Why Roger Federer and His Slam Record is Not Impossible for Novak Djokovic Anymore - UBITENNIS
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Why Roger Federer and His Slam Record is Not Impossible for Novak Djokovic Anymore

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When he won his second US Open title; his 10th Grand Slam title; his third Grand Slam of the season; his 9th major in four years, Novak Djokovic finally held his head high. Not that the Serb hadn’t the will and righteousness to do so long ago, let’s be clear about it. But on September 14th for the first time something has changed between Novak and his view on the history of the sport and of those champions who did dictate it and write on it before he could get started.

For the first time, Djokovic wasn’t afraid to answer a question regarding an immaculate record made possession of Roger Federer in 2012. The seventeen Grand Slam titles which are as great as they sound.

For the past three years all experts and fans in tennis – we can also include the other ATP players in the list – thought there was only one name designed to threaten that record, and that name had to be Rafael Nadal.

federer NadalSince the Nadal-Federer rivalry kicked off in 2004 in Miami, it has been the highlight and evergreen spirit that brought together tennis fans, created new legions of tennis affectionate and racquet lovers, far more than the sport had ought to define as target when the Sampras era came to a halt. Federer the crystalline talent, Nadal the infinite will and humbleness. The clash of the two titans has been all tennis fans have been looking for to watch in every single Grand Slam final over the past decade or so. And those two made sure expectations met with reality, winning all titles they could, putting together an impressive total of 31 Grand Slam titles in two. So there they sit, first and second place (tied with Sampras) for the most major successes in the history of the sport.

What about the other contenders?

There aren’t, well, there weren’t. The Fab-Four era seemed a tentative to throw some spice in a perfectly balanced plot. Truth is that no matter who came, if he were to threaten the Nadal-Federer rivalry he never was warmly welcomed. Roger and Rafa managed to become the only possible antithesis of one another. One could be “enemy” of the other, but whoever came next would automatically be the “enemy” of the two of them simulatenously.

And so those who won Grand Slam titles in the Nadal-Federer era had to succumb to the role of the actor in a supporting role. Safin, Del Potro, Murray, Cilic, Wawrinka and Djokovic. None of them has ever been loved or has ever polarised the tennis fandom as much as Roger and Rafa had done in 11 years together.

But the time has come to admit – dear Fedal friends – that there is one more player in the picture, someone who could possibly end his career further up than those two untouchable legends. And the problem – for those attached to the Federer and Nadal rivalry above all – is that since the 14th of September 2015, he now knows it too.

Djokovic, Federer, Nadal (foto di Tasha Pop)

Djokovic, Federer, Nadal (foto by Tasha Pop)

Asked by the New York Times what he thought about a chance to pass Federer and his Grand Slam record, Novak Djokovic didn’t smile a dreamy smile of “I Wish”, nor did he look down thinking the reporter was over excited. The Serb didn’t dwell on humble justifications of impossibilities. Novak just said:

“I would not be truthful to you if I would say I’m not thinking about it. Of course I am.”

Now a run to history is possible for Djokovic. With 10 Grand Slam titles at 28 years of age, after finishing a season worth of a Calendar Grand Slam, Novak has no reason to keep his head down and prolong in the overdue admiration for those two legends who dictated the sport so well these past ten years. At the current stage of things, Novak can be considered part of a triangle of tennis dominators, a name that will fill in the history pages.

Novak won his 10 Slam titles facing and beating all top players, including Federer and Nadal, Murray, Del Potro and also the new generation of Raonic, Dimitrov, Kyrgios, or the always good players like Berdych, Tsonga, Gasquet, Cilic. The one player he also beat, but lost to in a threatening way has been Stan Wawrinka, who took his career Slam dream away this Spring in Paris.

And it looks like Wawrinka could be the only one to trouble Djokovic in Grand Slam finals next year. But would the Swiss be enough? Novak is currently the most in-form, adaptable, multi-surface, physically at peak player in the field. Not only he is the favorite to win all the tournaments at the end of this season as he did over the past three years. He will also be the player to beat in Melbourne and then again in Paris, Wimbledon and Flushing Meadows next year.

Considering the perfect balance off and on court, of body and mind, Novak should have at least 5 more seasons of high level tennis. Let’s consider two Grand Slam titles per season, which is a realistically achievable goal for the Serb. Then the picture comes off blur.

Those who were born before him failed to stop him in the long run. Those born to beat him are yet to blossom. Novak is 28, is following a gluten free diet, is married, has a family, is motivated to win more. He will have crowds against again, when he will face Federer in a Grand Slam final, for instance. But maybe one day, together with a place in history, he will have found a place in the heart of the tennis fans.

It will be the moment that fans follow Novak in his realisation. Yes, he could end up being the Greatest of his time, of all time.

 

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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Carlos Alcaraz Still Owns A Magical Racket

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The legend of Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket lives on.

The 21-year-old Spaniard executed one magical shot after another with his racket and legs  Sunday afternoon in the French Open final. That bit of magic spelled defeat for Germany’s Alexander Zverev.

This was a final to remember, one of the great matches of all the Grand Slams. It just wasn’t in the cards for the 26-year-old Zverev to finally win a Grand Slam title.

HE HAD IT, THEN HE DIDN’T

Both players seemed to play a game of “he had it and then he didn’t.”

Alcaraz appeared to have everything under control in the first set, but Zverev rushed through the second set and then made a comeback from 5-2 down in the third set to win five straight games.

Zverev had everything going for him when he started the fourth set with a two-set advantage. It appeared that all the 6-6 Zverev had to do was to continue playing his masterful game of big serves and mighty ground strokes.

But Zverev couldn’t get started in the fourth set until he was down 4-0. So much for a smooth and easy ride to a Grand Slam title. By then, the magic of Alcaraz was heating up.

MAGIC OF ALCARAZ HEATING UP

Zverev still had his chances, even when he fell behind 2-1 in the fifth set. He had to feel pretty good about his chances when he took a triple break point lead against Alcaraz’s serve and appeared ready to even the set at 2-2. Even after Carlos came up with a winner to bring the  game score to double break point.

Zverev still was ready to even the entire match.

That’s when everything seemed to go haywire for the German, while all the while, Alcaraz was able to repeatedly come up with his magical shots as the Spaniard made critical shots that looked almost impossible to make.

ALCARAZ HEADED FOR GREATNESS

Everything for Zverev was lost in the magical racket of Alcaraz.

What was then initially called a game-ending Alcaraz double fault and a 2-2 deadlock quicky reversed itself and Alcaraz stayed alive by winning the next three points while taking a 3-1 advantage.

Zverev did get back to a 3-2 deficit and had a break point in the sixth game, but that was it for the hopes of Zverev. The last two games went rather easily in favor of Alcaraz to wrap up a 6-3, 2-6, 5-7, 6-1, 6-2 victory for Alcaraz.

That moved the Spaniard to a higher level of success on the ATP Tour. He became the youngest man to win Grand Slam titles on all of the different surfaces, clay, grass and hard courts.

Carlos Alcaraz and his magical racket appear to be headed for greatness.

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. 

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Tsitsipas Brothers Hit With Trio Of Fines At French Open

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Stefanos Tsitsipas and his brother Petros have been fined more than 20,000 euros for multiple violations of the coaching rules at this year’s French Open. 

The brothers received a financial penalty during three different matches that they played in. Two of those were in the second and third rounds of the men’s doubles tournament. Furthermore, Stefanos was also penalised during his singles quarter-final match against Carlos Alcaraz, which he lost in straight sets. According to French newspaper L’Equipe, all three of those fines were issued as a result of coaching rules being broken.

Ironically, coaching is allowed during matches at the French Open but certain rules must be followed. ‘Verbal’ coaching can only be issued from the coaches and their team if they are sitting in the designated player’s box. Instructions must be limited to a few words and can only be given if the player is in the same half of the court as their coach. Although non-verbal coaching is allowed regardless of what side the player is on. Finally, players can’t start a conversation with their coach unless it is during a medical break, a bathroom break or when their opponent is changing clothes.

However, the Tsitsipas brothers have been found in violation of these rules, which is likely due to their animated father in the stands who is also their coach. Apostolos Tsitsipas has been given coaching violations in the past at other events, including the 2022 Australian Open. 

The value of the fines are €4,600 and €9,200 for the Tsitsipas brothers in the doubles, as well as an additional €7,400 just for Stefanos in the singles. In total, the value of their fines is €21,200. However, the penalty is unlikely to have an impact on the duo whose combined earnings for playing in this year’s French Open amount to roughly €495,000. 

So far in the tournament, the highest single fine to be issued this year was against Terence Atmane who hit a ball out of frustration that struck a fan in the stands. Atmane, who later apologised for his actions, managed to avoid getting disqualified from the match. Instead, he was fined €23,000. 

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