Djokovic overcomes Nishikori in the first round - UBITENNIS
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Djokovic overcomes Nishikori in the first round

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Former world no.1 Novak Djokovic is into the second round of the Madrid Open after overcoming Kei Nishikori 7-5 6-4 in a minute shy of the 2 hour mark here at the stadium court of La Caja Mágica.

 

The two time champion (2011 and 2016) was far from his best, but found enough in his game to edge out Nishikori in straight sets. The Serb came into the match with an encouraging 11-2 head to head lead going back as far as 2010, winning the last 10 for the loss of just three sets.

Today the Serb, ranked 12 and seeded 10, started out tentatively on serve as he was forced to save two break points after serving three double faults. He came through that test, but dropped his serve in the fifth game, going well long on his backhand. The Japanese couldn’t maintain his break advantage as Djokovic levelled at 3-3 when Nishikori double faulted at break point. When the Serb held serve in the seventh game having saved two break points, he looked over to his camp where the recently reinstated Marian Vajda sat and let out a primal roar of defiance.

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Having failed to convert a set point on the Nishikori serve in the tenth game, Djokovic clinched the opening set at the second time of asking 7-5 in 67 minutes, with a forehand return winner accompanied by another elated roar.

The second set saw games going with serve, with both men holding their ground from the baseline which created some great rallies for the almost packed stadium court to enjoy. However, it was the Japanese who cracked first when serving to stay in the match. Despite going 40-15 up on serve, Nishikori quickly found himself match point down as a flurry of winners flowed from the racket of his illustrious opponent. When Nishikori’s backhand drive sailed long, Djokovic’s arms went up in relief as he strode triumphantly into the second round.

Djokovic served 6 aces and 5 double faults, with 63% of first serves from which he won 72% of the points. He converted 3/7 break points and saved 5/6 break points against him.

“It was strange, I must admit playing Kei in the first round”, Djokovic said. “Our rankings have dropped due to injuries and everything else that has happened to us in the last year. It can happen and it did happen here. I have played Kei many times in the big tournaments on the big occasions in the finals and semi-finals. It was different to play him in the first round and was a big test for both of us and I’m glad the match went my way, it could have gone his way as well. There were very few points that determined the winner today. I managed to play the right shots in the important moments. First and second sets I made breaks to win both sets in the final stages of both sets, so it was exactly what I needed for my confidence and for my game. I’m just happy to go through this one.”

Djokovic’s opening service game produced three double faults and the Serb was mightily relieved that that inauspicious start was not a sign of things to come.

“It’s never easy to open up the match on serve and he is one of the best returners in the game and I was feeling pressure on the second serve. I was going for my serves a little bit more. But I remember more the good serves today, especially the two after the horrendous miss I had (smash into the net at the net), probably the biggest one in my career”, Djokovic said laughing. “And I had a service winner and an ace after that, so that’s a great way to bounce back. In altitude and conditions like this you need a big weapon and that’s usually the serve, and obviously holding serve and winning some free points on the first serve is definitely something that we as players are looking for. So I’m glad I was able to get myself out of trouble a couple of times with the serve and, of course, with other shots as well, but I still need consistency and I’m still looking for that, but all in all it was a great test and a great match.”

Earlier today, Benoit Paire upset compatriot Lucas Pouille (15), 6-2 6-3 on Manolo Santana Stadium court. Despite coming into the match with an inferior 0-3 head to head record, Paire looked the more composed off the ground and made far less errors than his erratic opponent who was well below his best from start to finish. Two breaks of the Pouille serve saw Paire clinch the opening set in 40 minutes, and despite losing his serve and his cool at 3-1 up in the second set which saw water bottles flying which resulted in the obligatory code violation being issued, he regrouped and closed out the match with ease.

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‘Coronabros Stay In Your Basement’ – John Isner Plays Down Concerns Over COVID-19 Threat

The world No.21 believes players have to ‘learn and adapt’ to the virus.

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America’s top tennis player have said the world ‘can’t come to a complete standstill’ due to the Coronavirus pandemic as he hit back at criticism concerning an upcoming exhibition tournament he is participating in.

 

John Isner weighed in on the debate following a comment from freelance writer Ben Rothenberg whom on Twitter voiced concerns that Atlanta and West Virginia is staging tennis events with crowds despite a rise in cases. The world No.21 is set to play in the DraftKings All-American Team Cup in Atlanta, which will feature the eight top male players in the country. Officials plan to allow 450 people to attend the event on each day, which is estimated to be around 30% of the stadium’s maximum capacity.

“Ben, your concerns are valid, but, as someone who covers our sport for a living it would be nice if you would be supportive of WTT and Atlanta with their efforts to put on safe events instead of posting spooky headlines like this one that are factually incorrect,” Isner said making reference to an article Rothenberg posted.

Other Twitter users have also questioned the decision to allow fans to attend the event. Georgia, which is the state Atlanta is in, officially reported 2946 daily cases of the virus on July 1st. The highest amount within 24 hours since the pandemic began. Furthermore, Reuters News Agency reports that there was a record rise of more than 47,000 cases on Tuesday in America.

Nevertheless, Isner has dismissed calls for the event to be held behind closed doors or even cancelled. Branding his online critics as ‘coronabros’ before saying he wants to go on and live his life.

“You coronabros can stay in your basement all you want. I choose to live my life and play/promote the sport I love in a safe manner,” he said.

Unsurprisingly Isner has now been accused of downplaying the severity of the virus, which has killed more than 500,000 people worldwide. Including 130,000 in his home country alone. Challenged by one Twitter user who said she lost a family member due to the virus, Isner replied:-

“I’m incredibly sorry to hear that. I, in no way, was downplaying the effect of the virus, but I understand that perception can be reality.”

It is not fully understood by what he means with the phrase ‘perception is a reality’. Although he did like one tweet which said ‘the virus is much less lethal than the first models predicted. It’s now close to the flu.’ Although some medical experts have a differnt view on the perspective. White House coronavirus advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci has recently said the virus is “very different” from other outbreaks such as Ebola and HIV.

“We may not have a vaccine for a while and the world can’t come to a complete standstill. The reality is, we are going to have to learn and adapt to this virus in the safest manner possible,” he says.

The DraftKings All-American Team Cup in Atlanta will take place this weekend.

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Liverpool Ace Van Dijk Sees Similarities Between Him And Roger Federer

The Swiss Maestro has been praised for his seemingly effortless approach to the sport.

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Liverpool defender Virgil Van Dijk says he believes his approach to football is similar to that of Roger Federer in tennis.

 

In a recent interview the 28-year-old admitted that he can be perceived as laid back by some people whilst playing. Van Dijk recently helped Liverpool lift the Premier League title for the first time since 1990. The Dutch centre-back has scored four goals during the 2019-2020 Premier League season so far and was also part of the team which won the UEFA Champions League title last year.

Addressing his style of play on the pitch, Van Dijk said he has partly modelled his approach on the demeanour of Federer. Who currently holds the record for most Grand Slam titles won and weeks spent at No.1 on the ATP Tour.

“I have naturally always been a bit laid back, the way I look and the way my presence is,” The Express quoted him as saying.
“I think a good example is in tennis if you watch Federer playing tennis.
“It looks like he’s not even putting in any work and it can frustrate opponents as well thinking they’re trying as hard as they can and your putting on the slippers for example.”

Van Dijk isn’t the first Liverpool player to pay tribute to Federer. During the Swiss Indoors last October winger Xherdan Shaqiri said he can learn ‘so much’ from the world No.4. Shaqiri is also from Switzerland and started his career playing for FC Basel, which has been Federer’s favourite football club since he was a child.

“He’s here at home in Basel, then he’s running well and he’s winning. It went very fast and I’m happy for him,” Shaqiri commented on Federer’s win over Peter Gojowczyk at the Swiss Indoors last year.
“He is no longer the youngest and still plays at a top level, because you can look a lot off.”

Federer will not play any more professional tournaments this year after undergoing a second surgical procedure on his right knee within the last six months. The first was in February. Although he has pledged to return to action in 2021 when he will be 39-years-old.

It is only the second time in his career that Federer has ended a season half way through due to injury.

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Nick Kyrgios Blasts ‘Selfish’ Zverev Over Viral Party Video

The world No.7 has been blasted for breaking his pledge to self-isolate after playing in the Adria Tour where a series of players and coaches tested positive for COVID-19.

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Australian tennis star Nick Kyrgios has hit out at Alexander Zverev and the wider tennis community after it emerged on Sunday the German broke his self-isolation pledge to attend a party.

 

The world No.7 was caught attending a party at the Anjuna Plage Private Club in southern France after a video of him surfaced on the Instagram story of millionaire fashion designer Philipp Plein. Two other Instagram accounts also showed Zverev at the event on Sunday afternoon. The German issued a statement less than a week prior saying that he would go into a period of self-isolation after attending the Adria Tour in Zadar. Where Grigor Dimitrov, Borna Coric and Novak Djokovic tested positive for COVID-19. According to standard medical advice, those who have been in close contact with people with the virus should self-isolate for 14 days to avoid potentially spreading it.

“I will proceed to follow the self-isolating guidelines advised by our doctors. As an added precaution, my team and I will continue with regular testing,” the world No.7 said in a statement last Monday.

Zverev’s video sparked a series of criticism on social media, but Nick Kyrgios is by far the most well known figure in the sport to have spoken out. Releasing an Instagram video, the former top 20 player slammed the behaviour of his rival. Accusing him of being selfish before adding the tennis world was ‘pi**ing him off.’ During the Adria Tour players were seen attending parties and engaging with members of the public which was allowed under local laws.

“So I wake up and I see more controversial things happening all over the world. But one that stuck out for me was seeing (Alexander) Zverev again man, again, again, how selfish can you be? How selfish can you be?” Kyrgios said on Instagram.
“I mean, if you have the audacity to put out a f—ing tweet that you made your management write on your behalf saying you are going to self isolate for 14 days and apologising to f—ing general public for putting their health at risk, at least have the audacity to stay inside for 14 days. My god.
“Have your girlfriend with you for f—ing 14 days. Jesus, man. It pisses me off. This tennis world pisses me off. How selfish can you all get?”

Kyrgios isn’t the only player to criticise Zverev. Saschia Vickery wrote on Twitter ‘risking lives to dance off beat with no rhythm around hundreds of people how is this real life?’ and British player Katie Boulter said she was ‘speechless.’ Meanwhile, Noah Rubin wrote ‘we are far from being ok’ in reference in Zverev’s video.

French player Lucas Pouille was also spotted at the same party as Zverev. However, he didn’t play on the Adria Tour and has not been self-isolating. He recently withdrew from the United Tennis Showdown (UTS) due to injury.

Neither Zverev or a member of his team have commented on the video so far.

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