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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Milos Raonic reaches the Australian Open quarter finals for the fifth time in his career

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Milos Raonic beat Marin Cilic 6-4 6-3 7-5 to advance to the quarter final at the Australian Open for the fifth time in his career and for the second consecutive year. The Canadian player has advanced to the quarter final for the tenth time in his career at Grand Slam level.

 

Raonic saved an early break point with a big serve and hit a backhand down the line to force an error to break in the 10th game closing out the first set 6-4.

The former Wimbldon finalist and eight-time ATP Tour champion hit a backhand return winner in the second game to open up a 2-0 lead in the second set.

Cilic brought up two set points on Raonic’s serve in the 10th game of the third set, but Raonic fended them off with three serves. Raonic got a break in the 11th game at 15 and sealed the win on his first match point with an ace.

“It feels pretty good. I have got to say. I can’t complain about it and I am just happy with how things are going. I am happy I have another chance to play in two days here and it’s been an exciting tournament for me so far, but hopefully there are more exciting things ahead. I did a lot of things really well, and I had the idea of how I wanted to play. I was happy I could execute and live up to that”, said Milos Raonic in the post-match interview.

 

 

 

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Nick Kyrgios claims five-set thriller to set up a blockbuster fourth-round clash against Rafael Nadal in Melbourne

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Nick Kyrgios battled past Karen Khachanov 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (6-8) 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (10-8) after 4 hours and 26 minutes to set up a blockbuster fourth round clash against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.

 

Khachanov saved match points in both the third and fourth set tie-breaks before losing the decisive tie-break. Kyrgios converted on three of her six break point chances and dropped her serve only once in the entire match.

Kyrgios served well in the opening set and earned two consecutive breaks to cruise through to a 6-2 win. Both players wasted a break point chance to set up a tie-break in the second set. Kyrgios earned two mini-breaks to claim the tie-break 7-5 with a serve up the T.

Kyrgios went up a 4-2 lead in the third set with a break, when Khachanov made two double faults. Khachanov broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Khachanov fended off a match point at 5-6 in the tie-break with a powerful serve and won the final three points to clinch the third set 8-6, as Kyrgios misfired a crosscourt forehand.

Kyrgios saved two break points in the seventh game and earned another match point in the seventh game of the fourth set. Khachanov saved it before winning the tie-break 9-7 forcing the match to the fifth set.

Both players held their serve in the fifth set with no break points setting up the decisive match tie-break. Kyrgios claimed an early mini-break to open up a a 3-0. Khachanov pulled back the mini-break and earned a match point at 8-7, but Kyrgios reeled off the final three points to clinch a thrilling win to the delight of the home fans.

“This is just epic match. I don’t even know what’s going on. Honestly, my legs feel about 40 kilos each. It’s emotional. I haven’t had a moment like that for four, five years, since I last played here against Seppi”, said Kyrgios.

 

 

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Danil Medvedev sets fourth round clash against Stan Wawrinka in Melbourne

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Danil Medvedev beat Alexei Popyrin 6-4 6-3 6-2 to set up a fourth round match against Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open.

 

Medvedev earned the first break in the second game of the opening set. Popyrin broke straight back in the next game to draw level to 1-1, but Medvedev earned his second break to take a 2-1 lead. The 2019 US Open finalist held his serve in a hard-fought eighth game after saving a break point and sealed the first set 6-4 on his second set point.

Medvedev broke serve at love in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Popyrin held his serve in the fifth game after saving two break points to claw his way back to 2-3. Medvedev sealed the second set with his second break at 15.

Medvedev got an early break at 15 in the second game of the third set. Kyrgios converted his fourth break-back point chance in the sixth game. Medvedev closed it out on his second match point.

“I am happy to win it in straight sets. I have good memories from last year, which was my first time in the second week of a Grand Slam and hopefully I can make it even further this year. I just try to win as many matches as I can. Hopefully I can win seven here”,said Medvedev.

Medvedev set up a fourth round match against Stan Wawrinka, who reached the fourth round, when US John Isner withdrew from the match due to a foot injury, when the Lausanne player was leading 6-4 4-1.

“You never want your opponent to pull out. I was playing well again today. I was really happy the way I was playing. That’s very positive. It’s great to be back in the second week, that’s for sure. Feeling way better. It’s positive to have a good practice tomorrow and to be ready for the next one”,said Wawrinka.

Medvedev won both his previous head-to-head matches against Wawrinka at 2017 Wimbledon and in the quarter final of the 2019 US Open.

“Stan is a very tough opponent. He has won three majors and has gone deep a lot of times. It’s never going to be an easy match against Stan. I will have to show my best game to have a chance”, said Medvedev.

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