TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – 24th of January 2015. M.Raonic d. B.Becker 6-4, 6-3, 6-3. An interview with Milos Raonic
Q. You must be pleased to get off the court with such a great performance so quickly.
MILOS RAONIC: I’m happy that I played better than my second round, and that’s all I can really ask from myself. I focused and executed on what I needed to do.
Q. Is it maybe the most controlled first week you had in a Grand Slam?
MILOS RAONIC: Yes and no. I think I know how to control things better. So I think it might come off that way. But at the same time it was difficult situations I sort of had to fight my way through. I was fortunate enough that I was doing well. From the start of the match I had the focus, right focus, right intentions. I just think my level has increased, so therefore it just sort of carries through.
Q. The courts are quicker this year. Is that better for your game?
MILOS RAONIC: Well, I don’t think Hisense and Margaret Court are that quick. They’re much slower than the outside courts, the practice courts. I heard that Laver is a little bit quicker compared to Margaret Court. I haven’t had a chance to hit on it. For me, honestly, the quick courts is not necessarily always a good thing. I like to sort of have time to find myself and organize my game.
Q. Would you have liked to have played in Rod Laver by now?
MILOS RAONIC: It’s not a big deal. You sort of take things as they come. You forget the would have, could have, should have kind of scenarios.
Q. Two years now with Ivan. How would you say you’ve evolved with him over that time?
MILOS RAONIC: I’ve made great progress. I understand much better what I need to do, how I need to do things. Think that’s what him and Ricardo have added to my game the most, is just that peace of mind, how to go about things, especially when it comes to matches. Practices are always changing, but I have my routine, things I follow, things I believe I need to do. Even when things get out of control, I can sort of direct myself back to that and start from there. It’s been great with the progress we’ve been able to make. I think I’ve improved in all other aspects as well.
Q. What sort of off-season did you have? Anything different from past years?
MILOS RAONIC: Just a little bit shorter than I would have necessarily liked. It’s a good problem to have because I was able to qualify for the World Tour Finals in London. Anytime that’s an issue, I’ll be happy with that. I got much fitter. I improved much more on testing when it comes to fitness results. I spent time away from tennis, just spending time talking with coaches, with my staff around me, on what I need to do to improve my mental game because I felt a lot of the times throughout 2014, I was my biggest enemy. Then we made progress in development. We put a lot of focus on my serve this off-season. I think that’s why my first-serve percentage numbers are up and so forth. I’m happy with the way things are going. I feel comfortable and confident.
Q. You’ve lost a fair bit of weight in the last year.
MILOS RAONIC: The last few weeks actually, yes. Since the end of the year.
Q. Do you know how much weight you’ve lost?
MILOS RAONIC: If you ask me right now after I ate a sandwich, probably six, four kilos. If you ask me first thing in the morning, probably six. Somewhere in that range. I try to keep myself really at a constant number, but I tend to fluctuate two kilos, plus or minus.
Q. Gluten free?
MILOS RAONIC: No. I’ve been gluten free for about two, two and a half years now. I think it’s just more an understanding. I would get a little bit greedy when it would come to going to restaurants and stuff. I would always go by I have a craving for this thing, this thing, this thing. I would order three things and eat until I couldn’t eat no more. Now I have a better moderation, understanding of getting the right amount of food in me, so I can sleep much better, digesting much better. What ended up happening is I lost weight after.
Q. Towards the end of your match you had a conversation with the umpire. Can you tell us what that was about.
MILOS RAONIC: I think it was on a return of serve or something, I guess he hit the ball with the bottom part of the racquet, his shock absorber, many ways to call it, but the little thing on the racquet, fell off. I saw it go off. I thought it should be a let. She told me that if it happens on his side, it’s not a let, which didn’t make sense to me from the aspect that it’s something I see. So I asked her, What if his hat fell off or a ball goes on his side? Why it’s not a let, because it’s a visual disturbance to me. I thought it should have been replayed. I was fine with how the point went because it was a small thing. I just wasn’t necessarily understanding of the reasoning behind it. That’s it.
Q. What do you mean, If it happened on his side?
MILOS RAONIC: The shock absorber stayed on his side. I see it. It could go across. If it hits me in the eye, obviously I think it should be (smiling). But I didn’t necessarily understand because she differentiated if a ball is on his side as opposed to a shock absorber, both are hindrances in my mind.
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.
Alcaraz Fell Victim To Unbeatable Medvedev
Carlos Alcaraz was no match for Daniil Medvedev in the US Open semi-finals.
A star had to fall. There was no other way.
This time, Carlos Alcaraz was the victim. Daniil Medvedev was unbeatable.
The 6-6 Russian was everywhere, playing almost perfect tennis in a 7-6 (3), 6-1, 3-6, 6-3 win over Alcaraz.
So, one former champion went down while one advanced to Sunday’s final at the U.S. Open.
And then there was Novak Djokovic, another former champion headed for the title match.
U.S. OPEN WAS THE BIG WINNER FRIDAY
The U.S. Open couldn’t lose once Djokovic dominated young American Ben Shelton, 6-3, 6-2, 7-6 (4).
Djokovic appeared to be content with just winning while getting the preliminaries over with. He seemed to be a little miffed by Shelton’s cockiness. There were no hugs or embraces when the match ended. Just a handshake.
Shelton has huge potential, but it’s going to take some time before he’s ready to join the likes of Djokovic, Medvedev and Alcaraz. He’s a better athlete than he is tennis player.
Novak is ready to go for a record 24th Grand Slam title.
Believe it or not, Medvedev will be playing in his fifth Grand Slam final.
Sunday should be a great day in Arthur Ashe Stadium, with two former champs, Djokovic and Medvedev, going against each other.
CAN COCO HIT WITH SABALENKA
The women’s final will be interesting. Can Coco Gauff compete with Aryna Sabalenka?
Sabalenka looked helpless against Madison Keys’ big strokes and serves in the first set of their semifinal on Thursday.
Sabalenka couldn’t win even one game in that set. She looked helpless.
But she obviously felt all along that she could beat Keys anytime she wanted. Or why else would the powerful Sabalenka go for broke on almost every shot? And it almost cost her.
Amazingly, Sabalenka waited almost to the final moments to decide to play within her game and stop the wildness.
Once Sabalenka decided to settle down and play to win, Keys went just the opposite way, similarly to her one-sided loss to Sloane Stephens in the 2017 U.S. Open final.
Keys appeared ready to win this time as she held a 6-0, 5-4 advantage over new world’s No. 1 Sabalenka, who seemed to be stumbling all over the court as she repeatedly hit wild shots in every direction.
Just like that, everything changed. Sabalenka started hitting winners everywhere as Keys reversed roles with Sabalenka. Not only did Sabalenka win the second set while dropping just one point in a tiebreaker, she stormed through a decisive 10-point third-set tiebreaker to win the match.
James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award. 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com.
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