Best match of the year - Andy Murray vs Juan Martin Del Potro - UBITENNIS
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Best match of the year – Andy Murray vs Juan Martin Del Potro

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Del Potro capped an astounding comeback in 2016 by winning the Davis Cup with Argentina, an achievement only made possible by this heroic win against Andy Murray (Zimbio.com)

This match-up could easily have referred to one of two excellent matches between these two players in 2016. Their first meeting came in the Rio Olympics in the Gold Medal Match. Inside stadium packed with Argentine and British fans, making for an electric atmosphere, Murray defeated Del Potro in four high octane sets.

 

Yet that match only served as the amuse bouche for the Davis Cup meeting between the pair that would take place just a few weeks later in Glasgow.

Juan Martin del Potro defeats Andy Murray 6-4, 5-7, 6-7, 6-3, 6-4, Davis Cup Semi-Final.

It was the longest match of either player’s career lasting five hours and seven minutes. Featuring the World No.2 and a former Grand Slam winner on a monumental comeback trail that had already seen him defeat the likes of Stan Wawrinka, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in 2016. Yet this is perhaps the best match on the men’s circuit in 2016.

Del Potro, still unsure of his full match strength, and certainly the underdog against Murray if the match went five sets started the quicker. Using a potent combination of slow, accurate backhand slices, paired with a cannon-like forehand, del Potro was able to control the tempo of the first set, keeping Murray off-balance and was rewarded with the first set.

Murray had lost his US Open quarter-final against Kei Nishikori in surprising fashion the week before, but came alive in the second set. Having spent the first set being repelled by del Potro’s resolute sliced backhand defence, Murray instead went with power to the del Potro forehand. On occasions it backfired, resulting in the storming del Potro winner that fans have come to love. However most of the time it worked, as long as Murray was using sufficient pace and angle he was earning dividends. This tactic changed the complexion of the match as Murray used it to sneak a break in the second set, and then edge a third set tie break, adding a number of net plays in the third set in particular.

Del Potro though, holds a deep love of representing Argentina, evident already from his passionate display in the Olympics. With little to lose in the fourth set, the Argentine swung more freely, opening up his backhand on occasion, foregoing the protective slice that had slowly eroded Murray in the first set. He earned the break, and closed the set out with an short-angle backhand volley.

The crowd, supportive throughout, came alive in the fifth set as those present sensed they were watching something special. Del Potro, with Murray serving first, seemed desperate to grab the break, perhaps knowing that if he himself were broken first that he would have the strength to return. He earned a break point at two-all, ripping a forehand winner up the line to create the opportunity, only to see Murray deny him.

The Scot could not deny del Potro in the next game however, as at thirty-forty, Murray tried to finish the point with an aggressive volley at the net. Del Potro, correctly guessing to defend his forehand wing, covered the ground superbly to wrap the forehand around Murray and earned the lead for the first time since the first set. Murray put up a huge fight as del Potro served for the match, especially on the thirty-fifteen point, but could not deny del Potro and Argentina from progressing to a Davis Cup final with Croatia.

Argentina would go on to defeat Croatia in the final, with del Potro earning the fourth rubber with a remarkable comeback against Marin Cilic from two-sets-to-love down. Murray would not lose again in the year, winning his last four events, including the ATP World Tour Finals for the first time, ending the year as the World No.1.

 

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Dominic Thiem Rules Federer Out Of GOAT Debate

The Austrian puts forward his theory on who should be regarded as the best player in history.

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Dominic Thiem; e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger, 27.10.2022

The honour of which player deserves to be regarded as the greatest of all time (GOAT) should be decided based on one factor, according to Dominic Thiem. 

 

The former world No.3 has weighed in on the debate by suggesting that the argument should be settled by the number of Grand Slam titles a player has won as they are the most prestigious tournaments in the sport. In tennis, the four major tournaments are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. 

Thiem’s GOAT criteria have therefore ruled Roger Federer out of contention. The Swiss maestro was at one stage the frontrunner due to the numerous records he has broken throughout his career. However, he retired from the sport last year with 20 Grand Slam trophies under his belt which is less than both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who are currently on 22 each. 

“In my opinion, the Grand Slam titles should be the defining criteria when determining the best of all time, they are the four most important tournaments in tennis,” Eurosport quotes Thiem as saying. 
“Everything else is fine, but it’s not the same. The Slams are what counts, so the GOAT will probably be the one with the most Grand Slams.”

Others will argue that more factors should be taken into account in the subjective debate. For example, Federer has won 103 ATP titles which are more than his two rivals, Djokovic holds the record for most weeks as world No.1 and Nadal has won more tournaments on clay than any other player in history. Furthermore, there is the players’ win-loss rate on the Tour and their records against the top 10 players. 

Recently at the Australian Open Djokovic won the men’s title for a historic 10th time in his career. An achievement that has been hailed by Thiem who was runner-up to the Serbian at Melbourne Park in 2021. 

“I am not very surprised, Djokovic still looks young,” he said. “Physically and mentally, because of the way he moves on the court. It’s like he was 25 years old.
“We have to be honest, he is the best, so his victory was not very surprising.”

Thiem has won one Grand Slam title which was at the 2020 US Open when he became the first man in the Open Era to come back from two sets down to win in the final. He has also been runner-up at the French Open twice, as well as the Australian Open once. 

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Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open Injury ‘Hard To Believe’ In The Eyes Of His Opponent

Some details surrounding Djokovic’s battle with a hamstring issue ‘doesn’t make sense,’ according to Enzo Couacaud.

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Image via Adelaide International Twitter

The only man to take a set off Novak Djokovic during the Serbian’s run to a historic 10th Australian Open title believes there are unanswered questions over his injury. 

 

France’s Enzo Couacaud took a set off the world No.1 before losing their encounter in the second round at Melbourne Park. At the tournament Djokovic was dealing with a hamstring problem which he picked up at the Adelaide International earlier this year. Throughout the tournament, he was wearing strapping on his leg and there was uncertainty about if he would be able to continue playing in the Grand Slam event. 

Despite the issue, Djokovic claimed a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title by disposing of Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the final. Afterwards his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, claimed that 97% of players would not have played if they were in a similar situation. The exact diagnosis of Djokovic’s injury hasn’t been addressed by his team but Australian Open director Craig Tiley said he suffered a 3mm tear. 

However, Couacaud has questioned the significance of the injury to begin with. During an interview with Tennis Actu, the world No.172 believes that some of the details appear to be ‘far-fetched’ as he draws parallels with Rafael Nadal, as well as footballer Kylian Mbappe.  

“Novak claimed he was playing with an injury, a big injury,” said Couacaud. “When athletes are injured in combat sports, they often can’t continue. When Rafael Nadal is injured, he can’t run. Kylian Mbappe, for example, is out for two weeks.
“And those are the greatest athletes, not those who don’t have access to top-notch care. It is therefore difficult to believe that only one man in the world can continue with an injury.
“When you take the examples of Nadal or Mbappe, but especially Rafa, with an injury to Wimbledon, he couldn’t even serve. When you see the greatest who can’t set foot on the pitch and another who wins a Grand Slam by playing every day for 15 days. It still seems a bit far-fetched.
“There are little things that don’t make sense to me. I was always told not to stretch with an injury. You saw Novak stretching all the time. You say to yourself, either they have a new method in Serbia, or it’s weird. Little things like that, he has his staff, but I’m too far to judge the authenticity of anything. It is true that it seems hard to believe.”

It is not the first time Djokovic has faced accusations that he has in some way exaggerated the significance of an injury. He encountered a similar situation during the 2021 Australian Open where he suffered an abdominal injury. After winning the tournament, he confirmed that he sustained a tear in the region. 

Speaking to journalists at Melbourne Park last month, the tennis star once again hit back at his critics and claimed that he was being singled out. 

“I leave the doubting to those people – let them doubt,” Tennis Majors quoted Djokovic as saying in Serbian following his fourth round win over Alex de Minaur. “Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.
“I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situation. But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.”

Djokovic has won 93 ATP titles during his career which is the fourth-highest tally in history. Only Ivan Lendl (94), Roger Federer (102) and Jimmy Connors (109) have won more. 

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Nick Kyrgios Admits Assaulting Former Girlfriend But Avoids Prosecution

The tennis star says he ‘deeply regrets’ how he reacted during an argument with his former partner.

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Nick Kyrgios (AUS) playing against Felix Auger-Aliassime (CAN) in the third round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 6 Saturday 03/07/2021. Credit: AELTC/Jonathan Nackstrand

Nick Kyrgios will not be charged with assault despite pleading guilty to shoving over his former girlfriend following an argument. 

 

The Wimbledon finalist attended court on Friday after he was accused by his former partner, Chiara Passari, of assaulting her during an incident that took place on January 10th 2021. Kyrgios was initially charged following an argument which took place outside of Passari’s apartment in the inner-city Canberra suburb of Kingston. 

At a hearing at the ACT Magistrates Court, it was revealed that Kyrgios’ ex-girlfriend was standing in front of an Uber car door which prevented him from closing it before he pushed her over. When she fell to the ground, he was heard saying ‘seriously.’ In the minutes leading up to what happened, Kyrgios told Passari “leave me the f*** alone” and to “just f***ing piss off” when he was asked to get out of the car and calm down. He had called for an Uber ride following their argument. 

Passari, who didn’t report the incident to the police until 10 months after it happened, suffered a grazed knee and hurt her shoulder as a result of her fall, according to her legal filing. Kyrgios apologized for his actions two days later when the two met at a Canberra cafe. Unknown to him at the time, that conversation was recorded by Passari. The two continued their relationship for some months before breaking up. 

Magistrate Beth Campbell has ruled in Kyrgios’ favour despite him owning up to his actions. In her verdict, Campbell said the seriousness of the matter was ‘low’ and the tennis star was not likely to re-offend again. 

“You acted in the heat of the moment,” she said.
“I am dealing with you in the same way I would deal with any young man in this court. You are a young man who happens to hit a tennis ball particularly well.”

During the hearing, evidence was heard from Kyrgios’ psychologist, Sam Borenstein, who said his mental health issues were ‘recurrent’ and he has suffered from thoughts of self-harm. Although Borestein says his condition has improved in recent times. Furthermore, Kyrgios’ lawyer, Michael Kukulies-Smith, said there was “a relationship between the mental health and the offending – even though he no longer suffers it to the same extent today.”

In a statement issued following the court’s decision, Kyrgios said he reacted ‘in a way he regretted’ and apologized for his actions. He went on to attribute what happened to his mental health condition at the time. 

“I respect today’s ruling and I am grateful to the court for dismissing the charges without conviction,” he said.
“I was not in a good place when this happened and I reacted to a difficult situation in a way I deeply regret. I know it wasn’t OK and I am sincerely sorry for the hurt I caused.
“Mental health is tough. Life can seem overwhelming. But I have found that getting help and working on myself has allowed me to feel better.”

Before his guilty plea, Kyrgios had argued that the charge should be dropped on the grounds of his mental health but that appeal was withdrawn when the court found that he is not currently suffering from a major depressive illness. 

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