12-time Grand Slam champion Novak Djokovic sprinted into the French Open quarterfinals after a clinical 6-3, 6-4, 6-2 victory over former top-ten player Fernando Verdasco on Sunday. Djokovic struggled to find his rhythm early on, but his class eventually told as he romped home in two hours and 25 minutes.
After the marathon came the sprint for Djokovic. His class eventually told; his forehand too cute, his power piercing through a vulnerable and creaking Verdasco. The Spaniard, too often a nearly man at grand slams, failed to make any real in-roads and struggled to repel the Serb on serve, a serve with which he ultimately polished off the match. It was a game with unforced errors aplenty and few glimpses of quality. Nevertheless, Djokovic is through.
Both players were engaged in a battle of wits right at the start of the contest. Djokovic was employing a skidding serve and was getting some real purchase on it, winning a couple of free points against his left-handed opponent to hold on to his serve for 1-0. Djokovic got three break points on Verdasco’s serve in the next game, but was unable to accomplish the break as the Spaniard eventually held on to his serve after a marathon 22-points.
The cat and mouse game between the pair continued in the next few games and it was the former champion, who broke that deadlock as he broke his opponent for a 3-1 advantage. Novak looked very nearly his old self in this particular game as he was continuously able to turn defense into offense. Djokovic backed up the break with a comfortable hold to make it 4-1.
With another solid service game, Djokovic moved to within a game from the first set, which he ultimately won in 55 minutes. Undoubtedly it was a slog for Djokovic because he struggled to find his groove initially, but was able to raise the level of his game whenever required to thwart the challenge of an adversary, who was definitely playing exceptionally well.
The opening game of the second set began on a dramatic note with both players complaining to the chair umpire about the court conditions. But, it was Verdasco, who lost his concentration and his serve to give Djokovic an immediate 1-0 advantage. However, Djokovic failed to maintain his advantage as he lost his serve in the sixth game when he looked to be physically struggling on serve.
But Djokovic broke back, again, to love, and then raced through a love hold with the help of some trademark, accurate serves. Eight points in a row helped him to within a game of two sets. Another lengthy game followed, but Verdasco managed to keep Djokovic at bay to force the former top ranked player to serve it out. And the Monte Carlo resident duly obliged his fans as he stormed to clinch the vital game and the set for a two sets to love lead in the match.
Djokovic picked up from where he left off as he secured another break of serve to start the third set. And even though Verdasco had a real opportunity to get the break right back, he failed at it as he sent a forehand long. Djokovic, meanwhile, put his foot on the accelerator to double his lead to 2-0.
Djokovic was provided a healthy cushion of a double break as Verdasco’s inconsistency led to his downfall in the fifth game. In the end, it took Djokovic just 33 minutes to triumph in set No. 3 and book his place in the French Open quarterfinals. Beyond doubt there were moments when the former World No. 7 challenged him, but Novak fought bravely and eventually it was him, who prevailed.
Djokovic will take on Marco Cecchinato of Italy for a place in the semifinals on Wednesday. The Italian notched up a 7-5, 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 win over eighth seed David Goffin to set up his date Djokovic in the last 8.
Rafael Nadal Apologizes To Opponent After Wimbledon Win
The Spaniard admits he made a mistake.
Rafael Nadal said he was ‘wrong’ to call his opponent to the net during the third set of their third round match at Wimbledon.
The 22-time Grand Slam champion booked his place in the last 16 of the tournament by defeating Lorenzo Sonego 6-1, 6-2, 6-4. Nadal, who hasn’t won Wimbledon for more than a decade, was out in full flow as he raced to a two-set and 4-2 lead. At that point, Sonego managed to get the roof to be closed due to poor lighting.
After speaking to the umpire, Nadal called his opponent to the net for a discussion over what is believed to be about the noise he was making during the match. After losing his 4-2 advantage, Nadal battled back by breaking once again to secure victory.
“Well, first of all, I have to say that I was wrong. Probably I should not call him on the net. So I apologize for that. My mistake in that. No problem. I recognise that,” said Nadal.
“Then after that, all the stuff during the match that I don’t want to comment (on), because is something that I spoke with him in the locker room and it stays there. Only thing I can say is I saw him personally. I apologise for that.
“My intention was never to bother him at all. Just to tell one thing that was bothering me that I think he was doing in that moment, but that’s it.
“I think there is some code between players. Yeah, we had some issues there. But that’s it.”
The two shared a lengthy exchange at the net after the conclusion of the match and there were no hard feelings between either player.
Controversy aside, Nadal has hailed what he believed is his best performance at The All England Club yet. Against Soego, he won 73% of his service points and hit 24 winners.
“It was my best match, without a doubt, since the tournament started,” said Nadal. “I have made improvements and I’m very happy.’
“I’ve made I think a lot of things much better than the previous days, the determination, the way that I manage to play more aggressively and going to the net plenty of times.”
Nadal will play Dutch world number 25 Botic van de Zandschulp in the last 16.
“Every Match Is A War” – Carlos Alcaraz Excels With Best Performance Yet At Wimbledon
The world No.7 reacts to his latest win ahead of a showdown with a fellow rising star of the sport.
Carlos Alcaraz believes he is quickly finding his footing on the grass after storming into the fourth round of Wimbledon on Friday.
Alcaraz, who is playing in only his second grass-court tournament as a pro player, blasted his way past Germany’s Oscar Otte 6-3, 6-1, 6-2, in exactly 100 minutes. The Spaniard dropped only 14 points behind his serve as he hit a total of 37 winners against eight unforced errors.
“I played unbelievable. This was my best performance so far. So I’m really happy with the level, and I will try to keep this level into the next round.” Alcaraz said afterwards.
The 19-year-old has been a revelation on the Tour this season which has already seen him crack the world’s top 10 and win two Masters 1000 titles. He currently holds the record for the youngest player to ever win an ATP 500 event, as well as being the youngest to score back-to-back wins over Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic in the same tournament.
In one way Alcaraz’s rapid rise in the sport is illustrated by his current campaign at Wimbledon. In the first round he found it tough going throughout his five-set win over Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Learning from that experience, his form improved in the second round against Tallon Griekspoor (who he defeated in straight sets) and even more so against Otte.
“Every match is a war. Every match you can play unbelievable or you can play your worst match,” he explains. “Obviously Monday was my first match on grass (this year). It was really tough. Struff played unbelievable.’
“After four, five days the training, the matches, you learn how to play more on grass, how to move more on grass.”
“Now I feel more comfortable playing on grass, and I feel better on grass right now.”
Alcaraz’s next ‘war’ will be another rising star of the Tour – Jannik Sinner. A player who is less than two years older than him. They locked horns last year at the Paris Masters where the Spaniard prevailed in two close sets. Alcaraz also won their meeting at a Challenger event in Alicante back in 2019.
With a place in a Grand Slam quarter-final at stake, it is expected to be a tough battle. Although a challenge is something Alcaraz thrives on.
“Playing against Jannik is always tough. I like to play these kinds of matches, these kinds of challenges.” He said.
“On grass you have to play aggressive, you have to go to the net, you have to try to play more aggressively than the opponent. That’s my idea that I try in every match, to not let the opponent dominate the match.” He added.
The upcoming showdown will be Alcaraz’s sixth Tour-level match on grass which is only two less than that of Sinner.
Novak Djokovic Shrugs Off Threat Of Covid-19 Outbreak At Wimbledon
The world No.3 explains why he is not ‘overconcenred’ about COVID-19 at the Grand Slam.
Novak Djokovic says the possibility of a COVID-19 outbreak at Wimbledon is one that doesn’t concern him too much after a trio of top-20 players withdrew.
Earlier this week Marin Cilic, Matteo Berrettini and Roberto Bautista Agut all withdrew from the tournament after testing positive for the virus. Unlike the strict protocols that were in place last year, The All England Club has based its policy on local health advice. Where it is recommended that a person takes action if they have symptoms of the virus but they are not required to do so.
With fewer testing measures in place at Wimbledon, there is a high possibility that there are people working on site carrying COVID-19 without realizing it. However, the threat to players is one that reigning champion Djokovic is not too concerned about.
“I did visit the city (London) a few times before the tournament started but I’m not overconcerned about anything. I’m just trying to stay healthy, focused and play the tournament.” Djokovic said following his third round win.
“I’m not thinking about whether or not I’m going to catch COVID. But being cautious is something that is a necessity I think for everyone, and particularly because we have been through what we’ve been through in the last two years.”
Djokovic is one of the few top players who didn’t have a vaccination against covid. Resulting in him having a high-profile legal dispute with Australian authorities which resulted in his deportation and him missing the Australian Open. The tennis star later explained that he didn’t want to be vaccinated as he is cautious about what will be injected into his body. Even though the vaccine has been approved by the World Health Organization.
However, nemesis Rafael Nadal said on Thursday that he is taking extra precautions due to the threat. To common knowledge, there is no rule in place preventing a player who tests positive for Covid from playing in the Grand Slam.
“I am not doing many things. Just staying here (at Wimbledon) and staying in the house, not going out at all anymore. That’s part of this challenging world that we are facing in the last couple of years.” Nadal said.
“I am not saying that we are not doing things the proper way because at some point we need to open everything again, we need to be free, have a normal life.”
According to the National Office of Statistics (ONS) it is estimated that 1 in 30 people currently have the virus in the UK in the week ending June 24th.
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