Voices from the US Open: Day 13 - UBITENNIS
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Voices from the US Open: Day 13

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TENNIS US OPEN – Our Giulio Gasparin has selected the best quotes from Day 12 of US Open at Flushing Meadows. Words from men’s semifinalists.

 

US Open: All the interviews, results, draws and OoP

Saturday 6th September could be remembered for a long time in the history of tennis, as for the first time since Australian Open 2005, none of the “big three” advanced to the final stage of a Slam tournament.

Kei Nishikori upset world number one Novak Djokovic and, later in the day, Croat Marin Cilic took down Roger Federer in straight sets 6-3, 6-4, 6-4.

“Just for the performance today from, I mean, first point to the last, I was absolutely playing the best tennis of my life,” said the Croat. Considering the huge occasion I was playing in, I mean, for the second time in a semifinals of a Grand Slam, it just can’t be more special.

“Considering also that, you know, even I was a set up and break up, you know, the crowd was rooting for Roger to come back. You know, it wasn’t easy to deal with that, but I felt that my serve helped me a lot today.”

Following his ban for a controversial case of doping in 2013, Cilic came back this year showing probably the best tennis of his life.

“I felt that very similar to the Berdych match,” he added. “I adjusted pretty well to the wind and to the conditions we were playing in.

“It was a different game from different ends. With one end it was wind in the back, so it was a bit easier to play from that side. Most of my breaks I made from that end.”

He also gave credits to this surprising result to the first “normal man” to win a slam in this moment of big champions.

“Well, it’s a bit of a changeup year considering all the past years that these top four guys were making to the final,” he said. Wawrinka opened the doors for us from the “second” line, and I think most of the guys have now bigger belief that they can do it on the Grand Slams.

The Swiss champion could not but prize his opponent and did not look for any excuse for his loss.

It’s fairly simple: I think Marin played great, he said. “I maybe didn’t catch my best day, but I think that was pretty much it in a nutshell.

“I was feeling good, you know. I was feeling fine. I just think if I could have stayed longer with him in the first set, you know, I felt like there was a proper match going on.

“But I think him playing with the lead he played with, you know, no fear and just full-out confidence, which clearly everybody at this point sort of has in the semis of a slam.

I think he served great when he had to.

He also gave his opinion about this change in depth that seems to be happening also in men’s tennis.

“I think it’s exciting for the game, you know, to have different faces from time to time,” he commentated. “At the same time, I think people still enjoy seeing the guys they have seen for a while or often in the big matches. But I think it’s definitely refreshing to some extent.

Everybody who gets to this stage of this kind of a competition deserves to be there because they have put in the work and they hoped for the break, and this is it for both of them. I hope they can play a good final.

The Japanese player showed to be in the form of his life, physically, as he survived another long match in his semi-final as he passed past Djokovic 6-4, 1-6, 7-6, 6-3.

“I think that two days — last couple of days helped so much,” he said. You know, it wasn’t easy playing two five sets and four hours’ match.

“It was even tough for me to play today. Especially third and fourth I couldn’t really put effort for every game. But I tried to concentrate with those important points. Especially last game, you know, I tried to get more energy and tried to concentrate again.”

He is a new face in such stages of a slam, but Nishikori had always showed great skills in the past.

“I was ready to play, you know, these kind of players always,” he said. “Especially this year I have been playing really well. I went to final in Masters once and, you know, I have been beating those top guys already.

“But I knew I was a little bit nervous, getting nervous, you know, first time semis here. But I think the confidence helped for today’s match.”

It was definitely an upset for the world number not to be able to play one more final in New York, but he gave full credits to his opponent.

“It was not easy to play in these conditions,” he admitted. “But also he had more hours spent on the court. So it’s no excuse.

He played some great tennis. I congratulate him for the effort. He was the better player today.

To the question about what changed in his opponent’s game to make him so competitive these past two weeks, he said: “I think he wasn’t using forehand as well as he does now.

“His backhand is very solid. One of the best double-handed backhands from all over the court. Really aggressive. He’s very quick, so he gets a lot of balls back. Uses every short ball to attack. I think now he’s all-around player.

On Monday, we will have a new slam and US Open winner, the second first timer of this 2014.

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Dominic Thiem Rules Federer Out Of GOAT Debate

The Austrian puts forward his theory on who should be regarded as the best player in history.

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Dominic Thiem; e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger, 27.10.2022

The honour of which player deserves to be regarded as the greatest of all time (GOAT) should be decided based on one factor, according to Dominic Thiem. 

 

The former world No.3 has weighed in on the debate by suggesting that the argument should be settled by the number of Grand Slam titles a player has won as they are the most prestigious tournaments in the sport. In tennis, the four major tournaments are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. 

Thiem’s GOAT criteria have therefore ruled Roger Federer out of contention. The Swiss maestro was at one stage the frontrunner due to the numerous records he has broken throughout his career. However, he retired from the sport last year with 20 Grand Slam trophies under his belt which is less than both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who are currently on 22 each. 

“In my opinion, the Grand Slam titles should be the defining criteria when determining the best of all time, they are the four most important tournaments in tennis,” Eurosport quotes Thiem as saying. 
“Everything else is fine, but it’s not the same. The Slams are what counts, so the GOAT will probably be the one with the most Grand Slams.”

Others will argue that more factors should be taken into account in the subjective debate. For example, Federer has won 103 ATP titles which are more than his two rivals, Djokovic holds the record for most weeks as world No.1 and Nadal has won more tournaments on clay than any other player in history. Furthermore, there is the players’ win-loss rate on the Tour and their records against the top 10 players. 

Recently at the Australian Open Djokovic won the men’s title for a historic 10th time in his career. An achievement that has been hailed by Thiem who was runner-up to the Serbian at Melbourne Park in 2021. 

“I am not very surprised, Djokovic still looks young,” he said. “Physically and mentally, because of the way he moves on the court. It’s like he was 25 years old.
“We have to be honest, he is the best, so his victory was not very surprising.”

Thiem has won one Grand Slam title which was at the 2020 US Open when he became the first man in the Open Era to come back from two sets down to win in the final. He has also been runner-up at the French Open twice, as well as the Australian Open once. 

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Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open Injury ‘Hard To Believe’ In The Eyes Of His Opponent

Some details surrounding Djokovic’s battle with a hamstring issue ‘doesn’t make sense,’ according to Enzo Couacaud.

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Image via Adelaide International Twitter

The only man to take a set off Novak Djokovic during the Serbian’s run to a historic 10th Australian Open title believes there are unanswered questions over his injury. 

 

France’s Enzo Couacaud took a set off the world No.1 before losing their encounter in the second round at Melbourne Park. At the tournament Djokovic was dealing with a hamstring problem which he picked up at the Adelaide International earlier this year. Throughout the tournament, he was wearing strapping on his leg and there was uncertainty about if he would be able to continue playing in the Grand Slam event. 

Despite the issue, Djokovic claimed a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title by disposing of Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the final. Afterwards his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, claimed that 97% of players would not have played if they were in a similar situation. The exact diagnosis of Djokovic’s injury hasn’t been addressed by his team but Australian Open director Craig Tiley said he suffered a 3mm tear. 

However, Couacaud has questioned the significance of the injury to begin with. During an interview with Tennis Actu, the world No.172 believes that some of the details appear to be ‘far-fetched’ as he draws parallels with Rafael Nadal, as well as footballer Kylian Mbappe.  

“Novak claimed he was playing with an injury, a big injury,” said Couacaud. “When athletes are injured in combat sports, they often can’t continue. When Rafael Nadal is injured, he can’t run. Kylian Mbappe, for example, is out for two weeks.
“And those are the greatest athletes, not those who don’t have access to top-notch care. It is therefore difficult to believe that only one man in the world can continue with an injury.
“When you take the examples of Nadal or Mbappe, but especially Rafa, with an injury to Wimbledon, he couldn’t even serve. When you see the greatest who can’t set foot on the pitch and another who wins a Grand Slam by playing every day for 15 days. It still seems a bit far-fetched.
“There are little things that don’t make sense to me. I was always told not to stretch with an injury. You saw Novak stretching all the time. You say to yourself, either they have a new method in Serbia, or it’s weird. Little things like that, he has his staff, but I’m too far to judge the authenticity of anything. It is true that it seems hard to believe.”

It is not the first time Djokovic has faced accusations that he has in some way exaggerated the significance of an injury. He encountered a similar situation during the 2021 Australian Open where he suffered an abdominal injury. After winning the tournament, he confirmed that he sustained a tear in the region. 

Speaking to journalists at Melbourne Park last month, the tennis star once again hit back at his critics and claimed that he was being singled out. 

“I leave the doubting to those people – let them doubt,” Tennis Majors quoted Djokovic as saying in Serbian following his fourth round win over Alex de Minaur. “Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.
“I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situation. But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.”

Djokovic has won 93 ATP titles during his career which is the fourth-highest tally in history. Only Ivan Lendl (94), Roger Federer (102) and Jimmy Connors (109) have won more. 

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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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