EXCLUSIVE: Marian Vajda Opens up About Working With A ‘New Novak Djokovic’ - UBITENNIS
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EXCLUSIVE: Marian Vajda Opens up About Working With A ‘New Novak Djokovic’

Ubitennis has spoken with the coach of the 14-time grand slam champion ahead of his last round-robin match at the ATP Finals on Friday.

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Marian Vajda and Ubaldo Scanagatta - ATP Finals 2018 (photo Alberto Pezzali/Ubitennis)

It was losing the ‘fear of losing’ that has helped Novak Djokovic stage one of the most emphatic comebacks in the recent history of men’s tennis, according to his coach Marian Vajda.

 

Vajda reunited with the world No.1 in April after previously working together for an 11-year period (2006-2017). Under his guidance, Djokovic has produced a stellar second half of the year that has seen him win four titles, including both Wimbledon and the US Open. Since July, only two players have managed to defeat him (Stefanos Tsitsipas and Karen Khachanov). During that same period, he has achieved a perfect record of 10-0 against top 10 opposition.

“I’ve known him for many years, but I never expected him to return back to that way so fast,” Vajda told Ubitennis. “I had a feeling that I was starting all over again with a new Novak because he had doubts after the (elbow) injury.
“The toughest part was the comparison between now and the past. He always compared himself to a champion and it took a while to get there.”

After suffering a bitterly disappointing loss to Italy’s Marco Cecchinato at the French Open, it was the magic of the grass that turned things around for Djokovic. On the surface, he reached his first final of the season at Queen’s before triumphing at The All England Club for the fourth time in his career.

“When he lost a match point to Marin Cilic (in the final at Queen’s), he started to believe. He said ‘it’s a final, finally I have reached a final,’’ Vajda commented about the start of Djokovic’s turning point this season.

Less than two weeks after falling to Cilic, the Serbian got the better of nemesis Rafael Nadal in a five-set epic at Wimbledon. At the time the Spaniard was the highest ranked player he has defeated in 2018. An achievement Vajda said spurred on Djokovic’s resurgence.

“The biggest change for him, I think, was his win over Rafael Nadal at Wimbledon. It was an unbelievable match. I think after that he got belief and lost the fear of losing.”

It is unclear what the future hold for the Vajda-Djokovic partnership. The Slovakian coach had previously said that traveling around the world was tough on his family. His daughter is also a promising tennis player that he guides. When asked about what his plans are, Vajda gave little away. Diplomatically saying that he will ‘wait and see’ how life on the tour goes.

The full interview with Marian Vajda

Note: Article by Adam Addicott, interview conducted by Ubaldo Scanagatta.

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Alexander Zverev edged past Hugo Dellien to reach the semifinal in Geneva

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World number 5 and 2018 Nitto ATP Finals champion Alexander Zverev battled past Bolivian player Hugo Dellien 7-5 3-6 6-3 to reach the semifinal at the Banque Eric Sturdza Geneva Open. Zverev is still seeking his first title of the year.

 

Dellien earned the first break in the second game to take a 3-0 lead. Zverev converted his fourth break-back chance in the fifth game and held his serve to draw level to 3-3. Zverev saved a set point at 3-5 at 3-5, while Dellien was serving at 40-30.

Dellien needed one break in the fourth game to win the second set 6-3. Zverev held serve in the third game at the seventh deuce after seven deuces to take a 2-1 lead. The German player got the decisive break in the fourth game and held his serve at love to build up a 4-1 lead. Zverev never looked back to win the third set 6-3.

“I played very aggressive in the important moments. I was very aggressive also in break points down, This is finally something I was looking for in the last few weeks. I think today I showed it”, said Zverev.

Radu Albot came back from 2-4 down to beat Damir Dzumhur 6-3 7-5. Albot went up a double break in the third and fifth games to open up a 4-1 lead. Dzumhur pulled one break back in the sixth game for 2-4, but Albot broke for the third time on her third break point chance to win the first set 6-3.

Dzumhur went up an early break in the first game of the second set. Albot broke back in the eight game to draw level to 4-4 and sealed the win with his second break in the 10th game.

Albot will take on Nicolas Jarry, who dropped just four of his first service points to defeat Taro Daniel 6-1 7-5.

 

 

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Nikoloz Basilashvili sets up Lyon semifinal against Felix Auger Aliassime

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Four-time ATP Tour finalist Nikoloz Basilashvili secured his spot in the semifinal where he will face Felix Auger Aliassime in Lyon

 

Basilashvili came back from an early break down to beat Jo-Wilfried Tsonga 6-4 6-4 in the quarter final of the Parc Auvergne Rhone Alpes Lyon.

Tsonga got an early break in the second game to take a 2-0 lead, but Basilashvili recovered from the early start by breaking serve twice in the third and seventh games to take a 4-3 lead. The Georgian player held his final two service games at 30 to close out the opening set 6-4.

Basilashvili needed only a break in the third game of the second set to clinch the second set 6-4 to reach his first semifinal since winning the China Open in 2018.

Basilashvili set up a semifinal clash against this year’s Rio de Janeiro finalist and Miami Open champion Felix Auger Aliassime, who edged Steve Johnson 6-4 2-6 6-4. Auger Aliassime got a break of serve in the third game to clinch the opening set 6-4. Johnson bounced back by breaking twice in the second and eighth game to claim the second set 6-2. Auger Aliassime went up a double break in the third and fifth games to build up a 5-2 lead, but Johnson pulled one break back in the eighth game, when the 18-year-old player was serving for the match. Auger Aliassime served out for the match 6-4 in the 10th game.

Benoit Paire battled past Denis Shapovalov 6-3 4-6 7-6 (7-4) in 1 hour and 55 minutes. Paire broke serve twice in the fifth and ninth games to seal the opening set 6-3. Shapovalov claimed his only break in the fifth game to win the second set 6-4. Paire saved a total of three break points in the first and third games. Both players held on their service games en route to the tie-break. Paire reeled off the final three points from 4-4 to claim the tie-break 7-4.

Taylor Fritz fought back from one set down to beat Roberto Bautista Agut 6-7 (6-8) 6-3 6-4 after two hours and five minutes. Bautista Agut fended off one set point at 5-6 to take the tie-break of the opening set. Fritz fought back to open up a 3-0 lead with a break in the second game to claim the second set 6-4. The US player earned the decisive break in he ninth game to secure his spot in his first semifinal since the 2018 Chengdu Open.

 

 

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Tomas Berdych to Miss French Open For The First Time Since 2003

It will be the third grand slam the former top 10 player has missed within the past 12 months.

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Tomas Berdych (photo by chryslène caillaud)

Former Wimbledon runner-up Tomas Berdych will not play any clay court tournaments in 2019 after withdrawing from the upcoming French Open.

 

The 33-year-old has been absent from the tour since his first round loss to Feliciano Lopez in Indian Wells. Berdych has been hampered by issues within his back in recent weeks. He has been hoping to be fit in time for Roland Garros, but made a decision to withdraw from the event on Wednesday.

“I am not 100% ready to play the way I want and need to be competitive on the courts I love so much,” Berdych wrote on social media.
“I came to Paris and I had to take a tough decision and want another few days to fully recover and be ready for the grass season.”
“I love this tournament so much but I have to make sure not to further injure myself,” he added.

The Czech had played at the tournament every year since making his debut back in 2004. However, the French Open is his worst performing grand slam in terms of wins. So far in his career, Berdych has won 25 out of 40 matches played at the French Open. His stand out performance occurred in 2010 when he reached the semi-finals before losing to Sweden’s Robin Soderling.

It is not the first time back issues have forced Berdych out of action. In 2017 he was advised by doctors to end his season early due to persistent ‘back pain.’ He was also forced to skip both Wimbledon and the US Open due to the same problem.

Berdych, who last won a title at the 2016 Shenzhen Open, has played six tournaments so far this year. His best result occurred in January with a run to the final of the Qatar Open. He also reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and was a semi-finalist in Montpellier.

As a result of his absence, Berdych is currently ranked 100th in the world rankings. He will be replaced in the French Open draw by a lucky loser.

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