‘I Love You, Man’ - Novak Djokovic Lead Tributes To Radek Stepanek At Special Event - UBITENNIS
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‘I Love You, Man’ – Novak Djokovic Lead Tributes To Radek Stepanek At Special Event

Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal also praised the recently retired Czech player.

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Novak Djokovic has paid tribute to his former coach Radek Stepanek at a special ceremony to mark the retirement of the Czech player.

 

On Thursday evening the former world No.1 travelled to Prague to play at a exhibition event celebrating the career of the former world No.8. Stepanek announced his retirement from the sport in November 2017 at the age of 38. His decision to hang up the racket was due to ongoing issues with his back, which he had an operation on during February 2017.

“Radek I truly love you as a friend, as a college, as a mentor and as a brother from another mother.” Djokovic said during a speech at the O2 Arena. “This man here deserves everything he received. He deserves it because he is a wonderful human, an incredible tennis player that has had a wonderful career. And, he has done a lot for the Czech republic.”

Born on November 27th, 1978 in the Czech mining city of Karviná, Stepanek has enjoyed success in both singles and doubles throughout his career. Breaking into the world’s top 10 in both categories. He has won 23 ATP titles, of which 18 occurred in the doubles. He was twice runner-up at a Masters 1000 event at the 2004 Paris Open and the 2006 German Open. At the grand slams, his best performance was reaching the quarter-finals of the 2006 Wimbledon championships. He is also a two-time grand slam champion in men’s doubles.

Shortly after retiring from the sport, Stepanek found himself in a new role. Becoming the coach of Djokovic during a time when the Serbian was recovering from a serious elbow injury. Although the partnership lasted less than six months.

“I’ve had him in every role of my of my life, but I have him in the most important role which is as a friend and someone that I truly love and respect.” Said Djokovic.
“I want to congratulate you on a wonderful career and wish you all the best for what’s to come. Well done for everything you’ve done.” He added.

The special evening in Prague also featured the presence of India’s Leander Paes and Germany’s Tommy Haas, who played in a doubles match. Andre Agassi was also present and made a brief appearance on the court.

During the event, tributes from other players were also broadcast on the screens inside the arena. They include one from 20-time grand slam champion Roger Federer. Who played Stepanek 16 times on the tour, winning 14 of their matches.

“I want to congratulate you on a wonderful career and wish you all the best for what’s to come. Well done for everything you’ve done.” Said Federer.

World No.1 Rafael Nadal, who head-to-head record against Stepanek is 7-0, also paid tribute.

“It’s been a pleasure to share with you some great moments on tour. There has been some great battles (between us) and I just wanted to wish you all the best for the future.” Nadal said.

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Alejandro Davidovich Fokina beats Hubert Hurkacz to reach the quarter final in Montpellier

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Alejandro Davidovich Fokina came back from 1-3 in the opening set and converted four of the ten break points to claim a 7-5 6-2 win over Hubert Hurkacz in 1 hour and 34 minutes at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. 

 

Hurkacz went up a break in the fourth game at deuce to take a 3-1 lead. Davidovich Fokina broke back in the fifth game at 15 and held serve to draw level to 3-3. Hurkacz saved a break point in the seventh game to hold serve after two deuces. Davidovich Fokina converted his second break point in the 11th game to win the first set 7-5. 

Hurkacz saved three break points in the third game of the second set, but Davidovich Fokina broke twice in the fifth and seventh games at deuce to win the final four games from 2-2 securing his spot in the quarter final. 

The 21-year-old Spanish player set up a quarter final against Egor Gerasimov, who knocked out Aljaz Bedene 6-4 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 51 minutes. Bedene converted his second break point at deuce in the first game. Gerasimov broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Gerasimov closed out the first set 6-4 with a break on his opportunity in the 10th game.

Bedene went up a break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. Gerasimov broke back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Gerasimov earned five match points at 6-1 in the tie-break. Bedene saved the first three chances, but Gerasimov closed out the tie-break 7-4 on his fourth opportunity. 

Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past Gregoire Barrère 6-0 6-3. The Spanish player built up a 6-0 2-0 lead with four consecutive breaks. Barrère came back by winning three consecutive games to take a 3-2 lead with a break in the fourth game. Bautista Agut reeled off four consecutive games with two consecutive breaks to win the second set 6-3 

Dennis Novak came back from 3-5 down by winning the final four games in the second set to beat Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 after 1 hour and 35 minutes. Novak set up a quarter final clash against German Peter Gojowczyk, who came back from one set down to beat Juri Vesely 6-7 (3-7) 7-4 (7-4) 6-3 after 2 hours and 28 minutes. Gojowczyk hit 17 aces and won 86 % of his first service points. Gojowczyk saved four break points in the ninth game. Vesely earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-brek 7-3. The second set went on serve en route to the the tie-break. Gojowczyk earned one mini-break to win the tie-break 7-4. The German player converted his only break point in the second game to seal the third set 6-3.

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Adrian Mannarino sets up quarter final match against Radu Albot at the Singapore Open

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Top seed Adrian Mannarino beat Roberto Marcora 6-3 7-5 to advance to the quarter finals at the Singapore Tennis Open. 

 

Mannarino converted his second break point at deuce in the fifth game of the opening set after six deuces to take a 3-2 lead, as Marcora hit his forehand into the net. The Frenchman earned three set points in the ninth game. Marcora saved the first two chances, but Mannarino sealed the first set on his third chance after 50 minutes. 

Marcora went down 0-40 in the second game of the second set, but he saved all three break points to hold serve at deuce. Mannarino held his serve in the next games and earned two match points on return in the 12th game. He sealed the win, as Marcora sent his backhand into the net. 

“At this stage there is no easy match. I never played against Marcora before, but I knew he had a couple of good games before. In the second set, he got used to the pace and was winning points in the big moments and it looked like it could go either way. I am pretty happy that I managed to keep my focus and win the second set”, said Mannarino. 

Mannarino set up a quarter final against Moldova’s Radu Albot, who fended off three match points to beat Yannick Hanfmann after 2 hours and 42 minutes. Albot fended off match points at 4-5 15-40 and in the second set and at 6-7 in the tie-break. 

Australia’s Matthew Ebden cruised past his compatriot John Millman 6-4 6-1 in 72 minutes. Soonwoo Kwon won 31 of his 38 first service points to beat Yasutaka Uchiyama 6-3 6-4 setting up a quarter final against Marin Cilic. Soonwoo Kwon claimed his third ATP Challenger Tour title in Biella beating Italian Next Gen star Lorenzo Musetti.

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Benoit Paire beats Nicholas Jerry to move into the quarter final at the Cirdoba Open

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Benoit Paire claimed a 6-2 6-4 win over Nicholas Jarry after 1 hour and 17 minutes to advance to the quarter finals at the Cordoba Open. Paire has improved his head-to-head record against Jarry to 4-0. 

 

The Frenchman fended off the eight break points he faced and broke twice in the third and fifth games and once in the second set. 

“I am really happy because I didn’t make too many double faults. I saw I was number one at the Australian Open with only one match and 23 double faults, so I am really happy to save it. Even when I was under pressure in the second set, I tried to push a little bit more. I am really happy about how I saved my break points in the second set. He made some mistakes on a few, but I was happy to fight. I did not say anything”,said Paire. 

Paire set up a quarter final against Federico Coria, the younger brother of former world number 3 Guillerrmo Coria. 

Federico Coria came back from one set down to beat Francesco Cerundolo from Argentina, who won three ATP Challenger titles in 2020. Coria reached the quarter final at Rio Open and qualified for his first Masters 1000 main draw in Rome. Slovakia’s Jozef Kovalik rallied from one set down to beat Chilean qualifier Marcelo Tomas Vera 4-6 6-2 6-3 after 2 hours and 12 minutes setting up a quarter final match against Argentina’s Facundo Bagnis, who beat his compatriot Federico Delbonis 6-4 7-5. 

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