Novak Djokovic’s Italian Open Defeat Raises Questions About Tournament Scheduling - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic’s Italian Open Defeat Raises Questions About Tournament Scheduling

Did the organisers of Italy’s most prestigious tennis tournament have a negative impact on the men’s final?

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Novak Djokovic (photo by @Gianni Ciaccia)

World No.1 Novak Djokovic said he was ‘running out of fuel’ during his clash with Rafael Nadal in the final of the Italian Open amid criticism over the organisation of the tournament by some.

 

Djokovic suffered a 6-0, 4-6, 6-1, loss to rival Nadal on Sunday at the Foro Italico. The lacklustre match saw the top seed fail to reach his best level as he hit a series of unforced errors and struggled to match the intensity of his opponent’s shot-making. Resulting in a considerably more consistent Nadal claiming a record ninth title at the tournament and his first of the season.

The loss comes after what has been a hectic week for both Djokovic and other players. Midway through the tournament, an entire day was wiped out due to poor weather. Meaning that Djokovic and his rivals had to play both their second and third round matches on Thursday. Following on from that, the Serbian then played back-to-back late night matches at the tournament against Juan Martin del Potro and Diego Schwartzman.

“I really always try to respect the win of my opponent. I don’t like to talk about it too much. It is what it is.” Djokovic replied when questioned about the scheduling of his matches.

Whilst trying to play down the debate, Djokovic believes officials at the tournament should make improvements for the future. Speaking out about one of the men’s doubles matches that took place on Saturday and didn’t finish until 1am. 13 hours before they were due to play the final. The players involved were Juan Sebastian Cabal and Robert Farah, who went on to win the title.

“The schedule can be improved, in my opinion.” He said.
“I think also there was a situation with the doubles match. They finished yesterday, after I ended up my semifinals around 11, and the doubles match was almost 1 a.m. They went out on the court to play their finals at 2 p.m. Those things are a little bit concerning for players. You start asking yourself, How are they making the schedule?”
“It has been like that for singles at least for a while. I accept it. I respect whatever I have in front of me.”

Djokovic is not the first person to criticise the event this year. Dominic Thiem said that he ‘disliked how players were getting treated’ after crashing out in the second round to Fernando Verdasco.

Time for a change?

The Italian Open follows immediately after the Madrid Open. Both tournaments are only seven days long, which forces organisers to try and cram in all the matches. Out of the nine Masters tournaments, Indian Wells and Miami are the only two that takes place over two weeks.

In the past, there has been rumours about both Madrid and Rome, expanding their tournaments to a bigger draw and taking place over 10 days. However, is yet to be given the green light by the ATP. Djokovic acknowledges that such a move with have a knock on effect on the men’s calendar.

“I understand why this tournament or Madrid want to have additional few days. I understand. But then it affects some other weeks or other tournaments. You have to try to find a balance.” The 15-time grand slam champion said.
“It is complicated. I think change is going to happen. That’s my feeling. I don’t know whether this tournament and Madrid will get 10 days. I don’t think one will get, another one will not. So it’s either both or none. That’s my opinion.”

No changes will be made to the events next year with the 2020 calendar already finalised by the ATP. The back-to-back Masters events will take place over 14 days, starting in Madrid on May 5th.

“The schedule and the calendar is very complicated. You gain something, but then you lose and maybe hurt another two or three smaller tournaments.” Explained Djokovic.
“That can create a lot of trouble for ATP as a legal entity.”

The Italian Open has been open to professional players since 1969 and has been held annually every year since.

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Dominic Thiem Downplays US Open Chances

The world No.4 has given a frank assessment about his hopes at the New York major shortly after the draw was made on Thursday.

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Dominic Thiem may be a top four seed in next week’s US Open, but the Austrian has played down the prospect of him winning his first grand slam title at the event.

 

The 25-year-old has experienced a setback in his build up to the tournament. Since winning the Kitzbuhel Open on clay, Thiem has only managed to play three matches on a hard court. Reaching the quarter-finals of the Rogers Cup in what what was his best-ever run at the tournament. However, more recently Thiem has been sidelined from action due to a virus and pulled out of the Cincinnati Masters.

Thiem’s first round opponent at the US Open will be Italy’s Thomas Fabbiano, who has suffered two consecutive first round losses on the tour. Fabbiano reached the third round in New York back in 2017, but has missed the two most recent editions.

“Without a doubt, there are much tougher rivals than Thomas Fabbiano in a first round, although I must say that, after overcoming this viral disease, I do not expect miracles.” Thiem told Sky Sport Austria on Thursday.

Heading into the event, Thiem has said he has set out no goal. He will be defending 360 ranking points after reaching the quarter-finals 12 months ago before losing in a five-set thriller to Rafael Nadal. Overall, Thiem’s win-loss at the US Open is 15-5 heading into this year.

“Right now I do not consider reaching a quarterfinals or a semifinal. I want to go round to round, looking beyond would be presumptuous.” He said.
“In the next few days I will keep my training to a minimum, the goal is to be in perfect shape on Monday.”

Despite his recent setbacks, 2019 has been a season of success for the world No.4. In March he won the biggest title of his career at the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells. He would then go on to win trophies in Barcelona and Kitzhbuel. However, in the grand slams he has been less consistent. At the French Open Thiem reached the final, but has failed to win back-to-back matches at both the Australian Open (second round) and Wimbledon (first round). Although at the Australian Open he was forced to withdraw from the tournament due to illness.

The US Open will get underway on Monday.

Dominic Thiem at the US Open

2018
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Quarter-Finals 1
Rafael Nadal ESP
L 60 46 57 764 675
Round of 16 5
Kevin Anderson RSA
W 75 62 762
Round of 32 74
Taylor Fritz USA
W 36 63 765 64
Round of 64 31
Steve Johnson USA
W 675 63 57 64 61
Round of 128 81
Mirza Basic BIH
W 63 61 64
2017
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Round of 16 28
Juan Martin del Potro ARG
L 61 62 16 671 46
Round of 32 34
Adrian Mannarino FRA
W 75 63 64
Round of 64 108
Taylor Fritz USA
W 64 64 46 75
Round of 128 186
Alex de Minaur AUS
W 64 61 61
2016
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Round of 16 142
Juan Martin del Potro ARG
L 36 23 (RET)
Round of 32 39
Pablo Carreno Busta ESP
W 16 64 64 75
Round of 64 89
Ricardas Berankis LTU
W 64 63 62
Round of 128 66
John Millman AUS
W 63 26 57 64 63
2015
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Round of 32 14
Kevin Anderson RSA
L 36 673 673
Round of 64 70
Denis Istomin UZB
W 64 64 10 (RET)
Round of 128 76
Daniel Gimeno-Traver ESP
W 75 63 75
2014
Round Rank Opponent W-L Score
Round of 16 7
Tomas Berdych CZE
L 16 26 46
Round of 32 21
Feliciano Lopez ESP
W 64 62 63
Round of 64 12
Ernests Gulbis LTA
W 46 36 64 63 63
Round of 128 84
Lukas Lacko SLO
W 63 63 62

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Denis Shapovalov wins Next Gen clash against Miomir Kecmanovic to reach the quarter final in Winston Salem

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Denis Shapovalov beat Serbian Next Gen Miomir Kecmanovic 6-2 6-3 after 1 hour and 16 minutes in Winston Salem winning two consecutive matches for the first time since he reached the Miami Open semifinal last March.

 

Shapovalov won 80 % of his service points and fended off four of the six break points he faced.

The Canadian Next Gen player earned six break points in the second game of the first set, but Kecmanovic saved them. Shapovalov earned the break in the fourth game at 15 to build up a 3-1 lead.

Shapovalov went up a double break in the next game after a forehand error from Kecmanovic. The Canadian player wrapped up wrapped up the first set 6-2 with two winners and two double faults from Kecmanovic after 37 minutes.

Shapovalov went up a 3-0 lead with a break, but he wasted three break points in the fourth game. Kecmanovic broke back to draw level to 3-3 and earned two break points in the seventh game, but Shapovalov saved them with two winners. The North American star broke serve in the next game to open up a 5-3 lead. Shapovalov hit four winners in the ninth game to close out the match.

Shapovalov is currently working with Mikhail Youzhny, who returned in St. Petersburg last September and is sitting in his coaching box in Winston Salem.

“Miomir is a very tough opponent. I have played him a lot in the past. We have had some crazy battles. I am really happy with the way I am playing”,said Shapovalov.

Shapovalov set up a match against Andrey Rublev, who battled past Sam Querrey 7-4 (7-4) 7-6 (12-10). In the tie-break of the second set Rublev saved three set points and Querrey fended off two match points. Rublev hit a forehand winner at 10-11 on Querrey’s serve to seal the win after 1 hour and 54 minutes. Rublev took a re-match against Querrey, who beat the young Russian player at Wimbledon in straight sets.

“It’s a special win for me. He just destroyed me, and now we had a great fight, and we were so close and I was a little more lucky”, said Rublev.

 Frances Tiafoe advanced to his fourth quarter final and his first since May when Filip Krajinovic had to withdraw from the match after losing the first set 6-2. Tiafoe went up a double break to race out to a 5-0 lead.

Hubert Hurkacz got three breaks to build up a 6-3 3-1 lead, when Feliciano Lopez was forced to retire from the match after 55 minutes.

Pablo Carreno Busta cruised past Lorenzo Sonego 7-6 6-0 after 1 hour and 40 minutes to reach his fourth quarter final of the season. Sonego got an early break to open up a 4-1 lead in the first set. Carreno Busta broke back in the sixth game before converting his sixth set point in the tie-break. The Spaniard broke three times to cruise to a bagel win in the second set after 25 minutes.

Benoit Paire came back from losing the first set to beat French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 6-3. Paire broke serve, when Humbert was serving for the match at 6-5 in the second set. Paire went up a double break to a 4-1 lead. Humbert converted his third break-back point in the eighth point, but Paire broke for the third time to seal the win.

John Millman cruised past Robin Haase 6-3 6-4 setting up a quarter final match against Steve Johnson, who beat Casper Ruud 6-2 7-6 (7-5).

 

 

 

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Andy Murray To Play Rafa Nadal Open

The former world No.1 has announced where he will play next as his comeback from injury continues.

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Three-time grand slam champion Andy Murray is returning back to the Challenger tour for the first time since the year he turned professional back in 2005.

 

The Brit is set to take to the court in Manacor next week to play in a hard court tournament named after his rival Rafael Nadal. Murray is currently in the process of stepping up his comeback from a second hip operation earlier this year. The Rafa Nadal Open will be only his third singles tournament since January. Murray has previously lost in the first rounds at Cincinnati and Winston-Salem to Richard Gasquet and Tennys Sandgren.

Murray, who is currently ranked 329th in the world, had previously hinted that he may return back to the lower levels of competition in order to help regain his form. It will be the first time he has played a Challenger tournament since the 2005 Mons Open.

“I’m quite aware of sort of where I’m at just now and what my level is. It’s competitive at this level but it needs to be better,” Murray told atptour.com last week.
“Maybe I need to play a level down to get some matches and build my game up a little bit before I start playing on the Tour again.”

The 32-year-old had declined a wild card invitation to play at next week’s US Open due to concerns that he wouldn’t be fit enough to contest best-of-five set matches. He reached the second round of the tournament last year before losing to Fernando Vertdasco.

Murray’s return to the Challenger Tour is expected to be short lived. He has already confirmed his intention to play a duo of ATP Tournaments in Zhuhai and Shanghai. On Wednesday he added the European Open in Antwerp to his schedule, where a maximum of 250 ranking points will be on offer.

“With Andy Murray on our tournament poster, we are now reaching absolute world class and taking the European Open to an unprecedented level in Belgium.” Said tournament director Dick Norman.

Since his comeback in June, Murray has won one title on the ATP Tour. Doing so alongside Feliciano Lopez in the men’s doubles at The Fever-tree Championships.

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