Andre Agassi Has No Regrets Over Work With Djokovic, Backs Him To Break Grand Slam Record - UBITENNIS
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Andre Agassi Has No Regrets Over Work With Djokovic, Backs Him To Break Grand Slam Record

The former world No.1 reflects on his time working with Djokovic during a trip to India.

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Novak Djokovic and Andre Agassi (photo by Gianni Ciaccia)

Multiple grand slam champion Andre Agassi believes he ‘shook the cage enough so tennis could benefit’ during his collaboration with world No.1 Novak Djokovic.

 

Agassi coached the Serbian alongside Radek Stepanek for less than a year between 2017-2018. The two ended their partnership last March on ‘mutual grounds,’ but it was later revealed that there was a range of disagreements between them. At the time Djokovic was returning to the tour from a serious elbow injury and underwent further surgery to treat the problem.

“No, I’m not regretful. I am very happy. The reason why I tried to help him or hope that I could help him, was because tennis deserves this.” Agassi said during an interview with The Times of India.
“What he was capable of was never in question. He has his own tortured process, as we all do, and I truly believed that I could have helped him and then I truly believed I couldn’t help him.”

It is the respect the 48-year-old has for Djokovic that contributed to their separation. Djokovic’s persistence and determination to play on the tour whilst continuing his recovery from injury was one that frustrated Agassi. So much, that he decided he could no longer be a member of the team.

“He was never healthy two days in a row with his elbow and I live by one clear philosophy, which is if you don’t listen to your body, your body is not going to listen to you. So we need to heal. But unlike me, when I played, he loves the game, he wants to play and he wants to run and he wants to find his way to get through the injury and playing injured is just not responsible. That I can’t support that because I’d be hurting the very person I’m claiming I care about and I’d be doing the very thing for tennis that I’m trying not to do.”

Following Agassi’s departure, Djokovic reunited with former mentor Marian Vajda. Under his guidance, he has surged back to the top of the sport. Winning three consecutive grand slam titles since june, two Masters 1000 trophies and became the oldest player in history to finish a season ranked No.1. At the Laureus Awards, which is dubbed the Oscars of the sports world, Djokovic was named sportsman of the year.

“I felt like I learnt a lot and I felt like in some way I shook the cage enough that tennis could benefit. To be clear, first night we were together, I told him he doesn’t need me.” Agassi explained.
“Whatever formula he has with his team is a very powerful one that he relies on because of who he is and it’s not something I am capable of doing or pretending or any of that. I am who I am and I only wish him the best and I root for him because tennis deserves it.”

The grand slam tally

Already a 15-time champion in the majors, many are tipping Djokovic to break rival Roger Federer’s record. Federer currently has 20 grand slam titles to his name, but is six years older than him. In between the two players is 32-year-old Rafael Nadal with 17 titles, including 11 at the French Open alone.

“I mean I am from Vegas, so I have to make a bet right, if I have to make a bet, what is he at? 15? So two more for three years? Yes. Now, you also have children, you also have priorities in life, but if he wants to, he will.” Said Agassi.

Should he win the French Open, Djokovic would hold all four of the major titles at the same time for the second time in his career. Something that has never been achieved by any other member of the Big Four.

Agassi remains coy to deciding who should have the ultimate title of Greatest Of All Time (GOAT). The topic has been extensively debated in the sport with numerous players having strong cases for the accolade. Ranging From Federer’s 99 ATP titles to Nadal’s dominance on the clay. However, who does Agassi think can play the highest level of tennis?

“If somebody is playing their best tennis – which is different from the Best Of All Time – let me make that clear, then the highest standard of tennis that I’ve ever seen is when Novak is playing his best tennis.” He concluded.

Djokovic will return to the tour next month at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

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Casper Ruud Opens Up About What It Is Like Playing Roger Federer

The 21-year-old explains what it is like to face somebody who is considered by some as the ‘greatest legend’ in tennis.

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Norway’s top tennis player admitted that he had difficulty sleeping the night before he was set to play Roger Federer for the first time in his career.

 

Casper Ruud has shed light on what it was like for him playing the Swiss Maestro during an interview with TV 2. The 21-year-old took on Federer in the third round of the French Open last year which he ended up losing 6-3, 6-1, 7-6. At the time it was only Ruud’s fourth appearance in the main draw of a Grand Slam.

“When you meet the man who is considered the greatest legend in your sport in history, it is clear that then you were a little extra nervous,” he said of 20-time Grand Slam winner Federer.
“I remember before I was going to play against Federer, it was a bit difficult to sleep the night before. When you lie with your head on the pillow, your thoughts come.”

Ruud says Federer’s achievements in the sport made him feel more nervous about playing him. Overall, the 39-year-old has won 103 ATP titles and currently holds the record for most time spent holding the world No.1 ranking at 310 weeks. He played his first ATP event at the 1998 Gstaad Open, which was a year before Ruud was born.

Although the Next Gen star says he has admiration for all members of the Big Three, which also include Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. The two highest ranked players currently on the men’s tour.

“It was in Melbourne a few years ago, and then I remember that we sat in a large cafe where all the players sit to eat. When Federer came in, it was completely quiet and everyone turned around. Now the legend is here,” he said.
“These three legends, they look taller than they might be. They are probably around 1.85 meters, but it may seem that they are two meters because of the respect you have for them.”

Since his meeting with Federer in Paris, Ruud has managed to make a name for himself as he gradually climbs up the world rankings. In February he won the Argentina Open to become the first Norwegian player in history to have won a title on the ATP Tour. He also reached the final of another tournament in Santiago. In September he defeated Matteo Berrettini in the Italian Open to record his first and so far only win over a top 10 player in his career.

“I do not remember everyone in my career. But there are some matches that stand out a bit, and that you remember extra well. Some ball exchanges, some punches here and there that you get, which you usually do not do. It is something that stands out a bit,” Ruud explains.

Unusually Ruud confirmed that both of his parents are now classed as his employees. He is coached by his father Christian who is a former player himself. Christian is a former world No.39 who was his country’s highest ranked male player in history until his son.

“The ultimate boss is probably (my) mother. She rules over both of us. In between at least,” he jokes.

After ending his season with three consecutive Tour losses, Ruud closes out 2020 with a win-loss record of 22-13 and has won $965,653 in prize money. He is currently ranked 27th in the world.
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Six Next Gen players to watch in 2021

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Six under 21 players born in the 2000s have come to the fore this season and are ready to make a major breakthrough in the coming years. 

 

We look back at the Next Gen season featuring six Next Gen players outside the top 100 (Thiago Seyboth Wild, Lorenzo Musetti, Sebastian Korda, Carlos Alcaraz, Hugo Gaston and Brandon Nakashima), who produced an impact on the ATP Tour and Challenger season in 2020 and could break into the top 100 next year. 

Thiago Seyboth Wild (world number 115) born in 2000

The 20-year-old Brazilian player emerged in 2018 when he won the US Open Junior title. He became the first ATP Tour champion born in 2000s when he beat number 1 seed Christian Garin in Santiago, followed by Norwegian clay specialist Casper Ruud 7-5 4-6 6-3 in the final. At the age of 19 Seyboth Wild became the youngest Brazilian champion in ATP Tour history and the youngest champion during the Golden Swing since an 18-year-old Rafael Nadal won the Acapulco title in 2005. 

Seyboth Wild was the lowest-ranked winner at World number 182 and the youngest tour-level champion at 19 years and 11 months. He broke into top 200 in the ATP Ranking on 24 February and climbed up 69 positions reaching his career-high of world number 113 on 2 March. 

“It’s an incredible achievement. It’s something I have always dreamed about”, said Seyboth Wild.

Thiago saved three match points to beat Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the first round in Rio de Janeiro as wildcard after 3 hours and 49 minutes in the longest ATP Tour match since the 2009 Madrid semifinal, when Rafa Nadal beat Novak Djokovic after 4 hours and 3 minutes.

Sebastian Korda (world number 117) born in 2000

Sebastian Korda is following in the footsteps of his father Petr Korda, who won the Australian Open title in 1998 and reached the French Open final in 1992, and tennis player Regina Rajchrtova. Sebastian grew up playing competitive ice hockey, but he decided to switch to tennis at the age of 9 after accompanying his father Petr to the US Open in 2009. 

The US player of Czech origin made a step forward in his career last summer, when he qualified for the main draw at the Western and Southern Open in New York by beating Gilles Simon. Korda pushed Denis Shapovalov in a four-set match in the first round at the US Open. 

At Roland Garros Sebastian came through the qualifying rounds to reach the main draw before beating Andreas Seppi and John Isner to get through the third round. He then beat Pedro Martinez becoming the first qualifier to reach the Round of 16 at Roland Garros in nine years. Korda won just four games in his straight-set defeat against 13-time Roland Garros champion Rafael Nadal, but the young US player will never forget this moment. 

“It was definitely the best moment of my life. It was super awesome”, said Korda. 

Korda went on to clinch his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Eckental (Germany). 

Lorenzo Musetti (world number 127) born in 2002

Lorenzo Musetti followed in the footsteps of Jannik Sinner, who won the Next Gen ATP Finals in Milan in 2019 and claimed his maiden ATP Tour title in Sofia this year. 

Musetti, who won the Australian Open title in 2019, made his ATP Tour debut last February in Dubai, where he lost to Andrey Rublev in Dubai. 

Musetti entered the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome as the World Number 249 and dropped a set in two of his three qualifying matches. The Italian 18-year-old player went on to upset former top 10 players Stan Wawrinka and Kei Nishikori in back-to-back matches to reach the third round for the first round in his career. Musetti became the first player to reach the third round in Rome since Frenchman Fabrice Santoro in 1991. 

Musetti lost in the third round against Germany’s Dominik Koepfer. The Italian teenager carried the momentum winning his first ATP Challenger Tour title in Forlì and became the youngest semifinalist of the season at the Sardinia Open in Santa Margherita di Pula as a wild-card. 

Lorenzo’s father is a marble producer. His mother is a secretary. The only coach in his career is Simone Tartarini. Lorenzo considers him as his second father. 

Carlos Alcaraz (world number 140) born in 2003

Spanish rising star Carlos Alcaraz grabbed the headlines last February before his 17-year-old birthday, when he beat Albert Ramos Vinolas 7-6 (7-2) 4-6 7-6 (7-2) after 3 hours and 37 minutes in the ATP 500 tournament in Rio de Janeiro in his debut on the ATP Tour at 3.00 local time. 

Alcaraz went on to become the youngest player to win ATP Challenger Tour trophies in consecutive weeks and the second youngest player to claim three titles in Challenger history. Only Richard Gasquet was younger, when he won his third title in Naples in 2003. 

Alcaraz beat Musetti in the semifinal of the ATP Challenger in Trieste en route to winning his first Challenger title. The Spanish player coached by former world number 1 Juan Carlos Ferrero won two back-to back titles in Barcelona (beating Damir Dzumhur in the final) and Alicante. 

Alcaraz has ended the season with a record of 39 wins to just 7 defeats. 

Hugo Gaston (world number 161) born in 2000

Hugo Gaston entered the French Open without a tour-level win and a semifinal at ATP Tour Challenger in Bergamo as his best result. The 20-year-old Frenchman beat Yoshihito Nishioka to reach the third round in the Paris Grand Slam tournament. Gaston entertained the few French fans with his drop-shot in his five-set win over 2015 Roland Garros champion Stan Wawrinka to reach the fourth round for the first first time in his career. The player from Toulouse became the lowest-ranked player to reach the fourth round at the French Open since world number 283 Arnaud Di Pasquale in 2002 and the first Frenchman to reach the fourth round in Roland Garros debut since Patrice Dominguez in 1971. 

Gaston lost against US Open champion and two-time Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem in five sets. 

Gaston made his Grand Slam main draw at the Australian Open as a wild card losing to Jaume Munar in the first round. 

Brandon Nakashima (world number 166) born in 2001

Nakashima received a wild-card to his first ATP main draw tournament in Delray Beach. The young US player beat Jiri Vesely and Cameron Norrie to become the youngest quarter finalist since Kei Nishikori won this tournament at the age of 18 in 2008. 

Nakashima won his first Grand Slam match against Italy’s Paolo Lorenzi at the US Open and claimed his maiden ATP Challenger title in Orlando. He advanced to the ATP Challenger semifinal at Indian Wells.  

Nakashima is coached by 1987 Wimbledon champion Pat Cash. Brandon’s mother grew up in Vietnam. His father is of Japanese ancestry and was born in California. 

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Greg Rusedski Fuels Rumours Of Andy Murray Retirement In 2021

Will 2021 be a farewell Tour for the three-time Grand Slam champion?

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Former British No.1 Greg Rusedski has suggested that Andy Murray could possibly be gearing up for a final farewell from tennis as early as next year.

 

The former US Open finalist, who now works as a TV analyst for Prime Sport, told Tennis365 that he thinks it is possible that Murray could play his farewell tournament at Wimbledon next year which will be the 16th anniversary of his Grand Slam debut at the event. Murray has been hampered by various injury setbacks since 2017 and has undergone two hip operations within as many years. This season he has also been troubled by pelvic bruising and was forced to pull out of his final tournament in Cologne due to an injury in the same area.

Rusedski is hoping that his fellow countryman will be able to get back in top form in time for the Wimbledon Championships next July. In 2020 the Grand Slam was cancelled for the first time since World War Two this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“I hope for Murray that he can have a big Wimbledon Championship and there is a crowd for him there,” said Rusedski. “He’s got problems with the hip still so for me for him to win a major I think it’s too hard for him, but he could still have a good run.
“Even to win a Masters Series is a big ask, semis possibly. Masters Series is back-to-back and he hasn’t had much tennis during Covid. Who knows if Wimbledon could be his last event?
“He’s had an incredible career. Two Wimbledon titles, two Olympics golds, world No.1, he has nothing to prove to anyone.“

Murray has only managed to play in four tournaments this year due to both injury and the pandemic. Overall, he has won three out of seven matches played with his best run being at the Western and Southern Open where he defeated Alexander Zverev en route to the third round.

“I’ve seen enough in the limited amount I have played in the last year. I was beating a top-10 player in Cincinnati, and then obviously at the end of last year I was still winning against guys like Stan [Wawrinka, in the European Open final],” Murray told reporters earlier this week.

Despite speculation over his future, the 33-year-old hasn’t mentioned the possibility of retirement next season as he continues his preparation for the Australian swing on the Tour in January. Speaking to BBC Scotland, he said that one of his goals for 2021 would be to play at the Olympics, where he would be bidding to win the singles title for a third consecutive time. The Games take place after Wimbledon.

“I would love to play in the Olympics again, to get another opportunity to do that would be huge for me,” he said. “It would be one of my top five priorities for the year, obviously I’d love to get the opportunity to play at Wimbledon, same with the Aussie Open. If I’m fit and well, I’d be pumped to go and try and win another medal in Tokyo.”

Murray is currently ranked 121st in the world.

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