Game On: Djokovic and Nadal will meet for an “epic” French Open Final - UBITENNIS
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Game On: Djokovic and Nadal will meet for an “epic” French Open Final

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TENNIS FRENCH OPEN – The matchup everyone was waiting for is finally on the schedule. Tennis pundits and fans alike are literally salivating as Rafael Nadal will take on Novak Djokovic for the 2014 French Open title this Sunday. Nadal would be vying for a fifth consecutive and ninth overall French title. Djokovic is vying for his first which would give him the career slam. Cordell Hackshaw

Interviews, Results, OOP, Draws from the Roland Garros

The matchup everyone was waiting for is finally on the schedule. Tennis pundits and fans alike are literally salivating as Rafael Nadal (1) will take on Novak Djokovic (2) for the 2014 French Open title this Sunday. Nadal would be vying for a fifth consecutive and ninth overall French title. Djokovic is vying for his first which would give him the career slam. The two men had very different roads to the final but they both arrived unscathed and this match will surely be labelled as “epic” no matter the quality and/or conditions of the play and players respectively on the day. Djokovic took on the surprise “hot player” of the tournament, Ernests Gulbis (18) whereas Nadal played Andy Murray (7) who is on a comeback trail to his former tennis prowess. Both Gulbis and Murray fought valiantly but in the end, neither player could deny what must have been foretold by the tennis gods: Nadal and Djokovic will for the 2014 French Open title. Gulbis went out in four sets 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-3 and Murray was simply dismantled 6-3 6-2 6-1.

In the first semifinal, Djokovic verses Gulbis, Gulbis came out strong as he won the first six points to hold serve and gain a 0-30 lead on the Djokovic’s serve. However, he would not be able to maintain this as Djokovic came roaring back. Gulbis would see two early break point opportunities quickly disappear in the 4th game and soon had to fight to hold his own serve in the 5th game. He was able to save three break points but on the fourth, he succumbed to the Djokovic pressure and put his forehand long. Djokovic consolidated the break and then broke Gulbis yet again in the 9th game for good measure and the set 6-3. In the 2nd set, Djokovic again raised his level at the opportune time, the 8th game and served out the set 6-3.

The ‘Giant Gulbis Game’ that saw him taking out Roger Federer (4) and Tomas Berdych (6) in the two previous rounds with relative ease, was being contained in the semifinal. Gulbis was leaking errors on his forehand and was unable to dictate play from the baseline. He would have 44 errors in the match compared to 25 from his opponent. Gulbis was also not getting that pop on the serve as he did earlier in the tournament. He was only able to get 57% of his first serves in to win 70% of those points. Djokovic on the other hand put 67% of his first serves in and won 80% of the points. However, in the 3rd set, the tides changed as Djokovic inexplicably became restless and frustrated on the court. “First two sets went well. I thought I played well, very solid, putting a lot of returns back in the court, serving at the high percentage. Then suddenly midway through the third set started to feel physically fatigued a little bit,” Djokovic later explained. This proved to be costly as Gulbis was able to break in the 8th game and served out the set 6-3 punctuating his small victory with an ace.

In the 4th set, it looked as though Djokovic was back on track as he took an early 2-0 lead but again, he showed signs of discomfort on the court and again Gulbis was to capitalize by drawing even 2-2. They remained on serve again until the 8th game when suddenly Djokovic’s level went way up to break Gulbis and serve out the set at love for a 6-3 6-3 3-6 6-3 victory in about two and a half hours. Gulbis spoke of match, I’m not used to play these kind of big matches. It’s just normal I felt extra nervous and extra tense. I can take one positive side out of the match: that I could still win a third set feeling that nervous and that extra tired.” He is ready to be back in these situations in future and feels that those occasions would be handled much better now that he has the experience.

In the other men’s semifinal, Nadal verses Murray, there is really no other word to say that it was a “beatdown.” Nadal just crushed his opponent in about 100 minutes. It was mainly a one-sided conversation. Whatever, game plan Murray had in mind, it quickly became useless as the match went on and nothing he tried worked. From the scoreline, 6-3 6-2 6-1, it is clear that either he was getting worse at playing Nadal or Nadal was getting better at playing him. In the first set, Nadal quickly jumped out to 3-0 lead whereas Murray was having trouble winning points. He finally got on the scoreboard in the 4th game and all he could to avert the double break. He lost the set 3-6 in about half an hour.

The 2nd and 3rd got progressively worst for Murray. He was being outclassed, outhit and simply overpowered by Nadal. Murray took a set off Nadal several weeks ago in Rome but today in Paris he could barely get a game off Nadal. “I knew it was going to be a difficult afternoon obviously before I went on the court. I was expecting a lot of long rallies. I was expecting to have to do a lot of running. And, yeah, I just  yeah, I mean, it was a tough day for me. It was a bad, bad day.” It was bad indeed as Murray would win only 3 more games in the match. He lost the last 6 games in a row. The numbers for this match are staggering. Nadal dropped 10 points on serve the entire match. The Spaniard was getting in 76% of his first serves and winning 91% of the points and 57% on second serve with 24 winners and 15 errors. Murray on the other hand was only getting 52% of his first serves in, won 63% of them and 34% of his second serves. He had 11 winners and 26 errors. Murray saw no break points in the match and only once was he able to get to deuce on the Nadal serve. He was nowhere near the level that Nadal was playing on.

Nadal analyzed the match: Today I played better than Andy. Andy made a few mistakes, especially on his return; whereas I made very few mistakes. I played quite well. So these are facts. I succeeded in developing my strategy. As for Andy’s strategy, he didn’t manage to implement it.” So Nadal will meet Djokovic for the 42nd time with Nadal leading the head-to-head 22-19. Nadal had this to say of the upcoming match, “I have prepared quite a lot. I need to improve my return a bit more. Today I managed to have my backhand that was a bit better than before. I need to be a bit more patient. I need to be able and manage pressure, because when it puts a lot of pressure on me I would rush on my return and I position myself to play on my forehand. As for my forehand, everything is fine. It’s very fast, very powerful, and I’m very happy. [I]t’s true that he defeated me four times in a row. This will have an impact, but I hope it will not be too big of an impact.…At the moment he is in a good momentum, and I hope I can put an end to that. I’m working on this.”

Djokovic offered up this on his assessment of the final, “I’m going to try to be aggressive, because that is the only way I can win against him. I know that of course this is the court he’s most dominant on. This is where he plays his best…[W]e played some really close and good matches, good quality matches the last two years here…And knowing that I was that close to win against him the past two years gives me that reason to believe that I can make it this time. Of course I’m going to go out on the court trying to win, trying to do my best…It’s easier said than done, of course, because we all know how good he is on this court. But he’s not unbeatable.” Even Gulbis thinks that Djokovic has a chance to do the near impossible, “I think he has a big chance to win the tournament…I guess he has a big chance. Doesn’t matter how bad he plays in the quarters, semis, or first, second. Doesn’t matter. A final is a final…He’s gonna compete and he’s not gonna be really, really down…It’s going to be some good tennis.”

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Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days

The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.

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Image via twitter.com/atptour (Alexander Scheuber)

The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.

 

Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.

There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.

“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”

Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.

Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.

Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.

“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.

Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win

Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.

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Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.

“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”

The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.

Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.

This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.

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Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells

The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…

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Denis Shapovalov (CAN) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.

 

It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.

Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.

” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.

Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.

In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.

Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

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