TENNIS ATP CINCINNATI – 12th of August 2014. N. Djokovic d. G. Simon 6-3, 4-6, 6-4. An interview with Novak Djokovic
Q. Congratulations on the win. Gilles had five consecutive games against you at one point last part of the second set, early in the third. What was the problem at that time?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Just wasn’t able to hit the ball as well as I did first set and a half. I think he’s a very tricky player, very solid from both sides, from the baseline. You know, he’s not going to give you too many unforced errors and free points, so I knew that.
His lateral movement behind the baseline is very good. He’s making player, you know, play an extra shot. So try to mix it up, change the pace, get the right angle. Was working quite well, and then suddenly I start making unforced errors and backed up a little bit and he started, you know, dominating the rallies. That’s what happened.
Then it was a pretty even third set up to the end. But again, you know, it’s a fight. I’m just glad I managed to win this one.
Q. You had a lot of irritated looks on your face in the course of the match. I’m just wondering if you feel like it’s good to get that win even though you’re not playing that well? What were you feeling out there?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, look, let’s be honest. I don’t enjoy playing bad. I don’t enjoy missing a lot of balls from the baseline. You know, that was frustrating for me.
But I managed to get a W in the end, and that’s what matters. You know, I spoke to my team before trying to get the right mindset, and, you know, competitive intensity on the court.
You know, I think I did well for the most part of the match. End of the second, start of the third wasn’t that great. But, look, I try to take positives from every match. I know I’m not playing at the level yet where I want to be and it’s obvious, but I keep on pushing myself.
Every day is a new challenge to try to, you know, look out for a better game tomorrow and after tomorrow, and hopefully it’s going to come.
Q. You said in your on court interview you just didn’t feel comfortable on the court. Is that the conditions or your own game or a combination?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, it’s a combination. The conditions were the same for both of us. Truth is that they were quite strange, you know. It was cold. Started to rain a little bit. It was very windy. It’s not easy to play, especially when you play somebody like Simon who gets every ball back and makes you play.
Sometimes you feel like you’re not able to take advantage of the short balls, and I lost my footing there a little bit and framed some shots.
You know, it’s easy to lose the confidence in your shots. That’s why for some part of the match I was irritated a little bit, but I managed to come back.
Q. How easy is it for you to concentrate on tennis right now compared to other times?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I mean, look, tennis is a big part of my life. I enjoy the sport. I love this sport. I love competing, traveling, you know, being around people who care about me, who sacrifice their lives for me to be here and most of their time. I don’t take that for granted.
I understand that many people who are not as fortunate as I am to do what they love to do. To be top of the world in this sport, it’s quite a remarkable, so I always try to remind myself of that.
Things have big things have happened in my life recently. Of course I got married and soon to be a father hopefully, so of course these are the joyful moments in life one can experience.
That obviously is going to affect my, you know, priorities in life. But tennis wise I’m going to, of course, as long as I have this passion for the sport, keep on going and keep on practicing and working and hoping that I can win many big titles and stay No. 1.
Q. You construct points very well. It seemed a little odd that on a fast hardcourt some of the rallies were extended 15, 20 shots. Seemingly you came up on the short end of most of those. Any thoughts on why there were so many long rallies tonight?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: As I said, I think it worked well for 6 3, 4 2. Most of the rallies I was in control. I changed the length of my shots, the pace, the spin, the angles.
But then again, as I was saying before, Gilles is a very consistent player from baseline. If you start making some unforced errors and if you start doubting your shots for a little bit, that’s where he strikes.
That’s what happened, really, and it was kind of difficult to make the shots that I was making for most part of the first part of the match.
Denis Shapovalov Handles Opelka To Reach Australian Open Fourth Round
The Canadian managed to get past his 6ft 11 American opponent in a match that lasted over three hours.
Denis Shapovalov is into the fourth round of the Australian Open after beating 23rd seed Reilly Opelka 7-6, 4-6, 6-3, 6-4 in three hours and two minutes on Margeret Court Arena.
The Canadian hit 39 winners and served 10 aces while limiting Opelka to just 17 aces. In contrast the American finished the match with a costly 46 unforced errors as Shapovalov booked his spot in the second week of the tournament.
” I think I did a really good job against Reilly (Opelka) today and I took a lot of my chances and managed to get a read on his serve,” said the world No.14.
Both players were doing a good job early on when it came to holding serve and at 3-3 it was the Toronto native who had three chances to break. On his third opportunity broke serve with his trademark backhand winner.
However, that break didn’t last long for Shapovalov as he struggled to consolidate the break and ultimately gave the break right back with a poor service game and it was back on serve at 4-4.
The first was decided by a tiebreaker and Shapovalov got the crucial break to take a 3-1 lead in the breaker which was enough for him to take the first set.
The second frame was much like the first with both players holding serve until 3-3 when Opelka broke serve. He was able to consolidate and serve out the set to level the match.
The third set stayed on serve until 3-2 and the momentum swung back in the Canadians favor. He got the break of serve this time using his forehand to great effect and served out the third to take a two sets to one lead.
Just like the third set the fourth set had no breaks until 3-2 when again the number 14 seed broke Opelka serve again and that break of serve was enough for him to serve out the match and the win.
After the match in his post-match interview, he was asked how he was able to limit his opponent to just 17 aces in the match.
” It’s never easy against Reilly (Opelka) but I am happy I was able to pull through and make it to the next round”. He said.
Shapovalov will face the number three seed Alexander Zverev in the round of 16.
Felix Auger-Aliassime Survives Australian Open Marathon
For a second time this week the Canadian was pushed but managed to win a tough four-set match against his Spanish opponent.
Felix Auger-Aliassime booked his spot in the third round of the Australian Open after beating Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 7-6, 6-7, 7-6, 7-6 in a match that lasted four hours and 20 minutes.
The Montreal native hit 58 winners and served 28 aces while Davidovich Fokina hit 51 unforced errors. It is the second time the 21-year-old has reached the last 32 in Melbourne Park in what is his third appearence.
The first game of the match was a nervy one for the world number nine as it lasted six minutes and it involved him saving two breakpoints before being able to hold serve. The opener stayed on serve until 2-2 when the Fokina came up with an impressive passing shot to set up two more chances for the first break of serve of the match and this time managed to convert. Three games later the Canadian fought back and broke right back to go back on serve.
It was a tiebreak which decided the first set. The Montreal native jumped out to a 3-0 lead before the Spaniard came back again to win the next four points but the Canadian responded again winning three straight points to take the breaker 7-4 and the first set.
The second set was another impressive performance on serve by both players and once again was decided by a back and forth breaker that this time was won by Davidovich Fokina to level the match.
The third frame was much the same as both players kept their level up and not much differentiated the two. This tiebreaker was much more straightforward as the Canadian jumped out to a 5-1 lead before closing out the third set 7-5 and taking two sets to one lead.
The fourth set stayed on serve until 2-1 when the world number 50 had a chance to break and was able to get it for a 3-1 lead before the Canadian was able to break back the following game to go back on serve.
For the fourth time, the set was decided by a tiebreaker and this one was super tight with the Canadian getting the crucial break to take a 4-3 lead and that one break was enough for him to serve it out.
Auger Aliassime will now face Dan Evans in the third round after the Brit was handed a walkover against Frenchman Arthur Rinderknech who pulled out of the match due to injury.
‘Best Feeling I’ve Ever Had’ – Underdog Christopher O’Connell Stuns Schwartzman At Australian Open
Prior to this week the 27-year-old had never won a main draw match at Melbourne Park or beaten a top 20 player.
World No.175 Christopher O’Connell has pulled off a major upset at the Australian Open by knocking out 13th seed Diego Schwartzman.
The 27-year-old wild card had only ever won one match in the main draw of a Grand Slam prior to this year but illustrated the talent that he has with a 7-6, 6-4, 6-4, win over Schwartzman. A player who is currently ranked 162 places above him in the rankings. Against the Argentine he fired a total of 44 winners and won 75% of his first service points on route to claiming his first win over a top 20 player.
“It’s the best feeling I’ve ever had on a tennis court. I’ve been playing tennis since I was four. To have moments like this it’s a dream come true.” O’Connell said during his press conference.
Despite the straightforward score, the match itself was a marathon. The opener alone lasted for almost 90 minutes with the underdog saving three set points whilst down 4-5 before prevailing in the tiebreaker. Then in the following two sets he broke Schwartzman three times in total.
“I knew how crucial that first set was. It was really warming up out there. It was really a battle back and forth. It was crucial to get that first set, especially in the heat,” he said.
A late bloomer on the men’s Tour, the Australian started to make a breakthrough last year by reaching his first quarter-final at the Atlanta Open where he defeated Jannik Sinner. During that year he also reached the final of a French Challenger event before withdrawing due to injury and reached the second round of the US Open.
O’Connell, who has been ranked as high as 111th in the world, credits his coach for helping him reach new milestones in the sport. He is mentored by former player Marinko Matosevic who reached a ranking high of 39th back in 2013 and made more than $2M in prize money during his playing career.
“The process didn’t start yesterday. It’s been happening all of last year,” he stated.
“I’ve been working with Marinko. He’s just really confident with how I want to play tennis now. It’s the first time I’ve really had a one-on-one coach literally every day with me.’
“Marinko was such a great player. All his knowledge of the game, he’s just putting it onto me.”
Next up for O’Connell will be the in-form Maxime Cressy who lost to Rafael Nadal in the final of the Melbourne Summer Set just over a week ago. The American defeated Czech qualifier Tomáš Macháč 6-1, 3-6, 6-1, 7-6(5), in his second round match.
“I knew I had good results in me. It’s just being consistent. I felt today was a consistent match from me,” he reflected.
“But the biggest thing for me is just staying healthy, not having these injuries where I miss two months of tournaments. I nearly missed five or six months last year. I can’t be doing that.’
“The belief is always there, but I just got to make sure my body’s healthy this year. I want to play a full year.”
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