).

The Russian, who owns a 10-1 record this year, will face David Goffin or Jeremy Chardy for a place in the semi-finals. Rublev’s only loss so far this season came against countryman Daniil Medvedev in the Australian Open quarter-finals.

In a tight opening set, Rublev made the crucial move at 5-5. The fourth seed rushed Murray with deep forehand returns and moved up the court well to pressure his opponent. Murray committed two double faults to hand Rublev the first break of the match. Rublev saved two break points as he served for the set and he dictated rallies with his forehand to clinch the opener in just over an hour.

Rublev continued to push Murray into defensive positions and used his forehand to end rallies. The seven-time ATP Tour titlist closed the match with his 14th forehand winner of the match.

“The first set was really good. The level was really great,” said Rublev. “He had a couple of chances, a couple of break points. This is tennis. I was a bit lucky in the first set and, as soon as I won the first set, I started to feel more confident. I started to feel better. Andy went down a bit mentally, I started to play even better and he slowed down a bit.”

Karen Khachanov saved all three break points he faced to end Wednesday play with a 6-2, 6-2 victory against Cameron Norrie. The World No. 21, who reached the Great Ocean Road Open semi-finals last month, needed just 75 minutes to improve to 7-2 this year. Khachanov will face second seed Stefanos Tsitsipas or Hubert Hurkacz for a place in the semi-finals.

Earlier in the day, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina upset countryman Roberto Bautista Agut 6-2, 7-6(3). The 21-year-old converted four of his eight break points to eliminate the fifth seed in 84 minutes and book a second-round clash against Marton Fucsovics.

Source link

Lajovic Ends Medvedev's Shot At No. 2 In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2021

Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic barely put a foot wrong on Wednesday in a 7-6(4), 6-4 victory over top-seeded Russian Daniil Medvedev in one hour and 35 minutes at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament.

Lajovic, who hit 15 winners to set up a second-round clash against Borna Coric, improves to a 2-1 record in his ATP Head2Head series against Medvedev, who could have risen to a career-high No. 2 in the FedEx ATP Rankings with a run to the Rotterdam final.

“I think I was very focused the whole match and not influenced by his good serves and shots,” said Lajovic, who is now 2-7 lifetime against top seeds at ATP Tour events. “I knew if I stayed in the match, I’d get my opportunities and change the rhythm.”


Medvedev led by a break in the first set, but Lajovic broke back for 3-3 and stepped up in the tie-break, which ended with a double fault from the World No. 3. Lajovic recovered from 15/40 at 1-2 in the second set and secured a 5-4 advantage after another double fault from Medvedev.

Medvedev drops to a 10-2 record on the 2021 season, which includes helping Russia capture the ATP Cup (d. Italy) and a run to the Australian Open final (l. to Djokovic). The 25-year-old has now won 20 of his past 22 matches stretching back to November 2020.

Lajovic is 5-20 against Top 10 opponents. His last Top 10 victory came over then No. 5-ranked Dominic Thiem en route to the 2019 Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters final.

Elsewhere, sixth-seeded Belgian David Goffin recorded his fourth straight win over Jan-Lennard Struff of Germany 6-4, 6-0 in 62 minutes. He will now play France’s Jeremy Chardy in the second round.

“It was a good match with an early break,” said Goffin. “I returned really well and I was aggressive after returning serve. I started with a lot of confidence in the second set as I am playing and moving well.”

Goffin, who lifted the fifth ATP Tour trophy of his career on Sunday at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier (d. Bautista Agut), has now won six matches in a row.

Source link

Bublik Upsets Zverev In Rotterdam

  • Posted: Mar 03, 2021

Alexander Bublik recorded the biggest win of his career on Wednesday at the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament. The Kazakhstani played with great discipline to beat World No. 7 Alexander Zverev of Germany 7-5, 6-3 in 77 minutes for a place in the second round at the Rotterdam Ahoy.

“Beating Sascha is great,” said Bublik, who has won his past three matches against Top 10 opponents. “There were ups and downs for both of us throughout the match, I got a bit lucky and I was perhaps a little more consistent. I’m just enjoying playing matches right now.”

Three days ago, World No. 43 Bublik finished runner-up to Alexei Popyrin at the Singapore Tennis Open. He also reached the Antalya Open final (l. to De Minaur) in January. Bublik will next meet American Tommy Paul, who knocked out Lorenzo Sonego of Italy 6-4, 7-6(7) in two hours. Sonego held one set point at 7/6 in the second set tie-break.


Zverev broke serve in the opening game of the pair’s first ATP Head2Head meeting, but Bublik recovered to 4-4 and then played aggressively. The 23-year-old capitalised on Zverev attacking the net in the 11th game, striking two powerful forehands and an easy put-away to break serve.

Zverev regrouped by taking a 3-1 lead in the second set, but the third seed let Bublik back in. Bublik saved two break points when he served for the match, which ended with Zverev striking a backhand wide.

The 23-year-old Zverev compiled a 12-match winning streak at indoor tournaments in 2020, including back-to-back ATP Tour titles in Cologne at the bett1HULKS Indoors (d. Auger-Aliassime) and the bett1HULKS Championship (d. Schwartzman). He also reached the Rolex Paris Masters final (l. to Medvedev).

Source link