WASHINGTON, September 24, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)
As the 2021 Laver Cup takes place this weekend at TD Garden in Boston, Mass., it will be the first time in the four editions of the annual competition between teams from Europe and the rest of the world that Roger Federer, one of the founders and organizers of the competition named for Hall of Fame great Rod Laver, will be missing. Also missing from the Team Europe lineup for the first time will be Rafael Nadal (foot injury) and Novak Djokovic (who opted out after playing in the Olympics and US Open).
The 20-time Grand Slam champion recently admitted that it will be hard for him to watch this year’s Laver Cup. “That hurts me a lot, of course,” Federer said during an interview with SRF Swiss Radio and Television. “Of course, I knew that at some point I wouldn’t be able to be there, but I didn’t think it would be this year. It’s going to be three hardcore days of really watching tennis.”
Federer, 40, who has been sidelined since losing in the quarterfinal round of the Wimbledon Championships and subsequently underwent a third surgery on his right knee, has not set a specific date for returning to the ATP Tour – or even confirmed he will be mounting a comeback. He returned last March after a prolonged absence that kept him out of action nearly all of 2020 following the first two knee surgeries.
The Swiss superstar said in a social media video last month that he would need to be “on crutches for many weeks” and “out of the game for many months.” Yet, from all indications, his rehab is progressing and he’s maintaining a positive outlook.
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A year from now when the Laver Cup will be played in London, don’t be surprised if Federer is there.
“That’s one of my goals, to really get myself into it again to come back and hopefully play in places like the O2 Arena in London,” Federer said.
With the absence of the Big Three plus Dominic Thiem (wrist injury), it has enabled some new faces to emerge for Team Europe in this year’s three-day competition. Only Stefanos Tsitsipas and Alexander Zverev return from the 2019 squad, the last time the Laver Cup was held. (Last year’s Laver Cup was postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to avoid a scheduling conflict with the 2020 French Open.)
This year, Tsitsipas and Zverev will be joined by Russians Daniil Medvedev and Andrey Rublev, Matteo Berrettini of Italy and Casper Ruud of Norway. All six of them are currently ranked in the ATP Top 10. Meanwhile, Team World will be anchored by Canadians Felix Auger-Aliassime and Denis Shapovalov, Americans John Isner and Reilly Opelka, Nick Kyrgios of Australia and Diego Schwartzman of Argentina.
• Friday’s Laver Cup schedule includes two singles matches during the day session, beginning at 1 p.m. local time (7 p.m. Central European), followed by a singles and doubles match during the night session beginning at 7 p.m. local time (1 a.m. Saturday Central European). Highlighting the first day will be Casper Ruud (Europe) vs. Reilly Opelka (World) followed by Matteo Berrettini (Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (World) during the afternoon session. Then, in the evening, it’s Andrey Rublev (Europe) vs. Diego Schwartzman (World) followed by Berrettini/Alexander Zverev (Europe) vs. John Isner/Denis Shapovalov (World).
— Laver Cup (@LaverCup) September 23, 2021
Saturday’s schedule beginning at 1 p.m. local time (7 p.m. Central European) will follow a similar match pattern (three singles and one doubles), and on Sunday, the final day begins with a doubles match at noon (6 p.m. Central European) and continues with three singles matches.
Sakkari glad she decided to come to Ostrava
No. 4 seed Maria Sakkari of Greece is through to the WTA 500 J&T Banka Ostrava Open quarterfinals for the second straight year after beating 29th-ranked wild card Jelena Ostapenko of Latvia, 6-4, 6-2, in a second-round match Thursday afternoon. She won four of the last five games to advance against 61st-ranked wild card Tereza Martincova of the Czech Republic, who eliminated No 5 seed Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova of Russia, 7-6 (5), 7-6 (6).
The 12th-ranked Sakkari, who reached the semifinals in last year’s event, gave a serving masterclass. She won 84 percent (36 or 43) of her service points, hit 19 winners and made just 10 unforced errors against Ostapenko, last week’s Luxembourg Open finalist. Sakkari faced no break points on her serve and outpointed Ostapenko 67-43 during the one hour and 23-minute match inside Ostravar Arena.
— wta (@WTA) September 23, 2021
“I think I played great tennis,” Sakkari said during her post match interview on court. “Overall, it was a great performance. I think I played very good from the baseline, my movement was exteremely good. I’m very happy my first match here was so good.”
After some hesitation, Sakkari is glad she decided to play Ostrava this year.
“I love Ostrava. I wasn’t sure if I was going to come here and play because I had a long run at the US Open,” she said. “When I decided to play, I was very excited. One of the reasons why I came is because I love the tournament, the people are very nice. It’s nice to come here and play with a crowd.”
Quarterfinalists!!! In Ostrava!!!
🇵🇱 Swiatek vs. Rybakina 🇰🇿
🇬🇷 Sakkari vs. Martincova 🇨🇿
🇨🇭 Bencic vs. Kontaveit 🇪🇪
🇨🇿 Kvitova vs. Teichmann 🇨🇭#OstravaOpen
— wta (@WTA) September 23, 2021
Osaka coming to Uninterrupted’s “The Shop” on HBO
Four-time major champion Naomi Osaka has kept plenty busy since bowing out in the third round of this year’s US Open earlier this month. She launched skincare company Kinlo and co-chaired last week’s Met Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Now, Osaka will appear on a new episode of Uninterrupted’s “The Shop,” which drops Friday night on HBO Max and can be viewed on demand thereafter.
Osaka appears with actress and comedian Wanda Sykes, NBA basketball All-Star Kevin Love, multi-platinum hip-hop artist Jadakiss and SpringHill Company’s CMO Paul Rivera.
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“The Shop,” which was created in 2018 by Rivera and is executive produced by NBA legend LeBron James and his business partner Maverick Carter, brings together a diverse group of athletes and entertainers in a half-hour no-holds-barred, unfiltered conversation and debate that’s both free-flowing and spirited. Each 30-minute episode is usually filmed inside a barbershop across the country and allows for honest discussion on sports, music, politics and culture.
Nothing like spending a Friday night with some legends in #TheShop 💈🔥
New episode drops Friday 9.24 at 9 PM, only on @hbomax. @naomiosaka @therealkiss @iamwandasykes @kevinlove @mavcarter @pr_rwtw pic.twitter.com/OT20rJUvLj
— UNINTERRUPTED (@uninterrupted) September 22, 2021
Happy 33rd Birthday, Juan Martín del Potro
Birthday mood 🤝 championship memories
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 23, 2021
By the numbers
A Frenchman has won the Moselle Open single title in 11 of the 17 years since the tournament debuted in Metz, France, in 2003. Three former champions began the week as part of the ATP 250’s 28 player field – Gilles Simon (2010, 2013, 2018), Lucas Pouille (2016) and Gael Monfils (2009). Since then, Simon lost in the first round to Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and Pouille bowed in the second round to this year’s No. 1 seed, Hubert Hurkacz. As for Monfils, who faced lucky loser Philipp Kohlschreiber in the second round on Thursday, he’s still alive and well after winning 7-6 (2), 6-4 to reach Friday’s quarterfinals.
“This period has been the most tournaments I’ve played and my body feels good and I’m starting to gain just a little bit of confidence with each match. I’m starting to see the points and how I want to play them again, which is great.
“There have been times in the past year where I’ve been a little bit confused and not seeing how the points are developing and stuff, which for me was always a strong part of my game and it made me feel quite uncomfortable on the court when I was feeling that way.
“I’m starting to get that back and the results are coming and my tennis getting better.”
– Andy Murray, during his on-court interview after he beat Vasek Pospisil Wednesday evening to reach Friday’s quarterfinals of the ATP 250 Moselle Open in Metz, France. He will face No. 1 seed Hubert Hurkacz. It will be Murray’s first ATP quarterfinal-round appearance since 2019.
What they’re sharing on social media
Caroline Wozniacki / “My Final Match”
Excited to announce we found a date for my “Final Match” in Copenhagen! It is going to be February 9, 2022 in Royal Arena against my great friend @AngeliqueKerber ! Can’t wait to see you there!! pic.twitter.com/tdreCznV7s
— Caroline Wozniacki (@CaroWozniacki) September 23, 2021