Five Things To Know About The The Monte Carlo Final As Fognini And Lajovic Eye Milestones - UBITENNIS
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Five Things To Know About The The Monte Carlo Final As Fognini And Lajovic Eye Milestones

Who will win the clash of the underdogs?

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At the start of this year’s Monte Carlo Masters, few expected the finale to feature two players who have had mixed results on the tour so far this season.

 

Italian veteran Fabio Fognini will contest his 19th and most significant ATP final after stunning Rafael Nadal in the semi-finals on Saturday. Becoming the fourth player in history to defeat the Spaniard on the clay at least three times. Prior to this week, Fognini had lost his opening match at four clay court tournaments this season across South America and North Africa.

“If you told me at the beginning of the week, I will see you on Sunday, I would [have] laughed in your face,” Fognini told reporters after his semi-final match. “I was 6-4, 4-1 down (against Andrey Rublev in the first round) and break point for 5-1, and I [hit an] ace on the line. But that’s sport. So I was lucky. Now I’m in the final.”

Fognini’s route to final
R1 – def Andrey Rublev 4-6, 7-5, 6-4
R2 – def Gilles Simon (walkover)
R3 – def Alexander Zverev 7-6(6), 6-1
QF – def Borna Coric 1-6, 6-3, 6-2,
SF – def Rafael Nadal 6-4, 6-2

Standing in Fognini’s way of the title is Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic. Lajovic’s shock run to the final has seen him score three wins over seeded players. Including his first ever over a top five player when he took out Dominic Thiem. Until Monte Carlo, the current world No.48 had never won more than three consecutive matches at tour-level. He has played in the main draw of 20 grand slam tournaments with his best run being to the fourth round of the 2014 French Open.

Lajovic’s route to final
R1 – def Malek Jaziri 6-4, 6-4
R2 – def David Goffin 6-3, 6-4
R3 – def Dominic Thiem 6-3, 6-3
QF – def Lorenzo Sonego 6-4, 7-5
SF – def Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-1

With a lot of stake for both players when they clash at the Monte Carlo Country Club, here are five things to watch in the final.

  • 31-year-old Fognini and 28-year-old Lajovic will both play in their first ever Masters 1000 final in Monte Carlo. This is the first time this has happened since Jock Sock’s win over Filip Krajinovic at the 2017 Paris Masters.
  • Fognini is bidding to become the first ever Italian player to win a Masters 1000 title since the series was created back in 1990. At Monte Carlo, the last Italian player to win the title was Nicola Pietrangeli back in 1968.
  • Lajovic is bidding to become the lowest ranked player to win a Masters title since Tomas Berdych at the 2005 Paris Masters when he was ranked 50th in the world. The Serbian is already the lowest ranked player to reach the final in Monte Carlo since Hicham Arazi back in 2001.
  • World No.18 Fognini is bidding to become the lowest seeded player to win the title since Brazil’s Gustavo Kuerten back in 1999. Meanwhile, Lajovic could become the first unseeded champion since Thomas Muster back in 1992.
  • Whoever wins will reach a new ranking best. Fognini is already guaranteed to return back into the world’s top 15, but will rise to a high of 12th should he win the title. As for Lajovic, he will exceed his previous personal best ranking of 42nd. Rising to 19th with the title or 24th if he finishes runner-up.

The final is scheduled to get underway at 14:30 (CEST).

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Next Generation Not Even Close To Upstaging Tennis’ Big Three, Says Andy Murray

The three-time Grand Slam champion had some harsh words for those hoping to end the dominance of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

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There has been a lot of talk about who may take over from the reign of the Big Three in the future but Andy Murray believes there is still a long way to go until that happens.

 

The former world No.1 believes the next generation of players are yet to prove they have what it takes to take over from the trio who has won 15 out of the past 16 Grand Slam tournaments between them. Dominic Thiem is the only exception after triumphing at the US Open last year. Between them they have won 271 titles on the ATP Tour and have spent over 800 weeks at the top of the rankings.

On Sunday Novak Djokovic continued the Big Three’s dominance by downing Daniil Medvedev in three sets to win the Australian Open. Dealing another blow to those hoping that a change of guard in the men’s game will occur soon.

“I expected the final to be closer to be honest but I also know how good Novak is there and when he’s on his game and obviously highly motivated,” Murray told The Press Association.
“I saw before the final Medvedev said something along the lines of Novak having immense pressure on him, which is true, but those guys have been at the top of the game, they’ve been dealing with immense pressure their whole careers and they know how to deal with it and perform at their best level when it matters.”

Continuing his assessment of the current game, Murray said that Thiem’s US Open win last year was more of a blip rather than any potential momentum changer. Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were absent from the tournament. Meanwhile, Novak Djokjovic ended up getting disqualified following a mishap.

“The younger guys, for me, they’ve not shown that they’re particularly close,” he said.
“Obviously what happened at the US Open, (Dominic) Thiem did what he had to do to win the event, but, if Novak hadn’t put a ball through the line judge’s throat, it would be the same outcome I think.”

Murray currently has a losing head-to-head record against every member of the Big Three. However, he was the first man in history to have beaten each of them at least five times before Thiem also reached the milestone last November. Overall, he has scored seven wins over Nadal, as well as 11 victories over both Federer and Djokovic.

The Brit is set to return to action later this week at the Montpellier Open in France. He was forced to miss the first Grand Slam of the season after testing positive for COVID-19 and instead played a Challenger event in Italy.

“I didn’t watch any because I wanted to be there myself,” Murray said of missing the Australian Open. “It was a struggle to be honest. I stopped following all the tennis players I follow on social media and stuff because I just didn’t really want to see it.”

In Montpellier Murray will play Egor Gerasimov in his opening match on Tuesday.

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Undeterred Daniil Medvedev Praises The ‘Cyborgs Of Tennis’ After Australian Open Loss

The world No.4 reacts to his loss to Novak Djokovic in Melbourne Park.

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Daniil Medvedev says he is down but not out of the race for Grand Slam glory after losing in the final of the Australian Open on Sunday.

 

The world No.4 fell in straight sets to Novak Djokovic in what was his second taste of playing in a major final. His first was against Rafael Nadal at the 2019 US Open. In his latest encounter Medvedev struggled at times with his unforced error count as he failed to find a way to break down Djokovic’s defensive display.

“It’s definitely tough. I don’t like to lose matches. Doesn’t matter if it’s a first round or a final of a Grand Slam. Of course, it’s just that feeling that you’re closer to holding the trophy than when you lose the first round,” Medvedev told reporters.
“I feel like it’s the kind of matches I won throughout this tournament, he won today.”

Heading into the clash some pundits have tipped the 25-year-old to lift his maiden major title given his recent surge on the Tour. Prior to the showdown he was on a 20-match winning streak with 12 of those victories being over top 10 players. Earlier in the tournament Medvedev scored wins over Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

However, the Russian failed when faced with the ultimate challenge in men’s tennis – playing a member of the Big Three in a Grand Slam. Despite being described by Djokovic as one of his toughest opponents, he is under no illusion of the challenge the trio poses to him and others.

They’re just better than other tennis players. I’m not shy to say this,” Medvedev stated.
“It’s just the truth. In fact, in numbers and everything. After, of course, when you’re out there, you want to beat them. You don’t care that it’s the big three or the big 100. But that’s why they have so many slams. They’re just really good.”

Medvedev does have the weapons to those who he has nicknamed the ‘cyborgs of tennis.’ He has defeated Djokovic three times and Nadal once at the ATP Finals last November.

“We’re talking about some Cyborgs of tennis in a good way. They’re just unbelievable,” he continued.
“Every time I go out there, when I say this, I’m not at all when I’m out there thinking about this, thinking, Okay, they are too strong for me. I always want to win. I beat some of them in some big tournaments, like London for example. Just need to be better next time in the Grand Slam finals against these two guys or Roger.”

It is now a case of what could have been for Medvedev who would have broken into the world’s top two if he had won the Australian Open. To put that achievement into perspective, the last player outside of the Big Four (including Andy Murray) to do so was Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.

“I’m usually quite easy in defeats, I would say. That’s the best part of tennis, is when you win a tournament, if you have a tournament next week and you’re going to lose a final, semifinal, first round, you’re going to be disappointed with the loss, you will almost not remember a win,” he explained.
“I guess it’s different after a Grand Slam win.”

Medvedev will return to action later this month at the Rotterdam Open.

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Novak Djokovic Captures Record Ninth Australian Open Title With Clinical Win over Medvedev

The world No.1 toppled his lacklustre opponent who produced a series of costly unforced errors to seal his 18th major title at Melbourne Park.

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Novak Djokovic has extended his dominance at the Australian Open by comprehensively beating Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, to clinch an historic ninth title in Melbourne Park.

 

The showdown on the Rod Laver Arena was between two giants of the current game. Djokovic is the most decorated male player in Australian Open history and has recorded 11 consecutive wins over top 10 players in the tournament prior to the final. Meanwhile, Medvedev was on a 20-match winning streak with 12 of those victories being against a member of the top 10. However, a large majority of the encounter was dominated by the top seed who produced a total of 20 winners as he broke seven times en route to victory.

“I really like him as a person off the court. On the court, he’s definitely one of the toughest players I ever faced in my life,” Djokovic said of his rival during the trophy ceremony.
“It’s a matter of time that you will hold a Grand Slam for sure – if you don’t mind waiting a few more years…”

For the first time in the Open Era the men’s final was being contested by the first and fourth seeds in what was a battle from the onset. Playing on what he describes as his ‘home court’ Djokovic was the quicker of the two to settle into the match after a forehand down the line from the Serbian triggered a Medvedev error to give him a break en route to a 3-0 lead. Eventually Medvedev regained his footing as he gave his rival a dose of his own medicine by winning three games in a row to draw level. Both illustrated glimpses of their best tennis with sublime defensive play but it was the world No.1 who has the edge in the opener. Leading 6-5 a blistering Djokovic backhand passing shot handed him a trio of break points to clinch the set. He failed in his first two attempts, but it was third time lucky after the Russian fired a forehand shot into the net.

The thunderous hitting continued into the second frame as players started to contend with an increasingly animated crowd who had to be told repeatedly to stay quiet during points. One of the disturbances was a refugee protest which involved the removal of two people. On the court Djokovic once again traded breaks with his rival early on before pulling away with the help of some costly Medvedev mistakes. Prompting the world No.4 to smash one of his rackets out of anger and received a code violation for doing so as he fell behind 2-5. Medvedev’s mood deteriorated further in the next game as the top seed returned a serve deep to the baseline to clinch a two-set lead.

source – AusOpen Twitter

Winning all the mini battles that were fought, Djokovic’s offensive was one that drew his rival to despair who continuously made glimpses towards his camp in the crowd. Mentally Medvedev was done as Djokovic masterfully manoeuvred his way to the trophy once again. A three-game winning streak at the start of the third set placed him within touching distance of the win. Enough of a margin to see him over the finish live as he clinched victory on his first championship point after hitting an overhead volley. Prompting Djokovic to fall to the floor.

“I would like to thank my team,” said the nine-time champion. “It has been a roller-coaster ride for me, especially in the last couple of weeks but always a special thanks to you. You have dedicated so much time making sure I’m able to play and I am grateful to you. Thank you guys, I love you.’
“Last but not least, I would like to thank this court and the Rod Laver Arena. It’s a love affair that keeps going.”

It is the second time that 25-year-old Medvedev has lost in a major final after doing so to Nadal at the 2019 US Open. Although he remains one of the most likely candidates to take over the reign of the Big Three in the years to come. Since the start of 2020 he has won 38 Tour matches which is the third highest on the ATP after Djokovic and Andrey Rublev.

“(It’s) Never easy to speak when you just lost a Grand Slam final, but I’ll do my best!” said Medvedev.
“Congrats to Novak. Nine Slams in Australia is amazing and this won’t be your last one. Just to tell you a small story, I first met Novak when I was 500 or 600 in the world. I thought OK, he’s not going to speak to me, because he was world number one.’
“I was really shy. He was talking to me like I was a friend. He’s never changed – he’s always been a great sport and a great friend.”

The triumph has given Djokovic his 18th Grand Slam title which is just two away from the all-time record currently held by both Nadal and Roger Federer. He has now won a record nine titles in Melbourne Park which makes him only the second male player in history to have won the same major title that amount of times. Nadal has 13 French Open titles to his name. It is also the fifth time in his career Djokovic has successfully defended his title at the Australian Open.

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