Djokovic's New Breath For Tennis Led Him To Two Major Titles in 2018 - UBITENNIS
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Djokovic’s New Breath For Tennis Led Him To Two Major Titles in 2018

Hiking in the French Mountains has given Djokovic a new inspiration to play tennis. Del Potro sheds many tears, but is thankful for his revived career

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Novak Djokovic at the 2018 US Open (photo Roberto Dell'Olivo)

The three hours and 16 minutes of play that Novak Djokovic needed to win this US Open final took a lot out of Juan Martin del Potro, physically and emotionally. “I have been crying till now – said the Argentinian as he started his press conference, with red eyes, full of tears and a face of someone who would like to be a thousand miles from notepads and microphones – this could be the worst part of the day, talk with you at this moment”.

I’m very sad for being a loser today. But Novak deserved to take the trophy. He played a great match, very smart game. I had my opportunities during second and third set. But I was playing almost at the limit all the time, looking for winners with my forehands, backhands, and I couldn’t make it because Novak were there every time. I take the risk with my forehands. I’ve been doing that all the match. Sometimes it goes in, and sometimes I miss it. But it’s the only way to beat these kinds of players. You have to be a perfect game during more than three hours. Sometimes you couldn’t make it. But my mistakes were because the level of Novak. He plays really well. I’m glad for him”.

Juan Martin has always been considered one of the very few players who could get in the way of the three “greats” of these times (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic), one who may have won more titles had they not been around, or at least not all at the same time: “It is a big challenge to take these kinds of tournaments to them. But also I think we are proud to be close to these legends. I’ve been during all my career learning with Novak, Roger, Rafa, seeing them winning these events very often. It’s amazing. I don’t feel sad that I couldn’t win Grand Slams because of them. I am just one of the guys that have lucky to be in the same era as them, and it’s great”.

But this tournament has also marked del Potro’s return to the top after four wrist surgeries: “I’m feeling good – Juan Martin confirmed – My wrist is responding good, because I’ve been playing a lot of matches in these two weeks. I feel good with my two-handed backhands, as well. I will keep playing tennis for a few more years. I don’t know when will be my last tournament in this career, but I’m excited to keep surprising myself doing things like this. I’m very motivated to keep trying to win these titles”.

The Arthur Ashe Stadium was clearly cheering for him on Sunday evening, to the point that Djokovic appeared quite rattled by that during the second set and started swearing to some rowdy spectators. Del Potro, both on stage during the award ceremony and during the press conference, thanked his supporters likening their love to the Championship trophy: “What I say on the stage, you can lose or win a trophy, but the love from the crowd, it’s could be even bigger than the tournament. That’s what I got from them. It will be in the heart for the rest of [my] life”.

With his latest shiny trophy in his hands, Novak Djokovic sat down in the press room approximately two hours after the end of the match and started looking back at his last two amazing months: “I feel like kind of my mindset always was not to compare myself to any other year or season because my life has turned upside down in the last couple years with so many different things, changes that happened: becoming a father twice, being away from the tour six months, getting surgery, all these different things. If you told me in February this year when I got the surgery that I’ll win Wimbledon, US Open, and Cincinnati, would be hard to believe. But at the same time there was always part of me that imagined and believed and hoped that I can get back on the desired level of tennis very soon.  I expected, to be honest, quite frank, after surgery that I’ll be back on a high level quite fast. But, you know, it took me actually three, four months really. In that process, I learned a lot about myself, learned to be patient, which was never really a stronger side of me”.

“But at the same time, you know, life showed me that it takes time for good things, it takes time to really build them, for things to fall into place, so you can center yourself, balance yourself and thrive. The last two months have been terrific”.

Novak’s incredible run that led him to win two straight Major titles started that day in Paris when he lost in the quarterfinals to Marco Cecchinato: “I was so close to desired level, and then I just completely underplayed that match. I had to kind of disconnect a little bit. I went hiking with my wife for five days in the French mountains. We just isolated ourselves and took things from a different perspective. I remember one moment particularly when we climbed that mountain. It was pretty high. We reached the top after three hours. Credit to my wife. Amazing. She’s so fit. I can’t believe she managed to get all the way up. We sat down and we just looked at the world from that perspective, just kind of breathed in the new inspiration, new motivation. I thought of tennis, thought of the emotion that tennis provokes in me in a way. It was all positives. I just felt like I had a new breath for this sport. Ever since then, the tennis is completely different for me. In terms of results, I played finals of Queen’s, won Wimbledon, won Cincinnati, and won US Open. I guess we’ll be hiking some more very soon”.

Of course, it was impossible for him to escape a question about the controversies of the women’s final. Although he tried to be as diplomatic as possible, he eventually conceded that in his opinion “the chair umpire should not have pushed Serena to the limit, especially in a Grand Slam final” and that his actions may have “changed the course of the match”. However, he denied that men and women are being treated differently in tennis.

 

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Ugo Humbert stuns Borna Coric to advance to the quarter final in Marseille

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French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert upset world number 12 Borna Coric 6-3 6-3 at the Open 13 in Marseille scoring the biggest win of his career.

Humbert broke three times in the third game of the first set and twice in the third and ninth games of the the second set to reach his first ATP quarter final.

Humbert, who won the Challenger title in Cherbourg, converted three of his eight break points. The young French player held his serve in the first game before earning three break points in the second game, but Coric saved them.

The Frenchman got the first break in the fourth game with a volley winner and fended off a break point in the next game. The Frenchman saved a break point, as he was serving for the first set at 5-3 and sealed the first set with a good serve.

In the second set Humbert broke serve in the third set and sealed the second set with another break, when Coric made a backhand error.

Humbert will face German qualifier Matthias Bachinger, who beat Fernando Verdasco 6-4 6-3 in 77 minutes. Bachinger saved eight of the nine break points and broke three times.

David Goffin beat Benoit Paire 6-2 6-3 after 63 minutes to reach his first quarter final since Cinicinnati last year.

“My level was good, very positive. The atmosphere was great, and it’s always easier when you are not the favourite. This was the first time I played a player ranked that high. I was able to stay calm and play well”,said Humbert.

 

Goffin won five consecutive points in the sixth game to break serve after a backhand error from Paire. Goffin got another break in the eighth game to close out the first set after another error from Paire.

Paire broke serve in the third game of the second set to open up a 3-1 lead. Goffin broke back in the sixth game at love to draw level to 3-3.

Goffin converted his sixth break point in the eighth game and held serve at love in the eighth game with a service winner at 5-3 to close out the match securing his spot in the quarter finals, where he will face Gilles Simon.

Andrey Rublev edged Matteo Berrettini 6-3 7-6 after 1 hour and 31 minutes to avenge his last year’s defeat against the Italian player in Gstaad. Rublev, who beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga in the opening round, broke serve in the second game and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-3.

Rublev broke serve in the fifth game to take a 4-2 lead, but Berrettini broke back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Rublev won the tie-break 7-2 to secure his spot in the quarter final, where he will face Mikhail Kukushkin, who beat Denis Shapovalov on Wednesday.

 

 

 

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Following Career-Best Win, Félix Auger-Aliassime Achieves Another Milestone In Rio

The former US Open boy’s champion is a win away from reaching the semi-finals of a ATP Tour event for the first time in his career.

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Felix Auger-Aliassime - Toronto 2018 (via Twitter, @rogerscup)

Félix Auger-Aliassime’s week at the Rio Open keeps getting better and better.

The 18-year-old Canadian began his campaign at the tournament on Tuesday with a shock straight sets win over second seed Fabio Fognini. The Italian veteran, who is currently ranked 16th in the world, is Auger-Aliassime’s biggest win in terms of ranking. Furthermore, that sole victory has ensured that the Canadian will break into the top 100 next week for the first time in his career.

Continuing his momentum at the tournament, Auger-Aliassime followed up on his first round triumph by defeating Chile’s Christian Garin 7-5, 6-4, in the second round. Hitting 27 winners to 31 unforced errors. Auger-Aliassime will now play in only his second quarter-final on the ATP Tour and his first in a 500 event.

“It’s been good, I didn’t know what to expect when I got here, hadn’t won many matches this year. I knew I was playing well from the practices. I thought I had the chance to have tournaments like these. I came in, believed in my game and it’s paying off now. I was able to stay strong physically and mentally at these conditions,” tournament website rioopen.com quoted the Next Gen star as saying.

Wildcard Auger-Aliassime has been tipped as a future star in the sport since his teenage years. At the age of 14 he qualified for the main draw of a Challenger event for the first time. He is a former US Open boys champion and is one of the youngest players of all time at win a Challenger title at the age of 16 years and 10 months. In total, the Canadian currently has four Challenger titles to his name.

Awaiting Auger-Aliassime in the next round will be another rising star on the men’s tour. Spain’s Jaume Munar prevailed in a marathon clash against Great Britain’s Cameron Norrie. The Spaniard required almost three-and-a-half hours to defeat Norrie 7-6(6), 5-7, 7-6(4).

“It’s probably the toughest game I’ll have to play so far this week. Munar has been playing good, having good results. He already beat me two times on clay last year so I’m expecting a tough match. But I believe in myself and I know I have what it takes to beat a guy like him”, Auger-Aliassime said about his upcoming opponent.

In their head-to-head, Auger-Aliassime is yet to defeat Munar after losing to him twice last year.

Following a series of shocks, there are only one seeded player remaining in the Rio Open draw. That is fifth seed Joao Sousa, who will play his second round match on Thursday.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beats Hubert Hurkacz in straight sets in Marseille

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Stefanos Tsitsipas beat Hungary’s Hubert Hurkacz 6-4 6-2 after just 59 minutes in a match between two Next Gen players at the Open 13 in Marseille to score his first win in his third appearance in the French tournament

Tsitsipas had already beaten Hurkacz at last November’s Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan. The Greek star, who reached the Australian Open semifinal last January, converted his second break point chance in the 10th game to close out the first set 6-4. He earned back-to-back breaks in the sixth and eighth games to seal the second set 6-2, when Hurkacz fired his forehand into the tramline.

“It was a good match. I enjoyed it. I am moving on. It is nice to start so well. It was a no-trouble match. Everything went smooth. Breaks happened when they had to happen. It was a solid match”, said Tsitsipas.

Mikhail Kukushkin upset Denis Shapovalov 6-4 7-6 (7-4) in 82 minutes. The Kazakh player earned his break in the seventh game for 4-3 en route to winning the first set 6-4. Kukushkin saved two break in the fourth game of the second set, which went on serve with no breaks until the tie-break. Kukushkin won the first four points to win the tie-break 7-4.

Gilles Simon rallied from one set down to beat Peter Gojowczyk 4-6 6-4 6-2 to secure his spot in the quarter final where he will face either David Goffin or Benoit Paire. Gojowczyk sealed the first set 6-4 with his only break in the 10th game. Simon converted his second break chance in the third game to win the second set 6-4. Simon broke twice at love in in the first and fifth games to win the decisive set 6-2.

French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert edged Ernests Gulbis 6-3 7-6 (7-3). German qualifier Matthias Bachinger fought back from one set down to beat Steve Darcis 4-6 6-3 6-4 in two hours and three minutes.

 

 

 

 

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