Could Dominic Thiem Have Won The ATP Finals? In Tennis, One Point Is Enough To Turn The Tide - UBITENNIS
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Could Dominic Thiem Have Won The ATP Finals? In Tennis, One Point Is Enough To Turn The Tide

The last three matches of the 2020 Finals could have gone either way – Medvedev came out on top, but is there an alternative reality in which the Austrian, Nadal or Djokovic prevail?

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What is a uchronia? Wikipedia defines it as follows: “A genre of fiction based on the premise that the history of the world followed an alternative path with respect to the real one.” In literature, there are many famous examples of uchronic fiction: “The Swastika on the Sun” by Philip K. Dick and “The plot against America” by Philip Roth are among the first that come to mind.

 

Journalism should aim to report the facts as they unfold, as faithfully as possible, and is therefore impervious to uchronian scenarios. Frequently, however, while reading the recaps of hard-fought tennis matches that went to the wire, we have a feeling that, if not perhaps a uchronian narrative, at least science fiction had always been there, between the lines. How many times do the authors of these articles make explicit reference to what could have happened – and did not – if at a given moment of the match, a particular point won by one player had been won by his or her opponent instead…

The comments of our readers are often, in turn, short uchronic stories in which – perhaps because of a soft spot for one of the on-court protagonists – an alternative reality is described.

Partly for fun, and partly in order not to succumb to the boredom of these long days plagued by social distancing, we have chosen some points that – had they sported a different outcome – could have resulted in a different end-result in the last three matches of the ATP Finals which were played at the O2 in London a month ago. We called them… “sliding points” – let us proceed chronologically. 

First semifinal: Thiem beats Djokovic 7-5 6-7 7-6

SCENARIO

We are in the second set and Thiem is serving at 5-6, 15-40; he is therefore facing two consecutive set points, the first of which is our…

…SLIDING POINT

Thiem serves at 196 km/h, and Djokovic returns with a moderately deep shot. Thiem, with the forehand, tests again Djokovic’s backhand. It is a good drive, but at first sight not good enough to thwart a man blessed with the best two-handed backhand on tour and perhaps of all time… and yet, at that very moment the spirits of Jack Sock and Steve Johnson (respectively the worst backhand in the West and in the East) possess Djokovic’s body and make him hit an abysmal backhand that lands wide. 

The unspoken message on the Serbian’s face, in a close-up, is very clear, as to say: “Today is not my day.”

CONCLUSION

Djokovic had a correct foreshadowing of the future, and history would confirm it shortly thereafter. But what if he won that point? Surely it would have removed a lot from the drama of the match, because what happened in the decisive game of the second set will remain in the memory of the fans for a long time, but we believe that Nole would have gladly given up all of that epic in order to avoid the physical and mental fatigue that came with those 20 minutes of the first tie-breaker in order to arrive with a little more gas left in the waning moments of the ensuing set.

Second semifinal: Medvedev beats Nadal 3-6 7-6 6-3.

SCENARIO

Second set tie-breaker: Medvedev is serving at 4-3 in his favour, when, all of a sudden…

…SLIDING POINT

The Russian misses his first serve; on the second, Nadal takes over the rally and puts himself in a position to hit a forehand from just behind the net; the violent trajectory of the ball struck by the Spaniard meets the frame of Medvedev’s racquet, and is followed by a winning lob from the Russian. 

Some comedians would probably have jokingly called it “the point of the week”. Nadal – whose features increasingly remind us of actor Wes Study in the film “Geronimo” – with admirable composure just returns to his seat, raising his eyes to the sky, perhaps to ask Manitou for help. And Manitou won’t help him.

CONCLUSION

We might state the obvious by saying that, during a tie-breaker, one thing is to be chasing at 3-5 and quite another is to be tied at 4-4. But we do it trusting in your understanding by adding that the psychological factor when a tennis player feels victimised by fate can be decisive, even if the player in question is as mentally tough as Nadal. It seems to us that he was the first to be aware of it when he said in the post-match press conference: “I wasted a great opportunity.”

Last but not least the final: Medvedev beats Thiem 4-6 7-6 6-3.

SCENARIO

Thiem won the first set by closing it with a net-favoured shot that left many observers – and perhaps even himself – with the feeling that the gods of tennis were with him. The second set is going by rather quickly, and the two players find themselves tied on the score of 3-3, 30-40, with Medvedev serving to save a break point that feels like a match point, and which is our last…

… SLIDING POINT

Medvedev’s first serve goes out; the second one is a sluggish and central serve that travels as fast as 133 km/h which the Russian rushes towards the net as an ideal bull’s eye for Thiem’s ​​forehand; the Austrian seizes the opportunity immediately, and hits a violent stroke that forces Medvedev to make a purely defensive diving volley which by pure chance spins slightly backwards once it has barely crossed the net with an insidious, unpredictable effect. Thiem, however, starts running towards the ball as soon as it makes contact with Medvedev’s racquet and reaches it with enough time to place an apparently simple shot even for the standards of someone who – like him – hasn’t been gifted with great touch; Medvdedev’s fate seems sealed but Thiem puts the ball wide and subsequently stays standing there, petrified, with his eyes turned to his coach, who was at the moment no less aghast than him. An error that reminded us the infamous one backhand miss by Nadal in the fifth set of the final of the 2012 Australian Open against Djokovic.

CONCLUSION

If Thiem had sealed that point, he would have potentially found himself two service games away from victory. We cannot know what would have happened next, but the doubt that he lost this game more than Medvedev won it will be with us for a long time.

We would like to end this article with the words written by late writer and poet Vittorio Sereni. This great Lombard loved sport, and he wrote many essays and articles that have recently been collected in an anthology titled “Il verde è sommesso in nerazzurri” (Green is subdued in blacks and in blues). 

In an article on soccer, he writes: “I don’t think there is another sporting spectacle like this one, offering validation to the truth of existence, mirroring it or rather representing it in its up and downs, in its unexpected events, in its setbacks; and even in its stasis and repetitions; and in its monotony too… ” Mutatis mutandis, we believe that these thoughts can be applied to tennis as well. Do you agree? 

Article by Roberto Ferri; translated by Michele Brusadelli; edited by Tommaso Villa 

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Alejandro Davidovich Fokina beats Hubert Hurkacz to reach the quarter final in Montpellier

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Alejandro Davidovich Fokina came back from 1-3 in the opening set and converted four of the ten break points to claim a 7-5 6-2 win over Hubert Hurkacz in 1 hour and 34 minutes at the Open Sud de France in Montpellier. 

 

Hurkacz went up a break in the fourth game at deuce to take a 3-1 lead. Davidovich Fokina broke back in the fifth game at 15 and held serve to draw level to 3-3. Hurkacz saved a break point in the seventh game to hold serve after two deuces. Davidovich Fokina converted his second break point in the 11th game to win the first set 7-5. 

Hurkacz saved three break points in the third game of the second set, but Davidovich Fokina broke twice in the fifth and seventh games at deuce to win the final four games from 2-2 securing his spot in the quarter final. 

The 21-year-old Spanish player set up a quarter final against Egor Gerasimov, who knocked out Aljaz Bedene 6-4 7-6 (7-4) after 1 hour and 51 minutes. Bedene converted his second break point at deuce in the first game. Gerasimov broke back in the fourth game to draw level to 2-2. Gerasimov closed out the first set 6-4 with a break on his opportunity in the 10th game.

Bedene went up a break in the third game of the second set to take a 2-1 lead. Gerasimov broke back in the 10th game to draw level to 5-5. Gerasimov earned five match points at 6-1 in the tie-break. Bedene saved the first three chances, but Gerasimov closed out the tie-break 7-4 on his fourth opportunity. 

Roberto Bautista Agut cruised past Gregoire Barrère 6-0 6-3. The Spanish player built up a 6-0 2-0 lead with four consecutive breaks. Barrère came back by winning three consecutive games to take a 3-2 lead with a break in the fourth game. Bautista Agut reeled off four consecutive games with two consecutive breaks to win the second set 6-3 

Dennis Novak came back from 3-5 down by winning the final four games in the second set to beat Dusan Lajovic 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 after 1 hour and 35 minutes. Novak set up a quarter final clash against German Peter Gojowczyk, who came back from one set down to beat Juri Vesely 6-7 (3-7) 7-4 (7-4) 6-3 after 2 hours and 28 minutes. Gojowczyk hit 17 aces and won 86 % of his first service points. Gojowczyk saved four break points in the ninth game. Vesely earned two mini-breaks to win the tie-brek 7-3. The second set went on serve en route to the the tie-break. Gojowczyk earned one mini-break to win the tie-break 7-4. The German player converted his only break point in the second game to seal the third set 6-3.

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John Isner not happy with the cut in prize money for Miami Masters

John Isner took to Twitter to raise some issues about the ATP and latest state of affairs in Tennis.

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John Isner (@usta - Twitter)

The American took to social media to vent his frustration saying it doesn’t make sense.

 

John Isner took to twitter today after hearing the news that the Miami Open will be cutting its prize money down with the singles champion only taking $300,110 with a first round loser only winning $10,000 in prize money.

Isner and many other players on tour believe the tournament should be forced to due an audit to truly reveal what their finances are and to see if they are hiding anything.

“How about a true audit to see how much tourneys are actually hurting and then a money formula after the event to reconcile?”

“Amazing we still don’t have this in a lot of our big events. How does that make any sense?” 

He also tweeted about the promoters saying the system the ATP uses is broken.

The American also spoke of the unfairness in the cuts the players are taking in comparison to the actual events.

“So players should take a 60% cut and 80% champions cut while ATP executives keep full salaries, benefits, and expense accounts? Make that make sense. Seems just a little bit hypocritical, don’t ya think?”.

Isner finally believes the players should benefit from the tournament not just in the short term but over a long tenure.

““Tennis is plagued by conflict and lack of transparency”

The tournament is scheduled for March 23rd at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami and the tournament has confirmed they won’t be doing a quarantine like the Australian Open.

The players will need to provide a negative PCR test to board a flight to the US and once they land they will be tested once again and isolate until a negative result is shown.

The players will only be allowed at the hotel and the venue and any player who doesn’t respect the rules will be subject to penalties and be withdrawn from the tournament.

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Novak Djokovic’s Father Accuses Serbian Media Of Promoting ‘Ugly News’ Started By English Journalists

Srdjan Djokovic has defended his son by making a series of claims and describes him as a godlike figure to many.

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The father Novak Djokovic has hit out at the media in both his home country and the western world for not giving enough respect towards his son over the past decade.

 

Srdjan Djokovic has spoken out about the treatment of the 18-time Grand Slam winner less than a week after he triumphed at the Australian Open. On Sunday Djokovic defeated Daniil Medvedev in straight sets to win the tournament for an historic ninth time in his career. On the same day as the triumph it was confirmed that he played the tournament whilst suffering from a tear in the abdominal area.

Despite Djokovic’s recent success, Srdjan believes the world’s media doesn’t praise the achievements of his son enough and focuses too much on the negative side. In the past the tennis star has been under fire over the Adria Tour which he co-founded and the formation of the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) aimed at supporting his peers on the Tour.

“The agony has been going on for 10 years and they have extended it for another year, instead of surrendering nicely and realising Novak is the best in the world and let it go. Novak is incomparable,” Srdjan told Kurir.rs.

Continuing to express his frustration further, Srdjan has accused Serbian journalists of not ‘glorying and celebrating’ Djokovic. Alleging that his country’s media are promoting what he describes as ‘ugly news’ which originated from England.

“There’s always something wrong. And you journalists in Serbia, ask yourself when you will have such a miracle as Novak. Why don’t you glorify and celebrate him, through his character and work – look at this, you journalists need to ask yourself, you are actually generating public opinion and that is what is required of you,” he said.
“But all the evils and upside down are on the front pages and successes are put aside. I guess something will change, you know if I let someone tell me, come on, do this, do that … Why are you transmitting that ugly news stated by journalists from England, why are you transmitting it in our media, let them do what they want and we do what we want.”

Besides the media, Djokovic’s father also claims that ‘every normal person in the world’ loves the world No.1 who he describes as a ‘deity.’ A word used to describe god or goddess. He attributes the support from Chinese fans as to why Djokovic has enjoyed success in the country. He has won a total of 11 ATP titles in China.

Srdjan also took aim at the lack of recognition the 33-year-old receives for his charitable actions through his own foundation and his support of his peers.

“He is not only fighting for himself and his interests, but for other tennis players who can barely make ends meet,” he stated.
“We record something about all of Novak’s nice manners during his entire career, how he says goodbye to the opponent, how he is towards the host, how he extends his hand and kisses the opponent when he loses. Which athlete does that?
“Rarely has anyone ever received an award for fair play, and you know how many such awards Federer has – about fifteen.”

Recently journalist Milomir Marić has claimed the Western World wants to prevent Djokovic from becoming the best tennis player in the world. Although it is unclear as to what evidence he has used to make this statement. However, Srdjan believes it is only a matter of time before his son becomes the GOAT.

“They will not stop because they must understand that Novak is finally the best tennis player of all time and they will have to accept that because it is a fact and he comes from Serbia,” he concluded.

The men’s all-time Grand Slam title tally is currently jointly held by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer who have 20 each. Next month Djokovic will break Federer’s record for the most weeks spent as world No.1 on the ATP Tour.

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