2014/04/20

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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Day Four Dubai Round-up

Philipp Kohlschreiber

Philipp Kohlschreiber

By Florian Heer

(February 27, 2014) DUBAI – Four of the world’s top ten players were in action in the quarterfinals on Thursday at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Philipp Kohlschreiber opened the proceedings on Centre Court in sunny and hot conditions against Tunisian Wild Card Malek Jaziri. The German contested his fourth quarterfinal of the season and won all of the two previous meetings between the two. The 30-year-old from Augsburg was in total control of the match, impressed with a good serve, capitalized on three out of his four break point opportunities and celebrated his 300th match victory on the ATP World Tour winning 6-2, 6-3 in 71 minutes.

“It’s always great to win many matches on the tour, especially a few rounds in a row,” the German was pleased afterwards. “I think I had a very solid and good performance today. We had some good rallies. I always tried to move him around on court and I was very solid from the baseline today. He played quite defensive, especially on his backhand side and I took the chances in being aggressive,” Kohlschreiber described his match plan. “Against Tsonga or Berdych I have to try something different. They are such powerful players, so I have to try dictating the match otherwise they are pushing me around,” Kohlschreiber told about his possible semi-final opponents. Jaziri’s long journey from South-America to finally arrive in Duba took its toll, as the Tunisian seemed to be a bit tired on court. “At 4-3 I was feeling so bad, so I called the doctor. I was feeling so dizzy. At this point I was thinking to stop but I preferred to continue the match. Nonetheless, it is a good result for me here. Since I have a new coach and a new manager I’m playing better with better results,” the Tunisian said.

 

Defending champion Novak Djokovic and Mikhail Youzhny were scheduled to kick off the evening session with their tenth meeting on the ATP World Tour. Yesterday the Serb took just 57 minutes to dispatch of Roberto Bautista-Agut 6-1, 6-3 to reach the quarterfinals in Dubai for the eighth year in succession. However, the Russian had to withdraw due to illness and so Djokovic advanced into the semis without hitting a ball today.

 

Tomas Berdych

Tomas Berdych

Consequently Dubai’s night action started with a top ten clash on the main show court when Tomas Berdych faced off Jo-Wilfried Tsonga for the first time in more than a year. The pair has met six times before with the Czech leading a 4-2 head to head record before the match. However, it was the Frenchman who emerged victorious in their latest encounter in the final of the Marseille in 2013. More than one year later, it was Berdych making the better start, although the almost fully packed stadium had to wait until the eighth game and the 26th minute to see the first break points of the match. At this point, Tsonga was able to save his serve but two games later, the Frenchman was under pressure again at his serve and this time Berdych capitalized on his chance to take the opening set after 35 minutes. The second set should become a more even affair. The world number 10 finally gained his first break points of the match after nearly one hour of play in the fifth game of the second set. Yet, the Czech served well, hit a couple of clean winners and saved all of them. It was Tsonga, who double faulted on break point in the ninth game and lost his service game. Berdych served out in the following winning 6-4, 6-3 in one hour and 28 minutes.

“For a straight sets match it was very close. I faced many break points, which was very tough but that was really the key of today’s game to save them all,” the winning world number six stated. “I’m really feeling good, don’t facing any troubles. I’m trying to take care of my body in between all the time. When every single match is over, I try to do all possible to recover the best,” Berdych told about his physical condition. During the match the Czech got some powder on his back. “No, it’s not a sunburn. There is definitely no sun in my room,” the third-seed laughed. “I got a hot cream on my back, and it was really a hot one. It starts to be really burning and it was uncomfortable. So I was asking to get something which can help me to basically put it out or just try to clean it. Finally it happened and I was able to concentrate more on my game than on my back,” Berdych explained.

 

Roger Federer

Roger Federer

In the final encounter of the day and under floodlights in front of about 5,000 people, Roger Federer took on Lukas Rosol for the first time. The Swiss overturned a 0-2 deficit in the third set to defeat Radek Stepanek yesterday. Rosol saved all five break points in his match against eighth seed Dmitry Tursonov to advance into his first quarterfinal of the season, started really aggressive capitalizing on his first break point in the second game. From then on, however, the Swiss took command,won six games in a row to take the opening set in 28 minutes. After saving a break point in the first game, Federer also remained untroubled in the second frame. Dubai’s five-time winner broke serve in the third and fifth game to eventually serve out winning 6-2, 6-2 in only 58 minutes setting up a 32nd clash against Novak Djokovic in tomorrow’s semi-finals.

“It was a nice match today and it’s great to have another opportunity playing here tomorrow,” said a happy Federer afterwards. “Rosol was putting a lot of pressure through his forehand but yesterday’s match helped me to stay relaxed and not to panic at being 0-2 down,” the Swiss added. “Novak was able to save some energy for tomorrow. Every match you can get away from is a good one,” Federer said about Djokovic’s walkover into the semis. “For me it was also important not to be out there for three hours today. Then it would have been a disadvantage. But like this, I think it was a good and quick match for me. I guess we are back on even terms tomorrow,” the third-seed concluded.

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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Day Three Dubai Round-up – Federer Pushed by Stepanek

 

By Florian Heer

(February 26, 2014) DUBAI -The remaining sixteen players all took the court on an action-packed third day at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

The tournament’s three Wild Cards have secured their passage safely to the second round and two of them started Centre Court action on Wednesday. Malek Jaziri and Somdev Devvarman faced each other for the very first time. Despite winning twelve fewer points, the Tunisian edged past Igor Sijsling in the first round, whereas the Indian reached this stage after Juan Martin Del Potro was forced to retire in yesterday’s match. Today’s encounter started in the heat of the early afternoon and lasted for one hour and 34 minutes when Jaziri converted his first match point, firing back twice from a break down, winning 6-3, 7-5.

“Two days of tough matches. I tried to recover from as good as I can from yesterday’s more than two hours-game and I’m happy to gain this important win today,” the world number 137 said. Jaziri made a long jump to accept Dubai’s Wild Card while he was playing an ATP Challenger event in Morelos, Mexico. “I lost there in semis and arrived here on Sunday night after a 24 hours trip taking three different planes. Now I’m in quarterfinals, so I’m very happy,” the Tunisian told about his journey.

On Court 3 the other Wild Card, James Ward, took on Mikhail Youzhny after seeing off another Russian, Teymuraz Gabashvili, in the opening round. This time, however, the Englishman was not able to repeat yesterday’s solid performance. Youzhny took the match 6-1, 7-6 in 95 minutes.

Back on Centre Court third-seed Tomas Berdych stepped into action against Sergiy Stakhovsky. The Czech only lost two points behind his first when he defeated Romanian qualifier Marius Copil yesterday. The Ukrainian advanced into second round, saving all five break points en route to defeating Ivan Dodig in three sets. Berdych extended his winning streak to eight today cruising past Stakhovksy 6-2, 6-1 in only 57 minutes.

“It was a solid win. Today I was working a little more on my return stats than on my service stats. The main focus for the next days is to get my percentage of the first serve back. I’m usually not used to play that much through my second serve or playing a lot of rallies but today I was able to do so,” a confident winner stated afterwards. “Sergiy is a very tough and tricky opponent. Every single point is different. Slices, short balls, deep balls – it’s nothing what I really like but still I was able to manage it very well and I found a good rhythm from the baseline,” Berdych said and is still ambitious to finally win a Grand Slam tournament. “I really don’t mind which one it is. I will really take any of them. I have been in all semi-finals and played one final on the grass, it don’t matter if it clicks in Paris or in New York,” the Czech said.

On Court 1 Philipp Kohlschreiber faced Andreas Seppi for the eight time. The German won the last encounter between the two at Paris’ Masters in three sets and was in total control today as well. The match wasn’t of highest quality. Kohlschreiber set the highlights by converting his set point through a nice forehand winner and also hit a great backhand down the line shot on match point. Two breaks in the first and another two in the second set were enough to advance into the quarterfinals winning 6-3, 6-3 in eighty minutes.

This match should have been followed by the seventh meeting of Jo-Wilfried Tsonga and Nikolay Davydenko. The Russian, however, had to withdraw due to injury.

 

Five-time Dubai Champion Roger Federer opened the evening session on the main stage by taking on Radek Stepanek for a fifteenth time. The Swiss held a 12-2 head to head record against the Czech before the match with Stepanek’s last victory dated back to the year 2008 in the quarterfinal of the ATP Masters 1000 in Rome. Today it seemed to get all along the expected way in the beginning. The Czech started to hit some unforced errors in the middle of the opening set and Federer broke serve in the sixth and eighth game to take the frame. The Swiss, however, had a shaky start into the second set when he lost his first service game but the world number 48 couldn’t serve the set out either in the twelfth. It followed a tie-break with a couple of close calls and a very inconsistent Federer, which led to a first deciding set in the evening sessions in Dubai this week. The Czech veteran started an entertaining final set in full activity, even dived for the ball and consequently capitalized on his first break point. Although having two game points, the Czech wasn’t able to confirm in the following. Eventually it was Federer, who gained another break to get the turning point of the match underway. The fourth-seed finally advanced into the quarterfinal winning 6-2, 6-7, 6-3 in two hours and eight minutes.

“I wasn’t playing as aggressive as I wanted to, couldn’t find the right balance between offense and defence, no transition games at all,” Federer said afterwards. “Radek did a good job of putting the pressure on me and mixing it up. From that point, it was a really difficult match. I’m very pleased to come through,” the Swiss was visibly relieved.

For the first time, Federer is going to face Lukas Rosol next, who beat Dmitry Tursonov in straight sets 6-4, 7-6 after 88 minutes. “I’m expecting a match without any rhythm, heavy hitting, big serving, taking huge cuts at the ball from the baseline on my serve,” former world number one told about his task tomorrow. “I really remember Rosol’s match when he played Nadal at Wimbledon. I was watching it and I just couldn’t believe it, how he was serving at the end and how he was just running around and doing his thing,” Federer seemed to be impressed by Rosol’s performance back then.

In the final match of the day top-seed Novak Djokovic sought his 30th win in Dubai against the only Spaniard in the main draw, Roberto Bautista-Agut. Both players met once before on the ATP World Tour, exactly one year ago at the same stage here in the desert. Djokovic won in straight sets. The Spanish world number 51 needed about fifteen minutes to find into this match but at this point, he has been already 0-4 down and nine minutes later the opening set was over. The top-seed broke serve in the fifth and seventh game of the second frame to serve out winning 6-1, 6-3 in only 57 minutes. “I have done really well today from the first to the last point,” Djokovic was satisfied afterwards. “There were no major ups and downs, especially with the serve that helped me to win comfortably to gain some free points. Roberto is a quality opponent. He moves really, really fast around the court. He always gives you an extra shot to play but made a lot of winners. I was covering the baseline really well and the surface is quite fast, things happen very quickly,” the Serb said.

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

 

Results
Singles – Second Round
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) d R Bautista Agut (ESP) 61 63
[3] T Berdych (CZE) d S Stakhovsky (UKR) 62 61
[4] R Federer (SUI) d R Stepanek (CZE) 62 67(4) 63
[5] J Tsonga (FRA) d N Davydenko (RUS) W/O (left rib)
[6] M Youzhny (RUS) d [WC] J Ward (GBR) 61 76(3)
[7] P Kohlschreiber (GER) d A Seppi (ITA) 63 63
L Rosol (CZE) d [8] D Tursunov (RUS) 64 76(4)
[WC] M Jaziri (TUN) d [WC] S Devvarman (IND) 63 75

Doubles – Quarter-finals
D Brands (GER) / F Mayer (GER) d J Del Potro (ARG) / R Stepanek (CZE) W/O (left wrist)
T Bednarek (POL) / L Dlouhy (CZE) d L Rosol (CZE) / A Seppi (ITA) 62 64

Doubles – First Round
M Bhupathi (IND) / D Istomin (UZB) d O Marach (AUT) / F Mergea (ROU) 46 63 16-14

SCHEDULE – THURSDAY, 27 FEBRUARY 2014

CENTRE COURT start 2:00 pm
[7] P Kohlschreiber (GER) vs [WC] M Jaziri (TUN)
[5] J Tsonga (FRA) vs [3] T Berdych (CZE)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs [6] M Youzhny (RUS)
[4] R Federer (SUI) vs L Rosol (CZE)

COURT 1 start 3:00 pm
Time TBA – [1] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs R Bautista Agut (ESP) / I Sijsling (NED)

Not Before 5:00 pm
M Bhupathi (IND) / D Istomin (UZB) vs [2] R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK)

 

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Day Two Dubai Round-up

Berdych applauds

By Florian Heer

(February 25, 2014) DUBAI – The second day of the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships started on Centre Court with last year’s beaten finalist Tomas Berdych, who extended his seven-match winning streak against Romanian qualifier Marius Copil through a 6-3, 6-4 victory in 78 minutes. Since opening his season with a first round loss to Ivo Karlovic in Doha, the Czech has won thirteen out of his last fourteen matches with his only defeat coming to Stanislaw Wawrinka in the semi-finals of the Australian Open.

“It has been a tight match by the score but I think I had quite many chances even after I made my breaks each set and then in the last game I should have done something a bit different,” the Czech said after today’s victory. “You lose one point and then, you know, the guy serves really well. I got like four or five aces. That’s it. Then later I was able to serve it out,” Berdych added. It seems that the third-seed doesn’t want to peak too early and saves his best tennis until the end of the week. “Well, if I get there, I hope so, yes,” the Czech laughed. “Of course I’m trying to win every match. I have a space to improve for the further stages. I was especially looking more for my percentage of the first serve today, because always when you come up indoors to outdoors, really, this bright sky and straight sun to my face, it’s always very difficult with my high ball toss,” Berdych explained the difficulty coming from Rotterdam, where he collected his ninth ATP career title, to Dubai.

Del Potro retires shakes hands w devvarman

Next up was Wild Card Somdev Devvarman against Juan Martin Del Potro. The Indian played three ATP Challenger events on home soil over the last three weeks and lifted the trophy in New Delhi last week. Del Potro, who won the title at the beginning of the year in Sydney, is making his third consecutive visit to Dubai and so far he has always reached the semi-finals. This time, however, he will not have the chance to repeat his positive results.

 

After the Indian Wild Card had taken the opening set in the tie-break, the Argentine was forced to retire due to injury at his left wrist. “My wrist is hurting a lot, everybody knows what happened to me four years ago with my other wrist,” a clearly disappointed Del Potro stated afterwards. “It was really tough to play today and I tried everything but it’s really difficult to play in these conditions. I’m feeling similar pains to the other hand what I felt four years ago. It’s hurting all the time, it’s sometimes less and sometimes little more. But it’s hurting, and I have been in contact with my doctor all the time.  He’s trying to keep me motivated to keep playing, but I know what it’s my limit playing on court. Today was enough. I have been doing a big effort to play this tournament, and it was not enough to play what I like to play,” the Argentine said about his doctor, who fixed his right wrist in the past. The number two seed had been suffering with the injury before he arrived in Dubai, and he sought medical advice in the United States following his opening round loss at the Australian Open last month. “I will let everyone know very soon what my plans gonna be,” Del Potro said about the coming weeks.

 

Devvarman on the other hand was happy to advance but also had some thoughts for his opponent. “Obviously it is unfortunate, especially for a guy like him. I wish him nothing but the best and a good recovery,” the Indian said. “Regardless of whether his wrist was okay or not, I just tried to fight hard and tried my best to make things tough for him, make things easier for me. I’m just happy that I got through today,” Devvarman said about his own performance.

Djokovic in press 2

Defending champion Novak Djokovic, who returned to action for the first time since losing in five sets against Stan Wawrinka at the quarterfinals of the Australian Open, took on Denis Istomin for the fifth time. Djokovic, who has never lost before the quarterfinals in eight consecutive years in Dubai, only lost one set to the Uzbek before and today’s match shouldn’t change any of it. Djokovic gained an early break in the third game of the opening set and from then on the Serb remained in command eventually reaching the next round through a comfortable win in 64 minutes 6-3, 6-3. “It was a tough draw against Denis, who can play big from back of the court. He’s a tall guy, can serve well and loves playing on the big stages, so it wasn’t that easy as the scorelines indicates,” Djokovic said. “I needed to work for my games. Having not played an official match for more than four, five weeks, obviously takes its toll on the court. I do feel it a little bit. I practiced a lot, I put a lot of hours on the court, trying to develop my game, trying to get myself in the right shape and it is going to click sooner or later,” Dubai’s top-seed added and is going to face Roberto Bautista-Agut next. “He won against Del Potro in Melbourne in a thrilling five sets. He has improved his game significantly since last year and winning against Del Potro in a Grand Slam says enough about his quality,” Djokovic said about his next opponent.

Radek Stepanek

Two of the ATP Tour’s veterans Radek Stepanek and Michael Russell clashed on Court 3. The Czech and the US-American are two of the tree oldest players ranked inside the Top 110, so their first meeting was eleven years ago Stepanek winning in straight sets in Auckland. The 35-year-old Czech was able to repeat his victory today taking the match 5-7, 6-3, 6-1 after two hours and two minutes. Therewith he has extended the head to head record to 2-1.

A hard hitting duel took place on Court 2 when Lukas Rosol faced Daniel Brands. Both players have met six times before, mostly on Challenger level, leading the German 4-2. Nineteen aces were served today in total, one more for Brands but it was the world No. 49 winning eventually 7-6, 6-4 in 75 minutes.

World No. 177 James Ward, who was granted a Wild Card, upset Teymuraz Gabashvili winning 2-6, 6-4, 7-6. Ward made his maiden appearance at ATP 500 level and will face Mikhail Youzhny next, who defeated Michal Przysiezny in straight sets 6-3, 6-4.

Tsonga bh

In Tuesday’s last encounter on Centre Court, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga faced Victor Hanescu for the second time. The last meeting between the two dated back to the year 2008 in Adelaide when the French won the match in three sets. Tsonga reached his first final of the season in Marseille on Sunday, where he lost to Ernests Gulbis who only arrived in Dubai this morning. Considering the quick change from indoors to outdoor, the Frenchman made an impressive start into the tournament taking the opening set in only half an hour. Tsonga went on to play a solid match cruising past the Romanian 6-2, 6-4 in only 72 minutes. “I played a good match tonight. I think I have an advantage on this surface, as it suits well to my serve and my forehand,” said the fifth-seed after the match.

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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Juan Martin Del Potro Retires from Match in Dubai

Del Potro retires

(February 25, 2014) DUBAI – Juan Martin Del Potro was forced to retire from the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships on Tuesday with a left wrist injury after losing the first set in a tiebreak to Somdev Devvarman.

 

The No. 2 seed had been suffering with the injury before he arrived in Dubai, and he sought medical advice in the United States following his opening round loss at the Australian Open last month. Del Potro missed most of the 2010 season recovering from wrist surgery. Del Potro won the US Open, his only major in 2009.

 

Although he broke for a 2-0 lead, Del Potro immediately dropped his own serve in the next game and after failing to convert three set points on his opponent’s serve at 6-5 he lost the tiebreak 7-3.

 

“My wrist is hurting a lot and it was really tough to play today and I tried everything, but it’s very difficult play like in these conditions, you know, playing slices or I cannot be the player what I would like to be,” said the Argentine.

 

“It’s hurting all the time, it’s sometimes less and sometimes little more. But it’s hurting, and I have been in contact with my doctor all the time.  He’s trying to keep me motivated to keep playing, but I know what it’s my limit playing on court. Today was enough. I have been doing a big effort to play this tournament, and it was not enough to play what I like to play.”

 

Devvarman said that he realized after a few games that Del Potro was having some pain.

 

“After starting the match, I realized that he wasn’t very comfortable hitting backhands obviously, and I tried to make him hit as many as I could, and he wasn’t really hitting over it, so I knew that he wasn’t happy,” said Devvarman. “I just tried to fight hard and tried my best to make things tough for him, make things easier for me.

 

“Obviously it’s unfortunate, you know, especially for a guy like him. I think he’s been playing really good tennis to be in the top 5, and I wish him nothing but the best and a good recovery.”

 

Del Potro said that he plans to head straight to the Mayo Clinic for another consultation with his physician Dr. Richard Berger, who operated his right wrist surgery.
The next tournament is in the United States, and I have a couple of weeks off before the tournament and I will be there to see the doctor and what advice he will give to me,“ Del Potro said.

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Federer on the “Tweener”: “It was exciting, and the fans enjoyed it”

Federer stretch fh

(February 24, 2014) DUBAI – Five-time Dubai champion Roger Federer began his quest for a sixth title on Monday with a 6-1, 6-4 win over Benjamin Becker. During the match the 17-time major champion hit a between-the-legs-shot also called in tennis circles a “tweener.” Here is a video of the point where he hit the “tweener” lob. Video courtesy of supertennistv1.

http://youtu.be/jzU9i9P3WrQ

When Federer was asked about the shot he said: “two shots before that, the dig I had on the volley, I didn’t think I was going to make that.  And then the second one was just a reflex.  I thought he was going to go to the forehand, went to the backhand.  I got it over somehow, and then I thought that was maybe actually going to win, and then he got to it quite comfortably and he had to hit the lob because I was so close to the net.

“Then because he was coming in already, I thought maybe he was going to be pretty close to the net so let me try the lob instead of just the hit just like I usually play it.  It worked perfectly, so I’m happy I didn’t miss it wide and even better that he got it back so he created even more to it.

“Yeah, it’s rare for me to win that point with the lob in that circumstance.  I know I can hit it, but it’s always exciting, it’s so rare to get that opportunity to line it up because it’s a safe shot for me almost to a degree.  It was exciting, and the fans enjoyed it, which is almost as important as winning point.”

Tennis Panorama News is in Dubai this week covering  the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships. Follow the updates on Twitter @TennisNewsTPN.

Related article:

Day One Dubai Round-up

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Day One Dubai Round-up

Roger Federer (2)-001

By Florian Heer

(February 24, 2014) DUBAI – Five of the world’s top ten players headline the 22nd edition of this year’s Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, which started on Monday with the men’s main draw. The 32-man field is led by defending champion Novak Djokovic and five-time winner Roger Federer. The other top-ten players participating this week are Juan Martin Del Potro, Tomas Berdych and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga.

In the first match on Centre Court qualifier Lukas Lacko faced Dmitry Tursonov for the first time. Lacko is making his third appearance in Dubai and reaching the second round has been his best result so far. The Russian, making his fourth start here, advanced into last year’s quarterfinal where he lost to Berdych. Tursonov also made a strong start into this year’s tournament beating the Slovakian in straight sets 7-6, 6-1.

“I don’t think it was a beautiful match in terms of shot making, especially in the first set,” the Russian said afterwards. “It’s pretty tough to play with a combination of the balls are pretty hard to control and then the courts, which don’t seem very fast. I mean it’s hard to complain when you win, but, you know, I think there are quite a few things that I could have done better today,” Tursonov explained.

In the second round the eighth seed could face either Rosol or Brands. “They both serve very big. Both actually hit pretty big as well. It will be interesting how they play in these conditions,” Tursonov talked about his possible upcoming opponents. He seemed to remain cool today. “Do you think this here is a terrific heat? – You should have been in Melbourne this year,” the Russian laughed.

Out on Court number one Roberto Bautista-Agut took on another qualifier Adrian Ungur. The Spaniard won the last two meetings between the two at ATP Challenger events in Italy and also today the world number 51 from Castellón was in total control of the match winning in only 66 minutes 6-1, 6-3 to set a possible second round clash against Novak Djokovic.

The encounter was followed by the Serb’s first appearance for this year. Djokovic started his doubles campaign by entering the draw through a wild card and teaming up with Carlos Gomez-Herrera. The Serbian-Spanish tandem faced the combination of Tomasz Bednarek and Lukas Dlouhy. Of course the Spanish world number 335, who won two doubles titles with Djokovic’s younger brother Marko on the ITF Future Tour, was the weakest link on court but the world number two didn’t play at his best level either. Djokovic even double faulted during the match tie-break and finally the wild cards lost the encounter 5-7, 6-1, 5-10 after 68 minutes.

Back on Centre Court Andreas Seppi, who has only won one match so far this year against Lleyton Hewitt at the Australian Open took on Florian Mayer. The German is making his first appearance in Dubai since 2011, where he reached the quarterfinals. Mayer is in a good shape this year, opened the season with a semi-final appearance in Doha, where he posted a win over Andy Murray. He also reached the stage of the last sixteen in Melbourne, upsetting Mikhail Youzhny and Jerzy Janowicz before he lost to David Ferrer. Moreover Germany’s number three player contributed a singles victory to the 4-1 win of his country against Spain at the first round Davis Cup tie in Frankfurt this month.

 

Mayer also made a strong start into today’s match breaking his opponent’s serve in the opening game to eventually take the first set after 42 minutes. During the middle of the second frame, however, the German lost his consistency and Seppi broke his serve two times in a row. Mayer seemed to get his rhythm back, gained a 4-1 lead over the Italian in the final set but had to suffer a re-break and lost another service in the eleventh game, which should become the decisive one. In the following, the Italian served out winning 4-6, 6-1, 7-5 in just under two hours.

“Being 1-4 down in the third, and I just tried to keep fighting. I didn’t have so many matches under my belt this year, so I tried to stay in the match and he gave me some chances to come back. It think at 4-3 I played a few good games, a little bit more aggressive. For sure it was an important win for me,” Seppi said about his comeback.

The Italian could face Kohlschreiber in the next round. “We always have some tough matches. The last one was last year in Paris Bercy, where I lost 4-6 in the third set. I know that it can be for sure an interesting match,” the 30-year-old said.

Roger Federer has returned to Dubai for the 11th time. The Swiss has won the title here five times, the last one in 2012 when he defeated Andy Murray in the final. In 2014 Federer has only played two tournaments so far. He opened his season with a run to the final in Brisbane and reached the semi-finals at the Australian Open. Today he took on Benjamin Becker. The German finished last year within the top 100 for the second straight year but has not been able to win a single set against Federer in three previous meetings and same should happen today. It was just “FedExpress” rolling over the German. Federer played in a very attacking style winning the match in only 62 minutes 6-1, 6-4. “I’m extremely happy with today’s match, coming out and playing free tennis like that right off the bat is a good feeling,” the Swiss said afterwards. “I know probably Benjamin has been doing a lot of travelling back and forth, Australia, Europe, America, back to Dubai, back for Indian Wells and Miami, but you’ve got to take advantage of that. I have been here for some time. I had a good preparation and I’m happy it paid off,” he added.

In the final match of the day Philipp Kohlschreiber met qualifier Thiemo de Bakker for the first time. The German is making his sixth appearance in Dubai and has never gone beyond the second round, whereas the Dutchman is making his debut in the desert. This time the seventh-seed from Augsburg made a good start at the tournament. Kohlschreiber broke serve in the seventh and ninth game to gain the opening set in only 31 minutes. The world No. 25 drew first blood in the second set by breaking de Bakker’s service in the second game. The Dutchman was visibly annoyed by his own performance today and his was moaning a lot on the court.

Another service loss by De Bakker in the fourth game and Kohlschreiber was on the winning streak taking the match 6-3, 6-3 in 64 minutes. “At the beginning Thiemo served pretty well but then in the middle of the opening set, I found my way into the match,” the German said. “I was very satisfied with my performance today. For sure it was different to play in the evening today, the balls didn’t bounce that high and the court was maybe a bit slower, which is quite normal on this kind of surfaces. Overall it was very nice and comfortable to play here,” Kohlschreiber 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.

 

Results for February 24, 2014

Singles – First Round
[4] R Federer (SUI) d B Becker (GER) 61 64
[7] P Kohlschreiber (GER) d [Q] T de Bakker (NED) 63 63
[8] D Tursunov (RUS) d [Q] L Lacko (SVK) 75 61
R Bautista Agut (ESP) d [Q] A Ungur (ROU) 61 63
A Seppi (ITA) d F Mayer (GER) 46 61 75

Doubles – First Round
[2] R Bopanna (IND) / A Qureshi (PAK) d [Q] N Davydenko (RUS) / V Hanescu (ROU) 61 57 10-8
J Del Potro (ARG) / R Stepanek (CZE) d [4] I Dodig (CRO) / M Youzhny (RUS) 63 75
T Bednarek (POL) / L Dlouhy (CZE) d [WC] N Djokovic (SRB) / C Gomez-Herrera (ESP) 75 16 10-5


SCHEDULE – TUESDAY, 25 FEBRUARY, 2014

CENTRE COURT start 2:00 pm
[Q] M Copil (ROU) vs [3] T Berdych (CZE)

Not Before 4:00 pm
[WC] S Devvarman (IND) vs [2] J Del Potro (ARG)

Not Before 7:00 pm
[1] N Djokovic (SRB) vs D Istomin (UZB)
[5] J Tsonga (FRA) vs V Hanescu (ROU)

COURT 1 start 2:00 pm
M Przysiezny (POL) vs [6] M Youzhny (RUS)
[1] D Nestor (CAN) / N Zimonjic (SRB) vs [WC] O Awadhy (UAE) / H Janahi (UAE)
T Gabashvili (RUS) vs [WC] J Ward (GBR)
N Davydenko (RUS) vs A Golubev (KAZ)

COURT 2 start 2:00 pm
L Rosol (CZE) vs D Brands (GER)
[WC] M Jaziri (TUN) vs I Sijsling (NED)
J Knowle (AUT) / J Peers (AUS) vs D Brands (GER) / F Mayer (GER)
J Marray (GBR) / D Tursunov (RUS) vs R Bautista Agut (ESP) / I Sijsling (NED)

COURT 3 start 2:00 pm
R Stepanek (CZE) vs M Russell (USA)
I Dodig (CRO) vs S Stakhovsky (UKR)
L Rosol (CZE) / A Seppi (ITA) vs [3] M Fyrstenberg (POL) / M Matkowski (POL) )

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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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Caroline Wozniacki Battles Past Sabine Lisicki in Dubai; Talks Engagement Ring in Press

Wozniacki engagement ring

(February 18, 2014) DUBAI – Former No. 1 and Dubai 2011 champion Caroline Wozniacki battled back to stop 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki, winning 2-6, 6-3, 6-3.

“I have had to fight pretty hard against her quite a few times,” said the woeld No. 11.  “I knew she was going to come out hot and just go for her shots, and I felt like I was just a step behind.  I couldn’t really do what I wanted from my backhand side, and I was playing a little too short.

“In the second set I started serving really well, I was really pleased with my serves, and I got a lot of her returns back deep, and all of a sudden, you know, the game was different.  I started attacking more from my backhand side onto her backhand and started to make her run a little bit.”

Asked if she was disappointed with the loss Lisicki who is still nursing a shoulder injury said:

“Definitely, but I still see it as positive, because I didn’t have a racquet in my hand for more than two weeks or two weeks.  I practiced four days, and, you know, my shoulder, I did a lot of rehab to be able to come here.

“So I’m very happy that I was able to play and to actually play that well.  It wasn’t enough to play the two whole sets that way yet, but in general, I’m pretty satisfied the way, you know, I started and went into the match, so that’s definitely something that I can build on.”

Wozniacki came into her news conference, sporting her 8 carat diamond engagement ring from fiancé and fomer No. 1 golfer Rory McIlroy. She doesn’t wear it on court for fear of losing it.

She explained the significance of the 8 carats:

“That’s my lucky number.  That’s how he picked eight.  Very thoughtful.  I should have said 18, but…,” she said jokingly.

“Date, everything, location set,” the Dane said when asked about her wedding plans. “Such an exciting time.”

Asked to name the date, she quipped, “You never know.”

 

No. 5 seed, Jelena Jankovic, had to fight to get past qualifier Maryna Zanevska, winning 6-4, 6-3.

“I worked really hard. It was not easy for my first match here,” said Jankovic. “I just came from Doha like one day ago, so it’s completely different. Playing there during the night it’s slower, and here it’s faster and the balls fly. It was quite windy out there, and I felt kind of like I couldn’t play my game totally, you know, play the lines.”

Related articles:

“Rusty” Serena Williams Opens Dubai with a Win; Ana Ivanovic Squeaks by Angelique Kerber

Simona Halep Retires with Injury in Dubai Opening Match

 

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