Roger Federer two wins from 100th title after reaching Dubai semifinals

Switzerland's Roger Federer in action during his quarter final match against Hungary's Marton Fucsovics. (Reuters)
Updated 28 February 2019
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Roger Federer two wins from 100th title after reaching Dubai semifinals

  • Roger Federer moved to within two wins of a 100th career title on Thursday
  • The seven-time champion beat his Hungarian opponent 7-6 (8/6), 6-4

DUBAI: Roger Federer moved to within two wins of a 100th career title on Thursday after coming through a tough test in difficult conditions against Marton Fucsovics to reach the Dubai Championships semifinals.
The seven-time champion beat his Hungarian opponent 7-6 (8/6), 6-4 in conditions which were far from comfortable with gusting winds and brief rain delays.
“It was tricky. A couple of rain delays, especially one at 5-all, coming back with sort of no preparation, you just have to serve,” said second-seeded Federer.
“We made the most of it. The tiebreaker was tough. I’m happy I found a way to get out of that one. That was an exciting match, to say the least.”
The 20-time Grand Slam winner will face either Croatian sixth seed Borna Coric or Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia in the last four on Friday.
“You look at the score at home and it looks like an easy straight sets,” he said.
“But it is so close, you can never underestimate anyone. I’m very happy with my level. It was tough with the wind, but it’s a challenge and that’s why I’m here.”
Federer had to save two set points in an opener which lasted for just over an hour.
He then got into his rhythm but needed a big effort to break on his fifth chance of the ninth game of the second set, taking a 5-4 lead before serving it out on his second match point.
Earlier on Thursday, fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas reached the last four as he defeated Hubert Hurkacz 7-6 (7/4), 6-7 (1/7), 6-1 and set up a meeting with Gael Monfils.
France’s Monfils, who will return to the world top 20 on Monday, battled into the semifinals with a 6-1, 6-7 (3/7), 6-2 win over qualifier Ricardas Berankis.
Tsitsipas had to dig deep to get past Hurkacz, who knocked out top seed Kei Nishikori in the second round, going the distance in the first two sets and being broken when serving for the match, before seeing off the world number 77 after more than two-and-a-quarter hours.
“The breaks I got in the third set refreshed my mind. I was able to raise my level,” Tsitsipas said.
“I knew that if I kept fighting, more chances would come — and they did.
“I was serving a bit better, maybe opening the court, making like less mistakes, being aggressive. When I broke him first time, I showed him that I’m still in the match.”
Unseeded Monfils, 32, revealed that he needed to get angry with himself to get over the line after missing chances to close out a straight-sets victory when a set up and leading the second 5-4.
“It was tough mentally, I was upset that I didn’t finish it (then). I had to get angry to find the energy to come back,” he said after coming from a break down to storm through the final set.
“I was playing flat, I knew I had to do something.
“My opponent was very brave, he went for his shots, came to the net and made it difficult.”
Monfils’ performance dipped drastically after ripping through the opening set in 23 minutes, losing the second and rediscovering his game only just in time to claim victory.
In the end it took nearly two hours for Monfils to beat Berankis, ranked 113 in the world and playing his first quarter-final since October.
“The last three games was just pure anger. I was aggressive, but I was little bit worried,” Monfils said.
“I wanted this match even more. The intensity, definitely it’s something positive.”


Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

Updated 18 April 2019
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Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal into Monte Carlo last eight

  • Medvedev eliminates 6th seed Tsitsipas in three sets

MONTE CARLO: Top seed Novak Djokovic and 11-time champion Rafael Nadal showed no mercy in dominating wins to power into the Monte Carlo Masters quarterfinals on Thursday.

Djokovic extended his winning streak against US players with a 6-3, 6-0 defeat of Taylor Fritz.

The two-time tournament champion has now won nine in a row over Americans since losing at Wimbledon in 2016 to Sam Querrey.

“It was very challenging to play in these (windy) conditions,” Djokovic said. “Taylor just flattens the ball.

“We had five, six close games in the first set, I just managed to break his resistance midway through.

“After that, things went on my side and I felt more comfortable.

“This was one of these days where you just have to hang in there and try to put an extra ball back in the court — that was enough.”

Nadal repeated last year’s semifinal win over Grigor Dimitrov, beating the Bulgarian for the 12th time, 6-4, 6-1.

“I’m very, very happy, this is an important victory for me,” the second seed said after winning his 23rd consecutive set at the tournament.

“Grigor is a super talent and is very dangerous. It was a positive match for me.

“I had a good day, I can be happy with what I did on court.

“When you don’t play on clay for almost a year, every win is important for the confidence, especially as I’m coming back from injury.”

Spain’s 17-time Grand Slam champion started his clay season this week after missing a month with another knee problem and has title-holder points to defend here plus Barcelona, Rome and Roland Garros.

The king of clay is bidding for a 12th trophy in the principality. His record at the event is a staggering 70-4.

Nadal spent almost an hour in securing the first set but picked up the pace in the second as he ran out the winner.

He next faces Guido Pella, who defeated Italy’s Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 4-6, 6-4.

World No. 1 Djokovic will be playing his ninth quarterfinal here from 13 appearances at his home event.

Djokovic turned in a steady performance with a dozen winners and unforced errors, while his opponent committed nearly 30 unforced errors in 68 minutes.

Sixth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas earlier lost 6-2, 1-6, 6-4 as Daniil Medvedev continued his run of form.

The Russian will next line up against Djokovic after losing to him in January in the Australian Open fourth round.

Tsitsipas was caught on the back foot facing three match points as he trailed 0-40 on his serve late in the second set. After saving the first two, the Greek botched the third to seal his exit after an hour and three-quarters.

Medvedev increased his leading total of ATP season match wins to 20 as a result after he beat Tsitsipas for the fourth time in as many attempts.

“This was a great achievement for me,” Medvedev said. “Everything was perfect today.

“Some wind came up in the second set and I could not get used to it. But in the third, I just worked to put every ball in the court.

“I was pleased to fight back after going a break down in the third set.”

The player who stands a career-high 14th credits his rising form to a renewed dedication to the sport.

“I’ve been working hard for the past 18 months —  since before the start of 2018. I’ve dedicated my life to tennis, which I did not do before,” Medvedev said.

“I had my best season last year — hopefully this year will be better.”

The Russian reached his first quarterfinal at the Masters 1000 level after winning his second match against a Top 10 opponent.

Tsitsipas, runner-up last season to Nadal in Toronto, suffered his eighth defeat of the season against 18 wins and will try and lift his game next week on the clay of Barcelona. 

Italian qualifier Lorenzo Sonego defeated Britain’s Cameron Norrie 6-2, 7-5.