‘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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Marco Cecchinato saves seven break points he faced to beat Dominic Thiem in Geneva

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Marco Cecchinato saved all seven break points he faced to beat 2020 US Open champion Dominic Thiem 6-3 6-4 in 1 hour and 34 minutes in the opening round of the Gonet Geveva Open. 

 

Cecchinato avenged his defeat against Thiem, who beat the Italian player in straight sets in the Roland Garros semifinal in 2018. 

Thiem missed the second part of the 2021 season due to a wrist injury. The Austrian player made his come-back last March at the ATP Challenger tournament in Marbella and he has not scored a single win in his six matches. 

Cecchinato saved two break points in a long third game after four deuces in the third game of the second set. Cecchinato dropped just three points in his remaining two service games to close out the first set 6-3. 

Cecchinato missed a break point at 1-1 in the second set before saving five break points in the fourth game to hold serve after four deuces. Cecchinato earned the decisive break in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead and held his next two service games easily to seal the second set 6-3 after 1 hour and 33 minutes. 

Cecchinato set up a second round match against Kamil Majchrzak, who overcame Alexander Bublik 6-1 6-7 (4-7) 6-3. 

John Millman cruied past John Millman 6-3 6-1 setting up a second match against Danil Medvedev, who will play his first clay-court match of the year after a hernia problem. Federico Delbonis edged past Lithuanian wild card Rikardas Berankis 6-4 6-4. Last year’s Winston Salem champion Ilya Ivashka came back from one set down to beat Marcos Giron 4-6 6-3 6-2. 

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Daniil Medvedev ‘Happy To Play Wimbledon’ If Ban Is Lifted

The world No.2 says he is willing to speak with other players about the situation ahead of his return to action following surgery.

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Daniil Medvedev (RUS) in action against Jan-Lennard Struff (GER) in the first round of the Gentlemen's Singles on No.1 Court at The Championships 2021. Held at The All England Lawn Tennis Club, Wimbledon. Day 2 Tuesday 29/06/2021. Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Daniil Medvedev says he is still hopeful that he might be able to play at this year’s Wimbledon Championships should officials at The All England Club decide to change their stance.

 

At present the reigning US Open champion will not be allowed to play at the grass court major due to his nationality. Officials at the Grand Slam have confirmed that Russian and Belarussian players have been banned from the event due to the war in Ukraine. Ian Hewitt, who is the chairman of The AELTC, said the action was taken in order to prevent ‘the propaganda machine of the Russian regime’ from potentially benefiting from their players’ success.

The ban is a controversial move for the sport which until now had a united approach when it came to allowing those players participate in tournaments but only as neutral athletes. Former Wimbledon champions Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokopvic and Andy Murray have all expressed some degree of opposition to the decision. Meanwhile, the ATP and WTA are considering the possibility of removing the allocation of ranking points at the event.

Speaking about the ban ahead of this week’s Geneva Open, Medvedev acknowledges that it is a ‘tricky situation’ but is still hopeful that a u-turn could occur which would allow him to play. The 26-year-old has made four main draw appearances at Wimbledon with his best result being a run to the fourth round last year.

“There has been a lot of talk around it. I just tried to follow what’s happening because I don’t have any decisions to make. It’s right now about Wimbledon itself, the ATP, maybe the British government is involved,” news agency AFP quoted Medvedev as telling reporters in Switzerland.
“It’s a tricky situation and like every situation in life, you ask 100 players, everybody’s going to give a different opinion.
“I can play: I’m going to be happy to play in Wimbledon. I love this tournament.
“I cannot play: well, I’m going to try to play other tournaments and prepare well for next year if I have the chance to play.”

The former world No.1 has been among a group of Russian players who have previously called for peace in the region. Although none of them have gone as far as publicly condemning the actions of their government. Something which has drawn criticism from Ukraine’s Elina Svitoliva.

“I had some time to follow what is happening, yeah, it’s very upsetting,” Medvedev commented on the war.

Geneva will be the first event Medvedev has played in since reaching the quarter-finals of the Miami Open. He took time away from the Tour to undergo hernia surgery but has confirmed he intends to play at next week’s French Open despite his lack of match play on the clay.

During his time at those events, the tennis star says he is more than happy to speak with other players about the Wimbledon ban should they want to.

“Since I haven’t been on the tour, I haven’t talked to any of them face to face. It was the first time when I came here on Saturday when I can talk to players, and if they start talking about this, we can discuss,” he said.
“I don’t know exactly what’s happening, what’s going to happen, if there are going to be more decisions made.
“Same about Wimbledon. I don’t know if this decision is 100 percent, and it’s over.”

Granted a bye in the first round, Medvedev will start his Geneva campaign against either Richard Gasquet or John Millman.

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Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic win their fourth ATP Masters 1000 doubles title

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Defending champions Nikola Mektic and Mate Pavic battled past John Isner and Diego Schwartzman 6-2 6-7 (6-7) 12-10 to claim their fourth ATP Masters 1000 doubles title together at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Mektic and Pavic broke twice to win a one-sided opening set 6-2. Both teams went on serve with no break points en route to the tie-break of the second set. The Croatians earned a championship point at 6-5 in the tie-break, but Schwartzman hit a pair of forehand winners to force a Match Tie-Break. 

Both teams did not convert match points before Mektic and Pavic won the final two points to seal the Match Tie-Break 11-9. 

Isner became the first player to reach three Masters 1000 doubles finals with three different players in the same year. The US player won two consecutive Sunshine Double trophies in Indian Wells with Jack Sock and the Miami Open with Hubert Hurkacz.  Mektic and Pavic won nine ATP Tour titles last year and finished the 2021 season as the world number 1 team in the ATP Doubles Rannking. They had not won a title so far in 2022 before the Rome tournament, but they showed their form this week, as they dropped just one set during the tournament. The Croatian Doubles team beat Fabio Fognini and Simone Bolelli 6-3 7-6 (7-5) in the semifinal on Saturday.

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