Novak Djokovic Begins Eastbourne Run With Straight Sets Win Over Vasek Pospisil - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Begins Eastbourne Run With Straight Sets Win Over Vasek Pospisil

Joshua Coase

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Novak Djokovic

Novak Djokovic ensured that his first visit to Eastbourne was not a fleeting one as he booked his place in the quarterfinals at the Aegon International with a straight sets victory over Vasek Pospisil 6-4, 6-3.

 

In a very entertaining contest full of great shot making there was little to separate the two players in the first set. Top seed Djokovic raised his level at the crucial moment to secure a break at the end of the set to take control and fought off a break point early in the second before responding to close out the match in straight sets.

Djokovic led their head to head 4-0, winning their last meeting in 2016 at the Shanghai Masters 6-4, 6-4, but this was to be their first meeting on grass. With the Serb playing his first competitive match on grass this year in his first Wimbledon warm-up event since 2010, combined with going up against a former quarterfinalist at SW19, this had danger signs written all over for the 12-time Grand Slam champion. The world number four made sure that any talks of an upset were quickly quashed.

The match was due to be played on Tuesday as the first match on Centre Court, but due to the awful weather on the south coast with torrential rain spells occurring throughout, play was called off for the whole day, with Djokovic leading 1-0, 15-30 on Pospisil’s serve.

On Tuesday in their brief eight and a half minute first act of this second round match the top seed had to save two break points. Nearly 24 hours on Pospisil had to face a break point on his own serve. The Canadian hammered down an ace out wide to recover to deuce before going on to hold in a tough first game of the day.

Both players had half a chance on their opponent’s serve at 30-30 over the course of the set, but neither player could ask the question and bring up a break point opportunity. That was until the 10th game when the world number four struck three exceptional return of serves from the deuce court to help bring up set point. Pospisil, currently ranked at 75 in the world, kept his first set hopes alive with a powerful unreturned serve. With the Canadian winning just 41% of points behind his second serve it proved to be his downfall, with two forehand errors following to seal the set for Djokovic 6-4 after 47 minutes of play.

It became evident over the course of the match, mostly through Pospisil’s body language that he truly believed he could win this match despite never taking a set off the former world number one. The Canadian had a look in two of Djokovic’s opening three service games and in the fifth game had a break point opportunity. In an extended rally the world number 75 thumped a forehand down the line over the high part of the net, but it happened to be right at the top seed, allowing him to block the return and put it back into court. With Pospisil then on the chase he was able to put the ball back over the net but the Serb was there to pass him with the backhand to save the break point before holding serve to stay in front.

That missed opportunity proved to be a turning point as Djokovic turned up the heat on his returns of serve, forcing the Canadian onto the back foot as he brought up two break points. A backhand dumped into the net from Pospisil resulted in his racket being thrown to the floor and an expletive from the Canadian as his frustration and disappointment grew. The former Wimbledon quarterfinalist tried to channel that anger in the following game to try and break back, but it was to no avail.

Pospisil forced the top seed to serve out the match and the Canadian gave the crowd plenty to smile and cheer about with some of his shot making as he saved a match point. Unfortunately for the world number 75 he could not prolong the contest for the captivated Eastbourne crowd, as the top seed secured his first win at the Aegon International 6-4, 6-3 to advance to the quarterfinals. Next up for the three time Wimbledon champion, either Donald Young or Jared Donaldson.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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