2014/09/22

Marin Cilic Reaches First US Open Semi with Victory over Tomas Berdych

Marin Cilic

Marin Cilic

(September 4, 2014) Last year Marin Cilic missed the US Open because he was suspended from the tour after testing positive for a banned stimulant. He said that took the unintentionally from a glucose tablet he purchased from a pharmacy. He tested positive for nikethamide after a match in Munich in May of 2013.

This year the Croatian Cilic who is the 14th seed, is back on tour and has reached his first US Open semifinal by defeated sixth seed Tomas Berdych of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-4, 7-6 (4).

“It was a great performance today,” Cilic said. “Was very tricky with the conditions. Very gusty. I mean, for both of us. We are big guys. Not easy to deal with the wind and with, I mean, the ball moving in the air. I felt that I was using the wind a bit better today. Just considering the conditions and the opening of the match went in my side, that sort of relaxed me a bit more. I felt that I’m in a good driving seat and that Tomas was all the time catching me and I was serving good in the right moments. So, yeah, it feels great to be in the semis first time after three tries in quarterfinals. Lost both times to eventual winners. Just feels great to be here.”

Cilic’s serve was the key to victory, hitting 19 aces. The Croatian hit 46 winners to Berdych’s 21.

“I start pretty terribly,” Berdych said. “It was not the way to start the match like that. Then obviously was really tough to catch up. And really my serve was off. Basically, you know, when you have a game built on a serve, then it’s really tough and difficult to reschedule it and do it a bit differently. Yeah, today was not, definitely not the day I want to have. Yeah, that’s it. That’s tennis. Just need to carry over and go forward.”

Cilic is now the first Croatian to make the semifinals of the US Open since his coach, former Wimbledon champion Goran Ivanisevic did it in 1996.

“The only matches I watched on TV was Goran’s Wimbledon matches,” Cilic said of his tennis memories as a child. “That’s the only memory, you know, from tennis at very young age. And then later I started to play with him when I was 14 few times. He was out due to his shoulder injury. He played with me and one other kid from Croatia my age, and that was, for me, huge at age of 14 to play with my idol. Was amazing. Then I think he helped me a lot with pointing me in a good direction with my coach, long-time coach, Bob Brett. I think that was a very crucial part of my career.”

“You know Goran, so Goran is everything but not boring. Yeah, I feel that it’s very entertaining. We work a lot, but we still — I mean, even some days we are preparing, you know, we would have sessions of three, three-and-a-half hours or whatever, and we always have good time. I think that’s most important. It’s, I would say, can’t be better.”

Cilic will face the winner of the Roger Federer–Gael Monfils quarterfinal in his semifinal on Saturday.

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Around the Grounds at the Rogers Cup Toronto

 

(August 3, 2014) TORONTO, CANADA – Photographer Nida Alibhai snapped photos all around the grounds of the Rogers Cup on Sunday, August 3, 2014.

Photos include: Roger Federer, Grigor Dimitrov, Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Bernard Tomic,Tomas Berdych, Feliciano Lopez and others.

Follow Nida Alibhai’s photo coverage of the tournament on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

 

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Tennis Stars Venus Williams, Tomas Berdych Pose for ESPN The Magazine’s Body Issue

Venus Williams photo by Williams+Hirakawa for ESPN The Magazine

Venus Williams photo by Williams+Hirakawa for ESPN The Magazine

 

(June 23, 2014) Five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams and 2010 Wimbledon finalist, No 6 Tomas Berdych, will be featured in this year’s The Body Issue by ESPN The Magazine.

 

In addition to posing nude for the issue, Williams exposes harrowing new details about her ongoing battle with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disorder. “At my worst point, I wasn’t able to play tennis at all,” says Williams. “Just the whole quality of my life was compromised. You are so tired it hurts. You have to accept that you’re never going to be 100%.”

 

Williams, who was forced to stop playing for just over six months because of the illness, reveals how she was able to work her way back up the rankings. “Because of Sjogren’s syndrome, I have to be careful,” says Williams. “If I train too hard then I won’t be able to do anything the next day. There would be times when I’d park my car at home, and I fell asleep behind the wheel because I was so tired! It’s a balance between pushing myself as much as I can and being reasonable about what I can achieve and what my body will tolerate.”

IG_BWW_TomasBerdych

Berdych photo by Max Vadukul for ESPN The Magazine

 

Berdych becomes only the second ATP player to pose for The Body Issue, following in John Isner’s footsteps last year. Looking towards Wimbledon, the 6-foot-5 ace opens up about how this body reacts to the move from clay to grass. “The grass is a very big challenge for me,” Berdych told ESPN The Magazine reporter Morty Ain. “There are these low bounces and different movements, which is very difficult especially for my height and weight. I start to feel it in the lower back and the lower hamstring.” Regardless, Berdych is optimistic about his prospects. “My first Grand Slam final was at Wimbledon,” he says, “so I have no complaints about the grass.”

 

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Novak Djokovic to Play Ernests Gulbis in the Semis of Paris

 

Djokovic on court 321-001

(June 3, 2014) Novak Djokovic will play Ernests Gulbis for a place in the French Open. Both men had straight set wins on Tuesday to advance to the semis.

No. 2 Djokovic stopped No. 8 Milos Raonic 7-5, 7-6(5), 6-4. Djokovic stands two winning matches away from claiming his first French Open title completing a career grand slam and returning to the No. 1 spot.

Ernests Gulbis broke the “curse” with his win over Tomas Berdych – the last eight players to beat Roger Federer at a major tournament lost the very next match. The 25-year-old Latvian reaches his first major semifinal and extends his current winning streak to 13.

“It’s very special,” Gulbis said in an on-court after the match. “Today was the best match of the tournament. I did everything well.”

 

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“Kimye” and Mrs. Doubtfire in Notes and Quotes for Day 1 of the French Open

 

(May 25, 2014) Taking a quick look at some of the off-beat stories on Day 1 at Roland Garros.

Serena – Friend of Kimye

Serena Williams, a friend of reality television celebrity Kim Kardashian and recording artist Kanye West participated in in the pre-wedding celebration of the newly married couple.

Serena said, “went to a few of the festivities” in France including “dinner in Versailles and stuff,” which led up to the “Kimye” wedding.

“Always fun with Kim,” Serena said about the festivities.

The nuptials took place in a fortress in Florence, Italy on Saturday.

 

 

Tomas Berdych and his Hawaiian Shirt

World No. 6 Tomas Berdych is sporting an H&M floral shirt this fortnight in Paris. It rather resembles a Hawaiian shirt. When asked about it in press, Berdych said, “Everyone wears the same and everyone looks the same. So this is something different, which I like.”

Agnieszka Radwanska and Mrs. Doubtfire Separated-at-birth?

Radwanka won the first match at Roland Garros on Sunday, but her outfit garnered mixed reviews. Her floral dress drew comparisons to an outfit worn by Robin Williams in the movie ‘Mrs. Doubtfire’.

 

Hat tip to Matt Fitzgerald.  

“Selfie” of the Day

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Tomas Berdych Pulls Out of Miami, Rafael Nadal Advances to Final Aganist Novak Djokovic

Tomas Berdych

(March 28, 2014) Seventh  seed Tomas Berdych has been forced to withdraw from the Sony Open due to gastroenteritis.  Rafael Nadal will advance to the final with a walkover. He will play Novak Djokovic for the Miami Masters title on Sunday. This will mark their 40th head-to-head meeting.

Earlier in the day Kei Nishikori withdrew from his semifinal against Djokovic with a left groin injury.

Novak Djokovic Moves into Sony Open Final After Kei Nishikori Withdraws with Left Groin Injury

“I just woke up with a pain in my stomach, just went for toilet, and got really strong diarrhea,” Berdych said.  “And since then, it starts to go on and on.  More time, diarrhea, and then also throwing up and stuff like that.

“So I lost so much of the liquid and all the possible energy I could have.

“Came here.  Tried to do as much as I could, you know, see the doctors, receiving the IV, and basically not with good results that I can basically go and try.”

“It’s not what we wish for,” Adam Barrett, the Sony Open tournament director said.  “First, I just want to thank Tomas that he did ‑‑ that he got out to the site.  We all know when you’re not feeling well, especially with the stomach bug of some sort, flu, virus, even a bad cold, you know, most of us don’t go to work.

“Yet to try to come out and prepare for a three‑set match against the No. 1 player in the world, it took a lot of effort for him to do that.  As I said, most of us would have been in bed watching TV all day.

“So I really appreciate that he gave it a shot.  Appreciate all the work that the doctors did trying to get him ready.  But unfortunately we have been unlucky today.  It’s never happened before.”

“It’s very unlucky, very unusual for something that can happen,” Rafael Nadal said.  “Sorry for Kei, sorry for Tomas, and sorry for the tournament, especially sorry for the fans.”

This weekend’s finals will both feature match-ups of the No. 1 and No. 2 ranked players in the world. Saturday’s women’s final at 1 pm will see No. 1 Serena Williams taking on No. 2 Li Na. The men’s final at 2:30 pm on Sunday will see No. 1 Nadal battling No. 2 Djokovic.

 

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Seeds Tomas Berdych, Jo Wilfried Tsonga and Sara Errani Fall

Bautista Agut

Bautista Agut

(March 9, 2014) No. 4 seed Tomas Berdych fell to Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday 4-6, 6-2, 6-4.

“It is tough opponent, but, you know, first of all I need to say that he really handled the tough situation today really well,” the Czech said.

“But secondly, more important to me that anything I touched today was basically bad and was wrong.  So really, you know, just to recap it, definitely my worst match that I had this year.  That’s it, you know.

Berdych

Berdych

“That’s another experience.  That’s another way of the tennis, also.  It’s not only about winning.  So, yeah, just learned I need to learn from those mistakes that I did and just keep going.

Tsonga

Tsonga

Ninth seed Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also fell to French countryman Julien Benneteau 6-4, 6-4.

Bouchard

Canada’s Eugenie Bouchard put out No. 10 seed Sara Errani 6-3, 6-3 to advance to the fourth round of a WTA Premier event for the first time in her career.

The 20-year-old outhit her top ten opponent 36 to 10 in total winners. She’ll face will next face Romania’s Simona Halep, the world No. 7.

“She’s definitely improved a lot,” Bouchard said of her next opponent.  “I think she’s a really good, solid player.  I’m excited to play her.  I’m looking forward to playing against her game and seeing what it’s like and, you know, still focusing on my game and doing what I need to do.”

 

Isner interviewed

The lone American man left standing John Isner beat Russia’s Nikolay Davydenko 7-6 (5), 6-3.

“It was a very good start.  I was happy with how I played.

“You know, I felt my intentions were good out there.  I played well.  I created a lot of opportunities for myself on return, and that’s really all I can ask for.

“So as far as that goes, very happy.  Could have been a little bit cleaner, but all in all, I thought I played well.  I served extremely well.  You know, stayed aggressive for the most part.

“Happy to be through.  These conditions are very good for me.”

As to being the only US male left in the singles draw, the 6 foot 10 Isner said he does not feel any additional pressure: “No, I don’t.  I guess yesterday wasn’t a great day for our American men.  But, you know, selfishly I’m just worried about myself, really.  I certainly want all those guys to do well.

“But at the same time, it’s not my concern at all.  My concern is myself and just trying to keep moving forward and keep getting better and get back to where I want to be.”

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Roger Federer Rallies to Win Sixth Dubai Title

Federer wins with arms raised

By Florian Heer

(March 1, 2014) DUBAI – Roger Federer won his sixth crown in the desert at the Duty Free Tennis Championships beating last year’s finalist Tomas Berdych 3-6, 6-4, 6-3, coming back from being down a set and a break. The Swiss led their head-to-head series 11-6 before the match but it was the Czech, who emerged victorious the last two times the pair met at the US Open in 2012 as well as here in Dubai last year.

 

In front of fully packed stands, it was Federer, who gained first blood by taking the opportunity and broke a shaky third service game from the Czech. Berdych recovered quickly and broke back to even score at 2-2 when the 32-year-old former world No. 1 started to produce a couple of unforced errors with his forehand. In the following the third-seed remained aggressive, in particular on Federer’s second serve, of which the Swiss could only win 30% percent of the points. Consequently Berdych gained another break in the sixth game.

 

The Czech served out taking a not very exciting first set in 33 minutes. Berdych also made the stronger start into the second set getting a break in the fifth game. Federer, who was clearly favored and backed by the crowd was able to find the right answer by gaining the immediate break back. The Swiss now playing with an aggressive style, came to the net more often, snatched the momentum and gained another break on set point in the tenth game to take the match the distance.

In the final set, Berdych’s first serve and forehand seemed to desert him. The Czech lost his service in the fourth game and Federer confirmed impressively in the following through a nice drop shot. The Swiss eventually served out the match after one hour and 58 minutes beating Berdych 3-6, 6-4, 6-3 for the first time since Madrid Masters in 2012. Federer ended the Czech’s eleven matches winning streak by lifting his sixth Dubai crown as well as his 78th career title but will remain the world’s No. 8 in the ATP Rankings.

“It’s like one of the things you just kind of hope it turns for the better,” Federer said afterwards about coming back from a set and a break down. “At that point you’re just telling yourself to serve well to give you maybe a few good opening points on Tomas’ serve. If he serves well, it’s difficult or the margins are extremely slim at that point. So once you do get back, it’s important not to relax then and think that the hardest part is done. It’s only about to beginning actually,” the Swiss explained.

“So I was happy I was able to use the momentum, win the second set and then it was a tough third one wasting the 0-40 game on Tomas’ first service game. Then I even had to save breakpoints by myself. I mean, anything could have happened there but things definitely went my way tonight,” the champion was happy. “It was a switch I wanted to do for a long time,” Federer said about the role of his new racket. “I like the chances Wilson was able to come up with. I’m happy that the results are paying off, especially in quick succession. I have only just switched and I made it into the final in Brisbane, the semis at the Australian Open, won my Davis Cup match and now I’m here with my trophy,” he added. Federer himself, however, is not sure if he can be dominating world tennis again. “Who knows? I’m just happy that I’m healthy again and that I can focus on tactics and not focus on me,” the Swiss concluded.

“Many things went wrong today,” said a disappointed Berdych afterwards. “The match was starting pretty well. I had really many chances, and then I basically just gave him the game and that’s it. I’m disappointed how I handled the situation. I was in better shape, played really well and made my chances. Unfortunately I didn’t execute until the end,” the Czech stated.

The Swiss has won at least one ATP World Tour title every year since 2000 and Saturday’s victory saw him pass the $80m mark in career earnings. Federer now has a 42-5 event record in Dubai, previously lifting the trophy in 2003-05, 2007 and 2012.

Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi

Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi

Earlier in the afternoon, the tournament’s two top-seeded-pairs faced each other when the combination of Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic took on Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi. It was only the Serb losing his service game during the match. In the opening set Zimonjic was broken in the tenth game and in the second frame it happened in the fourth game. Qureshi finally served for the title winning 6-4, 6-3 in 68 minutes. The “IndoPak Express” took their first title as a team since the ATP Masters 1000 in Paris in 2011. It was theit fifth ATP World Tour team title and first since reuniting at the start of 2014.

“We started off well this season playing a good final in Sydney but lost it to Nestor and Zimonjic. I’m happy to get a little sweet revenge back,” Bopanna said afterwards.

“Today we took our chance, which was key I think. On the big points, especially the no add points, Rohan returned remarkably well. I also think that we served really well and smartly,” Qureshi added. “Even though we have a different style of play, we both play really aggressively. In a way it does complement each other and also the fact that we always keep us motivated even after hitting bad shots. It’s just working as a team,” Bopanna told about their good partnership. “We also have Scott Davidoff traveling with us now. He’s been on the tour for many year and has a lot of experience. I think he’s brought in so much more to our game as well,” the Indian added.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Futures Circuit.  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

See all of the photos from the past two weeks of Dubai tennis coverage on the Tennis Panorama Facebook page: http://on.fb.me/OOUwHw

 

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Day Five Dubai Round-up – Federer Bests Djokovic in Three Sets

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

By Florian Heer

(February 28, 2014) DUBAI – Semi-final day at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships saw the tournament’s two most successful players, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer, go up against each other for a place in Saturday’s final.

The event’s theme “Stars will collide” became reality when both met for the 32nd time on the ATP World Tour with the Swiss leading their competitive head to head series by 16-15 before the match. The stands were fully packed when the players entered the stadium under floodlight, which created a special atmosphere. The match also started with some entertaining rallies, so that the crowd was in high spirits right from the beginning. Djokovic started with good length in his shots holding Federer back at the baseline. The defending champion capitalized on his first and only break point in the second game of the opening set to eventually take the frame in the ninth after 35 minutes.

In the second set, the Swiss again had to save break points in the fifth game before he was 30-0 up in the following when play was suspended for about five minutes due to drizzle in the desert at still about 20 degrees Celsius in the evening hours. So the match resumed quickly and Federer was wide awake and gained his first break of the match. Federer served out in the in the ninth game taking the match the distance. Djokovic struggled in his opening service game in the final set and double faulted at break point. The 17-time-Grand Slam champion was now able to play more aggressively, coming to the net as often as possible and so put a lot of pressure on the Serb. Federer broke a second time in the fifth game through great cross court forehand passing shot. The Swiss, obviously backed by the crowd, outplayed Djokovic at the end winning 6-3, 3-6 6-2 for the first time from a set down.

Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic

“Novak got the crucial first break, which is always big when top guys play each other and he is better than anybody with the lead,” Federer said afterwards. “So I knew I was a bit in trouble and it wasn’t looking good at all because he has the tendency to really then run with it and then play more freely on his serve. For me it was just a matter of trying to play consistently but also remain aggressive. Sometimes I also tried to be a bit overaggressive and to see if it works out. If it doesn’t’, you can always pull back a little bit. Overall I’m just happy I was able to deliver a good performance,” the Swiss added and was also impressed playing in such a great atmosphere. “I think the fans just wanted to see a great match. I do not know what they were chanting if it was, Nole, Nole or Roger, Roger,” he laughed. “Maybe there were more fans of myself in the stadium or more for Novak but I think it was a very enthusiastic and polite crowd and it was a dream playing out there today,” Federer said.

Djokovic had to admit the today’s defeat. “Roger deserved to win. He played in the second part of the match better and was more aggressive and played all around the court really well,” the Serb stated. “I dropped my opening service game in the third set, which was quite a bad game for me. I started making a lot of unforced errors as well and just wasn’t able to move well. He felt that this is the opportunity and he used it. The momentum changed and he stated to make less mistakes but look, I lost to Roger and that’s not a bad loss,” Djokovic said and has left for Indian Wells without winning a title in the season for the first time since 2006.

 

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

Earlier in the afternoon number third seed and last year’s finalist Tomas Berdych opened proceedings on Centre Court against Philipp Kohlschreiber. The Czech had emerged victorious in seven of their eight previous meetings, including the last three in a row.

Yesterday the German became the 23rd active player to reach the landmark of 300 match wins on the ATP World Tour by beating Tunisian Wild Card Malek Jaziri. Kohlschreiber made an impressive start into the encounter, returning well and capitalized on his first break point in the opening game. It was only the second time during this week Berdych lost his serve. The German seemed to remain solid with his baseline shots until the last four games, in which the 30 year-old still only made three points. Consequently, the third-seeded Czech broke serve in the twelfth game taking the opening set in 38 minutes. The second frame should become an even one as well as until the twelfth game again, in which Kohlschreiber couldn’t hold serve and after 88 minutes Berdych converted his second match point to advance into the final for the second successive year in Dubai.

In the beginning of the match I probably forgot myself at the room and just came out right after. This was definitely not me,” the Czech stated about his bad start into the match. “Then I was ready and I took the first set. Basically the similar stuff happened in the second set. Philipp was very solid, didn’t give me much chances at all on his serve. Then I got one in the last game and I took it,” Berdych was happy with his performance.

Philipp Kohlschreiber

Philipp Kohlschreiber

Kohlschreiber, who actually played a fine match apart from the end of each set was still satisfied with his week in Dubai. “Overall it was a very great tournament. Today was also great to play in front of such a nice crowd. Nonetheless it takes for sure a couple of maybe minutes, hours to get over the loss,” Kohlschreiber said right after the match. “Today, the only chance I had for a break was at the beginning of the match but then over the time he put more pressure on me and I didn’t serve so well. I had to go over many second services and this makes it always tight against these top guys,” the German explained.

In Saturday’s final Federer is facing Berdych for the 18th time leading 11-6 in head to head record but the Swiss had to admit that the Czech beat him last year here in Dubai in a very convincing way.

In the doubles final the two top-seeded-pairs will meet for the title. Daniel Nestor and Nenad Zimonjic defeated Danield Brands and Florian Mayer in two tie-breaks and Rohan Bopanna and Aisam-Ul-Haq Qureshi advanced by winning 6-2, 6-0 against Tomasz Bednarek and Lukas Dlouhy.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Futures Circuit.  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

 

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Djokovic, Del Potro, Berdych and Federer Meet the Media in Dubai

 

Dubai venue-001

By Florian Heer

(February 23, 2014) DUBAI – For the 22nd time, the only ATP World Tour 500 event in the Middle East region is taking place in Dubai. The tournament is held at the Aviation Club and its Centre Court with the official name of Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, has a capacity of 5,000 seats. Total prize money will be US-$ 1,928,340.

The draw was announced on Saturday in which defending champion as well as top-seed Novak Djokovic and five-time winner Roger Federer are projected to clash in the tournament’s semifinals. “We have two of the greatest men who have ever played the game once again competing here at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships,” said Colm McLoughlin, Executive Vice Chairman of tournament owners and organisers Dubai Duty Free. “Their semifinal will be one to savour, but the field here is so strong that neither are guaranteed their place in the final four,” he added.

There is also second-seed Juan Martin Del Potro, who opens his bid for the title against popular wild card Somdev Devvarman. The Argentine could meet 2013 runner-up and recent Rotterdam winner and Australian Open semi-finalist Tomas Berdych in the semifinals. The Czech faces a qualifier in the first round. “With other members of the Top ten in the form of former US Open champion Juan Martin del Potro, and very in-form Tomas Berdych and the entertaining and highly-talented Jo-Wilfried Tsonga also vying for one of the most coveted trophies on the ATP World Tour, Dubai tennis fans are set to enjoy a fantastic week of top-class action,” said Tournament Director Salah Tahlak.

Tomas Berdych-001

Tomas Berdych

On Sunday the event’s top-seeds spoke about the coming week. “Every tournament starts from zero. There will be an opponent already in the first round, who really wants to beat you and plays well,” Tomas Berdych explained. “For me there is also a big change coming from indoors and now playing here outside. I still need time starting to build it up again,” the Czech winner from Rotterdam said.

Roger Federer-001

Roger Federer

“For me it is key playing point to point from match to match,” fourth-seeded Roger Federer stated. “The tournaments in Brisbane and Melbourne gave me confirmation that the racket switch was a good choice,” the Swiss said. “It’s nice spending time with him and it is also inspiring just to hear him speaking about the game,” Federer added about his partnership with Stefan Edberg. “Clearly we are favourites in the next match,” the Swiss talked about the Davis Cup when Switzerland will face Kazakhstan. “Clearly with Stan (Wawrinka) we have a very good team, although the depth is not quite there. Nonetheless Marco (Chiudinelli), Michael (Lammer) and Henri (Laaksonen) can play good tennis but still it depends a lot on Stan and myself. We will see how the next round goes and it is clearly nice to play at home in Switzerland,” Federer is looking forward to the tie and hopes that a lot of spectators will come to Geneva in April.

Juan Martin Del Potro-001

Juan Martin Del Potro

“There are a lot of good players here in the draw. There are Federer or Djokovic, who are also favourites to win the title here,” second-seeded Juan Martin Del Potro said. “Of course I also want to go deep into this tournament. There are high expectations in my country as well and I’m trying to keep within the top-five, top-ten this year and it will be a great season for me,” the Argentine said.

Novak Djokovic-001

Novak Djokovic

“I discussed it with my team last year during the Asian swing in September and Marian (Vajda) was actually the one, who suggested to include another coach,” Novak Djokovic said about his partnership with Boris Becker.

“Marian has been travelling for so many year on the tennis tour and he got a little bit tired. He wanted to spend more time with his family. He has two daughters, who also play tennis so the subject came up and we talked about it. We considered different names and Boris was the one, who fitted most to our vision and to that what I want. Next we talked to Boris and there were several months of discussion how we could make this work and eventually he accepted it. Today I’m still excited for having a tennis legend like Boris in my team,” Dubai’s top-seed told the press.

“As a head coach Boris committed to travel a lot of weeks and many tournaments, which is hopefully going to bring me positive results. It’s just the beginning of the season and the Australian Open was a good tournament for us, although I lost in five sets against the champion, somebody who played an incredible tournament of his life. This was a great match to be part of. The year before I won against Stan (Wawrinka), so this is normal. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. It was not because Boris was there instead of Marian, as many people were saying. We are not significantly changing anything in my game. The biggest part where Boris can help me is obviously the mental approach and figuring out certain match situations, as he knows the position on the court.

 

“We are not changing my technique, you will not see me playing with my left and or single-handed backhands,” Djokovic added and laughed. “We do have different games. Boris was a serve and volley player, very strong and muscular. In contrary I’m a player, who stays more at the baseline but I have been working for the last year and a half – also with Marian – trying to use the opportunity that is presented due to my groundstrokes to come to the net and win the point,” the Serb said. “I felt that I have dropped two or three titles in the big tournaments during the last two years, which I could have won. That’s another reason why Boris is here,” Djokovic added.

“After the Australian Open I took some time off. There are more than four weeks between my last official match and Dubai. I only played five matches this year, just practiced for the rest of the weeks and so it will be challenging for me to go out on the courts here. It’s a totally different situation playing matches in front of thousands of people and so I tried to play so many points as possible in the last few days with all the players here,” Djokovic said.

The draw for the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships was completed on Sunday after four qualifiers Adrian Ungur, Lukas Lacko, Marius Copil and Thiemo de Bakker battled their way to victory.

Florian Heer travels the tennis tour with a focus on ATP Challenger events and the ITF Futures Circuit.  Follow his twitter account @Florian _Heer.

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