Novak Djokovic: “(Boris) is my coach and we're working daily on all possible aspects of my mental and physical, emotional preparation” - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic: “(Boris) is my coach and we're working daily on all possible aspects of my mental and physical, emotional preparation”

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 30th of June. N. Djokovic d. J. Tsonga 6-3, 6-4, 7-6. An interview with Novak Djokovic

Q. You must be delighted with that victory. It looked pretty emphatic.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. I was aware of his qualities, especially on this surface. He looked, before the match, very determined to play his best and very focused.

I think I did really well from the start to the end, especially in the third set where I thought he elevated his level of game and he started serving very high percentage first serve, very strong, all angles.

It was difficult to get the return back in play, but managed to save a couple break points, crucial ones, get myself in the tiebreak and wait for the opportunity to be presented.

We both served very well in the tiebreak, and the only opportunity I had was on second serve on 6-5, and I used it. I went for the shot.

Yeah, I’m just glad that I didn’t allow him to go into the fourth set, because he started to use obviously the crowd support. And, you know, I knew that he’s going to do that because he’s the kind of player that feeds off the energy, so it was very important for me to get this done in straight sets.

 

Q. Yourself and Andy both benefited from playing under the roof today. There is a bit of a backlog. Stan Wawrinka was complaining about the scheduling. He will have to play back to back. Is it beneficial to you going forward in this tournament?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, in my own case, yes. I mean, I had a couple of days off and then scheduled to play today on the Centre. No interruptions, played the whole match under the roof, didn’t think about the rain. This is advantage of being scheduled on Centre Court.

But I understand why Wawrinka was complaining, because, you know, we have this tradition here of the middle Sunday not being played any match. This tradition was broken a couple of times, and I remember a few years ago it was the case when they actually had to play a few matches.

So I think, you know, we have to rethink about this Sunday in between, because the day was beautiful. It was no rain, and the whole day there was no match played. No other Grand Slam has this particular rule.

We all know that tradition is something that is nurtured here in All England Club, and we respect that. But there are some rules that I believe should be, you know, updated, changed, you know, for the better of the schedule and for the better of the players.

 

Q. Didn’t play a warmup tournament here, and then you had three very tight matches and only dropped one set. Are you where you want to be at this stage of the tournament?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes. Especially after the match today, beating Tsonga who is very good player overall, but especially on the grass. He won in the Centre Court against Federer a couple years ago, so he knows how to play on the big stage. He has been winning against all the top players in different, various, big occasions and big tournaments. He was in a couple of Grand Slam semifinals, finals.

So he’s a top player, established top-10 player, and he loves the big stage. So to be able to win against him in straight sets on the surface that I said that I feel like it suits him the most is a great result. I was very happy with consistency today, mental consistency, and variety in my game. Played very good from back of the court. Good serve.

So all in all, it was a very good match, and hopefully I can continue keeping the same level.

 

Q. What about the left upper arm? You pinched that a couple times in the third set.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, just happened in the tiebreaker in the third set that I felt it a little bit.

But it’s good.

 

Q. You face Marin in the next round, which pits your coach, Boris Becker, up against Goran Ivanisevic. Do you expect Boris to be working especially hard the next couple days to make sure…

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I expect him to come into the court and play instead of us (Laughter).

Well, you know, there is no difference in our approach in terms of practice and what we work on, and I will try to stick to the kind of a game plan that I had against Marin in the previous occasions.

I am aware of the fact, as well, that since he started working with Goran that he has improved, especially in his service department, where for his height I thought that he didn’t use his full potential up to now work with Goran, where it’s evident that it works well for him.

Especially on the grass it serves as a great weapon. He won here in straight sets against Chardy and Berdych and some very good players.

So it says enough about his quality play in this tournament.

 

Q. Is this the point in the tournament where Boris’ impact comes into its own?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Of course. I mean, he’s my coach and we’re working daily on all possible aspects of my mental and physical, emotional preparation and trying to get myself in the best possible shape.

You know, of course he can dedicate himself and help as much as he possibly can, but I need to execute the same work that we are doing.

But we do have a much better understanding now, and it shows on the court.

 

Q. You’re obviously very good friends with Marin. Whenever we ask about you two friends playing each other you say, Yeah, but we’re professionals on the court. Is there some intensity that perhaps gets lost on both sides because you have so much respect and liking for each other off court?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, not in my case, to be honest. There was few times that I felt – that’s a good question – that I felt this particular sensation when I would play somebody, especially somebody from my country, like Troicki or Tipsarevic, if I should go for this shot. It seems a little bit strange because you don’t want to express your emotions.

But in the end of the day, it’s not a cliché. This is actually how it should be. The mental approach should be that we are both professionals and we want to win against each other. I played Radek the other day and we had a tough match. We both showed, expressed emotions. We wanted to win. We fighted through. One hour after the match we were joking around in the locker room and we were practicing today and tomorrow as well.

So, you know, we are good friends. We are both aware of the fact that that’s our work, it’s our life, and we need to do what we need to do on the court.

 

Q. Goran was such a force of nature as a player, such a strong character. Do you think that will naturally have an impact on Marin and how he approaches it on the court?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I think it already does. It shows with the results that he has in this tournament and lately their relationship helps Marin, for sure.

I mean, he’s definitely feeling, you know, privileged to have Goran on his team because Goran is a legend of our sport, and especially in Croatia and in our ex-Yugoslavian countries. He’s somebody that we respect a lot. He always had this personality, this great drive about him.

He’s tall, as well as Marin, so I’m sure that he helped him out and improved his serve and also his mental approach to this big tournaments and big matches.

I have played him last two times a tough three-setter in Indian Wells, and also a tough four setter in Roland Garros a couple of weeks ago.

No easy matches, really. I feel like he has improved, and I’m sure he’s going to try to go for his shots and try to win the match.

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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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