‘There’s always a chance’: Roger Federer dreaming of toppling ‘happy and excited’ Rafael Nadal

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Switzerland's Roger Federer celebrates after winning against Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka during their quarterfinal match on day ten of the French Open in Paris. (AFP)
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Spain's Rafael Nadal eyes the ball as he returns the ball to Japan's Kei Nishikori during their quarterfinal match at the French Open in Paris. (AFP)
Updated 04 June 2019

‘There’s always a chance’: Roger Federer dreaming of toppling ‘happy and excited’ Rafael Nadal

  • 37-year-old had not even played the tournament since 2015 before this year
  • Nadal thrashed Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 to claim his 91st win at Roland Garros

PARIS: Roger Federer insisted that “there’s always a chance” as he looks to finally beat old rival Rafael Nadal at the French Open after five previous defeats, eight years since their last Roland Garros meeting.
The 37-year-old had not even played the tournament since 2015 before this year, but powered into his eighth French Open semifinal with a 7-6 (7/4), 4-6, 7-6 (7/5), 6-4 victory over Stan Wawrinka on Tuesday.
Nadal thrashed Kei Nishikori 6-1, 6-1, 6-3 to claim his 91st win at Roland Garros, against just two defeats.
But despite losing all five of his French Open meetings against Nadal, including in four finals, and trailing their head-to-head record on clay 13-2, Federer still holds hope that he can achieve another milestone in his illustrious career.
“Like against any player, there is always a chance. Otherwise nobody will be in the stadium to watch because everybody already knows the result in advance,” said the 20-time Grand Slam champion.
“That’s exactly what everybody believes by facing Rafa. They know it’s going to be tough. But you just never know. He might have a problem. He might be sick. You never know.
“You might be playing great or for some reason he’s struggling. Maybe there’s incredible wind, rain, 10 rain delays. You just don’t know. That’s why you need to put yourself in that position.”
Federer is also 23-15 behind overall against 33-year-old Nadal heading into their 39th clash, but has won their last five matches, including in the 2017 Australian Open final when he claimed his first Grand Slam title for five years.
The Swiss had taken a two-year break from clay altogether in an attempt to focus on Wimbledon, but returned to the red dirt last month, reaching the quarter-finals in Madrid and Rome.
He has built on that form in the French capital, losing just one set — the same as 11-time champion Nadal — en route to the last four.
He is now targeting only his second Roland Garros crown, after taking advantage of Nadal’s shock loss to Robin Soderling to win the 2009 title.
“The complete dream would be to win the tournament,” said Federer. “Other players won’t agree. It will be difficult, but I believe it anyway.
“For me to get to Rafa is not simple. It took five matches here for me to win to get there.
“That’s why I’m very happy to play Rafa, because if you want to achieve something on the clay, inevitably, at some stage, you will go through Rafa, because he’s that strong and he will be there.
“I knew that when I signed up for the clay that hopefully that’s gonna happen.”
The beaten Wawrinka admitted he was unlikely to miss his close friend Federer’s tilt at Nadal in three days’ time.
“I’m a big fan of this sport,” said Wawrinka, a three-time major title winner himself.
“So when you get the chance to have in the semifinal of French Open Roger against Rafa, you’re gonna put the TV on and watch. I always did in the past.”
Meanwhile, Nadal said: “Having Roger in the semifinals is an extra thing.
“We shared the most important moments of our careers together on court facing each other. So it’s another episode of this, and I’m happy and excited. It will be a special moment, and let’s try to be ready for it.
“Roger came back on clay because he’s a player who plays well on all surfaces and on clay he has good chances of winning,” said Nadal who hasn’t lost to the Swiss on clay since the Madrid final in 2009.
“One thing is that he feels physically ready. He’s coming back because he wants to do so. And if he feels in good shape physically, well, he should not leave out a main part of the season.”
Nadal’s record at Roland Garros now stands at 91 wins against just two defeats — to Robin Soderling in the last-16 in 2009 and Novak Djokovic in the 2015 quarter-finals.
A wrist injury forced him to withdraw before the fourth round in 2016.
Many believed those back-to-back setbacks would signal the end of the road for Nadal who has battled a host of injuries throughout his career.
But since that tearful 2016 Paris exit, he has picked up three more majors and twice been a runner-up in Australia.
“After all the problems I have faced, what keeps the flame alive is this desire, the desire to play on the main stages where I’ve been playing tennis for all these years,” he said.
“This won’t last forever. So I want to give myself the maximum chances. For the time being, things are rolling well.”

(With agencies)


Liverpool make U-turn over furlough scheme after clubs slammed

Updated 06 April 2020

Liverpool make U-turn over furlough scheme after clubs slammed

  • Liverpool faced stinging criticism from fans and former players after revealing over the weekend that they wanted to use the UK government’s furlough scheme
  • The fierce backlash sparked a sudden climbdown as Liverpool CEO Peter Moore wrote an open letter to supporters announcing they would no longer pursue the furlough route

LONDON: Liverpool were forced to apologize as the Premier League club ditched their controversial plan to furlough non-playing staff during the coronavirus on Monday, while FIFA urged players and clubs to reach agreement over wage reductions.
Liverpool faced stinging criticism from fans and former players after revealing over the weekend that they wanted to use the UK government’s furlough scheme.
Fenway Sports Group, Liverpool’s US-based owners, wanted to put around 200 staff on enforced leave during the pandemic while the government paid 80 percent of their wages.
Fellow top-flight teams Tottenham, Newcastle, Bournemouth and Norwich have already furloughed staff, but it was table-toppers Liverpool — with pre-tax profits of £42 million ($51.7 million) for the 2018-19 season — who came in for the most criticism, in part due to their reputation as a club with a strong bond to the working-class community on Merseyside.
The fierce backlash sparked a sudden climbdown as Liverpool chief executive Peter Moore wrote an open letter to supporters announcing they would no longer pursue the furlough route.
“We have consulted with a range of key stakeholders as part of a process aimed at achieving the best possible outcome for all concerned,” Moore said.
“We have opted to find alternative means despite our eligibility to apply for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.
“We believe we came to the wrong conclusion last week to announce that we intended to apply to the Coronavirus Retention Scheme and furlough staff due to the suspension of the Premier League football calendar, and are truly sorry for that.”
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher tweeted: “Well done @PeterMooreLFC @LFC a big mistake initially & thankfully now it’s been put right.”
With the Premier League postponed indefinitely because of the virus, Manchester City, bankrolled by Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Mansour, said they would not be using the government’s job retention scheme, with Manchester United set to follow their example.
Liverpool’s U-turn came as England’s top-flight teams, among the richest in the world, were under increasing scrutiny, with government ministers warning bosses and players they should “think carefully” over their next moves.
The highest-paid Premier League players such as Manchester United goalkeeper David de Gea and Manchester City midfielder Kevin De Bruyne command eye-watering salaries, reportedly nearing £20 million ($25 million) a year.
FIFA on Monday urged clubs and players to reach agreement on taking wage reductions in order to protect clubs who are suffering financial damage, sources at world football’s governing body said.
It also recommended that players’ contracts be extended until the end of the interrupted football seasons and that the transfer window should not open until that time.
The call from FIFA comes as Premier League clubs are locked in talks with players and their representatives about taking pay cuts.
The English top flight is lagging behind other European leagues.
In Spain, Barcelona and Atletico Madrid players have agreed to pay cuts of 70 percent.
Many politicians have urged action from the Premier League and in a poll conducted by British polling company YouGov last week, 92 percent of respondents said they backed a pay cut.
But some leading players resent the political pressure. Former England captain Wayne Rooney has criticized the government and the Premier League for placing footballers in a “no-win” situation.
“In my opinion it is now a no-win situation,” Rooney said in a newspaper column. “Whatever way you look at it, we’re easy targets.”
In the latest sign of the financial crisis as a result of the coronavirus, England manager Gareth Southgate and the Football Association’s top earners have agreed to take wage cuts of up to 30 percent.