TENNIS ATP Monte-Carlo – R. FEDERER/N. Djokovic 7-5, 6-2 An interview with Novak Djokovic
Q. The first set you tried. The second set it seemed you couldn’t do much more. What was going on for you?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, just a match to forget for me. It’s unfortunate that when you’re playing at this level against Roger, big tournament, that you are not able to play your game because something else is, you know, taking away all your energy and effort.
This injury that has been present for last 10 days, and I tried not to think or talk about it, I did everything I could really, I was on the medications every day, I was doing different therapies, injections, so forth.
But in the end of the day, the end of the tournament, semifinals is a good result. But I’m disappointed that I could not play as well as I could have. If I was healthy enough… From the end of the first and the whole second, every shot was pain, especially with the serve.
I couldn’t do much more than this. I gave my best really. I’m not trying to take away anything from Roger’s win. He deserves to be in the finals, no question about it.
I’m just very disappointed I wasn’t able to give better effort.
Q. Knowing all the problems that players have had with their wrist, what is your idea now about what to do? Take a rest? Wait for a big event when you’re really ready?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the good thing is I don’t need to have a surgery. I don’t have any rupture or something like that. I’m going to go see doctors tonight and then tomorrow again have another MRI, see if anything changed in this seven days since I had the last one.
I just rest now. I cannot play tennis for some time. How long, I don’t know. It’s really not in my hands anymore. I’m going to rest and see when it can heal 100%, then I will be back on the court.
Q. Did you consider pulling out at any stage during the match, worrying you would make it worse by continuing?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I didn’t want to pull out because then people start talking different things about me and my withdraws and so forth. That was the main reason. I just held my strength, whatever I had, and wanted to play till the end.
Q. Did the pain kick in only today or was it there in the last couple days and you didn’t want to let us know?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: The pain was there every single day from 10 days ago. At some stages it was very painful. Good thing, between the first and second match I had a day off so I didn’t practice at all and I healed a little bit. Then again I started playing.
Yesterday’s conditions, long match, long rallies, heavy balls, definitely did not help the state of my arm. Since last night it was as it is now.
Q. Trying to be precise, can we write or say it is a tendonitis or is it something else?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I really don’t know what’s the diagnosis, to be honest. I heard so many things in last 10 days. Trust me, it’s complicated.
You can ask the official doctor.
Q. This problem you have, is it the first time you have it in your career?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.
Q. Do you feel it’s connected with the hard courts or some certain moment?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, this is the first time, to be honest. I think as a tennis player, you’re likely to always have some kind of stiffness in your arm, whatever your stronger arm is. It’s normal. We hit thousands of tennis balls every day. It’s normal to feel sore a little bit here and there, but it goes away after a few days. You do a lot of stretching. You do a lot of recovers. I’ve done everything the same.
It happened. Going to try to find out the causes.
Q. You said before you don’t want to withdraw and don’t play this tournament. Do you think this is the strength of your character, of your personality? At the same time, it’s your bad part? In the past, with the ankle, you play with the ankle because you have to play again and again and again. What about this part of your personality?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Listen, I don’t regret anything I’ve done in my life. I thought that at the certain moment it was the right thing to do. Last year I played with an injured ankle, but I won the tournament. This is the only time I won this tournament that is one of my favorites.
There is also something positive in everything you do. I try to approach life like that.
I am professional athlete. I fight. I compete. I don’t like to withdraw from tournaments. I don’t like to retire my matches. I like to play to the last point.
When I shake the hands of the opponent when I lose the match, that’s when the tournament is over for me. I will do anything in my power to play any tournament in the world where I am supposed to play especially here which is at home.
I had two weeks between Miami and Monte Carlo. It’s not like I was tired or I had some long trips or something like that. It just happened during the practice week. Sometimes it just happens. Sometimes it’s not predictable.
Q. About the injury itself. Do you remember how you first noticed it? Was it in training, during a match?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, combination of things. It happened in two days. Obviously I practiced a lot. Maybe I started a bit too strong. The transition from hard court to clay, different balls, have probably taken its toll.
Felix Auger Aliassime Goes The Distance To Win First Match In Rome
The Canadian was pushed to three sets in his opening match by Filip Krajinovic.
Felix Auger-Aliassime is into the second round of the BNL D’ Italia Masters in Rome after beating his Serbian opponent Filip Krajinovic in three gruelling sets 6-3, 6-7, 6-4.
The marathon encounter saw the Canadian hit 45 winners and 12 aces en route to victory. Avenging his loss to Krajinovic at the same tournament last year. His win-loss for the season now stands at 13-8.
” It’s always a tough match against him and I was happy I was able to win today,” the world No.20 said afterwards.
It was Krajinovic who got off to a fast start earning a breakpoint on the Montreal natives opening service game of the match and broke to take an early 1-0 lead. The Canadian responded at 2-1 earning his first two breakpoints of the match and breaking with a solid forehand winner to get the break back and go back on serve. At 3-2 the world number 20 had a chance to take the lead but it was saved by the world number 36. Nevertheless, he would go on to break for a 5-3 lead before serving out the match.
Auger-Aliassime started the second set with confidence and broke the Serb’s opening service game. It stayed on serve until the world number 20 was serving for the win when he ended up getting broken to level the set at five. The very next game the Montreal native had three looks at a breakpoint but again was denied and the second set would be decided by a tiebreaker.
The tiebreaker stayed on serve until 4-4 when Auger Aliassime managed to get the crucial break but squandered it the following point and gave his Serbian opponent a chance to serve it out which he did following a double fault.
The third and decisive set was a roller-coaster with the Canadian holding his opening service game and than having three more breakpoints which he would convert to take another early 2-0 lead. Krajinovic would respond once again earning a breakpoint the following game and getting the break back to go back on serve until 3-3 when the Serb had his first chance to take a lead in the third set but the Canadian would come up with a huge point to save it.
The next game Auger-Aliassime would have a look at another breakpoint and this time would convert to take a 5-3 and serve for the match but struggled to close it out and the world number 36 broke serve once again.
With the Serb serving to stay in the match the Canadian increased his game to another level and managed to earn two match points. Sealing his first match win in Rome with a huge forehand winner down the line.
After the match in his post match press conference Auger Aliassime spoke about how he was able to overcome the adversity of having two chances to serve it out.
” You have to believe and be resilient at times, I wanted to win badly so I dug deep and I found a way so I am happy that I was able to find a way with all the circumstances,” he said.
Auger Aliassime will next face the number eight seed at the tournament Diego Schwartzman. The Argentine currently has a 1-0 lead in their head-to-head with their last meeting coming last October in Cologne, Germany on a indoor hard court.
Alexander Zverev and Tim Puetz reach the semifinals in the doubles tournament in Madrid
Alexander Zverev followed up his win against Rafael Nadal in the singles quarter final with a 6-4 3-6 10-5 win alongside his teammate Tim Puetz against Denis Shapovalov and Rohan Bopanna.
On Saturday Zverev and Puetz will take on Marcell Granollers and Horacio Zeballos, who beat Pierre Hugues Herbert and Nicolas Mahut 7-6 (7-3) 6-2.
Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic battled past Wesley Koolhof and Lukasz Kubot 6-3 6-7 (4-7) 10-7. Mektic and Pavic are bidding for their sixth title in 2021 and their Masters 1000 trophy after winning in Miami and Monte-Carlo. The Croatian team set up a semifinal clash against this year’s Munich BMW Open finalists and Singapore Open champions Sander Gille and Joran Vliegen, who edged past Ivan Dodig and Filip Polasek 6-3 3-6 10-5.
Five Takeaways From Men’s And Women’s Rome Draws
Novak Djokovic, Serena Williams and Bianca Andreescu all return to Rome next week.
Here are five things to take away from Men’s and Women’s singles draw from Rome.
Next week is the start of the next stop on the road to Roland Garros as the ATP and WTA tour heads to Rome next week.
The Italian capital will host a star-studded line-up as Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep look to defend their titles.
With another week of stacked ATP and WTA draws here, let us take a look at the five key points to take from this week’s draws:
- Nadal Set For Zverev Rematch
Rafael Nadal could have a rematch with Alexander Zverev again in Rome next week as has already faced a mixed start to the clay court season. A quarter-final defeat to Andrey Rublev in Monaco was followed by a Barcelona title before losing to Zverev in the Madrid quarter-finals this week. It looks set to be another week where Nadal could face the tall German, whom he has lost on three consecutive occasions to. Before Nadal can get to Zverev, Nadal may have to overcome Jannik Sinner and Casper Ruud, two rising stars who are capable on this surface.
- Serena Handed Good Draw On Tennis Return
Next week will see Serena Williams return to a tennis court for the first time since her Australian Open semi-final defeat to Naomi Osaka. Having had her physical struggles since the end of last season, Serena now competes in a limited schedule but will be keen to boost her Roland Garros chances next week in Rome. The 23-time grand slam champion could face Roland Garros semi-finalist Nadia Podoroska in her first match before Belinda Bencic stands in her way of a rematch with Osaka in the last eight.
- Djokovic Looks To Avenge Recent Clay Losses
After winning the Australian Open in January, Novak Djokovic would have wanted a better clay-court season than he has had after being knocked out by Dan Evans in the third round in Monaco and an epic semi-final loss to Aslan Karatsev in Belgrade. After taking Madrid off, Djokovic looks to build momentum and may have to face Dan Evans again this week in his first match. The likes of Grigor Dimitrov and Stefanos Tsitsipas await Djokovic en route to the last four where Dominic Thiem and Andrey Rublev will wait for the Serb.
- The Barty Party Looks To Roll On
Ash Barty is silencing the critics week by week and proving why she deserves her world number one ranking after winning Miami, Stuttgart and reaching the final in Madrid. In two of those three tournaments mentioned Barty would have played Aryna Sabalenka in the final. Although that won’t be happening in the final, she could face the Belarusian in the quarter-finals in Italy as a fairly comfortable draw has presented itself for the Australian. Barty’s first opponent will be either Martina Trevisan or Yaroslava Shvedova.
- Bianca Andreescu Returns
After suffering an injury in the Miami final and testing positive for COVID-19 in Madrid, Bianca Andreescu looks to finally settle into a clay-court season as she returns in Rome. The tricky Canadian will start off against Anastasija Sevastova or Jil Teichmann before facing Petra Kvitova. If Andreescu can negotiate the first two rounds then a dream match with Simona Halep could await in the last eight. As for Halep her Rome campaign could start against Angelique Kerber.
Here is the full ATP and WTA draw:
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Marcell Granollers and Horacio Zeballos claim their third Masters 1000 title in Madrid
David Goffin and Pablo Carreno Busta advance to the second round in Rome
Felix Auger Aliassime Goes The Distance To Win First Match In Rome
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