Novak Djokovic: “The tournament win in Rome came at the right moment for me” - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic: “The tournament win in Rome came at the right moment for me”

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TENNIS ROLAND GARROS 2014 – Novak Djokovic pre-tournament interview

Q. Coming off the Rome title, obviously having a week now to sort of process that, how good are you feeling about Paris at this moment?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, the tournament win in Rome came at the right moment for me. For my confidence level it’s definitely a booster and positive thing, and hopefully I can carry that confidence coming into Roland Garros.

It’s obviously different than Rome tournament. It’s a Grand Slam. It’s two weeks long event, best of five, and there is a feeling that most    almost all of the players who are participating in the event have an extra motivation to perform well in this tournament comparing to the other events.

 

Q. In regards to the tragedy in Serbia, how are you going about getting the information out? What have you been doing just to kind of keep the world abreast of the situation?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s devastating times. The floods are epic proportions. They have forced many people to flee homes. Many people lost everything that they have, that they possessed, and even the loss of the close ones.

So it is one of the biggest tragedies that the countries of Serbia and Bosnia and Croatia had in their history, so the positive thing is that these nations who had conflicts very recently, 20 years ago, have at least for certain time now forgot about that and they show their solidarity and support to each other.

There is this unity that defines these nations at this moment, which definitely helps all three countries to recover as fast and most efficient as they can. Obviously floods, as they are backing up now, the process of recovery is just starting. It’s going to go for a long time. We are talking about many years depending on the help that we get from abroad.

That was, in a way, my mission and mission of the people who have certain status and certain opportunity internationally to spread the awareness. Wasn’t easy because I was playing a tournament in Rome, so part of me was focused on the tournament. Part of me was with my thoughts and with my people back home.

You know, first thing I did is obviously try to raise the awareness internationally as much as I can within the media, get the attention going to what’s going on. Hopefully it worked, because I see that there is, you know, many media now that are interested in what’s going on down there.

If it’s because of me or somebody else, it doesn’t really matter. What matters is that people are starting to talk about it. We need help, of course, all three countries. We need help, and we need as much as we can get.

You know, in these difficult times, there is no really priority except trying to do your best to save the people and the nation, because natural force and natural disaster is something that is just a higher force.

It’s something you can’t fight. You have to just pray and hope that it can go fast.

 

Q. You have been knocking on the door of this major for a few years now. How does it feel different this time coming to Paris to try and win the Open maybe compared to 2011 which, you came in undefeated or last few years?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Last few years have been quite successful for me in Roland Garros, especially the last two where I played finals and semifinals and lost in both of the matches against Nadal, who has the best record on clay and best record here in Roland Garros, and obviously still No. 1 favorite to win the tournament this year.

But, you know, I have played some epic matches against him, especially the one last year in the semifinals. We went the distance. I think it was 10 8 in the fifth. So even though it was a tough loss on me and, you know, I was putting a lot of emotional effort into winning this event last year, I still take the positives from that tournament. Knowing that I have gotten closer and closer each year to the title gives me enough reason to be confident for the start of this year.

As I said, the Rome title and the Rome win in the finals against Nadal is something that, you know, winning against Nadal on clay is something that doesn’t happen every day.

So it definitely helps my confidence, my self belief. And I’m healthy and obviously very motivated and inspired to play my best tennis here.

 

Q. Any thoughts on playing Soasa the first round? And how maybe more nerves for favorites in tournaments when it’s about starting.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Sorry, the second part?

 

Q. Makes you maybe more nervous when you have to play the first round of a Grand Slam like this because of the expectations?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s not the first time that I have to face the kind of pressure or expectation of being a favorite and going far in the tournament.

Soasa is a specialist for this tournament. I have played him I think last year in US Open on hard court, but obviously, as I said, he loves playing on clay. That’s his most preferred surface.

Especially in the early rounds it’s important not to underestimate any opponent and not take anything easy, and, you know, with not maximum of dedication.

Because going back to the story from before, all of the 128 players are extra motivated to perform the best they can on the Grand Slams, because all the sport’s attention is directed to this tournament.

So this is where they want to shine. That’s where    for us top players, it’s always tricky to face the opponents who have nothing to lose in the opening rounds.

So I will try from the beginning of the tournament in that first round to, you know, play my best game regardless of who I play against. I will not try to save the energy for later, because it’s    anyway, there is always a day between the matches.

I know what to do. I have played many Grand Slams in my life, and I look forward to it.

 

Q. Can you just confirm that this week you’ll have Marjan and Boris together as your coaching staff.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes.

 

Q. Can you elaborate a little bit as to how they work together, why you prefer for them both to be here for the tournament?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Again, I think I answered this question a lot.

Okay. As I was saying before, I’m really glad to have Boris, a legend of the sport and a champion and somebody that knows exactly what kind of pressures and mental challenges I encounter on the court, especially in big tournaments like this.

That’s one of the biggest reasons he’s part of the team.

The transition from Marjan to Boris will, in my opinion    and their opinion, as well    that’s why they are here together. It will be more efficient and smoother and better if they are both present in the tournament. Because Marjan is not just a coach to me, he’s a friend. He’s somebody that knows me very well.

We traveled and worked with each other for over eight years. I won my first and then now the last title with him in my box, so there is this special connection that we have.

That’s why he can help not just myself but also Boris to understand how we work. I was very glad to win the title with both of them in Rome. Definitely helps before coming into Roland Garros, that is one of the priorities of the season.

 

Q. It used to be always about the Big 4 before the Grand Slam. After what happened at the Australian Open and also in Monaco, do we have to consider Wawrinka one of the favorites? Maybe you played him a lot. You can talk a little bit what made him so much stronger in the last, say, one year or ten months.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Absolutely. I think we should and he deserves to be considered as one of the favorites to win the title because of the fact that he had one of the best results of all the players this year.

He won first Grand Slam; he won the Monte Carlo tournament in great fashion winning against some top players.

He proved to everybody that he is one of the contenders for Grand Slam titles. He already won one Grand Slam, so now from the mental perspective he’s going to be, let’s say, more familiar or easier for him to approach Grand Slams because he knows how, what it takes to win it.

I think his game was always very powerful. He always had a game that he could hurt any player on any surface, but it was just a matter of his self belief.

I think now mentally he’s gotten stronger and more experienced in the big matches. You can see the reflection of that and the results that he has.

ATP

Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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