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In Roger Federer’s words: ‘It was harder to accept Wimbledon loss than the one at..’

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Roger Federer was one of the players to beat in the first couple of months in 2003, failing to reach the quarter-final at the Australian Open but winning titles in Marseille and Dubai for the most wins on the Tour. The Swiss experienced early losses in Indian Wells and Miami before flying back to Europe and finding the winning path again in the Davis Cup against France in Toulouse.

After a couple of weeks, Roger started his clay-court spring swing with the title in Munich, having no time to celebrate it as he had to play in Rome just a couple of days later, facing Paul-Henri Mathieu in the opening match.

The Swiss grabbed a 6-2, 7-5 victory in an hour and 27 minutes, trailing in set number two before turning things around with a double break to book the place in the next round. Speaking about the upcoming Roland Garros and Wimbledon, Federer said he expects good results at both after early exits in 2002 but also the fact that more players can beat him on clay in comparison to grass.

A year ago, Hicham Arazi toppled him in Paris after playing rock-solid tennis in the decisive moments, experiencing another unexpected loss at the All England Club to inexperienced Mario Ancic who beat him in straight sets.

“Grass is more natural to my game than clay, even though I grew up on the slowest surface. Wimbledon is more like poker because you hardly play on grass. It’s hard to say where I have more chances but more players are capable of beating me on clay than grass, that’s for sure.

Last year, I lost in the first round at both Roland Garros and Wimbledon and the one at the All England Club was tougher for me to take. Arazi played a great match in Paris and I had the wrong tactics. The conditions didn’t work my way either due to the rain.

Also, he played incredible tennis, delivering his best strokes when it mattered the most and leaving me empty-handed. At Wimbledon against Ancic, I tried to serve & volley and be aggressive but the court was slow and that wouldn’t work.

I had no rhythm or confidence, feeling something was wrong with my game and that I didn’t play well. In the end, I was staying back while serving while Mario was rushing to the net, although I expected him to stay on the baseline; that was a big shock to me and I needed some time to get over it. It hurt me a lot to lose that match in straight sets.”

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“Good Person”: Rafael Nadal Opens up on His Relationship With Rival Novak Djokovic

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Many tennis fans wonder how Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic get along outside the tennis court. Their conduct towards each other on the tennis court is always respectful, and that translates outside the court as well, as admitted by Nadal. The Spaniard spoke about his relationship with Djokovic, whom he called a good person.

“I have a good relationship with him. Is a good person. We must relativize things between us,”  Nadal said, in a recent interview, throwing light on his camaraderie with Djokovic.

There was also speculation among fans as to what Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic spoke about at the end of their French Open 2020 final. Interestingly, it was one of the most one-sided battles they have played over the years. However, Nadal said that Djokovic, with whom he shares a strong relationship, simply congratulated him and nothing more.

Rafael Nadal understands why Novak Djokovic did not say much

I could not talk to him. He congratulated me on the track and that’s it. It is normal,” Nadal said. He said he understands that Djokovic was not in a mood to talk, as no one usually is, after a heartbreaking loss.

When you lose a game like that, you don’t really want to talk. I understand it,” Nadal added.

Nadal avenged his one-sided loss in the 2019 Australian Open final against Djokovic. The two men also shared a respectful exchange during the trophy ceremony post their match. Nadal lauded Djokovic and said he hopes to keep facing him, further adding to their already great rivalry.

What you’re doing in tennis is very very special. Hope to keep facing you [Djokovic] on the court for the next couple of years,” Nadal said to Djokovic.

The mutual respect between the two stars

Despite not having a conversation with Nadal after the match, Djokovic spoke highly of Nadal in his post-match presser. Djokovic highlighted why Nadal is a great champion. He also admitted that it was one of those days where Nadal was simply the better player and there was not much he could do to tame the ‘King of Clay’.

I was also thinking that these conditions are more favorable to me. I was feeling great throughout the tournament playing. […] But, yeah, I mean, Rafa has proven everybody wrong. That’s why he’s a great champion. He just played a fantastic match today,” he said.

The two champions are expected to resume their rivalry at the ATP Finals next month. While they will not face each other in the Round Robin stage, the anticipation of another Nadal-Djokovic final is already running high.

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