Novak Djokovic ‘Not Surprised’ By Federer’s Australian Open Triumph - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic ‘Not Surprised’ By Federer’s Australian Open Triumph

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Novak Djokovic (R) and Roger Federer pictured together at the 2016 Australian Open (zimbio.com)

Novak Djokovic has praised rival Roger Federer following his run to the Australian Open title in Melbourne.

 

Federer, who was playing in his first competitive tournament since the Wimbledon Championships due to injury, defeated four top 10 players in Melbourne to clinch a record 18th grand slam title. At the tournament, the 35-year-old produced wins over Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka and Rafael Nadal.

The triumph is one that has earned the admiration of Djokovic, who crashed out in the second round at the first grand slam of the year to Denis Istomin. The world No.2 has since returned back to his home country to participate in Serbia’s upcoming Davis Cup tie against Russia. During his Davis Cup press commitments, Djokovic paid tribute to Federer.

“I am not surprised that Federer won the title because you can always expect him to play at the highest level when he is fit.” Said Djokovic.
“He was sidelined by injury for six months, but having entered the tournament fresh and fit, he played outstanding tennis and I can only congratulate him.”

Djokovic also spoke highly about Nadal’s performance in what was his 35th clash against the Swiss player on the tour. The Serbian, who has played both players more than 40 times throughout his career, hailed the latest development in the men’s tour as ‘a massive boost’ for the sport.

“The final between him and Nadal was one of the sports hallmarks of the year, going beyond tennis itself, as it’s been one of the greatest rivalries of all time. Nadal, too, played very well and they both showed why they are great champions on and off the court. It was a massive boost for tennis any way you look at it.”

This weekend, Djokovic will be the only top 10 player participating in the Davis Cup. Serbia is bidding to win their second Davis Cup after 2010 and will host Russia at the Sportski Centar Cair in Nis.

“Russia are a young and motivated team and we must not underestimate them under any circumstances. I have never played here in Nis but I heard that it’s a great atmosphere so I am looking forward to it.” The world No.2 said of playing Russia.

The atmosphere of the tie has been boosted with the presence of the 14-time grand slam champion. According to the Davis Cup, ticket for the event was sold out within the first 15 minutes.

Serbia will be captained by doubles specialist Nenad Zimonjic, who takes over from Bogdan Obradovic. This season the 40-year-old will conduct a player-captain role before formally ending his Davis Cup playing career at the end of the year.

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Simona Halep cruises through to the second round with a straight-set win over Anastasia Potapova in Moscow

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Simona Halep cruised through to the second round at the VTB Kremlin Cup in Moscow with a 6-1 6-4 win over Anastasia Potapova after 90 minutes. 

 

Halep has extended her winning record against Potapova after beating her Russian rival in their only previous head-to-head match at the Gippsland Trophy in Melbourne last winter. The Romanian star is making her first appearance since she won the title in 2013.

Four of the first six six games went to deuce. Halep went up an early break to take a 2-0 lead. Potapova broke straight back, but Halep earned two breaks at deuce to take a 5-1 lead before serving out the set at love. 

Four of the first six games of the second set went against serve. Halep converted the first of her two break points to take a 5-4 lead. As Halep was serving for the match at 5-4, Potapova earned three break points.

Halep saved them, before converting her second match point to secure her spot in the second round, where she will face world number 32 Veronika Kudemertova. Halep beat Kudemertova 6-1 6-3 in the third round at this year’s Australian Open. Kudemertova came back from one set down to beat Oksana Selekmetheva 4-6 7-6 (7-3) 6-4 after 2 hous and 20 minutes. 

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Andy Murray battles past Frances Tiafoe in a marathon match in Antwerp

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Andy Murray battled past Frances Tiafoe 7-6 (7-2) 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (10-8) in a marathon match after 3 hours and 45 minutes to advance to the second rund at the European Open in Antwerp. 

 

Murray came back from a set down in the first set before prevailing in the tie-break. 

Tiafoe opened up a 3-1 lead with an early break in the third game and a hold. Murray reduced the deficit to 2-3 before Tiafoe needed a medical time-out to treat a back problem. Murray broke back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Both players traded breaks in the next two games. Tiafoe wasted a set point. Murray closed out the tie-break with two mini-breaks followed by two consecutive aces.

Both players fended off break points to stay on serve in the second set. Murray saved a set point to hold and forced the second set to to another tie-break. Murray hit a forehand down the centre of the court to open up a 3-1 lead. Tiafoe pulled back on serve after a return into the net from Murray. Tiafoe earned two mini-breaks to take a 4-3 lead. The US player hit a forehand down the line to earn a set point, but Murray saved it to draw level to 6-6. Tiafoe converted his sixth set point with a forehand half-volley to win the 81-minute second set forcing the match to the third set. 

Tiafoe earned a break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead, but Murray broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. Murray saved two break points to hold for 4-3. Tiafoe held serve to draw level to 5-5 forcing the decider to a third tie-break. Both players earned two mini-breaks in the tie-break before Murray gained a two-point lead, but Tiafoe drew level to 5-5. Murray saved two match points before sealing the win with a backhand dropshot, which Tiafoe could return into the net. 

Murray avenged a defeat against Tiafoe, who beat the Scotsman in the second round at Winston Salem last August. 

Murray will face Diego Schwartzman on Thursday. 

“I think it’s the longest three-set match I have played by quite a distance. I am tired right now, obviously it was an unbelievable battle. Nowadays, obviously my body is old now. I have played a lot of matches on the Tour. I don’t mind playing long matches, but that was taking it to another level. Brilliant match. Amazing atmosphere. Thanks to everyone who came and supported. It’s just so nice. To be back and playing in front of crowd again”, said Murray.  

Murray and Tiafoe played the longest best-of-three set match of 2021, improving the previous record set by Rafael Nadal and Stefanos Tsitsipas, who played for 3 hours and 38 minutes in the Barcelona final. 

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Jenson Brooksby upsets Reilly Opelka to boost his chance to qualify for the Next Gen Finals in Milan

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US Next Gen rising star Jenson Brooksby continues his chase for a spot in the Next Gen Finals in Milan with a 6-4 6-4 win over Reilly Opelka after 1 hour and 12 minutes. 

 

Brooksby earned his first break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead. Opelka saved two break points to hold serve at deuce, as he serving to stay in the first set. Brooksby served out the first set in the 10th game before breaking at love in the fourth game to seal the second set 6-4.

Brookby won a set against Novak Djokovic in the fourth round at the US Open and lost the semifinal against Jannik in Washington this year. 

“It’s been a great year. I am happy. I feel like I have been focused, playing well. I will hopefully finish this year strong. He has definitely got one of the best serves on Tour. I thought we had a good game plan. I have been hitting them well and executed pretty well here, so I am happy with that”, said Brooskby. 

Brooksby will face this year’s US Open quarter finalist Botic van de Zandschulp. 

Another US Next Gen player Brandon Nakashima cruised past Alex De Minaur 6-4 6-0. Nakashima converted five of his ten break points. 

De Minaur converted his second break point in the fifth game at deuce to take a 3-2 lead. Nakashima broke straight back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Nakashima broke serve on his third chance at deuce to close out the first set 6-4 and earned three more breaks to take a bagel win in the second set. 

Nakashima reached his first two ATP Tour finals in Los Cabos and Atlanta. 

Lorenzo Musetti beat Gianluca Mager 7-6 (7-2) 7-6 (7-3) after 2 hours and 8 minutes in the all-Italian first round match. Musetti set up a Next Gen clash against his compatriot Jannik Sinner, who won their only previous clash 6-7 7-6 6-3 in the pre-qualifying round of the Rome Internazionali d’Italia. Mager earned the first break in the third game at deuce to take a 2-1 lead. Musetti pulled back on serve in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3, but he dropped his serve in the seventh game to trail 3-4. Musetti broke back in the 10th game to draw level to draw level to 5-5. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break. Musetti earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-break 7-2. 

Musetti did not convert two break points in the first and third games of the second set. Mager earned a set point in the 10th game, but Musetti saved it to force the set to the tie-break. Musetti earned three match points at 6-3 with his fourth mini-break and converted his first chance with a spectacular serve and volley.  

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