Three Things We Learned From Novak Djokovic’s Pre-Australian Open Press Conference - UBITENNIS
Connect with us

ATP

Three Things We Learned From Novak Djokovic’s Pre-Australian Open Press Conference

The world No.2 gave insight into his current fitness, the rise of the Next Gen and how age is longer a barrier in the world of men’s tennis.

Published

on

Novak Djokovic - ATP Cup 2020 (via Twitter, @ATPCup)

A series of milestones and records potentially awaits Novak Djokovic as he embarks on his journey for another title at the Australian Open.

 

Djokovic, who downed Rafael Nadal in straight sets during last year’s Melbourne final, could start setting new milestones in his career from the onset of the tournament. A first round win would make him only the sixth player in history to have recorded 900 or more victories on the tour. Although that isn’t the milestone he is after with eyes firmly set on a record eighth Australian Open title. In what would be his 17th grand slam title, which is three behind Roger Federer’s all-time record.

Ahead of the first major of 2020, Djokovic spoke to reporters in Melbourne Park about an array of topics on Sunday. Here is what Ubitennis learned from the Serbian.

1. How he is still winning big titles at his age

Since turning 30, Djokovic has already won four grand slam titles. The second highest tally in men’s tennis. Part of this is linked to the trend of players playing later in their careers, however, the 32-year-old believes one of the key factors for him is being able to find the right balance between his private and personal life.

“Roger has talked about this as well, Rafa as well, that age is just a number. It’s not just a cliche, but it’s really something that I feel like the three of us have in common. It’s really the way we approach career and our everyday life,” Djokovic said.
“I think we found a way, a formula, to balance private (and) professional life, so we are able to kind of excel in tennis and still be able to compete at the highest level after many years, still be motivated, still be mentally fresh and, of course, physically prepared and fit to compete in best-of-five-sets with young players that are coming up.”

Undoubtedly another driving force for the former world No.1 is his rivalry within the Big Three. A group that also comprises of Federer and Rafael Nadal. Between them, they have won every grand slam tournament since 2017. Djokovic currently has a winning head-to-head record against both players. Leading Federer 26-23 and Nadal 29-26.

“I mentioned many times before that the three of us have inspired each other throughout our rivalries and careers to be better, to understand how we can overcome obstacles in the matchups that we have against each other or anything else really that followed our careers.” He explained.
“I am more grateful today to be in the same era with these two guys than I was probably 10, 15 years ago (smiling). I think that definitely rivalries with them made me very, very strong, very resilient, and also very motivated that I am still today.”

Nadal, who is just a year older than the Serbian, is currently the only player to have won five or more major titles after the age of 30.

“I’m a completely different person, have a completely different life today than I had five years ago. I’m a father of two children. Obviously things are not the way they were 5 or 10 years ago. I know that. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better or it’s worse. It’s just different.”

2. ATP Cup glory came at a price

Djokovic kick-started his season by playing in the inaugural ATP Cup. A team event that had both prize money and ranking points up for grabs. It was a perfect start to 2020 by Djokovic, who was undefeated throughout the competition as he guided Serbia to the title. The country’s first team title of any sort since the 2010 Davis Cup. Overall, he won eight singles and two doubles matches.

Describing the triumph as ‘one of the highlights of his career,’ there were also drawbacks of investing so much effort into the event.

“It was a phenomenal couple of weeks and great lead up to Australian Open. But it did take a lot out of me. I did adjust my training sessions towards that, so I had a little bit more of recuperation rather than just stepping on the accelerator a little bit more.” He said.
“I just actually kind of put a level down a little bit, just tried to keep the sessions a bit shorter, with good intensity. That’s all, just maintain the right rhythm for the first match.”

Despite his admission, there is no indication that it will have any potential influence on his Australian Open campaign. Last year he played just four competitive matches leading up to Melbourne on the ATP Tour. Meanwhile, he didn’t play any at the start of 2018 because he was on the comeback from injury.

“It was a lot of physical and emotional energy being spent in the ATP Cup, which of course was perfect for me individually, won all my matches in singles and doubles. We as a team won the title, which was definitely one of the highlights of my career.” Djokovic concluded on his campaign at the ATP Cup.

3. Stronger mentality separates the Big Three from their rivals

With a buzz going round that this season could be the one where the dominance of Djokovic and Co is broken at the grand slam level, all eyes are on their successors. Among the contenders are ATP Finals champion Stefanos Tsitsipas, two-time French Open finalist Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev. However, why hasn’t there already been a breakthrough?

In Djokovic’s opinion, he believes one of the key factors is down to their mental game. Citing the experience of the Big Three, he admits that his rivals are ‘knocking on the door.’

“Rafa, Roger, and I, obviously because of the past 10, 15 years, we know what we need to do mentally also in this particular situation (winning a grand slam). That gives us probably a little bit of an edge.”

At the moment, Djokovic remains one of the players that everybody wants to beat given his dominance on court. As for his younger challengers, he believes there are a few things they need to address in order to reach the top.

“I think a lot of those next generation players are working very hard, being very professional. That’s a good sign because that’s one of the precursors, I guess, for the success,” he said.
“But, at the same time, to win a slam and also to kind of be consistently on the top level for many years, it takes I think a player to gain that mental and emotional maturity and experience to understand his own strengths, to kind of fight his own fears, to really be able to maintain that level for a long time.”

Seeded second in the draw this year, Djokovic will start his Australian Open campaign against Jan-Lennard Struff on Monday. He leads the German 2-0 in their head-to-head and is yet to drop a set against him.

ATP

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

ATP

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.

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading

ATP

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

Published

on

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.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement
Advertisement

Trending