Novak Djokovic triumphs in a case of Old School vs. New School - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

ATP

Novak Djokovic triumphs in a case of Old School vs. New School

Published

on

Novak Djokovic (image via Clive Brunskill)

It turned out to be the perfect place, the perfect time. A humid summer night in New York City, under the bright lights of Arthur Ashe Stadium. The quarterfinals match of the 2015 US Open, a lasting memory in every fan’s hearts. The 28 year old from Serbia on one baseline, and the 34 year old from Spain at the other. Their meeting tonight, here, was more than just another clash between young vs old, righty vs. lefty, one hand vs. two hand backhand, slice vs. topspin. Above all else, it was old school meet new school. Unlike the modern baseline game we have grown accustomed to, Feliciano Lopez brought the serve and volley game back into the limelight, on one of the the biggest stages of tennis. For four action packed sets that lasted well past midnight local time, one of the most entertaining tennis matches in recent memory unfolded before us as the world number 1 battled to the 6-1, 3-6, 6-3, 7-6, victory.

Those in the crowd had the treat of watching up close as Lopez immediately started coming in to net right at the onset of the match, following in even on his 2nd serves. A veteran on the tour, he is known for his big lefty serve, so the serve and volley game suits his game. If Novak was taken by surprise, he showed little signs of it, chasing down volleys in either corner as he showed one reason why the baseline game have prevailed in the modern era, passing Lopez fairly easily. To be fair, Feliciano may have still been adjusting to the conditions of the court. The bad news was he did not have the luxury to do so. A mere 20 minutes into the match, the man with the new school game was leading 5-0. Not to be discouraged, Lopez continued his foray to the net, and finally held for 1-5. On points where a rally game ensued, Lopez sliced close to 95% of the time on the backhand side, keeping the ball deep crosscourt in Novak’s corner. It made no difference however, and the world #1 served out the set 6-1.

The 2nd set Lopez stuck to his game plan, going for massive serves that he came in on, forcing the issue right away. Djokovic remained steady, playing his baseline game. Then in the 2nd game Lopez revealed the other element of old school tennis: the chip and charge. With break point on the line, Novak went for a lob over the Spaniard, but it landed long. Just like that, Old School had the early break. This pattern continued, and Novak seemed at a loss for a better answer as he went to the lob over and over to counter the aggressive net play. At 5-3, 30-30 Lopez once again found himself at net, this time missing the overhead and having to chase down the lob into the deep corner which he managed to do, but in the rush his forehand dumps into the net. It was the opening the new school student needed. But old school grad blasted an ace down the T to earn set point. The next points turned into a replay, with a lob and a forehand back into the net. It threatened to repeat once more, but this time the lob drops long. With set point back in hand, old school shuts the textbook with a big ace out wide.

The 3rd set began by paralleling the old vs new battle, but with the opposite result this time around as Lopez committed a double fault to give Djokovic the early break at 2-0. Indeed, it looked very much like a mirror image of the previous set as both men then held their serves until the 7th game, when Novak faced break point. As Lopez covered the distance to get to the net once more, Novak was able to pass him this time to make it deuce. Then, taking a page from his old school opponent, the Serbian snuck in on the next point and makes a volley winner. The crowd is hushed to silence with break points erased. Things became desperate for the lower seed as we neared the end of the set, and despite Lopez holding his own serve, the Serbian completed the mirror image by serving it out 6-3.

The old school tennis on display seemed to have charmed the New York crowd, and they began to chant “Let’s go Lopez’ as the 4th set got underway. Both players stayed on serve until the 6th game when Lopez was able to strike at net again, this time going down the line on his volley for break point. He failed to convert by floating his next forehand long, but Novak offered another chance when he dumped a backhand into the net. Once more, the crowd erupted into chants to root Lopez on. Despite all the third party encouragement, Novak managed to hold for 3-3. As for his service games, Lopez willed himself to come to net point after point, serve after serve. It paid off as Novak could not find a passing shot against the tall 18 seed. At 6-5, the crowd remained very much pro Lopez, and despite its much smaller number due to the time, the chanting was heard loud and clear. Undaunted and focused, the former US Open champ held serve to make it 6-6.

Whereas the first set barely lasted 25 minutes, this one was already twice as long and counting. More chanting continued for Lopez, and the tiebreak stayed on serve to 2-1. Then Lopez made his umpteenth trip to the net once more, but this time the ball fell into the net. Despite the mini break, he remained true to the old school style, and came in again. As the clock struck 1 AM, the student of new school tennis found the lesson plan against such net play, and executed the pass to lead 4-1. With the ball on his racket, Djokovic threatened to prove that the chapter of new school tennis is here to stay. He wins both points for 6-1. Lopez quickly was able to erase one match point with more of his big serving. 6-2. On Novak’s routine return, he then chose to stay back and hit a forehand from the baseline. Old school was no more as Djokovic reached his 9th consecutive US Open semi-final.

Continue Reading
Click to comment

ATP

Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

Published

on

image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

Continue Reading

ATP

Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon

Published

on

image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.

MEDVEDEV APPLIED ENDLESS PRESSURE

Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.

NOVAK DIDN’T LET INJURED KNEE STOP HIM

Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.

MUSETTI WASN’T THE SAME

Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.

NOVAK THE VIOLINIST

The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

Continue Reading

ATP

Daniil Medvedev Calls For Video Replays After ‘Small Cat’ Insult At Wimbledon Umpire

Published

on

Daniil Medvedev - Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Daniil Medvedev admits the use of his words against the umpire in his Wimbledon semi-final match was not pleasant but he believes he didn’t cross a line. 

The world No.5 was issued with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct during the first set of his clash with Carlos Alcaraz. Medvedev was visibly irritated when umpire Eva Asderaki ruled there was a double bounce before he returned a ball during a rally. He was then caught on camera mouthing an insult to Asderaki who consulted with the tournament supervisor before issuing him with a violation. Verbal abuse towards match officials can lead to players being defaulted from matches. 

Medvedev went on to win the first set before losing in four to Alcaraz. After his exit from the tournament, he was quizzed about what he said. 

“I would say small cat, the words are nice, but the meaning was not nice here,” he said without elaborating any further.

Continuing to defend his actions, the 28-year-old said he had previously been involved in a similar incident involving Asderaki where a double-bounce call was made against him at the French Open. Medvedev says memories of what happened were triggered today. 

“I don’t know if it was a double bounce or not. I thought no. That was tricky. The thing is that once long ago at Roland Garros against (Marin) Cilic I lost, and she didn’t see that it was one bounce. So I had this in my mind. I thought, again, against me,” he said.

“I said something in Russian, not unpleasant, but not over the line. So I got a code for it.”

It is not the first time Medvedev has used the phrase ‘small cat’ as an insult. During a heated match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2022 Australian Open, told umpire Jaume Campistol he would be a small cat if he did not take action against claims that Tsitsipas was being coached illegally during the match.

The former US Open champion says he did not fear being defaulted from his latest match before going on to say video replays should be allowed in the sport. A comment that was also made by Coco Gauff during the French Open earlier this year after she was caught up in a dispute concerning a double-bounce.

“Not at all because, as I say, I didn’t say anything too bad,” he replied when asked if he was concerned he might be disqualified for what he said on Friday.

“The thing is that I think it would be so much easier with a challenge system. The challenge system shows a bounce. So if there was a bounce, it would show it. 

“Then if we use it, we would never have this situation. So I don’t know why we don’t use the challenge system for double bounce, the Hawk-Eye or whatever.”

Medvedev’s focus will now turn back to the clay ahead of the Olympic games which will be held at Roland Garros. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending