Novak Djokovic Joins Players In Urging Caution Over Andy Murray’s Return - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Joins Players In Urging Caution Over Andy Murray’s Return

Media day at The Queen’s Club saw players discuss the return of the former world No.1.

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Novak Djokovic (zimbio.com)

LONDON:  Novak Djokovic believes Andy Murray needs to conquer his mental demons if he wants to return back to the top of the men’s game.

 

31-year-old Murray is set to return to action at the upcoming Fever-Tree Championships in London. It will be his first tournament since Wimbledon after missing 11 months of the tour due to a hip injury. In January the Brit underwent surgery to treat the problem after failing to recover in time for the Australian Open. Resulting in a slow and frustrating comeback.

“He has been absent for longer than I have.” Djokovic said on Sunday. ”Hips – I don’t know how painful it is but I think the biggest challenge will always be mental. How to get it out of your head, know it’s behind you and focus on your game.”

Djokovic knows what it is like to be on the sidelines of the tour. At an almost identical time to Murray (shortly after Wimbledon) he ended his 2017 season. He did so due to a serious elbow injury that has been bothering him for months prior. Djokovic returned to competitive tennis at the start of this year, but has since undergone a minor medical procedure. During his rehabilitation, he had also had to change his service motion to alleviate the pressure put onto his elbow.

“I faced myself a major injury that got me off the court for six plus months. You feel the consequences of that more mentally than Physically, I think.” He explained. “I never knew that it was going to take so much time for me to get back into the state of mind where I am comfortable and confident with my game, with the changes I have made.”

The physical struggles of the 12-time grand slam champion are now in the past. Although Djokovic admits himself that he finds its frustrating that he can no longer execute parts of his game as well as he has previously done. Asked about what advice he would give to Murray, the Serbian continued to reiterate the importance of the mental side of the sport.

“If you don’t have mental clarity on the court, especially on the grass where everything happens very quickly, it is very difficult to play.” He stated.
“I wish him (Murray) all the best. Tennis misses him. He’s a great champion. A great guy. Very dedicated.”

Others speak out

Marin Cilic, who trails Murray 3-12 in their head-to-head, believes his decision to start his comeback on the grass is a tricky one. The Brit has won eight out of his 45 titles on the surface. Including two Wimbledon trophies.

“I would say that it is the most difficult thing to come back on the grass. In terms of movement you’re exposed. Especially Andy, who hasn’t played for nearly 12 months now.” He said.
“Even though he probably one of the most natural playing guys on the grass. I believe it’s still going to be a bit difficult for him to find his ground.”

Grigor Dimitrov believes that the home advantage will help the five-time Queen’s champion overcome any difficulty. Murray will start his campaign against the formidable Nick Kyrgios, who recently reached the semifinals of the Stuttgart Open. Kyrgios has been blighted by a shoulder injury in recent weeks.

“It’s a tough match for a first match in a long time.” Said Dimitrov.
“To see somebody coming back, especially Andy, it is great. Not only great for the tournament, but for the British fans. I think for him to play in a home tournament in front of his home crowd and family. That will help boost him up. Even if he is not 100 percent ready. That’s going to help him stay positive and look into the future.”

The main draw of the Fever-Tree Championships will get underway on Monday.

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Richard Gasquet reaches his first Masters 1000 semifinal since Miami 2013

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Frenchman Richard Gasquet edged past this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-2 after 2 hours and 12 minutes to reach his first Masters 1000 semifinal since the 2013 Miami Open.

 

 Gasquet missed six months of action after undergoing groin surgery last January.

The French player set up a semfinal against David Goffin, who reached the semifinal after his Japanese opponent Yoshihito Nishioka withdrew from the match due to illness.

The first set went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break. Bautista Agut hit a backhand wide at 1-2. Gasquet sealed the tie-break when Bautista Agut hit a forehand long.

Bautista Agut earned two breaks of serve in the second set and sealed it, when Gasquet made his third double fault on set point.

Gasquet broke serve with a volley in the third game of the decisive set. The French player went up a double break to race out to 4-1 lead. He saved two break points to hold his serve at deuce before serving out the third set on his first match point.

“I know how tough it was to come back. I know the moments I had at the start of the year, so I just wanted to enjoy, to fight. It is not easy to come back after six months out, but I am here. I am in semis tomorrow”,said Gasquet.

 

 

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Danil Medvedev cruises past Jan-Lennard Struff to set up an all Russian quarter final against Andrey Rublev

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Ninth seed Danil Medvedev cruised past Jan-Lennard Struff 6-3 6-1 in 66 minutes to reach the quarter final at the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati.

 

Medvedev committed just 12 unforced errors and won 18 of Struff’s 25 second serve points.

 Medvedev broke twice in the second and eighth games to win the first set 6-2. The young Russian player got two consecutive breaks in the second and fourth games to race out to a 4-0 lead and held his service game at deuce after saving a break point in the fifth game. Struff held his serve to get his first game on the scoreboard, but Medvedev sealed the win on his first match point. The Russian player has improved his head-to-head record to 3-0 againt Struff.

Medvedev has won 11 of his past 13 matches during the North American hard-court season. He has a solid 41-16 record this season. He finished runner in two consecutive finals to Nick Kyrgios at Washington and to Rafael Nadal in Montreal.  In the quarter final the Russian star will face his compatriot Andrey Rublev, who upset Roger Federer 6-3 6-4.

Recent Wimbledon semifinalist Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past Miomir Kecmanovic 6-1 6-2 in just under an hour setting up a quarter final against Richard Gasquet, who beat Diego Schwartzman 7-6 (8-6) 6-3.

Japanese qualifier Yoshihito Nishioka beat Australian player Alex De Minaur 7-5 6-4 in 83 minutes with one break in each set. Nishioka rallied from 4-6 down in the tie-break of the first set to edge Adrian Mannarino 7-6 (8-6) 6-2 in 1 hour and 37 minutes.

“It was a great match and I got better as it went on. I am feeling sharp. I am feeling great now and I am looking forward to the quarter finals of a Masters 1000. I have nothing to lose”, said Goffin.

 

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Roger Federer Crashes Out Of Cincinnati Masters

The seven-time champion has suffered a blow to his preparations for the US Open.

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World No.3 Roger Federer has been knocked out of the Western and Southern Open in Cincinnati after falling in straight sets to Russia’s Andrey Rublev.

 

The 20-time grand slam champion struggled to find his range as he was overwhelmed by his fearless opponent during the 6-3, 6-4, loss. Despite the huge disparity in experience between the two, 21-year-old Rublev managed to dominate the majority of rallies with the help of some heavy hitting. Producing 17 winners to six unforced errors, compared to Federer’s tally of 19 and 20.

“I respect him a lot, I respect all the top players a lot, but today when I was going to court I was going there to win.” Rublev said during an interview with Amazon Prime.
“I was not going (to the match) to enjoy. I was going to fight, try to win and do my best.”

Rublev’s shock win saw the underdog outdo the Swiss maestro in almost every area of the match. Winning the most first serves (85% to 63%), second serves (57% to 63) and a bigger majority of points at the net (5/6 to 7/19). Breaking him twice in the opening set and once in the second. The Russian, who is 70th in the world, is the lowest ranked player to defeat Federer on the tour since Thanassi Kokkinakis at the 2018 Miami Open.

The loss leaves a mark on Federer’s impressive record in Cincinnati, which he has won a record seven times. It is the first time he has failed to reach the quarter-final stage since losing to Ivo Karlovic in the third round back in 2008.

“He was playing well. I was maybe struggling especially on the offensive, because overall I didn’t think I was feeling the ball badly.” Federer reflected during his press conference. “It’s just, you know, sort of fast-court conditions and when you sometimes then can’t rely on that serve to go or on the one-two punch, which I didn’t think was excellent today from my side, you need an opponent that maybe lets you get by some tougher moments, but he didn’t do that.”
“He was super clean. Defense, offense, serving well. Didn’t give me anything. He was everywhere. So it was tough for me, but excellent match by him. I was impressed.”

Rublev now has a meeting with compatriot Daniil Medvedev in what will be his first quarter-final at Masters level. Medvedev has reached the final of tournaments in Washington and at the Rogers Cup since Wimbledon. He is yet to drop a set this week and brushed aside Jan-Lennard Struff 6-2, 6-1, in his third round match.

“It’s going to be an interesting match for Russia.” Rublev previewed. “It will be a tough match for me because the way he plays. Nobody likes to play him.”
“I lost to him in a Challenger a few years ago, so it’s going to be interesting tomorrow.” He added.

The latest victory is only Rublev’s second over a top five player in his career. His first was against Dominic Thiem at the German Open last month.

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