‘Give Him A Little Break’ - Rivals Djokovic, Nadal Rally Around Alexander Zverev - UBITENNIS
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‘Give Him A Little Break’ – Rivals Djokovic, Nadal Rally Around Alexander Zverev

The two grand slam champions speak out about the German player’s recent performance on the tour.

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Alexander Zverev (photo by Chryslène Caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

MADRID: With 1000 points to defend at this week’s Madrid Open, Alexander Zverev faces a stern test during what has been a turbulent season both on and off the court.

 

Since winning the ATP Finals in November, the German has only reached the quarter-finals or better in two out of eight tournaments. Doing so in Acapulco, where he finished runner-up to Nick Kyrgios, as well as a quarter-final appearance in Munich. Overall, he has won 11 out of 19 matches played heading into this week (excluding the Davis Cup).

“I’m happy with how things are improving. I’m happy I’m starting to play better and starting to feel more confident and I think every week that I play is going to get better and better.” Zverev said earlier this week.

Away from this tour, Zverev has also endured a tough time. He is currently in a legal battle with his former manager Patricio Apey, who is arguing his contract with the player is still valid. On top of that, he recently separated from his girlfriend Olga Sharypova.

Zverev’s 2019 record
Australian Open – R4
Acapulco – RU
Indian Wells – R3
Miami – R2
Marrakech – R2
Monte Carlo – R3
Barcelona – R2
Munich – QF

Despite his roller coaster journey in recent months, two of Zverev’s prime rivals have backed him to regain his form. He is the only active player outside of the Big Four to win three or more Masters 1000 titles. Overall, Zverev has 10 ATP trophies to his name.

“He won this tournament (Madrid) last year and he possesses the quality and as a player, he possesses the game that will get him in a position to win any tournament on any surface, really. He has proven that.” Novak Djokovic said of the world No.4.
“I think you guys have to give him a little break. I know the expectations are high. But, look, he’s a great guy. He loves the sport. I have known him for a long time. And he’s dedicated. He’s got a good team of people around him. He has won some big events. He’s proven that he belongs to the top and he is still there.”

Guided by Ivan Lendl on the tour, some are wondering what needs to be done to help Zverev overcome his current demons. He is not the first player to experience problems. Rafael Nadal is also experiencing a troublesome 2019, which is partly due to injury as well as a recent bout of illness.

In Nadal’s eyes, Zverev doesn’t require any advice from him. Instead, he outlined that the process is different for every player.

“I’m nobody to tell him what he needs. He has a great team around him, family around him. And probably he will receive the right advice for everything, for his education, for his tennis and for all the things that really matter in his life.” He said.
“Tennis is just a part of the life of all of us. There are a lot of things that are more important than tennis in this world and that’s it. It is not a drama, to lose a couple of matches. He’s a great player and he will fight for the most important things.”

Zverev starts his title defense in Madrid on Wednesday against David Ferrer, who is retiring from the sport this week. He will be hoping the lightning doesn’t strike twice after losing to the Spaniard in Miami earlier this year.

Points Zverev is defending for the rest of the clay swing

– Madrid: 1000 (champion)
– Rome: 600 (runner-up)
– Roland Garros: 360 (quarter-finalist)
TOTAL = 1960 points

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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Brandon Nakashima shocks John Isner to reach first ATP final in Los Cabos

Brandon Nakashima stunned John Isner to reach the final in Los Cabos.

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Brandon Nakashima (@AbiertoLosCabos - Twitter)

The American became the youngest American to reach a final outside the US since Andy Roddick back in 2001.

 

Brandon Nakashima booked his spot in the final beating an out of sorts John Isner 7-5, 6-4 in one hour and 28 minutes firing 12 aces and winning 82% points with his first serve.

“It’s always going to be tough playing against him, It’s always so hard to return his serve and try to get into the rallies with him but I tried to get back as many returns as I could and there was blocking or chipping the return or hitting over it and just try to mix it up a lot while getting different looks and I knew when I had the opportunities and when I got close in games I knew I had to take advantage of that as much as possible so luckily I was able to do it and of course taking care of my service games was important as well”.

For the first six games of the opening set, neither player had an issue holding serve but at 3-3, it was the San Diego native with the first chance to break but was denied by the world number 39’s big serve.

At 5-4, the world number 134 had two more chances to break and he got the crucial break and served out the first set.

Winning the first set seemed to invigorate the 19-year-old and he earned an early chance to break in the first game of the second set and broke to take a 1-0 lead. Once again that one break was enough to serve out the match and seal the victory.

After the match, Nakashima spoke about becoming the first American player to reach a final outside the US since Andy Roddick back in 2001.

“It feels great and it’s a big accomplishment for me and of course all the Americans, we like to play in the US but it’s nice to see that I am playing well outside the US and luckily it’s not too far from my home here so I have been enjoying it here a lot both on and off the court and really looking forward to playing tomorrow again”.

Nakashima will face the number one seed Cameron Norrie in the final and can feel confident as the last time these two players met, the American beat him.

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