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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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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