Reilly Opelka ‘Frustrated’ By Djokovic Criticism Over Players Union - UBITENNIS
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Reilly Opelka ‘Frustrated’ By Djokovic Criticism Over Players Union

The American has praised the world No.1 over his decision to start the controversial PTPA.

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Reilly Opelka has jumped to the defence of Novak Djokovic over his decision to co-found the Professional Tennis Players Association (PTPA) earlier this year.

 

The world No.39 says the 17-time Grand Slam champion has been given negative press based on incorrect information concerning the PTPA. The individual union was created to campaign for players to have a greater say in the decision making process. Although there is a division in the sport over the move with members of the ATP Players Council urging their peers not to join. Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, who are both members of the council, have called for a more united front.

23-year-old Opelka is one of a group of players who have already joined the organisation which was co-founded by Djokovic and Canada’s Vasek Pospisil. It was officially launched during the lead up to this year’s US Open.

“I think it’s a great move. I think that it was just frustrating for me to see a guy like Novak, that gets the negative press on things that aren’t true, right?” the 23-year-old told Racquet Mag.
“He’s a really, really friendly guy. At the US Open, he’s at the point now, every time he’s entering a Slam, he’s going for history, as the greatest of all time. And he doesn’t need to take the time to come up to me after a match, and just talk, and ask how my knee’s doing. It’s not common. It’s not like we grew up together—we’re in different generations.’
“He’s very, very aware of the younger generations. He’s very aware of a lot of the women’s players. He loves tennis. He cares about the sport.”

At present it appears that the PTPA is struggling to reach common ground with the ATP despite Djokovic previously saying he believes the two can co-exist. During the ATP Finals in November the Serbian said he was barred from elections for the council due to a new rule change which prohibits somebody to join if they are a member of another organisation.

“This rule is a strong message from the ATP that they don’t want the PTPA at all or any player involved. It’s very clear.” He said.
“It’s unfortunate to see the ATP position is such as the rule they have voted on.‘
“Now we know where we stand and now we have to consider other strategic positions, and our next move in a different way.”

Jurgen Melzer, who is a current member on the ATP council, has hit back at those comments by describing them as ‘utter nonsense.’ He argues that statues surrounding eligibility have been in existence since 2006 and it was only logical that players can’t be part of two organisations. Although it is believed that by-laws have recently been adjusted.

Opelka hopes the PTPA will help address the issue of gambling in tennis after revealing that he has received numerous death threats from online bettors. He would like to see a push for gambling to become regulated which will lead to an increase in money being invested into tennis. In recent years Tennis’ governing bodies have clamped down on the issue following an extensive independent investigation into match-fixing.

“If you regulate the gambling—which is going to happen no matter what—and they make a lot of money. I know, because every time I lose, I get all these death threats. And tennis is a very bet-upon sport and it goes on all year,” he said.
“Gambling companies, I’m sure they want write-offs, and want to throw money into it. At the Challenger level—I think every single one should be played for $30,000. And you have guys from 75 to 200 playing for 30 grand at the Challenger level each week, expenses covered, that would be great. I think they’d be really happy about that.”

The PTPA is yet to publicly comment on this issue. They currently only have male backers but it is believed that they will open up to female members at some stage in the new year.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas sets up blockbuster third round match against Matteo Berrettini in Rome

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Stefanos Tsitsipas edged past Marin Cilic 7-5 6-2 to advance to third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Tsitsipas has improved his win-loss record to 28-7 this season, equalling Andrey Rublev for most match wins after Rublev beat Jan-Lennard Struff 6-7 (7-9) 6-1 6-4 earlier today. 

Tsitsipas had to save two break points in the ninth game to hold serve after four deuces. The 2021 Monte-Carlo Rolex Masters winner earned his crucial break in the 12th game to win a hard-fought first set 7-5. 

Tsitsipas was in control of the match and cruised to a 6-2 win in the second set with two breaks in the second and eighth games. 

“Sometimes I need to adjust my game and Marin is someone I respect a lot. I knew he was going to come out here and play his best tennis. He made move a lot. It was quite tricky to adjust to that at the beginning, but towards the very end of the first set I stayed calm and stayed calm and resilient. I had to play deep on the returns and find solutions from the baseline rallies. That worked well for me from 6-5”, said Tsitsipas. 

Tsitsipas set up a blockbuster third round match against last week’s Madrid Mutua Open finalist Matteo Berrettini, who beat John Millman 6-4 6-2 in front of fans, who will return on Thursday. Tsitsipas enjoyed the atmosphere on the Pietrangeli Stadium. 

“The Pietrangeli Stadium is very beautiful. It’s one of the best courts on tour. I feel like the Pietrangeli here is great. We are surrounded by trees in the city and it’s very quiet which is very important for tennis. Honestly, I can’t wait for the fans to come and fill in the stadium”, said Tsitsipas. 

Berrettini missed three consecutive break points in the third game of the opening set and earned his first break in the ninth game to take a 5-4 lead. The Rome-native star served out the first set at 15. Berrettini earned two consecutive breaks to race out to 4-0 lead. Millman saved a break point to hold serve in the fifth game, but Berrettini never looked back in his next two service games to claim the second set 6-2. 

Berrettini has improved with his each appearance in the Rome tournament, reaching the second round in 2018, the third round in 2019 and the quarter final in 2020. 

Tsitsipas beat Berrettini in their only head-to-head match at the 2019 Australian Open. 

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Alexander Zverev eases past Hugo Dellien to set up a third round match clash against Kei Nishikori in Rome

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This year’s Madrid Mutua Open champion Alexander Zverev cruised past qualifier Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 on Nicola Pietrangeli Court to move into the third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia in Rome. 

 

Zverev fired 27 winners and fended off all six of the break points he faced. The German won five consecutive games from 0-1 down with a double break to race out to a 5-1 lead and served out the opening set at 15 in the eighth game. 

Zverev went up a break in the third game to take a 2-1, but he had to save six break points in a 12-game fourth game. Zverev managed to hold serve after seven deuces before breaking serve in the fifth game to open up a 4-1 lead. The German served out the win on on his second match point in the eighth game. 

The  German star will face Kei Nishikori for the second time in two weeks. He beat Nishikori, Dan Evans, Rafael Nadal, Dominic Thiem and Matteo Berrettini last week at the Madrid Mutua Open en route to the fourth ATP Masters 1000 title of his career after claiming three previous trophies in Rome and Canada in 2017 and Madrid in 2018.  

Federico Delbonis didn’t face a break point and converted four of his nine break points in his 6-2 6-1 win over David Goffin. The Argentine player will take on Felix Auger Aliassime, who cruised past last year’s Rome finalist Diego Schwartzman 6-1 6-3. 

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Aslan Karatsev beats Danil Medvedev in all-Russian clash in Rome

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Aslan Karatsev beat his compatriot Danil Medvedev 6-2 6-4 after 1 hour and 18 minutes in an all-Russian match to move into the third round at the Internazionali BNL d’Italia at the Foro Italico in Rome. Karatsev has scored his fifth career win against top 10 opponents.

 

Karatsev has improved his win-loss record to 21-6 in his 27 matches this year, including the ATP 500 title in Dubai, the semifinal at the Australian Open and the final at the Serbian Open in Belgrade. 

Karatsev has scored his second top 5 win in the past month after taking an upset win over world number 1 Novak Djokovic in the semifinal in Belgrade. 

Karatsev earned a double break in the fifth and seventh games to open up a 5-2 lead. The 27-year-old Russian player earned another break in the seventh game with a volley to take a 4-3 lead. He never looked back and served out the win on his first match point in the 10th game. 

Karatsev won 90% of his first serve points and saved just one break point. 

Karatsev faced Medvedev for the first time in his career on the ATP Tour. They teamed up with Andrey Rublev at the ATP Cup in Melbourne last winter helping Russia win the final against Italy. 

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