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

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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.

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Alexander Zverev Ditches Federer’s TEAM8 Management Firm To Return To His ‘Roots’

Zverev speaks out about his ‘short and long term strategies going forward.’

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German tennis star Alexander Zverev has confirmed his departure from TEAM8 as he set out his coaching plans for the season ahead.

 

The world No.7 posted a statement on Instagram saying that he no longer wants to be represented by the management firm, which was co-founded by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick. Zverev says part of his decision was because he wanted his family to take a greater role once again. Instead, he will be managed by his brother Misha, who is the captain of the German ATP Cup team, as well as Sergei Bubka.

“I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management,” Zverev wrote.
“I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”

Zverev’s announcement comes less than two weeks after it was confirmed he will no longer be working with David Ferrer. A former world No.3 player who joined his camp last year. Ferrer confirmed that the ending of their partnership was on mutual terms and there was no conflict between the two. The Spaniard said his role as tournament director of the Barcelona Open and family commitments contributed towards his decision.

Last year the 23-year-old broke new territory in his career by reaching the final of the US Open which he lost in five sets to Dominic Thiem. Zverev also won two ATP titles in Cologne. However, his on-court success was overshadowed by events in his personal life. He has been accused of mental and physical abuse by his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova, which Zverev has denied. Meanwhile, it was revealed that another former partner of his is pregnant with his child.

Heading into the Australian Open, Zverev is likely to face more scrutiny over the domestic abuse allegations after it was confirmed that a new account from Sharypova will be published in the coming weeks. New York Times journalist and freelance writer Ben Rothenberg confirmed that a second interview will be released before the start of the Melbourne major. It is unknown as to what the interview will entail but there has been a prior reference to one ‘incident’ in China.

Zverev’s Instagram statement in full

“What a year 2020 has been, for the whole world and for myself. I reached my first Grand Slam final without my parents and brother being court-side due to them contracting COVID-19. An almost 2 year long legal dispute with my former agent finally came to a successful resolution, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about my short and long term strategies going forward. For this reason and because of the ongoing worldwide restrictions, I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management. I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”

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No Special Treatment For Andy Murray, Says Australian Government

The three-time Grand Slam champion still wants to travel to Melbourne later this month but will it be possible?

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Andy Murray must provide a negative COVID-19 test and no preferential treatment will be given to him if he attempts to play the Australian Open, according to a government minister.

 

The former world No.1 was set to travel to Australia later this week but is unable to after testing positive for the coronavirus. As a result, Murray is currently self-isolating in his London home and is therefore unable to start the mandatory 14-day quarantine period along with other players. Although he is hopeful to still travel to Melbourne at a later date.

Whether or not he will be allowed to do so in the coming weeks is unclear. In a statement Tennis Australia wished the three-time Grand Slam champion a ‘happy recovery’ but didn’t address the possibility that Murray can travel at a later date than his peers. It is understood that negotiations are currently ongoing with coach tournament director Craig Tiley.

“The Australian Open fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he’s worked for this opportunity,” a statement reads.

Murray is not the only player unable to travel this week as a result of a positive test. Others include Madison Keys, Davidovich Fokina and Dominic Thiem’s coach Nicolas Massu. Tennys Sandgren also tested positive but has been allowed to fly because health officials say he is ‘viral shedding from a previous virus’. Sandgren tested positive for the virus back in November.

Martin Foley, who is the Minister of Health for the Victorian government, says no special treatment will be provided to Murray in his bid to play in the Grand Slam. The Brit was granted entry into the main draw thanks to a wild card. He missed the 2019 tournament due to pelvic bruising and the year before he stunned the sport by saying he may be forced to retire before later undergoing career-saving hip surgery.

In regards to Mr Murray, we’ve been clear from the start that anyone who tests positive is not able to be part of the program coming into Melbourne and Australia,” Foley told reporters on Friday.
“Mr Murray, and the other 1240 people as part of the program, need to demonstrate that if they’re coming to Melbourne they have returned a negative test.
“So should Mr Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else.
“Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused.”

This year’s Australian Open is taking place under strict COVID-19 protocols. During quarantine players will be allowed to train up to five hours each day but not play in any professional tournaments. Those who break the rules could face a fine of AUS$20,000, prosecution and even deportation.

The Melbourne major will start on February 8th.

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Andy Murry Tests Positive For COVID-19, Australian Open Hopes In Doubt

A representative for the former world No.1 has confirmed that he is currently in isolation.

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Andy Murray faces a race against time to make the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.

 

Multiple British media sources have confirmed that the three-time Grand Slam champion has been in self-isolation since testing positive and it is believed that he is in good health. The Daily Mail has reported that Murray is experiencing only ‘minor symptoms’ of the virus. He undertook the test as part of the requirement by Tennis Australia under their COVID-19 protocols which requires all arrivals to test negative. However, Tennys Sandgren has been given the all clear to travel despite testing positive.

Murray and his team are now hoping that they will still be able to make it in time for the Australian Open which begins on February 8th. Nicolas Massu, who is the coach of Dominic Thiem, finds himself in the same situation as Murray. Besides being required to test negative, players must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Australia before they are allowed to play in any tournaments. Although they are allowed to train during this period for up to five hours a day. Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Murray and if they will allow him to join their ‘bio-secure bubble’ at a later date.

There is no proof of where Murray caught the virus but growing speculation surrounds the National Tennis Center in Roehampton where it has previously been reported that a minor outbreak occurred. The Brit had been training at the facility and it is understood that fellow player Paul Jubb have also contracted COVID-19.

The 33-year-old is eager to return to the Australian Open two years after admitting at the tournament that he may be forced to retire from the sport due to a serious hip injury. In 2018 he stunned reporters by saying ‘I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months’ before going on to say that the Australian Open may be his last tournament. Following his first round loss, the Brit even had a video tribute played to him at the event. However, since then he had managed to continue his career with the help of hip resurfacing surgery. It was another injury (pelvic bruising) that also forced him to skip the Melbourne major last year.

Murray is a five-time finalist at the Australian Open.

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