Five Sports Stars Competing Past 40

 

 

Roger Federer celebrates his 40th birthday on Sunday still hopeful of adding to his 20 Grand Slam titles despite an unconvincing return to the sport following two knee surgeries.

AFP Sport looks at five other stars still competing at an age when many of their contemporaries have long headed for the comfort of an armchair.

 

Tom Brady – 44

The American Football superstar quarterback turned 44 on Tuesday but shows few signs of slowing down. Brady has won seven Super Bowls – six with the New England Patriots and one this year with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

He was also the oldest player to be voted MVP in a Super Bowl after the 31-9 win over Kansas City.

“Feeling blessed and ready to go for year 22!!,” Brady tweeted on Wednesday after celebrating his birthday.

Brazil’s midfielder Formiga (L) vies for the ball with Canada’s forward Nichelle Prince during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games women’s quarter-final football match between Canada and Brazil at Miyagi Stadium in Miyagi on July 30, 2021. (Photo by Philip FONG / AFP)

Formiga – 43

Brazilian footballer Formiga has played more than 200 times for her country since making her international debut at 17 in 1995. The midfielder’s club career has taken her from Sao Paulo to Malmo, New Jersey, Paris Saint-Germain and numerous stops in between.

At Tokyo this week, Formiga became the first women’s player to appear in seven Olympics.

“I intend to play football until I am 45. I love it. It will be difficult to stop,” she said in Tokyo where Brazil were eliminated by Canada in the quarter-finals.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Italian rider Valentino Rossi gestures after taking second place in the qualifying session of Malaysian MotoGP at the Sepang International Circuit on October 29, 2016. / AFP PHOTO / MOHD RASFAN

Valentino Rossi – 42

A nine-time world motorcycling champion with seven of those coming in the premier class, Rossi on Thursday said he will complete this season and then retire after 26 years in the sport.

The charismatic Italian’s last MotoGP world title came back in 2009 and he lost his seat with the factory Yamaha team after a 15th place finish in the truncated 2020 campaign.

This year, he has been riding for the Yamaha satellite team but is currently 19th in the standings.

His dream of equalling Giacomo Agostini’s record of eight premier class world titles will now remain just that.

Venus Williams – 41

The winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles (five at Wimbledon and two at the US Open) and a former world number one. Williams also has 14 women’s doubles titles at the majors and two in mixed.

She was the 2000 Olympic gold medallist in singles and has added three more doubles at the Games alongside sister Serena. Currently ranked at 110 in the world, the last of her 49 singles titles came at Kaohsiung in 2016.

PORT OF SPAIN, TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO – AUGUST 14: Chris Gayle of the West Indies brings up his 50 during the third MyTeam11 ODI between the West Indies and India at the Queen’s Park Oval on August 14, 2019 in Port of Spain, Trinidad And Tobago. (Photo by Ashley Allen)

Chris Gayle – 41

Cricket star Gayle, nicknamed ‘Universe Boss’, has captained the West Indies and has played more international games for the team than any other man.

He is also just one of four batsmen in history to have scored two triple hundreds in Tests and one of only six to have a double century in ODIs.

Still a part of the West Indies T20 squad, Gayle’s skills are usually limited to franchise cricket these days – he has played 437 T20 games and scored over 14,000 runs.

 

Roger Federer Turns 40 With Career At Crossroads

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 26, 2020 Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after victory against Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics during their men’s singles match on day seven of the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne. (Photo by William WEST / AFP)

 

 

Roger Federer turns 40 on Sunday with his storied career, which has yielded 20 Grand Slams, a multi-million-dollar fortune and an army of fans who treat the Swiss star with saintly reverence, at a crossroads.

Federer has only played 13 matches in 2021 and managed just six in the pandemic-hit 2020 campaign when he underwent two knee surgeries.

He withdrew from this year’s French Open after reaching the fourth round and was knocked out in the quarter-finals of Wimbledon, a tame 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 loss to Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz.

That defeat was only Federer’s 14th at the All England Club in 119 matches, and the first time he had been beaten in the tournament in straight sets since a first-round exit at the hands of Mario Ancic in 2002.

It was also the first time he had lost a set 6-0 at Wimbledon and just the third time at a Slam.

“I don’t know. I’ve got to regroup,” said Federer when asked if his Wimbledon career was over.

The signs since then have not been encouraging.

He skipped the Olympics in Tokyo in a bid to be fresh for the North American hardcourt season where he won the last of his five US Opens in 2008.

On Thursday, however, he withdrew from the Toronto and Cincinnati Masters, key warm-up events for the US Open.

Federer captured his most recent major at the 2018 Australian Open. He was already well past 36 and the second oldest man to clinch a Slam title

Since then, Novak Djokovic has claimed eight more majors and old rival Rafael Nadal has picked up four. Both now stand level on 20 with Federer.

Should Federer be preparing to bow out after 23 years on tour, he will leave behind a career decorated by 103 titles — only Jimmy Connors with 109 has more — a combined 310 weeks at number one and more than $130 million in prize money alone.

Federer’s net worth was estimated in 2019 at $450 million and such is the cash-register recognition of the brand that in 2018, he penned a 10-year, $300 million deal with clothing manufacturer Uniqlo.

In his prime, Federer left opponents bamboozled.

 

(FILES) In this file photo taken on January 28, 2018 (COMBO) This combination of pictures created on January 28, 2018 shows Switzerland’s Roger Federer holding his record 20 tennis Grand Slam tournaments winner’s trophies. From bottom right to top left : Wimbledon 2003, Australian Open 2004, Wimbledon 2004, US Open 2004, Wimbledon 2005, US Open 2005, Australian Open 2006, Wimbledon 2006, US Open 2006, Australian Open 2007, Wimbledon 2007, US Open 2007, US Open 2008, French Open 2009, Wimbledon 2009, Australian Open 2010, Wimbledon 2012, Australian Open 2017, Wimbledon 2017, and Australian Open 2018. (Photos by various sources / AFP) 

 

“I threw the kitchen sink at him but he went to the bathroom and got his tub,” sighed an exhausted Andy Roddick after losing the 2004 Wimbledon final.

It wasn’t always smooth progress.

When he was just 19, Federer famously defeated personal hero Pete Sampras at Wimbledon in 2001.

Twelve months later, however, he exited Wimbledon in the first round.

It took a personal tragedy for him to press the reset.

Just when he turned 21, his coach and close friend from his formative years Peter Carter was killed in a car crash in South Africa.

From that point on, the multi-lingual Federer committed himself to winning in style, no longer consumed by his inner demons.

– Great rivals –
Born on August 8, 1981 in Basel, to Swiss father Robert and South African mother Lynette, Federer started playing tennis at eight.

Turning pro in 1998, he won his first ATP title in Milan in 2001.

It had been after the first of his five Australian Opens in 2004 that he claimed the world number one ranking for the first time.

Federer now has eight Wimbledons, six Australian Open, five US Opens and a single Roland Garros.

He has 28 Masters, a 2008 Olympic doubles gold medal with close friend Stan Wawrinka and a Davis Cup victory for Switzerland in 2014.

Had he not competed in the same era as Nadal and Djokovic, his trophy collection may have been more impressive.

However, Nadal, who has forged a close bond with Federer, enjoys a 24-16 head-to-head advantage.

Against Djokovic, with whom dealings have never been as cordial, Federer trails 27-23.

They shared history in 2019 when the Serb triumphed in the longest ever Wimbledon final, just three minutes short of five hours.

Heartbreakingly for Federer, he squandered two championship points.

Federer’s stunning longevity has seen him play 119 matches at Wimbledon (105 wins/14 losses), 117 in Melbourne (102/15), 103 at the US Open (89/14) and 90 at Roland Garros (73/17).

On the eve of his shattering defeat to Djokovic in the 2019 Wimbledon final, Federer said he had not set any date for retiring.

“It’s just discussions I always have with my wife about the family, about my kids, is everybody happy on tour, are we happy to pack up and go on tour for five, six, seven weeks. Are we willing to do that?,” he said.

“For the time being, it seems like absolutely no problem, which is wonderful.”

Federer, Osaka Among Those Named To US Open Tennis Field

In this file photo taken on May 30, 2021 Japan’s Naomi Osaka celebrates after winning against Romania’s Patricia Maria Tig during their women’s singles first round tennis match on Day 1 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris. 
MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

 

 

Defending champion Naomi Osaka, who withdrew from the French Open due to mental issues and skipped Wimbledon, and Roger Federer, who missed the Olympics with a knee injury, were named Wednesday to the US Open tennis field.

The US Tennis Association named the men’s and women’s singles lineups for the August 30-September 12 event at Flushing Meadows, where spectators will return at 100% capacity.

The ATP Tour’s 103 top-ranked players are entered for New York with top-ranked Novak Djokovic chasing a calendar-year Grand Slam after a Wimbledon victory that lifted him level with ninth-ranked Federer and third-ranked Rafael Nadal with a men’s record 20 career Grand Slam titles.

Only Rod Laver in 1962 and 1969 and Don Budge in 1938 have managed a men’s calendar Slam.

Djokovic, who will seek Olympic gold in Tokyo, could become only the second player to win all four Slam singles crowns and Olympic gold in the same year after Steffi Graf in 1988.

Other men’s entrants include sixth-ranked defending champion Dominic Thiem, past US Open winners Stan Wawrinka and Marin Cilic, world number two Daniil Medvedev and fourth-ranked Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Britain’s Andy Murray, the 2012 US Open champion, was the first player on the alternate list and will gain a spot in the main draw should anyone in the field withdraw.

Sixteen qualifiers and eight wildcards will complete the field.

On the women’s side, top-ranked Ashleigh Barty of Australia, who won her second Grand Slam title at Wimbledon, is among 15 Slam singles champions in the field, seven of them in the top 10.

Four-time Grand Slam champion Osaka of Japan, ranked second, is also in the lineup along with 2020 Australian Open champion and world number four Sofia Kenin, fifth-ranked 2019 US Open winner Bianca Andreescu, eighth-ranked Iga Swiatek and former world number ones Garbine Muguruza and Simona Halep.

In all, 100 of the top 104 players in the WTA rankings opted into the event.

Roger Federer Withdraws From Tokyo Olympics

Switzerland’s Roger Federer attends a press conference after losing to Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz during their men’s quarter-finals match on the ninth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 7, 2021. (Photo by AELTC/Joe Toth / various sources / AFP)

 

Roger Federer announced on Tuesday he has withdrawn from the upcoming Tokyo Olympics after a “setback” in his recovery from a knee injury.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion was knocked out of Wimbledon in the quarter-finals by Hubert Hurkacz last week.

The 39-year-old Federer, who has never won an Olympic singles gold medal, underwent two surgeries on his right knee in 2020.

“During the grass court season, I unfortunately experienced a setback with my knee, and have accepted that I must withdraw from the Tokyo Olympic Games,” Federer said in a statement on social media.

The tennis competitions in Japan are set to start on July 24, the day after the opening ceremony.

Federer, who turns 40 next month, pulled out of the French Open after reaching the fourth round, hoping to get fit for Wimbledon.

He showed signs of his best during his run to the quarter-finals, but bowed out tamely, losing 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 to Poland’s Hurkacz.

That defeat sparked talk among fans and pundits speculating whether the eight-time Wimbledon winner would retire, with Federer saying he “didn’t know” if his Wimbledon career was over.

But on Tuesday, the former world number one said he was hoping to return to the ATP Tour later this summer.

“I have already begun rehabilitation in the hopes of returning to the tour later this summer,” he added.

“I wish the entire Swiss team the best of luck and I will be rooting hard for the team from afar.”

AFP

Federer Crashes As Djokovic Reaches 10th Wimbledon Semi-Final

Switzerland’s Roger Federer (R) congratulates Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz after losing their men’s quarter-finals match on the ninth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 7, 2021. (Photo by AELTC/Edward Whitaker / POOL / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE

 

 

Roger Federer faced serious questions over his future on Wednesday after crashing out of Wimbledon in the quarter-finals, just five weeks shy of his 40th birthday.

Eight-time Wimbledon champion and 20-time Grand Slam title winner Federer lost 6-3, 7-6 (7/4), 6-0 to a Poland’s Hubert Hurkacz, a player 15 years his junior.

It was only Federer’s 14th defeat at the tournament in 119 matches and his first straight-sets loss since an opening-round exit against Mario Ancic in 2002.

It was the first time he had lost a set 6-0 at Wimbledon.

“I noticed the mis-hits, awkward-looking points from Roger and obviously the last set of course, 6-0,” said former champion Boris Becker commentating on Federer’s performance.

“He would never ever say if there was a niggle, but I don’t know if we will ever see the great man again here.”

World number 18 Hurkacz had never got beyond the third round of a Grand Slam before this Wimbledon.

– 10th semi for Djokovic –
However, boosted by having defeated world number two Daniil Medvedev in five sets in the last 16, he was a break up on a sluggish-looking Federer in the sixth game of the opening set.

The Swiss star, who underwent two knee surgeries in 2020 and was bidding to be the oldest man in the Wimbledon last-four in over a half a century, carved out a break for 2-0 in the second set.

He couldn’t hang on and Hurkacz levelled in the seventh game from 1-4 down before dominating the tiebreak.

Federer looked punch drunk and he was quickly down 0-2 in the third set before Hurkacz wrapped up the decider in just 29 minutes in front of a stunned Centre Court.

He is only the second Polish man to reach the semi-finals at Wimbledon — Jerzy Janowicz being the other in 2013.

Up next is a clash with either Matteo Berrettini of Italy or Canada’s Felix Auger-Aliassime for a place in Sunday’s final.

“It’s super special to have played Roger here, it’s a dream come true,” said Hurkacz.

“He’s done so many special things here.”

World number one and five-time champion Novak Djokovic reached his 10th Wimbledon semi-final and 41st at the Grand Slams.

Djokovic, chasing a record-equalling 20th major, defeated Hungary’s Marton Fucsovics 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

He will face Canada’s 10th seed Denis Shapovalov, who beat Russia’s Karen Khachanov 6-4, 3-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-4, for a place in Sunday’s final.

It was 34-year-old Djokovic’s 100th career grass court victory.

Djokovic became only the third man to capture all four majors more than once with his second French Open victory last month.

Now he is halfway to becoming the first man in the Open Era and only the third in history to complete a calendar Grand Slam of all four majors.

“I’m aware of certain stats, I love this sport with all my heart, body and soul and have been devoted to it since I was four,” he said.

“Sometimes things do look surreal for me but I try to live in the moment and take every opportunity I have on the court.

“Going for history is a huge inspiration for me, let’s keep it going.”

Djokovic raced into a 5-0 lead in the first set before 29-year-old Fucsovics got on the board.

The world number 48, bidding to become the first Hungarian man since 1948 to make the semi-finals at Wimbledon, saved five set points.

However, the rearguard action was too late to prevent the champion edging ahead.

The top seed broke for the only time in the second set in the ninth game which was enough for a two sets lead.

– Rivals and romance -Djokovic had spent three hours fewer than the muscular Fucsovics in getting to the last-eight and his freshness showed when he crucially broke in the first game of the third set and then fought off two break points in the sixth.

Shapovalov fired 17 aces and 59 winners past Khachanov to reach his first Grand Slam semi-final.

The left-handed Canadian will be a huge underdog against Djokovic having lost all six matches against the world number one.

“Obviously he’s the best player in the world but I think anything is possible. When you look at the scoreboard first thing it will be 0-0,” said the 22-year-old.

“Nothing else matters. Its a tennis match and it can go either way. I have full belief in myself and my team.”

The day’s remaining quarter-final features Berrettini and Auger-Aliassime who are not only close friends — their respective girlfriends are cousins.

Auger-Aliassime is dating Nina Ghaibi while Berrettini is romantically involved with Australian player Ajla Tomljanovic who lost in the women’s quarter-finals on Tuesday.

Federer Becomes Oldest Wimbledon Quarter-Finalist In Modern Era

Switzerland's Roger Federer serves the ball to Germany's Dominik Koepfer during their men's singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP
File photo: Switzerland’s Roger Federer serves the ball to Germany’s Dominik Koepfer during their men’s singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

 

Roger Federer on Monday became the oldest man to reach the Wimbledon quarter-finals since the dawn of the Open Era in 1968.

Federer, who will be 40 in just under five weeks’ time, eased past Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego 7-5, 6-4, 6-2 to make the last-eight at the All England Club for the 18th time.

“I felt after the first set I was able to control things. I couldn’t be more excited to be in the quarters,” said Federer whose match took place on the final ‘Manic Monday’, so-called because all the last-16 ties in the men’s and women’s event are played.

From next year, play will be held on the middle Sunday, which has traditionally been the tournament rest day.

“I’m happy to have played in the era that there was a ‘Middle Sunday’ but it now means more people can come to the tournament.

“It was very special and I really enjoyed it.”

In what will be his 58th Grand Slam quarter-final, eight-time Wimbledon champion Federer will face either second seed Daniil Medvedev or Hubert Hurkacz, the 14th seed, for a place in the semi-finals.

Medvedev was leading Hurkacz 6-2, 6-7 (2/7), 6-3, 3-4 when play was halted for the night due to rain.

“It is not fair for anyone. I have been in these situations before — but these guys are young and they can recover,” said Federer.

“Unfortunately they are very, very good too, so hopefully it rains again tomorrow… I’m kidding, I’m kidding!”

AFP

Federer Marches Into Wimbledon Fourth Round For 18th time

Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Britain's Cameron Norrie during their men's singles third round match on the sixth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 3, 2021. Ben STANSALL / AFP
Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates his victory over Britain’s Cameron Norrie during their men’s singles third round match on the sixth day of the 2021 Wimbledon Championships at The All England Tennis Club in Wimbledon, southwest London, on July 3, 2021. Ben STANSALL / AFP

 

Roger Federer moved into the fourth round of a Grand Slam tournament for the 69th time on Saturday, overcoming a raucous home crowd and the last British man in the draw Cameron Norrie in an entertaining 6-4, 6-4, 5-7, 6-4 win at Wimbledon.

Federer kept his dream alive of a record-extending ninth singles title.

On the women’s side, Australia’s world number one Ashleigh Barty will hope to follow suit as she bids to add the Wimbledon title to the 2019 French Open crown.

The 25-year-old needs to reassure her fans on Saturday she can win the title on the 50th anniversary of fellow indigenous Australian Evonne Goolagong Cawley’s first Wimbledon crown.

Victory over 64th-ranked Katerina Siniakova, who is in the last 32 for the third time in her career, will pitch her into a fourth round clash with French Open champion Barbora Krejcikova.

Krejcikova has been under the radar but battled through to the Last 16 beating Anastasija Sevastova of Lativa 7-6 (7-5), 3-6, 7-5.

Federer said this Wimbledon held special significance for him.

“I hope there is a little bit more left in me as this one is special for it is the last slam before I hit the big 40,” said Federer, the third oldest man to reach the Last 16 in the Open era.

Norrie follows two-time champion Andy Murray and British number one Dan Evans in exiting in the third round.

Federer’s half of the draw looks more treacherous than defending champion Novak Djokovic’s with two of the younger generation Daniil Medvedev and Germany’s Alexander Zverev potentially lurking further down the line.

‘It’s disgraceful’

Second seed Medvedev faces 2017 Wimbledon finalist Marin Cilic seeking to join Zverev in the fourth round.

Zverev ended big-serving Taylor Fritz’s impressive campaign — 6-7 (3/7), 6-4, 6-3, 7-6 (7/4) — given he exited the French Open in a wheelchair due to a knee injury.

The match of the day on the men’s side was a damp squib as fiery Aussie entertainer Nick Kyrgios retired with an abdominal injury tied at one set all with stylish Canadian 16th seed Felix Auger-Aliassime.

The maverick that is Kyrgios did not have the best of starts as he had left his shoes in the locker room.

“One minute I thought I was professional, got my racket, got my clothes, walked out here so confidently and then bang, I forget my shoes in the locker,” said Kyrgios on court before the match.

Despite the disappointing end to his singles campaign — his mixed doubles campaign with Venus Williams must be in doubt — the 26-year-old said he had rediscovered his love of the sport.

“Coming out here (Court One) and having this support has given me a second wind,” he said.

Barty is quite the opposite to her compatriot rarely showing her emotions on court however she is playing.

She takes the positives from her ability to scrap it out and win against Anna Blinkova in the second round.

“You have those days where some days you feel like you’re eight-foot-tall and can’t miss the box,” she said.

“Other days you feel like you’re three-foot-nothing, just getting over the net is a bit of a battle.

“That’s half the battle in sport, is being able to find a way when it’s not feeling all that great.”

Were Barty to stay in three foot mode then either Coco Gauff or 2018 champion Angelique Kerber could benefit.

Gauff and Kerber will meet in the last 16 after the American teenager breezed past Slovenian Kaja Juvan while the German had a tough three-setter against Aliaksandra Sasnovich of Belarus.

Gauff is not the only teenager making her mark at Wimbledon this year.

Britain’s Canada-born 18-year-old Emma Raducanu, who moved with her Romanian father and Chinese mother to England aged two, produced a brilliant display to beat the experienced Sorana Cirstea of Romania 6-3, 7-5.

Raducanu — the world number 338 at the start of the Championships — only sat her school leaving exams in April.

She next faces Australia’s Ajla Tomljanovic who accused her opponent Jelena Ostapenko of “lying” when she took a medical time-out at 0-4 down in the final set of their third round clash on Saturday.

“I think it’s disgraceful behaviour from someone that is a Slam champion,” said the Australian who completed a three-set win.

 

AFP

Djokovic Eyes Third Round As Wimbledon Courts Spark Concern

Serbia’s Novak Djokovic serves the ball to Italy’s Matteo Berrettini during their men’s singles quarter-final tennis match on Day 11 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 9, 2021. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

Five-time champion Novak Djokovic renews his long-standing Wimbledon rivalry with Kevin Anderson on Wednesday as serious questions are asked over the quality of the fabled Centre Court where Serena Williams suffered her tournament-ending injury.

World number one Djokovic, looking to move alongside Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal as a 20-time Grand Slam winner, has a 9-2 record over the big South African.

That includes three wins at Wimbledon in 2011, 2015 and in the 2018 final.

Anderson was beaten in straight sets in that championship match three years ago, exhausted by back-to-back five-setters in the last-eight and semi-finals.

He defeated Federer 13-11 in the final set of their quarter-final clash and then John Isner 26-24 in the fifth set of the semi-final.

Since that time, Anderson, now ranked 102 in the world, has undergone two surgeries on his right knee in 2019 and 2020.

“I never really thought of quitting,” said 35-year-old Anderson.

Djokovic opens play on Centre Court, a day after seven-time champion Serena Williams retired with a right leg injury after twice falling over in the first set of her opener against Aliaksandra Sasnovich.

The 39-year-old American left the arena in tears as her dream of equalling Margaret Court’s record of 24 majors was again thwarted.

– ‘Meticulous standard’ –

“I was heartbroken to have to withdraw,” she said.

Her fall came not long after French player Adrian Mannarino had slipped and hurt himself on the same part of Centre Court.

He too had to retire with his match against Roger Federer level at two sets apiece.

“I do feel it feels a tad more slippery maybe under the roof,” said Federer.

Despite the criticism, the All England Club insisted that the courts are up to standard.

“The preparation of the grass courts has been to exactly the same meticulous standard as in previous years,” the club said in a statement.

“The weather conditions on the opening two days have been the wettest we have experienced in almost a decade, which has required the roof to be closed on Centre Court and No.1 Court for long periods.”

Djokovic had also struggled to keep his feet on Centre Court on Monday when he faced Jack Draper in his first round tie.

The tournament has been hit by heavy rain over the the first two days.

As a result 50 first round matches remained unfinished at the start of Wednesday’s schedule.

Fifth seeded Bianca Andreescu of Canada was knocked out 6-2, 6-1 by France’s Alize Cornet who famously defeated Serena Williams on her way to the last 16 in 2014.

Andreescu, the 2019 US Open champion, is still to win a main draw match at Wimbledon having lost in the first round as a qualifier in 2017.

– 100 wins for Nishikori –

Italian seventh seed Matteo Berrettini, the champion at Queen’s and tipped to go deep at Wimbledon, edged Argentina’s Guido Pella 6-4, 3-6, 6-4, 6-0.

Japan’s Kei Nishikori, a two-time quarter-finalist, claimed his 100th Grand Slam match win by seeing off Australia’s Alexei Popyrin 6-4, 6-4, 6-4.

Britain’s Andy Murray won his first singles match at the tournament in four years when he saw off 24th seeded Nikoloz Basilashvili two days ago.

The three-time champion and former world number one, now down at 118 in the rankings, tackles qualifier Oscar Otte of Germany for a last-32 place later Wednesday.

Murray, 34, has overcome a career-threatening hip injury to still be playing at the highest level.

Both Djokovic and Murray would have been buoyed by seeing world number four Stefanos Tsitsipas removed from their half of the draw in the first round.

In the women’s tournament, Belarus second seed Aryna Sabalenka, yet to make the last-eight of a Slam, faces British wild card Katie Boulter, the world 219.

Sabalenka won their only previous meeting at the Australian Open in 2019.

Venus Williams, the 41-year-old five-time champion who made her tournament debut in 1997, takes on Ons Jabeur who is hoping to become the first Tunisian to make the third round.

Frances Tiafoe, who knocked out Tsitsipas, plays Vasek Pospisil of Canada.

AFP

Roger Federer Withdraws From 2021 French Open

Switzerland's Roger Federer serves the ball to Germany's Dominik Koepfer during their men's singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP
File photo: Switzerland’s Roger Federer serves the ball to Germany’s Dominik Koepfer during their men’s singles third round tennis match on Day 7 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 5, 2021. MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

 

Roger Federer pulled out of what was possibly his last French Open on Sunday as a precautionary measure to rest up before Wimbledon, unwilling to risk his troublesome knee after an injury-plagued past 18 months.

Federer, a 20-time Grand Slam title winner, who will be 40 in two months’ time, had battled over three and a half hours until 12.45am Sunday morning to reach the last 16 in Paris.

“After discussions with my team, I’ve decided I will need to pull out of Roland Garros today,” Federer said.

“After two knee surgeries and over a year of rehabilitation it’s important that I listen to my body and make sure I don’t push myself too quickly on my road to recovery.

“I am thrilled to have gotten three matches under my belt. There is no greater feeling than being back on court.”

The Swiss star was due to play Italy’s Matteo Berrettini on Monday for a place in the quarter-finals, but Federer had cast doubt over whether he would continue following his win over Dominik Koepfer.

Federer was playing only his third tournament since last year’s Australian Open and has always said Wimbledon is his main goal.

He is chasing a ninth title at Wimbledon which starts on June 28.

He is also scheduled to play the warm-up grass court tournament in Halle beginning on June 14, the day after the French Open ends.

“The Roland Garros tournament is sorry about the withdrawal of Roger Federer, who put up an incredible fight last night,” said tournament director Guy Forget.

“We were all delighted to see Roger back in Paris, where he played three high-level matches. We wish him all the best for the rest of the season,”

If his knife-edge 7-6 (7/5), 6-7 (3/7), 7-6 (7/4), 7-5 win over 59th-ranked Koepfer was his last match in Paris, it will be remembered as a gripping affair on the court, but soulless off it.

Due to a government-imposed Covid-19 curfew, Court Philippe Chatrier was devoid of fans and atmosphere.

Federer, who made his Roland Garros debut in 1999 and was champion in 2009, was playing a night session for the first time.

However, the almost empty 15,000-capacity court was eerily silent.

Federer’s return this year was only his second French Open participation since 2015.

Serena eyes history 

Serena Williams of the US serves the ball to Romania’s Mihaela Buzarnescu during their women’s singles second round tennis match on Day 4 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on June 2, 2021. (Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP)

 

While he leaves an event where Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic were always the title favourites, fellow veteran Serena Williams resumes her bid for a historic 24th Grand Slam title.

Seeded seventh, the 39-year-old Williams is the second-highest ranked player left in the women’s draw.

After Naomi Osaka’s shock withdrawal, Simona Halep missing the event through injury and early losses for Bianca Andreescu and Angelique Kerber, none of the players who have beaten Williams in Grand Slam finals since her last title at the 2017 Australian Open are still in the competition.

The former world number one, still just one short of Margaret Court’s all-time record of major trophies, takes on Kazakhstan’s Elena Rybakina for a spot in the quarter-finals.

Williams has not gone beyond the fourth round in Paris since losing the 2016 final to Garbine Muguruza.

She arrived at this year’s French Open with just one win on clay this term.

“I’ve had a rough clay court season thus far, so I’m happy to get some wins on the clay,” Williams said after beating fellow American Danielle Collins in round three.

Greek fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas, fancied to reach his first Grand Slam final, with Nadal and Djokovic in the other half of the draw, sealed his return to the quarter-finals with a 6-3, 6-2, 7-5 victory over Spain’s Pablo Carreno Busta.

A semi-finalist at the past two majors, Tsitsipas was beaten in a thrilling five-setter by Djokovic in Paris eight months ago.

He could next face twice Grand Slam finalist and second seed Daniil Medvedev, the Russian who plays Chile’s Cristian Garin in the last 16.

Earlier, Tamara Zidansek became the first Slovenian woman to reach a Grand Slam quarter-final when she defeated Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

The world number 85, who knocked out former US Open champion Andreescu in round one, will meet Paula Badosa for a place in the semi-finals after the Spaniard beat 2019 Roland Garros runner-up Marketa Vondrousova 6-4, 3-6, 6-2.

Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova returned to the Roland Garros quarter-finals for the first time since 2011, defeating former world number one Victoria Azarenka 5-7, 6-3, 6-2.

AFP

Federer Makes Winning French Open Return As Swiatek, Medvedev Progress

Switzerland’s Roger Federer celebrates after winning the men’s singles first round tennis match against Uzbekistan’s Denis Istomin at the Philippe Chatrier court on Day 2 of The Roland Garros 2021 French Open tennis tournament in Paris on May 31, 2021. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP)

 

Roger Federer kicked off only his second French Open campaign in six years with an impressive dismissal of Denis Istomin on Monday, while reigning women’s champion Iga Swiatek and men’s second seed Daniil Medvedev both reached round two.

The 39-year-old Federer, level with Rafael Nadal on 20 Grand Slam singles titles, saw off Uzbek Istomin 6-2, 6-4, 6-3.

“It’s a great pleasure to return. It was important to have some rehabilitation and lots of training,” said Federer, seeded eighth.

Poland’s Swiatek, celebrating her 20th birthday, saw off her good friend Kaja Juvan 6-0, 7-5 on Court Philippe Chatrier.

Medvedev, who had lost in the first round in all of his four previous appearances in the tournament, put his poor clay-court form behind him by beating the dangerous Alexander Bublik 6-3, 6-3, 7-5.

Later on Monday, Serena Williams will play the first night-session match in the competition’s history.

The 23-time Grand Slam champion’s meeting with Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania will be played behind closed doors, though, due to a 9pm Covid-19 curfew imposed by the French government.

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Federer arrived to Roland Garros having played only three matches since his Australian Open semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic last year, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

The Swiss great lost to Pablo Andujar in his first clay-court match of the season earlier this month in Geneva, but struck 48 winners as he raced to victory over Istomin.

But he has been keen to play down any thoughts that he can add to his 2009 Roland Garros title.

He is competing in the tournament for only the second time since 2015 and the first time since reaching the 2019 semi-finals.

Swiatek, who became the first major singles champion from Poland last October, hit 22 winners in an impressive opening to her bid for a second straight Roland Garros triumph.

“I tried to put it behind me (being defending champion) and kind of use it in a positive way because I just know that I’m feeling good here,” said the eighth seed, who was presented with flowers on court after the match for her birthday.

“Obviously it’s different. It’s more stressful a little bit.”

– Medvedev ends miserable run –

It is not just in Paris that Medvedev has struggled on clay. The Russian had lost eight of his previous nine matches on the surface dating back to 2019.

But the two-time Grand Slam runner-up was too strong for Kazakh Bublik, setting up a second-round tie against US player Tommy Paul.

“It was a good match and I’ve been training really well,” said the 25-year-old Medvedev, who lost the Australian Open final to Novak Djokovic in February.

“I’d never won at Roland Garros before so I really wanted to win today. To win in three sets was a brilliant match on my part.

“I struggled in recent tournaments on clay, the balls are suiting me this week though and I hope I can go a long way. I think I move well on clay but I sometimes struggle with getting the power.”

Medvedev is bidding to take advantage of being in the opposite half of the draw to 13-time champion Nadal, Djokovic and Federer, while fourth seed Dominic Thiem was knocked out on Sunday.

The early stages of the 2021 tournament have been overshadowed by Naomi Osaka’s controversial boycott of press conferences which have seen her threatened with disqualification from the event.

Her coach, Wim Fissette, told German magazine Der Spiegel on Monday that Osaka wants “to use her status to address problems”.

Organisers will be relieved that no other players have followed Osaka’s lead so far though.

“In my opinion, just having a good relationship in media, it can help you,” said Swiatek after her win.

Elsewhere on Monday, sixth seed Bianca Andreescu was dumped out after losing a marathon first-round match with Slovenia’s world number 85 Tamara Zidansek 6-7 (1/7), 7-6 (7/2), 9-7.

Italian teenager Jannik Sinner, the men’s 18th seed, saved a match point against home favourite Pierre-Hugues Herbert to win 6-1, 4-6, 6-7 (4/7), 7-5, 6-4.

In-form Norwegian 15th seed Casper Ruud got the better of Benoit Paire 5-7, 6-2, 6-1, 7-6 (7/4), while former women’s finalist Marketa Vondrousova came from a set down to beat Kaia Kanepi.

AFP

Federer Beaten In First Match In Two Months

Switzerland’s Roger Federer wipes his face after losing the ATP 250 Geneva Open tennis match against Spain’s Pablo Andujar on May 18, 2021 in Geneva.  (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

 

Roger Federer lost the first match of his comeback-proper on Tuesday as the Swiss tennis great tumbled out of the Geneva Open on his first outing in two months.

 

Spain’s Pablo Andujar returns the ball to Switzerland’s Roger Federer during their match at the ATP 250 Geneva Open tennis tournament on May 18, 2021 in Geneva. (Photo by Fabrice COFFRINI / AFP)

 

Federer lost 6-4, 4-6, 6-4 to Spanish clay court specialist Pablo Andujar to wreck the 39-year-old’s hopes of stringing a run of matches together ahead of the French Open, Wimbledon, and the Tokyo Olympics.

 

Switzerland’s Roger Federer returns the ball to Spain’s Pablo Andujar during their match at the ATP 250 Geneva Open tennis tournament on May 18, 2021 in Geneva. (Photo by FABRICE COFFRINI / AFP)

Federer Withdraws From Dubai After Qatar Exit

A handout picture obtained from the Qatar Tennis Federation on March 11, 2021, shows Roger Federer reacting during his match with Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open at the Khalifa International Tennis and Squash Complex in the Qatari capital Doha. PHOTO: Samer Al-Rejjal / Qatar Tennis Federation / AFP

 

Roger Federer on Thursday withdrew from next week’s Dubai ATP tournament, claiming “it’s best to go back to training” as his comeback from 13 months on the sidelines ended after two matches at the Qatar Open.

The 39-year-old was knocked out of the Doha event by world number 42 Nikoloz Basilashvili of Georgia, squandering a match point in the deciding set.

“It’s been great to be back on the @atptour, loved every minute playing in Doha once again,” tweeted the 20-time Grand Slam title winner.

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“A big thank you to the best and loyal team that helped me get here. I’ve decided it’s best to go back to training and as a result, I’ve decided to withdraw from Dubai next week.”

Federer underwent two knee surgeries last year and was playing his first tournament since a semi-final loss to Novak Djokovic at the Australian Open in January 2020.

He had needed three sets to see off Britain’s Dan Evans in his first match in Qatar on Wednesday.

Federer has already said he will skip the opening Masters event of the season in Miami later this month.

That would likely mean the Swiss veteran will play again on the European clay court swing which begins in April.

Earlier Thursday, Federer’s long-time rival Rafael Nadal, also the holder of 20 majors, said he had turned down a wild card invitation to the Dubai event as he recovers from a back injury.

AFP