‘Oh Jesus’ was the immediate response by Alexander Zverev when he discovered that Novak Djokovic said that he could one day excel the Serbian’s title tally.
The 21-year-old illustrated why many are listing him as the future of star of the sport with his triumph at the ATP Finals. Taking on a weary Djokovic, who appeared to be suffering from the effects of a busy second half of the season, Zverev showed no mercy as he battled towards the title. Hitting a series of serves that exceeded the 140 mph mark and hitting forehands that would even draw praised from Juan Martin del Potro. A player who is regarded as having one of the best forehands on the tour.
“It’s quite astonishing, winning this title, beating two such players back-to-back, Roger and Novak, in semifinals and finals. Means so much. I’m incredibly happy and incredibly proud of this moment right now.” Said Zverev.
It is a rare occasion that a player has defeated Federer and Nadal in the last two stages of a tournament. As a matter of fact, he is only the fourth to do so. Following in the footsteps of David Nalbandian, Rafael Nadal, and Andy Murray.
Besides the accomplishment, this week has felt like there has been a big shift in Zverev’s career. In his press conferences, he was more informative and open. In the past, the German has been labeled by some as arrogant. A subjective statement with others arguing that the likes of Federer and co were no different at Zverev’s age.
It first came to light on Saturday in the midst of the brutal treatment he received from the crowd. The reason was due to a misunderstanding concerning why he stopped during a point in the second set tiebreaker. Less than an hour after, he was asked about the incident three times in his press conference. Then a reporter arrived late and asked him once again.
“I answered this question like three times already. I can answer it again for you if you want.” He said with a smile.
In the past, Zverev would have snapped. Over the years I have witnessed this during his time competing at the Madrid Open. Although that attitude has seemed to have gone. A relief for many, that is for sure.
It is hard to understand what it is like to be young and burden with expectation unless you have been through it personally. Sometimes there is a fine line between being arrogant and being good at something.
Zverev seems to be settling better into life on the tour and with it his tennis is improving. Although there is no hiding that he has a whole load of pressure to deal with in the future.
“Of course, he won a huge tournament, but he always had the quality to win a slam. There’s no doubt he will be one of the favorites every slam.” Djokovic said about the German with confidence.
“There’s a lot of similarities in terms of the trajectory of professional tennis, in our careers. Hopefully, he can surpass me. I sincerely wish him that.” He added.
Djokovic’s praised for Zverev is one that he has welcomed. Although the new ATP Finals champion has pledged to keep his feet firmly on the ground. Another sign of a maturing player.
“Oh, Jesus. Oh, my God.” Zverev responded to the comments. “I’ve won one of those (ATP Finals trophies). He (Djokovic) won five. He’s has won, I don’t know what, 148 titles more than me. Let’s not go there for now.”
“I hope I can do great. I mean, but just chill out a little bit.”
There is obviously room for improvement. During stages of the season-ending event, the Next Gen star had his vulnerabilities exposed on the court by others. Nevertheless, he is working on those with the help of eight-time grand slam champion Ivan Lendl, as well as his father.
“Everything I do on the court is thanks to my dad because he’s been there for the past 21 years. That’s how it is. I mean, he built my foundation. He built the person that I am.” He said.
“Obviously there’s a lot of credit to Ivan. I always say that. But my dad deserves the most credit out of everyone.“
To say that Zverev in on a trajectory to match or even excel Djokovic’s title tally is something that isn’t necessary. Nobody knows what the future holds. The only certainty is that with a maturing Zverev, comes an even better and bigger game from him.
The future is bright. We will just have to wait and see how bright it will be.
Five Ideas To Improve Tennis
From the rule of the fifth set in the Slams to the controversial medical time out, passing through the distribution of ATP points: how can tennis be improved? Let’s discuss it together.
BY DAVIDE ORIOLI (translated from Italian by Tommaso Villa)
With the sport still stuck in the pits for who knows how long, the moment seems suitable to discuss how to change tennis in order to make it more palatable, televised, popular. Or even simply more coherent. Indeed, there are still aspects of the rules of tennis that are controversial and on which not only fans, but also tennis players and directors themselves, debate. In this article we want to go straight to the point proposing five aspects of the rules that could be improved.
All the institutions that govern tennis in recent years have attempted experiments, already implemented in some tournaments. The ATP for example, as everyone knows, is using the NextGen Finals to test some ideas such as the Fast4 (short sets for those who arrive first in four games, with tie-breaks on 3-3), the NoAd with a killer point on the 40 even, the No Let that plans to play the exchange even if the ball touches the net on the service, and so on, up to free coaching and towel management. These changes have already been experienced and therefore we will not deal with them in this article. Instead, we are going to propose five still little (or not at all) debated ideas, listing them to go from least to most significant.
5 – Change of sides during Super tie-breaks
As said, it is a minutia idea that will not change the history of tennis, but during the Super tie-breaks you should not change sides every six points. The rule makes sense in classic tie-breaks: change the side after the sixth point to make sure that both tennis players play at least one point on each side. For example, we think of conditions of low sun on the horizon that can disadvantage those who play against the sun, or wind against or in favor. Turning every six points guarantees at least one change of course during the tie-break, and further if (and only if) one proceeds to the bitter end. The rule is logical and correct, but for this reason in the Super tie-break it should be adapted to the length of the latter, therefore changing every nine points.
With the change at the sixth and twelfth point, in fact, there are two problems. The first is that the pace of the game becomes extremely fragmented, just at the height of the meeting. Super tie-breaks in which 12 points or less are played are very rare, below one percent, which means almost always having two field changes, one of which is perfectly avoidable. The second problem is the very regularity of the Super tie-break. Being the average duration of these around 17 points, in the end each tennis player will normally have played 11 exchanges on one side of the court and six on the other. A particularly marked discrepancy.
To explain it better, suppose absurdly that atmospheric events make one side so advantageous that those who play on that side of the net win the point 100% of the time. The system with which the changes are built at the moment ensures that up to 6 even, and even during the tie-break, nobody can win the set by exploiting that condition. It will proceed indefinitely on a level playing field, as corrected. With the current system used for the Super tie-break instead, this condition of fair balance is interrupted, and the player who is lucky enough to serve first on the favorable side of the court, will win the game for 10-6. Obviously this is an exaggeration to better explain the principle, but even if the advantage of playing on the one hand was minimal, it is still correct that both players take the same advantage of it. Also because the Super tie-breaks decide the result of the entire match.
Of Novak Djokovic, A Champion And Above All A Great Man
The Serbian donated one million euros to the hospitals in Bergamo, and did so without publicity. This is a great example of the great person he is, despite the crowd abuse he had to endure at Wimbledon against Federer. His authenticity has always been there, all the way since those Players Parties in Monte Carlo.
Novak Djokovic did something amazing, and the unprompted nature of his act did all but magnify his gallantry.
I’ve met him a few times, for instance when I was invited to the Players Party in Monte Carlo as either a comedic advisor or even as an actor, and I have to say that, whether one can like his brand of tennis which is – perfunctory to say – extraordinary, to be able to witness the charm, the spontaneity, and the effort he put in his duties as dancer, singer, and all-around showman, reinforced my first impression of him as a genuinely decent guy, not a conceited persona. This is why I always thought the attitude of the crowd during the last Wimbledon final against Federer to be utterly disgraceful to say the least. It’s one thing to choose a champion to cheer for, and another to disrespect his opponent, to the point of taking away from him the joys of victory and celebration. And as a matter of fact, Nole barely acknowledged his success. Sure, he will have thoroughly enjoyed it in his heart, but some bitterness must have crept in – and this is just unfair.
Many have said that Novak is constantly hurt by the greater popularity of Federer and Nadal, who had a head start in seizing the love of tennis fans, and then could live off it as with a trust fund. I don’t think Nole is jealous of his rivals. However, it is only human that he wishes for his humane side to be acknowledged a little more, as it happens in Serbia, where he is second to none in the estimation of his people. This happens in Italy as well, for the most part, thanks to his fluency in the language that allows him to fully be himself wherever he goes, be it in stand-up comedy skits, at music festivals, or simply among the crowd. When he says that Italy is his second home, he says it sincerely, and that is true for his wife Jelena too, since she studied in Milan. When he says it, he’s not pandering to Roger and Rafa’s fans, he knows that they won’t switch sides. He has no obligation to say it, he does because he means it. Every single tournament winner thanks the organisers and the crowd, claiming that it’s the best event that could possibly be, we know it, it’s part of the game. But Djokovic, who loves Rome and its tournament, and is loved by the city in return, doesn’t mince words when he says that some things could and should be improved, especially in terms of court maintenance – his honesty should be appreciated.
We should also be more accepting of the diplomacy that his political role in the ATP Council entails at times, leading him to leave some questions unanswered. I don’t always agree with what Novak says, such as during the Gimelstob affair, at least initially. At the same time, though, it can’t be easy for a man in his position to pick a side during a quarrel like the one happening between the ATP Cup (backed by Tennis Australia) and the Davis Cup, a competition he has an unbreakable bond with, because of what it meant for him and for Serbia when they won it in 2010, changing the trajectory of his career for good, and for the better.
He’s stated publicly that he’s in favour of the creation of a single team event, but he knows very well that the interests at stake – involving multi-year contracts signed by Tennis Australia on one side, and by the ITF, Piqué, and Rakuten on the other – are not easily reconcilable, and thus he knows very well that his statement might sound hypocritical or utopian. However, being a “politician” of tennis, he’s aware that what he said is what the fans who do not have any economic agendas wish for, namely one competition that wouldn’t betray too much the storied past of the Davis Cup.
Well, I got caught up in the writing as usual, even if I was doing it on my phone with the idea of putting on paper just a couple lines (!) to commend Novak on his incredible gesture, and this is even more noticeable since I can only use one finger while writing on my phone (my children write at supersonic speed, and I have no idea how). All I wanted to do was to thank Novak Djokovic for being such a great champion, and even more for being such a great man. All that’s left to say is… NOT TOO BAD! To Nole,
P.S. I’ll always regret missing the chance to play with him in Australia, when he told me, “Bring your racquet tomorrow!” Just one minute of that heinous spectacle of personal embarrassment would have been enough for me to be contented with myself! Alas, the temperature reached 40 degrees and the humidity was such that all outdoors play was suspended, and naturally I had no way to get onto the indoors ones between matches. That night Nole all but apologized and said: “We’ll do it in Rome then!”
Article translated from ubitennis.com by Tommaso Villa
The Corona Impasse: What Effect Will It Have On The Careers Of Federer, Williams, The Bryans, Nadal, and Djokovic?
We’ve witnessed the retirement of several players over the last two years (Berdych, Ferrer, Almagro, Baghdatis, …). Many thought that the same would have happened in 2020, but that might not be the case any more.
Caveat lector. All those who, after reading the title, are about to accuse me, to accuse us of click-baiting, those are invited to refrain from reading.
We are simply trying to discuss themes that we notice to be in the minds of the fans, and we are trying to relieve them from the more or less catastrophic updates they are bombarded with on a daily basis, at a time when actual tennis will be off limits for God knows how long.
I also warn those who are still reading, out of intellectual honesty, that I have no evidence to support the hypotheses I’m going to make in the few lines – however, I’m relying on predictions coming from inside the tennis microcosm. Most of these were made very recently, I might add, up until the cancellation of Indian Wells (feels like a century ago already!), and they appeared extremely reliable. Said predictions obviously don’t apply anymore, but I still think that some friendly and useful debate might spring, starting from a few considerations floating in my brain.
I’d like to begin by reminding the readers that, between 2019 and the dawn of the 2020 season, the unexpected Kim Clijsters comeback was counterpointed by many retirements of noted players, starting with a pair of perennial Top Tenners, David Ferrer and Tomas Berdych, joined in tennis Benidorm by Nicolas Almagro, Marcos Baghdatis (all former Top 10 players), but also Victor Estrella Burgos and Max Mirnyi, and that’s just on the men’s side.
As for females, the obvious star is Maria Sharapova, but also Sweet Caroline Wozniacki and Dominika Cibulkova. In 2018, we said goodbye to Tommy Haas, Francesca Schiavone, Roberta Vince, Karin Knapp, Nadia Petrova, Gilles Muller, Florian Mayer, Mikhail Youzhny, and I’m probably forgetting more and more.
But what was going to happen over the rest of the 2020 season and beyond? How many would have ridden off into the sunset this year?
Well, the twin rulers of doubles, Bob and Mike Bryan (119 and 124 titles, respectively) announced that they would stop after the US Open, after spending 438 weeks, as joint leaders of the ATP Rankings (although Mike actually spent 506 weeks at the top), with a streak of 139 consecutive weeks – record on record. Bonus one: they also concluded ten seasons as the world’s best. We know what’s going on in New York, and so the US Open might not take place, even if postponed.
Pedalling backwards, after the 41 years of age of the Bryans (they’ll turn 42 on April 29) we find Venus Ebony Williams, who turns 40 on June 17.
Despite winning 7 Slams out of 16 finals (5 at Wimbledon), Venus reached the N.1 spot on three different occasions but for a meagre total of 11 weeks, a chasm between her and Serena, who’s been on the throne for 319 weeks (nine more than Federer!) and has surely prevented her from doing it herself on more than one occasion.
A year ago, Venus implied to me that her goal was to play in the Olympics once more. Having already bagged four gold medals (like her sister), once in singles and thrice as a pair (with a mixed doubles silver medal on the side), Venus is the only tennis player who can boast a medal at four different Olympics (from Sydney onwards), and if she’d gotten one in Tokyo her record would have probably become even more unbreakable – let’s remember that she and Serena never lost a Slam final in the doubles.
Her spirit wasn’t broken by two defeats she suffered against a girl who might be her daughter (Coco Gauff beat her at the Championships and in Australia), at least not to the point of declaring herself ready to hang her racquet. However, even if the rankings are frozen by the virus, she’s now stuck at the 67th spot, and I’d be extremely surprised if the postponement of the Tokyo Games hasn’t made her call it a career.
Speaking of Tokyo, we know that the Olympics are now delayed till 2021 (even though the Japanese don’t want the 2020 branding to end up in a waste-bin), but we don’t know exactly when they’ll take place. Some think they might happen in June (when the UEFA Euros will also be played); some say March, when the simultaneous progress of the Sunshine Double would effectively behead the tennis event in Japan or spell a second doom for at least one event; some say they will happen in the same dates that were slated this year.
PAGE 2: WILL ROGER FEDERER AND SERENA STILL BE PLAYING IN 2021?
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