Novak Djokovic Edges Thiem To Secure Historic 8th Australian Open Title - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Edges Thiem To Secure Historic 8th Australian Open Title

Novak Djokovic won a historic eighth Australian Open title as he edged out Dominic Thiem in five sets.

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Novak Djokovic (@AustralianOpen - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic edged out Dominic Thiem 6-4 4-6 2-6 6-3 6-4 to secure his 8th Australian Open title and 17th grand slam title. 

For the first time in his career, Novak Djokovic came back from 2 sets to 1 down in a grand slam final as he denied Dominic Thiem a first grand slam title.

The Serb lacked energy in the middle of the match but ultimately played his best tennis when it mattered as he made history once again.

As well as winning an 8th Australian Open title and 17th grand slam title, Djokovic will also return to world number one on Monday.

Looking for his 8th Australian Open title, Djokovic made an emphatic start as he rushed Thiem into errors from the back of the court.

The Austrian looked to take the match to Djokovic using his power but wasn’t allowed to implement that in the early exchanges as some impressive defence saw the Serb blast his way into a 3-0 lead.

However Thiem, who was into his 3rd grand slam final, started to find some rhythm and denied the red-hot Djokovic a double break lead.

This would cost Djokovic as the 5th seed finally found his fire-power that was missing in the opening five games as some stunning backhand winners gave him the break back in the 7th game.

Eventually though, Thiem got tight and nervous when serving to stay in the set and a costly double fault handed the 7-time Australian Open champion the opening set.

Although he didn’t show his best tennis in the opening set, Thiem bounced back in the second set with some powerful and smart retuning. This time it was Djokovic’s turn to double fault on break point down as the Austrian sealed the early break.

There was more tightness from Thiem in the latter stages of the set as he pushed too aggressively and Djokovic started to improve his level.

Even though the break back was secured, the world number two lost his concentration when called for two time violations in the game, which led to a loss of first serve and loss of game as well.

As Djokovic continued to share his anger with Damien Dumusois, Thiem held convincingly to level the match at one set all.

There was a momentum shift in the Austrian’s favour at the start of the third set as the Serb started to look physically drained.

Two quick breaks was sealed from Thiem who powered his shots past the tame Djokovic defence as a 4-0 lead was secured.

Despite some late resilience from Djokovic, it was all about the Austrian who was now a set away from his first grand slam title.

After an off-court medical time-out, the second seed started to look in better shape and became more solid as he looked to force a fifth set.

As both players started to play confidently on serve, something had to give in terms of players’ level and that is exactly what happened in the eighth game.

The Austrian’s level dipped which produced four unforced errors in a crucial service game. Just like all great champions, Djokovic pounced breaking serve and keeping his cool to seal the fourth set 6-3. This Australian Open final was going five sets.

Another few costly unforced errors cost Thiem to start the fifth set as Djokovic sealed the early break for 2-1 as he was closing in on history.

There were a few opportunities for the Austrian to break back but the pressure told when it really mattered as he couldn’t find his way past an unstoppable Novak Djokovic.

After 4 hours and 3 minutes, Djokovic secured a 17th grand slam title and an 8th Australian Open title to continue setting records in tennis.

https://twitter.com/doublefault28/status/1223957229801484289

In the trophy ceremony, both Dominic Thiem and Novak Djokovic praised each other’s achievements, “Huge congrats to Novak. Unreal what you are doing throughout all these years. You and two other guys have brought men’s tennis to a new level, I’m really proud I can compete in this time and period of tennis,” Thiem said.

“Congratulations to Dominic for an amazing tournament. It wasn’t to be tonight. You were very close to win it, you have a lot of time in your career to get one of the Grand Slam trophies,” Djokovic added.

It also means that the big three of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic will win the next 13 grand slam titles.

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Carlos Alcaraz In Doubt For Madrid Open Title Defence

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Carlos Alcaraz admits that he is not certain if he will be ready in time to play at next week’s Madrid Masters.

The 20-year-old is yet to play a clay tournament in Europe due to a forearm injury which ruled him out of both Monte Carlo and Barcelona. He hurt his right arm whilst training shortly before the Monte Carlo event began. 

It is the latest in a series of injury issues that has affected Alcaraz throughout his young career. Since the start of 2023, he has also been derailed by issues with his abdominal, hamstring, post-traumatic arthritis in his left hand and muscular discomfort in his spine. 

“My feeling isn’t right, but it is what it is. Now I’m fully focused on recovery and I have a little more time,” Alcaraz told reporters in Barcelona on Monday.
“My goal is to try and go to the Madrid Open, but at the moment nothing is certain. I was given specific recovery times and I’ve respected them, but I haven’t felt good. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.
“I can’t say I’ll be 100% in Madrid, but that’s my intention. We’ll train and do everything we can so that the feelings improve so I can play a match … It’s also a very special tournament for me.”

Alcaraz has won the past two editions of the Madrid Open, which is classed as a Masters 1000 event. In 2022 he defeated Alexander Zverev in the final and then 12 months later he beat Jan-Lennard Struff in the title match.

The setback comes after what has been a steady start to the year for Alcaraz who has reached the quarter-finals or better in four out of five tournaments played. He successfully defended his title in Indian Wells and then reached the semi-finals in Miami. 

Should he not play in Madrid, it is likely that the Spaniard will lose his No.2 spot to Jannik Sinner who is just over 100 points behind him in the standings. He will still have the chance to play a clay-court event before the French Open with Rome taking place early next month. 

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Olympic Qualification Is Not the Only Goal For French Veteran Gael Monfils

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Gael Monfils (image via https://twitter.com/atptour)

Gael Monfils admits he doesn’t have too many years left on the Tour but this doesn’t mean his targets are any less ambitious. 

The 37-year-old has enjoyed a rapid rise up the rankings over the past 12 months following battles with injury. At his lowest, he was ranked 394th last May but is now in 40th position. As a result, he is closing on securing a place in the Olympic Games which is being held in his home country of France for the first time since 1924. The tennis event will be staged at Roland Garros. 

“When I was 400, I was thinking the Olympics would be great, but it’s going to be tough,” Monfils told reporters on Tuesday. 
“There are younger players playing well. If I don’t qualify, I don’t mind. It will just mean I’m very close to the ranking I want to be. That ranking will allow me to find another goal.”

Monfils is already a three-time Olympian but has never won a medal at the event. He reached the quarter-finals of the singles tournament twice in 2008 and 2016. 

Another goal of Frenchmen is the Wimbledon championships which concludes just three weeks before the Olympics begin. The proximity of these tournaments will be a challenge to all players who will be going from playing on clay to grass and then back to clay again. 

“I really want to go and play Wimbledon. I don’t have so many Wimbledons to play in the future. The Olympics is one goal, not the only goal.” Monfils states.
“My dream is of course to be part of the Olympics. I played three times at the Olympics. I’d like to be there again. But I also really want to do well in Wimbledon this year. To reach my goal, it has to be including Wimbledon.” He added. 

Monfils is currently playing at the Monte Carlo Masters where he beat Aleksandar Vukic in his opening match. In the next round, he will take on Daniil Medvedev in what will be their first meeting since 2022. He leads their head-to-head 2-1. 

Medvedev has openly spoken about his roller-coaster relationship with playing on the clay. He admits it is not his favourite surface but how much of a factor could this be in his upcoming clash with Monfils?

“Of course, it’s not his favourite one, but he’s still Daniil Medvedev, and whatever the surface, it’s always very complicated to play him,” Monfils concludes. 

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Matteo Berrettini wins in Marrakech displaying quality tennis

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Matteo Berrettini - Marrakech 2024 (photo X @ATPTour_ES)

Matteo Berrettini defeats Roberto Carballes Baena in straight sets, 75 62, and proves that his comeback is well grounded  

If life is often considered a continuous narrative, it may be no coincidence that today Matteo Berrettini’s comeback journey intersescted Carballes Baena, a player he had faced twice in straight tournaments, Florence and Naples in October 2022, shortly before plunging into his annus horribilis, an injury-plagued 2023.

Just like resuming the story from where it was left.

Carballes Baena, the defending champion, got off to a sharper start, holding serve with ease and earning a first break point in the second game. Berrettini averted the threat by hammering down three serves but lost his service two games later.

Doubts on the Italian’s recovery from his energy-draining semifinal may have been starting to come afloat. However Berrettini broke back immediately, unsettling the Spaniard’s consistency with changes of pace and alternating lifted and sliced backhands.

The next six games neatly followed serve. Figures witness how close the match was. After 45 minutes the scoreboard read 5 games all, and stats reported 27 points apiece.

The eleventh game was to be crucial. Carballes Baena netted two forehands, while trying to hit through the Italian’s skidding spins and conceded a break point. Berrettini followed up two massive forehands with a delicate, unreachable drop shot and secured the break.

Carballes Baena was far from discouraged, and fired two forehand winners dashing to 0 40  with the Italian serving for the set.

Berrettini was lucky to save the first break point with a forehand that pinched the top of the net, and trickled over. Then he hit two winning first serves to draw even. Then again two first serves paired with their loyal forehand winner: Berrettini’s copyright gamepattern sealed a 59 minute first set.

The match seemed about to swing round at the very start of the second set when Carballes Baena had three break points and was winning all the longer rallies. Once more Berrettini got out of trouble thanks to his serve. Carballes Baena’s disappointment turned into frustration after he failed to put away two quite comfortable smashes and lost his service immediately after.  

Unforced errors were seeping into the Spaniard’s game and when Berrettini won a 16-shot rally with a stunning crosscourt forehand on the stretch and went on to grab a two-break lead, the match appeared to have taken its final twist.

Berrettini did not falter when serving for the match at 5 2, despite an unforced error on the first point. Three first serves chauffeured him to two match points.

Carballes Baena only succeeded in bravely saving the first, well steering the rally. But the 2021 Wimbledon finalist produced a massive serve out wide and joyfully lifted his arms to the sky, for a most emotional victory. It means so much to a player whose talent and career have been incessantly diminished by injuries.

It’s been a tough last couple of years” Matteo Berrettini said, holding the trophy. “Thanks to my team I was able to overcome all the tough moments my body didn’t allow me to play. I thank you and all the people that made my comeback possible: all my friends and my family, the people that were with me all the time when I was sad, injured and I didn’t think I could make it.”

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