Quicker Courts An Unwanted Challenge For Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem At Australian Open - UBITENNIS
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Quicker Courts An Unwanted Challenge For Novak Djokovic, Dominic Thiem At Australian Open

Djokovic says the speed of the ball in Melbourne Park is quicker than it has ever been but how much of an issue will it be for him and others?

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Serving has always been a critical aspect of a players game but Novak Djokovic believes it could be more important in this year’s Australian Open than ever before.

 

The world No.1 is the latest player to voice his opinion about the speed of the courts at Melbourne Park as he described them as the quickest he has ever experienced. Quite a statement from the eight-time Australian Open winner who made his debut back in 2005. There were indications of how key the serve was during Djokovic’s fourth round clash with Frances Tiafoe which lasted more than three-and-a-half hours. In total 49 aces were produced in the match with 26 coming from the top seed.

If I serve well, it does help me,” Djokovic commented on the conditions.
“It is definitely more suitable for big servers. I’m not sure what is the reason why it keeps on getting faster and faster in terms of the speed of the court each year.’
“This is the fastest it has ever been. It’s not only my opinion. I’ve been talking to a lot of players. I mean, you just have to serve well. You can win a lot of free points there.”

Throughout his second round encounter the Serbian’s first serve speed was an average of 191kmh. To put that into perspective fast-server Milos Raonic averaged of 198kmh and Taylor Fritz was at 196kmh. Fritz is the next player Djokovic will play in the tournament followed potentially by the Canadian.

“If you face a big server, it’s huge pressure. If he goes comfortably through his games… I’m going to play Fritz in the next round, a big server and then potentially Raonic in fourth. You need a lot of accuracy on your serves but at the same time try to pick a side in those very rare moments in the set where you can break those guys,” the 17-time Grand Slam champion explained.

Dominic Thiem, who lost in the final of the tournament to Djokovic last year, is another who would rather be playing on the slower courts. Although the Austrian didn’t appear to be in too much trouble during his 6-4, 6-0, 6-2, win over Dominik Koepfer in the second round. Interestingly, his first serve speed average was just 3kmh less than Djokovic.

“I prefer last year’s courts, if I could choose,” he said.
“It’s probably one of the fastest Grand Slam tournaments I’ve played so far. We have to get used to it but if I had to choose I would have chosen the last year’s conditions.”

Due to different factors that contribute to the speed of a court such as how they are constructed and the weather conditions it is hard to establish a direct figure on any potential increase in speed. Although in one article published by Tennis Abstract in 2019 they reported a 12.9% increase in speed at the Australian Open within a three-year period which was more than any other Grand slam.

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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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Denis Shapovalov Advances After Pospisil Retires In Indian Wells

The battle of the two Canadians didn’t go as planned…

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Denis Shapovalov (CAN) Credit: AELTC/Edward Whitaker

Vasek Pospisil faced off against his fellow Canadian Denis Shapovalov in the second round of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells and it was the world number 13 who got the win after the Vernon native pulled out due to an injury whilst trailing 0-3.

 

It was a rough start for Pospisil who seemed to struggle with his serve in the opening game of the match and double-faulted twice in a row to give the early break and Shapovalov had no issues consolidating the break.

Shapovalov continued to apply pressure on the Pospisil serve and after saving two breakpoints the world number 68 pulled up after a serve and stopped play, calling for the trainer. He ended up taking a medical timeout off the court and a couple of minutes later returned to court. Pospisil was broken once again and the following game after a couple of returns decided to call it quits.

” It was pretty awful…and if I’m being honest I am shaking a bit…It really sucks I hope it’s nothing serious…He’s a great guy he’s a real warrior he’s fought back from some injuries surgeries to such a great level.” Shapovalov said of his compatriot.

Shapovalov will face 19th seed Aslan Karatsev in the next round after the Russian thrashed Salvatore Caruso 6-2, 6-0.

In the other results of the day sixth seeed Casper Ruud dominated Roberto Carballes Baena 6-1, 6-2, Roberto Bautista Agut beat the Argentine Guido Pella 7-5, 6-3 and Sebastien Korda won an all American battle with Frances Tiafoe 6-0, 6-4.

Finally, Diego Schwartzman needed three sets to beat another American in Maxime Cressy winning 6-2, 3-6, 7-5.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas Sidesteps Question Over Vaccination Status

The Greek also jokes that he will be having less bathroom breaks in Indian Wells due to one particular reason.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas has declined to confirm if he has received a COVID-19 vaccination despite previously saying he planned to do so later this year.

 

The world No.3 was questioned about the vaccination during his pre-tournament press conference at Indian Wells on Wednesday. Earlier this year Tsitsipas came under fire after saying he doesn’t see a reason why somebody his age needs to be vaccinated and expressed concerns over the potential side effects. He also added that young people catching COVID-19 is a good thing as it helps build up their immunity. Prompting criticism from various people, including a spokesperson for the Greek government.

However, in recent weeks Tsitsipas has changed his stance on the issue and recently told Antenna TV that he will have his first dose by the end of this year. When asked by a reporter in Indian Wells if he has had it yet, the French Open finalist declined to answer.

I’m sorry but I’m not able to provide any of my medical records,” he said.

Player vaccination rates in tennis are becoming a growing issue amid reports that the Australian Open may only allow fully vaccinated players to participate due to a health mandate which has been implemented by the local government. There is yet to be a formal announcement by Tennis Australia regarding their entry requirements. However, The Age newspaper reports that there is a ‘strong likelihood’ that only vaccinated players will be allowed entry by Chief Health Officer Brett Sutton.

Tsitsipas’ immediate focus is on this week’s BNP Paribas Open where he is the second seed behind Daniil Medvedev. Speaking about the conditions, the 23-year-old joked it was ‘very dry’ and therefore he will be having less bathroom breaks during matches. Referring to the recent criticism he has received from some of his peers over the timing of breaks he takes.

“It’s very dry here,” Tsitsipas said.
“That is good for me because I sweat less, which makes for less bathroom breaks, which makes for less complaints. So a very good sign so far,” he added with a smile.

The hope for Tsitsipas is that he will be able to build on his recent experience at the Laver Cup where he helped Europe secure their fourth consecutive title. The event provides players with the opportunity to work alongside each other in a team format. Something Tsitsipas relished but he is ready to get back to singles duty.

“I think team competitions are necessary for our sport and we don’t get to be united a lot,” he said. “We always kind of focus on ourselves and our things and environment and that is what you usually see on Tour. Players doing their own thing. Not much socialising.
“At the Laver Cup, we all get to have dinners together and all get to hang out with each other. Of course, though, we all have our competitiveness and if we get stuck around we might share too much with one another, that is the mentality behind it.”

Tsitsipas is yet to win a main draw match in Indian Wells. He will start his 2021 bid against either qualifier Roberto Marcora or Spain’s Pedro Martinez.

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