Fed­erer to skip clay-court sea­son af­ter de­feat to world No175

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Sport - Si­mon Briggs TEN­NIS COR­RE­SPON­DENT in Mi­ami

Roger Fed­erer has played his last match un­til early June, it emerged last night, as the world No1 suf­fered a shock de­feat to Aus­tralian qual­i­fier Thanasi Kokki­nakis and then an­nounced that he will be skip­ping the en­tirety of the clay-court sea­son.

It had been thought that Rafael Nadal’s re­cent strug­gles with in­jury might en­cour­age Fed­erer to have a crack at the French Open, his least suc­cess­ful grand slam by far. But Fed­erer – who will hand the No1 po­si­tion back to Nadal when the next set of rank­ings are pub­lished to­mor­row week – told re­porters “I de­cided not to play [on clay].”

Fed­erer’s de­feat was a bit­ter pill for the Mi­ami Open, which had ear­lier been chal­lenged by Caro­line Woz­ni­acki to take a hard line on abu­sive fans.

He looked dis­gusted at his er­ratic per­for­mance, which brought him a sec­ond de­feat in con­sec­u­tive matches for the first time since 2014.

“I wasn’t feel­ing good,” said Fed­erer. “With my move­ment, things weren’t ab­so­lutely work­ing. I feel like ev­ery time I had chances, some­thing bad hap­pened: wrong de­ci­sion-mak­ing by me, good de­ci­sion-mak­ing by him. I don’t know why I could never get to any level that I was happy with today.”

Kokki­nakis is ranked a lowly No175, although that un­der­es­ti­mates his po­ten­tial hugely. He was only 18 when he first broke the top 100, climb­ing al­most as quickly as fel­low Aus­tralian Nick Kyr­gios, but he then suf­fered a litany of in­juries, the most se­ri­ous of them af­fect­ing his shoul­der and back.

Af­ter re­ceiv­ing a wild card into qual­i­fy­ing here, Kokki­nakis stormed into the sec­ond round of the main draw with­out drop­ping a set. He held his nerve as last night’s match went to a de­cid­ing-set tie-break, com­plet­ing a 3-6, 6-3, 7-6 vic­tory when Fed­erer mis­cued a ser­vice re­turn af­ter 2hr 21min.

As for the rank­ings de­mo­tion, Fed­erer said “I de­serve it af­ter this match. That’s how I feel. Just so bad.” Had he taken any of the three match points he held against Juan Martin del Potro in the In­dian Wells fi­nal last week­end, he would have sealed the No 1 spot un­til May 21. In­stead, he left him­self need­ing to reach the quar­ter-fi­nals here – which would have re­quired three wins.

Yet Nadal may not re­main on top for long. Fed­erer has no points to de­fend on the clay, while Nadal will have to dom­i­nate in the way he did last sea­son to avoid slip­ping back again. Un­less he suc­cess­fully de­fends his ti­tle at the Monte Carlo Mas­ters, his reign will end again on April 23, and the see-saw will swing back to Fed­erer again. To re­turn to the Woz­ni­acki is­sue, she put out a hard-hit­ting state­ment in re­gard to her Fri­day-night de­feat at the hands of Puerto Rico’s Mon­ica Puig. “Peo­ple in the crowd threat­ened my fam­ily, wished death upon my mom and dad, called me names that I can’t re­peat here and told my fi­ance’s niece and nephew (who are 10 years old) to sit down and shut the f*** up, mean­while se­cu­rity and staff did noth­ing to pre­vent this and even ac­cepted this to take place … I hope the Mi­ami Open chooses to take this se­ri­ously be­cause it’s a hor­ri­ble ex­am­ple to set for the next gen­er­a­tion of play­ers and fans.”

But the new Mi­ami Open tour­na­ment di­rec­tor James Blake replied in brusque fash­ion, say­ing that no of­fi­cials had no­ticed any­thing of the sort, and sug­gest­ing that Woz­ni­acki’s fam­ily should have re­ported the abuse at the time if they wanted it to be dealt with.

There was dis­ap­point­ment for new Bri­tish No1 Kyle Ed­mund, who has not won since his mag­nif­i­cent run to the Aus­tralian Open semi-fi­nals. Ed­mund served for the win yes­ter­day against Frances Ti­afoe, the dy­namic Amer­i­can 20-year-old, but was bro­ken and even­tu­ally slipped to a 7-6, 4-6, 7-6 de­feat.

Frus­trated: Caro­line Woz­ni­acki tells the um­pire of the hos­til­ity from Mon­ica Puig’s sup­port­ers

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.