Novak Djokovic: "I am expecting a tough first-round match against Fernando Verdasco" - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic: “I am expecting a tough first-round match against Fernando Verdasco”

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World number 2 and Australian Open six-time champion Novak Djokovic will face a tough debut against Fernando Verdasco in his first round match. The Spanish came close to an upset win over Djokovic in Doha at the start of the year when the Serbian player had to save five match points. Djokovic went on to win the Doha title beating Andy Murray in the final.

“I hope I will not get to the stage where I have to defend match points. Fernando is a very complete player on any surface, In a given day, if things go right, he can beat really anybody on any surface. He beat Nadal in five sets in the first round. He has won against most of the top players. He is not ovewhelmed by the occasion of playing on centre court. He has had that experience many times. A lot depends on how I feel and how he feels. It’s the first match of the Grand Slam. We both need to start with the right intensity. We are going to be striving to do so, but I am expecting a tough one, there is no doubt about that”, said Djokovic during a press conference in Melbourne on the eve of the first Grand Slam tournament of the season.

Djokovic will be bidding to win his seventh title at the Australian Open and his 12th Major title in Melbourne in one of his most successful Grand Slam titles.

“I think being so successful in this tournament will help me. It has been the most successful Grand Slam that I have ever had. I love playing at Rod Laver Arena. I love the vibe of this tournament. This gives me a lot of thrill, a lot of confidence and excitement to approach it. It’s the beginning of the season. I see many players feel very inspired and motivated to play their best tennis. They have been through a period of five, six weeks with no official matches. They recharge their batteries. They are eager to get back on the court and play the sport. It’s so early in the seaaon and we already have a first Grand Slam, one of the four biggest events in the sport. That’s enough motivation to start off the season in the best possible fashion. Conditions play their role for sure. I love playing on hard court. Especially night matches play a lot slower, which I like. I guess it’s a combination of things”.

Djokovic admitted that the big challenge of the Australian Open is to acclimatise to the tough summer conditions.

“That’s why you come five or five days earlier before your first match to get a hit, to adjust to the conditions and to prepare for one of the four biggest events in the sport”, said Djokovic.

The Serbian player said that the 2017 Australian Open will be the start of a new challenge and that he has learnt from the experiences he had in the past.

“I can’t get into the shape of 2015 and 2016 because that’s behind me. The only thing I can do is to create my own shape and that’s what I am trying to do. 2017 is a completely new year for me and a new challenge and everything that happened before is an experience that I take lesson from. I move on as a new person because circumstances in life are very different today than they were yesterday or any year before.”

He said that he would be pleased to get back to the top of the ranking, although it will not be a priority.

“If I become Number 1, that’s great. Of course that’s what I want but it’s not my priority. I really would like to take one tournament at a time and try to win as many matches as possible. As a consequence to that, if I become Number 1, I will be thrilled”.

One of the main highlights of the Melbourne tournament will be Roger Federer’s comeback to a Grand Slam tournament after a long absence from tennis due to a knee injury.

“I don’t expect everything. With Roger, you can always see a top level and quality of tennis. He brings this aura of a champion on and off the court. The sport definitely missed him. It’s great to see him back, no question about it. From a colleague perspective and point of view of fans, everybody loves to see Roger. He is one of the most important people that ever held the racquet. I am sure he is very motivated because he hasn’t played at any official tournament ever since Wimbledon. With all his experience, talent and everything he has achieved in his life, I don’t think it’s going to take too much of a time for him to really get back into that kind of competitive zone”.

 

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Danil Medvedev saves a set point to beat Nuno Borges in Halle

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Danil Medvedev started his grass campaign with a 7-6 (7-4) 6-4 win over Portugal’s Nuno Borges in 1 hour and 31 minutes at the Terra Wortmann Open Open in Halle. Medvedev is still chasing his first title this season. 

Borges converted his third break point in the second game of the first set. Medvedev broke straight back in the third game and held serve at 15 in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Borges earned a set point at 6-5 in the first set, when Medvedev hit a double fault long. Medvedev hit a first serve out wide to save the set point. 

Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break. Medvedev raced out to a 4-0 lead with two mini-breaks. Borges pulled one of the two mini-breaks back for 2-5. Medvedev earned his third mini-break to take a 6-2 lead. Borges saved two set points for 4-6, but Medvedev sealed the tie-break 7-4 on his third chance. The second set went on serve until the 10thgame, when Medvedev broke serve on his second match point. 

Medvedev won five more points than Borges, but he saved five of the six break points he faced. 

Medvedev has a win-loss record of 22-1 against players outside of the top 20. 

Medvedev set up a second round match against Chinese number 1 Zhang Zhizhen, who battled past Sebastian Ofner 7-6 (10-8) 6-7 (3-7) 6-4. Medvedev will play his first head-to-head match against Zhang Zhizhen. 

Lorenzo Sonego won 85 % of his first serve points in his 7-6 (7-5) 7-6 (7-5) win over Miomir Kecmanovic. 

Sonego saved the only break point of the first set in the 11th game. Both players went on serve until the tie-break. Sonego raced out to a 4-1 lead. Kecmanovic pulled back on serve to draw level to 4-4. Sonego earned a first set point at 6-5, but Kecmanovic saved it. Sonego sealed the first set 7-5 on his second set point. 

Sonego earned a break point in the first game of the second set, but Kecmanovic saved it. The Serbian player fended off another break point in the ninth game. Sonego went down 2-5 in the tie-break, but he won five consecutive points to win the second set. 

Sonego will face the winner of the German clash between this year’s Roland Garros finalist Alexander Zverev and world number 471 Oscar Otte. 

Hubert Hurkacz beat Flavio Cobolli 7-5 7-6 (7-5). The first set went on serve until the sixth game, when Hurkacz earned the first break to take a 4-2 lead. Cobolli broke straight back in the seventh game and draw level at 15 to draw level to 4-4. Cobolli saved a set point in the 10th game, but Hurkacz sealed the first set with a break in the 10th game. The second set went on serve until the 12th game when Cobolli saved two match points. Hurkacz earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2.  

Hurkacz will face either Brazilian wild-card Joao Fonseca or James Duckworth. 

Dominik Koepfer was leading 6-4 4-3 against Felix Auger Aliassime, when the Canadian player withdrew from the match due to a left hip injury. Fabian Mazoszan overcame last year’s Wimbledon quarter finalist Roman Safiulin 7-5 4-6 6-1. Maroszan could face world number 1 Jannik Sinner, if the Italian player beats Tallon Grieksppr. 

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Alex De Minaur beats Sebastian Korda in s’Hertogenbosch to win his second title of the season

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Alex De Minaur beat Sebastian Korda 6-2 6-4 after 1 hour and 31 minutes to win the ninth title of his career at the Libema Open in s’Hertogenbosch. De Minaur claimed his second title of the season after winning in Acapulco last week. 

De Minaur, who was competing as a top seed for the first time this week, did not drop a set en route to the title at the Dutch grass tournament. He converted five of his 14 break points and saved four of the six chances he faced. 

De Minaur reeled off four consecutive games from 2-2 with back-back breaks in the opening set. The Australian player won eight of nine points breaking at love for 4-2 and consolidated with a hold at 15 for 5-2. De Minaur earned his second straight break to clinch the first set 6-2. 

De Minaur converted his fourth break point in the second game of the second set to build up a 6-2 2-0 lead. Korda broke straight back in the third game and held his serve at 15 in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. De Minaur converted his third break point in the sixth game to open up a 4-2 lead. The 2023 Davis Cup finalist saved four break points in the seventh game to hold serve for 5-2. 

Korda saved a match point in the eighth game as he was serving to stay in the match, but he made his fourth double fault to face a second match point. The US player hit a forehand pass to save his championhip point. 

Korda broke back for the second game in the ninth game at 15 in the ninth game for 4-5 with a forehand down the line, as De Minaur was serving for his second title of the season. On the changeover Korda took a medical time-out to treat a blister. After a five-minute delay Korda hit a between the legs mid-court forehand. 

De Minaur earned a third championship point with a forehand in the 10thgame, but Korda threw down a smash to save it. Korda hit a backhand long to face a championship match. 

Korda faced a fourth championship point after a backhand long. De Minaur broke serve in the 10th game on his fourth championship point to seal his second title of the season after 1 hour and 34 minutes, as Korda steered a forehand down the line wide. 

The Australian player, who beat Casper Ruud at the Mexican Open in Acapulco last February, has won multiple ATP titles in a single season for the third year following his triumphs in Sydney, Atlanta and Zhuhai in 2019, and in Antalya and Eastbourne in 2021. He has joined Australiana legends Patrick Rafter (1998) and 2000) and and Lleyton Hewitt (2001) as the third player from his country to win the title in s’Hertogenbosch. De Minaur has won his first grass title since Eastbourne in 2021.

“Obviously it was a great match. The conditions were tricky, and Sebastian is a hell of player. I am looking forward to playing doubles with him next week at Queen’s. I am super happy with the week. It’s been great. Happy days. I think it achieves a new career-high for me. That’s always a great title bonus for me. The first week on grass could not have gone better. I am looking forward to next week at Queen’s ”, said De Minaur. 

De Minaur, who had reached a career high of eighth with his semifinal win over Ugo Humbert in the semifinal, will rise two spots to world number 7 in the ATP Ranking next week after winning this title. 

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Sebastian Korda reaches his second semifinal of the season in s’Hertogenbosh

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Sebastian Korda beat Tommy Paul 6-4 6-2 in 67 minutes to reach his second ATP Tour semifinal of the season at Libema Open in s’Hertogenbosh. 

Korda hit 18 winners and won 84% of his first serve points. Korda earned his first break in the third game of the first set to take a 2-1 lead. Paul broke straight back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Korda broke for the second time in the seventh game to win the first set 6-4. Korda broke twice in the third and seventh game to close out the second set 6-2. 

Korda has improved his head-to-head record against Paul to 4-1. 

Korda reached the semifinal on grass at Queen’s in 2023. The US player is is aiming to win his first ATP Tour title since 2021, when he won in Parma on clay. 

Korda set up a semifinal clash against defending champion Tallon Griekspoor, who ccame back from one set down to beat Alexandar Vukic 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-3). Griekspoor has won his past eight matches at this tournament. 

Vukic broke in the ninth game to win the first set 6-4. Griekspoor earned his first break in the sixth game of the second set to win the second set 6-3. The third set went on serve with no breaks en route to the tie-break. Griekspoor earned two mini-breaks to open up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break. Vukic pulled one of the two mini-breaks, but Griekspoor held on his serve and sealed the tie-break on his first match point.

“I am very happy to be through. It was a very tough match once again. I think Alexandar played unbelievable grass court tennis, so it was not easy and I am very happy to find my way in the third set. I am enjoying the crowd, the atmosphere and the whole tournament”, said Korda. 

Alex De Minaur beat Milos Raonic7-5 6-2 in 1 hour and 26 minutes. De Minaur has improved to 3-0 in his head-to-head matches against Raonic, who was playing in just his fourth tournament of he year.

De Minaur earned his first break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Raonic broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. De Minaur broke for the second time in the 11th game and served out on his first set point after saving three break points in the 12th game. De Minaur broke twice in the fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-2. 

De Minaur is aiming to win the second title of his career on career following his win in Eastbourne in 2021.  

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