Doubles Duties Provides A Silver Lining For Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells - UBITENNIS
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Doubles Duties Provides A Silver Lining For Novak Djokovic in Indian Wells

It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Serbian at the Californian Masters event on Tuesday.

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Novak Djokovic and Fabio Fognini (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Novak Djokovic didn’t have much time to dwell on his shock exit from the BNP Paribas Open. In fact, he had less than two hours to cool down, recover and return back to the court.

 

On Tuesday the world No.1 slumped to a shock 6-3, 6-4, loss to world No.39 Philipp Kohlschreiber. The lowest ranked player to have got the better of him since Marco Cecchinato at the 2018 French Open. Whilst it was certainly a bad day at the office for a player who has dominated the men’s tour in recent months, he is also able to see the bigger perspective with the help of his participation in the doubles draw this week.

“I had to get over it in an hour, because I played doubles.” Said Djokovic. “I must admit I was thinking about it (the loss). When I hit a good return, I was wondering why this didn’t happen in singles. But it is, I guess, part of the world that we are, the world of tennis. It’s part of our world, and we just have to bounce back very quickly.”

Djokovic has teamed up with Fabio Fognini this week. He has a very modest record in the doubles in his career with prize money earnings of just under $350,000. A stark contrast to his singles tally of more than $110 million. Djokovic and Fognini have progressed to the semi-finals after defeating two-time grand slam champions Horia Tecau and Jean-Julien Rojer on Tuesday evening.

“I love playing doubles. I don’t play often. I play a few times a year. So these are the rare occasions where I could potentially do well.” Said Djokovic.
“It’s obviously very different from singles. Playing doubles, everything happens really quickly. Not easy mentally to kind of refresh your mindset and concentration and get the right intensity on the court so quickly after a disappointing loss in singles.”
“I’m happy that we managed to pull that one through. We beat very experienced doubles.” He added.

For Djokovic specifically, the run with Fognini also serves as a opportunity for him to get redemption in the Californian desert.

“It’s good for me that I’m participating in doubles here, because I get a chance to rectify the wrongs, if you want, but I don’t think it’s going to sit with me too long. I really — I don’t feel how this can, you know, disturb me on the long run. You know, I know what I’m capable of. I know the quality of my tennis.”

Indian Wells is one of the few tournaments on the men’s tour with the star players play in both draws. Besides Djokovic, Alexander Zverev, Stan Wawrinka, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Dominic Thiem have also done the double.

Whilst admitting that it is hard to force the top players on the men’s tour to play in doubles, Djokovic believes the discipline is getting recognised more than in the past. However, there remain big differences. The doubles champion in Indian Wells this year will win $439,350. A $901,510 decrease on what the singles champion will walk away with. Despite the differences in prize money, the ranking points are the same.

“I think doubles, in general in the last six, seven years, have gotten to a higher level of recognition.” The world No.1 stated. “I think in the last 10 years we have seen a great improvement and transformation of the doubles on the tour in a positive way. The tournaments are respecting doubles players more and encouraging top singles players to play doubles more. So that’s good. That’s positive. We need doubles, for sure.“

Should Djokovic triumph with Fognini this week, it would be only his second ATP titles in the doubles and first since 2010 at The Queen’s Club in London. A somewhat reasonable consolation prize for the 31-year-old after his latest loss.

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Rafael Nadal claims his ninth title in Rome

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Rafael Nadal beat Novak Djokovic 6-0 4-6 6-1 in the eagerly awaited final of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia on the Centre Court in Rome to claim his ninth title of his legendary career in the Italian capital. Nadal has become the first player in history to win 34 Masters 1000 titles.

 

Nadal and Djokovic met for the 54th time in their careers and for the 26time in a final. Djokovic entered the Rome final with a 28-25 win-loss record and beat Nadal in three sets in this year’s Australian Open final by the scoreline of 6-3 6-2 6-3.

The top 2 players of the ATP Ranking won 12 of the last 14 Rome titles.

Nadal took a bagel win in a one-sided first set with three consecutive breaks and earned 59 % of his return points. Nadal broke in the first game of the opening set after a loose forehand from Djokovic. Nadal went up a double break to open a 3-0 lead with a forehand down the line and claimed the opening set in the sixth game with a service winner after 38 minutes.

Djokovic bounced back in the second set and earned a break point in the fourth game, but Nadal saved it with a forehand down the line winner.

The Serbian player saved three break points he faced in the seventh game of the second set and fended off another chance at 4-4. Nadal wasted a game point in the 10th game and sent a forehand long to drop serve in the 10th game. With his only break Djokovic claimed the second set 6-4 forcing the match to the third set.

The Serbian player earned his first break point of the match at 2-1 in the second set with a forehand, but Nadal saved it with an inside.in forehand winner. Nadal brought up three break points at 3-3 0-40 with a lob that Djokovic smashed into the net.

Djokovic saved the 4th fourth break point of the second set at 4-4 before breaking serve at deuce in the 10th game to close out the second set 6-4, when Nadal missed wide.

Nadal started the decisive set with an immediate break at deuce in the opening game. Djokovic saved a break point in the third game at deuce, but dropped his serve for the second time at 30 in the fifth game to trail 1-4 after a backhand error Nadal wrapped up the match with his third break in the seventh game on his first match point at deuce to clinch his ninth title in Rome and his 34th Masters 1000 trophy. Nadal has lifted his first title of the 2019 season and his first tournament since last August’s Rogers Cup.

Nadal won the Rome title for the second consecutive year becoming the first player to successfully defend a title in 2019. The Spanish player had not won a single tournament in 2019, but he reached three consecutive semifinals in Monte-Carlo, Barcelona and Madrid.

The Spanish player becomes the oldest Rome champion in the history of the Rome tournament.

Nadal received the Rome trophy from former Roland Garros and Rome champion Gustavo Kuerten during a ceremony attended by Italian tennis legend Nicola Pietrangeli and Italian tennis Federation President Angelo Binaghi.

“For me it’s always an honour to play in Rome. I played here for the first time in 2005. I thank the crowd for their support. I played the first set very well. The most important thing is to return to my best level. All titles are special, but this win means a lot to me, because Rome has a very important place in the history of our sport. I had a very difficult week. For me, as I have said ever day, winning titles is important, but for me the most important thing is to feel myself competitive and healthy. And then with the feeling I am improving.” Nadal said during a post-match interview with TennisTV.

 “I know if I reach my level, you can win or you can lose, but normally I will have my chances. Especially on this surface. I am very happy with my victory. It was a great match, I played well and now I’m just enjoying the moment.” Nadal summarised.

 “It is always special playing against Novak, against Roger (Federer). These kind of matches has been tradition in the sport for the last 10 or so years.” he said.

 “Novak is having a great season. Winning in Australia and winning last week in Madrid. It’s an important win for me, but what means a lot is winning again here in Rome. It is one of the most important events of the year.”

Nadal did not drop a set en route to reaching the final, while four-time Rome champion Djokovic won two three-set marathon matches against Juan Martin Del Porto in the quarter final and Diego Schwartzman in the semifinal and spent 5 hours and 34 minutes compared to Nadal ‘s 3 hours and 22 minutes.

“No, I don’t want to talk about the fatigue. Simply Nadal was the better player today.” Djokovic said during the trophy presentation.

 

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Novak Djokovic battles past Diego Schwartzman to set up a blockbuster final against Rafael Nadal in Rome

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Novak Djokovic battled past Diego Schwartzman 6-3 6-7 (2-7) 6-3 in the semifinal of the Internazionali BNL d’Italia setting up a blockbuster final against Rafael Nadal.

 

In their previous head-to-head match Djokovic recovered from 2 sets to one down to win in five sets at 2017 Roland Garros.

Both players played a good match, but Djokovic raised his level in the most decisive moments of the match. Djokovic was not affected by his 3-hour marathon match against Juan Martin Del Potro, where he saved two match points.

Djokovic won another thrilling match after 2 hours and 31 minutes against Schwartzman reaching his 9th final in Rome and his 49th title match at Masters 1000 level.

Djokovic converted four of his five break points and dropped his serve twice.

Djokovic got his first break in the eighth game, when Schwartzman netted a backhand. Djokovic held his serve with three winners in the ninth game to close out the opening set 6-3 after 38 minutes.

Djokovic and Schwartzman traded four consecutive breaks from 3-2 in the second set. Schwartzman went up a break twice at 4-2 and 5-3, but Djokovic broke back both times in the seventh and ninth games to draw level to 5-5 setting up a tie-break. Schwartzman took two mini-breaks and won all points on serve to win the tie-break 7-2 forcing the match to the third set.

In the third set they traded five service games before Djokovic earned the decisive break in the sixth game to take a 4-2 lead, when Schwartzman made a backhand error. The Serbian player held serve in the ninth game to secure his spot in the final.

Djokovic and Nadal will meet for the 54th time. The Serbian player leads 28-25 in his head-to-head matches against the Spaniard. Both players hold the record of 33 Masters 1000 titles.

“He keeps on showing to the world why Nadal is one of the biggest legends of tennis history. I have the greatest respect for him. He is my greatest of all time. Every time we get to play each other, it’s a thrill. It’s the ultimate challenge”, said Djokovic.  

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Novak Djokovic Keeps Faith Ahead Of Schwartzman Semi-Final In Rome

Novak Djokovic is keeping the faith as he looks forward to a semi-final match with Diego Schwartzman in Rome.

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Novak Djokovic (@ATP_Tour - Twitter)

World number one Novak Djokovic is keeping the faith ahead of his Rome semi-final against Diego Schwartzman. 

 

The four-time champion survived a massive test late last night as he battled past Juan Martin Del Potro 4-6 7-6(6) 6-4 in just over three hours.

After saving two match points the Serb proved to be too clinical as he clinched victory at about 1am in the morning on Saturday.

In a short interview after his match Djokovic said that keeping faith was important in his quarter-final victory, I never lost faith I could come back to the match,” Djokovic explained.

“One break of serve, mini break in the tiebreak when he was 6-4, more or less open forehand that he was making the entire match, that’s all it took for me to come back. I’m just really pleased to overcome.”

In addition to keeping mentally strong, Djokovic also praised Del Potro’s performance as he continues his recovery from a knee injury, “He was playing really good. I tried my best obviously all the way till the end,” Djokovic said.

I lost probably the positioning of the court over him. Towards the end of the first he just started hitting the ball really well from both corners. Also backhand side, backhand down the line. He was playing really well. Gave me a lot of trouble.”

Next up for Djokovic is Diego Schwartzman who is into his first ever masters 1000 semi-final and is yet to drop a set this week.

The Serb leads the head-to-head 2-0 although their last match went to five sets at Roland Garros a couple of years ago. It should be a fascinating match which takes place at 8pm local time as Djokovic looks to keep the faith heading into the French Open.

 

 

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