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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Daniil Medvedev ‘Happy To Play Wimbledon’ If Ban Is Lifted

The world No.2 says he is willing to speak with other players about the situation ahead of his return to action following surgery.

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Daniil Medvedev (RUS) in action against Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Daniil Medvedev says he is still hopeful that he might be able to play at this year’s Wimbledon Championships should officials at The All England Club decide to change their stance.

 

At present the reigning US Open champion will not be allowed to play at the grass court major due to his nationality. Officials at the Grand Slam have confirmed that Russian and Belarussian players have been banned from the event due to the war in Ukraine. Ian Hewitt, who is the chairman of The AELTC, said the action was taken in order to prevent ‘the propaganda machine of the Russian regime’ from potentially benefiting from their players’ success.

The ban is a controversial move for the sport which until now had a united approach when it came to allowing those players participate in tournaments but only as neutral athletes. Former Wimbledon champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokopvic and Andy Murray have all expressed some degree of opposition to the decision. Meanwhile, the ATP and WTA are considering the possibility of removing the allocation of ranking points at the event.

Speaking about the ban ahead of this week’s Geneva Open, Medvedev acknowledges that it is a ‘tricky situation’ but is still hopeful that a u-turn could occur which would allow him to play. The 26-year-old has made four main draw appearances at Wimbledon with his best result being a run to the fourth round last year.

“There has been a lot of talk around it. I just tried to follow what’s happening because I don’t have any decisions to make. It’s right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved,” news agency AFP quoted Medvedev as telling reporters in Switzerland.
“It’s a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody’s going to give a different opinion.
“I can play: I’m going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament.
“I cannot play: well, I’m going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play.”

The former world No.1 has been among a group of Russian players who have previously called for peace in the region. Although none of them have gone as far as publicly condemning the actions of their government. Something which has drawn criticism from Ukraine’s Elina Svitoliva.

“I had some time to follow what is happening, yeah, it’s very upsetting,” Medvedev commented on the war.

Geneva will be the first event Medvedev has played in since reaching the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. He took time away from the Tour to undergo hernia surgery but has confirmed he intends to play at next week’s French Open despite his lack of match play on the clay.

During his time at those events, the tennis star says he is more than happy to speak with other players about the Wimbledon ban should they want to.

“Since I haven’t been on the tour, I haven’t talked to any of them face to face. It was the first time when I came here on Saturday when I can talk to players, and if they start talking about this, we can discuss,” he said.
“I don’t know exactly what’s happening, what’s going to happen, if there are going to be more decisions made.
“Same about Wimbledon. I don’t know if this decision is 100 percent, and it’s over.”

Granted a bye in the first round, Medvedev will start his Geneva campaign against either Richard Gasquet or John Millman.

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Denis Shapovalov gets revenge win over Nadal to reach quarterfinals in Rome

The Canadian avenged a loss he suffered last year by beating the king of clay in the eternal city.

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Image via Roberto Dell’Olivo

Denis Shapovalov booked his spot in the quarterfinals of the Italian Open after beating the world number four Rafael Nadal in three tight sets 1-6, 7-5, 6-2 in two hours and 36 minutes on Pista Centrale.

 

The Canadian fired 35 winners and served 13 aces while the Spaniard hit 34 unforced errors in a match that went back and forth.

“It’s definitely incredible to me to beat him. Having match points against him last year was kind of a hurtful feeling,” said Shapovalov who lost to the Spaniard at the same tournament 12 months ago. “Coming back here this year, I definitely remember that match. Obviously great tennis, but that one really hurt. Happy to get the win this time around”.

It was the Spaniard with the better start to the match, putting pressure right away on the world number 16 in the second game of the match and it took Shapovalov almost 10 minutes to save three breakpoints and hold serve.

At 2-1 Nadal kept pushing and struck setting up two breakpoints with his ferocious forehand and then broke the Toronto native with a solid backhand down the line winner.

After consolidating the break the world number four was hungry for more and again with his powerful forehand set up more break opportunities and broke again to take a 5-1 lead and served out the first set.

Shapovalov once again faced three breakpoints in the opening game of the second set but managed to save all of them and was able to hold serve. In the following game he broke Nadal to love for the early 2-0 lead.

He was able to consolidate the break but at 4-3 the Spaniard fought back and managed to break back to go back on serve. However, the Canadian at 6-5 was able to get the crucial break to take the second set and send the match to a third.

Nadal responded right away breaking the Canadian in the first game of the third set but the following game Shapovalov set up three breakpoints with a perfectly timed forehand winner.

He broke back the following point and at 3-2 Nadal struggled with his serve and double faulted to give the world number 16 a 4-2 lead as it seemed he was struggling with an injury.

After running down a ball he was seen hunched over at the towel box and was almost limping after points and wincing before serving or returning serve.

At 5-2 with the Spaniard serving to stay in the match and in pain, Shapovalov had three chances to seal the win and it was third time lucky as Nadal last shot went out.

I was trying to change something, he was completely outplaying me and I was hanging in there and I was really happy to turn it around,” said Shapovalov.

Shapovalov will next face Casper Ruud in the quarterfinals on Friday. In their last meeting the Norweigan was able to come out with the win when they played in the Geneva Open final last summer.

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After Multiple Surgeries, Comeback Kid Stan Wawrinka Books Djokovic Showdown In Rome

In only his third tournament of the year, 37-year-old Wawrinka admits the upcoming clash will be ‘really difficult’ but he is willing to give it his best shot.

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Image via https://twitter.com/InteBNLdItalia/

Until now 15 months have passed since Stan Wawrinka last experienced the feeling of recording back-to-back wins in a tournament of any sort.

 

The three-time Grand Slam champion was sidelined from the sport for a year due a foot injury which ended up requiring two surgeries. The first was done in March last year before he underwent another procedure in June. The surgeries occurred just four years after he underwent two other operations on his left knee. Despite the physical problems and frustration, the Swiss isn’t giving up on his career just yet and is proving why at this week’s Italian Open.

A day after knocking out 14th seed Reilly Opelka, Wawrinka battled on court for almost three hours to oust Laslo Djere 7-6(8), 3-6, 6-4, in front of a highly animated crowd. The rollercoaster battle saw him fight back from a 1-3 deficit in the deciding set. Then four match points came and went before he finally prevailed. Booking his place in the last 16 of a Masters 1000 event for the first time since Paris 2020.

“It’s helping me to keep doing what I love. Tennis is a passion. The crowd, the support, the atmosphere, these courts is the reason why after two surgeries and one year out (of the Tour) I’m still playing tennis at 37. To live those moments as much as I can and I’m enjoying it a lot,” Wawrinka told atptour.com following his win over Djere.

At 361st in the world, Wawrinka has become the lowest-ranked player to reach the third round of a Masters event since Taylor Dent at the 2009 Miami Open. In Rome specifically, he is the lowest-ranked third round player since Carrado Borroni in 1995.

The reward is a clash with world No.1 Novak Djokovic in what will be a true test for Wawrinka. The two have an extensive rivalry after playing each other on the Tour 25 times before, including the finals of the 2015 French Open and the 2016 US Open. Djokovic currently leads their head-to-head 19-6 with their last meeting taking place in 2019.

“It’s always special to play against him,” Wawrinka said of the 20-time Grand Slam winner. “As I’ve said many times I’m not where I want to be yet with my game and fitness level. I need those matches.’
“To have a chance to play against the best player (in the ATP rankings) it’s going to be really difficult for me because I think I’m not ready to compete at that level. (But) it’s what I need. I need those challenges and push myself as much as I can to keep improving.”

Wawrinka’s win over Djere is his 535th on the ATP Tour and his 24th at the Italian Masters.

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