Novak Djokovic Dominates Nadal To Win Historic 7th Australian Open Title - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Dominates Nadal To Win Historic 7th Australian Open Title

The top seed produced an emphatic display to seal his third consecutive grand slam title and 15th overall.

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World No.1 Novak Djokovic has become the most successful male player in Australian Open history after crushing Rafael Nadal 6-3, 6-2, 6-3, to claim his seventh title in Melbourne Park.

 

The top seed showed little weakness during what was undoubtedly his best performance in the entire tournament this year. Taking on Nadal, who last won the Melbourne title in 2008, Djokovic toppled him with the help of a sublime serving display. Winning 81% of his service points. Furthermore, the Serbian hit 34 winners to nine unforced errors and faced just one break point throughout the entire encounter. Making it one of the most dominant displays he has ever produced against the Spaniard in their historic rivalry.

“I’m just trying to contemplate the journey in the last 12 months.” An emotional Djokovic reflected during his trophy ceremony.
“I had the surgery exactly 12 months ago so to be standing in front of you today and to win this title and three out of four Slams is amazing. I’m speechless.”

The clash on the Rod Laver Arena was the 53rd instalment of one of the most prestigious rivalries in the history of tennis. Prior to the clash, Djokovic narrowly lead their head-to-head 27-25. Pointing potentially to a close encounter between the two in Melbourne. However, the start to the match saw a stark disparity between the two.

Djokovic looked to be at home from the onset on a court that has brought him so much success. Meanwhile, Nadal was nervous and tentative with a series of errors undoing him. Throughout the opener, the world No.1 produced a serving Masterclass by winning 24 out of 25 points behind his serve. In contrast, Nadal dropped his first service game after hitting back-to-back errors. That sole break was enough to clinch Djokovic the first set. Serving for the 6-3 lead, a 21-shot rally concluded with a Nadal backhand ploughing into the net. Granting Djokovic his first set point, which he converted with the help of another mistake from across the court.

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Applying pressure onto the 17-time grand slam champion, Djokovic continued his emphatic offensive. Capitalising on yet another lacklustre service game from Nadal, which featured four unforced errors, the Serbian broke for a 3-2 lead in the second frame. Continuing to draw blood, the double break was soon secured with the help of some spectacular play from Djokovic. Who was producing his best level of tennis. Storming to a two-set lead, Djokovic close it out with a love service game that ended with an ace out wide.

Steam-rolling towards his 15th grand slam title, which is the third highest in the Open Era, Djokovic continued to dismantle his opponent. Capitalising on the backfiring of Nadal’s trademark forehand down the line, another early break in the third set move him to a 3-1 lead. Doing so with the help of a drop shot.

It wasn’t until almost 110 minutes into the match that Djokovic faced his first break point. A clear indication of his dominance against the world No.2. Once again he denied Nadal the chance of generating momentum as he fought back to hold serve and edge closer to the title with a 4-2 lead in the third set. Destroying the mini threat, it was a pulsating forehand winner down the line that granted Djokovic a duo of match points. After failing to convert his first, he prevailed on his second after a Nadal backhand drifted long.

Nadal vows to be better

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After being denied the chance to end his 11-year title drought in Melbourne, Nadal has vowed to improve his game further. The Australian Open was his first tournament on the tour since September. In recent months the 32-year-old has been blighted by injury issues concerning his knee, abdomen and thigh. On top of that, he also underwent minor surgery on his ankle in November.

“It has been an emotional two weeks. Even if tonight wasn’t my best day, I had somebody that played much better than me tonight.” Said Nadal.
“It’s been a very important two weeks for me. I have been going through some tough moments over the past year. Only having the chance to play in nine events and having to retire in two of them.

Now with his injury woes hopefully behind him, Nadal hopes his Melbourne run will elevate him to success later on in the season. In the tournament he scored two wins over seeded players – Alex de Minaur and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

“I really believed I played some good tennis. This is going to be some good energy for what’s coming.” He said.
“I’m going to keep playing hard, keep fighting hard to be a better player.”

The resurgence of Nadal has also gained praise from Djokovic. He has now lost eight consecutive matches against the Serbian on a hard-court.

“You are showing to me and all your other colleagues what is the definition of the fighting spirit and resilience.” Djokovic said during his tribute to Nadal.

The hat-trick of hat-tricks

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Djokovic has now won three consecutive grand slam titles in a row after Wimbledon and the US Open. He has become the first player in history to claim three consecutive major trophies on three different occasions. He has previously done so during 2011-2012 and 2015-2016.

“I would like to thank my team for supporting me. It is an individual sport, but you guys tolerate me on my bad days. Putting together a great successful formal that is working.” Djokovic said.
“Marian (Vajda) thanks for coming back to my team.” He later added.

Underlining his status as world No.1, Djokovic exits Melbourne with 2000 ranking points and AUS$4.1 Million in prize money.

https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen/status/1089484552450523136

 

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Fernando Verdasco, Taylor Fritz, Hubert Hurkacz and Steve Johnson advance to the second round at Eastbourne

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Fernando Verdasco came back from one set down to beat unseeded Australian player John Millman 6-7 (3-7) 6-4 6-1 after 2 hours and 32 minutes at the Nature Valley International at Eastbourne. The Spanish veteran fended off 11 of the 12 break points he faced.

 

Millman went up a 7-6 (7-3) 4-2 lead in the second set and came just two service holds from winning the match, but Verdasco came back by winning 10 of the final 11 games to seal the win. Verdasco secured his spot in the second round, where he will face either wildcard Jay Clarke or Leonard Mayer.

Twenty-year-old Taylor Fritz broke four times to cruise past British qualifier and this year’s NCAA champion Paul Jubb 6-2 6-3 in one hour.

Fritz earned the first break in the second game after a smash error from Jubb, who broke straight back to draw level to 1-1. Fritz won the four final games from 2-2 with two breaks in the sixth and eighth games to close out the first set 6-2.

Fritz went up a break in the fourth game with a return winner. The young US player closed out the match with three service winners at 5-3.

Hubert Hurkacz beat 2018 Roland Garros semifinalist Marco Cecchinato 6-4 6-4. The young Polish player sealed the first set 6-4 with one break in the ninth game and went up an early break at the start of the second set. Cecchinato broke back on his second break point chance in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3, but Hurkacz got another break in the ninth game to seal the second set 6-4.

Hurkacz will face 2016 Eastbourne champion Steve Johnson, who beat reigning New York champion Reilly Opelka 7-6 (7-4) 6-3 after 1 hour and 21 minutes. Hurkacz and Johnson are trained by the same coach Craig Boynton.

The first set went on serve without any break points, before Johnson claimed the tie-break 7-4 with a forehand crosscourt winner. Both players traded breaks in the fifth and sixth games in the second set. Johnson got his second break in the seventh game with a forehand winner and sealed the win with his third consecutive break at 5-3 with a forehand winner.

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Damir Dzumhur makes a winning start to his title defense in Antalya

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Damir Dzumhur made a winning start to his title defence by beating Australia’s Matthew Ebden 6-4 7-5 in their first head-to-head match after 1 hour and 22 minutes in the opening round of the third edition of the Turkish Airlines Open Antalya on grass.Dzumhur won just two more points and converted three of the seven break points.

 

Dzumhur broke once in the first game of the opening set and twice in the fifth and eleventh games of the second set.

The Bosnian player, who is bidding to win an ATP title for the third consecutive year, will take on Turkish wild card Altug Celibilek, who stunned Ernests Gulbis 6-3 4-6 6-4 after 1 hour and 53 minutes.

Celibilek converted his second break point chance in the fourth game to win the first set 6-3. The second set went on serve until the 10th game when Gulbis got his first break at deuce to win the second set 6-4 forcing the match to the third set. Celikbilek broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 and saved two break points to hold his serve. The home player served out the match on his first match point.

Bernard Tomic came back from one set down to beat Andreas Seppi 4-6 6-4 6-4 setting up a second round match against Germany’s Peter Gojowczyk.

Tomic beat Seppi at Queen’s in 2010 and in Sydney in 2013, while the Italian took a 6-4 7-5 win earlier this year in Delray Beach.

Seppi got an early break at the start of the first set and held his next service games. The Italian player closed out the first set with an an ace after 46 minutes.

Tomic got his first break in the sixth game and held his service game to race out to a 5-2 lead. Seppi saved two set points before converting his sixth break point to claw his way back to 4-5. In the 10th game Tomic earned another break to seal the second set 6-4.

Seppi had to save three break points in the fourth and sixth games of the third set. Tomic sealed the win with a break on his first match point in the 10th game.

Next Gen player Ugo Humbert defeated Federico Delbonis 6-3 7-5 to score his sixth win at ATP Tour level. The French player will play against 19-year-old Next Gen Miomir Kecmanovic, who beat Jaume Munar on Sunday.

India’s Prajnesh Gunneswaran knocked out Janko Tipsarevic 6-0 7-6 (8-6) to set up a second round against Italy’s Lorenzo Sonego.

 

 

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Tomorrow’s Noventi Open Final

It’s David Goffin versus Roger Federer in the final in Halle.

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David Goffin (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

By Cheryl Jones

Italian, Matteo Berrettini’s lucky streak on grass this season has finally come to an end at the Noventi Open in the first semi-final match today. Belgian, David Goffin came away with a well-deserved win, 7-6, 6-3. He will face Roger Federer tomorrow in the final. (Federer defeated Frenchman Pierre-Hugues Herbert 6-3, 6-3 in the second semi-final.)

 

The scribe who writes the tournament winner on that familiar (at least to Federer) trophy likely has his tools at the ready, to quickly inscribe tomorrow’s winner’s name on the little brass plate. It could be the same old story, with Federer coming out on top. He has done it nine times before and the court may seem as if it’s a favourite playground. Tomorrow will reveal the end of this year’s tale that could likely see a “happily ever after” ending for Federer. He is turning 38 in a bit over a month and he seems to be a bit like that famous Energizer bunny that just keeps on ticking.

Berrettini managed to hold his serve in all fifty of his service games during his pursuit of the title in Stuttgart earlier this month. Even though the streak of service games had faltered during this past week in Halle, he faced Goffin today. It looked as if his string could begin again. The first set ended with a string of winning service games. But, Goffin followed suit and held his serve as well. Berrettini eventually lost the set in a nine-minute Tie-Break but moved into the second set with high hopes for a comeback that did not happen.

It was the eighth game of that second set when Goffin finally broke the Italian and even though Berrettini seemed a bit rattled, he carried on. The two players were evenly matched, trading games and holding their serves. There were a few exciting exchanges, but the back and forth verged on monotonous in its teeter-totter-like trade-offs.

After Berrettini was broken, the wind seemed to leave his sails and he must have felt that he was in the Doldrums – merely drifting, searching for a breeze to fill his sails once again. After a late in the match point that didn’t go his way, he sat on the court even though I didn’t see him fall. He rose with an edgy bit of energy followed by what seemed like an angry exchange with of all people – himself. He tossed his hat onto the offending court and retrieved it. The hat made its way back on his head, ala Lleyton Hewitt, with the rear-facing bill. From that point forward, he wasn’t in the game, at least mentally and Goffin defeated him 7-6, 6-3.

I came to a conclusion after that match that tennis players have a fairly universal “tell” when they are uptight during a match. It’s the ball bounce before a service. Novak Djokovic has a heightened case of the bouncing ailment. When he is really up tight, he often bounces the ball seven times, then stops and begins the bounce again so that the total is thirteen. Rafael Nadal has an erratic bouncing technique. He often exceeds twenty bounces before he introduces his serve. Both he and Djokovic have been called for time violations because of this seemingly innocuous habit that eats up the 25-second clock that is initiated by the umpire to ensure a match is conducted in a timely fashion. Berrettini didn’t surpass either of those two, but he did begin to add to his usual three or four bounces in both the first and second set. It was easy to see that he was uptight, even before the Belgian broke his serve in the second set. (It often seems that the most dangerous opponent is in one’s own head.)

After the match, Goffin said he was feeling great. He has a steady game that doesn’t seem to rise and fall with the score. Today he observed, “I’m playing well, more aggressive. I’m hitting the ball really well. So, it’s a great feeling this week to be in the final; my first final on grass in a 500.” And then he went on to say just how happy he was several more times. He seems like a steady guy. Not much is apt to raise his blood pressure. He is just a mellow fellow. Tomorrow, however, that may change, but I doubt it.

His best friend on the tour is Herbert. Federer’s victory over his friend was decisive. His own play today didn’t seem decisive, but more like a steady stream of answers to Berrettini’s offerings. He spoke of the weak backhand that the Italian displayed, and he also mentioned something that I noticed but didn’t ask about. Even though Goffin had some issues with his knee early on in the tournament it was apparent that Berrettini was favouring his right knee on many occasions. Goffin said, “I had to make him move and then come back to his backhand. The key was to stay focused because he was aggressive and try to counter him and make him run.”

When asked about his own knee, he claimed he had winced a few times, but then he had broken the Italian’s serve. With that, it was enough to carry on until he achieved what he set out to do. It was the win that was the reward for all of that hard work.

He spoke philosophically about the final. Even though Federer has a 7-1 win record over the Belgian, he said, “It is always special to play against Roger. You just try to play your best tennis and risk everything.” He should prepare for a risky day tomorrow. They will demonstrate their bundle of skills and their inimitable personalities will carry them through. The week of tennis will finish with a flourish no matter which of them wind up with their name on that massive trophy.

 

 

 

 

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