Novak Djokovic Looks Ahead To Raonic Showdown After ‘Fantastic’ Australian Open Wins - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Looks Ahead To Raonic Showdown After ‘Fantastic’ Australian Open Wins

The former world No.1 explains why his Canadian rival is different to play against than other fast servers on the tour.

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Novak Djokovic - Australian Open 2020 (via Twitter, @AustralianOpen)

Defending champion Novak Djokovic has said he is gaining in confidence after each round following his latest victory at the Australian Open on Sunday.

 

The second seed dropped serve only once during his 6-3, 6-4, 6-4, win over Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman. A world No.14 player who had taken at least one set off him if their two previous meetings on the tour. Nevertheless, in their latest clash Djokovic was in full control throughout the majority of the match. Blasting 34 winners and eight aces past Schwartzman en route to the last eight.

Djokovic is now through to the quarter-finals in Melbourne for the 11th time in his career. Since his roller coaster clash with Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round, he has only been broken once in his past three matches. A much needed confidence boost for him and his bid for a historic eighth singles title at the event.

“It feels great. I had a fantastic couple of matches in a row. I felt more confident going through the ball, hitting serves really well.” Said Djokovic.
“Today was a good test because Diego was in form, he hasn’t dropped a set in three rounds. Obviously he can be a very dangerous opponent from the baseline if you give him time. I knew that. I stepped out on the court with a clear game plan what I need to do. I think I kept things pretty much in control in all three sets. Maybe could have finished the match a bit earlier.’
“All in all, it was a very solid performance.”

It will be a very different challenge for the Serbian in the quarter-finals. Awaiting him will be Canada’s Milos Raonic. A player renowned for their blistering serve. Raonic produced 35 aces during his 6-4, 6-3, 7-5, win over Marin Cilic. The 32nd seed has been ranked as high as third in the world rankings, but has suffered various injury setbacks in recent months.

“A quite different match than the one today. He’s one of the tallest and strongest guys physically on the Tour. He has one of the biggest serves. I’ve got to be ready for missiles coming from his side of the net,” Djokovic said. “I played him here and remember it well… One of the key elements will be how well I’m returning and how confident I am on my service games.
“I’m glad to see him healthy and playing at a really good level again. He’s a great guy. I’ve known him for many years and he’s a good friend. We speak the same language. It’s nice to see him in the quarters.”

On paper, the 16-time grand slam champion is expected to prevail in their upcoming encounter on Tuesday. He has a perfect 9-0 head-to-head record against Raonic and only dropped a set against him in two of their meetings. Furthermore, the Canadian hasn’t beaten a top five player since Alexander Zverev at the same tournament 12 months ago.

Despite his one-sided record, 32-year-old Djokovic is sticking to the cautious side. Branding his upcoming rival a better mover on the court than fellow fast servers John Isner and Ivo Karlovic. However, he believes he does have the edge in another way.

“I feel like Raonic moves better than Isner and Karlovic. He’s not as tall as these two guys. They’re 6’10” or something, 2 meters 10. They’re the tallest players to ever play tennis.” He explained.
“But I feel like maybe you could read his serve better than Isner and Karlovic. I don’t want to say it’s slightly slower, but just a little bit of a different toss, different technique. You can probably get some looks at second serves or breakpoints and stuff like this maybe a bit more than the other two guys.”

Speaking to reporters ahead of the showdown, Raonic himself echoed similar comments to Djokovic. Hoping to end his losing record, the former Wimbledon finalist is believes a more aggressive approach to the match could pay off for him.

“I’m going to have to serve well clearly, and then I think I’m going to have to get my return at a high percentage, make him play a lot of those points, and then try to be efficient on my service games.” Raonic previewed.
“I think we play quite opposite from each other, and he’s done a good job in the past neutralizing my serve. So I have really got to focus on my things well and be the one dictating.”

When reaching the quarter-final stages of the Australian Open, Djokovic has won seven out of his 10 matches. His only losses were to Andy Roddick (retire during match in 2009), Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2010) and Stan Wawrinka (2014).

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Kei Nishikori Issues Fitness Update Ahead Of New Season

After a difficult season where he could only win two matches, the world No.41 is hoping to get back on track next year.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori says he is eager to start competing against the best in the world again after what has been a troublesome season.

 

The 30-year-old has only been able to play four tournaments this year due to a combination of injury, the pandemic and illness. Nishikori underwent surgery on his shoulder in October 2019 which subsequently resulted in him missing the start of this season. Then he was forced to pull out of his planned return at the US Open after testing positive for COVID-19. Eventually he returned to action in Kitzbuhel during September but had to close his season early a few weeks later after injuring his shoulder at the French Open.

“We had a few tournaments (due to the pandemic) and my season came to an end when I was beginning to get my feel back,” Kyodo news quoted Nishikori as saying on Friday. “I really can’t wait for next year.”

Overall, Nishikori won just two out of six matches played on the Tour in 2020. Scoring wins over Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Rome and Britain’s Dan Evans at Roland Garros. The highest ranked player he faced was No.22 Christian Garin, who he lost 6-0, 6-3, to in Hamburg.

Despite his setbacks, the Japanese player insists that he is now back on track and his shoulder is at ‘a decent level.

“(My shoulder) has recovered to a decent level. It’ll be definitely okay for next year,” Nishikori said. “I’ll prepare (for the Olympics) assuming that they will take place.”
“I couldn’t face top-10 ranked players this season. I want to compete at that level again as soon as I can.”

One of Nishikori’s goals for next year will be the Olympic Games which are taking place in Tokyo for the first time since 1964. The Games have to be postponed until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nishikori is the only player from his country to have won an Olympic medal during the Open Era after winning bronze in 2016.

I think it’s hard for athletes and the public to think about the Olympics right now. I just want to prepare well,he said in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nishikori has been ranked as high fourth in the world but is currently in 41st position. So far in his career he has won 12 ATP titles and earned more than $24 million in prize money.

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The ATP announces the nominees for the 2020 ATP Awards

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Nominees have been announced for the ATP Awards for all player-voted categories (Comeback Player of the Year, Most Improved Player of the Year, Newcomer of the year, Stefan Edberg Sportmanship Award) and Coach of the Year. 

 

The Fans’s Favourite Award and and the Arthur Ashe Humanitarian Award Award will be announced later this month. Fans can vote for their favourite singles player and doubles team through 11 December. 

Three-time winner and 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal will be up against 2020 Rome finalist and Roland Garros semifinalist Diego Schwartzman, US Open champion Dominic Thiem and John Millman in the Sportsmanship category. 

Schwartzman is among the nominees in the Most Improved player category and will be against Ugo Humbert, five-time ATP Tour titlist Andrey Rublev and 2020 Sofia ATP Tour champion and 2019 Next Gen ATP Tour champion Jannik Sinner. The Most Improved player of the Year reached a higher ATP Ranking by year’s end and showed an increasingly improved level of performance through the year. 

The nominees for the Comeback Player of the Year are Kevin Anderson, Andrey Kuznetsov, Vasek Pospisil and Milos Raonic. The Compeback Player of the Year has overcome a serious injury in re-establishing as one of the top players on the ATP Tour. 

The contenders for the Newcomer of the Year Award are Carlos Alcaraz (winner in three Challenger tournaments in Trieste, Barcelona and Alicante), Sebastian Korda (winner of his first Challenger title in Eckental), Lorenzo Musetti (title in Parma and third-round in Rome Masters 1000), Jurij Rodionov (first Challenger titles in Dallas and Morelos) , Emil Ruusuvuori (semifinalist in Nur Sultan) and Thiago Seyboth Wild (first title in Santiago de Chlle)

The Coach of the Year Award contenders are Juan Ignacio Chela (Diego Schwartzman), Gilles Cervara (Danil Medvedev), Nicolas Massu (Dominic Thiem), Riccardo Piatti (Jannik Sinner) and Fernando Vicente (Andrey Rublev). 

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French Legend Leconte Speaks Out On Upcoming Return Of Roger Federer

The Grand Slam finalist gives his view on Federer’s chances for 2021.

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A former star of French tennis says he is hopeful but wary that Roger Federer will be able to return to the pinnacle of sport next year.

 

Henri Leconte, who is a former French Open finalist that achieved a ranking high of No.5, admits that the Swiss Maestro may find it tough on the Tour given the rise of what he describes as the ‘younger generation.’ This season Dominic Thiem won his maiden Grand Slam title at the US Open at the age of 27. More recently Daniil Medvedev defeated both Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal en route to the ATP Finals title.

We want to believe it. We all want to believe it! It’s been a long and difficult year. Will the motivation still be there? Will this break, the fact of having been able to enjoy his family, have changed something or will he still have that renewed motivation that has always fascinated us?” Leconte told TennisActu.

Federer hasn’t played a competitive match since his semi-final loss at the Australian Open in January. Since then, he has been sidelined from action due to a right knee injury which required two surgical procedures. The second took place after the first failed to produce the desired results.

Despite the setbacks, 20-time Grand Slam champion Federer is eyeing a return to the Tour in 2021. He is currently the oldest player in the world’s top 100 and one of two to be aged 39. The other is Spain’s Feliciano Lopez.

No one can say it. We all wish him, we would like him to stop on a Grand Slam title but the train (momentum) is gone with this younger generation which has put in an extra speed,” said Leconte.
“I would like to believe it. Roger has done so many things, that’s why he makes us dream, we would like to see him at the top. It will be very, very hard. ..”

It is not the first time Federer has taken a lengthy break due to injury. He missed six months of the 2017 season due to another knee issue before returning to action the following year when he won the Australian Open.

Earlier this week it was confirmed that Federer will head into the new season being able to use his iconic ‘RF’ logo. He hasn’t been able to use the logo for the past two years after switching from Nike, which held the rights, to UNIQLO. However, he has managed to regain control of ownership which means he will be allowed to use it on his apparel once again.

“The RF cap is back,” Federer said in a video message to fans on Twitter.
“After a long wait and extensive fine-tuning, UNIQLO and I are extremely excited to announce the return of the RF hat in 8 fresh colours starting December 8th, 2020,” he also wrote.
“This hat has meant so much to me and to my fans over the years.
“It has given us a way to visibly connect, and I have appreciated the opportunity to thrive off this supportive energy.”

As it currently stands Federer’s first tournament is set to be the Australian Open. The tournament had been scheduled to start on January 18th but it is believed that the date has been delayed until February 8th due to travel and quarantine arrangements.

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