Djokovic, Federer and other top guys open up about their chances at the US Open - UBITENNIS
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Djokovic, Federer and other top guys open up about their chances at the US Open

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US OPEN – On August 28, 2015, the USTA hosted the Media Day which saw the pressing having “unlimited/unrestricted” access to the top players in both the men and women’s draws. On the men’s side, Novak Djokovic (1), Roger Federer (2), Andy Murray (3), Kei Nishikori (4) and Rafael Nadal (8) were all present answering questions not only about their chances in the tournament but on a host of other matters.

 

On Preparation and Being at the Open

Djokovic: The Serbian feels that he is stronger and more mature than he was in 2011 when he won three majors. He is very confident and prepared for this tournament as he noted that he played 14 matches (singles and doubles) coming prior to New York since his Wimbledon victory. “I feel like I’m well prepared for New York. I’ve had a lot of matches like I mentioned. So that competitive mode is going to help me ease my way into the tournament better.  Confidence is still there … This is where of course I was setting up my form to be at its peak. Hopefully that can happen.”

Federer: Fresh off his 7th Cincinnati title where he beat the then world’s number 1 and 2 (Djokovic and Murray) in successive matches, the Swiss spoke on his thought process coming into the event, “The goal was for me to play well here at the US Open and hopefully defend Cincinnati, as well. I did very well at Cincinnati, and now the focus shifts to New York. I feel like I have a good chance.” Despite being a 5-time champion here (2004-2008), Federer has failed to make the finals since 2009. He said, “I came very close. Clearly my focus needs to be not trying to win the tournament right away, that’d be thinking too far ahead. I haven’t been in a finals in this tournament as of late. I came close, but close is not good enough. I’ve tried to build up as we move forward.”

Murray: The Brit played three tournaments this summer as well as doubles at one of the event and had this to say on his preparation for a possible 2nd US Open title: I think that I feel confident, I’m hitting the ball well. You know I’ve played a lot of matches so my body is match tight, which is good, and I also played a couple long matches the last few weeks, which is physically very good preparation for here”

Nadal: The Spaniard is having a poor season by his own standards. He has not won a major nor a Master Series 1000 all season long. His summer hardcourt campaign was derailed by Nishikori in the quarterfinals of Montreal and in the 3rd round by Feliciano Lopez in Cincinnati. His confidence has looked well shaken and stirred all season long, “As a tennis player, I’m feeling better today than I was a couple of months ago. I’ve worked a lot these last couple of months. I know the process; It’s a challenge for me to find the level of play that I’ve been at a lot of times in my career. I’m practicing great, now it’s time to play that great against the competition. The level of tennis is very close to being back there.  

Nishikori: The Japanese is looking to repeat his success at the open last year and do one better as he made the finals of a major for the first time in his career. Since his great run of last year, Nishikori has not shown that kind of form at any of the other following majors. However, he is feeling good about his chances here in New York. “I’m feeling pretty good. I think from last year this time I kind of stepped one up and I raised my level after this tournament, so I’m very happy with everything this year. Especially this summer I’ve been playing really well, from Washington and Montreal. I unfortunately got hurt and couldn’t play Cincinnati but still I feel very good physically and also tennis-wise, so very exciting, and it’s going to be a big challenge for me to play this year, again, but I’m very confident.”

Tough First Round Matches

When the draw came out, there were several first round encounters which looked to be very intriguing for some of these players. Federer, Murray and Nadal all have formidable opponents in the form of Leonardo Mayer, Borna Coric and Nick Kyrgios respectively and they are all well aware that they have to be focused from the very first ball. Mayer gave Federer a run for his money back in October in Shanghai last year. Federer noted that it was “was one of the luckiest matches I’ve ever won in my career, to be quite honest.” In regards to the actual matchup, Federer had this to say, “I like the power he has, on both sides, plus the serve, as well, which makes him tough to control from the baseline. I think I always got to try to make an athletic match and there’s lots of movement, shorten the points, on my terms. I think he’s a challenge, to be honest. … I hope I can play with my confidence and use my experience against a player like this.”

Nadal lost to Coric last year at the Swiss Indoors in Basel. Speaking specifically about the loss, Nadal seemed to have very little recollection of that encounter, “I don’t remember playing him before. It was a tough week for me; I had the surgery the week after. I don’t remember it very well, but I think I played very bad.” Nonetheless, the Spaniard was very complimentary of the Croat stating, “He’s a tough player. He’s a young player with a lot of energy and he’s a big competitor. He’s one of the players that is the future of our sport, so it’s a tough one, but I’m playing well. I feel like I’m ready.”

Murray’s upcoming clash with Kyrgios is really not noteworthy considering the fact that the Australian has yet to win a set against the Brit. He is 0-3 lifetime including 0-2 at majors both of which took place this year in Melbourne and Paris. “For me it’s just a tennis match and I go about the match in the best way possible by getting all the things, getting all the tactics, and everything sorted and you know, tailor my practices the next few days around his game style and that’s what I’ll be doing. You don’t obviously pay attention to the other stuff,” said Murray. The real reason this match is drawing so much attention is the “other stuff” as noted by Murray.

Kyrgios has been embroiled in controversy recently because of off-coloured remarks on court pertaining to the romantic entanglements of Thanasi Kokkinakis, Stan Wawrinka and Donna Vekic. The ATP recently imposed a conditional suspension and fine on Kyrgios pending good behaviour within the next 6 months. Murray has seen it fit to express his sympathy towards Kyrgios regarding the situation stating, “He’s a young guy and we all make mistakes and everyone here when they were 19, 20 would have done some bad things and made some mistakes, and for him, it’s unfortunate that’s its happening in front of millions of millions of people. And I think it’s wrong, a lot of the things that he’s done, but I also think that he’s still young, and everyone’s different. People mature and grow up at different rates.”

Djokovic takes on Joao Souza of Brazil and Nishikori will play Benoit Paire in their first round matches on Monday.

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Iga Swiatek Annoyed By Scheduling Dilemma Ahead Of Season Finale

Iga Swiatek has admitted it’s unlikely that she will play the Billie Jean King Cup Finals after a scheduling dilemma.

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World number one Iga Swiatek admits she is annoyed by facing a scheduling dilemma ahead of the end of the season.

 

Swiatek has dominated the 2022 season having won two Grand Slam titles and five other titles this season.

This means she has qualified for the WTA Finals which will take place on the 31st of October in Texas.

However Swiatek is now becoming the victim of her own success as she now faces a dilemma over whether to represent Poland at the Billie Jean King Finals.

The BJK Cup Finals, take place the week after in Glasgow where Poland will face the Czech Republic and the USA in their Group.

Speaking to Polish media Swiatek admitted she is unsure whether she will compete in Scotland and criticised the WTA for their lack of organization over the events, “I am dissatisfied, although I know that arranging everything is complicated,” Swiatek was quoted by Give Me Sport Women as saying.

Certainly, the fact that the WTA and ITF federations in a sense did not cooperate to facilitate our task is irritating to me. I will definitely take steps to let them know about my dissatisfaction.

“I don’t understand the scheduling. I’m not gonna lie that I’m happy about the fact that if I go deep in [the] Finals, I will have to not only play tired but also jetlagged the next day. So I can’t confirm whether I’ll represent Poland or not. I’m sorry.”

Swiatek’s father, Tomasz, backed up his daughter’s criticism and wishes for more communication between the WTA and players in the future, “It’s an extremely unfortunate deal,” he said.

“And yet we have a very difficult group for that in the BJK Cup. The dates of both events are missed. There is a clash between the ITF (organisers of the BJK Cup) and the WTA (organisers of the WTA Finals). Instead of taking care of the development of women’s tennis, they cannot communicate.”

So far both Swiatek and Ons Jabeur have qualified for the WTA Finals with Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula expected to join them.

Caroline Garcia, Aryna Sabalenka, Daria Kasatkina and Simona hold the other four spots with just weeks left of the season.

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Novak Djokovic Opens Up On His Key To Success As He Names His Biggest Rival

The Serbian will play his first singles tournament this week since winning Wimbledon.

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Image via Laver Cup Twitter

Noval Djokovic says he still has the drive to continue his illustrious tennis career despite admitting that he has ‘achieved pretty much everything he can achieve.’ 

 

The 21-time Grand Slam champion is one of the most decorated tennis players in history with 88 Tour titles to his name. He has held the ATP No.1 spot for more weeks than any other player and his career earnings of almost $159M is a record for the sport. He also has the most wins over top 10 opposition which currently stands at 232. 

Djokovic, who is playing at the Tel Aviv Open this week, says his successful career hasn’t been due to one particular thing. Instead, he said a group of factors had aided his rise to the top of the sport.

“There isn’t one secret or one key that solves all the problems. It’s a combination of things that are part of your character: who you are, how you train, what’s your lifestyle,” he told reporters on Wednesday. “It all creates the image of success. That formula has worked for me.”

Currently ranked seventh in the world, the Serbian admits that there is always room for improvement as he seeks a return back to the No.1 spot which is currently held by 19-year-old Carlos Alcaraz. 

“I also try some new things, because I always want to progress. Especially when you have guys like Alcaraz, who is full of power and adrenaline. So you always have to figure out how to improve and take yourself to a higher level,” he continued.

Tel Aviv will be the first singles tournament Djokovic has played in since Winning Wimbledon in July. He missed the North American swing as he was unable to travel to the region due to being unvaccinated against COVID-19. 

He returned to competitive tennis over the weekend in the Laver Cup where he experienced mixed results on the court with a dominant victory over Frances Tiafoe before losing to Felix Auger-Aliassime a day later. He also won his doubles match alongside Italy’s Matteo Berrettini. It was during the three-day event that Djokovic admitted that he had some concerns over soreness in his right wrist but those worries have since been alleviated. 

“I practiced today for two hours and it was ok. I am feeling good and happy that injuries are now behind me,” he stated. 

Losing a member of the Big Three

Watching Roger Federer play his final match at The O2 Arena last Friday has got Djokovic thinking about how he would like his career to end. Although the 35-year-old, who is six years younger than the Swiss maestro, has no intention of doing so anytime soon. 

“Seeing his kids and his family, it got me emotional as well. I also must say I was thinking about how it would look for me when I say goodbye to tennis,” he said. 
“There is definitely one thing that I will wish to have, other than, of course, my family and the close people in my life, I would love to have my biggest rivals and competitors there. Because it added something more special, added more importance to that moment.”

Now Federer has said his farewell, the other long-time nemesis of Djokovic’s is showing no signs of calling it a day anytime soon. Rafael Nadal currently holds the record for most major titles won but Djokovic is just one title behind. 

“Everyone is my rival, whoever I step out on court against. But when it comes to who is my biggest rival, then it’s Nadal without a doubt. He is still there. We played more matches against each other than any other rivalry in the history of tennis. And I hope that we will play many more times, it’s exciting for us and for tennis.” He commented. 

Djokovic will be doing double duty at the Tel Aviv Open this week. Besides being the top seed in the singles draw, he will also play doubles alongside soon-to-be-retired Jonathan Erlich. Together the duo claimed the 2010 Queen’s Club trophy which is Djokovic’s only doubles title on the ATP Tour. 

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Cameron Norrie Vows To Make ‘Big Push’ In Bid To Reach Tour Finals

With 45 wins to his name so far this season, the British No.1 is looking to end 2022 on a high note.

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Cameron Norrie (GBR) - Credit: AELTC/Simon Bruty

Cameron Norrie hopes his plan to play a packed schedule during the last quarter of this season will pay off as he targets a place in the prestigious ATP Tour Finals. 

 

The Wimbledon semi-finalist is set to play five tournaments over the next six weeks in a bid to generate as many ranking points as possible. Norrie is currently eighth in the world rankings but he is in 11th place on the Race to Milan standings which are based on a player’s performance over 52 weeks. Only the top eight will qualify for the ATP Finals which has a prize money pool of more than $7M. 

Norrie will return to action this week at the Korean Open in Seoul where he will be the second seed in the draw after Casper Ruud. He will then play events in Japan, Sweden, Austria and France. 

“For me, I’m going to make a big push for Turin,” Norrie said.
“I think I’m knocking on the door there. I’m 11 or 12 in the race at the moment, so I’m going to try and make a big push there.
“I’m going to Seoul, Tokyo, (have) a week off, Stockholm, Vienna, Paris, so a pretty full schedule.
“A lot of points on the line, and a lot of tennis to be played, but yeah, like I said, I want to just go all in to try and make Turin.”

Norrie made his ATP Finals debut last year as a replacement for Stefanos Tsitsipas who pulled out after his first match due to injury. He played two matches in the round-robin stage, falling in straight sets to Novak Djokovic before pushing Ruud to three sets before losing.

So far this season the 27-year-old has achieved a win-loss record of 45-23, winning titles in Lyon and Delray Beach. At Wimbledon, he reached the last four before losing to Novak Djokovic in what is his best-ever run at a Grand Slam tournament. Against top 10 opposition, he has recorded three wins against eight losses so far this year.

Norrie believes one explanation for his lacklustre record against top 10 players could be down to how he starts matches. Admitting that he can’t afford to get off slowly against the best in the world if he wants to beat them. 

“I think there are only a couple of players or a handful of players that have won more matches or played more matches than me this year. There is no reason I should play a loose game to start and then have these flat starts, but the good news is I’m always finding a way into the match, and I’m always giving myself the best chance,” he said. 
“Guys I’m trying to beat, like Novak (Djokovic), Stefanos (Tsitsipas) and Casper (Ruud), they always play very complete matches on their serve. I can’t afford to do that and have a slow start or play a loose game here and there against those guys, especially with my game style.” 

In his opening match at the Korean Open, Norrie will play Japan’s Kaichi Uchida. He is aiming to win his fifth Tour title and his first in Asia. 

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