TENNIS AO2015 – Novak Djokovic clinched his fifth Australian Open and the eighth Grand Slam title of his career with a 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (4-7) 6-3 6-0 win over Andy Murray after three hours and 39 minutes in the Rod Laver Arena at Melbourne Park to close the gap on Australian Open legend Roy Emerson who won six times in the home Slam in 1961, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966 and 1967. Djokovic won his overall 8th Grand Slam title in a collection of Major titles which features the US Open in 2011 and Wimbledon in 2011 and 2014. His coach Boris Becker celebrated his second Grand Slam triumph after Wimbledon last July when Djokovic edged Roger Federer in a epic five-set final. Diego Sampaolo
Novak Djokovic b. Andy Murray 7-6 6-7 6-3 6-0
Novak Djokovic part 1: “I’m not going to talk bad things about him in the press or find any excuses or something like this”
Novak Djokovic part 2: “you go through some particular moments that you can call crises during matches like these. This is what I had in these 15, 20 minutes. After that I felt better”
Novak Djokovic part 3: “I think tonight I played better (than against Wawrinka)”
Djokovic was unbeaten in the last four head-to-head matches against Murray but the Scotsman won two Grand Slam finals at the 2012 US Open and at Wimbledon in 2013. The two friends and rivals met for the fifth time in a Grand Slam final. Djokovic extended his winning streak to 16-8 in the 23 head-to-head matches overall including seven of the last eight match-ups and 13-6 in hard-court matches. They met for the third time in the final at the Australian Open after Djokovic beat his Scottish rival in the previous two title matches at Melbourne Park in 2011 and 2013.
Djokovic rallied from 0-40 to reel off five straight points at 1-1. In the fourth game the Serbian star broke serve to 15 with a crosscourt forehand return winner to build a 3-1 lead. Djokovic pulled away to 4-1 playing well on serve, although Murray did not play badly. Murray did not convert on two break point chances at 2-4 15-40 with two groundstrokes errors. Djokovic dropped serve when he hit his backhand wide allowing Murray to claw his way into the match. Murray went up 30-0 on his serve in the 8th game but Djokovic fought back to convert on his second break point chance to build a 5-3 lead. Djokovic had a problem with the thumb of his right hand and Murray took advantage breaking back to 15 in the next game for 4-5. The first set came down to the tie-break. Djokovic made a double fault at the start of the breaker but he fought back from 2-4 by winning three consecutive points to take the 5-4 lead. Djokovic clinched the breaker with 7-5 when Murray hit a backhand return into the net.
Murray opened up a 2-0 lead at the start of the second set when Djokovic hit his backhand into the net. Djokovic looked to have twisted his ankle. Djokovic rallied from 0-2 0-15 to reel off 12 consecutive points to build up a 4-2 lead. At 4-3 Djokovic missed two first serves at 30-all before Murray got the break with a forehand winner. Murray held serve to love to take the edge with 5-4. Murray recovered from 15-40 down at 5-4 but he failed to capitalize on a set point in the tenth game which lasted 15 minutes and featured five deuces. Djokovic finally managed to hold serve. Murray fended off three break points at 30-40 and twice more at deuce. The second set was decided by another tie-break where Murray opened up to a 4-1 lead before winning a rally of 26 strokes to pull away to 5-2. He brought up four set points at 6-2 but Djokovic recovered winning the next two points before Murray converted on his fourth set point to wrap up the second set with 7-4 in the breaker after a 80-minute battle.
After a two-hour and 32-minute battle in the first two sets Murray broke serve early in the third set for a 2-0 lead and looked to have taken control of the mach. Djokovic appeared injured at the start of the third set but he soon recovered with a series of winners. The Scotsman went down 0-30 at 1-2 and fended off one break point with an ace but he hit a wild forehand allowing Djokovic to break back for 2-all.
Murray failed to convert on a break point in the seventh game at 3-3 30-40 when he missed out on a backhand winner down the line. Murray faltered when he made a double fault in the 8th game at 3-4 15-40 allowing Djokovic to break again. Murray earned a break-back point in the next game but he hit the net with a half-volley. Djokovic wrapped up the third game with 6-3 after 39 minutes.
From then on Djokovic took the full control of the match winning the fourth set with 6-0. It was the second match in a row that Djokovic won the final set with 6-0 two days after his five-set bagel against Stan Wawrinka in the semifinal. In the fourth set Murray dropped serve to 30. Djokovic got two more breaks in the third game to 15 and again in the fifth game to 15 before clinching his third final win over Murray in Melbourne. Murray lost his fourth Australian Open final (the three against Djokovic and the other against Roger Federer in 2010)
Djokovic hit 53 winners to 40 unforced errors and converted on nine of his break point chances. He hit 8 aces and made just one double fault. Murray produced 41 winners and 49 unforced errors and broke serve five times.
Djokovic was presented with the Australian Open Trophy by Australian Open legend Roy Emerson, who holds the record of six Melbourne titles.
“I am privileged and honored and grateful to be standing here here for the fifth title, to be in an elite group of players, with legends of our sport out watching”, said Djokovic
Nole paid tribute for his close friend Andy, who is just one week older than the Belgrade native and offered him his best wishes to the Scotsman for his wedding which will be celebrated at the end of the year.
“First of all I want to congratulate Andy for his great tournament. And congratulations to you and Kim on your engagement. I wish you many kids”, said Djokovic during the award ceremony
Despite the injury problem in the third set Djokovic won 12 of the last games.
“There were a lot of turning points in the match. As I think everybody predicted, it was going to be a big battle. Regardless of the record that I have here and regardless of the fact that he played three finals here, without winning a title, we both knew that we had equal chances to win it, It was very similar match to the Australian Open final in 2013 when we played the first two sets for two and a half hours, It was very physical and very exhausting. We both went through some tough moments physically. You could see that I had a crisis at the end of the second set and at the beginning of the third. I just felt exhausted and I needed some time to regroup and recharge and get back on track. That’s what I have done. I started hitting ball and trying to be a little bit more aggressive coming to the net, shortening the points. I got a very important break of serve at 2-Love for him in the third that got me back in the match mentally as well. It was a cat and mouse fight. It always is. We always try to outplay the opponents with the groundstrokes, with the long rallies, a lot of variety of the games, spin, flat, slice and dropshots. I think both went out with the full repertoire of the shots we have. From my side it was very exhausting. I am just glad that I believed that I believed it all the way through. I saved some breakpoints at 3-all in the third set and managed to make that break and win the third set. After that I felt huge relief. I felt I could swing through the ball. I felt the momentum was on my side and I wanted to use that. At this level very few points can turn things around on the court as we could see tonight”, reflected Djokovic
“In matches like this a lot of emotions go through, a lot of tension. It’s not easy to keep the concentration 100% all the way through. There was the interruption with people coming into the court. It was a long delay. I was a set and a break up serving. I lost that serve. He started going through the ball more, being more aggressive, He was not the freshest player as well in the second and third set. It’s normal to expect that after the amount and length of rallies that we had. It’s just all so physical”
Djokovic expressed his feeling on the importance of winning such an important title in one of the best moments of his life following the marriage to Jelena and the birth of their son Stephan.
“This fifth title has a deeper meaning, more intrinsic value now to my life because I am a father and a husband. It’s the first Grand Slam title I won as a father and a husband. I just feel very proud of it. It try on the right path and committed to this sport in every possible way that I have had in the last couple of years and try to use the prime time of my career where I am playing and feeling the best at 27. This is why I play the sport to win big titles and to put myself in a position to play also for the people around me. I know how much sacrifice they put in my own career. I try to thank them and not take anything for granted. As my life progresses, there are circumstances, situations and events that define these beautiful moments. Getting married and becoming a father in the last six months was definitely something that I never felt before. Right now everything has been going in such a positive direction in my life. I am so grateful for that. I try to live these moments with all my heart”, said Djokovic
Despite the defeat Murray can be happy with his Australian Open in which he returned to a Grand Slam final after a difficult 2014 season.
“It has been my most consistent Grand Slam throughout my career. I just haven’t been able to win it. We have put in a lot of work to try and get back in this position after a difficult year. Unfortunately we could not do it tonight but I am a little bit closer than I was a few months ago. We will keep working hard to try and get there. I will try to come back next year and have a slightly different outcome in the final”, said Murray.
The Dunblane native admitted after the match that he was disappointed with the third set when he broke serve in the second game.
“I had opportunities in the first three sets. Then in the fourth set I needed to watch it back to see if I played badly. He was just ripping everything. He was hitting returns on the baseline which were far from the line all the time. Once he got up a break, he just loosened up and was just going for his shots. I couldn’t recover. So the fourth set wasn’t as frustrating to me. The third set was frustrating because I got a bit distracted when he fell on the ground after a couple of shots. It appeared that he was cramping and then I let that distract me a little bit. That’s what I am most disappointed about, not so much the fourth set because especially at the end of it, he was just going for everything and it was going in. But the third set was more frustrating for me”, reflected Murray
“I don’t think he went for broke at the end because he was afraid of a fifth set, that he thought he couldn’t last a fifth set. He was moving unbelievable at the end of of the third set, sliding and chasing everything down. I think it was just more that once he got up he loosened up a bit, and then was just going for his shots. Maybe if he started to miss a couple, then you kind of rein it back a little bit. But he wasn’t missing, so he just kept going for it”
“Novak looked like he was in quite a bad way at the beginning of the third set and came back unbelievable at the end of the third set. Then obviously the way he was hitting the ball in the fourth and moving was impressive. I don’t know exactly what the issue was for him. If it was cramp, how he recovered from it, that’s a tough thing to recover from and play as well as he did at the end. So I am frustrated at myself for letting that bother me at the beginning of the third set because I was playing well. I had a good moment, and then just dropped off for like 10 minutes and it got away from me. That’s the most frustrating thing because I thought I had opportunities in the first set. I couldn’t quite get them.I managed to sneak the second. Then there was that break up in the third. There were definitely opportunities there”
Alexander Zverev Deserves More Respect According To Boris Becker
According to Boris Becker, Alexander Zverev deserves more respect from tennis journalists.
Boris Becker has claimed that Alexander Zverev deserves more respect despite Zverev failing to live up to his potential at Grand Slams.
Zverev has only reached one Grand Slam final in his career despite being a regular inside the world’s top ten as well as performing at regular ATP events.
This season Zverev played a limited schedule after recovering from an ankle injury but still managed to qualify for the Nitto ATP Finals.
However most critics have been loud when judging Zverev’s career as it was looking likely that he would be a regular Grand Slam champion.
The German has failed to live up to expectations but former Grand Slam champion Boris Becker believes Zverev deserves more respect.
Speaking to Eurosport Becker also said that Zverev’s father being the coach is a more than successful approach when it comes to the former US Open finalist’s career, “In my opinion, he doesn’t get enough respect from the tennis experts internationally,” Becker explained.
“They’re all talking about the young three or four, but don’t give Zverev, Medvedev or Rublev enough respect. He’s playing with his fist in his pocket a little bit, wants everyone show that he is not a thing of the past, but that his best time is yet to come.
“Surely his father knows best what is good for his son, but if you look into the box at the competition, you can also see changes.”
Becker has followed Zverev for most of his career so knows that the best is yet to come from the German.
Alexander Zverev will look to prove himself next season when he starts his 2024 season when he represents Germany at the United Cup.
Juan Carlos Ferrero Analyses Key Areas For Carlos Alcaraz’s Development
Juan Carlos Ferrero has outlined the next steps in Carlos Alcaraz’s development.
Carlos Alcaraz’s coach, Juan Carlos Ferrero has analysed the key areas for the Spaniard’s development heading into the 2024 season.
The former world number one’s season has come to an end after a successful year which saw him win the Wimbledon title as well as winning two Masters 1000 titles.
Alcaraz capped off an incredible season by reaching the semi-finals at the Nitto ATP Finals, where he lost to Novak Djokovic.
However there is a long way for the Spaniard to go if he wants to consistently go toe-to-toe with Novak Djokovic.
Speaking to Marca Alcaraz’s coach Juan Carlos Ferrero spoke about the Spaniard’s development and said that Alcaraz is too emotional, “Be more regular in games, not open doors. Sometimes there are mistakes and it is something that we have to improve a lot,” Ferrero commented.
“Although it is true that he opens doors, he always competes well and at the highest level. He knows it, the other day he already said that Novak doesn’t give you one. He has to improve his decision making and he will achieve that with experience. Carlos is very emotional and that sometimes helps him and other times not so much.”
It’s clear Alcaraz’s high-quality is there but to consistently do it against Djokovic is another task altogether as the Spaniard looks to go from strength-to strength next season.
One area that is clearly a priority for Alcaraz is physical conditioning especially considering what happened against Djokovic at Roland Garros earlier in the season.
Ferrero said that will be a clear focus heading into 2024 but couldn’t guarantee that Alcaraz will play a tournament before the Australian Open, “Because of the year and the fatigue he has been in, what he needs is rest and disconnecting for 8-10 days with his friends,” Ferrero stated.
“From there, the thinking must go back to working really hard, strong and well to start very strongly in Australia. One can never be sure of that. Sometimes you play a tournament and it doesn’t go well, you left home too early. There are many ways of thinking.
“This year we haven’t played Australia and he finishes number two. That means there is no urgency to play a tournament early. Carlos is a player who enters competition quickly, you don’t usually see him without rhythm.
“Although it is true that he becomes more dangerous from the round of 16, from the quarter-finals. I am confident that the two exhibition matches and the training sessions will help us play a good tournament.”
Alcaraz will be looking to play the Australian Open which starts on the 15th of January after the Spaniard missed last year’s tournament due to a leg injury.
Australian Open Chief Confident Nadal Will Play But Kyrgios’ Participation Uncertain
The tournament director of the Australian Open says he is ‘certain’ that Rafael Nadal will play at the Grand Slam even though the Spaniard has yet to outline his comeback plans.
Craig Tiley told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday he hopes to receive some clarity over Nadal’s intentions in the next couple of weeks but is confident he will play. However, the tennis official had previously claimed in October that the former world No.1 had already committed to play in the event before his team denied that statement.
Nadal, who has won 22 Grand Slam titles, hasn’t played a Tour match since his second round defeat at the Australian Open in January due to a hip injury. He was originally expecting to take an eight-week break but the recovery didn’t go to plan and he ended up having surgery. In May he confirmed that he will take an extended break from the sport to heal his body and admitted that retirement next year is a possibility.
“Rafa has been training, I follow him closely, probably every day because he’s a massive drawcard for us,” the Reuters News Agency quoted Tiley as saying.
“He wants to play, he’s obviously planning on playing. It all depends on how he pulls up.
“Hopefully in the next week or the next two weeks, we get some specific confirmation of that. I’m certain Rafa will be here because he’s not going to want to miss the opportunity to repeat what he did a couple of years ago.”
Earlier this month Nadal confirmed that he intends to return to the Tour but admits that he will continue to experience a degree of pain. Although he has yet to give any information about which tournament he will begin his comeback at. The 2024 season begins during the first week of January.
“I’m well, training, and happy. I’m at a good stage of my life,” atptour.com quoted Nadal as telling reporters in Barcelona.
“Until now I didn’t know if I would play tennis again someday, and now I genuinely believe I will. I’m still not ready to say when, but I’m able to train increasingly longer, and the progress is good.’
Will Kyrgios play?
Another player Tiley is eager to welcome back is home player and former Wimbledon Finalist Nick Kyrgios who has only played one Tour-level match this season due to injury. He underwent knee surgery in January and then tore a ligament in his wrist during the summer. As a result, the Australian currently doesn’t have an ATP ranking due to his inactivity.
“We have spoken to Nick, and he obviously wants to do the best he possibly can to give him the best chance to play in January,” Tiley said of Kyrgios.
“Whether he’s playing, whether he’s doing something else, Nick will be here in January and to get him to play will be great. But we’ve got to take it as it comes and he’s got to make sure he takes care of his health …”
Kyrgios recently worked as an analyst for the Tennis Channel during this year’s ATP Finals in Turin and gave a brief update on his ongoing recovery during a segment.
“After last year, I had such a great year, and I’m so hungry to get back out there,” the 2022 Wimbledon finalist commented.
“So I’m doing everything I can to get back out there. Obviously, you know how injuries are every day, just doing the rehab, doing the gym work.”
The Australian Open will begin on Sunday 14th January. Novak Djokovic and Aryna Sabalenka are the defending champions.
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