Stefanos Tsitsipas Ousts Kokkinakis In Australian Open Epic - UBITENNIS
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Stefanos Tsitsipas Ousts Kokkinakis In Australian Open Epic

The world No.6 battled on court for more than four hours against a player who has only played three Tour matches in 18 months.

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Stefanos Tsitsipas (image via https://twitter.com/AustralianOpen)

Fifth seed Stefanos Tsitsipas overcame a huge second round scare against Thanasi Kokkinakis to seal a place in the last 32 of the Australian Open.

 

The Greek tennis star had to come from behind to edge out the injury-stricken world No.No.267 6-7(6), 6-4, 6-1,6-7(5), 6-4, during what was a marathon clash at Melbourne Park. Tsitsipas, who dropped just four games during his opening match against Gilles Simon, found the going significantly tougher in his latest encounter. Nevertheless, he managed to prevail with the help of 78 winners against 46 errors and managed to break the Australian’s serve five times.

The encounter was only the third competitive match Kokkinakis has played since the 2019 US Open. Since then, the 24-year-old has been sidelined by both injury and the pandemic. He has been blighted by injury throughout his career but has been ranked as high as 69th in the world back in 2015.

“Thanassi is a great competitor and a great fighter. It was very difficult facing him today. He’s a talent who has huge potential. I am pretty sure he knows it himself. He just needs to take advantage of it and make the best of his career,” Tsitsipas said during his on-court interview.
“He’s a great server, has all the weapons from the baseline. It was quite a difficult match.”

Tsitsipas’ biggest weapon against Kokkinakis was his serve as he remained unbroken throughout the match. Winning 86% of his first service points. Kokkinakis was also impressive behind serve but his occasional blips enabled the world No.6 to capitalise at times as he broke once in the second set followed by three more times in the third.

Trying to establish a stronghold in the match was a far from easy task for Tsitsipas who was unable to get a look at his opponents serve throughout the majority of the fourth set. Nudging ahead to a 5-4 lead and one game away from victory he elevated his intensity during a marathon Kokkinakis service game but still it wasn’t enough. Tsitsipas’ first match point occurred after a forehand from across the court landed out, however, he was unable to convert as they drew level once again.

Kokkinakis’ resistance eventually frazzled the mind of Tsitsipas who hit a duo of unforced errors during the second tiebreak to hand the Australian a 5-1 lead. Although he did recover to draw level again, the home favourite continued to play some inspired tennis. A serve out wide rewarded the underdog with a set point to force the clash into a decider which he converted after hitting a backhand down the line winner.

The titanic tussle continued into the decider with neither player being prepared to back down. Once again Kokkinakis delighted home fans by coming through another marathon service game which saw him save two break points to move ahead 2-1. However, two games later he was not as fortunate after hitting two consecutive errors to hand Tsitsipas a crucial break. Prompting him to drop his head in disappointment.

Back in the lead once again, Tsitsipas carefully manoeuvred his way to the finish line against a player who last played a five-set match at the 2017 US Open. Continuing to weather the storm he worked his way to match point opportunity number two more than an hour after his first after hitting a serve out wide which Kokkinakis returned into the net. Victory was then sealed with the help of another well placed Tsitsipas serve down the centre of the court which triggered another error.

I just want to go for an ice bath right now that is all I’m thinking,” the Greek proclaimed after playing for 272 minutes.

Tsitsipas will return to the court in two days to play Mikael Ymer in the third round. The Greek has been billed as one of the future stars of the sport to take over when the reign of the Big Three comes to an end.

“I think we are a great generation of players. There is so much variety and diversity among us so I think we are expected to see some good tennis in the next couple of years and it’s going to make it really interesting,” he said.
“I think it is going to be something more interesting than the top three right now.”

Coincidentally Ymer was a practice partner for Tsitsipas heading into the Grand Slam.

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Dominic Thiem Rules Federer Out Of GOAT Debate

The Austrian puts forward his theory on who should be regarded as the best player in history.

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Dominic Thiem; e-motion/Bildagentur Zolles KG/Martin Steiger, 27.10.2022

The honour of which player deserves to be regarded as the greatest of all time (GOAT) should be decided based on one factor, according to Dominic Thiem. 

 

The former world No.3 has weighed in on the debate by suggesting that the argument should be settled by the number of Grand Slam titles a player has won as they are the most prestigious tournaments in the sport. In tennis, the four major tournaments are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. 

Thiem’s GOAT criteria have therefore ruled Roger Federer out of contention. The Swiss maestro was at one stage the frontrunner due to the numerous records he has broken throughout his career. However, he retired from the sport last year with 20 Grand Slam trophies under his belt which is less than both Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic who are currently on 22 each. 

“In my opinion, the Grand Slam titles should be the defining criteria when determining the best of all time, they are the four most important tournaments in tennis,” Eurosport quotes Thiem as saying. 
“Everything else is fine, but it’s not the same. The Slams are what counts, so the GOAT will probably be the one with the most Grand Slams.”

Others will argue that more factors should be taken into account in the subjective debate. For example, Federer has won 103 ATP titles which are more than his two rivals, Djokovic holds the record for most weeks as world No.1 and Nadal has won more tournaments on clay than any other player in history. Furthermore, there is the players’ win-loss rate on the Tour and their records against the top 10 players. 

Recently at the Australian Open Djokovic won the men’s title for a historic 10th time in his career. An achievement that has been hailed by Thiem who was runner-up to the Serbian at Melbourne Park in 2021. 

“I am not very surprised, Djokovic still looks young,” he said. “Physically and mentally, because of the way he moves on the court. It’s like he was 25 years old.
“We have to be honest, he is the best, so his victory was not very surprising.”

Thiem has won one Grand Slam title which was at the 2020 US Open when he became the first man in the Open Era to come back from two sets down to win in the final. He has also been runner-up at the French Open twice, as well as the Australian Open once. 

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Novak Djokovic’s Australian Open Injury ‘Hard To Believe’ In The Eyes Of His Opponent

Some details surrounding Djokovic’s battle with a hamstring issue ‘doesn’t make sense,’ according to Enzo Couacaud.

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Image via Adelaide International Twitter

The only man to take a set off Novak Djokovic during the Serbian’s run to a historic 10th Australian Open title believes there are unanswered questions over his injury. 

 

France’s Enzo Couacaud took a set off the world No.1 before losing their encounter in the second round at Melbourne Park. At the tournament Djokovic was dealing with a hamstring problem which he picked up at the Adelaide International earlier this year. Throughout the tournament, he was wearing strapping on his leg and there was uncertainty about if he would be able to continue playing in the Grand Slam event. 

Despite the issue, Djokovic claimed a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title by disposing of Stefanos Tsitsipas in straight sets in the final. Afterwards his coach, Goran Ivanisevic, claimed that 97% of players would not have played if they were in a similar situation. The exact diagnosis of Djokovic’s injury hasn’t been addressed by his team but Australian Open director Craig Tiley said he suffered a 3mm tear. 

However, Couacaud has questioned the significance of the injury to begin with. During an interview with Tennis Actu, the world No.172 believes that some of the details appear to be ‘far-fetched’ as he draws parallels with Rafael Nadal, as well as footballer Kylian Mbappe.  

“Novak claimed he was playing with an injury, a big injury,” said Couacaud. “When athletes are injured in combat sports, they often can’t continue. When Rafael Nadal is injured, he can’t run. Kylian Mbappe, for example, is out for two weeks.
“And those are the greatest athletes, not those who don’t have access to top-notch care. It is therefore difficult to believe that only one man in the world can continue with an injury.
“When you take the examples of Nadal or Mbappe, but especially Rafa, with an injury to Wimbledon, he couldn’t even serve. When you see the greatest who can’t set foot on the pitch and another who wins a Grand Slam by playing every day for 15 days. It still seems a bit far-fetched.
“There are little things that don’t make sense to me. I was always told not to stretch with an injury. You saw Novak stretching all the time. You say to yourself, either they have a new method in Serbia, or it’s weird. Little things like that, he has his staff, but I’m too far to judge the authenticity of anything. It is true that it seems hard to believe.”

It is not the first time Djokovic has faced accusations that he has in some way exaggerated the significance of an injury. He encountered a similar situation during the 2021 Australian Open where he suffered an abdominal injury. After winning the tournament, he confirmed that he sustained a tear in the region. 

Speaking to journalists at Melbourne Park last month, the tennis star once again hit back at his critics and claimed that he was being singled out. 

“I leave the doubting to those people – let them doubt,” Tennis Majors quoted Djokovic as saying in Serbian following his fourth round win over Alex de Minaur. “Only my injuries are questioned. When some other players are injured, then they are the victims, but when it is me, I am faking it. It is very interesting… I don’t feel that I need to prove anything to anyone.
“I am not really interested at this point what people are thinking and saying. It is fun, it is interesting to see how the narrative surrounding me continues, narrative that is different compared to other players that have been going through similar situation. But I am used to it, and it just gives me extra strength and motivation. So I thank them for that.”

Djokovic has won 93 ATP titles during his career which is the fourth-highest tally in history. Only Ivan Lendl (94), Roger Federer (102) and Jimmy Connors (109) have won more. 

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Novak Djokovic ‘Hurt’ By Father’s Absence From Australian Open Final

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Novak Djokovic - Roland Garros 2022 (foto Roberto dell'Olivo)

Novak Djokovic said he mutually agreed with his father that he did not attend his latest Australian Open match but admits it was a bitter pill to swallow. 

 

Srdjan Djokovic had attended his son’s matches throughout the majority of the tournament but has recently been caught up in controversy. On Wednesday a video surfaced on social media of the 62-year-old posing for a photo with pro-Russian supporters with one of the fans waving a flag with the face of Vladimir Putin on it. Another fan was also wearing a t-shirt with the ‘Z’ symbol on it which is used to support the Russian army. 

The Russian and Belarussian flags were banned from the tournament this year following an incident in the first round. A Russian flag was shown during a match between Ukraine’s Kateryna Baindl and Russia’s Kamilla Rakhimova. Prompting anger from Ukraine with its ambassador to Australia calling for a ‘neutral flag’ policy to be implemented. 

Srdjan has since issued a statement saying the incident was ‘unintentional’ and said his family ‘only wish for peace in the world.’ He subsequently also missed Djokovic’s semi-final match to avoid any possible ‘disruption’ before doing the same for Sunday’s final.

“I thought things would calm down in terms of media and everything, but it didn’t. We both agreed it would probably be better that he is not there,” Djokovic said after beating Stefanos Tsitsipas to win a record-equalling 22nd Grand Slam title
“That hurts me and him (Srdjan) a lot because these are very special, unique moments. Who knows if they repeat again? So it was not easy for him.”

Whilst he was not in the stands, Djokovic was reunited with his father shortly afterwards. Although the tennis star said Srdjan ‘was not feeling his best’ due to the situation. 

“It is what it is. I think in the end also what he told me is that it’s important that I feel good on the court, I win the match, and he’s here for me,” Djokovic continued. 
“If it’s going to be better for me as the outcome of the match so that he’s not in the box, then so be it. That was the whole conversation.’
“In a way, I’m also sad that he was not there, present, in the stands. But he was throughout the entire tournament, so it’s fine. In the end, we have a happy ending.”

Djokovic has now won five out of the past seven Grand Slam tournaments he has played in. At the Australian Open alone he has won 28 matches in a row.

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