Davis Cup Final: Andy Murray levels the tie for Great Britain, beats flashy Ruben Bemelmans - UBITENNIS
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Davis Cup Final: Andy Murray levels the tie for Great Britain, beats flashy Ruben Bemelmans

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Murray pulled Great Britain level after the early win for Belgium courtesy of David Goffin

World No.2 Andy Murray won the second rubber in the David Cup Final for Great Britain, defeating Ruben Bemelmans 6-3, 6-2, 7-5. The tie is now level after David Goffin’s comeback from two-sets-to-love down against Kyle Edmund.

 

Murray held his opening service game to fifteen, before immediately breaking the Bemelmans serve. A forehand error into the net and a pair of double-faults betrayed early nerves for the man ranked 108. A final forehand long past the Murray backhand side saw the no.2 ranked player break for a two-love lead.

Bemelmans earned fifteen-thirty in the next game, after a Murray error and a clever drop-shot, before attacking a Murray second serve to earn a break point. A second stunning drop-shot, this time off the backhand wing saw Bemelmans return to serve early on. Bemelmans then held a massively entertaining service game, another perfectly disguised drop-shot winner, and a serve-volley point that Murray eventually won, were included in a hold to fifteen for the Belgian.

Bemelmans failed to keep the level up though, and Murray earned three break points at love-forty in game six, with two shanked forehands from Bemelmans aiding the Brit’s cause. A smash winner and a rally that ended with Murray on floor, ensured two break points were saved. Another forehand error on the third saw Murray reassert control in the set. Murray made no mistake in consolidating the break, holding to love to lead five-two.

Bemelmans held yet another entertaining game before Murray served out the first set to fifteen when Bemelmans netted a return.

Bemelmans played some inspired, entertaining tennis at times, but could not cope with the sheer consistency from the World No.2

Murray earned a break point with a beautiful drop-shot-lob combination in the first game of the second set. Bemelmans saved, but Murray earned another with after a backhand error from his opponent. Murray then passed a serve-volleying Bemelmans for the break in the second set. Murray held a length game spanning more than eight minutes with an overhead smash for the three-one lead.

Bemelmans held, and was to his credit working hard to get back into the set, pushing Murray into another challenging hold to thirty in game six. It was all thrown away though, as Bemelmans crumbled behind some tremendous Murray returning, the World No.2 crushing a backhand return cross-court with beautiful angle. Murray now had the double-break and served the second out to love for a all but unassailable lead.

Bemelmans got back on track by holding his first game in the third set, before Murray also held. Murray was upset by some of the Belgian crowd, and was given a code violation warning for an obscenity. He earned a break point, but Bemelmans gamely held for two-one.

Murray was docked a point at fifteen-love in game five with Bemelmans serving, Carlos Garcia the man behind the decision. Murray then came back from forty-love down in the same game to force break points. Bemelmans held again, and then surprisingly broke Murray in a tense game.

Murray quickly fell behind love-forty, and complained to Carlos Garcia regarding the actions of the home crowd between first and second serves, resulting in the chair umpire penalising the Belgian Davis Cup Captain for the crowd behaviour. Murray saved one break point but Bemelmans broke with a deep return near Murray’s feet that he could only push into the tramlines. Murray immediately earned break-back points with a stunning pass. Bemelmans then blew a forehand to put the match back on serve.

Murray held, and Bemelmans then played another sensational service game, including a tremendous half-volley winner to hold for five-four. Murray double-faulted in his next game handing Bemelmans a precious set point. But the World No. 108 played his return long, and Murray would survive.

Tennis can turn quickly, and Bemelmans was soon under pressure, a Murray winner, return winner, and an error from the Belgian brought three break points for Murray. Murray only needed one, picking off an ever-retreating Bemelmans to serve for the match.

Andy Murray: “The third set was tricky, when the new balls came out he went for his shots more… obviously the crowd were getting wound up but you have to use that to your advantage… big match tomorrow we don’t know who they’ll play but we have good tactics for all of them”

Great Britain Davis Cup Captain Leon Smith on Kyle Edmund: “I don’t think he could have started better than he did… two sets up its a new experience for him… you have to say at one stage fair play to David (Goffin) for finding a way back into the match.

On Murray/Bemelmans: ” I’ve never seen Bemelmans play that way before… it was very, very good

 

 

 

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‘It Got To Me’ – Novak Djokovic On Australian Open Controversy Involving Father

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Novak Djokovic - PHOTO: MATEO VILLALBA / MMO

Novak Djokovic admits that he was affected by the absence of his father from his semi-final match at the Australian Open despite winning in straight sets.

 

The 21-time Grand Slam champion disposed of America’s Tommy Paul 7-5, 6-1, 6-2, with relative ease but in the hours leading up to the encounter, his family had been involved in a controversial incident at the tournament. On Wednesday, Djokovic’s father Srdjan was seen on video posing with a group of fans with Russian flags who were chanting pro-Russian phrases. Even though such actions have been banned from the tournament after an incident involving a Ukrainian player in the first round. 

Amidst the ongoing war in Ukraine, the video prompted anger from some with Ukraine’s ambassador to Australia calling for Srdjan to be banned from the tournament. Vasyl Myroshnychenko described the flag as a symbol of the invasion of Ukraine and branded the incident as a ‘disgrace for the tournament.’

On Friday morning Srdjan issued a statement confirming that what happened was unintentional and his family never support wars due to their own experiences. He also confirmed he would not be attending Djokovic’s latest match which the tennis star admits affected him. 

“It was unfortunate that the misinterpretation of what happened yesterday has escalated to such a high level,” Djokovic told reporters. ‘There were a lot of conversations with the tournament director, with the media and everyone else.’
“It (the video) had got to me, of course, as well. I was not aware of it till last night. Then, of course, I was not pleased to see that.’
“My father, my whole family, and myself, have been through several wars during the ’90s. As my father put in a statement, we are against the war, we never will support any violence or any war. We know how devastating that is for the family, for people in any country that is going through the war.”

According to Djokovic, Sedjan believed he was taking a photo with somebody from Serbia as part of his usual post-match routine of meeting fans of his son. The flag of both countries features the same colours but in different orders. However, the Serbian flag has a coat of arms on the front while the Russian one doesn’t. 

The incident was the latest blow for Djokovic who has endured a complex relationship with Australian officials in recent months. After losing a legal battle over the legitimacy of his visa due to being unvaccinated, he was deported 12 months ago and was banned for three years from re-entering before the government waived that penalty last November. 

“My father was passing through. There were a lot of Serbian flags around. That’s what he thought. He thought he was taking a photo with somebody from Serbia. That’s it. He moved on.” Djokovic commented. 
“Of course, it’s not pleasant for me to go through this with all the things that I had to deal with last year and this year in Australia. It’s not something that I want or need.” 
“I hope that people will let it be, and we can focus on tennis.”

Djokovic says he hopes Srdjan will be present during his showdown against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the Australian Open on Sunday where he will be seeking to win the title for a historic 10th time. Should he win, the Serbian will also return to world No.1 and equal Rafael Nadal’s record for most Grand Slam titles won at 22. 

With it not being the first time he has been involved in some form of controversy, Djokovic says he is able to cope with his critics with the help of his past experiences, as well as his team. 

“I have a team of people around me, my family members who are staying with me in the same accommodation or spending an entire day with me. I have an agreement with them that they give me this kind of protection,” the Serbian explained. 
“I don’t want to hear things about what was written in this article or that news or that news. I want to keep my mind as sane or serene as possible in order to conserve the vital energy that I need for the court.”

Djokovic has now won 27 consecutive matches at the Australian Open. 

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Novak Djokovic’s Father Say Australian Open Flag Incident Was ‘Unintentional’

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Srđan Đoković - foto: Fonet

The father of Novak Djokovic has said he will not be attending his son’s semi-final match at the Australian Open to avoid the possibility of any ‘disruption’ after being caught up in an incident on Wednesday.

 

Srdjan Djokovic has been forced to issue a statement after a video surfaced online of him posing with fans waving Russian flags with one of those also bearing the face of Vladamir Putin. Witnesses reported there was pro-Russian chanting with one of those also wearing a T-shirt bearing the letter ‘Z’ which is a symbol for the Russian army. 

The Russian and Belarussian flags, as well as items with the Z symbol, are banned from the Australian Open as a result of the war in Ukraine. Tournament organisers have implemented the rule since day two of the Grand Slam following an incident involving a Ukrainian player Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl in her match against Kamilla Rakhimovaon on the first day. 

62-year-old Srdjan said he never had any intention of causing controversy and said his family only want peace in the world. Although in his press release, he didn’t offer any apology for taking part in the photos. There had been claims that Srdjan was heard saying a pro-Russian phrase in the video but this has since been disproven. Journalist Sasa Ozmo confirmed the phrase used by him was ‘Ziveli, Ljudi’ which translates to ‘Cheers guys’ and also means goodbye. 

“I am here to support my son only,” Srdjan said in a statement on Friday. 
“I was outside with Novak’s fans, as I have done after all of my son’s matches, to celebrate his wins and take pictures with them. I had no intention of being caught up in this.
“My family has lived through the horror of war, and we wish only for peace.
“So there is no disruption to tonight’s semi-final for my son or for the other player, I have chosen to watch from home.”

No explanation has been given as to why Srdjan decided to pose for the pictures to begin with when it was visibly clear that the fans were holding a Russian flag. Especially given the current political situation with the war in Ukraine which the United Nations say has caused at least 18,358 civilian casualties, including 7,031 deaths. 

Ukraine’s Marta Kosytuk, who reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open women’s doubles tournament, said she was upset by the incident that took place. Speaking to reporters on Friday, she didn’t weigh in on saying if Srdjan should be banned from the tournament altogether but did point out that such situations ‘can’t be left unseen.’ 

“It hurts a lot because there were specific rules, they were printed out outside that this is not allowed to bring flags and so on,” said Kostyuk.
“Really hurts that they were out there for some time, they were on the court, in the stands as well.
“I don’t know, I just don’t understand, it really hurts and I don’t understand how this can be possible.”

As for Djokovic, he hasn’t commented on the matter leading up to his semi-final clash with Tommy Paul. The former world No.1 is bidding to win the Australian Open title for a historic 10th time in his career.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Closing In On No.1 Dream After Reaching First Australian Open Final

The Greek is just a win away from his maiden Grand Slam title and the No.1 position.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a third set blip to become only the eighth active male player to reach the final of the Australian Open.

 

The world No.4 was forced to dig deep throughout his 7-6(2), 6-4, 6-7(6),6-3, win over Karen Khachanov who was contesting his second Grand Slam semi-final after last year’s US Open. Tsitsipas’ victory has made him the youngest man to reach the final in Melbourne Park since Novak Djokovic in 2011. He has now won six out of his past nine matches against top 20 players on the Tour. 

Tsitsipas’ latest performance was far from straightforward with Khachanov proving problematic at the crucial moments of the match. Overall, he fired 18 aces and blasted 66 winners en route to his latest victory, breaking his opponent five times in the match. The triumph is yet another historic moment for Tsitsipas who has become the first Greek player to reach a singles final at Melbourne Park. 

“I watched Marcos Baghdatis a couple of years ago being in the finals, playing on this court so I dreamed as a kid to maybe one day to get to play on this court and compete with the best players in the world,” Tsitsipas recounted during his on-court interview. 
“It brings back memories of being a kid and watching it on TV and cheering him on. Unfortunately it didn’t go his way but he’s in our hearts and he is one of my favourite players.
“I feel blessed for the fact I am able to play tennis at this level. I have wanted to put Greek tennis on the map and me and Maria [Sakkari] have done that.
“Coming from a small country like Greece I am so grateful I get support like this. I would never have thought I would have been treated so well here. I am in the final now, let’s see what happens.”

The 24-year-old looked to be on the verge of a straightforward victory after battling to a two sets and 5-3 lead in the match. However, Khachanov refused to go down without a fight as the Russian produced some inspired tennis. The world No.20 broke back to level the third set at 5-5 before saving two match points in the tiebreaker with a duo of thunderous forehand winners. A couple of points later, Khachanov sealed the third frame with the help of an unforced error from across the court. 

Eager to restore his foothold in the match, Tsitsipas left the court for a toilet break before returning guns blazing. A three-game winning streak in his favour at the start of the fourth set enabled the Greek to regain control of proceedings in what was a huge blow for Khachanov who has now lost 14 matches in a row against top 5 players on the Tour. 

Serving once again for the victory after three hours and 20 minutes of play, Tsitsipas stormed to another three match points. He prevailed on his second by hitting a serve wide that Khachanov returned out. 

“I thought how hard I’ve worked to get in this position. If you stick around and dedicate yourself even more it pays off quite well.” He commented on how he managed to close the match out. 

Friday’s victory extends Tsitsipas’ perfect record against Khachanov to 6-0. He will next play either Djokovic or Tommy Paul in the final. He trails Djokovic 2-10 in their head-to-head but has won all three of his previous meetings against Paul. 

Tsitsipas will be seeking to win his first Grand Slam title in the final on Sunday. Should he do so, he would also become world No.1 for the first time in his career next week. 

“I like that number,” he said with a smile. “These are the moments I am working hard for to be able to play in finals like this. It’s a Grand Slam final and I am fighting for that number one spot. It’s a childhood dream. I am close and I am happy that this is coming in Australia, a place of significance for me. Let’s do it guys, let’s go.”

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