Novak Djokovic Battles Through The Pain To Australian Open Win - UBITENNIS
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Novak Djokovic Battles Through The Pain To Australian Open Win

The 17-timer Grand Slam champion rallied to a three-hour win at Melbourne Park amid speculation over his current fitness.

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Novak Djokovic has kept his Australian Open chances alive on Sunday as he continues to deal with an injury issue that has hampered him since Friday.

 

After missing a day of training yesterday the world No.1 fought his way to a 7-6(5), 4-6, 6-1, 6-4, win over Milos Raonic in the fourth round. The late-night encounter, which ended at 12:25am local time, was by no means a walk in the park for the Serbian who looked to be in discomfort during stages of the match and let out bursts of frustration. Nevertheless, he managed to survive the test with the help of 41 winners and 10 aces.

It’s (the injury) is good enough to compete and play. Obviously I wouldn’t be here if I wasn’t in the condition that is sufficient for me to get onto the court and give myself a chance to win a match,” Djokovic told Eurosport’s Game, Schett and Mats.
“It’s not ideal. I felt better (today). I didn’t have much of a preparation for this match and I haven’t hit any tennis balls since two nights ago.”

Djokovic headed into his fourth round encounter with a massive injury cloud looming over his head following the misfortunes of two days ago. In his previous match the eight-time champion struggled with an abdominal injury during what he described as ‘one of the most special wins’ of his career. Labelling the issue as a muscle tear, he also cast doubt on playing against Raonic to begin with.

Initially it appeared as if those physical woes were a thing of the past for the world No.1 who started the match moving freely around the court in typical Djokovic fashion. Twice during the opener he had a chance to break his opponent but failed to capitalize due to some blistering serving from Raonic. There was little to distinguish between the two throughout the opener but there were some slight indicators that the top seed was still experiencing some sort of discomfort.

Amid the glimpses of pain on his face, Djokovic continued to battle on the Rod Laver Arena with the help of some costly Raonic unforced errors in the opening tiebreak. Coming out on top in a 18-shot rally the world No.1 worked his way to a trio of set points. He failed to convert his first but had better luck on his second attempt after a shot from his opponent crashed into the net.

Image via Australian Open Twitter

The proceedings came to a temporary halt during the early stages of the second set due to a medical time out but it was Raonic who needed assistance. The former top-10 player had treatment on his right foot which was taped up. Resuming play it was the Canadian who drew blood by breaking for the first time with the help of a forehand cross-court winner. The breakthrough was enough to guide him to levelling the match and taking a set off Djokovic for the first time in a major in his career.

Perhaps the best painkiller for Djokovic occurred during the third frame after he broke Raonic two consecutive times. It was visible that he was far from his best in terms of physicality but still he managed to find a way to tame his rival who started to falter with his own game.

Fighting his way to the finish line Djokovic continued to contend with some heavy hitting from Raonic before finally prevailing in the fourth. A patchy Raonic service game saw him produce a series of errors, which enabled a rejuvenated Djokovic to break once again but this time it handed him the chance to serve the match out. A task he achieved with relative ease.

“I warmed up a couple of hours before tonight’s match and I wanted to see how I feel. If I wasn’t in a condition I would have pulled out,” the world No.1 stated afterwards.
“It’s a Grand Slam and for me at this stage of my career it means everything. The four events of the year I give everything I have in me to have a chance to compete. If it was any other tournament I probably wouldn’t be playing.”

Seeking to close in on the all-time Grand Slam record which is currently jointly held by Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer, Djokovic has pledged to give his all. Although he admits that his determination might backfire on him. 

“Right now it is all about recovery. I’m not thinking about any training or anything. I just want to feel better as the tournament progresses,” he said.
“Because I have been on very strong painkillers for 48 hours I don’t know exactly the damage that is being done but there is a risk of more damaged being done than before.”

Through to the quarter-finals of the Australian Open for the 12th time in his career, the 33-year-old will next lock horns with Germany’s Alexander Zverev. A player who he leads 5-2 in their head-to-head and defeated at the ATP Cup last month. Zverev defeated Dusan Lajovic in straight sets during his fourth round match.

You’ve got to play your best tennis, especially here (at the Australian Open,” Zverev previewed. “This is his favourite court, his favourite tournament. To be able to have a chance against him, you have to be playing extremely well.’
“You have to be playing aggressive tennis being the one that dominates.’
“I’m looking forward to the challenge. I think it’s one of the toughest challenges in our sport to be playing Novak at this Grand Slam in later rounds.”

It will be the second time Djokovic has played Zverev in a Grand Slam after the 2019 French Open.



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‘I Know How To Get There’ – Karen Khachanov Targets Return To Top 10

The world No.31 has showed signs of his talent this season with a run to the Olympic final but a lack of consistency and changes to the ATP ranking system has hindered him too.

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Karen Khachanov - Credit: AELTC/Ian Walton

It wasn’t that long ago when Karen Khachanov was the highest-ranked Russian man on the ATP Tour and billed as the next big thing from his country.

 

A breakout 2018 season saw Khachanov claim three Tour titles with the biggest of those being at the Paris Masters which remains his most prestigious trophy to date. He also reached his first major quarter-final at the French Open during the same season and scored five wins over top 10 players. Those triumphs helped elevate him in the ranking to a high of eight.

However, since that breakthrough Khachanov has found himself on a a rollercoaster journey. He is yet to win another title since Paris but came agonisingly close at the Tokyo Olympic Games where he finished runner-up to Alexander Zverev. In his nine previous Grand Slam tournaments his best run was at Wimbledon this season where he reached the last eight before losing to Denis Shapovalov.

Now ranked 31st in the world, the 25-year-old is aiming to claim back up the ladder after the ATP changed their ranking logic to the method used prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The rankings turned out to be a big pun, it was frozen for a year and a half, only now normal counting has begun. I am not fixated on this,” Khachanov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday. “My main goal is to get back to the Top10. I know how to get there. And the intermediate goals are to be healthy and motivated.”

Khachanov has been ranked outside the world’s top 20 since February and hasn’t been in the top 10 since October 2019. He is currently coached on the Tour by Jose Clavet who has previously worked with a series of top Spanish players such as Feliciano Lopez, Alex Corretja, Tommy Robredo and Carlos Moya.

“He travels with me everywhere, for which I am grateful to him. I trust him as a specialist, as a coach and as a friend,” Khachanov said of Clavet.

Khachanov has returned to his home country this week where he is playing in Moscow at the Kremlin Cup. A tournament he won three years ago by defeating Adrian Mannarino in the final. Seeded third in the draw this time round, he began his campaign on Wednesday with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-1, win over James Duckworth. In the next round, he faces another Australian in the shape of John Millman which he believes will be a far from easy task.

He is a fighter, a complete player, he does everything well, forehand and backhand with good intensity. He does everything at a good level, but the main quality is that he fights till the end, so it will be hard for me,” he said of his next opponent.

Moscow is the seventh tournament this year where Khachanov has reached the quarter-final stage.

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Filip Krajinovic To Skip Australian Open If Required To Quarantine For More Than Five Days

The world No.34 says he ‘sees no reason’ why vaccinated players should have to go through a long quarentine in Australia.

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Image via twitter.com/atptour (Alexander Scheuber)

The second highest-ranked Serbian player in men’s tennis says it would be ‘unacceptable’ for organisers of the Australian Open to require players to quarantine for more than a week if they have been fully vaccinated.

 

Filip Krajinovic has become the first player to publicly state that they will not be prepared to travel to Melbourne at the end of this season if they have to go through strict quarantine measures once again. All the players who participated in this year’s Australian Open were required to be quarantined in a designated hotel for 14 days upon arrival in the country. During their stay they were allowed to use training facilities but that was the only time they could leave the premises unless there was an emergency.

There is no final decision regarding the travel requirements for the 2022 tournament but there are concerns that unvaccinated players may not be allowed to enter the country. The Victorian government recently issued a mandate ordering all essential workers to be vaccinated, including athletes. However, the regional government will not have the final say concerning tennis players arriving in the country with the national government being the ones in charge of that decision.

“They are very rigorous there and honestly, if I have to be in quarantine for 14 days after arriving in Melbourne, I will not go to Australia,” Krajinovic told Serbian newspaper Blic.
“I was vaccinated, I did everything in my power to protect myself and the people around me, so I really see no reason to sit there for 14 days in a room.’
“If they (the organisers) say that after arrival I need, say, five days to be in isolation, that’s OK for me, but anything beyond that is unacceptable to me. With the season ending late, I will have 20 days to get ready and go. Charter flights will be organized again and the last one is planned for December 28 for the players and that is the final date when I can go to Australia. I will see what the final decision from Melbourne will be, so I will cut what is the best thing to do.”

Earlier this week Victoria’s Sports minister Martin Pakula urged players to be vaccinated because it give them ‘the best opportunity to play in the Australian Open.’ It is expected that if unvaccinated players are allowed to attend, they will be subjected to stricter restrictions. This might include a longer quarantine period upon arrival and limitations of where they can go during their stay.

Last year, all of those players had to do their 14 days of quarantine. Right now there looks like there will be different rules for people who enter this country who are vaccinated as against unvaccinated and I don’t think the tennis will be any exception to that.” Pakula told the Sports Entertainment Network (SEN).
“In terms of what rules apply for people to enter Australia, whether unvaccinated people are allowed in at all, I don’t the answer to that yet. That’s going to be the subject of discussion at national cabinet and among the federal cabinet … those rules are not set by state governments.” He added.

Krajinovic is currently ranked 34th in the world and has a win-loss record this season of 18-18. At the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells he reached the second round before falling in straight sets to Daniil Medvedev. His best run so far this year was at the Hamburg Open where he reached the final.

“When we look at the whole of 2021, I played one final, one semifinal, there were good victories, but also worse results,” the 29-year-old commented.

Krajinovic is currently without a coach but is currently in ‘negotiations’ with somebody without elaborating further about who that person is.

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Alexander Zverev Secures Place In ATP Finals With Indian Wells Win

Zverev will be seeking to win the season-ending extravaganza for the second time in his career.

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Alexander Zverev (GER) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Germany’s Alexander Zverev has become the fourth player to officially qualify for the ATP Finals after reaching the third round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells.

 

The world No.4 defeated America’s Jenson Brooksby 6-4, 3-6, 6-1, in his second round match on Sunday which pushed him over the points threshold to secure his spot in the end-of-season event. It is the fifth year in a row he has qualified for the ATP Finals which he won back in 2018. He is one of only three German players to ever win the title after Boris Becker and Michael Stich.

This year’s tournament will take place in Turin, Italy for the first time in history after being held at The O2 Arena in London for more than a decade. Only the eight highest ranked players are eligible to play in the round-robin tournament which has on offer up to 1500 rankings points for an undefeated champion.

“My first time in Turin. I’ve been to London four times before. London is obviously very special to me because I won there, as well. I think the stadium is incredible, one of the most special events that we had,” Zverev told reporters on Sunday.
“But I also love playing in Italy. I had great success in Italy. I won my first Masters in Rome. I’m looking forward to being there. I’m looking forward to playing in front of the Italian fans. It’s going to be a great week.”

The 24-year-old approaches the final quarter of this season with four titles already won this year. He has won two Masters 1000 trophies, an ATP 500 event in Mexico and a gold medal in singles at the Tokyo Olympic Games. Zverev, who has recorded seven wins over top 10 players, also reached the semi-finals at both the French Open and US Open.

Zverev joins Novak Djokovic, Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas as the players who have qualified for the ATP Finals so far. It is the third straight season the quartet has qualified for the event.

This year’s ATP Finals will get underway on November 14th. Medvedev is the defending champion.

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