Novak Djokovic Affirms Status as World's Best in 2014 US Open Win vs Andy Murray - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Affirms Status as World's Best in 2014 US Open Win vs Andy Murray

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TENNIS US OPEN – It was warm. It was late. But heat and time couldn’t stop Novak Djokovic. Neither could Andy Murray. On a night that rolled into the wee small hours of morning, Djokovic verified his standing as the No. 1 men’s player in tennis. Art Spander for bleacherreport.com

 

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He wasn’t perfect and had his lapses, but as John McEnroe—who was once in the position Djokovic now stands—pointed out on the ESPN telecast after midnight, all players have their lapses. The question is how many and for how long.

Djokovic’s were irritating; he several times swung his racket in anger after a missed shot he felt was a wasted opportunity. But they weren’t fatal. And at 1:16 a.m. local time Thursday, he finished off a 7-6 (1), 6-7 (1), 6-2, 6-4, win over Murray in a U.S. Open quarterfinal.

Into the Open semis for an eighth consecutive time, tying him with Ivan Lendl (Murray’s former coach) and the man he’ll most likely face in Monday’s final, Roger Federer.

What a year for Djokovic. Finals at the French Open, victory at Wimbledon, over Federer. Now the semis of the U.S., where he’ll face Kei Nishikori, who after consecutive five-set, four-hour-plus matches may be weary. Not that Djokovic isn’t after his three-hour, 32-minute duel with Murray.

When Djokovic was asked what he thought about Nishikori, he answered, “My thoughts were directed to sleeping right now…or partying.” That drew a roar from the remainder of a crowd that reached 23,000 at Arthur Ashe Stadium.

Djokovic and Murray, who was seeded No. 8 but is not worse than the fourth-best player in the world, now have met 21 times, with Djokovic having won 13. “I knew it was going to be tough,” Djokovic said, “and the more aggressive one was going to win it.”

There isn’t too much Djokovic has lost in 2014, especially in the Grand Slam tournaments.

He could only—only, ha!—make the quarters of the Australian, beaten by eventual winner Stan Wawrinka (who Wednesday was Nishikori’s quarters victim), but after that, wow. He made it to the last day at Roland Garros, losing to the guy who always wins there, Rafael Nadal; then a second Wimbledon triumph; now two wins away from a second U.S. crown and an eighth Slam overall.

Even with Federer’s persistence and Nadal’s mercurial brilliance—limited by those too-frequent injuries, such as the wrist problem that kept him out of this Open—Djokovic has been the most consistent and successful the last three or four years.

He’s got a serve that’s efficient, if not blinding. He’s got incredible agility and tremendous speed. He runs down shots that seem irretrievable, shots that have the fans gasping—and then roaring.

If there is a weakness in his game, it may be a failure to put away an opponent. He had Murray beaten in the second set—or was Murray beating himself? After losing that set, Djokovic returned to display the skills he possesses.

Presuming he and Federer (whose quarterfinal is against the erratic Frenchman Gael Monfils) make it to the finals, it will be fascinating to watch their Wimbledon follow-up, this one on hard court instead of grass.

Flushing Meadows used to belong to Federer, who won there from 2004-2008.

If Djokovic, six years younger than the 33-year-old Federer, plays as he should, maybe he’ll take up the figurative ownership.

Djokovic has won Wimbledon twice, but the hard courts are clearly his best surface. He’s won the Australian four times, and he’s headed for a second win in America’s national championship. A year ago he lost in the final to Nadal.

“When you play him,” said Murray, who beat Djokovic in the 2012 Open final, “physically it’s extremely demanding. When you play him you have to be on it physically and mentally for a long period of time. I thought he was physically better than me in the end.”

After a lackluster few rounds, Djokovic-Murray was touted as the match to get us excited. And it did. It was classic New York, starting after the Serena Williams-Flavia Pennetta match at 9:43 p.m ET. It was a given play would go on long after the witching hour.

“I want to thank the fans who stayed,” Djokovic said on the loudspeaker system after the final point. “At times the tennis was not that nice. There were a lot of unforced errors. That was because of the battle. We always have long games against each other.”

A week apart in age, Djokovic, a Serb, and Murray, a Scotsman, stood at the baseline and slugged away, occasionally rushing the net. They broke serve numerous times, but finally Djokovic came through in the showdown between Grand Slam champions.

The best man finally won.

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Playing Clay Events After Wimbledon Was A Mistake, Says Diego Schwartzman

The former French Open semi-finalist is seeking to win his first title since March 2021 at the Tel Aviv Open this week.

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Diego Schwartzman (Roberto Dell'Olivo)

Diego Schwartzman will likely reevaluate his schedule for next year after admitting that part of his plans for this summer backfired. 

 

The world No.17 enters into the final quarter of the season with 31 wins against 22 losses on the Tour but is yet to win a title. Although he did reach back-to-back finals back in February in Argentina and Brazil. He has won two out of eight matches against top 10 opposition, defeating Stefanos Tsitsipas at the ATP Cup and Felix Auger-Aliassime in Barcelona. 

Reflecting on his performance, Schwartzman admits that his decision to return to European clay after playing at Wimbledon was a mistake. He lost his second match in Gstaad to Pablo Carreno Busta and then his first in Hamburg to Emil Ruusuvori. 

“It’s difficult to play at the same level every tournament, I’ve made a bad decision playing clay tournaments after Wimbledon, I didn’t have time to rest,” he said during his pre-tournament press conference at the Tel Aviv Open. “I paid the price and had some bad losses. But I started to feel much better in USA hard court season, lost to Stefanos Tsitsipas who reached the final in Cincinnati and to Frances Tiafoe at the US Open. Now I am feeling very good, I really love playing indoor tournaments.”

The 30-year-old has headed straight to Tel Aviv from the Laver Cup where Roger Federer played the last match of his career. Despite Schwartzman’s Team World winning the title for the first time, his only contribution to the tie saw him lose 6-1, 6-2, to Tsitsipas. 

Retirement was very much the topic of conversation during the Laver Cup with others such as Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic questioned by reporters about their plans in the sport. As for Schwartzman, he stayed coy about how much longer he would continue playing after saying in the past he might stop at the age of 33. 

“33 — is a good age to retire, isn’t it? South Americans are in different situations compared to European players. We travel too much, and sometimes we are not coming back home for 2-3 months, while Europeans can fly home every week. It’s tough,” he said. 
“As for Roger — he’s a special player, I think he is just the greatest in our sport.”

The Argentine is seeded third this week in Israel and will begin his campaign against Arthur Rinderknech who defeated qualifier Marius Copil in his opening match. 

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Team Europe Goes for a Fifth Straight Laver Cup

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The lineup for Day 3 (twitter.com/lavercup)

Heading into Day 3, the 2022 Laver Cup is feeling extremely familiar.  Team Europe has an 8-4 advantage, and only needs two wins on Sunday to secure their fifth consecutive Laver Cup.  Team World needs to win three matches to pull off the upset and obtain their first. 

 

Sunday’s play gets underway in London at 12:00pm local time.  And each match on Sunday is worth three points.


Matteo Berrettini and Andy Murray (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime and Jack Sock (Team World) – 12:00pm

Berrettini was victorious in both singles and doubles on Saturday, defeating Auger-Aliassime in singles, and teaming with Djokovic to overcome Sock and de Minaur in doubles.  So Matteo gained victories over both of his Sunday opponents on Saturday.  Murray lost to de Minaur in singles on Friday.  Andy and Jack are the most accomplished doubles players in this match, as Sock is pretty much Team World’s doubles specialist.  If he and Felix cannot pull of the victory on Sunday, it could be a pretty short day.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World)

Like Berrettini, Djokovic won in singles and doubles on Saturday, comfortably dispatching of Tiafoe in singles.  While it was his first match in over two months, Novak showed no rust whatsoever.  Auger-Aliassime’s loss to Berrettini on Saturday will not help his confidence against the 21-time Major champion.

Novak and Felix have only played once before, and that occurred four months ago in Rome on clay.  It was a pretty tight affair, but Djokovic prevailed 7-5, 7-6(1).  And there’s not much evidence to support a different outcome on Sunday.  Novak is surely eager to re-assert his authority after missing so much of this season due to his vaccination status.


Stefanos Tsitsipas (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – If Necessary

Tsitsipas easily beat Diego Schwartzman on Friday, dropping just three games.  He is 3-2 against Tiafoe, and 3-1 on hard courts.  However, Frances claimed their most recent encounter, last fall in Vienna, which was also on an indoor hard court.


Casper Ruud (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – If Necessary

Ruud defeated Sock on Friday, while Fritz defeated Norrie on Saturday.  If this match takes place, it will be their first career meeting.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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Laver Cup Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic to Play Singles and Doubles on Saturday

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The lineup for Day 2 (twitter.com/lavercup)

In the wake of Roger Federer’s incredibly emotional retirement on Day 1, the focus of this event shifts to the rest of the competitors on Day 2.  And for the first time in the five-year history of the Laver Cup, Team World goes into Day 2 without a deficit.  With both Federer and Rafael Nadal replaced by alternates for Day 2 and Day 3, is this Team World’s opportunity to capture their first Laver Cup? 

 

Each day, this preview will look at all four scheduled matches, while taking an extended look at the most notable match of the day.  Saturday’s day session gets underway in London at 1:00pm local time, and the night session at 7:00pm.  And each match on Saturday is worth two points.


Matteo Berrettini (Team Europe) vs. Felix Auger-Aliassime (Team World) – 1:00pm

These two good friends have played four times, with Berrettini winning on three of those occasions.  Matteo’s wins came three years ago in the final of Stuttgart on grass, in the quarterfinals of last year’s Wimbledon, and a year ago in this event.  Auger-Aliassime’s only win occurred last summer in Cincinnati.  Matteo is coming off a quarterfinal run in New York, as well as three victories last week in Davis Cup.  Felix was upset in the second round of the US Open by Jack Draper, and went 2-1 in Davis Cup.


Cameron Norrie (Team Europe) vs. Taylor Fritz (Team World) – Second in the Day Session

Norrie was also an alternate in last year’s Laver Cup, but did not play.  Fritz was a part of Team World in 2019, when he went 1-1 in singles, defeating Dominic Thiem during Sunday’s play in a must-win match to keep his team alive.  Cam is now 45-22 on the year, while Fritz is 36-17.  Both men achieved their best-ever Major performances two months ago at Wimbledon.  They played each other just last week in Davis Cup, with Norrie prevailing after three tight sets.  Overall they have split 10 previous meetings.


Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Frances Tiafoe (Team World) – 7:00pm

Is Tiafoe ready to upset another member of “The Big Three” on Saturday?  He earned the biggest win of his career by taking out Rafael Nadal at the US Open, and defeated Nadal and Federer in doubles on Day 1 alongside Jack Sock.  Meanwhile, this will be the first match for Djokovic in over two months, since he won the Wimbledon final over Nick Kyrgios.  The unvaccinated Novak was unable to travel to North America for the hard court summer season.

Djokovic has only played seven tournaments this year, amassing a record of 23-5.  Tiafoe is 26-19, and is coming off his exciting semifinal run in New York.  Their only previous matchup was at the 2021 Australian Open, when Novak defeated Frances in four sets.  Frances is certainly the much more match-tough player on this day.  But despite his recent inactivity, Djokovic should still be considered the favorite.


Matteo Berrettini and Novak Djokovic (Team Europe) vs. Alex de Minaur and Jack Sock (Team World) – Second in the Night Session

Novak will have only a few minutes of rest ahead of this doubles match, so the length of his match with Tiafoe could impact the result here.  This will be Novak’s first time playing doubles since last year’s Davis Cup finals.  Berrettini played three doubles matches this past January at the ATP Cup, going 1-2.  De Minaur overcame Andy Murray in singles on Friday in what was a grueling contest, while Sock was defeated in singles and victorious in doubles.


The full Laver Cup schedule is here.

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