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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Daniil Medvedev Targets French Open Breakthrough After Rome Disappointment

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Daniil Medvedev believes there will be more title contenders at the French Open than previous editions with the Russian hoping to be one of them. 

The world No.4 heads into the Grand Slam after what has been a mixed clay swing. Medvedev suffered a third round defeat in Monte Carlo before bouncing back in Madrid where he reached the quarter-finals before retiring from his match with a minor injury. Meanwhile, at this week’s Italian Open, his title defence came to an end in the fourth round on Tuesday when he fell 6-1, 6-4, to Tommy Paul. 

“Mentally I had to be much better,” Medvedev said of his latest performance.
“I started to calm myself down and focus on the match only at the end of the match, and it was too late. I had to do better. I was expecting myself to play better.’
“It’s disappointing, but that’s how sport is. You lose and you go for the next tournament, which is a pretty important one.” He added. 

28-year-old Medvedev recently stated that he is seeing improvements in his game when it comes to playing on the clay. A surface which he has struggled on during stages of his career. Out of the 38 ATP Finals he has contested, only two of those were on the clay. Barcelona in 2019 when he finished runner-up and Rome last year which he won. 

As for the French Open, he has lost in the first round on five out of seven appearances. But did reach the quarter-finals in 2021 and the last 16 the following year. So could 2024 be his year?

“Now it’s maybe a little bit more open than it was ever before,” he said of this year’s event. 
“Good for me, too, because usually in Roland Garros I don’t play that well. The more open it is, the better it is for me.”

All of the top three players on the men’s tour are currently experiencing problems. Novak Djokovic crashed out of the Italian Open and recently underwent a medical assessment after getting hit in the head by a bottle in a freak accident. Jannik Sinner is reportedly on the verge of withdrawing from the French Open due to a hip issue and Carlos Alcaraz has been hindered by a forearm injury in recent weeks. 

“I’m feeling much better on clay,” Medvedev commented. “What is tough for me on clay sometimes is getting used to conditions. Every court – in every tournament in the world – is a bit different.
“On hard courts it’s the same: every court is different. On hard courts I have this ability to kind of quite fast get used to it. On clay, I need more time.”

Medvedev aims to become only the second Russian man in history to win the French Open after Yevgeny Kafelnikov in 1996. The tournament will begin a week on Sunday. 

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Says Expanded Masters Events ‘Playing A Massive Role’ In Player Injuries

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Credit Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis

Stefanos Tsitsipas has slammed the decision to extend the length of Masters 1000 tournaments to two weeks by warning that more injuries could occur in the future as a result. 

This week’s Rome Masters is taking place without two out of the world’s top three players. Jannik Sinner pulled out of his home event due to a hip injury and Carlos Alcaraz has been troubled by a forearm issue in recent weeks. Other players missing from the draw include Tomas Machac (Illness), Ugo Humbert (Left Knee) and Stan Wawrinka (Right Wrist). 

The tournament is taking place immediately after the Madrid Open which is also a Masters event that has been expanded to a two-week format in recent years. Supporters of the move argue that a bigger draw provides lower-ranked players with more opportunities to play in these events whilst others will have a day off between matches. 

However, world No.8 Tsitsipas isn’t completely happy with the schedule which he openly criticised on Monday following his 6-2, 7-6(1), win over Cameron Norrie. The Greek has won 12 out of 14 matches played on clay so far this season. 

“It’s a type of thing that hurt the sport a little bit, to have these types of things happen to the highest of the players,” Tsitsipas commented on his rival’s injuries.
“Without them, the show is not kind of the same. You have obviously the guys behind them (in the rankings). These kinds of tournaments deserve names like this to be playing and have the opportunity to play in front of these big stadiums and crowds.
“I’ve spoken about the fact that the schedule has a big toll on our bodies. It starts from the mental side, and it follows to the physical side. The extension of the days in the Masters 1000s I think plays a massive role and contributes a lot to the fact that these players are getting injured.”

The ATP’s extended format is set to be applied to seven out of the nine Masters 1000 tournaments from 2025. The only two yet to make or plan for such changes are Monte Carlo and Paris. However, Tsitsipas has called for changes to be made to the schedule.

“It was perhaps already a lot the way it was before with the seven-day events. Adding more days to that, well, you got to be some type of superhero to be consistent back-to-back 10 days in each event getting to the very end of it.” He commented.
“It’s not a very easy thing to do. Some people need to try it first to get an understanding and how it is to pull that off. Then they should make decisions based on that.
“I think this is not going to be the first time we see these types of things (player injuries). If these types of things continue with the same schedule not being adjusted or customized to the needs of the players, we might see more of these things occur in the future.”

It is not the first time a player has raised concerns about the extended format. Alexander Zverev previously said that the schedule is a disadvantage for the top players. Meanwhile, on the women’s Tour Caroline Garcia has criticised the move to expand WTA 1000 tournaments whilst Maria Sakkari said achieving the Madrid-Rome double has become harder to do

On the other hand, Daniil Medvedev has spoken in favour of the new format and describes injuries on the Tour as ‘part of the sport.’ The former US Open believes the issue is related to the quick surface changes players face and not the duration of tournaments. 

Tsitsipas will play Alex de Minaur in the fourth round of the Italian Open on Tuesday. 

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Novak Djokovic To Undergo Medical Check After Rome Thrashing, Bottle Incident

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Novak Djokovic – ATP Roma 2024 (foto: Francesca Micheli/Ubitennis)

Novak Djokovic has indicated that he will speak to doctors following his lacklustre performance at the Italian Open where he crashed out in straight sets. 

The five-time champion was far from his best against Chile’s Alejandro Tabilo as he struggled to generate any rhythm in his tennis or a single break point opportunity. Djokovic’s below-par performance caught many off guard, including the tennis player himself who admitted afterwards that he was ‘completely off’ his game. 

Trying to find the reason behind his latest performance, the world No.1 isn’t ruling out the possibility that it might be linked to an incident that took place at the tournament two days ago. Following his win over France’s Corentin Moutet, Djokovic suffered a blow to his head after a fan accidentally dropped a metal bottle from the stands. Immediately afterwards, he experienced nausea, dizziness and bleeding for up to an hour but was checked by medical officials.

“I don’t know, to be honest. I have to check that.” Djokovic replied when asked if the incident affected his form on Sunday.
“Training was different. I was going for kind of easy training yesterday. I didn’t feel anything, but I also didn’t feel the same.
“Today under high stress, it was quite bad – not in terms of pain, but in terms of this balance. Just no coordination. Completely different player from what it was two nights ago.
“It could be. I don’t know. I have to do medical checkups and see what’s going on. “

The tennis star said he managed to sleep fine after his head blow but did experience headaches. He looked to be in good spirits the day after it happened and even turned up to practice in Rome wearing a safety helmet.

Djokovic’s concerns come two weeks before the start of the French Open where he is seeking a record 25th Major title. He will undoubtedly be one of the contenders for glory but admits there is a lot of work that needs to be done in the coming days. 

“Everything needs to be better in order for me to have at least a chance to win it,” he said.
“The way I felt on the court today was just completely like a different player entered into my shoes. Just no rhythm, no tempo, and no balance whatsoever on any shot.
“It’s a bit concerning.”

The French Open will begin on Sunday 26th May. 

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