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Federer beats Nadal to win 18th Grand Slam

Roger Federer defeated his great rival, Rafael Nadal, 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 in the Australian Open final to win his 18th Grand Slam championship.

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Federer hopes to play '2 to 3 more years'

Roger Federer says he hopes to play for at least another two to three years and that his "mindset is for the long term" in assessing his tennis future.

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Federer and Nadal to team up in Laver Cup

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, who have faced each other in eight major finals, plan to team up as doubles partners next year during the inaugural Laver Cup.

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Swiss street named in Roger Federer's honour

Swiss tennis legend Roger Federer has inaugurated a street bearing his name before 1,500 admirers in Biel, canton Bern.

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Roger Federer attends Oscars in Hollywood

Roger Federer stepped out onto the red carpet at the 88th Academy Awards at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood, Los Angeles.

Federer reassesses goals after Indian Wells triumph

Only a brave pundit would have pencilled in Roger Federer as an early bolter atop the ATP Race to London just three months into the Swiss star’s comeback after a six-month lay-off. But after claiming the two biggest titles of the season to date, the 35 year old has already surpassed his own expectations for 2017.

Victory over compatriot Stan Wawrinka in Sunday’s BNP Paribas Open final marked his 25th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title - his fifth in the Californian desert - and comes on the back of his shock Australian Open triumph in January. It will require a welcome rethink on goals for the year ahead.

For me, the dream run continues,” Federer said. “I'm not as surprised as I was in Australia, but still this comes as a big, big surprise to me, nevertheless, to win here again and beating the players that I did and the way I did. I couldn't be more happy.

“When I came here, what I promised myself was I was going to play with the right energy. It's not always Grand Slam finals. It always starts at zero. You have to get yourself up for the first rounds.

It's an absolutely huge start to the year for me. Last year I didn't win any titles. I don't think I was in any finals except Brisbane. The change is dramatic, and it feels great.”

The Swiss will climb back to No. 6 in the ATP Rankings as he heads to the Miami Open presented by Itau. He stands to make up ground having missed the ATP Masters 1000 event last year and given two of his greatest rivals, World No. 1 Andy Murray and No. 2 Novak Djokovic, have withdrawn citing right elbow injuries.

“In November, December, when I realised things were going well, and we had a meeting about what the goals are for the season in terms of rankings, it's really secondary, but we wanted to set some goals for the season, and the goal was to be Top 8 by Wimbledon.

“So I'm there much, much faster. It’s great, but you definitely have to reassess your goals and see, where do you go from here? Because this was not part of the plan, to win Australia and Indian Wells, I can tell you that.”

The last time Federer won in Miami he defeated his coach Ivan Ljubicic in the 2006 final to defend his title from the year before. He completed the Indian Wells/Miami double in both years and is well aware the difficulty in achieving the feat, let alone 11 years later.

“I think now it's really important for me to rest up, maximum,” he said. “I hope I can play as late as possible going to Miami. Then I will make the plan for the remainder of the season - especially for the clay - after Miami, and then see also what the goals are, because the goals are clearly changing after this dream start.

“I know how hard it is to win back-to-back Indian Wells and Miami titles. That's why again I sort of go to Miami knowing it's going to be really difficult.”

Date: 20 March 2017, Source: ATP

Federer beats Wawrinka for 5th Indian Wells title

The incredible comeback continues. Roger Federer won a record-tying fifth BNP Paribas Open crown on Sunday as he defeated Stan Wawrinka 6-4, 7-5 in an all-Swiss final at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The Swiss endured a six-month injury layoff at the end of 2016, but returned to tour-level action at the start of the season in spectacular fashion, capturing his 18th Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open with a five-set victory over Rafael Nadal.

“It’s been just a fairytale week once again,” said Federer. “I’m still on the comeback. I hope my body is going to allow me to keep on playing. I was very sad when I couldn’t come here last year. Just being here is a beautiful feeling. It’s one of my favourite tournaments. I came here for the first time 17 years ago. So to be here again as the champion is an amazing feeling.”

He has established himself as the early leader in the ATP Race To London, which determines the eight players to qualify for the ATP Finals in London in November. He is now set to rise back to No. 6 in the ATP Rankings, having started his comeback this year at No. 17.

Victory in Indian Wells marks Federer’s 90th tour-level crown and his 25th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 title. At 35 years old, he is the oldest Masters 1000 champion since a 34-year-old Andre Agassi won the 2004 Cincinnati title. Federer has played seven finals in the desert, previously lifting the trophy in 2004-‘06 and 2012, while also finishing runner-up in 2014-15.

Federer’s backhand has been the talking point of the 2017 BNP Paribas Open, and he set the tone in the final with a rifled winner off that wing in the first game, one of 10 winners he would hit in the opening set. The right-hander has also dominated on serve, coming into the final having faced only one break point throughout the tournament, and he allowed Wawrinka just four points in the first set.

Federer made his move on Wawrinka’s serve in the 10th game of the opener, drawing a forehand error from his countryman at 30/30 to earn a set point, which he converted as Wawrinka overhit another forehand.

History was stacked in Federer’s favour against Wawrinka, with the Basel native coming into the final leading his countryman 19-3 in their ATP Head to Head series and a notable 14-0 mark on hard courts. But Wawrinka put that firmly out of his mind as he came out firing at the start of the second set, breaking Federer for the first time in the tournament before surviving a nervy service game - saving two break points - to engineer a 2-0 lead. It was the first time Federer had been broken in 42 service games.

Wawrinka’s lead was short lived though. Federer struck back to claim the next three games and broke Wawrinka in the 12th game to claim victory, sealing it in 80 minutes as he punched away a forehand volley winner.

“He was playing really fast. He was staying on the line, trying to play fast from both sides. It was tough for me to really get into the points,” Wawrinka said. “He always had an answer. I had a few little opportunities that I could have maybe done better, but it wasn't enough.”

As Federer waved up to his wife, Mirka, and family, Wawrinka was left to ponder his third defeat in four Masters 1000 finals. The 31-year-old Swiss won his lone Masters 1000 crown three years ago in Monte Carlo and recorded runner-up finishes in 2008 Rome (l. to Djokovic) and 2013 Madrid (l. to Nadal).

It is the second time this year Wawrinka has fallen to Federer, having suffered a heartbreaking five-set loss in the Australian Open semi-finals in January. Wawrinka had battled through to his 26th tour-level final with back-to-back third-set tie-break wins over Yoshihito Nishioka, who served for the match twice, and Dominic Thiem, before dominating Pablo Carreno Busta in the semi-finals.

On court, an emotional Wawrinka said, “I’m sorry. I’m just tired after 10 days, so, sorry,” before jokingly remarking on Federer laughing at him from the sidelines. “I would like to congratulate Roger. I lost a tough one against you, but when you played the final in Australia, I was still your biggest fan. Anybody who knows tennis loves to watch you, so it's always good to see you back at that level, hopefully for many years.”

But the final loss still marks a great accomplishment for Wawrinka. Years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find someone who would have thought the 6-foot right-hander would meet Federer in a Masters 1000 final. As recently as 2012, Wawrinka's ATP Ranking still sat outside the Top 20. That same year, Federer hauled home three Masters 1000 titles.

“I think to play a final against him in a Masters 1000 is something amazing for me. I wouldn't have dreamed that a few years ago and now it's the second we have played,” said Wawrinka, referring to their 2014 Monte Carlo Rolex Masters final. “I won the first one. I lost today. For sure I'm disappointed, but it's still a great week for me.

“He's still a tough player to play for me, for my game, because he's playing quick. He makes you feel uncomfortable and he mixes it up a lot. It's always challenging.

“He's just amazing. The way he's playing is just so beautiful, it's just so nice. Everything looks perfect. He's moving amazingly well. He has amazing touch. He's doing everything you can do on the tennis court,” Wawrinka said.

Date: 20 March 2017, Source: ATP and Indian Wells

Federer and Wawrinka in all-Swiss final at Indian Wells

Roger Federer will face Stan Wawrinka in an all-Swiss final at the BNP Paribas Open after defeating Jack Sock 6-1, 7-6 (4) in Saturday’s second semi-final in Indian Wells.

The 35-year-old Federer is through to his seventh final at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden and is looking to win the title for the fifth time, adding to his victories in 2004 (d. Henman), 2005 (d. Hewitt), 2006 (d. Blake) and 2012 (d. Isner).

Federer will bid to win his 25th ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown and 90th tour-level title overall. He takes a 19-3 ATP Head to Head rivalry lead over Wawrinka into the final and has won their past three meetings, including a five-set battle in the Australian Open semi-finals in January.

"I think I definitely played great in the first set," said Federer. "I came out and really saw the ball well. I think Jack didn't have his best first set, but I found a way to take advantage of that quickly, hardly made any mistakes and was able to press.

"The second set was more like what I expected the first set to be, to be quite honest, before the match. It was hard to break and return well off Jack's heavy serve.

"I had to rely a lot on my second serve. I'm happy it was there, because I didn't serve particularly well in that second set. Things got a bit more complicated, but it was definitely a good feeling to get through in two sets and to be back in another finals here.

"I think I've just been very focused during this tournament. That's something that usually goes away when don't play for a while. But I guess I have a lot of confidence from Australia, still."

Federer’s backhand was telling as he raced past long-time rival Rafael Nadal in the fourth round earlier in the week, and Federer dominated from the baseline again against Sock, rolling back the years to claim victory in 74 minutes.

A rifling backhand winner from Federer did lasting damage in the fourth game, as Sock then netted a smash and double faulted to lose serve to love and trail 1-3. A potent forehand winner from Federer gave the Basel native a double break lead at 5-1 as he cruised to a one-set lead.

A bathroom break for Sock at the end of the first set settled the American, and he fended off a break point in the seventh game to stay close on serve with Federer, ultimately forcing a tie-break. Sock sparked hope for his fans as he hit a backhand winner for a 3-1 lead. But Federer immediately pegged him back and went on to win six of the next seven points to triumph for the third time in three ATP Head to Head meetings with Sock.

"The first one got away from me pretty quick," said Sock. "I think he's been doing that to players pretty consistently this year, the Rafa match and some other ones he's played."

Federer has yet to lose serve during the tournament, saving the only break point he has faced against Nadal. He was granted a walkover through the quarter-finals, when Nick Kyrgios withdrew on Friday due to illness, and had spent just 3 hours and 33 minutes on court coming into the semi-finals, compared to Sock’s 8 hours and 32 minutes.

Sock saved four match points in a third-round victory over Grigor Dimitrov and was two points from defeat in a tense fourth-round round battle with Malek Jaziri. He advanced to his first ATP World Tour Masters 1000 semi-final by claiming his first Top 5 win over Kei Nishikori in another three-set contest on Friday.

The 35-year-old Federer has returned to the tour in remarkable fashion in 2017, having missed the second half of last season due to injury. He beat Wawrinka and Nadal in back-to-back five-set contests to win his 18th Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open and has stormed through to the final in Indian Wells without dropping a set. The only blemish on his 2017 record was a second-round loss to World No. 116 Evgeny Donskoy in the Dubai second round two weeks ago.

Wawrinka was even more dominant in the other semi, demolishing Spanish 21st seed Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-2. Federer said Wawrinka would present a different type of challenge than Sock.

"Stan does a really nice job of defending and then creating, going from defense to offense. He's improved his serve. Especially as he goes deeper in the tournament, his confidence builds. That's when he's harder to stop," Federer said.

"I have variation. I have an offensive mindset that's in my DNA. Sometimes for a player like Stan, he likes to have a bit more time and I can maybe rush him. But we'll see if that's possible tomorrow. He’s very steady off the baseline and can play from really deep in the court. I’ve got to play aggressive and play like I’ve been doing all week and hope it’s enough."

Date: 18 March 2017, Source: ATP and Reuters

Federer stuns Nadal in straight sets at Indian Wells

Channeling the same game plan that reaped the ultimate reward in the Australian Open final in January, Roger Federer has put on a stunning display of aggression to defeat fifth seed Rafael Nadal in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open. The four-time champion prevailed 6-2, 6-3 to set a quarter-final showdown with Australian Nick Kyrgios, after the Australian’s earlier upset of defending champion Novak Djokovic.

Federer’s victory marked the first time he had defeated Nadal three times in a row in 36 ATP Head to Head meetings, following his five-set triumph in Melbourne in January and a three-set win in the 2015 Basel final.

The last time Nadal tasted victory was in the 2014 Australian Open semi-finals. This was the first time the pair had squared off before the quarter-finals since their first meeting in the 2004 Miami Open third round.

“It's a nice feeling to win the last three, I can tell you that,” Federer said. "But most importantly, I won Australia. That was big for me. On the comeback, I look back at that and think that was one of the coolest things I ever experienced in my career.

“Basel was special, too, for many reasons, because I used to be a ballboy there. After the Australian hype, to play here in America right away, all of them are very special.

“All the matches that we have played are unique in many ways for both of us, winning or losing. So I take it. Obviously I can't celebrate too long this time around. I have to get back to work in a couple of days.”

Nadal had worked himself into a winning position when he led a break for 3-1 in the fifth set in the Australian Open decider before losing the final five games of the match. In the Californian desert on Wednesday, however, he was never given a sniff of hope.

“In Australia, it was a very close match. I had good chances to win,” Nadal said. “Today, not. Today he played better than me. These kind of matches, when you're not playing your match, it is impossible to win.

“When Roger has the advantage, his serve is so good, he has a lot of confidence with his serve, he’s able to play much more relaxed.”

Next up, a revenge mission against the 21-year-old 15th seed, Kyrgios. The only time prior the pair has met, it was the Australian who emerged victorious in the round of 32 at the ATP World Tour Madrid Masters in 2015.

“I'm very impressed him taking out Novak, back-to-back weeks, on Novak's best surface,” Federer said. “I hope it's going to lead to something great for Nick, that he realises if he puts his head down and focuses that he can bring it, day in and day out, week in and week out.

“When it matters the most against the best and in finals, he's there. Of course I'd like to get him back.”

A four-time champion in Indian Wells, Federer came out of the blocks in a hurry against Nadal. The Swiss ninth seed secured the opener 6-2, consistently finding his mark coming over the backhand to keep the three-time champion on the back foot.

Federer brought up a break point in the opening game and converted when Nadal shanked a forehand into the stands for 1-0. He faced just his first break point of the tournament in the subsequent game but steadied to hold for 2-0 and would not face another for the remainder of the match.

The Swiss delivered impressively off the backhand wing. His fifth backhand winner of the first set was followed by an explosive wrong-footing forehand winner to bring up a break point on the Spaniard’s serve at 3-1.

He secured the double break off a spectacular backhand return winner for 4-1 after 23 minutes. He would close out the opening set in style as he threaded back-to-back forehand winners to bring up two set points and sealed it on his first with a serve-volley winner after 34 minutes.

“I think the backhand has gotten better because I have been able to put in so many hours with the new racquet now,” Federer said of his more aggressive approach off the backhand. “Really, since this year I feel super comfortable with the racquet, and I think I have also gained confidence stepping into it.

“I think all my coaches throughout my career have told me to go more for the backhand, but I used to shank more. So maybe deep down I didn't always believe that I had it in the most important moments. But I think that's changing little by little, which I'm very happy about.”

Determined to make a statement he would not go quietly, Nadal started the second set with authority, holding to love with a forehand winner and an ace out wide for 1-0. Federer’s aggression continued to gnaw at Nadal, however.

His confidence surged further when he broke early for 2-1 and now redlining, the pressure from the 36-year-old Swiss was relentless. He held to love for 4-2 off an ace out wide and drew the error from a looping backhand.

Nadal was rarely in control of a point throughout and when serving to stay in the match, a forehand clipped the net and failed to trickle over handing Federer two match points. He took it on his first with a crisp backhand return winner into the corner, capping a complete performance in which his backhand, return of serve and net approaches were on song.

Date: 16 March 2017, Source: ATP

Federer, Nadal to clash at Indian Wells fourth round

Roger Federer edged Steve Johnson 7-6 (3), 7-6 (4) in a hard-serving duel at the BNP Paribas Open on Tuesday, setting up a fourth-round match against Rafael Nadal.

Federer fired 12 aces - his fastest serve registering 131 mph - and never faced a break point against Johnson, who reached 136 on the radar gun and fought off all four break points against him.

Federer is a four-time champion at Indian Wells who won his last title in 2012. He defeated Nadal in the Australian Open final in January for his record 18th Grand Slam title. Their meeting on Wednesday will be the earliest they have played since their first match in 2004 at Miami, where Nadal won.

"I'm very excited. That's why I came here, play against guys like Rafa. Now we have it," said Federer. "Australia helps me a little bit, but at the end of the day, I'm still in the comeback.

"I try to see it really as another opportunity to build upon something for the rest of the season. So regardless of Australia, winning or losing, I'm going to try to go out there and try to play free again. I think it's really important. I feel like tomorrow if I move well, I will definitely have a chance against Rafa.

"Because it's early in the tournament, I think we both don't quite yet know to 100 percent how everything feels. There is a bit of the unknown, which is exciting maybe for the fans to see how we're going to try to figure that part out."

Federer hit 32 winners against Johnson, including a forehand volley that earned him a mini-break in the first set tiebreaker. He won five of the next six points and closed out the set on Johnson's desperate backhand lob that landed wide.

Johnson held at 6-all to force the second tiebreaker and fell behind 4-2. He broke Federer for a 4-all tie before Federer won on his second match point when Johnson netted a backhand.

"In the second set, I think he was serving almost 90 percent at one point," Federer said. "That's why I changed my position on the return. I was trying to mix it up a bit."

Nadal advanced with a 6-3, 7-5 win against 26th-seeded Fernando Verdasco for his 50th career victory at the desert tournament, where he's won three titles but none since 2013.

Nadal called it unlucky that he and Federer were to play before the quarterfinals. The Spaniard leads the rivalry 23-12, including a 9-8 edge on hardcourts.

"It doesn't matter if everybody is playing well because from our part of the draw, only one of us is going to be in that semifinals," Nadal said. "So that's tough, but that's not happening every week. Only thing we can do to avoid that is be in higher position of the ranking."

Without a win against Federer since the Australian Open in 2014 - a run of back-to-back defeats - Nadal knows he has his work cut out in the earliest meeting between the pair since the third round of the Miami Open in 2004.

"Federer has the talent to do very difficult things that look easy. He's able to take the ball very early. Serve and first shot, he creates a lot of winners with that, the two first shots," Nadal said.

"And then he's able to take the ball always from inside, and he's very quick going to the net. If you play a short ball, then you know that he’s going to go inside and going to hit a winner, going to play a shot to your forehand or backhand, goes to the net, and you are going to be in big trouble."

This will be their third tussle at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden. Fededer claimed their 2012 semifinal 6-3, 6-4, while Nadal returned the favour the following year in the quarterfinals 6-4, 6-2. Between them, they have collectively accounted for seven of the past 13 Indian Wells titles.

Date: 15 March 2017, Source: AP, Omnisport and Indian Wells

Federer surges into Indian Wells third round

Roger Federer wasted no time in booking his spot in the third round of the BNP Paribas Open on Sunday evening. In a battle of veteran players on the ATP World Tour, 35-year-old Federer raced past 36-year-old Stephane Robert 6-2, 6-1 in just 51 minutes.

"Very happy. The knee is a thing of the past, which is great. I don't even have to think or talk about it. So I thought the match went really well,” said Federer. “I’m very pleased with how it went. And moving on to the next round, it’s going to be a different matchup, so I’ve got to adjust again.”

Despite the scoreline, Federer was full of praise for Robert playing some of the best tennis of his career at age 36.

“I admire those guys who make the breakthrough later on and find a way and not lose love for the game early,” said Federer. “It’s nice to see him do well now and beginning to play against great players on the big courts. That’s been so motivational for those guys to keep going. All of a sudden, age just becomes a number.”

The Swiss star was in fine form, winning 71 per cent of his service points and converting all five of his break point chances. Victory takes Federer to a 53-11 mark at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden, where he has lifted the trophy four times, most recently in 2012.

After being sidelined for the second half of the 2016 season, Federer made a remarkable comeback at the start of this year, beating Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal in back-to-back five-set tussles to clinch his 18th Grand Slam championship at the Australian Open.

There was a surprise for Federer last week, though, in his second tour-level tournament of the year in Dubai, where he was upset by Evgeny Donskoy in the second round. The Basel native looks to bounce back this week, but finds himself in the toughest quarter of the draw, alongside Nadal and Novak Djokovic.

Federer goes on to face 24th seed Steve Johnson, who edged Kevin Anderson 6-4, 3-6, 7-6(4) in two hours and 14 minutes. Federer leads his ATP Head to Head rivalry with Johnson 1-0, defeating the American in straight-sets last year at Wimbledon.

“I have to be careful of any letdown after the Australian Open. I think it's real. That's why I'm really out there, like today, pushing myself on, one more point, shot-for-shot, point-for-point mentality,” said Federer. “It's important to see and not look too far ahead and think things are going to come easy.”

Date: 13 March 2017, Source: ATP

Federer unfazed by tough draw in Indian Wells

In a way, Roger Federer might get exactly what he wants during his return to the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells this week. Federer said he came to the ATP World Tour Masters 1000 tournament to face the best, and he should have that opportunity early and often at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden.

The four-time champion has been drawn in the same quarter as five-time champion Novak Djokovic, three-time titlist Rafael Nadal, Argentine Juan Martin del Potro, Alexander Zverev and World No. 16 Nick Kyrgios, who's coming off his first win against Djokovic last week in Acapulco.

It's the first time that Federer, Nadal and Djokovic have been drawn in the same quarter. They were drawn in the same half for the first time last year in Rome. The Swiss star isn't sure if he's faced a tougher draw during his 20-year career, but he's also not worried.

“It doesn't matter. I've gone through so many draws. I came here to Indian Wells to play against those guys. So it doesn't matter if it's a semi, a final or actually a fourth round,” Federer said during his pre-tournament press conference on Wednesday.

The 35 year old can't meet Nadal until the fourth round, but even that isn't a sure bet for Federer, who's returning to Indian Wells for the first time since 2015. Knee surgery last year forced him to miss the tournament after 15 consecutive main draw appearances in the desert.

“It's good to be back here and still on the comeback,” said Federer, who's playing in his third tour-level event of the season. “I'm enjoying practice more than ever and can't wait for the matches to roll around.”

In the third round, Federer could meet former Top 10 player Kevin Anderson or 24th seed and California native Steve Johnson. Next, Federer might face Nadal in the fourth round, which would be the earliest they've met at a tournament since their first meeting in 2004, when they played in the third round in Miami.

Since Nadal took that debut contest, 13 years and 34 more ATP Head to Head meetings have passed. Nadal leads their ATP Head to Head rivalry 23-12, but Federer has won their past two contests, including the Australian Open final in January.

If Federer advances past Nadal and the seeds play out on the bottom portion of the draw, Federer will face Djokovic, who's looking to extend his 17-match win streak in the desert and claim his fourth consecutive Indian Wells title. But del Potro, Zverev and Kyrgios also loom in the Serbian's section.

“Most of the guys you won't even see because they'll eliminate each other. So from that standpoint the first message I got was Dudi Sela or Stephane Robert,” Federer said of his potential second-round opponents, following a first-round bye. “Then I heard that Rafa was in my section, you're like OK, and then you hear that maybe Novak's in your section and you're like OK, fine.”

Helping Federer stay relaxed is that winning feeling he's still carrying from Down Under. The 18-time Grand Slam champion said it feels like his five-set win against Nadal happened just yesterday.

“I still feel like I'm on Cloud Nine,” Federer said. “Things are terrific, and I'm happy if I made a lot of people happy, because I know I'm not just playing for myself these days. There's so much more to it.”

The right-hander has a 52-11 career record in Indian Wells, a run that includes four titles (2004-06, 2012) and two runner-up finishes (2014, 2015).

Date: 9 March 2017, Source: ATP

Federer blows three match points in shock loss to Donskoy

Roger Federer squandered three match points in a shock 3-6, 7-6 (7), 7-6 (5) second round loss to Russian qualifier Evgeny Donskoy at the Dubai Tennis Championships on Wednesday.

Federer looked poised to claim his ninth victory of the year when he held match points at 6/4 and 7/6 in the second set tie-break, before Donskoy fought back to force a decider. Federer looked to have regrouped when he broke in the sixth game of the third set and served for the match at 5-3, but again he failed to close out victory, losing his serve to 30.

Donskoy then turned the tables as he broke Federer in the 11th game. But, serving for the biggest win of his career against the 18-time Grand Slam champion, the Russian was broken to love as the pulsating match when to a deciding tie-break.

Federer once again put himself in a commanding position as he led 5/2 with two serves to come. But in an astonishing turn of events, World No. 116 Donskoy reeled off the final five points of the match to prevail in just over two hours.

“I had my chances. I should somehow close it out. Don't know how it got away, but he did very well. It's a rough one, for sure,” Federer said. “But tennis is this way. Margins are small. A fast court like here, you can't find much rhythm. Next thing you know, you're struggling.

“Maybe I wasn't really committed enough. Commitment in tennis is a big thing. In the first round I was. Today I wasn't, really. That sort of is a feeling you get and it trickles in an entire game. I thought I returned way better in the first round. Today I really struggled on the return. I didn't quite really time it well. Yeah, timing I thought was off for me today. Legs also felt slower out here tonight. I felt tired all day. I tried to get myself in shape, and, you know, like warm up properly, do all the things I always do, regardless if it's a first round or a final.

“There's no excuses. I just think it's still the beginning of the comeback and I have to take the positives out of playing again a tournament where I feel I'm quite healthy and I'm happy I got over the groin injury I sustained at the Australian Open. Maybe didn't allow me to practice as much as I was hoping to in Switzerland, but at the same time also needed the rest. But there was also no problem there, really. I came early. I was perfectly prepared. It's just a tough loss tonight. So many chances. It was crazy.”

It is just the third time since 2007 that Federer has been beaten by a qualifier (2013 Hamburg vs Delbonis; 2015 Shanghai vs Ramos). The Basel native suffered his first defeat of the 2017 season, having made a remarkable comeback from a five-month injury layoff by defeating Rafael Nadal to win the Australian Open.

The 35-year-old Federer was bidding to win the title at this ATP World Tour 500 tournament for the eighth time. He drops to a 48-6 tournament record.

Through to his first ATP World Tour quarter-final since a semi-final showing at 2015 Moscow, the 26-year-old Donskoy will face seventh seed Lucas Pouille.

“I surprised everyone today. I think whoever wins against Roger surprises himself,” said Donskoy. “I can say it's a dream come true, but I don't like this, because you always want to win, even if it's Roger.

“It was really tough in the beginning, because it was too much pressure,” Donskoy said. “Because it's Roger, and I never even practice with him.”

Date: 1 March 2017, Source: ATP, AP and Dubai Championships

Federer begins his bid for eighth Dubai title

Roger Federer began his quest for a record eighth title at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships with a 6-1, 6-3 win over Benoit Paire in just 54 minutes. It is his 13th appearance in Dubai, and as well as winning seven titles he has twice finished as runner-up.

It was Federer's first match since winning the Australian Open last month, his 18th Grand Slam title. But the 35-year-old Swiss showed no rust in the rout, winning nearly 70 per cent of his service points and saving all three break points faced. Federer broke Paire twice in the first set as the Frenchman struggled to stay in rallies. The Swiss broke twice more in the second set to earn his fourth win in as many tries against Paire.

“There were some break points to be saved, and, you know, I think I returned very well for a first round. I was able to get my second serves in deep, was able to go into the offensive quickly,” Federer said.

“I'm happy with how I played and I was able to stay aggressive. Didn't have to move that much. It was very quick rallies. So we'll see how that's going to turn out. But obviously couldn't be a better first round for me here in Dubai.”

Federer will meet a Russian in the second round, either veteran Mikhail Youzhny or qualifier Evgeny Donskoy. He improves to 48-5 at the tournament with the win against Paire.

“I have played here for so many years, seen the tournament grow,” Federer said. “And especially after Australia, fans and myself know how special it is for me to be back on the court. It was a nice welcome. Very thankful always.”

He faces a tough road from here, though. Top seed Andy Murray and second seed and defending champion Stan Wawrinka could meet Federer in the semi-finals and final, respectively.

Date: 27 February 2017, Source: ATP and Dubai Championships

Refreshed and refueled Federer ready for Dubai

Roger Federer returns to court "refueled" in Dubai this week after having not played since he won the Australian Open, his first tour event since being sidelined with knee problems for more than half a season.

The record 18-time grand slam winner is gunning for an eighth title in Dubai as the tournament celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Four weeks on from his incredible five-set victory over Rafael Nadal in the Melbourne final, Federer says he’s ready to step back on the court even though he only just got the all-clear for an inner thigh problem that bothered him during the Australian Open.

“Mentally I’m super-fresh again. I think I refueled the energy tank, on the mental side, being home, spending time with the family, being in the winter in the mountains in Switzerland. It was beautiful to be home in my own house and just enjoy that part,” Federer said.

But the World No. 9 acknowledged that he was not starting the tournament in top shape, with a leg injury having delayed his return to training.

“Physically I had a bit of a problem with my leg, that was bothering me for basically 10 days of the Australian Open, I didn’t have treatment for nothing, so I did an MRI after.”

An MRI following the tournament revealed some damage, but another done a week ago indicated improvement. Federer, having recently said he had not yet begun doing full practices again, is now ramping up.

“There was a bit of an issue, hematoma. I did scan again last Monday before I came and it definitely was better. So since three days now I’m practicing at 100 per cent. I’m a little bit tired because it’s the first time I’m actually pushing myself again, but because it’s fast court, best-of-three , I will be fine.”

Federer opens his Dubai campaign against Frenchman Benoit Paire and has been drawn in the same half as top-seeded Andy Murray. Number two seed Stan Wawrinka is in other side of the draw.

Date: 26 February 2017, Source: Sport360 and