Novak Djokovic dedicates his Australian Open title to Kobe Bryant and to bushfire victims in Australia - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic dedicates his Australian Open title to Kobe Bryant and to bushfire victims in Australia

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Novak Djokovic has claimed a record eighth Australian Open at Melbourne Park after a five-set battle against Dominic Thiem. The Serbian star has become the first player in the Open Era to win Grand Slam titles across three decades. He will make his return to world number 1 ranking next week after his triumph in his favourite tournament.

 

During an emotional on court speech Djokovic paid tribute to Los Angeles legend Kobe Bryant, who died with his 13-year-old daughter in a helicopter crash in California, and to the bushfires victims in Australia.

“There were some devastating things that started 2020 with huge bushfires here in Australia, conflicts in some parts of the world, people dying every day. Obviously one person that I considered close in my life and was a mentor to me, Kobe Bryant, passed away as well as his daughter. I would just like to say that this is a reminder to all of us that we should stick together more than ever. We compete and try our best but obviously there are more important things in life and it’s important to be conscious and humble about things that are happening around you”,said Djokovic.

Djokovic has extended his match record to a perfect 13-0 in the 2020 ATP season. He helped Serbia win the first edition of the ATP Cup. He clinched the 900th match win on the ATP Tour when he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the first round in Melbourne en route to his eighth title.

“This is definitely my favourite court. My favourite stadium in the world and I am blessed to hold this trophy once again. I would like to congratulate Dominic on an amazing tournament. It wasn’t meant to be tonight. You were very close to winning. You definitely have a lot more time in your career and I am sure you will get more than one Grand Slam trophy in your career”.

 By winning the 17th Grand Slam title of his career, Djokovic comes closer to all-time leaders Roger Federer (20) and Rafael Nadal (19) in the list of the most successful players in the history of the Grand Slam tournaments.

“I am grateful to have an opportunity to win another Australian Open trophy. At this stage of my career, Grand Slam titles are the ones I value the most. They are the ones I prioritize. Before the season starts, I try to set my form, shape for these events where I can be at my prime tennis, mental and physical abilities. There are a lot of stats that obviosly I am proud of, but they can’t dictacte my career. Of course there is a lot of history on the line. I have professional goals. Grand Slams are one of the main reasons why I am still competing and still playing full season, to get the historic number 1. That’s the other big goal. I put myself in this position that is really good at the moment. I am super happy with I started the season. It sets the tone for the rest of the season. There are many things on the tennis court that I can still improve. That excites me and motivates me to go day in, day out with my commitments, with my practice commitments, with my practice sessions, because there is always something to work on. There are always trophies to win”, said Djokovic.

 Thiem: “I really hope that I win my maiden Slam when they are still around”

Thiem, who had beaten Djokovic in four of their five past head-to-head matches coming into the Australian Open final including in the semifinal of 2019 Roland Garros and at the ATP Finals in London, was bidding to become the first new player to win a Grand Slam title since Marin Cilic at the 2014 US Open.

“I definitely gave everything I had. Novak is part of the three guys who are by far the best players ever who played tennis. If you play a Grand Slam finals against him, it’s always going to be a match where very small details are deciding. I could just have converted the breakpoint in the fourth set, where I could have taken the 2-1 lead. I think he had some issues in the second set. He recovered very well. He played really good after in the third and fourth sets. There were some small mistakes here and there, but they are happening. At the end it was a close five-setter”,said Thiem.  

Thiem lost in a Grand Slam final for the third time after finishing runner-up in the past two editions of Roland Garros in 2018 and 2019 to Rafael Nadal.

“Djokovic and Nadal brought tennis to a complete new level. They brought me to a much better level. It was amazing how the matches went this week. It’s great tennis. It’s a great show for everybody. It would be easier for sure in a different era to win big titles, but I am happy that I compete with these guys at the best level. I really hope that I win my maiden Slam when they are still around because the big three are still around”,commented Thiem.

Thiem also paid tribute to the victims of bushfires in Australia after the match.

“It’s very tough what this beautiful country is still going through. I think that the Australian Open was a big distraction, but I still wish that Australia will recover very soon from this tragedy. It’s such a beautiful country, it’s so amazing. I hope that a disaster like this is never happening again”,said Thiem.  

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Alexander Bublik reaches his third career semifinal with win over Denis Shapovalov in Marseille

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Alexander Bublik reached the third ATP Tour semifinal of his career after beating Canadian Canadian Next Gen player Denis Shapovalov 7-5 4-6 6-3 after 2 hours and 18 minutes at the Open 13 Provence in Marseille.

 

Bublik fended off a total of four break points in the first set, including three chances from 0-40, got the break in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5, when Shapovalov hit a forehand volley wide at 30-40 after 45 minutes.

Both players traded breaks at the start of the second set. Bublik did not convert three break points at 3-2, when he hit a forehand into the net on his first break point chance. Shapovalov broke serve in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead with a drop shot and wrapped up the second set with his third ace.

Bublik opened up a 2-0 lead with a break in the second game of the third set. Shapovalov broke straight back in the third game. Bublik got another break lead in the eighth lead at 15, when Shapovalov hit a forehand wide. Bublik sealed the win with a hold at love.

“He is a great player and serve. It was our first match, but I have known him for a very long time. I was happy to break in the first set, then in the second set he was better, and I had my chances in the third and I held on. So I am very happy”,said Bublik.

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Milos Raonic, Steve Johnson, Frances Tiafoe and Ugo Humbert reach the quarter final in Delray Beach

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Milos Raonic hit 11 aces and saved the three break points he faced to beat German Cedrik Marcel Stebe 7-5 6-3 after 1 hour and 36 minutes reaching the quarter final at the Delray Beach, an ATP Tour 250 tournament.

 

Raonic earned a break in each set. Stebe earned a break point in the ninth game with a forehand down the line, but Raonic saved it with a forehand. Raonic faced two more break points in the 11th game, but Raonic saved them with service winners. Raonic earned a break with a forehand down the line winner in the 12th game to close out the first set 7-5. Raonicwon four consecutive points on return to earn a break and closed out the match 6-3 with a hold of serve.

“I got lucky through that first set and then I tried to be a bit more aggressive, create more things and that put a bit more pressure on him. It opened up the match for me a bit more”, said Raonic.

Raonic set up a quarter final against Steve Johnson, who edged past his compatriot Jack Sock 6-4 5-7 6-1 after 2 hours and 5 minutes to reach his first quarter final at ATP Tour level in six months. Johnson came back from losing the second set by racing out to a 5-0 lead.

“This is just one of those tournaments where you feel comfortable coming back every year. It’s great to see Sock back. I thought he played a really good second set and I just got bit of a momentum in the third set”, said Johnson.

French Next Gen player Ugo Humbert edged Miomir Kecmanovic 6-4 7-6 (8-6) after 1 hour and 42 minutes to reach his third quarter final in 2020. Humbert fended off eight of the ten break points he faced and earned three breaks to win the last four games of the first set from 2-4 down. Humbert broke Kecmanovic, as the Serbian player was serving for the second set at 6-5. The Frenchman saved a set point and came back from 5-6 down by winning the final three points of the tie-break to clinch the win after 1 hour and 43 minutes. Humbert has improved his win-loss record this year to 8-3.

“It’s always tough to play against Miomir, because he is a great player. He always plays at a high level. I lost to him last week and I was a little bit stressed before the match, so I am very happy to get the win today. You have to enjoy the victory because it’s not easy every week. Winning in Auckland gave me a lot of confidence. I beat some great players, but I have to continue my improvement every day”,said Humbert.

Humbert will face US player Frances Tiafoe, who battled past Tommy Paul 7-5 7-6 (7-4). Both players stayed neck and neck in the first set until the 11th game when Tiafoe earned a break with a return winner. He served out the set 7-5 with a service winner in the 12th game.

Paul earned a break in the sixth game, but he dropped his serve, while he serving for the set at 5-3. Tiafoe closed out the match with a backhand crosscourt winner at 6-4 in the tie-break.

“It’s never easy playing a good friend. It’s awkward, but I thought it was a pretty good match overall. My forehand was definitely on, so that helped. I am starting to play good tennis again and just competing hard in every match”,said Tiafoe.  

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Felix Auger Aliassime saves three match points to beat Pierre Hugues Herbert in Marseille

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Felix Auger Aliassime saved three match points to beat Pierre Hugues Herbert 6-0 6-7 (8-6) 7-6 (11-9) after 2 hours and 40 minutes at the Open 13 in Marseille.

 

Auger Aliassime did not convert a match point in the tie-break of the second set before clinching the win on his sixth match point to advance to the quarter final in Marseille. The young Canadian player hit 16 aces and won 85 % of his first serve points.

Herbert hit a tweener lob on set point in the second set to force the match to the third set. Auger Aliassime hit an overhead into the open court at 6-6 in the tie-break in the third set. Herbert hit a forehand pass down the line to earn a match point on his serve, but he did not convert it, as he hit a backhand into the net.

Auger Aliassime saved two more match points at 5-6 and 7-8 in the tie-break with his forehand and an unretured serve, before sealing the win with an ace.

The Canadian Next Gen player will face this year’s Pune finalist Egor Gerasimov, who broke three times in his 6-4 7-6 (7-5) win over David Goffin.

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