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 ‘Happy’ To Follow In Grandfather’s Footsteps At Olympics

The Greek speaks out about carrying his family’s legacy at the Games.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas never met his grandfather but the two of them do have something in common – they are both Olympians.

 

The world No.4 has already created history in Tokyo by winning his first round match against Germany’s Philipp Kohlschreiber on Sunday to become the first male player from his country to win a singles match since 1924. Greece has won two medals at the Games but both of them were during its inaugural edition back in 1896.

Tsitsipas’ debut in Tokyo enables him to continue his family legacy of playing in the sporting extravaganza. His grandfather was Sergei Salnikov who played football for the Soviet Union during the 1950s. In 1956 Salnikov was part of the team who won Olympic gold in Melbourne. After retiring from the sport, he went on to manage the FC Spartak Moscow and the Afghanistan national team before passing away in 1984 aged 58.

“I’ve never had the opportunity to meet him. But my mom told me stories of his career and how he got it…. He kind of inspires me in a way,” said Tsitsipas. “I know what kind of athlete he was, with all the achievements and all the trophies. I’m proud of him.
“It’s something good, a legacy that is being carried on in the family. I’m happy to be the next in the family to be competing at the Olympics.”

It isn’t just a medal in the singles Tsitsipas has his eyes on, he will also be bidding for success in the mixed doubles alongside Maria Sakkari. The two previously paired up at the 2019 Hopman Cup where they finished second in their group.

“We have already played once (together), and we had great success,” Sakkari told reporters on Monday. “We know each other really well, and we are much better players two-and-a-half years later, and we are both really pumped to play together. Of course, I cannot predict that we will get a medal. We will try our best and I think we give ourselves the best chance we can.”

Tsitsipas will return to action tomorrow in the men’s singles where he will play Frances Tiafoe in the second round.

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Carlos Alcaraz reaches his first ATP Tour final in Umag

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Spanish Next Gen star Carlos Alcaraz secured a spot in his first ATP tour-level final with a 6-2 7-6 (7-3) at the Plava Laguna Croatia Open in Umag. 

 

Alcaraz has become the youngest ATP Tour finalist since 18-year-old Kei Nishikori won the Delray Beach title in 2008. 

Alcaraz broke twice to open up a 4-0 lead and held his next service games to close out the first set 6-2. 

Ramos Vinolas came back from a break down three times in the second set, when Alcaraz served for the match. Alcaraz battled through the second-set tie-break to clinch the win after two hours. 

Alcaraz set up a final against Richard Gasquet, who battled past German qualifier Daniel Altmeier 7-6 (7-2) 3-6 6-3 after three hours and 11 minutes. 

Gasquet has become the second oldest finalist in tournament history. The 35-year-old saved seven of hi sten break points, but he converted just just 3 of his 17 break points.  

Gasquet rallied from a break down twice to draw level to 4-4 before winning the tie-break 7-2. Altmeier converted his third break point in the eighth game to win the second set 6-3. Altmeier saved three break points in the second game, before Gasquet converted his second break point in the sixth game to win the second set 6-3. 

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Novak Djokovic Cruises Past Dellien In Olympics Opener

Novak Djokovic’s bid for a historic golden slam continued in Tokyo.

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Novak Djokovic (@ITFTennis - Twitter)

Novak Djokovic cruised past Hugo Dellien 6-2 6-2 to open his bid for a gold medal at the Olympics.

 

The world number one’s bid to achieve the golden slam is on after thrashing the Bolivian in humid conditions.

A perfect start for the Serbian who is looking to achieve the one thing he is yet to achieve and that’s win a gold medal.

Next for Djokovic will be Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff.

In 32C temperatures, Djokovic was looking to start his campaign off against Bolivian veteran Hugo Dellien.

The slow paced courts would suit Dellien as he engaged in some long rallies with the world number one early on.

Despite creating three break points in the fourth game, Djokovic would fail to break early on.

However Djokovic increased his level mixing up the pace and depth of his shots to create angles for simple winners.

On his fifth break point Djokovic would break for a 4-2 lead and the top seed would break for a second time as Dellien had no answers for the Serb’s defensive skills. First set to Djokovic in 33 minutes.

A similar pattern evolved in the second set only this time Djokovic did get a break in the fourth game, breaking to love.

Accurate serving and construction of points gave Djokovic an easy first round match as another break secured the match and sealed his spot into the second round.

A fine performance in tough conditions gave Djokovic’s bid for history the best possible start.

Next for Djokovic will be Jan-Lennard Struff who beat Thiago Monteiro 6-3 6-4.

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