Curfew Drama Overshadows Novak Djokovic’s French Open Win - UBITENNIS
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Curfew Drama Overshadows Novak Djokovic’s French Open Win

After being taken to five sets in his previous match against Lorenzo Musetti, Djokovic was in fierce form throughout his latest encounter at Roland Garros.

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Top seed Novak Djokovic battled his way into the last four of the French Open after overcoming some stern resistance from Italy’s Matteo Berrettini.

 

The world No.1 produced some emphatic defensive skills throughout his roller-coaster 6-3, 6-2, 6-7(5), 7-5, win on Court Philippe Chatrier. Against the world No.9 he blasted 44 winners and broke four times en route to winning his 79th match at Roland Garros. The latest win has also secured another historic milestone for Djokovic with him being only the second man in the Open Era to have reached a 40th Grand Slam semi-final after Roger Federer.

“He was playing some really powerful tennis. Especially in the third and fourth he served tremendously strong and precise. It was just very difficult to read his serve and play someone like him,” Djokovic commented on Berrettini’s performance.

Although the talking point quarter-final concerned the controversial decision by organisers to start the match at 8pm local time which allowed just a three-hour gap before Paris went into curfew. Five games after Berrettini clinched the third set, fans were left furious after being evicted from the venue with players being taken off the court. Even more baffling was the decision by organisers to halt proceedings at 11pm when those attending had already broke curfew instead of stopping it 30 minutes or so before.

“I didn’t mind actually leaving the court because I felt like I needed a little bit of a break and reset,” said Djokovic. “It’s unfortunate for the tournament and for the crowd to have that curfew. But we knew before the match. Referee came up to us and said, If it comes close to 11:00, we’ll have to empty the stadium. That’s what happened.’
“I’m happy that I had that experience of playing in front of the crowd in the night session.” He added.

The Wednesday night showdown was a historic occasion at the French Open with it being the first time a night session had been played in front of a crowd following a relaxation of national restrictions on the same day. Taking to the court Djokovic looked determined from the onset as Berrettini provided him with plenty of challenges early on. In both of his opening service games the world No.1 fended off break points as he tamed a series of thunderous shots from the Italian with some sublime defensive play. Djokovic secured his first breakthrough four games in after a Berrettini forehand drifted wide which enabled him to break for a 3-1 lead. That single break was enough of a margin for him to close out the set, which he did with a love service game.

Gaining momentum, the 18-time Grand Slam champion continued to apply the pressure in the second frame as he won eight consecutive points behind his serve. Berrettini, who had the support of an animated crowd, was unable to find any answers. The former champion surged to a 5-2 lead with the help of a double break. Serving for a two-set lead, he sealed it with a forehand shot which prompted an unforced error from his rival.

It looked as if Djokovic was on course for a straight sets triumph but a resurgent Berrettini had other ideas. Edged on by an highly animated crowd, the Italian rediscovered the power of his serve as he matched him game-by-game until a nerve-stricken tiebreaker. Djokovic moved to just two points from victory with two serves at his disposal. However, a tight backhand crashed into the net handed Berrettini set point, which he converted with a blistering forehand down the line. Prompting an almighty roar from him.

The tussle between the two caused a headache for officials. The fourth frame started 30 minutes before the curfew was imposed, meaning fans would have to evacuate the venue before the match finished. Eventually the match was halted amid booing and jeering from fans angry they had to leave in what was one of the most unusual situations to ever occur at the tournament.

Returning to the court in almost silence after a 20-minute delay, both players continued to valiantly battle. A nasty fall failed to deter the Serbian as he edged closer towards the finish line. Leading 6-5 he had his first match point but failed to convert due to a Berrettini serve out wide. Then on his second failed attempt a furious Djokovic screamed at his team out of frustration and then kicked one of the boards at the side of the court. Two points after that mini meltdown he prevailed with the help of a Berrettini shot going into the net.

Djokovic will next lock horns with nemesis Rafael Nadal for a place in the final. The Spaniard has won more matches at Roland Garros than any other player in history and is bidding to win the men’s title for a record 14th time. He narrowly leads their head-to-head 29-28 but lost their most recent clash at the Italian Open earlier this year.

The quality and the level of tennis that I’ve been playing in the last three, four weeks on clay – Rome, Belgrade and here – is giving me good sensations and feelings ahead of that match. I’m confident. I believe I can win, otherwise I wouldn’t be here,” he said.

It is the 11th time in Djokovic’s career that he has reached the semi-finals of the French Open.

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Updated Entry Lists For Eastbourne, Mallorca

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Photo by mallorca-championships.com

Two ATP 250 events will be played on grass before Wimbledon, with a new tournament taking place in Mallorca (Spain).

 

The third week of the shortened grass-court season will see two ATP 250 events being played in Eastbourne (Great Britain) and Mallorca (Spain) from the 20th to the 26th of June. Eastbourne has been hosting a grass-court tournament since 2009, when it took the place of Nottingham in the ATP Tour’s calendar, while the Mallorca Championships is a new event.

World’s number one Novak Djokovic plans to play doubles in Mallorca, while Dominic Thiem and Daniil Medvedev have received a Wild-Card in the singles draw. The defending champion Taylor Fritz has withdrawn from Eastbourne due to injury.


ATP 250 Eastbourne (GBR, Grass), entry list:
Monfils, Gael (FRA)
De Minaur, Alex (AUS)
OUT Wawrinka, Stan (SUI)
Karatsev, Aslan (RUS)
Sonego, Lorenzo (ITA)
Basilashvili, Nikoloz (GEO)
OUT Fritz, Taylor (USA)
Opelka, Reilly (USA)
Davidovich Fokina, Alejandro (ESP)
Ramos-Vinolas, Albert (ESP)
Bublik, Alexander (KAZ)
OUT Paire, Benoit (FRA)
OUT Krajinovic, Filip (SRB)

Norrie, Cameron (GBR)
Millman, John (AUS)
Fucsovics, Marton (HUN)
OUT Cilic, Marin (CRO)
Djere, Laslo (SRB)
(SE)
(SE)
(WC)
(WC)
(WC)
Alternates:
IN Bedene, Aljaz (SLO)
IN Koepfer, Dominik (GER)
IN Nishioka, Yoshihito (JPN)
IN Popyrin, Alexei (AUS)
IN Pospisil, Vasek (CAN)

Alt.1 Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried (FRA)
Alt.2 Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
Alt.3 Ruusuvuori, Emil (FIN)


ATP 250 Eastbourne (GBR, Grass), qualifying:
Tiafoe, Frances (USA)
Ruusuvuori, Emil (FIN)
Gerasimov, Egor (BLR)
Kwon, Soonwoo (KOR)
Herbert, Pierre-Hugues (FRA)
Gombos, Norbert (SVK)
Ivashka, Ilya (BLR)
Seppi, Andreas (ITA)
Duckworth, James (AUS)
Bagnis, Facundo (ARG)
Ymer, Mikael (SWE)
Anderson, Kevin (RSA)
Kukushkin, Mikhail (KAZ)
Kuzmanov, Dimitar (BUL)
(WC)
(WC)
Alternates:
Alt.1 Mahut, Nicolas (FRA)
Alt.2 Viola, Matteo (ITA)
Alt.3 Klein, Lukas (SVK)



ATP 250 Mallorca (ESP, Grass):
Carreno Busta, Pablo (ESP)
Ruud, Casper (NOR)
Khachanov, Karen (RUS)
Humbert, Ugo (FRA)
Lajovic, Dusan (SRB)
Mannarino, Adrian (FRA)
Struff, Jan-Lennard (GER)
Kecmanovic, Miomir (SRB)
Harris, Lloyd (RSA)
OUT Delbonis, Federico (ARG)
OUT Kyrgios, Nick (AUS)
OUT Chardy, Jeremy (FRA)

Pella, Guido (ARG)
Querrey, Sam (USA)
Lopez, Feliciano (ESP)
Sandgren, Tennys (USA)
Andujar, Pablo (ESP)
Simon, Gilles (FRA)
Thompson, Jordan (AUS)
(SE)
(SE)
WC Medvedev, Daniil (RUS)
WC Thiem, Dominic (AUT)
(WC)
Alternates:
IN Vesely, Jiri (CZE)
IN Moutet, Corentin (FRA)
IN Travaglia, Stefano (ITA)

Alt.1 Munar, Jaume (ESP)
Alt.2 Caruso, Salvatore (ITA)
Alt.3 Giron, Marcos (USA)


ATP 250 Mallorca (ESP, Grass), qualifying:
Munar, Jaume (ESP)
Mager, Gianluca (ITA)
Cuevas, Pablo (URU)
Albot, Radu (MDA)
Pouille, Lucas (FRA)
Caruso, Salvatore (ITA)
Hanfmann, Yannick (GER)
Carballes Baena, Roberto (ESP)
Martinez, Pedro (ESP)
Sousa, Joao (POR)
Galan, Daniel Elahi (COL)
Istomin, Denis (UZB)
Bachinger, Matthias (GER)
Kuhn, Nicola (ESP)
(WC)
(WC)
Alternates:
Alt.1 Viola, Matteo (ITA)
Alt.2 Watanuki, Yosuke (JPN)
Alt.3 Klein, Lukas (SVK)

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Dominic Thiem Signs Up To New Athlete Management Agency Launched By Kosmos

The world No.5 has become the first athlete to ever be represented by Kosmos.

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Dominic Thiem says he is ‘proud’ to be joining a new agency that has been launched by Kosmos which specialises in athlete management.

 

Kosmos, which was founded by Barcelona F.C star Gerard Pique, says their venture is aimed at supporting those in the world of sport. In a statement issued on Thursday, their objective is to provide ‘comprehensive service to athletes where, in addition to representation, commercial and public relations, it will also provide sports, legal and financial advice.’ The new division will be headed by Galo Blanco who is a former player and coach. Blanco previously served as the Competition Director of Kosmos.

“We are very excited about this project. Many people who have been linked to sport for many years and specialise in different key areas in the development of an athlete’s career work at Kosmos. We know what is important for the active player and for their future, because many of us are or have been professional players,” says Gerard Piqué, President of Kosmos.

27-year-old Thiem is the first athlete to have signed up to the agency. Coincidentally the Austrian was co-coached by Blanco on the Tour between 2017-2018. Blanco ended their collaboration in order to focus on the redevelopment of the Davis Cup. Thiem is now coached on the Tour by Nicolas Massu, as well as his father Wolfgang.

“I am very happy that Galo is part of the team again. He has been very close to me and my family, even when he stopped being my coach,” said Thiem.
“The season has not started as I would have liked, I am working very hard to get back to the level of the end of 2020, and adding Galo and the rest of the Kosmos team can bring a lot of positive things.”

Kosmos has become a growingly influential business in tennis since its launch. The company are the financial masterminds behind transforming the Davis Cup and have pledged to invest $3bn into the competition over a 25-year period.

This year’s Davis Cup finals have been spread across three cities in Madrid, Innsbruck and Turin over 11 days. Pique said the decision to use multiple cities is to prevent late-night finishes in the competition which was a problem back in 2019. Two year’s ago, Italy’s clash with the USA concluded at 4am.

“Some of the matches ended very late, so we made the decision to go to other cities and to play in 11 days instead of seven,” he said at the event’s official launch earlier this year. “The event has been evolving, maturing.”

Albert Costa, who is currently the Davis Cup Finals Director, will also take on the role of Competition Director for Kosmos.

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Uncle Toni Backs Rafael Nadal To Win 21st Grand Slam Title Before Season Ends

Nadal’s former mentor also explains why he was hoping Novak Djokovic would lose in the French Open final.

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The former coach of Rafael Nadal says he remains confident that he will win another major title in 2021 despite losing in the semifinals of the French Open.

 

Toni Nadal, who is Nadal’s uncle that introduced him to the sport at a young age, says he is ‘maintaining confidence’ that the Spaniard can achieve more major glory. The king of clay is currently tied with Roger Federer for the most Grand Slam titles won by a male singles player, which is 20. Although Novak Djokovic is now on 19 and could possibly overtake his two rivals this year should he achieve a calendar Grand Slam.

It was Djokovic who knocked Nadal out of the French Open after prevailling in four sets during their semi-final encounter. The Serbian has become the first player in history to have beaten him at the tournament on multiple occasions.

“We saw a good game and a denouement that brings Novak dangerously close to Federer and Rafael, in their struggle to close their respective careers as the greatest conqueror of Grand Slam titles,” Toni wrote for El Pais. “The next two tournaments, Wimbledon and the US Open, will probably be decisive in unveiling it. I would not dare to venture conclusions, but I do dare to maintain the confidence that it is my nephew who raises one of the two.”

Nadal is a two-time Wimbledon champion but he hasn’t lifted the trophy since 2010 and it has been a decade since he reached the final. At the US Open he has enjoyed more success by winning four titles, including two out of the past four times. He missed the US Open last year due to concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his column the 60-year-old admitted that he was hoping Djokovic would lose the French Open final to Stefanos Tsitsipas because it ‘would help alleviate’ his nephew’s disappointment. In the title match the world No.1 battled back from two sets down to clinch the title. Becoming the first man in the Open Era to have won every major tournament at least twice.

“The only thing that could have somewhat alleviated the disappointment over Rafael’s defeat in his Roland Garros semi-final match against Novak Djokovic would have been that he was defeated in the final by Stefanos Tsitsipas,” he wrote.
“Throughout these last two weeks of competition I was telling my children. The player that I saw as most capable of beating the Serbian on clay if the opportunity arose, apart from my nephew, of course, was precisely the Greek. And for much of the meeting I held out hope that it would happen.”

Nadal is currently back home in Manacor where he attended the graduation ceremony of his academy on Wednesday. He is not expected to play in any tournament leading up to Wimbledon which will begin a week Monday.

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