Maria Sharapova’s Earliest Memory Of ‘Fanboy’ Djokovic - UBITENNIS
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Maria Sharapova’s Earliest Memory Of ‘Fanboy’ Djokovic

The recently retired player tells the story of how the two first got acquainted with each other.

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Former world No.1 Maria Sharapova has known Novak Djokovic for many years, but they first got acquainted over dinner thanks to a simple bet.

The two tennis stars held a Instagram Live session on Tuesday when they discussed a variety of topics, including one of their first ever meetings. It all started in La Quinta, Indian Wells where they were playing in a exhibition mixed doubles match. Djokovic, who is only 11 months younger than the Russian, challenged Sharapova that if he beat her she would have to take him out for dinner. Which he did, paving way for a friendship to be formed between the two.

“I remember we played this little exhibition. I was young, you were young, way before you had any Grand Slam titles. I don’t know if you’d even won a tournament at that point,” Sharapova recounted.
“You said that if you’d win, I would have to pay dinner. I was like, ‘Okay, whatever, who is this kid?’ You won and you were like, ‘We have dinner tonight. We’re going to the Japanese place!’ I was like, ‘Are you serious? You and me, going to dinner, tonight?’ So we did. We ended up going to dinner and it was so funny because you pulled out I think it was an old Kodak camera and you asked the waiter to take a photo of us… and here we are.”

Djokovic confirmed Sharapova’s version of events by commenting that she was ‘saying the truth.’ Promoting a humorous exchange between the two.

“I think you were fanboying, you had a big fanboy moment.” Sharapova joked.
“I don’t remember anything about that (match), I just remember going to that dinner and this old-school camera comes and the waiter is like, ‘You want a picture, you two?” she added.

Since that occasion, both have risen to the top of the sport. Between them, they have won 22 grand slam titles with the Serbian winning 17 of them. They are also ranked in the all-time top three for prize money earned on the men’s and women’s tour’s. Sharapova is in third with earnings of just over $38 million. Meanwhile, Djokovic has made a massive tally $143.6 million.

Sharapova has hailed how Djokovic has managed to reach the top of the sport after experiencing some physical difficulties during the early part of his career. The Russian retired from the sport earlier this year at the age of 32.

“It’s really admirable to watch you gain this interest throughout the years because I will say, and you’ll probably admit to it, but at the beginning of your career you struggled so much with your body and the length of matches,” she said.
“I remember watching you on the clay and all the cramping and being like, ‘Are you ever going to get your s*** together?’ To see you make a transformation, what I loved about this sport our game and our results really did the talking for us.”

Djokovic is currently residing in Marbella, Spain during the tour shutdown due to COVID-19. Earlier this week he posted a video of him training at a tennis facility in the region, but was later criticised for seemingly breaking lockdown rules. However, it has since been confirmed that the owner of the venue granted him permission to play there by mistake.

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Sebastian Korda reaches his second semifinal of the season in s’Hertogenbosh

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Sebastian Korda beat Tommy Paul 6-4 6-2 in 67 minutes to reach his second ATP Tour semifinal of the season at Libema Open in s’Hertogenbosh. 

Korda hit 18 winners and won 84% of his first serve points. Korda earned his first break in the third game of the first set to take a 2-1 lead. Paul broke straight back in the sixth game to draw level to 3-3. Korda broke for the second time in the seventh game to win the first set 6-4. Korda broke twice in the third and seventh game to close out the second set 6-2. 

Korda has improved his head-to-head record against Paul to 4-1. 

Korda reached the semifinal on grass at Queen’s in 2023. The US player is is aiming to win his first ATP Tour title since 2021, when he won in Parma on clay. 

Korda set up a semifinal clash against defending champion Tallon Griekspoor, who ccame back from one set down to beat Alexandar Vukic 4-6 6-3 7-6 (7-3). Griekspoor has won his past eight matches at this tournament. 

Vukic broke in the ninth game to win the first set 6-4. Griekspoor earned his first break in the sixth game of the second set to win the second set 6-3. The third set went on serve with no breaks en route to the tie-break. Griekspoor earned two mini-breaks to open up a 4-1 lead in the tie-break. Vukic pulled one of the two mini-breaks, but Griekspoor held on his serve and sealed the tie-break on his first match point.

“I am very happy to be through. It was a very tough match once again. I think Alexandar played unbelievable grass court tennis, so it was not easy and I am very happy to find my way in the third set. I am enjoying the crowd, the atmosphere and the whole tournament”, said Korda. 

Alex De Minaur beat Milos Raonic7-5 6-2 in 1 hour and 26 minutes. De Minaur has improved to 3-0 in his head-to-head matches against Raonic, who was playing in just his fourth tournament of he year.

De Minaur earned his first break in the fifth game to take a 3-2 lead. Raonic broke straight back to draw level to 3-3. De Minaur broke for the second time in the 11th game and served out on his first set point after saving three break points in the 12th game. De Minaur broke twice in the fifth and seventh games to win the second set 6-2. 

De Minaur is aiming to win the second title of his career on career following his win in Eastbourne in 2021.  

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Emma Raducanu Confident Of Full Fitness Ahead Of Grass Swing

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Emma Raducanu - Cincinnati 2022 (foto Twitter @cincytennis)

Emma Raducanu has no regrets about her decision to skip the French Open and now believes she is in a ‘really fit place’ ahead of Wimbledon. 

The former US Open champion opted to end her clay season earlier than other players to focus on fitness and training with her coach. Raducanu stated earlier this year that her primary focus in 2024 is on her health after undergoing a series of wrist and ankle surgeries last year which sidelined her for months. 

Raducanu will return to action this week at the Nottingham Open, which is the event where she made her WTA main draw debut back in 2021. Despite her lack of match play in recent weeks, the Brit is feeling good and relishing her return to the grass.

“Body-wise, physical-wise, I feel really healthy,” she said on Monday.
“I’ve done amazing work with my trainer over the last few months, since surgery. I’m in a really fit place. I’m healthy and just looking forward to starting playing.”

Shedding more light on her health, Raducanu says she has full confidence in her wrists and believes they are in top condition. Making her feel more at ease when playing matches on the Tour. 

“I think my wrists are actually in a better position than they ever were. So there’s zero doubt or apprehension whether I’m hitting the ball or designing my schedule,” she explained.
“It’s more about being proactive and not wanting to put yourself in any unnecessary situations. I don’t need to rush and try to win the French Open, it wasn’t my goal this year.
“I had to prioritise where I wanted to target and it was just a good block for me to get some physical work done.”

Raducanu has played seven WTA events so far this season with her best run being to the quarter-finals of the Porsche Tennis Grand Prix in Stuttgart, where she was beaten by world No.1 Iga Swiatek. The 21-year-old is currently ranked 209th in the world. 

At the Nottingham Open, she will play her first match on Tuesday against Japanese qualifier Ena Shibahara. 

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Jack Draper Wins In Stuttgart, Potentially Faces Andy Murray in Round Two

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Jack Draper – ATP Monaco di Baviera 2024 (foto via Twitter @atptour)

Britain’s Jack Draper tight first round win headlined the opening day’s results at the Boss Open 2024 in Stuttgart – and possibly faces a second-round match with Andy Murray who takes on Marcos Giron tomorrow.

Less than 24 hours from the last ball being hit at Roland Garros, the ATP Tour had already switched surfaces onto the grass, and 22-year-old Draper was well tested but ultimately came through in two tie-breakers over Sebastian Ofner.

The sixth seed’s 7-6, 7-6 win contained just one break of serve each, both coming in the second set, as serve dominated proceedings on the faster grass courts in Germany.

While the Austrian won 75% on his first serve, Draper won a whopping 89% behind his first delivery as well as hitting eight aces. These kind of service stats will surely take him far during the grass court season.

“I thought it was a really good match,” Eurosport quoted Draper saying after his match. 
“Both of us played really clean tennis, executing really well.
“When it came down to it, I’m glad I competed really well and got over the line – it’s good to be back on the grass as well.”

There were also wins for Germany’s Yannick Hanfmann who won 6-3, 6-3 over wildcard Henri Squire, while compatriot Dominik Koepfer won in three sets over China’s Zhizhen Zhang 4-6, 7-6, 7-6. 

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