Novak Djokovic: “If you're 6'10" you serve with a tomato, you're going to ace it” - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic: “If you're 6'10" you serve with a tomato, you're going to ace it”

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TENNIS WIMBLEDON 2014 – 2nd of July. N. Djokovic d. M. Cilic 6-1, 3-6, 7-6, 6-2, 6-2. An interview with Novak Djokovic

Q. What turned it around for you? How did you get back in the winning way?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Just held my composure in those moments when the match was going his way, especially when he won the third set. You know, obviously I was frustrated with the fact that I haven’t used the opportunities that were presented, and also the fact that I allowed him to come back into the match.

I mean, he did start playing more offense and playing better, but I thought that I allowed him to have this opportunity on the court.

 

Q. There was a moment in the fourth set in the changeover where you sit down and your eyes were closed. Were you visualizing or meditating, trying to calm yourself down?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, yes, obviously, you know, you go through the difficult moments, especially when you’re two sets to one down, playing quarters of Grand Slams. It gets very emotional. You’re fighting on the court as much as your opponent, and you try to just mentally be strong and find that inner strength that can help you in those particular moments.

That’s what helped me.

 

Q. You appeared to be distracted at times by the noise coming from outside. How significant was that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I think both of us, we thought it was too much in a way. But it is what it is. I mean, it’s kind of strange to feel so much noise coming from the Centre Court. I don’t know how come, because from the Centre you can’t hear and vice versa.

But the crowd gets into it. Today with him losing in straight sets, it was obviously a result that all stadium, even on Court 1, wanted to see. I said to the chair umpire, Let’s just stop the match, put it live on the big screen, and let’s watch it till they’re done. It’s going to be better for all of us.

 

Q. Tomorrow you have a day off. What have you planned, except from practicing and relaxing?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: No, I’m going to keep my routine, same things. Try to relax, do some things that I do usually on the days off.

 

Q. What is that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That is my private thing. Can’t reveal too much.

 

Q. You’re going to be a father for the first time this year. How is the pregnancy going and how does this motivate you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Very good. Thank you for asking. The date is coming closer. The stomach is growing. If you have kids, you know how that feels.

For us, it’s a new chapter of our lives. It’s a new experience. We’re full of joy. What can I say? It can only bring positive things to us. It’s the most beautiful news that I ever received when she told me she was pregnant.

We’re together almost nine years, and this is the crown of our relationship.

 

Q. You changed your shoes. Can you explain a little bit more about that. What was the problem and how did it help you?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I thought I was slipping, I was falling, and I wasn’t really finding the balance in the third. I don’t know if it was shoes or socks or whatever. It was very warm. I was sweating a lot, so I want to change it.

I had just a better grip. I had better movement. Maybe it was just mental, but anyway, it worked.

 

Q. The grass is supposed to be slower and bounces truer. We’ve had a record number of tiebreaks in the tournament, suggesting that breaking is not going on as much. What is your explanation for that?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Grass is still the fastest surface we have in sport. If you are going to have tiebreak records anywhere, you’re going to have it here. Especially with guys like Isner or López or Raonic, Kyrgios, these big servers, big guys, Cilic.

It’s not easy to break them. They put a lot of pressure on your service games, as well. Your best chance is getting to a tiebreak.

Again, I would agree with the fact that we have more baseline rallies than we had maybe 20, 30 years ago looking at the grass at those times.

But I think it’s not a matter of grass. I think it’s a matter of tennis balls. I think they’re a bit slower, which suits the baseline players more I guess nowadays.

 

Q. So the serve should be slower, too?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, not if you’re 6’10”. It doesn’t matter. If you serve with a tomato, you’re going to ace it.

 

Q. How would you assess the match against Dimitrov next given the run he’s had on grass? Do you have any sympathy for Andy Murray being defending champion and how hard it is to, I suppose, keep winning at tournaments you’ve won before?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, I understand him, of course. I was saying before here that he goes through immense pressure and expectations in Wimbledon because he’s somebody that everybody relies on and expects him to go far and win the trophy.

He has done that. I’m sure that he felt a huge relief.

But again, now he has faced another experience: to be defending champion for the first time at Wimbledon. It’s quite different. It’s another way of pressure that you feel.

So I understand what he goes through. But Dimitrov won in straight sets and he deserves respect for that. Of course, he must have played an incredible match. To beat Andy on grass is a very, very difficult challenge.

 

Q. Are you going to be wearing your lucky shoes against Grigor?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I have to think about that. If they’re lucky, if you say they’re lucky, I’ll wear them (smiling).

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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