Roger Federer Wins Record 20th Major Title At The Australian Open Amid Roof Argument - UBITENNIS
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Roger Federer Wins Record 20th Major Title At The Australian Open Amid Roof Argument

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Under the roof of the Rod Laver Arena, Roger Federer has become the first man in history to win a 20th grand slam title after defeating Marin Cilic 6-2, 6-7(5), 6-3, 3-6, 6-1, at the Australian Open.

In what was a repeat of last year’s Wimbledon final, Federer was pushed to his limits both mentally and physically. Having a seemingly one-sided lead wiped away by some warrior-like tennis produced from his rival. Nevertheless, the 36-year-old managed to prevail in the 183-minute encounter. Hitting 24 aces, 41 winners and 40 unforced errors. A stark contrast to Cilic’s winner-error ratio of 45-64.

“I’m so happy,” an emotional Federer said after the match.  “Winning is an absolute dream come true. The fairytale continues for us, for me. After the great year I had last year, it’s incredible.”

Drama off the court

Prior to the encounter, officials sparked outcry after deciding that the final should be played under the roof, despite no rain occurring. Former players Greg Rusedski and Pat Cash both slammed the move by saying that it gave Federer the edge.

“One guy warms up indoors, other warms up outdoors before the finals. Roof is closed.” Rusedski wrote on Twitter.
“This is so wrong for a GS final which is an outdoor event, which means you should have to deal with the elements. So far one sided. I hope Cilic can get back into the match.”

The Australian Open hit back by saying the roof was close in accordance with their heat policy. Although the ambient temperature didn’t go over 40 degrees, which is part of their guidelines. In a statement, they later admitted that the decision was due to the ‘discretion of the referee.’

Federer undeterred

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Despite the argument off-court, it had little impact on Federer’s start to the match. From the onset it was one-way traffic in his favour. The 36-year-old settled into his 30th grand slam final almost instantly. Breaking Cilic twice at the start of the match to seal the opening set in just 24 minutes. Nerves were visible in Cilic’s game as he produced 12 unforced errors compared to Federer’s tally of three. On top of that, the Swiss player dropped just two points behind his serve.

It wasn’t until the second set where Federer got tested. Former US Open champion Cilic had two opportunities to break for a 2-0 lead, but was denied by more tenacious play from the world No.2. From then on, there was little to distinguish between the two as Cilic continued to gain momentum. The Croat battled his way to a set point opportunity at 5-4 following a Federer double fault, but failed to convert. Still undeterred, Cilic secured his the breakthrough in the tiebreaker when a blistering forehand shot elevated him to two more set points. It was on the second where he prevailed after hitting a smash at the net.

With history at stake, Federer managed to regain his stronghold in the match during the third. A Cilic backhand crashed into the net to reward Federer a trio of chances of break for a 4-2 lead. He did so on his second attempt after another error from his rival. Prompting a huge roar of ‘come on’ from the Swiss player. The two sets leads was then sealed with an ace out wide.

Nudging towards a record-equaling sixth Australian Open title, nerves began to unravel Federer. Enabling a resurgent Cilic to illustrate why he remains one of the most prominent players in men’s tennis. Displaying shots reminiscent of his run to the 2014 US Open title, the Croat dismantled the Federer serve with ease to force proceedings into a decider. Prompting an eruption of cheers from his fans in the crowd.

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The tension inside the Rod Laver Arena reached its peak as history beckoned for whoever won the final. Once again, Federer got the lead in the cat and mouse chase by breaking for a 3-0 lead in the decider. This time the lead was enough to get him over the finish line. A Cilic forehand smashing into the net secured him another break to move him to a game away from history. Serving for grand slam title No.20, he achieved the milestone with a perfectly placed 140 km/h serve out wide. Prompting tears and jubilation from both him and his camp.

” I’d like to thank Marin, another great tournament. World No3, that’s a hell of an achievement.” Federer said in tribute to his opponent.

As tears fell down the face of the Swiss Maestro, he continued to praise those that has supported him. His team, his family and his fans.

“To all the fans. You fill the stadiums, you make me nervous, you make me go out and practice. I just want to thank you for everything.” He said.
“To my team, I love you guys.”

Runner-up Cilioc can seek some comfort  in his Melbourne run. On Monday he will rise to third on the ATP Emirates rankings in what will be the highest position in his career. He is also one of only two players from his country to contest three major finals after Goran Ivanisevic.

“It was an amazing journey for me. It could have been the best two weeks of my life. I had the chance at the beginning of the fifth but he played a great match.” Said Cilic.
“My team have been unbelievable for the last two weeks. We started this year amazingly well and hopefully we can reach more finals and lift more trophies!”

Federer is only the third man to win a sixth Australian Open title. Following in the footsteps of Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic.

https://twitter.com/rogerfederer/status/957589116027375616

 

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Novak Djokovic ‘Hurt’ By Father’s Absence From Australian Open Final

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Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Novak Djokovic said he mutually agreed with his father that he did not attend his latest Australian Open match but admits it was a bitter pill to swallow. 

 

Srdjan Djokovic had attended his son’s matches throughout the majority of the tournament but has recently been caught up in controversy. On Wednesday a video surfaced on social media of the 62-year-old posing for a photo with pro-Russian supporters with one of the fans waving a flag with the face of Vladimir Putin on it. Another fan was also wearing a t-shirt with the ‘Z’ symbol on it which is used to support the Russian army. 

The Russian and Belarussian flags were banned from the tournament this year following an incident in the first round. A Russian flag was shown during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova. Prompting anger from Ukraine with its ambassador to Australia calling for a ‘neutral flag’ policy to be implemented. 

Srdjan has since issued a statement saying the incident was ‘unintentional’ and said his family ‘only wish for peace in the world.’ He subsequently also missed Djokovic’s semi-final match to avoid any possible ‘disruption’ before doing the same for Sunday’s final.

“I thought things would calm down in terms of media and everything, but it didn’t. We both agreed it would probably be better that he is not there,” Djokovic said after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title
“That hurts me and him (Srdjan) a lot because these are very special, unique moments. Who knows if they repeat again? So it was not easy for him.”

Whilst he was not in the stands, Djokovic was reunited with his father shortly afterwards. Although the tennis star said Srdjan ‘was not feeling his best’ due to the situation. 

“It is what it is. I think in the end also what he told me is that it’s important that I feel good on the court, I win the match, and he’s here for me,” Djokovic continued. 
“If it’s going to be better for me as the outcome of the match so that he’s not in the box, then so be it. That was the whole conversation.’
“In a way, I’m also sad that he was not there, present, in the stands. But he was throughout the entire tournament, so it’s fine. In the end, we have a happy ending.”

Djokovic has now won five out of the past seven Grand Slam tournaments he has played in. At the Australian Open alone he has won 28 matches in a row.

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Australian Open Daily Preview: Novak Djokovic and Stefanos Tsitsipas Play for the Men’s Championship

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Novak Djokovic this week in Melbourne (twitter.com/australianopen)

A year ago, Novak Djokovic experienced quite an embarrassing debacle.  After the unvaccinated Djokovic was initially granted an exemption and allowed to enter Australia, he was later detained, and eventually deported and prevented from competing at this tournament.  His refusal to get vaccinated continues to prevent Novak from competing in North American tournaments, missing Indian Wells, Miami, Canada, Cincinnati, and the US Open last year. 

 

But at the events Djokovic has been allowed to participate in over the past seven months, he has been nearly unstoppable.  Since the beginning of Wimbledon last June, he is now 37-2, with five titles.  Novak comes into this championship match on a 16-match winning streak, with seven of those victories against top 10 opposition.  With a win on Sunday, Djokovic not only ties Rafael Nadal in their ongoing race for history with 22 Major titles, but he also regains the World No.1 ranking, despite all the tennis he’s missed.

However, standing in his way is a hungry and confident Stefanos Tsitsipas.  This is the Greek’s second Major final, and the second time he’s encountered Djokovic in this round of a Slam.  Two years ago in the championship match of Roland Garros, Tsitsipas secured the first two sets, before losing to Novak in five.  If Stefanos can win one more set on Sunday, he’ll not only win his first Major title, he’ll also become the World No.1 for the first time.

Also on Sunday, the women’s doubles champions will be crowned.  Barbora Krejcikova and Katerina Siniakova, who have won six Majors as a team, face Shuko Aoyama and Ena Shibahara, who are vying for their first Major as a team. 


Stefanos Tsitsipas (3) vs. Novak Djokovic (4) – 7:30pm on Rod Laver Arena

Djokovic’s excellence in the latter rounds of the Australian Open is rivaled only by Nadal’s excellence at Roland Garros.  Novak is now 19-0 in the semifinals and finals of this tournament, which is quite staggering.  He’s also won his last 27 matches at this event, and his last 40 in Australia in general, a streak that dates back over five years.  While Novak suffered a hamstring injury a week before this fortnight, he has still advanced to this final rather easily, dropping only one set through six matches.

Tsitsipas has now reached the semifinals or better in four of the last five years at the Australian Open, but this is his first time reaching the final.  He enjoys plenty of Greek support at this event, and appears to have some extra swagger in his step during this fortnight.  Stefanos has dropped three sets to this stage, and has been superb at saving break points.  Through six matches, he has saved 44 of 53 break points faced.

Both men feel fully at home on Rod Laver Arena, and have described it as their favorite court.  But this is their first meeting on RLA.  They’ve met plenty of times on other courts though, in a rivalry that’s been thoroughly dominated by Djokovic.  The Serbian leads 10-2, and has claimed their last nine matches.  That includes four matches that took place in 2022, in which Novak won eight of their nine sets.  They played three times within a six-week period this past fall on indoor hard courts, with their closest and best matchup taking place in the semifinals of Bercy, where Djokovic prevailed in a final-set tiebreak.

Djokovic is undeniably a huge favorite to win his 10th Australian Open.  But that common knowledge takes a lot of pressure off Tsitsipas, who was so close to defeating Novak the last time they met in a Slam final.  Djokovic has been rather unbothered by all competition during this tournament, even with an injured hamstring.  Can Stefanos pull off one of the bigger surprises in recent tennis history?  I expect him to challenge Novak on Sunday, but Tsitsipas’ backhand remains a liability. And with Djokovic determined to avenge what he sees as mistreatment a year ago in Australia, a Novak loss would be truly surprising.


Sunday’s full Order of Play is here.

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Australian Open: Facing Tsitsipas For World No. 1 Spot May Be Different for Novak Djokovic

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

It probably was a good thing that Novak Djokovic wasn’t facing a top opponent in the Australian Open semifinals. Certainly not one the caliber of Stefanos Tsitsipas.

 

Of course, Tommy Paul did his best. He just isn’t a top ten caliber player.

The American could rally with Djokovic, but when it came time to win the point or game, he  usually was nowhere to be found on the Rod Laver court.

DJOKOVIC WILL NEED TO BE BETTER

The fact that Tsitsipas is in contention for the No. 1 ranking in men’s tennis is enough to ensure that Paul isn’t quite in the league with the Greek superstar.

Djokovic will need to be better than he was against Paul when he steps onto the court to face Tsitsipas on Sunday night in the Australian Open singles final.

There was Djokovic blundering his way through a one-sided 7-5, 6-1, 6-2 win over Paul. The scoreline should have been closer to 3-1-2. But Novak appeared to have all kinds of physical ailments — legs, knees, bandaged hamstring. Or just plain conditioning and breathing hard. You name it.

NIGHT-TIME DUTY ONCE AGAIN

It was just night time in Melbourne. You wonder what might have happened if Novak had been assigned some daytime duty like everyone else in the tournament. Say, like Tsitsipas had been assigned for his closer than the scores reflex in the Greek’s 7-6 (2), 6-4, 6-7 (6), 6-3 win over Karen Khachanov in Friday’s other semifinal.

Tsitsipas is a real threat to claim the world’s top ranking on Sunday night with a victory over the legend from Serbia. Of course, in the 2021 French Open final, Tsitipsas won the first two sets against Djokovic.

It’s possible. Tsitsipas could come through this time.

A SHADOW OF THE OLD NOVAK

Novak was only a shadow of the old Djokovic Friday night. And that was against a player who may never earn a berth in another Grand Slam semifinal.

Of course, Djokovic wasn’t quite as out of it as Rafa Nadal was in the second-round blitzing by Mackenzie McDonald. But Nadal was nursing a hip injury. He may be a different player in Paris in four months.

Djokovic still has all of the big shots and serves he has displayed for much of the last two decades. He just didn’t seem to know where all of those weapons were headed in the semifinals.

IS NOVAK’S BAG OF TRICKS EMPTY?

Of course, if Novak pulls a solid performance out of his bag of tricks and denies Tsitsipas the world’s top ranking, Djokovic likely would stand in Nadal’s path in Paris to a record 23rd Grand Slam singles title.

The task won’t be easy. First, Novak has to take care of business on Sunday night. But with a record-tying 22nd Grand Slam title up for grabs, Djokovic may actually look like himself. 

As Novak says, he wants to be known as the best player in the world.

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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