Novak Djokovic digs deep to beat Filip Krajinovic in all-Serbian clash in Vienna - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic digs deep to beat Filip Krajinovic in all-Serbian clash in Vienna

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Novak Djokovic beat Filip Krajinovic 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 after 1 hour and 58 minutes at the Erste Bank Open in Vienna to score his 38th win in 40 matches this year. 

 

Djokovic lost serve twice in the first set and was forced to save a set point at 5-6. 

Djokovic converted on four of his eleven break points and dropped serve twice. The Serbian player hit 23 winners to 15 unforced errors compared to Krajnovic’s ratio of 16 winners to 14 unforced errors. 

In the opening set which featured four break points Djokovic saved two break points and held serve with a service winner. The world number 1 player held serve with an ace and earned the first break with a volley winner in the fourth game to open up a 3-1 lead. Krajonovic broke back at 15 in the fifth game, as Djokovic netted a forehand, and held serve to draw level to 3-3. 

Djokovic wasted a game point in the seventh game and dropped his serve when Krajinovic hit a backhand down the line winner. Krajinovic fended off two break points, as he was serving at 4-3, and held serve with an ace. 

Krajinovic was just two points away from the set on return in the ninth game. Djokovic held serve at deuce with a service winner before breaking serve at 15 in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Both players held serve in the 11th and 12th game to set up a tie-break. Krajinovic created a set point with a smash winner at 5-5. Djokovic fended it off and reeled off three consecutive points to close out 8-6 after 71 minutes when Krajinovic made a forehand error. 

Krajinovic held serve in the first game of the second set with a backhand winner. Djokovic drew level to 1-1, when Krajnovic hit his forehand into the net. Krajinovic saved three break points to hold serve with a service winner, when he was 1-3 down. 

Djokovic saved a break point with a smash winner, as he was serving at 3-2 and held his serve with an unreturned serve. Krajinovic saved a break point in the seventh game and held serve after three drop shots from Djokovic.  

Djokovic hit a forehand down the line winner to open up a 5-3 lead forcing Krajinovic to serve to stay in the match. Krajinovic fended off a match point with a service winner, but Djokovic sealed the win on his second chance to secure his spot in the second round. 

Djokovic now leads 2-1 in his three head-to-head matches against Krajinovic. 

“I was lucky in the first set. We are good friends. We train a lot together and it is never easy to play someone that you are very close to. He is a very nice guy and I have known him since he was young. I followed him. I tried to be there as a friend, as a mentor. We go back a long way. We practised a few times together before coming to Vienna. The draw was draw tough for us to face each other, but there is always extra pressure and importance to a match when you play someone that you know very well. In the first set, I think he was the better player. He was serving for the first set and I was lucky. He missed a smash at 6-6 in the tie-break. A few points here and there can change the momentum of the match. In the second set I stepped it up, I played better and I am just pleased with the way I finished the match”, said Djokovic. 

Djokovic was playing his first match since the final at the French Open, where he lost to Rafael Nadal. The 2020 Australian Open champion set up a second round match against Borna Coric. Djokovic beat Coric 6-3 6-4 in their most recent head-to-head clash in the 2018 Shanghai Masters 1000 final. 

Grigor Dimitrov beat Karen Khachanov 7-6 (8-6) 6-3 in a very competitive first round match 

Khachanov got the first break in the fourth game to take a 3-1 lead. Dimitrov broke straight back in the fifth game and held his next service game to draw level to 3-3. Both players held on their next service games en route to the tie-break. 

Dimitrov got the first mini-break to open up a 3-0 lead in the tie-break. Khachanov broke back to draw level to 3-3. Khachanov saved a set point at 6-5 on his serve, but Dimitrov held his nerve and earned another mini-break on the second point to win the opening set 8-6. 

Dimitrov broke twice in the second and six games to build up a 5-1 lead. Khachanov pulled one break back at love to close the gap to 3-5. Dimitrov served out the match to love in the ninth game shattering Khachanov’s hopes of qualifying for the ATP Finals in London. 

Dimitrov will face either Stefanos Tsitsipas or Jan Lennard Struff. Tsitsipas recently beat Dimitrov 6-3 7-6 6-2 in the fourth round at this year’s Roland Garros. 

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André Agassi is glad that he did not have to play against the Big 3

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André Agassi talked about the Big 3 rivarly between Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer during his interview during a session at the 18th Hindustan Times Leadership Summit. 

 

Agassi played against Pete Sampras during the golden era of US tennis. Sampras held a record for most Grand Slams in men’s tennis with 14 titles. This record has been surpassed by Federer, Nadal and Djokovic in the following era. 

Nadal recently won the 13th Roland Garros and 20th Grand Slam of his career, tying Federer’s record. Djokovic is currently third with his 17 Major titles after his eighth triumph at the Australian Open in Melbourne. Agassi won eight career Grand Slam titles (four at the Australian Open in 1995, 2000, 2001 and 2003, one at Roland Garros in 1999, one at Wimbledon in 1992 and two at the US Open in 1994 and 1999). 

Agassi admitted that he was glad that he did not have to compete against the Big 3. 

“I wake up every day very grateful that the peak of my career wasn’t during this generation. Because if that was the case, I would be on here talking about how I almost won this and almost that. We have three guys that are arguably the greatest of all time. They are all playing at the same time, which is remarkable. They have really done what the sport hasn’t seen and they will continue for a little bit longer”, said Agassi. 

Agassi played against Nadal and Federer in his finals on Tour. Nadal beat Agassi at the Canadian Open in 2005 and Wimbledon 2006 and won five out of his six sets againt the US player. Federer met Agassi 11 times and led their head-to-head series 8-3. Agassi beat Federer at the 2001 US Open and in the final of the 2002 Miami Open. Federer beat Agassi in their past eight clashes including the final of the Masters Cup in Houston in 2003 and the US Open final in 2005.  

Agassi was asked to make a choice between the greatest. The former US legend said there were points of each of them. “You can make an argument for Djokovic, too, who can play on any surface and be the favourite to win, which is a remarkable thing to say during this generation, but overall tennis is the winner. It is great for me to watch it and appreciate it and when it ends, we are all going to miss it”, said Djokovic. 

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Kei Nishikori Issues Fitness Update Ahead Of New Season

After a difficult season where he could only win two matches, the world No.41 is hoping to get back on track next year.

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Kei Nishikori (photo by chryslène caillaud, copyright @Sport Vision)

Former US Open finalist Kei Nishikori says he is eager to start competing against the best in the world again after what has been a troublesome season.

 

The 30-year-old has only been able to play four tournaments this year due to a combination of injury, the pandemic and illness. Nishikori underwent surgery on his shoulder in October 2019 which subsequently resulted in him missing the start of this season. Then he was forced to pull out of his planned return at the US Open after testing positive for COVID-19. Eventually he returned to action in Kitzbuhel during September but had to close his season early a few weeks later after injuring his shoulder at the French Open.

“We had a few tournaments (due to the pandemic) and my season came to an end when I was beginning to get my feel back,” Kyodo news quoted Nishikori as saying on Friday. “I really can’t wait for next year.”

Overall, Nishikori won just two out of six matches played on the Tour in 2020. Scoring wins over Spain’s Albert Ramos-Vinolas in Rome and Britain’s Dan Evans at Roland Garros. The highest ranked player he faced was No.22 Christian Garin, who he lost 6-0, 6-3, to in Hamburg.

Despite his setbacks, the Japanese player insists that he is now back on track and his shoulder is at ‘a decent level.

“(My shoulder) has recovered to a decent level. It’ll be definitely okay for next year,” Nishikori said. “I’ll prepare (for the Olympics) assuming that they will take place.”
“I couldn’t face top-10 ranked players this season. I want to compete at that level again as soon as I can.”

One of Nishikori’s goals for next year will be the Olympic Games which are taking place in Tokyo for the first time since 1964. The Games have to be postponed until next year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nishikori is the only player from his country to have won an Olympic medal during the Open Era after winning bronze in 2016.

I think it’s hard for athletes and the public to think about the Olympics right now. I just want to prepare well,he said in reference to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nishikori has been ranked as high fourth in the world but is currently in 41st position. So far in his career he has won 12 ATP titles and earned more than $24 million in prize money.

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Paolo Bertolucci believes that Novak Djokovic will finish his career with more Grand Slam titles than Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic

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Former Italian player and Davis Cup winner Paolo Bertolucci thinks that Novak Djokovic has a very good chance to end his career with more Grand Slam titles than Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer. 

 

Nadal won his 13th Grand Slam title at Roland Garros beating Djokovic in the final joining Federer at the top of the list of most Major titles with 20 trophies. Djokovic claimed his 17th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in Melbourne and is third on the list of the most successful players in Grand Slam history. 

At the Australian Open Djokovic has become the third player in history to win eight titles at a Grand Slam tournament after Nadal (13 titles at Roland Garros) and Roger Federer (8 titles at Wimbledon). 

The Serbian legend won two more titles in Dubai and at the Western and Southern Open and was undefeated this season before the US Open, but he defaulted at the US Open when he hit a lineswoman with the ball. 

Djokovic bounced back to win the Rome Masters 1000 titles beating Diego Schwartzman in the final. The Serbian player lost the Roland Garros final against Rafael Nadal in straight sets. 

Novak Djokovic has secured six year-end number number 1 honours passing Pete Sampras for most weeks as World Number 1 in September 2020. He trails only Federer’s record of 310 weeks at the top of the ranking. 

Nole claimed six out of his eight Grand Slam titles between Wimbledon 2014 and Roland Garros 2016 and became the first player with four consecutive Grand Slam titles since Rod Laver in 1969  (Australian Open, Wimbledon and US Open in 2015 and Australian Open 2016). 

The World Number 1 player was not able to win any of the next eight Grand Slam titles because he was suffering from an elbow injury, but he bounced back by winning the 2018 Wimbledon title. He has won five of the past Grand Slam titles (Wimbledon 2018, US Open 2018, Australian Open 2019, Wimbledon 2019 and Australian Open 2020). 

Bertolucci believes that Djokovic will be able to close the gap on Nadal and Federer by winning more Grand Slam titles. Djokovic is physically equipped to overtake Nadal and Federer in the Slam race. The former Italian player is not ruling a three-men battle for supremacy before their careers are over. 

“Novak will win more Grand Slam titles than Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, even after that US Open. He is the youngest and freshest among those three stars, with a nice chance of moving in front in a couple of years. On the other hand, I would not be surprised if they all finish on the same number of Grand Slam titles”, said Bertolucci. 

Bertolucci believes that Federer has still a chance to win another Grand Slam title. The Swiss Maestro came very close to winning his 21st Major trophy at Wimbledon in 2019, when he lost an epic five-set final against Djokovic. The Swiss Maestro reached the semifinal at this year’s Australian Open before undergoing knee surgery, but he is training for the 2021 Australian Open. 

“It’s very difficult, because it’s been four years, but it’s also true for others it would be twice as much difficult. He will have a chance too, but we have to see at what level he will be able to express himself, how he will return after the operations”, said Bertolucci. 

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