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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Mikael Ymer overcomes Richard Gasquet to advance to the second round in Marseille

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Swedish 21-year-old Next Gen player Mikael Ymer edged past Richard Gasquet 6-3 3-6 7-5 after 2 hours and 22 minutes to reach the second round at the Open 13 in Marseille.

 

Ymer fended off 7 of the 10  break points he faced and broke serve in the third match point in a marathon third game setting up a second round clash against Stefanos Tsitsipas.

Ymer raced out to a 4-0 lead with two consecutive breaks. Gasquet pulled back one break in the seventh game to close the gap to 2-5, but Ymer served out the first set in the ninth game with an ace.

Ymer saved three break points in the sixth game, but Gasquet earned the break on his third chance in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3.

Ymer got an early break in the second game of the third set to open up a 3-0 lead. Gasquet broke back in the ninth game and held serve to draw level to 5-5. Ymer converted his third break point at deuce to seal the third set 7-5 in the 12th game.

Benoit Paire beat Gregoire Barrere 6-4 7-6 (7-1) in the all-French match. Paire earned his only break of the match in the third game of the opening set. He saved two break points in the fourth game of the second set. Both players went on serve en route to the tie-break, where Paire cruised through to a 7-1 win.

Ilya Ivashka overcame Alexei Popyrin 6-1 3-6 6-4. Ivashka broke twice in the second and sixth games to win the first set 6-1. Popyrin earned one break in the fourth game to clinch the second set 6-3. Popyrin got an early break at deuce in the third game to take a 2-1 lead. Ivashka broke back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Both players went on serve until the 10th game when Ivashka sealed the win with a break.

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Alexander Zverev Going In The Right Direction, Says Becker

The German tennis legend gives his verdict on Zverev’s current form following his grand slam breakthrough.

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Former world No.1 Boris Becker believes Alexander Zverev’s recent run at the Australian Open was confirmation that he belongs at the top of men’s tennis.

 

Last month the 22-year-old achieved his best ever grand slam performance by reaching the semi-finals in Melbourne Park before losing to Dominic Thiem. At the tournament he scored wins over Andrey Rublev, who won two consecutive titles prior to the event, and former champion Stan Wawrinka. Zverev has been tipped as a future world No.1 in recent years and remains the only active player outside of the Big Four to have won three or more Masters trophies. Although he has previously struggled to shine in the biggest events of the sport.

“Alexander Zverev has made a great step forward with his first participation in a grand slam semi-final.” Becker told reporters in Berlin on Sunday. “Although he had difficult weeks before, for which there were reasons.”

At the start of the year it looked as if the world No.7 was in trouble. At the ATP Cup he lost all three of his matches played. A performance Becker blames on his off-season training. During November and December Zverev played a series of exhibition matches with Roger Federer across South America and China.

“He didn’t train enough during the winter break and came to Brisbane unprepared.” He said.
“We exchanged some serious words off the court and he took them to heart.’
“Of course I’m happy he had such success. This is also a confirmation for him that he belongs at the top of the world (in tennis).”
“But the competitors never sleep, that’s a never ending story. He has to confirm this again and again.”

So far in his career, Zverev has won 11 ATP titles and has been ranked as high as third in the world. His biggest triumph occurred towards the end of 2018 when he won the ATP Finals in London.

Reflecting on his Melbourne run last month, Zverev believes he managed to achieve the milestone thanks to a new approach he took to the event. Instead of looking at the whole tournament, he narrowed his focus to match-by-match.

“I went here in a different way. I went match by match. Didn’t look very far. I just knew I had opponents in front of me. I had to play well to beat them. That was it.” He said last month. “Whenever I won, I’d sit down in the locker room and somebody told me who I’m playing next.’
“I went step by step, match by match. Usually I [haven’t done] that in Grand Slams.”

Zverev will return to action next week at the Mexican Open in Acapulco. A tournament where he finished runner-up 12 months ago. Becker believes his compatriot could do some damage on the hard courts over the coming weeks with two prestigious North American events taking place next month in Indian Wells and Miami.

“The next tournaments are on hard courts in America. He will play there as well. There he can take a lot of points.” Becker concluded.

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New York Open Sunday Recap: Kyle Edmund Wins His Second Career ATP Title

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Kyle Edmund raising the trophy at the New York Open (newyorkopen.com)

And in an exclusive interview with UbiTennis, runner-up Andreas Seppi of Italy reveals he is pulling out of Delray Beach next week due to an injury suffered in the final.

 

In Sunday’s championship match, neither player faced a break point until 6-5 in the first set.  In that twelfth game, Seppi struggled to make first serves, with Edmund hitting winners off both sides to break and secure the first set 7-5.

Kyle would break again to open the second, as Seppi played another loose game with neutral ball errors and a double fault. Up a set and a break, Edmund began to swing freely. Despite that, Seppi was able to survive a barrage of Edmund groundstroke winners to save multiple break points at 0-3. Edmund would then hold at love to make it 4-1, when Seppi left the court for a medical timeout. When Andreas returned, Edmund broke again by outlasting Seppi in the longest rally of the match. Kyle then closed out the match 7-5, 6-1 to win the second ATP title of his career.

When I spoke with Andreas after the match, he told me he felt something in his left hamstring as he was running for a drop shot in the fifth game of the second set.  Seppi shared he will be skipping the Delray Beach event next week due to the injury, and will head home a week earlier than expected to rest and await the arrival of his first child.

“I just felt like I could really never put him under pressure today,” Seppi told me, when asked about how difficult it was to get into Edmund’s service games.

Edmund had a great serving day, striking 11 aces and facing no break points.  He won 94% of first serve points in the match (31/33), against a player in Seppi who had won 36% of his return games this week prior to today’s final.  I asked Kyle about how crucial his serving was in Sunday’s victory.

“When I got my first serve in I lost a couple points on it, so it really worked well for me. When you get that first strike in- I mean that big first serve in- when I can get on my forehand, that’s where I want to be, and I was winning a lot of points like that this week,” said Edmund.

Kyle also spoke about how important this title is to him.

“When you’re young and training, or playing tennis, these are the sort of things you imagine: wanting to win professional titles,” said Edmund.

In the doubles final, Dominic Inglot and Aisam-ul-Haq-Qureshi won their first title as a team, defeating Reilly Opelka and Steve Johnson 7-6(5), 7-6(6). Inglot and Qureshi initially served for the championship at 5-4 in the second, yet failed to close out the match. In the eventual second set tiebreak, Johnson narrowly missed a forehand down the line at 6-6. On the next point, an unreturned Inglot serve ended the American team’s quest for a title on home soil. Inglot and Qureshi were also finalists last week in Montpellier.

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