TENNIS ATP FINALS 2014 – Novak Djokovic d. Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-1. Group A
Ubaldo Scanagatta. Can you try to explain to us what happens when a champion of the US Open comes, plays, loses 6 1, 6 1 in 56 minutes? Today, another player, Berdych, the same thing. It’s difficult for us to explain it to the readers. Can you give us a clue?
MARIN CILIC: Well, I mean, from my own side, it’s also first time being here. Also I felt that Novak played really, really solid today. In some matches, the score just keeps running. You are sinking a lot. You are, you know, always trying to find something. But whatever you try, it’s not working.
That’s what I felt today. I felt a little bit uncomfortable on the court, rusty. In some situations where I felt I was, you know, having a chance to get in the score. Also in the beginning of the second set where I broke back to come back to level the score, you know, played pretty sloppy service game.
In some situations, you know, the score just goes, and it’s difficult to stop it.
Q. You mentioned rust. How did you find the conditions on the court? Are they conditions that you like?
MARIN CILIC: Yeah, I felt conditions are you know, it’s medium paced court. It’s difficult to get the ball past the opponent. I mean, especially Novak. I didn’t have too many winners today.
Also he was able to, you know, dictate the rallies. He was also able to return very well. That was a difficult part for my game to get some advantages at the beginning of the points.
You know, when we are at the rallies, Novak starts to dictate, he’s always in a much better position. So that was, you know, a difficult part for me to get out of.
Considering the court, it’s, I mean, a solid court, but you have to be able to, you know, keep the ball away from the opponent. If you are hitting the ball well, it’s going to pay off.
But today I felt that I was not hitting it clean. That’s always difficult, especially against Novak, to get away with a win when you’re not playing so good.
Q. When you’re in a situation like that and you’re trying and trying to get back into a match, what is actually going through your mind? Are you looking for a big hole just to crawl into? How are you reacting mentally during a match like that?
MARIN CILIC: Well, even though the game wasn’t working, I tried to play, let’s say, the right way, to try to go for the shots. When I had the ball, to go for it. Even though I was not making it, I knew if I was going to be too passive, it’s going to be difficult to win rallies with him.
That’s a difficult part, you know, that you are not succeeding in that situations, and you don’t have too many options. I could have, of course, changed it up a little bit more, to come in with the serve a little bit more.
But we had a long game in 2 1 when I lost my serve. You know, after that everything was pretty much late.
Q. A lot of players have talked about the difficulty of coming in and playing a top player in the first match at an event like this. What about the feeling of going on the court, your first time here? Did you feel nerves? Was it overwhelming? You played Novak pretty close this year. Today wasn’t so close.
MARIN CILIC: Yeah, I felt pretty relaxed, not too nervous, coming into the court. I felt at the beginning I wasn’t playing so well. Novak got that lead at the beginning, I felt I want to get myself going. But, you know, the game was not pushing me to do it. So I had to make something up. But just wasn’t coming.
That’s difficult. You are, you know, trying to find some openings which is not happening. It was difficult also for me to, you know, be more pumped up or to win few more points with that kind of sensation.
Most of the time I was a lot behind in the score.
Q. For your next opponent, Tomas Berdych, are you friends? How do you see him as a player or a person?
MARIN CILIC: Yeah, we are I would say friends. We get along pretty well. Tomas is that kind of guy that he’s getting along well with everybody on the tour.
And, yeah, as a person, I think he’s a very nice guy, of course. We played, you know, few times this year. Most of those matches were pretty important. It was the finals at Rotterdam, twice at the Grand Slams, now again here. For both of us, is definitely the most important match now in the group. Whoever wins is going to have a chance to go through.
Yeah, I think it’s going to be both have to play better than today.
Q. How do you handle coming from this sort of match? What adjustment do you have to make to this format?
MARIN CILIC: Just have to stay positive with your body, not to let those things get into you.
You know, there are two more matches. Luckily this is the first one where I played bad. I mean, still there is opportunity to go through. That’s a positive part of it.
Ubaldo Scanagatta. A great server like you who doesn’t win one serve in the second set, are you more angry, more sad, or more embarrassed?
MARIN CILIC: No, none of those (smiling).
I didn’t have the rhythm on my serve that I wanted. Novak was covering the court really well. Even in some situations where I was getting my serve in, he was able to return it well. That was, you know, another difficult task for me to bring up my game.
But serve is going to work probably hopefully from tomorrow.
Tennis Player Disqualified From Shanghai Qualifying Match Two Points Away From Victory
It will be a match that Australia’s Marc Polmans will never forget but for all the wrong reasons.
The World No.140 looked to be on the verge of victory against Italy’s Stefano Napolitano when leading their match 7-6(3), 6-6(6-5), in the final round of qualifying at the Shanghai Masters. However, disaster struck at the next point when Polmans temper got the better of him and subsequently cost him.
With match point, he approached the net to hit a backhand shot but it ended up in the net. Prompting the frustrated 26-year-old to hit a tennis ball that unfortunately hit the umpire. As a result of that action, he was automatically disqualified from the match which handed Napolitano the victory and a place in the main draw.
It is not the first time a tennis player has been disqualified for such an incident. During a 2017 Davis Cup tie between Canada and Great Britain, Denis Shapovalov was disqualified for firing a tennis ball that hit the umpire’s eye. Novak Djokovic was also disqualified from the 2020 US Open after hitting a ball that accidentally struck a lines judge.
“Players shall not violently, dangerously or with anger hit, kick or throw
a tennis ball while on the grounds of the tournament site except in the reasonable pursuit of a point during a match (including warm-up),” the 2023 ATP rulebook outlines.
“For purposes of this rule, abuse of balls is defined as intentionally or reckless- ly hitting a ball out of the enclosure of the court, hitting a ball dangerously or recklessly within the court or hitting a ball with disregard of the conse- quences.’
“Violation of this section shall subject a player to a fine of up to $350 for each violation. In addition, if such violation occurs during a match, the player shall be penalized in accordance with the Point Penalty Schedule.”
It is a tough lesson for Polmans to learn. He was on the verge of playing in the main draw of a Masters 1000 event for the first time in his career. He is currently the 10th highest-ranked Australian player on the ATP Tour and reached the final of a Challenger event in Guangzhou, China last month.
Team World One Win Away From Victory in Laver Cup
Team World take a huge 10-2 lead over Team Europe heading into the final day
After losing the first four editions of the Laver Cup, Team World look set to win the event for a second time as the event reaches its conclusion tomorrow.
Team World Captain John McEnroe was thrilled with the day’s results but warned against complacency: “We’re just going to keep doing what we’re doing. The job’s not done but we’re pretty close.”
American duo Taylor Fritz and Frances Tiafoe both earned straight sets wins over Andrey Rublev and Hubert Hurkacz, while Felix Auger-Aliassime and Ben Shelton beat Hurkacz and Gael Monfils.
“I want to play well for the guys,” said Tiafoe after his singles victory. “I played really well tonight. Just being in a team environment is so foreign to us as tennis players, it’s such an individual sport.”
After winning his third singles match in three appearances at the Laver Cup, Fritz was also motivated to do well:
“Yesterday, all the guys played really well. I felt that and wanted to come out on court and show what I can do. That definitely motivated me. Any type of team environment, I feel like it always elevates my game. I feel like my record in team events is really strong because I have a team cheering for me. I get pumped up. I’m excited to play for them. It just adds more pressure and fire to it. I think I play better in those situations.”
The doubles was a typically dynamic and feisty affair, and after the match Shelton was full of praise for his partner:
“It’s amazing, when you play with a guy who serves and returns like Felix, is as athletic as him, and goes back for the overhead as strong as him, it’s a fun time,” said Shelton. “We call him ‘Laver Cup Felix’ because he turns into something special this week, just glad I got to share the court with him at least once.”
Auger-Aliassime returned the compliments: “The best comes out of me when I’m playing not only for myself but for team-mates. Ben carried me through the end of that match, it was tough for me to get it done.”
Casper Ruud, meanwhile, beat Tommy Paul for Europe’s only points so far.
Matches on the final day are worth three points each – meaning that Team Europe would have to win all four remaining matches to prevent Team World from winning the trophy.
T. Fritz def A. Rublev 6-2, 7-6
F. Tiafoe def H. Hurkacz 7-5, 6-3
F. Auger-Aliassime & B. Shelton def H.Hurkacz & G. Monfils 7-5, 6-4
C. Ruud def T. Paul 7-6, 6-2
ATP RANKINGS UPDATE: Novak Djokovic, No.1 once more
After the US Open the Serbian champion reclaims top spot. Alexander Zverev is back in the Top 10
By Roberto Ferri
“Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion”
Rudy Tomjanovich coined this maxim just after his Houston Rockets won the NBA championship in 1995. He was paying homage to Akeem Holajuwon. It perfectly suits the heart of Daniil Medvedev, who proved 99% of tennis fans in the world to be wrong, convinced as they were that he would lose the semifinal to former No 1 Carlos Alcaraz.
But his dream to win a second US Open, after his triumph in 2021, was shattered by another champion, whose heart and class is even greater: that’s Novak Djokovic, who affixes his seal on his return to No.1, equalling Margaret Court Smith’s record of 24 majors.
Djokovic dethroning Alcaraz is not the only change in the top 20: Sascha Zverev is back in the top 10 after almost one year and Ben Shelton, great protagonist of the Us Open, debuts in the top 20 best players in the world.
A few comments:
Stefanos Tsitsipas, Andrei Rublev and Alexander Zverev gain 2 positions.
Ben Shelton devours 28 positions.
Sinner, Tiafoe, Norrie and Dimitrov lose one.
Casper Ruud and Karen Khachanov, runner up and semi-finalist respectively at the 2022 US Open, drop 4 positions.
One step forward for Fritz, de Minaur, Paul, Auger-Aliassime and Hurkacz.
ATP NITTO FINALS
From 12 to 19 November the 8 best players of the ranking based on the points earned in the ongoing solar season will be playing the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin.
Will Novak Djokovic succeed in winning a second straight title? He appears to be heading in the right direction.
Thanks to his triumph at the US Open the Serbian overtakes Alcaraz also in the Race to Turin.
Jannik Sinner holds fourth spot while Andrei Rublev overtakes Stefanos Tsitsipas and is now fifth.
The eighth position is occupied by Alexander Zverev.
Last year runner up, Casper Ruud is currently 10th. This means he would feature in Turin as a reserve.
ATP NEXT GENERATION FINALS
The Next Gen Finals, dedicated to the best under 21s, (8 effectives and 2 reserves) of the season will take place this year in Gedda, Saudi Arabia.
The 2022 winner, Brandon Nakashima, will not be defending his title, since he was born in 2001.
Taking for granted that Alcaraz and, most likely Rune, will be playing the ATP Finals, we have included in the chart the 12 current top under 21s.
Besides Ben Shelton, other 11 players have achieved their career highest this week.
We tribute a double applause to the four players who are making their debut in the top 100.
The 25-year-old Croatian Borna Gojo, 22-year-old Australian Rinky Hijkata and the Swiss next gen Dominic Stricker all reap the reward for their brilliant runs at the US Open. Seyboth Wild, the Brazilian who stunned Medvedev in the first round of Roland Garros leaps to No.76 after winning the Challenger in Como last week.
Translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
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