Clock ticking on Novak, just as it has on Nadal - UBITENNIS
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Clock ticking on Novak, just as it has on Nadal

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TENNIS – Tennis experts and broadcasters seem to assume that the next era of men’s tennis will belong to Novak Djokovic. After all, there was the “Roger Federer” dominance era, then “Federer/Rafa Nadal”, then “Federer/Nadal/Djokovic/Andy Murray”, and now the “Nadal/Djokovic Era”. James Beck

Tennis experts and broadcasters seem to assume that the next era of men’s tennis will belong to Novak Djokovic. After all, there was the “Roger Federer” dominance era, then “Federer/Rafa Nadal”, then “Federer/Nadal/Djokovic/Andy Murray”, and now the “Nadal/Djokovic Era”.

So, it seems natural that the Novak Djokovic era is next, since there doesn’t appear to be anyone other than Nadal out there with the potential to crowd Djokovic. Stan Wawrinka is dangerous, but the 29-year-old Swiss late-bloomer isn’t likely to last long enough to join anyone’s era. Wawrinka’s Australian Open success may even have been something of a fluke, or a flash-in-the-pan moment out from under the Federer domination.

Djokovic Less Than One Year Younger Than Nadal

So, why not just a Djokovic era? The answer is the clock.

It’s ticking on Djokovic the same way it has been on Federer, and is now ticking on Nadal.

Believe it or not, Djokovic is less than a year younger than Nadal.

And judging from Djokovic’s brittleness before his Superman-like run in 2011, Novak may not even outlast Nadal. The wear-and-tear in the bigger matches probably has been just as significant on Djokovic as Nadal. Djokovic can’t go on forever living under the Superman banner, either.

Yes, the clock is ticking on Novak, too.

Rafa Can Dream Of Federer’s Record

Of course, Djokovic has the potential to snap Nadal’s French Open heyday in Sunday’s final. But there is no assurance that Djokovic’s own heyday will last much longer. Nadal, at least, sleeps at night knowing he has a good chance of catching Federer on the Grand Slam title list.

Djokovic couldn’t catch Federer’s 17 Grand Slam tournament titles in his wildest dream. Novak turned 27 years old a few weeks ago, just 12 days before Nadal hit 28.

Once Djokovic’s super-human lateral movement breaks down a bit as Mother Nature takes over, Novak likely won’t be as dangerous as even a soon-to-be 33-year-old Federer.

Will Final Be The Same?

David Ferrer and Murray appeared to have good chances of beating Nadal in Paris this year after playing so well against the Spaniard in the preliminary clay-court events. Ferrer even managed to win the first set against Nadal in the French quarterfinals. But otherwise, it was total dominance for Nadal against those two at Roland Garros.

Will the final be the same?

Djokovic dealt Nadal a defeat in Rome, even after spotting Nadal the first set.

But Nadal looked like Nadal while dismantling Ferrer and Murray in Paris. Even Djokovic probably wouldn’t have chased down the numerous inside-out cross-court forehand winners Nadal nailed against Murray.

Djokovic’s Presence Can Be Decisive

Of course, the presence of Djokovic on the other side of the net can have an effect on even Nadal. Djokovic made big-hitting Ernests Gulbis look like a schoolboy in Friday’s semfinals.

Gulbis might have the game to challenge for the top, but hardly the mental approach needed for long-term success. Gulbis wasn’t scared of Djokovic. Maybe, he should have been.

But for most of the meaningful matches in the Nadal-Djokovic rivalry, the presence of Nadal on the other side of the net has had as great or even greater impact on the outcome than Djokovic’s.

James Beck is the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

See James Beck’s Post and Courier columns at:

http://www.postandcourier.com/section/PC200903

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.

MEDVEDEV APPLIED ENDLESS PRESSURE

Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.

NOVAK DIDN’T LET INJURED KNEE STOP HIM

Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.

MUSETTI WASN’T THE SAME

Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.

NOVAK THE VIOLINIST

The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

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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Daniil Medvedev Calls For Video Replays After ‘Small Cat’ Insult At Wimbledon Umpire

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Daniil Medvedev - Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Daniil Medvedev admits the use of his words against the umpire in his Wimbledon semi-final match was not pleasant but he believes he didn’t cross a line. 

The world No.5 was issued with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct during the first set of his clash with Carlos Alcaraz. Medvedev was visibly irritated when umpire Eva Asderaki ruled there was a double bounce before he returned a ball during a rally. He was then caught on camera mouthing an insult to Asderaki who consulted with the tournament supervisor before issuing him with a violation. Verbal abuse towards match officials can lead to players being defaulted from matches. 

Medvedev went on to win the first set before losing in four to Alcaraz. After his exit from the tournament, he was quizzed about what he said. 

“I would say small cat, the words are nice, but the meaning was not nice here,” he said without elaborating any further.

Continuing to defend his actions, the 28-year-old said he had previously been involved in a similar incident involving Asderaki where a double-bounce call was made against him at the French Open. Medvedev says memories of what happened were triggered today. 

“I don’t know if it was a double bounce or not. I thought no. That was tricky. The thing is that once long ago at Roland Garros against (Marin) Cilic I lost, and she didn’t see that it was one bounce. So I had this in my mind. I thought, again, against me,” he said.

“I said something in Russian, not unpleasant, but not over the line. So I got a code for it.”

It is not the first time Medvedev has used the phrase ‘small cat’ as an insult. During a heated match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2022 Australian Open, told umpire Jaume Campistol he would be a small cat if he did not take action against claims that Tsitsipas was being coached illegally during the match.

The former US Open champion says he did not fear being defaulted from his latest match before going on to say video replays should be allowed in the sport. A comment that was also made by Coco Gauff during the French Open earlier this year after she was caught up in a dispute concerning a double-bounce.

“Not at all because, as I say, I didn’t say anything too bad,” he replied when asked if he was concerned he might be disqualified for what he said on Friday.

“The thing is that I think it would be so much easier with a challenge system. The challenge system shows a bounce. So if there was a bounce, it would show it. 

“Then if we use it, we would never have this situation. So I don’t know why we don’t use the challenge system for double bounce, the Hawk-Eye or whatever.”

Medvedev’s focus will now turn back to the clay ahead of the Olympic games which will be held at Roland Garros. 

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