Juan Martin del Potro Shines At US Open With Sensational Comeback Win Over Thiem - UBITENNIS
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Juan Martin del Potro Shines At US Open With Sensational Comeback Win Over Thiem

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Juan Martin del Potro (zimbio.com)

Fans at the US Open in Flushing Meadows were hoping for drama and they were not disappointed by their beloved Juan Martin del Potro.

During a three-and-a-half hour blockbuster, the Argentine battled through illness and recovered from a point away from defeat to secure one of the most memorable victories of his entire career. Coming back from two sets down to defeat Dominic Thiem 1-6, 2-6, 6-1, 7-6(1), 6-4. An accomplishment he has only managed to achieve once before in the Davis Cup.

The match featured enough storylines to make a short movie. Former champion Del Potro, who has endured a career troubled by injury, was a fraction of his best due to illness. Yet, still managed to fight in the match with the help of medication. Meanwhile, Thiem was bidding to reach the last eight in New York for the first time a day after his 24th birthday. All of this occurred on a packed Grandstand stadium, described by some as the court’s ‘finest hour.’

The party-like atmosphere was initially halted at the start due to what was a cruel twist of fate. 12 months ago the two also clashed at the US Open with Thiem retiring with a knee injury. This time round it was the Argentine struggling with illness.

“I was sick the last two days and I came here trying to play as well as I could.” Said del Potro. “Then when I saw all of this crowd cheering for me. I was trying to feel better every game and I think I fought because of you guys.”

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Three games into the match, the former US Open champion held a lengthy discussion with the umpire. After five games, a doctor and trainer came on court to treat Del Potro. Giving him a pill with the hope it would make him feel better.

It was an uncomfortable situation for the army of Del Potro fans in the crowd and a difficult scenario for six-seeded Thiem. Nevertheless, the Austrian kept to his game plan, hitting a series of electrifying shots from his forehand and backhand side. After 37 minutes, Thiem sealed the 6-1 lead with the help of 15 unforced errors from his rival.

Billed as one of the matches of day 8 of the championships, glimmers of high quality exchanges between the two began to emerge. Resurrecting the excitement of the crowd. After 15 games, Thiem was on course to cruise into his maiden quarterfinals at Flushing Meadows with a two sets lead, before Del Potro finally hit back in dramatic fashion.

The nerves of the Austrian played into the hands of Del Potro, who utilized his speedy forehand to his advantage. Breaking at the start of the third set to prompt a huge roar from the crowd. The unlikely comeback was on. Although Del Potro continued to struggle with his illness, sitting on one of that chairs after two games. Coincidentally, it was one in front of former player Mardy Fish.

Chants of ‘ole, ole, ole’ erupted around the court as the momentum in the match continued to turn in favour of the South American player. Thiem’s focus evaded him throughout the third set as Del Potro secured the double break with ease to revive his chances in the match.

The match everybody hoped to see was finally underway with both players illustrating their best tennis. Thiem moved agonizingly close to a place in the last eight, but it was the stubbornness of his rival that prevailed.

A four game winning streak in the fourth set moved Thiem to four points away from victory. Still, he was unable to seize the moment as a relentless Del Potro to claw his was back to 5-5. Resulting in a carnival-like atmosphere. Two games later, Thiem was within touching distance of the finish line. An overcook Del Potro forehand elevated him to two match points. Both of which were saved by aces from the Argentine.

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Thiem’s inability to close the proceedings out haunted him. Allowing Del Potro to force the match into a decider following an emphatic tiebreaker. Concluded with a stunning forehand cross court winner, followed by a fist pump.

Del Potro’s fighting spirit was one that could have inspired a small army. After almost three hours of play, he finally moved ahead in the match for the first time. To the delight of the animated crowd, both men battled until the very last point. Half way through the decider at 3-3, Del Potro had three consecutive break points. Only to be denied by some outstanding shot-making of his rival. Glory was, however sealed four games later, following a Thiem double fault. An undeserving way to end a titanic clash.

“I would like to have the trophy after this match.” Del Potro joked. “I’m so happy to go through, playing in this great match. The atmosphere was great and I enjoyed it a lot.”

Del Potro is now on course for a quarter-final showdown with Roger Federer.

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Motivation, Pressure And Expectations – Novak Djokovic Targets History At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Novak Djokovic has broken numerous records throughout his career but he still feels the pressure of trying to make history in the sport. 

The world No.2 is through to his 10th Wimbledon final where he will play Carlos Alcaraz, who beat him at this stage of the tournament 12 months ago. There is plenty on the line for the Serbian who could equal Roger Federer’s record for most men’s titles won at SW19 and break the overall record for most major singles won in the sport if he triumphs over the Spaniard. Djokovic currently has 24 Grand Slam trophies to his name which is the same as Margaret Court, who won some of her titles before the Open Era started. 

“Obviously I’m aware that Roger [Federer] holds eight Wimbledons. I hold seven. History is on the line.” Djokovic said on Friday after beating Lorenzo Musetti.

“Also, the 25th potential Grand Slam. Of course, it serves as a great motivation, but at the same time it’s also a lot of pressure and expectations.”

Coming into Wimbledon, there had been doubts over Djokovic’s form after he underwent surgery to treat a knee injury he suffered at the French Open. However, he has defied the odds to reach the final. His run has also seen him beat Alexi Popyrin and Holger Rune before getting a walkover in the quarter-finals from Alex de Minaur, who sustained an injury during the tournament. Then on Friday, he overcame a spirited Musetti in three sets. 

Despite the challenge, Djokovic has insisted that his expectations to do well are always high no matter what the situation is. During what has been a roller-coaster first six months of the season, he is yet to win a title this year or beat a player currently ranked in the top 10. Although he will achieve both of these if her beats Alcaraz on Sunday. 

“Every time I step out on the court now, even though I’m 37 and competing with the 21-year-olds, I still expect myself to win most of the matches, and people expect me to win, whatever, 99% of the matches that I play.” He said.

“I always have to come out on the court and perform my best in order to still be at the level with Carlos [Alcaraz] or Jannik [Sinner] or Sascha [Zverev] or any of those guys, Daniil [Medvedev]. 

“This year hasn’t been that successful for me. It’s probably the weakest results the first six months I’ve had in many years. That’s okay. I had to adapt and accept that and really try to find also way out from the injury that I had and kind of regroup.”

Djokovic hopes that a Wimbledon win will help turn his season around like it has done in the past for him. 

“Wimbledon historically there’s been seasons where I wasn’t maybe playing at a desired level, but then I would win a Wimbledon title and then things would change.” He commented.

“For example, that was the case in 2018 when I had elbow surgery earlier in the year, dropped my rankings out of top 20, losing in fourth round of Australian Open, I think it was quarters of Roland-Garros, and just not playing the tennis that I want to play. Then I won Wimbledon and then won US Open and then later on became No.1 very soon.”

Meanwhile, 21-year-old Alcaraz is hoping to stop Djokovic in his tracks. Should he defend his title at Wimbledon, he would become the first player outside the Big Three to do so since Pete Sampras more than 20 years ago. He has won their only previous meeting on the grass but trails their head-to-head 3-2. 

“I’m sure he knows what he has to do to beat me,” said Alcaraz.

“But I’m ready to take that challenge and I’m ready to do it well.”

When the two players take to the court to play in the Wimbledon final, Djokovic will be 15 years and 348 days older than Alcaraz. Making it the largest age gap in a men’s Grand Slam final since the 1974 US Open. Whoever is victorious will receive £2,700,000 in prize money. 

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Carlos Alcaraz And Novak Djokovic Wouldn’t Yield To Medvedev And Musetti At Wimbledon

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image via x.com/wimbledon

Carlos Alcaraz seemed to be on his own against a vastly improved Daniil Medvedev. The defending Wimbledon champion appeared to be out of tricks.

And Medvedev sensed it.

Alcaraz still scored a 6-7 (1), 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 victory over Medvedev. It may look rather easy on paper, but there was nothing easy about Alcaraz’s victory. The young Spaniard just came through when he needed it to advance to what he hopes will lead to his fourth Grand Slam title.

MEDVEDEV APPLIED ENDLESS PRESSURE

Medvedev was always there, ready to pounce on any mistake by Alcaraz. But mistakes didn’t happen that often after Medvedev took the first set in a tie-breaker.

Alcaraz hadn’t served that well in the first set that Medvedev had taken in a tiebreaker. But it was a different story once Alcaraz found the mark on his serves. He just kept holding service until the match was his.

Remember, he’s only 21 years old. But now he faces someone in this Wimbledon final almost twice as old in 37-year-old Novak Djokovic.

NOVAK DIDN’T LET INJURED KNEE STOP HIM

Early in the match, Djokovic looked like he might have problems against Lorenzo Musetti. He appeared to have a slight limp in the right knee that was covered by a band. Of course, it’s been less than six months since Novak underwent surgery to repair a torn meniscus in that knee.

Djokovic didn’t always chase after balls in situations where his service game wasn’t in jeopardy. He just hit winners when the opportunities came along, and his serve was always ready to win a point, a game or the match.

MUSETTI WASN’T THE SAME

Young 25th seed Musetti had been so strong and talented in his quarterfinal upset of Taylor Fritz. The 22-year-old Italian had looked like he might be a threat to the likes of Djokovic and Alcaraz in the last two rounds in London.

Musetti appeared to be able to run down everything against the speedy Fritz, until Fritz seemed to grow tired in a fifth set that Musetti won easily.

The Italian wasn’t the same against Djokovic.

Djokovic was just too good and too consistent to allow Musetti to stop his bid for another title.

NOVAK THE VIOLINIST

The setting was completely different this time with Djokovic looking questionable at the start. But Musetti could hardly push Djokovic, and ended up losing by a 6-4, 7-6 (2), 6-4. Once Novak charged through the second set tiebreaker, dropping only two points, Musetti couldn’t get back into the match.

And then Novak came out pretending to play a violin on his racket for his precious 6-year-old daughter Tara, whom Novak said has been learning to play the violin for about six months.

Some fans apparently didn’t like this, but then there probably were others who became Novak Djokovic fans. Novak obviously is a great guy and dad these days.

After all, Novak has just played his 97th Wimbledon match, and he’s hoping in his 37th Grand Slam final to tie Roger Federer’s record of eight Wimbledon titles.

James Beck was the 2003 winner of the USTA National Media Award  for print media. A 1995 MBA graduate of The Citadel, he can be reached at Jamesbecktennis@gmail.com. 

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Daniil Medvedev Calls For Video Replays After ‘Small Cat’ Insult At Wimbledon Umpire

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Daniil Medvedev - Credit: AELTC/Jed Leicester

Daniil Medvedev admits the use of his words against the umpire in his Wimbledon semi-final match was not pleasant but he believes he didn’t cross a line. 

The world No.5 was issued with a code violation for unsportsmanlike conduct during the first set of his clash with Carlos Alcaraz. Medvedev was visibly irritated when umpire Eva Asderaki ruled there was a double bounce before he returned a ball during a rally. He was then caught on camera mouthing an insult to Asderaki who consulted with the tournament supervisor before issuing him with a violation. Verbal abuse towards match officials can lead to players being defaulted from matches. 

Medvedev went on to win the first set before losing in four to Alcaraz. After his exit from the tournament, he was quizzed about what he said. 

“I would say small cat, the words are nice, but the meaning was not nice here,” he said without elaborating any further.

Continuing to defend his actions, the 28-year-old said he had previously been involved in a similar incident involving Asderaki where a double-bounce call was made against him at the French Open. Medvedev says memories of what happened were triggered today. 

“I don’t know if it was a double bounce or not. I thought no. That was tricky. The thing is that once long ago at Roland Garros against (Marin) Cilic I lost, and she didn’t see that it was one bounce. So I had this in my mind. I thought, again, against me,” he said.

“I said something in Russian, not unpleasant, but not over the line. So I got a code for it.”

It is not the first time Medvedev has used the phrase ‘small cat’ as an insult. During a heated match against Stefanos Tsitsipas at the 2022 Australian Open, told umpire Jaume Campistol he would be a small cat if he did not take action against claims that Tsitsipas was being coached illegally during the match.

The former US Open champion says he did not fear being defaulted from his latest match before going on to say video replays should be allowed in the sport. A comment that was also made by Coco Gauff during the French Open earlier this year after she was caught up in a dispute concerning a double-bounce.

“Not at all because, as I say, I didn’t say anything too bad,” he replied when asked if he was concerned he might be disqualified for what he said on Friday.

“The thing is that I think it would be so much easier with a challenge system. The challenge system shows a bounce. So if there was a bounce, it would show it. 

“Then if we use it, we would never have this situation. So I don’t know why we don’t use the challenge system for double bounce, the Hawk-Eye or whatever.”

Medvedev’s focus will now turn back to the clay ahead of the Olympic games which will be held at Roland Garros. 

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