Jannik Sinner Won His First Title – What’s Next For Him And Italian Tennis? - UBITENNIS
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Jannik Sinner Won His First Title – What’s Next For Him And Italian Tennis?

Right now, Italy is a country in pain (like many others) because of the pandemic and the concomitant lockdown, but at least yesterday the sports fans got a glimpse of a degree of brilliance that might extend over the next few years, and on loftier stages.

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Jannik Sinner (image via https://twitter.com/sofiaopentennis)

Article translated from Italian by Tommaso Villa

 

Jannik Sinner’s win in Sofia will perhaps be remembered as the watershed moment that steered a middling national tennis movement towards its erstwhile 1970s glory – as a matter of fact, Italy now has four players in the men’s Top 40 for the first time since 1977. Sinner is the youngest Italian to ever win an ATP tournament at 19 years and 3 months, bagging the 68th title for his country in the Open Era. 

The teenager admitted to feeling a bit of tension before the match, as well as when he thought to have it made when he got the break early in the second set after winning the opener – as icily driven as he might look, he is still a human being on the verge of breaking new ground for himself while setting a national record.  

That moment of crisis, which already happened to him in Paris against Nadal and on other occasions, brought Pospisil back into the match, dragging the bout to a decider and causing him to drop his racquet, a rare showing of emotion. 

It seemed like there was no way out of the funk when he had to face two break points in the first game of the third set. Moreover, it would have honestly been hard to forecast him as the champion in Bulgaria before the tie-breaker, since his opponent is a doubles champion (he won Wimbledon against the Bryans in five set in 2014, partnering Jack Sock) who not only does excel in the early shots of the rally (he has a big serve but his return isn’t inconsiderable either), but has also played hundreds of tie-breaks over the course of his career, and could thus rely on experience to quell his nerves – it should be remembered, however, that he had never won a singles title either.  

What happened, instead, was an absolutely spotless performance by Sinner in the decisive game, which he won 7-3 without conceding a single mini-break. What’s more, he knew when to lunge, upping his aggression on the Canadian’s second serve while 3-2 up, hitting a few shattering forehands at 5-3, including an acutely-angled winner, and stepping in again on the next point when Pospisil’s first serve didn’t connect. Kudos.

He looked like a veteran out there, he was calm and lucid, and he found the shots that sometimes abandoned him throughout the week (the forehand especially) when he needed them most. This poise is one of the factors that lead me to believe that he will be one of the best. 

However, it’s the blessings of so many champions, both past and present, that makes me believe that there is no fluke, and that his destiny is to reach new heights in a short time span. Pospisil didn’t just project him as a Top 10 player, he stated that he could go all the way to the rankings’ pinnacle. Yesterday, he played far from his best game, but this is a sign of surefire greatness, because he found a way to scratch his way to a win.

The pressure will certainly ease up in the next final, and the same goes for the third, the fourth, and so on. He will keep improving, a more important datum than precociousness records or discussions over his potential, a dangerous word that most of the time stays on paper. 

According to the runner-up, this young man has everything that it takes – the serve, the groundstrokes, the brains, the brawns, the tactics. To these, I would add that he possesses the right personality, the drive, the focus, and the desire to improve. Sinner has already earned close to 2 million dollars in prize money, and even more in endorsements from six different international brands – Nike, Lavazza, Rolex, Parmigiano Reggiano, Alfa Romeo, Technogym – but I am sure that this isn’t what he’s in this for. 

He also knows how to put things into perspective, like when he told me: “Right now, the most important thing is that my family and my friends are okay, I know that there are things that are more important than tennis. I could have been N.20 with a full season, but I’m at peace with that, I’ll think about it next year. What’s important right now is being healthy while perhaps hoping for an easier time when it comes to travelling in 2021. I take what I can get.”

Italy is a football-centric nation, but it has also borne witness to many affairs between the general public and athletes from individual sports – Valentino Rossi and the MotoGP, Federica Pellegrini and swimming, Alberto Tomba and skiing, Luna Rossa and yachting. Perhaps Jannik Sinner will be the one to turn tennis into a major sport in the country. Yesterday’s final was broadcast for free on national television, an almost unique occurrence – will it become a habit?

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Next Generation Not Even Close To Upstaging Tennis’ Big Three, Says Andy Murray

The three-time Grand Slam champion had some harsh words for those hoping to end the dominance of Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer.

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There has been a lot of talk about who may take over from the reign of the Big Three in the future but Andy Murray believes there is still a long way to go until that happens.

 

The former world No.1 believes the next generation of players are yet to prove they have what it takes to take over from the trio who has won 15 out of the past 16 Grand Slam tournaments between them. Dominic Thiem is the only exception after triumphing at the US Open last year. Between them they have won 271 titles on the ATP Tour and have spent over 800 weeks at the top of the rankings.

On Sunday Novak Djokovic continued the Big Three’s dominance by downing Daniil Medvedev in three sets to win the Australian Open. Dealing another blow to those hoping that a change of guard in the men’s game will occur soon.

“I expected the final to be closer to be honest but I also know how good Novak is there and when he’s on his game and obviously highly motivated,” Murray told The Press Association.
“I saw before the final Medvedev said something along the lines of Novak having immense pressure on him, which is true, but those guys have been at the top of the game, they’ve been dealing with immense pressure their whole careers and they know how to deal with it and perform at their best level when it matters.”

Continuing his assessment of the current game, Murray said that Thiem’s US Open win last year was more of a blip rather than any potential momentum changer. Both Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic were absent from the tournament. Meanwhile, Novak Djokjovic ended up getting disqualified following a mishap.

“The younger guys, for me, they’ve not shown that they’re particularly close,” he said.
“Obviously what happened at the US Open, (Dominic) Thiem did what he had to do to win the event, but, if Novak hadn’t put a ball through the line judge’s throat, it would be the same outcome I think.”

Murray currently has a losing head-to-head record against every member of the Big Three. However, he was the first man in history to have beaten each of them at least five times before Thiem also reached the milestone last November. Overall, he has scored seven wins over Nadal, as well as 11 victories over both Federer and Djokovic.

The Brit is set to return to action later this week at the Montpellier Open in France. He was forced to miss the first Grand Slam of the season after testing positive for COVID-19 and instead played a Challenger event in Italy.

“I didn’t watch any because I wanted to be there myself,” Murray said of missing the Australian Open. “It was a struggle to be honest. I stopped following all the tennis players I follow on social media and stuff because I just didn’t really want to see it.”

In Montpellier Murray will play Egor Gerasimov in his opening match on Tuesday.

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Undeterred Daniil Medvedev Praises The ‘Cyborgs Of Tennis’ After Australian Open Loss

The world No.4 reacts to his loss to Novak Djokovic in Melbourne Park.

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Daniil Medvedev says he is down but not out of the race for Grand Slam glory after losing in the final of the Australian Open on Sunday.

 

The world No.4 fell in straight sets to Novak Djokovic in what was his second taste of playing in a major final. His first was against Rafael Nadal at the 2019 US Open. In his latest encounter Medvedev struggled at times with his unforced error count as he failed to find a way to break down Djokovic’s defensive display.

“It’s definitely tough. I don’t like to lose matches. Doesn’t matter if it’s a first round or a final of a Grand Slam. Of course, it’s just that feeling that you’re closer to holding the trophy than when you lose the first round,” Medvedev told reporters.
“I feel like it’s the kind of matches I won throughout this tournament, he won today.”

Heading into the clash some pundits have tipped the 25-year-old to lift his maiden major title given his recent surge on the Tour. Prior to the showdown he was on a 20-match winning streak with 12 of those victories being over top 10 players. Earlier in the tournament Medvedev scored wins over Andrey Rublev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

However, the Russian failed when faced with the ultimate challenge in men’s tennis – playing a member of the Big Three in a Grand Slam. Despite being described by Djokovic as one of his toughest opponents, he is under no illusion of the challenge the trio poses to him and others.

They’re just better than other tennis players. I’m not shy to say this,” Medvedev stated.
“It’s just the truth. In fact, in numbers and everything. After, of course, when you’re out there, you want to beat them. You don’t care that it’s the big three or the big 100. But that’s why they have so many slams. They’re just really good.”

Medvedev does have the weapons to those who he has nicknamed the ‘cyborgs of tennis.’ He has defeated Djokovic three times and Nadal once at the ATP Finals last November.

“We’re talking about some Cyborgs of tennis in a good way. They’re just unbelievable,” he continued.
“Every time I go out there, when I say this, I’m not at all when I’m out there thinking about this, thinking, Okay, they are too strong for me. I always want to win. I beat some of them in some big tournaments, like London for example. Just need to be better next time in the Grand Slam finals against these two guys or Roger.”

It is now a case of what could have been for Medvedev who would have broken into the world’s top two if he had won the Australian Open. To put that achievement into perspective, the last player outside of the Big Four (including Andy Murray) to do so was Lleyton Hewitt in 2005.

“I’m usually quite easy in defeats, I would say. That’s the best part of tennis, is when you win a tournament, if you have a tournament next week and you’re going to lose a final, semifinal, first round, you’re going to be disappointed with the loss, you will almost not remember a win,” he explained.
“I guess it’s different after a Grand Slam win.”

Medvedev will return to action later this month at the Rotterdam Open.

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Novak Djokovic Captures Record Ninth Australian Open Title With Clinical Win over Medvedev

The world No.1 toppled his lacklustre opponent who produced a series of costly unforced errors to seal his 18th major title at Melbourne Park.

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Novak Djokovic has extended his dominance at the Australian Open by comprehensively beating Daniil Medvedev 7-5, 6-2, 6-2, to clinch an historic ninth title in Melbourne Park.

 

The showdown on the Rod Laver Arena was between two giants of the current game. Djokovic is the most decorated male player in Australian Open history and has recorded 11 consecutive wins over top 10 players in the tournament prior to the final. Meanwhile, Medvedev was on a 20-match winning streak with 12 of those victories being against a member of the top 10. However, a large majority of the encounter was dominated by the top seed who produced a total of 20 winners as he broke seven times en route to victory.

“I really like him as a person off the court. On the court, he’s definitely one of the toughest players I ever faced in my life,” Djokovic said of his rival during the trophy ceremony.
“It’s a matter of time that you will hold a Grand Slam for sure – if you don’t mind waiting a few more years…”

For the first time in the Open Era the men’s final was being contested by the first and fourth seeds in what was a battle from the onset. Playing on what he describes as his ‘home court’ Djokovic was the quicker of the two to settle into the match after a forehand down the line from the Serbian triggered a Medvedev error to give him a break en route to a 3-0 lead. Eventually Medvedev regained his footing as he gave his rival a dose of his own medicine by winning three games in a row to draw level. Both illustrated glimpses of their best tennis with sublime defensive play but it was the world No.1 who has the edge in the opener. Leading 6-5 a blistering Djokovic backhand passing shot handed him a trio of break points to clinch the set. He failed in his first two attempts, but it was third time lucky after the Russian fired a forehand shot into the net.

The thunderous hitting continued into the second frame as players started to contend with an increasingly animated crowd who had to be told repeatedly to stay quiet during points. One of the disturbances was a refugee protest which involved the removal of two people. On the court Djokovic once again traded breaks with his rival early on before pulling away with the help of some costly Medvedev mistakes. Prompting the world No.4 to smash one of his rackets out of anger and received a code violation for doing so as he fell behind 2-5. Medvedev’s mood deteriorated further in the next game as the top seed returned a serve deep to the baseline to clinch a two-set lead.

source – AusOpen Twitter

Winning all the mini battles that were fought, Djokovic’s offensive was one that drew his rival to despair who continuously made glimpses towards his camp in the crowd. Mentally Medvedev was done as Djokovic masterfully manoeuvred his way to the trophy once again. A three-game winning streak at the start of the third set placed him within touching distance of the win. Enough of a margin to see him over the finish live as he clinched victory on his first championship point after hitting an overhead volley. Prompting Djokovic to fall to the floor.

“I would like to thank my team,” said the nine-time champion. “It has been a roller-coaster ride for me, especially in the last couple of weeks but always a special thanks to you. You have dedicated so much time making sure I’m able to play and I am grateful to you. Thank you guys, I love you.’
“Last but not least, I would like to thank this court and the Rod Laver Arena. It’s a love affair that keeps going.”

It is the second time that 25-year-old Medvedev has lost in a major final after doing so to Nadal at the 2019 US Open. Although he remains one of the most likely candidates to take over the reign of the Big Three in the years to come. Since the start of 2020 he has won 38 Tour matches which is the third highest on the ATP after Djokovic and Andrey Rublev.

“(It’s) Never easy to speak when you just lost a Grand Slam final, but I’ll do my best!” said Medvedev.
“Congrats to Novak. Nine Slams in Australia is amazing and this won’t be your last one. Just to tell you a small story, I first met Novak when I was 500 or 600 in the world. I thought OK, he’s not going to speak to me, because he was world number one.’
“I was really shy. He was talking to me like I was a friend. He’s never changed – he’s always been a great sport and a great friend.”

The triumph has given Djokovic his 18th Grand Slam title which is just two away from the all-time record currently held by both Nadal and Roger Federer. He has now won a record nine titles in Melbourne Park which makes him only the second male player in history to have won the same major title that amount of times. Nadal has 13 French Open titles to his name. It is also the fifth time in his career Djokovic has successfully defended his title at the Australian Open.

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