Novak Djokovic: “Courts or the balls, something out of these two elements have speeded up the game here in Australia” - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic: “Courts or the balls, something out of these two elements have speeded up the game here in Australia”

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TENNIS AUSTRALIAN OPEN – 26th of January 2015. N.Djokovic d. G.Muller 6-4, 7-5, 7-5. An interview with Novak Djokovic

 

Q. Strange that you’ve never played him before, you’ve both been on the tour for years. Was it difficult for a little while to work him out?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Yeah, it was. I got the crucial three breaks at the important moments, especially in the second and third at 5-All, managed to play some good passing shots. I was trying just to make him play an extra shot. He takes away the time from the opponent. His serves and volleys, very difficult serve to read. Nice slice serve. I approximately knew what was expected of me. I tried to analyze his game. I did watch him many times. But it’s different when you haven’t played somebody on the court. On the court you actually get to feel what his rhythm is and style of play. So it took me some time. But, you know, overall was a good performance and I think I have to take the positives from tonight and definitely what stands out is the serve. I got a lot of aces, got a lot of free points there. That’s something that obviously encourages me for the rest of the tournament.

Q. What is serve and volley’s future in your opinion? Because he did it tonight successfully.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Him?

Q. Yes.

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: I go to the net to shake hands (smiling).

Q. What is the future of the tactic?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: That’s a good question. It really depends how the technology is going to advance, what are we going to do with the balls as well. Are they going to become faster or slower? My subjective feeling for the Australian Open, I talked to many players, the last two years the courts or the balls, something out of these two elements have speeded up the game here in Australia. It plays faster. It allows the servers to have more free points, come to the net. On a cold night like tonight, the ball didn’t bounce very much. He tried to chip and come in. He played smart. Made me uncomfortable in some moments on the court. That’s what serve-and- volley players do. You don’t get to see that many serve-and-volley players these days. The future, it’s hard to say if it’s going to go back to what it was 20, 30 years ago. I highly doubt that. Depending on technology and certain changes, if the game becomes a bit faster, the players will adjust to it.

Q. Four matches into your Australian Open campaign, is it fair to say you’re going as well as you would hope for? What is your feeling?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Generally is a positive feeling. I haven’t dropped a set, I’m in the quarterfinals. Yes, I had tough matches the last two rounds, but I had quality opponents. I think I dropped serve only once during the whole tournament. That is a very encouraging fact. I have to motivate myself and obviously use the off days to work on a few things. There are a few things I think I can do better. Overall it’s a positive feeling going into the quarters.

Q. Seven of the top seeds are in the quarterfinals. Only guy missing is Roger. Does that surprise you in an age of great depth and talent?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: It’s not the first time. Most of the big events you expect the top players to go far. So I don’t think it’s that surprising a fact. But obviously it’s surprising not to have Roger in that mix because he’s been there for basically every Grand Slam last 10 years. But, again, all the players who are in quarters have been playing great tennis and they deserve to be there. It’s going to be a good last eight.

Q. Rafa senses that the younger generation coming up are taller and they’re just focusing on serving big and they’re not thinking much. Do you agree?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Well, I don’t think only with the serve you are able to be consistently successful and a top player, honestly. Of course, it does help a big deal in your game. Of course it is an advantage if you are able to serve as well as Milos does or Karlovic or Isner, these guys that have big advantage. But again, depending on which surface you play, you got to have at least another shot that is kind of a weapon in your game. I think serve and forehands, those are the two shots that some of the guys like Milos is focusing on. Obviously, if he serves as well as he does, 20, 30 aces average per match, puts a lot of pressure on the opponent’s serve. You take a chance, you double-fault, the set is gone. These kind of matches are very challenging mentally for us to play against servers like that.

Q. About the top seven of the eight coming through, the one that isn’t a seed is Nick Kyrgios. It was Australia Day. What have you made of his progression?

NOVAK DJOKOVIC: Fantastic job he has done here in the tournament first round, going through some physical pain on the court, then managing to win in five last match against Seppi. I watched a little bit. It was high-quality tennis. He’s showing some emotion on the court and the crowd gets into it. He has a lot of support. He’s also showing some mental strength in the tough moments. That’s a virtue that he possesses and he’s got to nurture that in order to be where he wants to be. I’m sure he has high ambitions in his career, in his life. He’s got the shots. He’s got the game. Especially here in Australia, he’s got home-court advantage. Anything is possible with Nick.

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‘I Know How To Get There’ – Karen Khachanov Targets Return To Top 10

The world No.31 has showed signs of his talent this season with a run to the Olympic final but a lack of consistency and changes to the ATP ranking system has hindered him too.

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Karen Khachanov - Credit: AELTC/Ian Walton

It wasn’t that long ago when Karen Khachanov was the highest-ranked Russian man on the ATP Tour and billed as the next big thing from his country.

 

A breakout 2018 season saw Khachanov claim three Tour titles with the biggest of those being at the Paris Masters which remains his most prestigious trophy to date. He also reached his first major quarter-final at the French Open during the same season and scored five wins over top 10 players. Those triumphs helped elevate him in the ranking to a high of eight.

However, since that breakthrough Khachanov has found himself on a a rollercoaster journey. He is yet to win another title since Paris but came agonisingly close at the Tokyo Olympic Games where he finished runner-up to Alexander Zverev. In his nine previous Grand Slam tournaments his best run was at Wimbledon this season where he reached the last eight before losing to Denis Shapovalov.

Now ranked 31st in the world, the 25-year-old is aiming to claim back up the ladder after the ATP changed their ranking logic to the method used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The rankings turned out to be a big pun, it was frozen for a year and a half, only now normal counting has begun. I am not fixated on this,” Khachanov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “My main goal is to get back to the Top10. I know how to get there. And the intermediate goals are to be healthy and motivated.”

Khachanov has been ranked outside the world’s top 20 since February and hasn’t been in the top 10 since October 2019. He is currently coached on the Tour by Jose Clavet who has previously worked with a series of top Spanish players such as Feliciano Lopez, Alex Corretja, Tommy Robredo and Carlos Moya.

“He travels with me everywhere, for which I am grateful to him. I trust him as a specialist, as a coach and as a friend,” Khachanov said of Clavet.

Khachanov has returned to his home country this week where he is playing in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup. A tournament he won three years ago by defeating Adrian Mannarino in the final. Seeded third in the draw this time round, he began his campaign on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, win over James Duckworth. In the next round, he faces another Australian in the shape of John Millman which he believes will be a far from easy task.

He is a fighter, a complete player, he does everything well, forehand and backhand with good intensity. He does everything at a good level, but the main quality is that he fights till the end, so it will be hard for me,” he said of his next opponent.

Moscow is the seventh tournament this year where Khachanov has reached the quarter-final stage.

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Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days

The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.

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Image via twitter.com/atptour (Alexander Scheuber)

The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.

 

Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.

There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.

“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”

Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.

Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.

Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.

“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.

Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win

Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.

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Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.

“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”

The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.

Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.

This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.

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