Grigor Dimitrov: “I just feel comfortable at the moment and, of course, happy with the title I got at Queen's” - UBITENNIS
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Grigor Dimitrov: “I just feel comfortable at the moment and, of course, happy with the title I got at Queen's”

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 25th of June. G. Dimitrov d. L. Saville 6-3, 6-2, 6-4. An interview with Grigor Dimitrov

 

Q. Do you feel you’re playing particularly well this year?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, I think at that point I’m having a good results and I’ve been quite healthy and successful on all the surfaces. So it feels natural to me to come and compete on that level.

In the same time I feel really excited. So that brings even more to the game. Of course, to my confidence. I’m looking forward to every match.

 

Q. You may not know, but when Boris Becker won Queen’s, he was almost unknown, he won Wimbledon a few weeks later. He was paid 16b#1 by the bookmakers, exactly like you. Is that a good omen?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Well, I hope (smiling). What else can I say about that?

Of course it’s a great feeling to come play a tournament with odds like that, I’m sure. I got to take each match at a time. Especially nowadays I think the level of everyone is quite high, everyone is playing a great tennis.

You just have to be really optimistic, as well. It’s not just what the odds are and how you do everything else. But I just feel comfortable at the moment and, of course, happy with the title I got at Queen’s.

But I’m here, and I’m here for the long haul, so yeah.

 

Q. How much of an influence has your coach been? He works you very hard, doesn’t he?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Yeah, Roger’s been next to me ever since we started working together. I think we’ve put a tremendous amount of work throughout all the months. Especially in the off-season, when we really needed to step on the gas and create a solid base for the year ahead, I think we found a good combination on and off the court.

So basically, you know, we clicked. It’s something that I think we have just a good relationship. We’re finding our way around pretty good so far.

 

Q. What does he put you through?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: A lot of work. A lot of weights. You know, he’s a very tough but fair man in the end of the day. And I love to work. I mean, I love to give everything from myself every day. You know, on occasions when I can go 110% every day, it’s a good base to have.

 

Q. What have you learned from the type of competitor and worker she is?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Well, I mean, I think you can learn a lot in a way. But I think in the end it’s not about what I’m going to learn from her. It’s about what I want to learn from myself and for the game. That’s to me in a way more valuable because I’m competing in that sport and I want to be at my best.

I’m trying to find all the ways possible on my own. Of course, it’s great to have a surrounding and support like hers.

 

Q. For nine years there’s been a virtual roadblock to major championships with four guys. What is it like for a guy trying to break in and join that group?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: In a way it’s nice to see, but in the same time I think it pushes you to the limits of your work. I know we all want to break through. I think especially the younger generation, we all want to push through those slams and start winning a few, which I believe it’s around the corner for any one of us.

Of course, it’s not the easiest thing to see. But I think at the same time it pushes you to work harder and to appreciate things in a different way.

 

Q. You have to play Dolgopolov next round. You both are very talented. When you have to play a player who is very talented, do you fear him more than someone who is more consistent, that is always playing at his level, or not? Does it create new problems to you?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: In a way I don’t need to fear anyone. I don’t fear from opponents in that order.

But I think I always focus on my game. I know what to expect from my opponent. Obviously I’ve played couple of times against him.

To me it’s nothing new. I don’t want to get out of my way because it’s a different opponent or he’s talented or anything like that. I think a lot of players out there are talented. We all know how he can play and compete.

I think I’m just focusing on my game at the moment.

 

Q. You said before about being honored to play on Centre Court. Besides the prestige of Wimbledon, is there particularly anything special about the tournament? What gives you sort of goosebumps when you come here?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Well, tennis started here basically. I think it’s just a lot of tradition. The week before you walk on the grounds, you see how everything is lined up in a perfect way.

I think it’s just a special feeling for everyone. I think you kind of embrace it as soon as you step on the grounds.

Again, coming on that Centre Court was just definitely something to remember. How many people can say, you know, I walked on Centre Court and played a match? That’s pretty awesome, I think.

 

Q. The British fans are pretty excited about Andy Murray. You could be facing him in the quarterfinals. Can you allow yourself to look that far ahead?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: I can but I don’t want to (smiling).

 

Q. Would it be an exciting challenge for you?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: Of course. Of course. That’s why I’m playing that game. That’s why I’m competing, is to get into that phase of a tournament and play against an opponent like that. I mean, what’s better than that?

 

Q. Speaking of Andy Murray, we were speaking a moment ago about the big four. When you think about that group and the way they’ve played, what do you learn from them and appreciate most?

GRIGOR DIMITROV: I think you can learn a lot in general, I mean, watching those matches. Especially them going through those early rounds, the way they’re preparing. I think it’s just the surroundings, you can learn a lot from them.

But I think I’ve reached the point that I don’t need to follow or copy anyone or look into anyone. I’m all focused on myself and what I do in order to get there and be able to compete on the same level as them.

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Novak Djokovic ‘Hurt’ By Father’s Absence From Australian Open Final

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Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Novak Djokovic said he mutually agreed with his father that he did not attend his latest Australian Open match but admits it was a bitter pill to swallow. 

 

Srdjan Djokovic had attended his son’s matches throughout the majority of the tournament but has recently been caught up in controversy. On Wednesday a video surfaced on social media of the 62-year-old posing for a photo with pro-Russian supporters with one of the fans waving a flag with the face of Vladimir Putin on it. Another fan was also wearing a t-shirt with the ‘Z’ symbol on it which is used to support the Russian army. 

The Russian and Belarussian flags were banned from the tournament this year following an incident in the first round. A Russian flag was shown during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova. Prompting anger from Ukraine with its ambassador to Australia calling for a ‘neutral flag’ policy to be implemented. 

Srdjan has since issued a statement saying the incident was ‘unintentional’ and said his family ‘only wish for peace in the world.’ He subsequently also missed Djokovic’s semi-final match to avoid any possible ‘disruption’ before doing the same for Sunday’s final.

“I thought things would calm down in terms of media and everything, but it didn’t. We both agreed it would probably be better that he is not there,” Djokovic said after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title
“That hurts me and him (Srdjan) a lot because these are very special, unique moments. Who knows if they repeat again? So it was not easy for him.”

Whilst he was not in the stands, Djokovic was reunited with his father shortly afterwards. Although the tennis star said Srdjan ‘was not feeling his best’ due to the situation. 

“It is what it is. I think in the end also what he told me is that it’s important that I feel good on the court, I win the match, and he’s here for me,” Djokovic continued. 
“If it’s going to be better for me as the outcome of the match so that he’s not in the box, then so be it. That was the whole conversation.’
“In a way, I’m also sad that he was not there, present, in the stands. But he was throughout the entire tournament, so it’s fine. In the end, we have a happy ending.”

Djokovic has now won five out of the past seven Grand Slam tournaments he has played in. At the Australian Open alone he has won 28 matches in a row.

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Australian Open Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas Play for the Men’s Championship

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Novak Djokovic this week in Melbourne (twitter.com/australianopen)

A year ago, Novak Djokovic experienced quite an embarrassing debacle.  After the unvaccinated Djokovic was initially granted an exemption and allowed to enter Australia, he was later detained, and eventually deported and prevented from competing at this tournament.  His refusal to get vaccinated continues to prevent Novak from competing in North American tournaments, missing Indian Wells, Miami, Canada, Cincinnati, and the US Open last year. 

 

But at the events Djokovic has been allowed to participate in over the past seven months, he has been nearly unstoppable.  Since the beginning of Wimbledon last June, he is now 37-2, with five titles.  Novak comes into this championship match on a 16-match winning streak, with seven of those victories against top 10 opposition.  With a win on Sunday, Djokovic not only ties Rafael Nadal in their ongoing race for history with 22 Major titles, but he also regains the World No.1 ranking, despite all the tennis he’s missed.

However, standing in his way is a hungry and confident Stefanos Tsitsipas.  This is the Greek’s second Major final, and the second time he’s encountered Djokovic in this round of a Slam.  Two years ago in the championship match of Roland Garros, Tsitsipas secured the first two sets, before losing to Novak in five.  If Stefanos can win one more set on Sunday, he’ll not only win his first Major title, he’ll also become the World No.1 for the first time.

Also on Sunday, the women’s doubles champions will be crowned.  Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, who have won six Majors as a team, face Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, who are vying for their first Major as a team. 


Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) vs. Novak Djokovic (4) – 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Djokovic’s excellence in the latter rounds of the Australian Open is rivaled only by Nadal’s excellence at Roland Garros.  Novak is now 19-0 in the semifinals and finals of this tournament, which is quite staggering.  He’s also won his last 27 matches at this event, and his last 40 in Australia in general, a streak that dates back over five years.  While Novak suffered a hamstring injury a week before this fortnight, he has still advanced to this final rather easily, dropping only one set through six matches.

Tsitsipas has now reached the semifinals or better in four of the last five years at the Australian Open, but this is his first time reaching the final.  He enjoys plenty of Greek support at this event, and appears to have some extra swagger in his step during this fortnight.  Stefanos has dropped three sets to this stage, and has been superb at saving break points.  Through six matches, he has saved 44 of 53 break points faced.

Both men feel fully at home on Rod Laver Arena, and have described it as their favorite court.  But this is their first meeting on RLA.  They’ve met plenty of times on other courts though, in a rivalry that’s been thoroughly dominated by Djokovic.  The Serbian leads 10-2, and has claimed their last nine matches.  That includes four matches that took place in 2022, in which Novak won eight of their nine sets.  They played three times within a six-week period this past fall on indoor hard courts, with their closest and best matchup taking place in the semifinals of Bercy, where Djokovic prevailed in a final-set tiebreak.

Djokovic is undeniably a huge favorite to win his 10th Australian Open.  But that common knowledge takes a lot of pressure off Tsitsipas, who was so close to defeating Novak the last time they met in a Slam final.  Djokovic has been rather unbothered by all competition during this tournament, even with an injured hamstring.  Can Stefanos pull off one of the bigger surprises in recent tennis history?  I expect him to challenge Novak on Sunday, but Tsitsipas’ backhand remains a liability. And with Djokovic determined to avenge what he sees as mistreatment a year ago in Australia, a Novak loss would be truly surprising.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Australian Open: Facing Tsitsipas For World No. 1 Spot May Be Different for Novak Djokovic

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Image via https://twitter.com/atptour/

It probably was a good thing that Novak Djokovic wasn’t facing a top opponent in the Australian Open semifinals. Certainly not one the caliber of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

 

Of course, Tommy Paul did his best. He just isn’t a top ten caliber player.

The American could rally with Djokovic, but when it came time to win the point or game, he  usually was nowhere to be found on the Rod Laver court.

DJOKOVIC WILL NEED TO BE BETTER

The fact that Tsitsipas is in contention for the No. 1 ranking in men’s tennis is enough to ensure that Paul isn’t quite in the league with the Greek superstar.

Djokovic will need to be better than he was against Paul when he steps onto the court to face Tsitsipas on Sunday night in the Australian Open singles final.

There was Djokovic blundering his way through a one-sided 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 win over Paul. The scoreline should have been closer to 3-1-2. But Novak appeared to have all kinds of physical ailments — legs, knees, bandaged hamstring. Or just plain conditioning and breathing hard. You name it.

NIGHT-TIME DUTY ONCE AGAIN

It was just night time in Melbourne. You wonder what might have happened if Novak had been assigned some daytime duty like everyone else in the tournament. Say, like Tsitsipas had been assigned for his closer than the scores reflex in the Greek’s 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 win over Karen Khachanov in Friday’s other semifinal.

Tsitsipas is a real threat to claim the world’s top ranking on Sunday night with a victory over the legend from Serbia. Of course, in the 2021 French Open final, Tsitipsas won the first two sets against Djokovic.

It’s possible. Tsitsipas could come through this time.

A SHADOW OF THE OLD NOVAK

Novak was only a shadow of the old Djokovic Friday night. And that was against a player who may never earn a berth in another Grand Slam semifinal.

Of course, Djokovic wasn’t quite as out of it as Rafa Nadal was in the second-round blitzing by Mackenzie McDonald. But Nadal was nursing a hip injury. He may be a different player in Paris in four months.

Djokovic still has all of the big shots and serves he has displayed for much of the last two decades. He just didn’t seem to know where all of those weapons were headed in the semifinals.

IS NOVAK’S BAG OF TRICKS EMPTY?

Of course, if Novak pulls a solid performance out of his bag of tricks and denies Tsitsipas the world’s top ranking, Djokovic likely would stand in Nadal’s path in Paris to a record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

The task won’t be easy. First, Novak has to take care of business on Sunday night. But with a record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title up for grabs, Djokovic may actually look like himself. 

As Novak says, he wants to be known as the best player in the world.

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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