TENNIS ATP FINALS 2014 – Novak Djokovic d. Marin Cilic 6-1, 6-1. Group A
Q. You had beaten Marin many times, but this was too much? The veterans are marking the land?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Veteran (smiling)? Thank you. I don’t feel like a veteran, but I’m a father, okay, I should call myself veteran. I hoped I would not reach this stage to call myself veteran this early in my career, but okay.
It was a great performance. I was hoping I could play this way. I was preparing myself for this match. I knew already one week ago that I’m going to play Marin at 8 p.m. on Monday.
My team did a good scouting. We thought about, you know, what’s the game plan. I stepped in and executed really well.
His debut in the World Tour Finals has gotten best out of him in terms of his nerves. You could see that he didn’t feel so comfortable. Tried to use my experience playing on this stage, the stadium, which is pretty different from any other.
Q. Stan won 6 1, 6 1. You win 6 1, 6 1. Are those surprising scorelines, in your opinion, for a tournament like this?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yes, I think. I mean, realistically speaking, you know, maybe we both were favorites in our matches. But to win 6 1, 6 1 both is maybe something that people didn’t expect, and we, too.
But, again, we both played some great tennis. I’m sure that our match is going to be very interesting.
Q. You may correct me if I’m wrong, but I think you haven’t lost indoors since you lost to Querrey in Paris Bercy. What has changed with you? Four years ago your best surface probably was hard court. Now it seems to be indoors. Is that correct? Where do you feel more confident right now?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s hard to say. I like outdoor hard court, as well. I love playing on clay. Grass not too bad (smiling).
But indoor has been very successful last couple years. I don’t play too many indoor events. As a matter of fact, only two, Paris and London. You know, I give myself a lot of time to prepare for these events, for indoor tournaments. I enjoy them. I really do.
They were asking me how do I feel returning indoors comparing to outdoors. It is different and it’s better for the returner. It’s better for the server, but I feel it’s better for the returner because the ball more or less bounces the same every time, so you can anticipate better.
Q. Is it just the surface? Something related to this specific period of the year? What makes the difference compared to the others? Sometimes you look a bit spent, and you reach a peak at this time of the year.
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I cannot speak in the names of the other players, but I do feel mentally, as everybody else, challenged at this time of the year to finish off the season in a best possible way. So I think considering how long the season is, everybody is mentally, physically, emotionally tired and exhausted.
But this is where, in last couple of weeks of the year, you have to find your last drop of strength and motivation to finish off the year in style. So that’s basically where I find mentally motivation.
Game wise, I explained why indoor surface and conditions are suitable to my style of the game.
Q. If Federer wins the Davis Cup, in your mind will that put him in a different light as far as his career? Secondly, last year when you came in here, you very harshly criticized the governing body of tennis, the doping. You didn’t trust it. You said they were unprofessional. I’m just wondering a year later if you feel the same way or differently? What do you think about Troicki almost making his way back to the top 100?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: First question, winning Davis Cup is truly something special because it’s a team competition, the only official team competition we have basically in the individual sport. So I’m sure that that’s going to be a very motivating fact prior to this Final for Roger. It’s probably the only thing he hasn’t won in his career.
Going back and looking what he has achieved, if Davis Cup title is going to impact it in a major way, I don’t think so. I mean, of course it’s going to mean a lot to him. We all know that it’s very difficult to win Davis Cup because you don’t win it by yourself. It’s a team effort. So I’m sure that he’s going to be having plenty of motivation to do so. But I don’t think in a major way it can influence his career.
The second question, I still feel the same regarding the situation with Viktor. I was referring only to his case. I wouldn’t talk more about it because I said what I needed to say.
I’m glad he’s back in tennis. I think he’s made one of the best comebacks for sure. He’s on the verge of the top 100. I don’t know if he’s got the top 100. He’s around. He’s going to be in the main draw of the Australian Open, which is incredible, considering the fact he started the end of July. Four, five months, he managed to get to where he is from scratch.
I’m very glad for him. He’s a very dear friend of mine.
Q. You were spotted at the doubles last night. I’m curious what you think about Zimonjic’s return? What does it mean to you to have a player like Nenad on tour when you were just getting started?
NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Nenad is a dear friend of mine and somebody that has helped me when I was developing into a professional player. Actually, when I was 13, 14, I was practicing with the same coach at that point, Bogdan Obradovic, he was the Davis Cup captain, he was his coach. At that time I was also practicing in Belgrade whenever I was there with Bogdan, and Nenad would hit with me a few times already.
Already at that time he was at that time one of the top doubles players. So for me that was an experience, a learning experience, and obviously something I respected a lot.
We have a relationship for a long time. He did always help with his advices. He was always there to play, to talk, whatever is necessary. I never forget that.
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
COMMENT: Novak Djokovic Proves His Greatness At US Open
Love him, or hate him. But respect him.
No tennis player has ever been better than Novak Djokovic.
Even Rafa Nadal and Roger Federer have to take their hats off to Novak, and admire him.
Now that Rafa and Roger have left Djokovic on his own stage at least for now, tennis fans love Novak.
DJOKOVIC WENT ONE STEP FURTHER
Djokovic’s performance on Sunday evening in the U.S. Open final was simply amazing. Daniil Medvedev also played his heart out, but Djokovic went one step further. He was sensational.
It was a thrill-a-minute three-set match. It lasted well into the night after starting at mid-afternoon. The second set alone lasted 104 minutes.
Djokovic was the winner, 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3, but New York still loves 2021 champion Medvedev.
A FOURTH AND 24TH TITLE, AND A 24 TRIBUTE
At 36, the oldest U.S. Open men’s champion ever, Djokovic obviously has a special place in his heart for the number four. It’s the number of times he has won this tournament and the 24th time he has won a Grand Slam title.
The number 24 also was displayed prominently on the white jacket. Novak, his team members and family wore for the victory celebration as a tribute to the No. 24 jersey of deceased friend Kobe Bryant.
Djokovic lost his footing at least three times in the tight second set, stumbling to the surface once, apparently due to the length of the rallies.
Djokovic could look like he was almost completely wiped out of it physically one minute, and then play like Superman the next minute.
THREE POINTS MAY HAVE BEEN DECISIVE
Both men played great tennis, especially in the thrill-a-second second set in which Medvedev gained one set point in the 12th game before Djokovic recovered to force a tiebreaker.
Medvedev appeared to be in charge after out-playing Novak to win one of his drop shots to take a 5-4 lead in the tiebreaker. The match may have been decided on the next three points, all won by Djokovic on errors by the 6-6 Russian.
The big question now is what happens next January in the Australian Open. Right now, Djokovic probably wants to play . . . and win what has been his favorite tournament as far as success. But things can change quickly for players in their mid-30s. Just ask Roger or Rafa.
James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.
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