Wimbledon champion Novak Djokovic has stopped working with advisor Pepe Imaz following pressure from mentor Marijan Vajda.
The former world No.1 has worked with the Spanish tennis coach since 2016. Their collaboration had been subjected to criticism due to Imaz’s controversial methods. The Spaniard uses meditation and ‘lengthy hugs’ as part of his teaching methods. Imaz teaches the philosophy of Amor Y Paz (Love and Peace) at his tennis school back in Marbella. He was brought into Djokovic’s team to help the Serbian with his emotional balance between his life and career.
During their time together Djokovic didn’t win a grand slam title. Although he missed six months of the tour last year due to an elbow injury. It has been speculated that Imaz paid a part in Djokovic’s separation from former coach Boris Becker.
The dismissal of Imaz was confirmed by Vajda during an extensive interview with sport.sk. Vajda reunited with Djokovic earlier this year after receiving a call from him shortly after the Miami Open. The two previously worked together between 2006-2017. Speaking about Imaz, the 53-year-old was not afraid to speak out against him.
“Yes, I wanted him to finish working with Imaz, but it was not my number one condition,” Vajda told Slovakia’s sport.sk
“First I wanted to talk to Novak in person.
“Second, I wanted to make a plan and rules for the following months. We were all together in Barcelona, we sat and talked. I told him that I did not like people from outside the team to influence him, as was the case before.
“Tennis can not be based on philosophy. It is a man vs man sport. If you want to be the best, you have to do repetitions in training, play games and be strong mentally.
“When you see the opponent, you must focus on where to hit the ball, not think about Buddha.”
Since resuming work with Vajda, Djokovic has experienced a surge in his results on the tour. He has reached the semifinals of better in three out of his last four tournaments. He won his first title of the year at Wimbledon, where he defeated both Rafael Nadal and Kevin Anderson on his way to securing the trophy. It was the first grand slam title Djokovic had won since the 2016 French Open.
Vajda, who was the former head of Slovakia’s Fed and Davis Cup teams, has attributed the resurgence of the 31-year-old partly to a change in his diet. Djokovic had previously been on a plant-based diet in an effort to stay fit for tennis. Something Vajda was eager to address.
“Novak’s muscle fibres are ideal for tennis but his muscles needed strengthening. His diet is mainly vegetarian and needed animal proteins. It is impossible without them.” He explained.
“This is how Novak adjusted his diet, incorporating more fish, because he does not eat another meat.
“Now his muscles are in perfect condition, he follows all the right habits and does what it takes to be a champion. I hope this continues in the US Open.”
Earlier this year Djokovic ended his partnership with Andre Agassi and Radek Stepanek. The two guided him during the early stages of his return to the tour. Helping him adjust his service motion to relieve pressure on his elbow. Earlier this month Agassi told The Guardian that Djokovic ‘wouldn’t listen to his advice’ as the two separated following a series of disagreement.
“I had a few conversations with Radek and I saw that he really wants to understand Novak. He and Andre really tried and they even might be in right place, but in a wrong time.” Vajda commented.
“He really wanted this cooperation to be successful, but this cooperation wasn’t a good fit for him or the coaches.”
Djokovic will return to action next month at the Rogers Cup in Toronto. The tournament will get underway on August 6th.
Alexander Zverev Denies Using Phone During Match At ATP Finals
The world No.7 has insisted that he didn’t break any rules at the season-ending event.
LONDON: Reigning ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev has denied allegations that he was swiping through his phone during a sit down in his latest match in London.
A series of Twitter users posted footage of the German placing his hand in his bag. It appeared as if he was using a phone or some sort of electronic device. Using his thumb to either press a button or swipe something. Despite the allegations, Zverev has denied any wrongdoing.
“My phone was in the locker room. I always leave it there. I don’t know what they saw, but it was definitely not a phone.” Zverev replied when quizzed in his press conference.
Under rules set out by the ATP, it is an offence for players to use their phones during matches and they could potentially be penalised. The rule is in place as part of fight against match-fixing in the sport.
“A player is not allowed to use any electronic devices (e.g. CD players, mobile phones, etc.) during matches, unless approved by the Supervisor.” The 2019 ATP rulebook states.
Despite the 22-year-old stating his innocence, questions remain about what he was looking at inside his bag. Which is located next up the chair of the match umpire. Asked to explain, he said it might have been ‘an empty water bottle.’
Zverev was not particularly slick about the phone use either. He’s down a double break in this set, so it hasn’t much helped. pic.twitter.com/9aLb8TL1QN
— Ben Rothenberg (@BenRothenberg) November 13, 2019
Zverev will play his final match of the round-robin stage at the ATP Finals against Daniil Medvedev. He is currently 1-1 in the group after defeating Rafael Nadal before losing to Stefanos Tsitsipas on Wednesday.
“Days like this happen. It’s just how it is in sports.” Said Zverev after his latest loss. “Against Rafa, I played a great match. Today I didn’t. This is just how it is sometimes, even though I have to give credit to him. He played really well.”
“There are a lot of things that I did not do great, and I have to change that to have a chance on Friday.”
There are three possible scenarios in which Zverev can qualify for the semi-finals. The most simple is that if both he and Nadal or Tsitsipas win their next matches. He can also qualify if he loses to Medvedev in three sets and Tsitsipas wins.
If Nadal & Medvedev win:
If Nadal & Zverev win:
If Tsitsipas wins & Medvedev wins in 2:
If Tsitsipas wins & Medvdev wins in 3:
If Tsitsipas & Zverev win:
— José Morgado (@josemorgado) November 13, 2019
ATP Finals Comeback The Wrong Example To Focus On, Insists Rafael Nadal
The world No.1 spoke bluntly about his latest performance at the ATP Finals in London.
LONDON: Relieved, but not complacent is the best way to describe Rafael Nadal’s feelings following his turbulent win at the ATP Finals on Wednesday afternoon.
In what was a rematch of the US Open final, the Spaniard hit back at Daniil Medvedev to clinch a critical win. Coming back from a set behind and then a 1-5 deficit in the decider. The win was his first victory on the tour since withdrawing from the Paris Masters due to an abdominal injury.
“It was not one of the best performances of my career. Not at all. I really hope that I can play better.” The 33-year-old reflected after.
“I was better than the other day, of course. I have been playing a better level of tennis than the first day in general terms. To win this match was a combination of a lot of things: luck, some mistakes by Daniil and some good moments from myself at the end.”
It is understandable as to why a perfectionist like Nadal was far from pleased with his latest win. Despite it reviving his chances of winning the season-ending tournament for the first time in his career. His 26 winners were canceled out by 27 unforced errors. Furthermore, his second service winning rate dropped at the match progressed from 62% in the first set to 45% in the second.
“In general terms, knowing that I was not able to practice the way that I would like before the tournament, to be able to increase the level since two days ago to today like this is a very positive thing and I’m very happy with this.” The Spaniard affirms.
“Winning or losing is another thing.” He added.
The implications of Nadal’s win not only means that he extends his perfect record of winning the decisive tiebreakers at the ATP Finals (3-0), his quest to end the season as world No.1 has also been helped. Although a certain Novak Djokovic could spoil the party if he wins the tournament this week.
The 19-time grand slam champion has been praised numerous times for his fighting spirit displayed on the court. Illustrated by his latest win on the tour. However, he believes this shouldn’t be the example for rising stars of the game should focus on.
“The example is not the comeback. The example, in my opinion, is not breaking a racquet when you are 5-1 (down) in the third or not lose your self-control when things are not going the right way.” Nadal explained.
“Just staying positive, staying on the court, accepting that the opponent is playing a little bit better than you and accepting that you are not that good. That’s the only example.”
Nadal will next play Stefanos Tsitsipas on Friday. He has now won 52 matches on the tour this season.
Relentless Rafael Nadal Fights Back From The Brink In ATP Finals Thriller
The king of clay is back on track in London after staging an audatious comeback.
LONDON: Rafael Nadal staged a dramatic last-minute comeback to defeat Daniil Medvedev in a three-set roller-coaster at the ATP Finals.
The world No.1 struggled with his rhythm at times and looked to be on the verge of a loss after going down 0-4 in the decisive set. However, an emphatic fight back saw the Spaniard prevailed 6-7(3), 6-3, 7-6(4), after more than two-and-a-half hours of action. Providing a much-needed boost to his chances of qualifying for the semi-final stage.
“Honestly, I have been super lucky. That’s the real thing.” Said Nadal, who also saved a match point. “I feel sorry for Daniil, that is a tough loss for him. He was playing much better than me in the third (set) and today was one out of 1000 that you win. It happened to me today.”
Wednesday’s meeting at The O2 was the first clash between the two since their memorable battle at the US Open. On that day, Medvedev came back from two sets down before being edged out in the decider during what was a marathon encounter. Like New York, the two were once again locked in a roller-coaster battle. Illustrated best by the fact that Nadal only won three more points than Medvedev (108-105).
A series of gut-busting rallies saw the world No.1 being placed constantly under pressure by his Russian nemesis. A 54-minute opening set saw just one break point opportunity arising in 12 games played. That was when Medvedev had a chance to nudge ahead to 4-3 due to some tentative play from his opponent, but the Spaniard battled back once again.
It would be in the tiebreak when Medvedev secured the breakthrough he sought. A deep return forced Nadal to produced a costly error to elevate the world No.4 to a 5-3 lead. Then another tight-looking forward from the Spaniard followed to hand Medvedev two set point chances. He converted on his first with the help of a 131mph serve out wide.
Sensing the possibility that he could lose a second consecutive round-robin match in the tournament for the first time since 2009, Nadal responded valiantly. Displaying the emphatic fighting spirit that has won him many fans over the years. A break at the start of the second set revived his winning hopes. Rapidly gaining in momentum, he soon leveled the match at a set apiece after a Medvedev forehand drifted wide.
Despite Nadal’s best efforts, it looked like he was down and out once again. A lull in his form saw the 19-time grand slam champion go behind 1-5. However, he refused to be complacent with a loss. Some tentative play from Medvedev opened the door for him to hit back and level 5-5. Sending the crowd into hysterics. He would then go on to prevail in the tiebreaker after a hawk-eye call declared a Medvedev shot out on match point.
“When you have the first break at 5-3 then you are only one break away. I know from my experience how tough it is to close the match.” Nadal commented on how he managed to come back into the match.
“Especially when you are two breaks in front and you lose the first one. At that moment I thought I had a chance. I think I played a bit better towards the end.”
The triumph has done Stefanos Tsitsipas a huge favor, who Nadal will play on Friday. The Greek can secure his place in the semi-finals if he beats Alexander Zverev in straight sets later today.
“He is a great player. He has a lot of energy – very young. He is having an amazing season so it will be a very tough one.” Nadal said of Tsitsipas. “I hope to be ready for that. Let’s try to make that happen.”
Nadal’s win also has significance on the race for the year-end top spot. Novak Djokovic is now required to win the tournament if he wants to clinch the position.
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