Novak Djokovic Sees Positives In Training Alongside Female Players On The Tour - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Sees Positives In Training Alongside Female Players On The Tour

The 12-time grand slam champion also explains what he is approaching the Italian Open with a different mindset compared to the past.

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Novak Djokovic (zimbio.com)

Former world No.1 Novak Djokovic believes mixed training sessions on the professional tour has its benefits for both genders.

 

Earlier this week Maria Sharapova hit the headlines when she was filmed practising against Rafael Nadal at the Italian Open. On Monday Sharapova uploaded a video of the two hitting a 27-shot rally on one of the practice courts. Along with the caption ‘two minutes on court with the GOAT.’ Nadal has won a record 55 ATP titles on the clay, including 10 French Open Trophies.

The top seed later replied to Sharapova’s video by thanking her. Nadal will get his campaign underway in the tournament later this week. At stake for him is the chance of reclaiming the No.1 spot after losing it last week in Madrid. The Spaniard was dethroned from the top by Roger Federer following his quarter-final loss to Dominic Thiem at the Caja Magica.

“Thanks Maria! It’s been a pleasure hitting with the you a few balls.” He wrote on Twitter.

Nadal isn’t the first ATP player Sharapova has trained with. She also previously practiced with 12-time grand slam champion Djokovic. Shortly after his first round win against Alexandr Dolgopolov at the Italian Open, the Serbian was asked about the recent training session. Reflecting back on his own experience, Djokovic explained why he likes to practice alongside female players.

“Actually, they (WTA players) hit better than most of us guys from the spot. I mean, they don’t miss. And they hit flat and straight at you. So, they don’t take time to warm up. They go at full speed at you.” He said.
“I have nothing against that. In contrary, I actually like it. I played with Ana Ivanovic a couple of times and we practiced. So, I’ve done it before.”

Djokovic will play either Filippo Baldi or Nikoloz Basilashvili in the second round in Rome. He is a four-time champion of the event, last clinching the title in 2016. This year he enters the event in a different mindset after what has been a challenging start to the year. Djokovic missed half of the 2017 season due to a serious elbow injury.

“I had to learn in the last 12 months that, because of the circumstances and injury and surgery and all these different things, I had to think about my game and about my results and approach the tournaments in a little bit different way.” He explained.
“It’s not like I don’t want to win. Of course, I want to win every match. But I had to understand that — where my level of my game is and to accept this reality and to accept that it is a process to get to where I want to be in terms of play, level of play.”

Following his first round victory, Djokovic currently has a win-loss record of 7-6 this year.

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Roberto Bautista Agut overcomes Dominik Koepfer in three sets in Hamburg

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Nine-time ATP Tour champion Roberto Bautista Agut came back from a break down in the third set to beat last week’s Rome quarter finalist Dominik Koepfer 6-3 3-6 6-3 in 2 hours and 4 minutes at the European Open in Hamburg. The nine-time ATP Tour winner converted on 7 of his 17 break points.  

 

Koepfer, who was the only player to win a set against Novak Djokovic last week in Rome, got an early break to take a 2-0 lead. Bautista Agut won five consecutive games with two consecutive breaks to take the first set 6-3. 

Koepfer earned an early break to open up a 3-1 lead in the second set. Five consecutive breaks followed, before Koepfer sealed the second set with an unreturned serve after saving two break points in the 10th game. 

Koepfer came back from 0-2 down in the third set by winning three consecutive games to take a break lead at 3-2. Bautista Agut won four consective games with a double break in the sixth and eighth games to win the third set at 6-3. 

Bautista Agut set up a quarter final against last year’s finalist Andrey Rublev, who overcame Tommy Paul 6-1 3-6 6-2 in 1 hour and 37 minutes. The Spaniard leads 2-1 in his three head-to-head matches against his younger Russian rival.

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Aryna Sabalenka comes back from one set down to beat Anna Blinkova in Strasbourg

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World number 12 and this year’s Doha champion Aryna Sabalenka came back from a set down to edge past Anna Blinkova 1-6 6-4 6-2 reaching the quarter final at the Internationaux de Strasbourg. 

 

Sabalenka qualified for the quarter final in Adelaide and Dubai in 2020, but she scored just three wins across the US tournaments in Lexington, the Western and Southern Open and at the US Open. 

Blinkova came through the qualifying round in Rome, where she beat Jil Teichmann and Aliona Bolsova before losing to eventual finalist Karolina Pliskova in the Round of 16. 

Blinkova went up a double break to take a 4-0 lead. Sabalenka held serve at love in the fifth game to win her first game. Blinkova served out the first set 6-1 with her third break. 

Sabalenka got her first break at the start of the second set to take a 1-0 lead. Blinkova broke straight back in the second game to draw level to 1-1. Both players went on serve until the seventh game, when Sabalenka got a crucial break to take a 4-3 lead after a marathon game that went to three deuces. Sabalenka held her next two service games to take the second set 6-4. 

Sabalenka earned an early break in the third game to open up a 3-1 lead. She broke again in the seventh game for 5-2 at deuce and served out the win on her second match point. Sabalenka hit 27 winners to 32 unforced errors. 

Sabalenka set up a quarter final match against Katerina Siniakova, who beat Ekaterina Alexandrova 6-2 6-4. Siniakova broke twice to take a 5-1 lead. Alexandrova pulled the break back at love in the seventh game, but Alexandrova came back from 15-30 to break serve in the 10th game closing out the first set 6-4. The second set went on serve until the 10th game when Siniakova converted her third break point at deuce to close out the match. 

Former Roland Garros champion Jelena Ostapenko advanced to the quarter final after Kiki Bertens was forced to retire due to an Achilles tendon injury from the match at 2-6 6-4 4-2. Ostapenko will face Japan’s Nao Hibino, who beat Zarina Diyas 7-5 6-3. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Daniel Evans to reach the second round in Hamburg

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Last year’s ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas cruised past Daniel Evans 6-3 6-1 in 59 minutes to set up a second round match against Uruguay’s Pablo Cuevas. 

 

Tsitsipas forced a forehand error from Evans to get a break for 3-1 and sealed the first set at love with a forehand volley winner. 

The Greek player broke serve in the third game of the second set with a forehand return and a a foehand approach. Tsitsipas broke three times in a row to win the second set 6-1. 

Tsitsipas hit 17 of his 24 winners off the forehand wing and won 14 of his points at the net. 

“It’s very satisfying to be playing that level of tennis, as I have missed playing on clay. It helps for my confidence. I have watched this tournament on TV since I was very young and I am delighted to have gotten off to a strong start”, said Tsitsipas. 

Chile’s Christian Garin beat German wild card Yannick Hanfmann 6-2 7-6 (7-3) to become the first player to reach the quarter final in Hamburg. Garin broke twice in a row in the sixth and eighth to win the first set 6-2. 

The South American player went up a break at deuce to take a 3-1 lead in the second set. Yanfmann converted his third break-back point in the ninth game to draw level to 5-5. The German player earned another break in the 11th game to take a 6-5 lead earning a chance to serve for the set. Garin broke straight back sending the second set to the tie-break. Hanfmann took a 3-1 lead, but Garin reeled off six consecutive points to win the tie-break 7-3. 

Benoit Paire withdrew from his first round match against Casper Ruud as he was a set and a break down at 4-6 0-2. The Frenchman revealed after the match that he has tested positive for the coronavirus twice since arriving at the tournament. Paire claimed that he had been told the rule in Germany is different to that in Paris, where positive players have been withdrawn from the French Open qualifying round due to covid-19. 

“The only negative test was yesterday but I was positive in two consecutive tests. The ATP has to explain to me what the rule is. In Paris some are negative, but because the coach is positive they can’t play. Here in Germany you are positive and can play”, said Paire.  

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