RG15 Day 3: Djokovic, Nadal, Serena advance as Bouchard and Dimitrov exit - UBITENNIS
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RG15 Day 3: Djokovic, Nadal, Serena advance as Bouchard and Dimitrov exit

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Novak Djokovic (1) beat Jarkko Nieminen 6-2 7-5 6-2 to extend his winning streak to 23 consecutive matches this year. By Diego Sampaolo

 

After taking the 1st set with relative ease, Djokovic had to rally from 2-5 in the 2nd set by winning 20 of the last 25 points. The Finn came within two points of clinching the second set when he led 5-3 30-0. He even went up 40-0 as he served for 6-5 lead but Djokovic clawed his way back into the set with two consecutive breaks of serve and took the set 7-5. In the 3rd set, there was no stopping Djokovic as he opened up with a 4-0 lead as he eventually took the match 6-2 7-5 6-2.

Rafa Nadal (6), 9-time Roland Garros champion, beat last year’s US Open Junior finalist Quentin Halys 6-3 6-3 6-4 in one hour and 50 minutes. Nadal got a double break in the opening set and though Halys was able to break Nadal the 7th game for 3-4, Nadal broke again in the 9th game to clinch the first set with 6-3.

Nadal broke Halys in the 6th game of the 2nd set to take a 4-2 lead and maintained this lead as he served out the set at love for a 6-3 6-3 lead. Nadal sealed the third set with a break of serve in the 5th game. In the second round he will face his compatriot Nicolas Almagro who edged past Aleksandr Dolgopolov 6-3 2-6 6-4 7-6 (8-6)

“I think he played aggressive. He played well. He played with some mistakes but when you want to risk on every single ball, the mistakes are there. The tennis is moving that way. It’s younger and aggressive. The tour is moving to hit the ball stronger and quicker going for the winners all the time”, said Nadal

22-year-old Jack Sock pulled off the biggest upset of the day when he defeated Grigor Dimitrov (10) with 7-6 (9-7) 6-2 6-3. Sock fended off 6 of the 10 break points he faced, hit 30 winners and made 18 unforced errors. Sock won the 2014 Wimbledon doubles title but underwent surgery last December to repair a torn hip muscle. Earlier this year he won his first title on clay in Houston.

The first set came down to the tie-break where Sock rallied from 3-5 to clinch the set with 9-7. In the 2nd set, Sock took control of the set after it was leveled at 2-2 to break Dimitrov twice and won the set 6-2. Dimitrov, who has never recovered from 0-2 set deficit in his career and in the 3rd set, he dropped his serve early to trail 1-4. Sock closed out the match 7-6(7) 6-2 6-3.

“Today was a great match for me. For the most part I took care of my serve fairly well and was able to get into a lot of his service games and make him play some balls … I am able to take my time on clay and kind of maneuver the ball around. Movement is another big part of my game. I feel like on clay. I get a lot of balls.”

 said Sock

Sock’s compatriot John Isner (16) beat Italian Andreas Seppi 7-5 6-3 6-2. Isner hit 21 winners and got six breaks of serve.

“A lot is said about clay and how it’s a defensive surface. I would say it’s a misconception. I think clay is a very good attacking surface. A guy like Nadal plays great defense but knocks the cover off the ball. He is the greatest player of all time. I am a completely animal than anyone. My serve is going to play no matter what the surface and going to keep me in the match” said Isner.

Leonardo Mayer from Argentina, finalist in Nice last week, recovered from a set down to battle past Jiri Vesely 3-6 7-6(6) 6-3 5-7 6-2. After losing the first set Mayer clinched the second set on his fourth set point. Vesely broke serve at 6-5 in the fourth set to force the match to the fifth set. Mayer won the decider with 6-2.

Serena Williams advances to the second round but Bouchard is knocked out

The biggest upset of the day was Eugenie Bouchard (6) who has continued to struggle this year losing her first round match against French Kristina Mladenovic with 6-4 6-4.

The young Canadian, who reached the semifinal last year at the Roland Garros and the final at Wimbledon, lost eight of her last nine matches and has not beaten a top-30 player yet in 2015.

Mladenovic broke serve in the seventh game for 4-3 in the first set en route to clinching the first set 6-4. Mladenovic cruised to 5-0 in the second set. Bouchard clawed her way back into the set by reeling off four games in a row winning 12 of 15 points played at one stretch in the set. However, Mladenovic held serve the 3rd time she serve for the match to take it 6-4 6-4.

Petra Kvitova (4), last year’s Wimbledon champion and Madrid winner earlier this month on clay, was on the verge of defeat at 4-4 in the third set against Marina Erakovic from New Zealand, who reached the third round in Paris in 2013 and was beaten by Kvitova in straight sets last year. Kvitova got the decisive break before serving out for the match to win 6-4 3-6 6-4. Kvitova will take on Silvia Soler Espinosa in the second round.

“I think it was quite cold and the balls are really heavy and they didn’t really fly. It was really difficult to go for the shots. It was really tough to make any winners or ace from the serve, said Kvitova after the match

Serena Williams (1) cruised past Andrea Hlavackova 6-2 6-3. Serena went up a break early in the first set to take a 3-0 lead. Hlavackova broke back in the fourth game but Williams broke again to take 6-2. The World Number 1 player got an early break in the second set and held her serve until the end of the second set to move through to the 2nd round.

This year’s Australian Open semifinalist Madison Keys won the all-US matchup against Varvara Lepchenko (who reached the fourth round in Paris in 2012) with a 7-6(3) 6-3 scoreline. Keys went up 3-1 but Lepchenko rallied to draw level at 3-3 before forcing the set to the tie-break. Keys won the breaker with 7-3 after 51 minutes. Lepchenko got an early break in the 2nd set for 2-1 but Keys recovered and won 5 of the next 6 games. The player from Illinois served out for the match at 5-3 before wrapping up the match with her 8th ace.

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Dominic Thiem Rules Federer Out Of GOAT Debate

The Austrian puts forward his theory on who should be regarded as the best player in history.

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Dominic Thiem; e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger, 27.10.2022

The honour of which player deserves to be regarded as the greatest of all time (GOAT) should be decided based on one factor, according to Dominic Thiem. 

 

The former world No.3 has weighed in on the debate by suggesting that the argument should be settled by the number of Grand Slam titles a player has won as they are the most prestigious tournaments in the sport. In tennis, the four major tournaments are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. 

Thiem’s GOAT criteria have therefore ruled Roger Federer out of contention. The Swiss maestro was at one stage the frontrunner due to the numerous records he has broken throughout his career. However, he retired from the sport last year with 20 Grand Slam trophies under his belt which is less than both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who are currently on 22 each. 

“In my opinion, the Grand Slam titles should be the defining criteria when determining the best of all time, they are the four most important tournaments in tennis,” Eurosport quotes Thiem as saying. 
“Everything else is fine, but it’s not the same. The Slams are what counts, so the GOAT will probably be the one with the most Grand Slams.”

Others will argue that more factors should be taken into account in the subjective debate. For example, Federer has won 103 ATP titles which are more than his two rivals, Djokovic holds the record for most weeks as world No.1 and Nadal has won more tournaments on clay than any other player in history. Furthermore, there is the players’ win-loss rate on the Tour and their records against the top 10 players. 

Recently at the Australian Open Djokovic won the men’s title for a historic 10th time in his career. An achievement that has been hailed by Thiem who was runner-up to the Serbian at Melbourne Park in 2021. 

“I am not very surprised, Djokovic still looks young,” he said. “Physically and mentally, because of the way he moves on the court. It’s like he was 25 years old.
“We have to be honest, he is the best, so his victory was not very surprising.”

Thiem has won one Grand Slam title which was at the 2020 US Open when he became the first man in the Open Era to come back from two sets down to win in the final. He has also been runner-up at the French Open twice, as well as the Australian Open once. 

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Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open Injury ‘Hard To Believe’ In The Eyes Of His Opponent

Some details surrounding Djokovic’s battle with a hamstring issue ‘doesn’t make sense,’ according to Enzo Couacaud.

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Image via Adelaide International Twitter

The only man to take a set off Novak Djokovic during the Serbian’s run to a historic 10th Australian Open title believes there are unanswered questions over his injury. 

 

France’s Enzo Couacaud took a set off the world No.1 before losing their encounter in the second round at Melbourne Park. At the tournament Djokovic was dealing with a hamstring problem which he picked up at the Adelaide International earlier this year. Throughout the tournament, he was wearing strapping on his leg and there was uncertainty about if he would be able to continue playing in the Grand Slam event. 

Despite the issue, Djokovic claimed a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title by disposing of Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the final. Afterwards his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, claimed that 97% of players would not have played if they were in a similar situation. The exact diagnosis of Djokovic’s injury hasn’t been addressed by his team but Australian Open director Craig Tiley said he suffered a 3mm tear. 

However, Couacaud has questioned the significance of the injury to begin with. During an interview with Tennis Actu, the world No.172 believes that some of the details appear to be ‘far-fetched’ as he draws parallels with Rafael Nadal, as well as footballer Kylian Mbappe.  

“Novak claimed he was playing with an injury, a big injury,” said Couacaud. “When athletes are injured in combat sports, they often can’t continue. When Rafael Nadal is injured, he can’t run. Kylian Mbappe, for example, is out for two weeks.
“And those are the greatest athletes, not those who don’t have access to top-notch care. It is therefore difficult to believe that only one man in the world can continue with an injury.
“When you take the examples of Nadal or Mbappe, but especially Rafa, with an injury to Wimbledon, he couldn’t even serve. When you see the greatest who can’t set foot on the pitch and another who wins a Grand Slam by playing every day for 15 days. It still seems a bit far-fetched.
“There are little things that don’t make sense to me. I was always told not to stretch with an injury. You saw Novak stretching all the time. You say to yourself, either they have a new method in Serbia, or it’s weird. Little things like that, he has his staff, but I’m too far to judge the authenticity of anything. It is true that it seems hard to believe.”

It is not the first time Djokovic has faced accusations that he has in some way exaggerated the significance of an injury. He encountered a similar situation during the 2021 Australian Open where he suffered an abdominal injury. After winning the tournament, he confirmed that he sustained a tear in the region. 

Speaking to journalists at Melbourne Park last month, the tennis star once again hit back at his critics and claimed that he was being singled out. 

“I leave the doubting to those people – let them doubt,” Tennis Majors quoted Djokovic as saying in Serbian following his fourth round win over Alex de Minaur. “Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.
“I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situation. But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.”

Djokovic has won 93 ATP titles during his career which is the fourth-highest tally in history. Only Ivan Lendl (94), Roger Federer (102) and Jimmy Connors (109) have won more. 

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Nick Kyrgios Admits Assaulting Former Girlfriend But Avoids Prosecution

The tennis star says he ‘deeply regrets’ how he reacted during an argument with his former partner.

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Nick Kyrgios (AUS) playing against Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) in the third round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 6 Saturday 03/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jonathan Nackstrand

Nick Kyrgios will not be charged with assault despite pleading guilty to shoving over his former girlfriend following an argument. 

 

The Wimbledon finalist attended court on Friday after he was accused by his former partner, Chiara Passari, of assaulting her during an incident that took place on January 10th 2021. Kyrgios was initially charged following an argument which took place outside of Passari’s apartment in the inner-city Canberra suburb of Kingston. 

At a hearing at the ACT Magistrates Court, it was revealed that Kyrgios’ ex-girlfriend was standing in front of an Uber car door which prevented him from closing it before he pushed her over. When she fell to the ground, he was heard saying ‘seriously.’ In the minutes leading up to what happened, Kyrgios told Passari “leave me the f*** alone” and to “just f***ing piss off” when he was asked to get out of the car and calm down. He had called for an Uber ride following their argument. 

Passari, who didn’t report the incident to the police until 10 months after it happened, suffered a grazed knee and hurt her shoulder as a result of her fall, according to her legal filing. Kyrgios apologized for his actions two days later when the two met at a Canberra cafe. Unknown to him at the time, that conversation was recorded by Passari. The two continued their relationship for some months before breaking up. 

Magistrate Beth Campbell has ruled in Kyrgios’ favour despite him owning up to his actions. In her verdict, Campbell said the seriousness of the matter was ‘low’ and the tennis star was not likely to re-offend again. 

“You acted in the heat of the moment,” she said.
“I am dealing with you in the same way I would deal with any young man in this court. You are a young man who happens to hit a tennis ball particularly well.”

During the hearing, evidence was heard from Kyrgios’ psychologist, Sam Borenstein, who said his mental health issues were ‘recurrent’ and he has suffered from thoughts of self-harm. Although Borestein says his condition has improved in recent times. Furthermore, Kyrgios’ lawyer, Michael Kukulies-Smith, said there was “a relationship between the mental health and the offending – even though he no longer suffers it to the same extent today.”

In a statement issued following the court’s decision, Kyrgios said he reacted ‘in a way he regretted’ and apologized for his actions. He went on to attribute what happened to his mental health condition at the time. 

“I respect today’s ruling and I am grateful to the court for dismissing the charges without conviction,” he said.
“I was not in a good place when this happened and I reacted to a difficult situation in a way I deeply regret. I know it wasn’t OK and I am sincerely sorry for the hurt I caused.
“Mental health is tough. Life can seem overwhelming. But I have found that getting help and working on myself has allowed me to feel better.”

Before his guilty plea, Kyrgios had argued that the charge should be dropped on the grounds of his mental health but that appeal was withdrawn when the court found that he is not currently suffering from a major depressive illness. 

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