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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Plans Underway To Start 2021 WTA Season Outside Australia

The first details of what the new tennis season will look like has been released.

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The governing body of women’s tennis has confirmed that a series of events will take place during the first week of January but none of them will be held in Australia.

 

WTA chief Steve Simon says plans are underway to hold a series of tournaments during the week commencing January 4th at venues that are yet to be publicly confirmed. The development comes as the Australian Open is set to be delayed from January 18th to February 8th due to their quarantine rules which required players to isolate for 14 days upon arrival.

Whilst Tennis Australia are still yet to outline their requirements for the first Grand Slam of next year, it is believed that players will be allowed to arrive from January 15th to start their quarantine. They are set to be kept in a ‘biosecure bubble’ but will be allowed to leave their hotel room for up to five hours a day. Players will also be allowed to train but not play any professional matches.

“The Australian Open, we’re expecting it to happen,” Simon told Reuters during a telephone interview.
“Obviously the Australian Open will come with a quarantine period to enter Australia so it does create challenges around the month of January.
“We’re looking right now at hopefully close to finalising in the next week or so the ability to stage some events in the week of Jan. 4 to start the year.”

It is not uncommon for tennis Tour’s to start a season outside of Australia with New Zealand and China previously hosting such events. However, the ASB Classic in Auckland has already been cancelled due to the pandemic. Furthermore, China has strict measures for international arrivals but has recently started hosting international sporting events again.

Reuters has quoted Simon saying that the WTA is working with both players and Tennis Australia to finalise their plans. Although he made no specific mention of a date where an announcement will be released regarding the 2021 calendar.

“I think we’re again getting to a good place and we’ll be able to start the year and then transition into Australia and then have a great year,” he said.

As for men’s tennis, the ATP is yet to disclose their plans for the new season. Doha does usually hold an event during the first week of the year.

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Roger Federer Accused Of Abusing His ATP Council Position To ‘Protect Himself’

A senior European tennis official has branded the tennis star ‘irresponsible’ and alleges that he paid a vital role in changing the ranking rules to benefit himself.

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One of the most senior members of the German Tennis Federation (DTB) has implied that Roger Federer used his position to influence a change to the ranking system in order to protect himself.

 

Dirk Hordorff, who is the vice president of his national organisation, has suggested that the 20-time Grand Slam champion used his place on the ATP Player Council to drive a change. Earlier this year the ATP adjusted their ranking calculations in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. In November it was confirmed by the ATP that a player’s position will be based on a best of 24-month scenario, which is an increase of two months, to preserve what they say is ‘merit, fairness and mobility.’

39-year-old Federer has been one of the biggest beneficiaries of this change. Due to injury he has only managed to play in one tournament this year but is still currently ranked fifth in the world. If the old system remained he would have been outside of the top 20. Something Hordorff believes the Swiss had a direct role in.

“Roger Federer simply changed the ranking method to protect himself. It is irresponsible and quite simply incorrect,” he told Tennisnet.com’s “Quiet, please” podcast.
“In my opinion, he takes advantage of his position on the Players’ Council. It must nevertheless be said that without the change in ranking system, Roger Federer would not be in the top 50.”
“That the ATP Finals, which is the 19th tournament of the year anyway, will stay there for two years? That’s perverse.”

Federer currently has 6630 ranking points which is over 2000 more than Andrey Rublev despite the Russian winning five ATP titles this season and 41 matches overall. Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev are the only players currently ranked higher than him.

Elaborating further in an email exchange with UbiTennis on Thursday, Hordorff said he doesn’t see a ‘logical reason’ in the decision to allow the ATP Finals to count twice as part of the ranking calculations.

“It’s very strange the player council in the days before the Masters final in London starts supporting a rule change that this event counts twice for the ranking,” he said.
“Especially with Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, two participants who are members of this council.’
“I can’t see any logical reason for this decision and can’t see that they represent the majority of the players.”

Hordorff is a veteran tennis coach who has worked with Rainer Schuettler, Vasek Pospisil and Janko Tipsarevic. Besides his work in his home country of Germany, he was also a Davis Cup and Olympic coach for Taiwan.

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Andy Murray Criticises Own Performance During 2020 Season

The three-time Grand Slam champion sheds light on a wake up call he received shortly after the French Open.

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Andy Murray admits that he could have done better with his training this season after only being able to play seven matches due to injury and the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The former world No.1 says he received a wake up call after the French Open when he got on a body fat measuring machine. At Roland Garros he lost in the first round to Stan Wawrinka in straight sets. At the time he was criticised by Mats Wilander for taking a wildcard into the Grand Slam with the Swede arguing that it could have gone to a younger player.

“I got on that machine that measures your body fat after the French Open and it wasn’t good in comparison to what I’d done when I was younger,” Murray said during a video chat with Daniela Hantuchova.
“I’d been working fairly hard but I could have done much better. I could have been eating healthier and sleeping better.”

Murray says the result of his body fat measurement served as a wake up call and extra motivation for him to work harder heading into the 2021 season. This year he had been troubled by pelvic bruising and missed his final tournament of the season due to a hip issue. Continuing what has been an unfortunate trend in injury issues for Murray who also had to undergo two hip surgeries in 2018 and 2019 to continue his career.

Reflecting on his setbacks, the 33-year-old admits that he has sometimes struggled for motivation but isn’t planning on stepping away from the sport anytime soon. Rebuffing a recent suggestion from Greg Rusedski that he may call it time on his career at Wimbledon next year.

“There’s definitely been times over the last few years where I lost that, just because of injuries and stuff. And I haven’t been working as hard as I needed to,” he said.
“I think that as you get older, you need to obviously, there’s certain things that you can do differently, but you almost need to work harder to stay in shape and spend more time with your physio.”

Murray is currently training during a 10-week off-season which is two times longer than normal for him. He believes that he is still able to compete among the best in the world but admits there is one area of his game that he is struggling with.

“The one thing that hasn’t got to the level that it used to be yet is the speed and that’s the one thing that maybe won’t get to where it was. But all the other things like the strength and the endurance, they can,” he explains.
“I may never get back to being number one in the world but I want to do everything that I did when I was number one in the world to give myself the best chance to see what I can achieve,” Murray later added.

Murray has played in four tournaments this year where he has won three out of seven matches. His best run was at the Western and Southern Open where he defeated Alexander Zverev en route to the third round. He is currently ranked 122nd in the world.

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