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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Novak Djokovic Confirmed For Olympics But Del Potro Pulls Out After Medical Advice

The Serbian will be bidding to win gold in Tokyo later this year for the first time in his career.

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This year’s Olympic tennis tournament has been given a boost after officials confirmed world No.1 Novak Djokovic will be playing at the Games.

 

The 19-time Grand Slam champion had been contemplating whether to play at the event or not amid ongoing COVID-19 conditions. Djokovic previously said he would reconsider travelling to Tokyo if fans weren’t allowed to attend. Since that comment, organisers have given the green light for up to 10,000 domestic fans to attend Olympic venues. Although foreign fans are banned from attending this year due to the pandemic.

Amid questions over Djokovic’s participation, the Serbian Tennis Federation has told Sportski Zurnal that he has pledged to play. It will be the fourth time the 34-year-old has represented his country in the Olympics. So far in his career, Djokovic has only won one medal which was bronze back in 2008. He also finished fourth in 2012.

“Novak has confirmed his desire to participate in the Olympic Games and we have already sent a list with his name on it to the Olympic Committee of Serbia. It will be forwarded from there,” the Tennis federation told Sportski Zurnal.

As it currently stands Djokovic is on course to achieve the calendar ‘golden slam.’ A rare achievement where a player wins all four Grand Slam titles, as well as the Olympics, within the same year. In singles competition the only person to have ever achieved this was Stefi Graf back in 1988.

“Everything is possible, and I did put myself in a good position to go for the Golden Slam,” Djokovic said after winning the French Open
“But, you know, I was in this position in 2016 as well. It ended up in a third-round loss in Wimbledon. This year we have only two weeks between the first round of Wimbledon and the finals here, which is not ideal because you go from really two completely different surfaces, trying to make that transition as smooth as possible, as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“So obviously I will enjoy this win and then think about Wimbledon in a few days’ time. I don’t have an issue to say that I’m going for the title in Wimbledon. Of course, I am.”

Del Potro’s comeback delayed again

There is less positive news for Juan Martin del Potro, who was the player who beat Djokovic to win a bronze medal back in 2012. The Argentine hasn’t played a competitive match on the Tour since June 2019 due to a troublesome knee injury. Back in March the former US Open champion said playing at the Olympics again was motivating him during his rehabilitation.

However, since then progress has been slower than what Del Potro would have liked. As a result, he has been advised not to play in the event and continue his recovery.

Delpo won’t be able to play the Olympics Games. The knee rehab is going well according to the doctor’s plan but he suggested Juan Martin to go on with his rehab process and training, and skip Tokyo 2020,” a statement from Del Potro’s communication team reads.

Since 2010, the former world No.3 and two-time Olympic medallist has undergone eight surgeries.One on his right wrist, three on his left wrist and four on his knee. He has won a total of 22 ATP titles so far in his career.

The Olympic Tennis event will start on July 24th at the Ariake Coliseum.

RELATED STORY: Why Are So Many Tennis Players Skipping The Olympics?

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Vasek Pospisil dispatches James Ward in Eastbourne

Vasek Pospisil is into the second round at Eastbourne.

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Vasek Pospisil (@TennisCanada - Twitter)

The Canadian won his first match on grass of the year beating the local favourite James Ward.

 

Vasek Pospisil is through to the second round of the Viking International ATP 250 in Eastbourne after beating the Brit James Ward in straight sets 6-4, 6-4 in one hour and 13 minutes on court number two.

“It was a good match, I played pretty well, I thought I served well and he is a tough opponent on grass because he has a tough first serve but I was pretty sharp and played well when I needed to and happy to get the win”.

It was the Canadian who had the first chance to break at 1-1 and he got the early break and that one break was good enough for him to serve out the first set.

The second set was much of the same and actually was identical to the first with the world number 66 getting the break to take a 2-1 lead but faced a breakpoint when consolidating the break.

Again that one break was enough for him to serve out the match and book his spot in the next round. This is Pospisil’s first win since the month and after the match, he spoke about how the last couple of months have been for him.

“It was good I just took a break from the tour just to refresh the mind and the body and I hadn’t seen my family in nine months so it was a good reset and I felt I needed a break to kinda be excited about touring and the covid conditions and now I’m back and I am happy to be back and I am playing well so it was a nice break.”

Pospisil will now face Alejandro Davidovich Fokina in the next round after the Spaniard beat the Swede Mikael Ymer in straight sets 7-5, 6-1.

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Daniil Medvedev Searching For Confidence Boost Ahead Of Wimbledon

The two-time Grand Slam finalist says he is not the same player as he was two years ago when he last played Wimbledon.

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When it comes to playing on the grass this year Daniil Medvedev admits that the biggest issue for him might concern the mental side of the sport as opposed to the physical side.

 

The world No.2 kicked-off his grass swing last week in Halle where he was stunned in the first round by Germany’s Jan-Lennard Struff. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic disrupting the Tour in 2020, that was the first time the Russian had played a match on the surface in almost two years. Short on matches, Medvedev is back in action this week in Mallorca after taking a wildcard into the tournament.

“I like to play on grass, I just need to get some confidence in my game on the surface, because we didn’t play [on it] for two years. Two years ago, I was not the same player as I am right now,” Medvedev told atptour.com. “It is tough for me to say where I see myself, but I know I can play very good on this surface. I just need to find the right balance.”

Since he last played at Wimbledon, Medvedev surged on the ATP Tour by winning six titles with all of them being on a hardcourt. Furthermore, he also reached the final of the US Open in 2019 and the Australian Open this year. He is the first player outside of the Big Four to be ranked in the world’s top two since July 2005.

Despite his previous success on the grass, Medvedev admits he remains wary about playing on the surface and the conditions he may face.

“When I started playing on grass, I played in Challengers and even in [ATP] Tour tournaments on the outside courts, not on the central courts, and I can tell that the central courts are quite slow,” he said. “Especially the match I played with Gilles Simon at Queen’s [Club], we had rallies of 40 shots every second point. That is what makes it a little bit tougher.
“When I practise on practice courts, I feel like I am playing so good as the ball is so fast. Then I come onto the centre court to play the match, and the ball just stops after the bounce, and you have to adapt your game, so it can be tough. But I know I can play really well on grass.”

In Mallorca Medvedev has a bye in the first round. His opening match will be against either South Africa’s Lloyd Harris or France’s Corentin Moutet.

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