TENNIS AO15 – Novak Djokovic opened his Australian Open campaign with a convincing 6-3 6-2 6-4 win over Slovenian qualifier and this year’s Chennai runner-up Aljaz Bedene in 109 minutes dispelling any doubts on his fitness after a virus hampered his build-up to the first Grand Slam of the year. Diego Sampaolo
World Number 1 Novak Djokovic started the ATP season with a quarter-final loss against “King of Aces” Ivo Karlovic in Doha and recent illness hampered his preparation to the Australian Open but the Serbian star played a solid match against Slovenian Aljaz Bedene, who recently lost the Chennai final against Stan Wawrinka.
Djokovic recovered from a slow start against Bedene who kept his pace with Djokovic until the eighth game of the opening set. The Slovenian player, who reached his career-high of 71st in the ATP Ranking in 2013, hit three consecutive aces in one game before earning break point chances in the fifth game which were saved by Djokovic. Bedene, who lives in Great Britain and has applied to become a British citizen, handed a first break point chance by hitting a forehand long. The Serb converted on it as Bedene hit a smash into the net. The World Number 1 wrapped up the first set with 6-3 in 30 minutes.
Djokovic cruised through to winning the second set with 6-2 in 27 minutes. Bedene called a medical time-out at 1-2 in the third set because of a hip problem. Djokovic took advantage and got two break points with a down-the line backhand. He converted on the second break point chance in the fifth game. He had to save a break point chance before cruising to a comfortable 6.4 with a love service game in the third set.
Djokovic converted on four of his eight break point chances and hit 30 winners. Djokovic, who won the first of his seven Grand Slam at Melbourne Park in 2008 and three consecutive Australian Open titles in 2011, 2012 and 2013, is looking to become the second player in history to clinch five titles in Melbourne.
The World Number One reflected on his slow start and how the match could have changed in the first set.
“I am just glad to be back competing at the highest level. The Australian Open are dear to me. It was my most successful Grand Slam. I have been playing my best tennis throughout my career on these courts. I am trying to soak up every joyful moment on these courts. The start was a bit slow from my side. He had a couple of breakpoints. The match could have gone a different way in the first set. I never played against him. I watched him only once”, said Djokovic
“The effects of the virus are fading away. I had two rough weeks health-wise but I fought my way through. Now it’s behind me. I think I did well in terms in terms of responding to the slow start today, feeling a little bit rusty on the court. Hopefully the next one will be better. Bedene surprised me. I had a difficult time reading his serve. The courts are playing a little bit faster than they were in the past two years. If you have a big serve, you know how to use it. It’s a big advantage on these courts. Bedene is a good player. He reached the final in Chennai and qualified again here. I managed to stay tough and overcome some kind of challenges that I faced at the beginning of the match. I played much more comfortably in the rest of the match.”
During the court-side interview Djokovic reflected on how his life has changed since his marriage and the birth of his son Stefan.
“These two events are the most beautiful events I have experience in my life. Stefan is a blessing we received. I have now more motivation”, said Djokovic.
Djokovic was asked what he thinks about the two Australian rising stars Nick Kyrgios and Thanasi Kokkinakis who reached the second round yesterday raising the hopes of the Australian “Fanatics”.
“I was saying that they both are very talented. They have a huge motivation to play in front of their fans. They had great opening matches. They could not ask for anything better. They have a huge support. I congratulate them both. It’s not easy as an 18-year-old to overcome the challenges, the pressure and the expectations. Especially Kyrgios, with the amount of attention he got this week, prior to the Australian Open. To be able to face that and win the way they did, shows the character. I wish both well for the rest of the tournament. Nick had a lot of attention in the media. Australia wants to have another big star. Kokkinakis did very well to win yesterday’s match, facing some match points. They have the potential, no doubt about that. It’s a long road ahead of them. I am sure they are aware of it”, said Djokovic
Borna Coric Still Feels Shoulder Pain Seven Months Into His Comeback
Playing professionally with niggles is never ideal but it is a price the Croat is willing to pay.
The phrase ‘no pain, no gain’ is one that world No.28 Borna Coric can closely relate to.
Exactly 12 months ago Coric was in the middle of a lengthy hiatus from the sport due to a serious right shoulder issue which required him to undergo surgery. He didn’t play a match between March 2021 – March 2022 and previously admitted he contemplated if he would be able to return to the sport again.
Fortunately the 25-year-old was able to resume his career and enjoyed a breakthrough moment during his comeback by winning his first Masters 1000 title at the Western and Southern Open in August. It was at that tournament where he scored three wins over top 10 players. Since then, he suffered a loss to Jenson Brooksby in the second round of the US Open before winning two out of his three matches played at the Davis Cup.
Seeking to break back inside the world’s top 20 for the first time since October 2019, it appears that Coric’s injury woes are behind him. However, things are never as simple as they look.
“I do feel good. I can play tennis and extra training, way more than I was before the surgery,” Coric told reporters earlier this week. “Still I have sometimes a little pain and I need to manage that. But I can play. A little bit of pain, sometimes I think that’s fine.
“I’m not very young anymore so I need to be ready to have some pain sometimes, If that’s what it takes, I’m fine with it.” He added.
Coric is currently playing at the Japan Open where he is the eighth seed in the draw. On Tuesday he began his campaign with a straight sets win over Thanasi Kokkinakis to record his first-ever win in Tokyo.
He will play his second round match on Thursday against Brandon Nakashima, who has Japanese heritage from his father’s side but is playing an ATP event in the country for the first time in his career. Nakashima defeated Shintaro Mochizuki 6-3, 6-2, in his opening match earlier this week.
“The love for tennis here (in Tokyo) is a thing to experience,’ Coric wrote on Instagram.
Coric has won ATP titles in three separate continents but is yet to be triumphant in Asia.
Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, A Spanish Dominance
Ubitennis looks at the biggest movers in this week’s ATP Pepperstone rankings.
Let’s start from the title winners of last week.
Marc-Andrea Husler paid a most worthy tribute to the retirement of his fellow countryman Roger Federer by winning the ATP 250 in Sofia and showcasing a style which thrilled all net game lovers. As a result, he soars to his career highest of No. 64. Yoshihito Nishioka tops his excellent second part of season by securing his second career title in Seoul and moving up to No. 41, his best ranking ever. Finally Novak Djokovic consolidated his chances to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals in Turin thanks to his win in Tel Aviv.
A few comments:
- Rafael Nadal overtakes Casper Ruud. The two Spaniards are towering over the rest of the pack.
- Hubert Hurkacz and Taylor Fritz both gain one position since Jannik Sinner, former title holder in Bulgaria, had to withdraw in the semifinal due to an ankle injury, and failed to defend the points he had earned in 2021 in Sofia.
- Marin Cilic is back in the top 15 players of the world, after reaching the final in Tel Aviv.
NITTO ATP FINALS RACE TO TURIN
Alcaraz, Nadal, Ruud and Tsitsipas are already qualified for the ATP Finals scheduled in Turin from 13 to 20 November; Djokovic is another likely contender in the star-studded event, since, as a Grand Slam winner, he just needs to be ranked in the top 20 in order to qualify.
Six places are yet to be conquered, including the 2 reserves, which means that 9 players will be battling to book their ticket to Turin in the next weeks. 2021 ATP Finals winner Sasha Zverev, still grounded by injury, is not among them.
2500 points are at stake in the upcoming weeks featuring one ATP Masters 1000, two ATP 500 and two ATP 250.
This is the week of the ATP 500 Astana Open in Nur-Sultan and of the Japan Open in Tokyo, which have just kicked off. Alcaraz, Ruud, Tsitsipas, Medvedev, Rublev, Hurkacz, Fritz and Djokovic are out for the glory and the points, whereas Sinner and Berrettini are in the pits. Berrettini will be back on the tour the following week in Florence.
INTESA SANPAOLO NEXT GENERATION FINALS
Qualifying for the Next Gen Finals in Milan from 8 to 12 November is going to be a tough battle. Alcaraz and Sinner are likely not to take part in the event and all the other players are so close that anything could happen.
This week seven players in the top 100 are celebrating their career highest.
A double applause for the two winners of Seoul and Sofia: Yoshihito Nishioka and Marc-Andrea Husler.
Article written by By Roberto Ferri for ubitennis.com, translated by Kingsley Elliot Kaye
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.
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.
Miomir Kecmanovic saves six match points to beat Daniel Evans in Tokyo
Novak Djokovic Storms Past Van De Zandschulp To Reach Astana Quarters
Billie Jean King Praises Grand Slam Semi-Finalist Nadia Podoroska For Coming Out
Roger Federer’s Legacy Will Be Greater Than Nadal And Djokovic, Says Berdych
Nick Kyrgios Relishing Double Duty And Local Culture At Japan Open
Roger Federer To Make Last-Minute Decision Over Laver Cup Participation, Says Coach
Juan Martin Del Potro Reveals Physical And Mental Trauma From Tennis Retirement
Should Roger Federer Become A Super Coach? Djokovic And Murray Give Their View
Andy Murray Calls For Earlier Start To Davis Cup Ties After Great Britain Loses Late-Night Thriller
Carlos Alcaraz Is Playing At 60% Of His Potential, Says Coach Ferrero
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty ’Satisfied’ With Davis Cup Format Despite Issues
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) ITF President David Haggerty Reacts To Federer’s Retirement
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Elena Rybakina’s Wimbledon Win Was Good But The Level Wasn’t Great
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE): Novak Djokovic Battles Past Norrie, Faces Kyrgios In The Final
(VIDEO EXCLUSIVE) Brad Gilbert Makes A Bold prediction on Sinner, Backs Kyrgios To Trouble Nadal
Hot Topics2 days ago
Carlos Alcaraz Reacts To Shock Exit From Astana Open
Latest news3 days ago
Brandon Nakashima continues his winning streak in Tokyo
ATP2 days ago
Carlos Alcaraz and Rafael Nadal, A Spanish Dominance
Latest news3 days ago
Elena Rybakina comes back from one set down to beat Madison Keys in Ostrava
Hot Topics2 days ago
Nick Kyrgios’ Legal Team Seek To Dismiss Assault Charge On Mental Health Grounds
ITF2 days ago
ITF Chief Addresses Iga Swiatek’s Concerns Over Unsafe Scheduling
Hot Topics2 days ago
Top Seed Casper Ruud Vows To Learn From His Mistakes After Shock Exit
Hot Topics1 day ago
Rafael Nadal To Continue Career For As Long As He Can Win Titles