Novak Djokovic Verses Foe Rafael Nadal: Five Milestones Up For Grabs In Australian Open Final - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Verses Foe Rafael Nadal: Five Milestones Up For Grabs In Australian Open Final

The 53rd meeting between the two tennis legends will be an historic one for the winner in Melbourne Park on Sunday.

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Novak Djokovic (via Twitter, @AustralianOpen) and Rafa Nadal (@Sport Vision, Chryslène Caillaud)

This year’s Australian Open final will continue the most extensive rivalry in the history of men’s tennis between Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal.

 

The two will clash for a record 53rd time in Melbourne Park. So far in their rivalry, they have faced each other in 25 finals on the ATP Tour. Eight of which has been in the final of a major. Djokovic currently boasts a 27-25 advantage in their head-to-head. He has also won their seven most recent meetings on a hard-court. However, their last was at the 2016 Indian Wells Masters. Since then, Nadal has triumphed twice on clay and Djokovic has won on both clay and grass.

Besides the renewal in what is one of the biggest rivalries in the history of tennis, here are five records that could be broken during their latest meeting on Sunday.

Lucky No.7 for Djokovic?

14 years ago at Melbourne Park was where it all started for Novak Djokovic’s grand slam career. At the age of 17 he took on Marat Safin in the first round, winning just three games in the match. Since then, the Serbian player has established himself as one of the most successful players in the history of the tournament by winning it no less than six times.

Should Djokovic prevail once again on Sunday, he will become the first man in history to claim a seventh title. Surpassing a record he currently shares with Roger Federer and Roy Emerson. He is already one of two male players in history to participate in seven Australian Open finals, along with Federer.

Run to 2019 final
R1: 6-3 6-2 6-2 Kreuger
R2: 6-3 7-5 6-4 Tsonga
R3: 6-3 6-4 4-6 6-0 Shapovalov
R4: 6-4 6-7 6-2 6-3 Medvedev
QF: 6-1 4-1 RET Nishikori
SF: 6-0 6-2 6-2 Pouille

Nadal’s perfect run

Entering the Australian Open with a series of injury concerns over his head, Nadal has proven that he is back to top form. So far in the tournament he is yet to drop a set. The biggest threat he faced was Tomer Berdych in the fourth round, who took him to a tiebreaker in the third set.

Run to 2019 final
R1: 6-4 6-3 7-5 Duckworth
R2: 6-3 6-2 6-2 Ebden
R3: 6-1 6-2 6-4 De Minaur
R4: 6-0 6-1 7-6 Berdych
QF: 6-3 6-4 6-2 Tiafoe
SF: 6-2 6-4 6-0 Tsitsipas

Should Nadal defeat Djokovic in straight sets, which he hasn’t done in a major since the 2008 French Open, he would become the first man in the Open Era to win four grand slam titles without dropping a set. In Australian Open history, Ken Rosewall (1971) and Federer (2007) are the only two players to have achieved that record in the men’s draw.

The over 30s

The clash between 31-year-old Djokovic and 32-year-old Nadal has ensured that a player over the age of 30 will win a major title for the 10th time in a row. To put this into perspective, the previous record was Laver’s tally of four during 1969.

As it currently stands, Nadal and Djokovic are second and third retrospectively in terms of most titles won after their 30th birthday. If Nadal wins, he will go to joint first with four titles. He has previously won the French Open twice (201/2018) and the 2017 US Open. Djokovic will climb to second of the all-time list with three if he wins. Drawing level with Nadal in that scenario.

Player Grand Slam titles won aged 30+
Roger Federer – 4 (2012 Wimbledon, 2017 Australian Open, 2017 Wimbledon, 2018 Australian Open)
Rod Laver – 4 (1969 Australian Open, 1969 Roland Garros, 1969 Wimbledon, 1969 US Open)
Ken Rosewall – 4 (1968 Roland Garros, 1970 US Open, 1971 Australian Open, 1972 Australian Open)
Rafael Nadal – 3 (2017 Roland Garros, 2017 US Open, 2018 Roland Garros)
Novak Djokovic – 2 (2018 Wimbledon, 2018 US Open
Andre Agassi – 2 (2001 Australian Open, 2003 Australian Open)
Jimmy Connors – 2 (1982 US Open, 1983 US Open)
Stan Wawrinka – 2 (2015 Roland Garros, 2016 US Open

Nadal eyes the quadruple-double

In the generation of the big four, Nadal could become the first of them to hold a unique record. Should he win, he would become the first player in the Open Era to win every grand slam at least twice. His current title record in the majors stands as the following :-

11 at the French Open (an achievement no other player has achieved at the same grand slam)
3 US Open
2 Wimbledon
1 Australian Open

In the history of the sport, Rod Laver and Roy Emerson achieved the record before the start of the Open Era in 1969. In Laver’s case, some of the titles he was was before 1969.

Djokovic’s hat-trick of hat-trick’s

Finally, Djokovic is bidding to win three consecutive grand slam titles for the third time in his career. Something that has never been achieved in the history of men’s tennis. During 2011-2012 he claimed three major titles in a row between Wimbledon and the Australian Open. Four years later he completed a calendar grand slam at the 2016 French Open. Where a player holds all the  grand slam titles at the same time, but not within the same year.

At present, Djokovic is on a 20-match winning streak in major tournaments.

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Alexander Zverev Ditches Federer’s TEAM8 Management Firm To Return To His ‘Roots’

Zverev speaks out about his ‘short and long term strategies going forward.’

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German tennis star Alexander Zverev has confirmed his departure from TEAM8 as he set out his coaching plans for the season ahead.

 

The world No.7 posted a statement on Instagram saying that he no longer wants to be represented by the management firm, which was co-founded by Roger Federer and his agent Tony Godsick. Zverev says part of his decision was because he wanted his family to take a greater role once again. Instead, he will be managed by his brother Misha, who is the captain of the German ATP Cup team, as well as Sergei Bubka.

“I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management,” Zverev wrote.
“I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”

Zverev’s announcement comes less than two weeks after it was confirmed he will no longer be working with David Ferrer. A former world No.3 player who joined his camp last year. Ferrer confirmed that the ending of their partnership was on mutual terms and there was no conflict between the two. The Spaniard said his role as tournament director of the Barcelona Open and family commitments contributed towards his decision.

Last year the 23-year-old broke new territory in his career by reaching the final of the US Open which he lost in five sets to Dominic Thiem. Zverev also won two ATP titles in Cologne. However, his on-court success was overshadowed by events in his personal life. He has been accused of mental and physical abuse by his former girlfriend Olga Sharypova, which Zverev has denied. Meanwhile, it was revealed that another former partner of his is pregnant with his child.

Heading into the Australian Open, Zverev is likely to face more scrutiny over the domestic abuse allegations after it was confirmed that a new account from Sharypova will be published in the coming weeks. New York Times journalist and freelance writer Ben Rothenberg confirmed that a second interview will be released before the start of the Melbourne major. It is unknown as to what the interview will entail but there has been a prior reference to one ‘incident’ in China.

Zverev’s Instagram statement in full

“What a year 2020 has been, for the whole world and for myself. I reached my first Grand Slam final without my parents and brother being court-side due to them contracting COVID-19. An almost 2 year long legal dispute with my former agent finally came to a successful resolution, so I have spent a lot of time thinking about my short and long term strategies going forward. For this reason and because of the ongoing worldwide restrictions, I have decided to go back to the roots and have my family help me with my coaching, as well as Mischa and Sergei Bubka with my management. I want to thank TEAM8 for the great work and tremendous experience, but we both feel that it’s the right decision to have my family take on a bigger role once again.”

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No Special Treatment For Andy Murray, Says Australian Government

The three-time Grand Slam champion still wants to travel to Melbourne later this month but will it be possible?

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Andy Murray must provide a negative COVID-19 test and no preferential treatment will be given to him if he attempts to play the Australian Open, according to a government minister.

 

The former world No.1 was set to travel to Australia later this week but is unable to after testing positive for the coronavirus. As a result, Murray is currently self-isolating in his London home and is therefore unable to start the mandatory 14-day quarantine period along with other players. Although he is hopeful to still travel to Melbourne at a later date.

Whether or not he will be allowed to do so in the coming weeks is unclear. In a statement Tennis Australia wished the three-time Grand Slam champion a ‘happy recovery’ but didn’t address the possibility that Murray can travel at a later date than his peers. It is understood that negotiations are currently ongoing with coach tournament director Craig Tiley.

“The Australian Open fans love Andy, and we know how much he loves competing here in Melbourne and how hard he’s worked for this opportunity,” a statement reads.

Murray is not the only player unable to travel this week as a result of a positive test. Others include Madison Keys, Davidovich Fokina and Dominic Thiem’s coach Nicolas Massu. Tennys Sandgren also tested positive but has been allowed to fly because health officials say he is ‘viral shedding from a previous virus’. Sandgren tested positive for the virus back in November.

Martin Foley, who is the Minister of Health for the Victorian government, says no special treatment will be provided to Murray in his bid to play in the Grand Slam. The Brit was granted entry into the main draw thanks to a wild card. He missed the 2019 tournament due to pelvic bruising and the year before he stunned the sport by saying he may be forced to retire before later undergoing career-saving hip surgery.

In regards to Mr Murray, we’ve been clear from the start that anyone who tests positive is not able to be part of the program coming into Melbourne and Australia,” Foley told reporters on Friday.
“Mr Murray, and the other 1240 people as part of the program, need to demonstrate that if they’re coming to Melbourne they have returned a negative test.
“So should Mr Murray arrive, and I have no indication that he will, he will be subject to those same rigorous arrangements as everyone else.
“Should he test positive prior to his attempts to come to Australia, he will be refused.”

This year’s Australian Open is taking place under strict COVID-19 protocols. During quarantine players will be allowed to train up to five hours each day but not play in any professional tournaments. Those who break the rules could face a fine of AUS$20,000, prosecution and even deportation.

The Melbourne major will start on February 8th.

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Andy Murry Tests Positive For COVID-19, Australian Open Hopes In Doubt

A representative for the former world No.1 has confirmed that he is currently in isolation.

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Andy Murray faces a race against time to make the Australian Open after testing positive for COVID-19.

 

Multiple British media sources have confirmed that the three-time Grand Slam champion has been in self-isolation since testing positive and it is believed that he is in good health. The Daily Mail has reported that Murray is experiencing only ‘minor symptoms’ of the virus. He undertook the test as part of the requirement by Tennis Australia under their COVID-19 protocols which requires all arrivals to test negative. However, Tennys Sandgren has been given the all clear to travel despite testing positive.

Murray and his team are now hoping that they will still be able to make it in time for the Australian Open which begins on February 8th. Nicolas Massu, who is the coach of Dominic Thiem, finds himself in the same situation as Murray. Besides being required to test negative, players must quarantine for 14 days upon arrival in Australia before they are allowed to play in any tournaments. Although they are allowed to train during this period for up to five hours a day. Tennis Australia is yet to comment on Murray and if they will allow him to join their ‘bio-secure bubble’ at a later date.

There is no proof of where Murray caught the virus but growing speculation surrounds the National Tennis Center in Roehampton where it has previously been reported that a minor outbreak occurred. The Brit had been training at the facility and it is understood that fellow player Paul Jubb have also contracted COVID-19.

The 33-year-old is eager to return to the Australian Open two years after admitting at the tournament that he may be forced to retire from the sport due to a serious hip injury. In 2018 he stunned reporters by saying ‘I’m not sure I’m able to play through the pain for another four or five months’ before going on to say that the Australian Open may be his last tournament. Following his first round loss, the Brit even had a video tribute played to him at the event. However, since then he had managed to continue his career with the help of hip resurfacing surgery. It was another injury (pelvic bruising) that also forced him to skip the Melbourne major last year.

Murray is a five-time finalist at the Australian Open.

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