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

Ivan Pasquariello

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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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Christian Garin extends his winning streak to ten consecutive matches in Santiago de Chile

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Chile’s Christian Garin beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina 6-2 0-6 7-6 (7-4) in the quarter final in Santiago de Chile after two hours to extend his winning streak to 10 consecutive matches including six three-set matches. Garin, who won two titles this year in Cordoba and Rio de Janeiro, will take on Brazil’s Thiago Seyboth Wild in the quarter final.

 

Garin converted on six of his seven break points. The Chilean started the opening set with three consecutive breaks and closed it out with a hold at love thanks to an ace in the eighth game.

Davidovich Fokina broke three times to take a bagel in the second set. Garin fended off two break points at 2-3 and earned a break at 15 in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead. Garin wasted two match points at 5-4 as he was serving at 5-4. Alejandro Fokina broke back with a drop shot to draw level to 5-5. Garin got another break in the 11th game after a double fault from Davidoch Fokina. The Spanish Next Gen player broke back in the 12th game to set up a tie-break. Garin clinched the breaker 7-4 with a forehand winner.

“This is a very important tournament for me. I hope I can play here every year. I want to compete well here after winning in the past two tournaments. I have won several matches. I have a lot of confidence. I feel the responsibility of always winning and much more in Chile. The crowd’s support helped me a lot. After the second set I started to feel pain in my back. I wasn’t feeling good, but the people’s support was important. It was nice to see the crowd helping me when I came down”,said Garin.

Thiago Seyboth Wild edged Argentina’s Juan Ignacio Londero 7-6 (9-7) 6-4 in 1 hour and 45 minutes. Seyboth Wild never faced a break point and converted one of his six break points to clinch the win in straight sets. Londero saved all three break points in the opening set, including two set points at 5-6 to set up a tie-break. The Argentine earned a set point with a service winner.

Seyboth Wild fended off the set point with an ace. Londero did not convert a second set point at 7-7 after a forehand error. Thiago Seyboth sealed the tie-break with a backhand down the line winner. The Brazilian player earned a break in the third game of the second set with a forehand down the line winner and lost six points in five service games and closed out the match with a service winner in the 10th game.

Seyboth Wild reached the second round in Rio de Janeiro earlier this month

Brazil’s Thiago Monteiro beat Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1 6-4 after 1 hour and 23 minutes. The Brazilian player saved all three break points chances and broke three times to reach his second quarter final of the season after Buenos Aires.

Monteiro will face Spain’s Albert Ramos Vinolas, who beat lucky loser Juan Pablo Varillas 7-6 (7-3) 6-2 in one hour and 39 minutes. The Spanish player rallied from 3-5 down in the first set and fended off a set point at 4-5 to clinch the tie-break of the opening set 7-3.

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Novak Djokovic saves three match points to reach the final in Dubai

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This year’s Australian Open champion and four-time Dubai winner Novak Djokovic came back from losing the first set to beat Gael Monfils 2-6 7-6 (10-8) 6-1 after 2 hours and 35 minutes at the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Tournament. He will face Stefanos Tsitsipas in tomorrow’s final.

 

Monfils wasted a chance of defeating Djokovic for the first time in 16 head-to-head matches, when he did not convert three match points at 6-3 in the tie-break of the second set.

Djokovic dropped his serve three times in the first and second set and went down a set and a break in the second set.

Monfils dropped six points on his serve and broke Djokovic twice to win the first set 6-2. Djokovic saved a break point in the first game of the opening set before dropping his serve in a marathon third game, when he hit his backhand long. Monfils hit a service winner to open up a 3-1 lead. The Frenchman earned another break in the seventh game after a drop shot error from Djokovic. Monfils sealed the opening set 6-2 with a service winner in the eighth game after 45 minutes.

Monfils went up a set and a break in the third game of the second set at love after a loose forehand from Djokovic. Monfils earned a break with a forehand crosscourt winner. Djokovic broke straight back to draw level to 3-3 in the sixth game after Monfils netted a forehand. Djokovic held serve with an ace for 4-3. Monfils won his service game in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Djokovic held his third consecutive service game to take a 5-4 lead, but he wasted a set point in the next game with a loose forehand.

Djokovic earned five set points in the second set, but Monfils saved them to set up a tie-break. Monfils forced an error from Djokovic to take a 4-2 lead and hit a backhand down the line winner in the eighth game. Monfils brought up three match points with a forehand winner, but Djokovic saved them to draw level to 6-6.

Monfils fended off a set point at 6-7 with a service winner. Djokovic earned a mini-break, but he made a forehand error in the next point. Djokovic earned his eighth set point at 8-8 and converted it, as Monfils made his sixth double fault.

Djokovic earned two consecutive breaks in the third and fifth games and closed out the match with his third break at 5-1 in the seventh game with a forehand winner to complete the come-back setting up a final against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“It’s anybody game really. Stefanos has won eight matches in a row now from last week in France winning the Marseille title, now playing more or less every single day, which is quite impressive. It’s not easy. I hope I can recover. I hope I can be atm y best be at my best because I need to start better than I have tonight. Hopefully I can get a title. Today I just wasn’t taking my chances when I was having rallies on those first five set points. That kind of turned around from 3-6 in the tie-break. From that moment onwards I felt I was going through the ball better”, said Djokovic.  

 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas reaches the final in Dubai for the second consecutive year

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Daniel Evans 6-2 6-3 in 1 hour and 21 minutes in the semifinal of the Dubai Duty Free Championships to reach the final at this tournament for the second consecutive year. Tsitsipas will play his second consecutive final one week after lifting the Open 13 Trophy in Marseille.

 

Tsitsipas converted on four of his ten break points and did not face a break point. The Greek player has dropped just one of the 17 sets he has played since arriving in Marseille last week.

Tsitsipas earned his first break with a backhand winner in the fifth game of the opening set to take a 3-2 lead and consolidated it with a hold at love. Tsitsipas converted his second break point in a three-deuce seventh game after a forehand error from Evans before claiming the first set in the eighth game with an ace after 34 minutes.

Evans saved four break points at the start of the second set. Tsitsipas earned an early break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead and backed it up with a service winner for 3-1.

Tsitsipas held serve for 5-3 before closing out the second set with his fourth break in the ninth game.

Tsitsipas finished runner-up to Roger Federer in the final of last year’s edition of the Dubai tournament. Tomorrow the Athens native player will face either Novak Djokovic or Gael Monfils.

“I just managed to stay solid throughout the whole match. I didn’t have massive breakdowns and just played a quality of tennis which I enjoyed. I am really impressed by the quality of my game today and I really hope to bring the same and probably better in the next round”, said Tsitsipas.

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