In-Form Novak Djokovic Dismisses Favourite Tag Ahead Of Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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In-Form Novak Djokovic Dismisses Favourite Tag Ahead Of Australian Open

The 16-time grand slam champion speaks out about his title chances in Melbourne.

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World No.2 Novak Djokovic has played down the hype surrounding his chances at the upcoming Australian Open despite guiding Serbia to the ATP Cup title on Sunday.

 

The 16-time grand slam champion scored crucial wins over Rafael Nadal before teaming up with Viktor Troicki in the doubles to guide the European nation to a 2-1 triumph over Spain. Djokovic exits the tournament with a perfect 8-0 winning record. Claiming six out of those eight victories in the singles. Besides Nadal, he also scored wins over US Open finalist Daniil Medvedev, former Wimbledon finalist Kevin Anderson and Gael Monfils.

“This has been one of the highlights of my career because you can’t really match any big win in tennis with the win that you get to share with your team,with your friends, with the people that I have known for the biggest part of my life.” Said Djokovic.
“It has been an amazing event.”

Djokovic’s latest conquest is a boost ahead of his title defence at the Australian Open. The former world No.1 is the most decorated male singles player in the history of the Melbourne major. Winning the trophy a record seven times since his maiden triumph back in 2008.

Despite his current form and record in Australia, the 32-year-old insists that this year’s grand slam is ‘really open.’ Citing the challenge he faces from fellow rivals Nadal and Roger Federer, as well as the rise of the next generation. Many pundits have predicted that 2020 will be the year where the dominance of the Big Three in grand slams will end.

“The last hard court Grand Slam was in New York, and Rafa won it. So I think it’s really open the Australian Open or any other slam.” Djokovic explained. “I don’t think there are really clear favourites.”
“You have obviously Federer, Nadal, myself because of the experience and everything and the rankings that we get to be probably named the top three favourites.’
“But then you have Medvedev, Tsitsipas, Dominic Thiem that is really showing some amazing tennis. The London Masters (ATP Finals) was an example where they showed that they matured to the big stage, that they can challenge the best players in the world and win against them.”

Whilst talking up his competition, Nadal has hailed his opponent as one of the best hard court players in recent years. Djokovic has now defeated the Spaniard nine consecutive times on the surface. Furthermore, 57 out of his 77 ATP titles have been won on a hard court.

“He has been the best player in the world on hard the last couple of years (on a hard court). To play against the best player is always difficult.” Nadal commented.

Despite his latest win, Djokovic’s place in the ATP rankings will remain unchanged. Meaning that he will be seeded second at the Australian Open.

The tournament will get underway on January 20th.

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Nick Kyrgios claims five-set thriller to set up a blockbuster fourth-round clash against Rafael Nadal in Melbourne

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Nick Kyrgios battled past Karen Khachanov 6-2 7-6 (7-5) 6-7 (6-8) 6-7 (7-9) 7-6 (10-8) after 4 hours and 26 minutes to set up a blockbuster fourth round clash against Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open.

 

Khachanov saved match points in both the third and fourth set tie-breaks before losing the decisive tie-break. Kyrgios converted on three of her six break point chances and dropped her serve only once in the entire match.

Kyrgios served well in the opening set and earned two consecutive breaks to cruise through to a 6-2 win. Both players wasted a break point chance to set up a tie-break in the second set. Kyrgios earned two mini-breaks to claim the tie-break 7-5 with a serve up the T.

Kyrgios went up a 4-2 lead in the third set with a break, when Khachanov made two double faults. Khachanov broke back in the eighth game to draw level to 4-4. Khachanov fended off a match point at 5-6 in the tie-break with a powerful serve and won the final three points to clinch the third set 8-6, as Kyrgios misfired a crosscourt forehand.

Kyrgios saved two break points in the seventh game and earned another match point in the seventh game of the fourth set. Khachanov saved it before winning the tie-break 9-7 forcing the match to the fifth set.

Both players held their serve in the fifth set with no break points setting up the decisive match tie-break. Kyrgios claimed an early mini-break to open up a a 3-0. Khachanov pulled back the mini-break and earned a match point at 8-7, but Kyrgios reeled off the final three points to clinch a thrilling win to the delight of the home fans.

“This is just epic match. I don’t even know what’s going on. Honestly, my legs feel about 40 kilos each. It’s emotional. I haven’t had a moment like that for four, five years, since I last played here against Seppi”, said Kyrgios.

 

 

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Danil Medvedev sets fourth round clash against Stan Wawrinka in Melbourne

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Danil Medvedev beat Alexei Popyrin 6-4 6-3 6-2 to set up a fourth round match against Stan Wawrinka at the Australian Open.

 

Medvedev earned the first break in the second game of the opening set. Popyrin broke straight back in the next game to draw level to 1-1, but Medvedev earned his second break to take a 2-1 lead. The 2019 US Open finalist held his serve in a hard-fought eighth game after saving a break point and sealed the first set 6-4 on his second set point.

Medvedev broke serve at love in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Popyrin held his serve in the fifth game after saving two break points to claw his way back to 2-3. Medvedev sealed the second set with his second break at 15.

Medvedev got an early break at 15 in the second game of the third set. Kyrgios converted his fourth break-back point chance in the sixth game. Medvedev closed it out on his second match point.

“I am happy to win it in straight sets. I have good memories from last year, which was my first time in the second week of a Grand Slam and hopefully I can make it even further this year. I just try to win as many matches as I can. Hopefully I can win seven here”,said Medvedev.

Medvedev set up a fourth round match against Stan Wawrinka, who reached the fourth round, when US John Isner withdrew from the match due to a foot injury, when the Lausanne player was leading 6-4 4-1.

“You never want your opponent to pull out. I was playing well again today. I was really happy the way I was playing. That’s very positive. It’s great to be back in the second week, that’s for sure. Feeling way better. It’s positive to have a good practice tomorrow and to be ready for the next one”,said Wawrinka.

Medvedev won both his previous head-to-head matches against Wawrinka at 2017 Wimbledon and in the quarter final of the 2019 US Open.

“Stan is a very tough opponent. He has won three majors and has gone deep a lot of times. It’s never going to be an easy match against Stan. I will have to show my best game to have a chance”, said Medvedev.

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Dominic Thiem beats Taylor Fritz to set fourth-round clash against Gael Monfils in Melbourne

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Fifth seed and 2019 Roland Garros finalist Dominic Thiem beat Taylor Fritz 6-2 6-4 6-7 (5-7) 6-4 on a warm afternoon to advance to the fourth round at the Australian Open for the third time in his career.

 

Thiem fended off six of the seven break points he faced and broke three times to take a 2-0 lead before Fritz took the edge 7-5 in the tie-break of the third set. The Austrian player sealed the win with a break in the 10th game of the fourth set.

“I also have to say honestly, that I got pretty lucky in the three meetings against him. I remember that at the US Open and today that, I think especially in the second set, I saved six break points. Somehow in the meetings so far, the US Open and here, I pulled myself out of very close situations. In the Laver Cup he turned the tables. He is serving great. You have to expect close matches against him. That was again the case”,said Thiem.

Thiem will face Gael Monfils, who beat Latvian qualifier and 2014 Roland Garros semifinalist Ernests Gulbis 7-6 (7-2) 6-4 6-3 after 2 hours and 27 minutes. The French player reached the second week in Melbourne for the fourth time, and the first since 2017. Monfils has beaten Gulbis all the three times they have met on the ATP Tour, including in the second round match at 2013 Roland Garros. Gulbis earned the first break after two deuces to take a 2-1 lead. Monfils broke straight back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Both players held their next service games en route to the tie-break. Monfils converted the first of his four set points to win the tie-break 7-2.

Both players traded breaks in the first two games of the second set. Monfils converted his second break point in the third game to take a 2-1 lead and held his next three service games at deuce. The 33-year-old Frenchman closed it out on his first set point.

The third set went on serve until the sixth game before Monfils broke twice in a row in the seventh and ninth games to win the third set 6-3.

Monfils is bidding to reach the quarter final at the Australian Open for the second time in his career. Monfils converted nine of his nine break points.

“Gael and I have had great matches, I have always had great rallies against him. It’s nice on court when you play him to see his show”, said Thiem.

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