Underdog Malek Jaziri Delights And Inspires Locals In Dubai With Dream Run - UBITENNIS
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Underdog Malek Jaziri Delights And Inspires Locals In Dubai With Dream Run

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As the only Arab player ranked in the top 200, Malek Jaziri knows how significant his run at the Dubai Tennis Championships is.

The 34-year-old entered the draw with little hope, but has managed to exceed expectations. In the first round, he stunned top seed Grigor Dimitrov in three sets. Recording his first win over a top 10 player. He was able to continue his winning run on Thursday in the quarter-finals. Taking on rising star Stefanos Tsitsipas, he prevailed 6-4, 3-6, 6-3, after just over two hours of play.

“It was a big fight today,” Jaziri said. “Was not that easy at all. I finished very late yesterday. I was in bed at 2.30am, so I didn’t sleep a lot. I tried to recover the best.
“I have less than 17 hours, or 16 hours, to prepare for today’s match. It was a tough moment. During the match I was up and down little bit today. But I’m happy to win.”

Jaziri has been adopted as a local favorite in Dubai, despite being based in Tunis. The capital of Tunisia that is located more than 2700 miles away. In the current tennis landscape, it is rare that a Arab player excels on the main stage of the ATP World Tour. The last Arab player to reach the semifinals in Dubai was Younes El Aynaoui back in 2002.

“I enjoy all the moments on court,” Jaziri said. “It was really important for me to enjoy the game, to fight for every point, to feel all these people are watching my match, at my back, to cheer for me every point.
“I feel that moment. When I play, I feel them. They feel me, I feel them. We have that contact.
“Even today, they helped me a lot. When I was little bit down in the third set, when it was not easy, I feel them. They were with me. They push me. This give me more power today.”

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Relishing in the support, Jaziri doesn’t just want to make his Dubai success all about him. He wants to shows others that Arab players have the ability to go to the top of the sport as well.

“I was hearing the cheers from a lot of young Arab kids and after I won I saw how happy they all were for me,” he told Sport360 earlier this week. “I hope that this can show them that us Arabs can compete with and defeat the best players in the world, as long we work hard for it.”

Spain’s Roberto Bautista Agut will be the next challenge for Jaziri, who will play in his first ATP semi-final. The third seed, who won the ASB Classic earlier this year, dismissed former semifinalist Borna Coric 7-6(4), 6-4.

“I think I played very good tennis,” Bautista Agut said.
“It was not easy to beat Borna… he’s very solid. He was hitting very good serves and playing very aggressively. I didn’t rest all match.”

In the other half of the draw, Lucas Pouille will take on Filip Krajinović in Friday’s semifinals. Pouille battled from a set down to defeat Yuichi Sugita 3-6, 6-3, 6-2. Meanwhile, Krajinović thrashed Evgeny Donskoy 6-1, 6-2.

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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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