This Wimbledon Final One of Novak’s Most Impressive - UBITENNIS
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This Wimbledon Final One of Novak’s Most Impressive

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TENNIS – This Wimbledon championship was one of Novak Djokovic’s most impressive victories. Roger Federer played a terrific match, even though he’s less than a month away from celebrating his 34th birthday. Unlike Andy Murray and Stan Wawrinka who appeared to play for games or tiebreakers they never reached as they fumbled along the way, Djokovic only flinched in a second set that went to a tiebreaker. James Beck

 

NOVAK LEAVES NO DOUBT ABOUT NO. 1
After splitting a pair of tiebreakers with Federer, Djokovic left no doubt in the third and four sets who was the best player at this year’s Wimbledon.

In the process, Djokovic is getting closer to making his own case for inclusion in the greatest players ever chatter. Three or four more Grand Slam titles added to his current total of nine would thrust Djokovic in the middle of the conversation, alongside the likes of Federer, Rod Laver, Rafa Nadal and Pete Sampras.

DJOKOVIC HAS TIME TO STAMP HIS OWN SEAL OF GREATNESS
Having just turned 28 years old less than two months ago, Djokovic has time to stamp his own name on the list, especially considering that only he and Nadal have won nine of the last 15 Grand Slam titles, and only Murray and Wawrinka with two each have won multiple major titles the last four years. Federer and Marin Cilic own the other two major titles since the start of 2012.

Federer never gave up on Sunday as he unleashed a barrage of brilliant shots at Djokovic, only to suffer a 7-6 (1), 6-7 (10), 6-4, 6-3 setback in the Wimbledon final. The Swiss great simply couldn’t match Djokovic off the ground. Too many unforced errors.

FEDERER’S SERVE INFLUENCED BY NOVAK
Of course, Federer’s serve wasn’t working the way it was in a straight-set win over Murray in the semifinals when his serve was virtually untouchable.

But then again, Murray isn’t in Djokovic’s league when it comes to quick starts and movement against an opponent’s serve. So, Djokovic obviously had something to do with Federer trying to put a little extra on his first serves.

THIS ONE COULD HAVE BEEN A THREE-SETTER
Djokovic actually should have won this one in straight sets as he carelessly hit a forehand long with a set point in the 10th game of the second set and then had six more set points, two on his serve, in the tiebreaker he lost, 12-10.

But you have to credit Federer for the way he staged an all-out assault on Djokovic after falling behind 6-3 in the second-set tiebreaker. He was the Federer of old, blending his marvelous quick-hitting talents with his seasoned experience to deal Djokovic what at the time looked like a serious blow to his chances of repeating as the Wimbledon champion.

In reality, Djokovic was still the same player who should have been up two sets to none at that point.  Djokovic wore out Federer in the last two sets with his awesome serving and even more awesome court coverage.

WHAT TO EXPECT IN NEW YORK
Where does all of this leave the men’s game heading to New York for the final Grand Slam event of the year? Novak has to be the favorite.

But in the summer heat of Arthur Ashe Stadium, anything can happen. Just look back to 2014 when the only fluke win in the last four years might have been Cilic’s title in the U.S. Open.

With that in mind, Wawrinka might be ready to step it up in another major after appearing to have dead feet on second-service returns against Richard Gasquet in the Wimbledon quarterfinals. The Swiss powerhouse will have to get his head back together and go for service returns rather than little chips that usually ended up in the net.

WAWRINKA EXPLOSIVENESS MIGHT RETURN
If Wawrinka brings the explosiveness in his game he demonstrated two years ago against Djokovic in the U.S. Open semifinals as well as in his two Grand Slam conquests, he certainly has to be among the top three or four contenders.

And even though it’s been a really off year for Nadal, surely the Spanish left-hander has been off somewhere practicing and searching for the secret that he possessed just a couple of years ago. If Nadal decides to play aggressively, rather than passively as he has most of the year, he has to be considered a threat in New York.

NADAL HAS NOTHING TO LOSE
It’s almost as if Nadal has nothing to lose these days. Some of the so-called experts are saying he is washed up.

But don’t count on it. He is still the same player, with the same capabilities he had when he won an Australian Open title and nearly won a couple more Down Under; won two U.S. Opens; and also captured an Olympic gold medal on hard courts in 2008.

Nadal is less than a year older than Djokovic.

Nadal just needs to step “inside” the lines and play aggressive tennis by going for his shots the way he did in his major conquests.


James Beck is the long-time tennis columnist for the Charleston (S.C.) Post and Courier newspaper. He can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com

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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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