Two years after her death Novak Djokovic still attributes his success to Jelena Gencic - UBITENNIS
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Two years after her death Novak Djokovic still attributes his success to Jelena Gencic

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Novak Djokovic pictured with his first coach Jelena Gencic (image via kurir.rs)

Closing out the season as world No.1 with the prospect of claiming his 11th title of 2015 at the ATP Finals next week, Novak Djokovic has spoken about the woman who started it all for him.

 

Jelena Gencic was a former handball and tennis player who claimed a bronze medal at the 1957 World Handball Championships. After her sporting career, Gencic embarked on a successful career as a tennis coach, mentoring the biggest stars in Yugoslavia. These included Monica Seles, Goran Ivanisevic, Iva Majoli and Djokovic.

In 1993 Gencic was running a summer camp in Kopaonik, Serbia where she spotted a young Djokovic gazing at the camp. She approached Djokovic and invited him to join the camp, starting what turned out to be one of the most impressive tennis careers in the modern era of the game. Gencic immediately spotted Djokovic’s talent, telling his parents after his first three days of playing tennis that they have ‘a golden child’. The bond formed between the two continued until Gencic’s death in 2013. Shortly after her death, the world No.1 pledged to continue her legacy.

“Jelena was my first coach, like my second mother,” Djokovic said.
“We were very close throughout my whole life and she taught me a lot of things that are part of me, part of my character today. Hopefully I will be able to continue with her legacy, because she left so much knowledge to me, to the people that were close to her”.

Two years since the passing of his first coach, Djokovic still attributes his strong mental strength, which has been praised throughout 2015, to what he what taught be Gencic. During a recent interview with Sports Magazine, the world No.1 cites his rigorous routine of a gluten-free diet as well as an Eastern philosophical approach to the game to what he learnt from his first coach.

“She was also very analytical. Every exercise or drill that we did on the court had its purpose. She taught me to always be prepared for practice, to warm up properly, to recover and stretch. She had this holistic approach, so it’s a mindset I’ve also had since I was seven years old.” The world No.1 said.

Djokovic also talked about his current coach Boris Becker, who he has worked with since 2013. The success of working with Becker has paid off this year with the Serbian currently on a 2015 win-loss of 73-5. Despite being on his own on the court when he plays in tournaments, the Serbian empathized to Sports Magazine that he still works in  a team sport environment.

“We still keep this strong link between ourselves because, at the end of the day, it’s a team sport as well. When I’m alone on the court, of course I have to do the job myself. But I have this small corner where my team is sitting. Sometimes it’s sufficient for me just to look at them and make eye contact with Boris [Becker] or Marian [Vajda, another coach] – that’s enough for me to know that I’m not alone.”

Djokovic will be bidding to win the ATP Finals for the fourth consecutive year. If he is successful, he will become the first player in history to win the title four times in a row.

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Focus

Summer Success Comes At A Cost For Daniil Mdvedev In London

The 23-year-old serves as a reminder that a rapid rise in sport also come with consequences.

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LONDON: Coming into this year’s ATP Finals, it could be argued that there has been one stand out player on the tour and he isn’t a member of the Big Three.

 

Daniil Medvedev has enjoyed a sensational rise over the past six months to become one of the most formidable players in the sport. After Wimbledon, he reached the final of six consecutive events. Claiming Masters titles in Cincinnati and Shanghai, as well as winning the St. Petersburg Open. Overall, he has won 59 matches out of 78 played so far this year. More than anybody else on the ATP Tour. There is no doubt he has blossomed but has he peaked too early for the season-ending event?

Taking on Stefanos Tsitsipas in his opening match on Monday, the Russian was edged out in two tightly contested sets. Although he was unable to generate a single break point opportunity. Something that has only happened to him once before this season, which was when he played Nick Kyrgios. Before their latest clash, he lead the Greek 5-0 in their head-to-head.

“I think the general energy was not the way I wanted. I’m not talking only about physical. Mentally I was missing something.” Medvedev explained during his press conference.
“I didn’t have good enough energy to get the win today.” He added.

Since his Shanghai victory on October 16th, Medvedev has been unable to make any further dents on the tour. After missing two tournaments, he lost his opening match at the Paris Masters to Jeremy Chardy.

A slump like this was always inevitable given his run in recent weeks. Fortunately, there are no injury issues for the 23-year-old to worry about. On the other hand, he is struggling to find a way to solve his mental demons. Could it be tiredness after a long season or is it something more significant?

“I decided to take a break from Moscow in the end because I knew that my body needs rest if I don’t want to get injured,” Medvedev stated.
“It’s something more mental. I lost the momentum a little bit, but I will try my best to get it back.”

Unfortunately, time is not on his side this week at the ATP Finals. After a consequence of his loss, he faces two critical matches against defending champion Alexander Zverev and world No.1 Rafael Nadal. He may have to win both of those matches to qualify for the semi-final stage depending on how his rivals perform.

“I should say I’m quite confident that at one moment I will get it back. The other question is is it going to be this tournament or the next one?” The world No.4 concluded.

Medvedev is the first Russian player to feature in the end-of-season showdown since Nicolay Davydenko back in 2009.

Evene when his London journey comes to an end, there will be no rest for Medvedev. Next week he will lead his country in the revamped Davis Cup finals.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Edges Medvedev To Clinch Historic Win At ATP Finals

After five consecutive losses on the tour, the 21-year-old has finally got the better of his rival.

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LONDON: Stefanos Tsitsipas has become the first Greek player to record a win at the ATP Finals after battling his way past nemesis Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-4, at The O2 Arena on monday.  

Heading into the match, it was Medvedev who had all the momentum against his rival. Besides enjoying a stellar second half of the season, he also boasted a 5-0 head-to-head record against his opponent. Who is the youngest player in history to defeat all members of the illustrious Big Three. However, Tsitsipas managed to turn his fortunes around in London with the help of 26 winners as he dropped just five points behind his first serve without facing a single break point.

 

“It was one of the toughest and one of the most important victories of my career so far.” Tsitsipas commented on his latest win.
“I gave myself a big boost today. I kept fighting and believing. Everything worked pretty well.”

It has been 12 years since two players making their debut at the ATP Finals squared off against each other. 21-year-old Tsitsipas is Greece’s first-ever representative in the 49-year-old competition. Meanwhile, 23-year-old Medvedev is flying the Russian flag on the tenth anniversary of compatriots Nikolay Davydenko’s triumph.

With both players standing firm behind their serves, there was little to distinguish between them throughout the opener. After 10 games of action, only one break point occurred, which was saved by Medvedev in his opening service game. Eventually, it would be a roller-coaster tiebreaker that would separate the two. Twice Tsitsipas generated a mini-break before his rival fought back once again. Nevertheless, the Greek continued to attack en route to snatching the lead. Hitting a perfectly placed volley to claim his first set point, which was converted with the help of a Medvedev forehand crashing into the net.

The tussle continued into the second frame. Tsitsipas’ focus remained unchanged despite being slammed with a time violation and suffering a nasty on-court slip early on. Continuing to threaten, the world No.6 had two chances to break for a set and 4-3 lead, but Medvedev refused to buckle. However, two games later Tsitsipas struck again. Two consecutive Medvedev errors gifted another break to the Greek and a golden opportunity to serve the match out. A task he passed with flying colors as he hit a winning smash on his first match point.

“That last game was one of the toughest I have played until now.” He stated. “It’s not easy coming in knowing you have lost five times before (to Medvedev) but I made a deal with myself to keep trying until I do it (win).”

Tsitsipas has now won 51 matches on the tour this season. The joint-third highest along with Rafael Nadal, who he will play later in the week, and Roger Federer. Medvedev still leads with 59 victories.

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Davis Cup

Davis Cup: Croatia Replaces Captain Just Days Before The Finals

Zeljko Krajan is fired by the Croatian Federation because of contrasts with players. His replacement will be Franko Skugor. Ivo Karlovic was selected to replace Cilic but declined to play a Challenger in Houston

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Croatian Davis Cup captain Zeljko Krajan - 2018 Davis Cup Final (photo Gianni Ciaccia - Sportvision)

The Croatian Tennis Federation has issued a press release informing that Zeljko Krajan is no longer the Davis Cup captain for the Croatian team. Less than a week before the BNP Paribas Davis Cup Finals at the Caja Magica in Madrid, Krajan’s departure is described as a mutual decision by the official press release, but according to Croatian press agency Hina the former captain categorically denied this version of the events and confirmed he unwillingly had to acknowledge his dismissal. Krajan did not deny there had been disputes between himself and the Federation, but he thought everything had been settled: “I was ready for the press conference on Monday and the departure to Madrid on Tuesday” he said.

 

During the press conference in Zagreb on Monday, instead, the Croatian Tennis Federation named 32-year-old Franko Skugor as the new captain of the Croatian team who will lead the squad in Madrid next week: “These are not the ideal conditions for the team, given the situation, but it has been decided I will lead the team” said Skugor to the press. The President of the Tennis Federation Nikolina Babic explained their decision to replace the captain and confirmed the players agreed with this course of action: “Krajan had lost credibility among the players. We spoke to him and realized it would be better if he didn’t come to Madrid”.

This ends a tumultuous week for Croatian tennis: first there was Marin Cilic’s withdrawal from the team, then the controversial nomination of 40-year-old Ivo Karlovic as his replacement, despite his commitment to play the Houston Challenger next week to boost his chances for a Top 100 year-end ranking (he is currently n. 106) and a direct entry into the 2020 Australian Open singles main draw.

Some media outlets in Zagreb claiming to have access to inside sources are suggesting there are also financial issues behind the events of this last week: it is believed that some players did not like the idea of late-comer Ivo Karlovic receiving an equal share of the Davis Cup prize money. Furthermore, it is highlighted how the decision to remove Krajan from his post came after a meeting that included also the players, some of whom did not have a good relationship with Krajan: Borna Coric refused to play in Davis Cup in 2017 after being excluded from the Final in 2016 and Mate Pavic was kept out of the team on many occasions despite being one of the best doubles players in the world.

In order to replace Marin Cilic, the new Croatian captain nominated both Borna Gojo (ATP n. 279) and Nino Serdarusic (ATP n. 283) as singles players.

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